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The Literary Corner: Renegade Writers Guild

“A Rose by any Other Name…”

By Julie Terry Cartner

Out in the middle of a pasture, a flock of daisies grow, their snow-white petals gleaming in the mid-day sun, mingling with the deep blue of bachelor buttons. Along the fence line, Queen Anne’s Lace stretch proudly towards the sky while purple morning glories wind themselves along the barbed wire and fence posts. Under the trees, black-eyed Susans sway on tender necks through the dappled sunlight. Closer to the pond, sweet-smelling honeysuckle climb up slender saplings and unkempt bushes, and trumpet vines vie for their space amongst the leaves and branches.  Are they weeds or wildflowers? Did they grow there by design or as an act of nature?

In a yard nearby, gracious gladiolas fill the garden with breathtaking hues of pink, yellow, purple and red, interspersed with brilliantly orange and black spotted tiger lilies and proud burgundy Asiatic lilies. Sunflowers, like sentinels, stand nearby, seeming to stand guard, and bright yellow and orange daylilies seem to twirl with delight in the breeze. A multitude of zinnias and marigolds dance in delight as they fill the gardens with limitless colors. Are they weeds or wildflowers? Did they grow there by design or as an act of nature?

Both types of flowers, the cultivated and the uncultivated, when plucked and arranged, can make lovely bridal bouquets and corsages, or can fill vases with riots of color. Both varieties, the domestic and the wild, add beauty to the landscape of earth. Some carry scents that make you want to stand still and inhale the glorious aromas, and others are nearly scentless. Both types of flowers, the genetically-engineered and the nature-engineered, provide nectar for visiting birds, bees and butterflies, and both perpetuate their existence through those self-same pollen-carrying creatures.

So similar and yet so different, but both of value, the flowers co-exist with nature, pollinators and each other. Both provide a respite from the ravages of a virus-filled earth, the virus of Covid-19, of course, but equally destructive, the virus of hatred. Does one flower have more value than another? As I see it, the beauty is in the perception of the beholder; in other words, an opinion: nobody any more wrong than right, nobody any more right than wrong. Was my bridal bouquet of daisies and yellow rosebuds mitigated by the intermixing of a wild flower and a cultivated one? Would a posy of iris and honeysuckle be any less beautiful? The many options of variety and intermingling of shapes and colors create a plethora of floral opportunities, none more precious than the other, and all a delight for the senses.

We could learn much from the glory of flowers. Bouquets, floral arrangements, corsages and landscaping are rarely made from just one type of flower. The lush colors of a rose stand out more when surrounded by the delicacy baby’s breath or shimmering green ferns. Black-eyed Susans’ colors shine when surrounded by deep-purple irises.  Landscaped yards cultivate a variety of flowers with a multitude of hues, shapes, and sizes. We are all better when we share our goodness and beauty with others and use our natural talents and skills to enhance each other. Are we weeds, wildflowers, or store-bought flora? Does it really matter? Are we not all equal in God’s eyes?

“Basic Math”

By Marie Craig

     Quick:  Answer this question.  If you read chapters 8 through 10, how many chapters do you read?  A lot of people would subtract 8 from 10 and give a flippant answer of 2.  But that would be wrong.  Let’s count the chapters: 8, 9, 10; that’s 3 chapters.  In this case, we are counting ITEMS.  When you subtract the numbers, you need to add 1.

     Quick: Answer this question.  If today is the 20th of the month, how many days is it until the 30th?  If you took the process of the paragraph above, you’d subtract 20 from 30 and add 1.  But in this example it would be wrong.  There are 10 days between the 20th and the 30th.  In this case, you are counting INTERVALS.  Just subtracting works for this problem.

     I was a math teacher once and never remember seeing these two uses for numbers in a textbook.  But to be accurate in your daily dealings with math, you need to know the difference between the two purposes of subtraction.  Ask yourself if you’re counting items or intervals.

     I can remember as a little girl doing math on my fingers to find the interval.  For example, how many days are there from Wednesday to Sunday?  I would count on my fingers, Wednesday and point to thumb, Thursday and point to index finger, etc, and end up with Sunday on my little finger.  Then I would point to the spaces between these five fingers and count 1, 2, 3, 4.  It’s four days from Wednesday to Sunday.

     There are a lot of everyday math situations that people don’t understand.  For instance, the difference between length, area, and volume.  I would have my students use measuring tapes to get a feel for hands-on math.  We would discuss the dimensions of the classroom, and I would ask them to figure out how many feet of trim we need to go around the bottom of the wall, ignoring the door.  This is length.  Then I would tell them that we were going to put a new floor down and need to know how many squares one foot by one foot we need.  This is area.  Then I would tell them that this room will turn into a storage area for boxes that are one foot by one foot by one foot, or one cubic foot.  We would pretend like we could fill it absolutely full of these boxes.  This is volume.

     Math can be very useful and fun, but students need the experience of using it in an everyday situation.  Even though I taught advanced math (long gone from my skills because of non-practice), I really enjoyed finding how to use mathematics to simplify and describe.  I used to tell my two sons, “Everything comes back to math.”  They would roll their eyes, but they eventually ended up in careers that required a good understanding of math.

     Quick: How can you describe a quart using a yardstick?  There’s no way, lots of people would say.  But if you were using the metric system, you’d know that if you made a box that measured a tenth of a meter on all sides and filled it with liquid, that liquid would have the volume of one liter.  If you made a very small box with equal dimensions of one-hundredth of a meter (a centimeter) and filled it with water, the weight of the water would be one gram.  In the metric system, you can inter-relate length, volume, and weight.  There’s no way to do that in our clumsy use of length, volume, and weight.  Everybody in the world uses the metric system except the United States, Liberia, and Myanmar.  I guess we’ll just keep bumbling along.

  “Old War Story”

By Gaye Hoots

     As charge nurse on an adolescent psychiatric unit I often had to make decisions related to safety issues. One Saturday morning as we were preparing to let some patients leave with family for time off the unit. This time was earned on a point system. One of those with a pass was a boy who was large, muscular, strong, and possessed a fiery temper. He had worked hard to comply and earn his time off the unit.

     The only male staff member approached me and stated that another patient had reported that this young man had contraband hidden in his room. Contraband was any item not permitted on the unit and approved by staff. The policy was to announce to the accused that a charge had been made and to search his room with him present so he could not claim the item had been planted by staff. This did not eliminate an item being planted by a peer.

     Rick, the male staff member, told me he knew the patient would become physical at the threat of losing his pass. He knew he could not physically restrain the patient himself and had called the other areas for backup. There was only one other male staff on the premise, and he had physical limitations. Rick suspected the patient reporting the contraband did so to set up a physical altercation that would result in the loss of the pass.

     He asked me to let the boy leave on his pass and allow him to search the room while he was gone. This was against protocol, but my gut told me it was necessary. The patient left with family, and Rick searched his room, finding no contraband. This reinforced the decision I had made.

     All went well until the young man returned. A few minutes after his arrival, he approached me angrily and demanded to know who searched his room without him being present. I took him into an office and explained the situation. Evidently the kid who accused him of having contraband told him of the room search to set him off. I told him my rationale for my decision. I also told him that if he chose to report the incident to the powers that be to use my name and not Rick’s as the final decision was mine.

     He took a deep breath and relaxed his clenched fists. “All I want is the truth and I believe you. I will not be reporting this and thank you.” He finished out the week with no further incidents and was discharged with plans for follow up outpatient treatment.

RWG Literary Corner

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