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The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Two Generations

By Linda H. Barnette

In my halcyon days, I grew up across the street from my grandparents on Church Street here in Mocksville. My cousin lived next door to them, so she and I and my mother and aunt spent a lot of time with my grandmother while my grandfather worked at his oil business and service station uptown.

When I was 10 years old, Mother went to work in Christine’s Gift Shop on Main Street, so when I walked home from school on Cherry Street, I went to Mama Smith’s house instead of our empty one. Mama was the nicest, sweetest person I have ever known, and she was a good cook as well and always had cookies or some other dessert for snacks. Sometimes I would help her dust or wash dishes or some other light household chore. Going to her house was fun then, and even after I went to college, I visited her and Papa when I came home on weekends.

Eventually, I saw them less after I got married and moved away and worked full-time as a teacher. Papa died in 1968, and I remember vividly how crushed she was. Yet, in her typical fashion, she persevered for another 20 years.

After our son was born, we decided that Mocksville would be the perfect place for him to grow up, so we moved back here from Fayetteville. Because I was not working at that time, my son and I went over to Mama’s house every Wednesday, her sitter’s day off, and the 3 of us gathered in her small kitchen where I prepared lunch for us. Her favorite meal was salmon patties and macaroni and cheese. Unfortunately, I did not inherit her cooking gene, but I could fix a few things that she liked. After lunch we went to Heffner’s grocery store, which was where the Methodist Church’s Family Life Center is now located, to do her weekly grocery shopping.  She loved saving green stamps, and when she amassed a large enough group, we drove to the store in Winston and bought things with the stamps.

For as long as she lived (97 years), she was not only my grandmother but also my buddy, my friend, and my teacher.  She unknowingly influenced the course of my life, for she was interested in her family history. She enjoyed talking about them, and I was always an eager listener. When she was 90 years old, she rattled off the names of her father’s siblings and their mates as I wrote them down. I still have that piece of paper as it is one of my treasures. Little did we know then that she was fanning the flames of my interest in family history and genealogy.

But she passed the torch to me, and that has become the work of my old age, thanks to Mama. I believe that she would be very proud to know that and to realize that her legacy has been preserved.

Be Ready

By Stephanie Williams Dean

Death came for a friend – a trusted and well-respected friend. He was a strong and faithful Christian – many lives including mine were touched and influenced by his faith.  Blessed, the Lord took him quickly. I am comforted by knowing he was immediately in the presence of the Lord.

I’m grateful for the day the Holy Spirit chose me – and the Holy Spirit can choose you. Have you ever wondered why you just aren’t that excited about your faith? You might attend church, but you just don’t have that fire and excitement many people have? I discovered that going to church didn’t make me a Christian – and had nothing to do with it at all. Many go to church but don’t walk the walk or ever talk the talk.

But I searched and searched for a long time looking for the answers, wanting to feel a passion for my God. Then one day, the Holy Spirit moved me, and I felt it. From that point, my entire life changed. I often consider ways I can strengthen my relationship with the Lord. Your life can change, too.

We never know when the Lord is going to call us home, and we must be ready. If you search fervently, the Holy Spirit will choose you, too – I can promise you that. Don’t give up, and keep looking to feel that passion.

The good news Gospel tells us that Jesus Christ died on the cross and paid the ultimate price for the sin of humanity. If you believe in the Son of God, you can be in the presence of the Lord and have eternal life after you pass. Open your heart, search, and be ready for the Spirit of God to choose you. Be ready when it’s your time to experience the glory of heaven.

Monarchs

By David R. Moore

Most of us feel delight watching butterflies dance among colored flowers or glide with outstretched wings across a field of green along some wobbly sailor’s path.  Fortunately, butterflies can be seen just about everywhere.  They are found from rural meadows to urban parks and backyard gardens.  Over the years, a variety of butterflies have visited my flower bed of Zinnias, Black-eyed Susan, Joe-Pye, and Lantana.

Here in the Carolinas there are over 150 different butterflies. Our Piedmont area contains diverse natural areas of rivers, lakes, fields, woodlands and agricultural land. As a rule, we have four distinct seasons but the year-round temperatures are moderated by the warm temperatures of the Atlantic Ocean and our mountains provide a shield from cold northern air. Sun and warm air are important to butterflies as only when their body temperature is about 85-100° F can they fly well. That is why you may not see butterflies on cloudy, cool days.

Although I bought a field guide on butterflies, I still am unable to positively identify most of them. My efforts to capture them on film mostly end in failure. They sense I am about take their picture and immediately flutter to a flower further away. So I must remain satisfied that I am at least able to identify a butterfly belonging to one of the following families: skippers, gossamer wings, swallowtails, brush-foots, and sulphurs/whites.

Adult butterflies main food is nectar from flowers.  So having a sunny garden that offers nectaring flowers throughout the blooming season will ensure many butterfly visits. To have even more butterflies in your garden, provide food for their caterpillars which are the larval stage of butterflies. Caterpillars eat leaves of certain plants and are highly selective in their taste. Some species may eat only one species of plant. Many larval food plants are wildflowers and grasses. You may want to designate a separate area for these away from the main flower garden.

Last year a neighbor provided me seeds of the milkweed plant which is the larval food plant of the monarch butterfly. In the past, I had seen a monarch butterfly only occasionally with its distinctive display of orange and black markings taking nectar from flowers in my garden. I planted the seeds this spring and grew a few milkweed plants in a sunny spot. As the plants grew, I observed more monarchs visiting my garden this year than ever before.

Monarchs lay their eggs under the leaf of the milkweed.  A caterpillar hatches out after four or five days and grows at an astonishing rate feeding on the milkweed. A developing caterpillar must shed its skin or molt several times during its life time. The different stages in a caterpillar’s growth are called instars. Once fully grown, they stop eating and seek a safe place from wind and rain to pupate. After about two weeks, an adult monarch will emerge from chrysalis.

Many butterflies overwinter in a hibernation-like period of dormancy, but Monarchs migrate to Mexico when the days get shorter and the nights cooler. It is amazing how they are able to fly long distances to a place they have never been before.

Butterflies are insects, but they don’t bite, sting, or carry disease. Seeing them brings a pleasure to your soul. So consider creating your own backyard butterfly sanctuary by providing plants for caterpillars to feed and nectar producing flowers for the colorful, fluttering adults.

Sending the Wrong Message

By Kevin F. Wishon

Downtown is hopping on this warm spring evening. People are everywhere, enjoying the weather. The fact that so many people have come to see your historical non-fiction book launch this evening is surprising. People have packed the bookstore. Thankfully, the book intro, speech, slideshow, and Q&A have gone perfectly. As evidence, a long line of people is waiting for you to sign their fresh copies of your book.

“Yes. Thank you. Please enjoy. Next, please. What’s the name? You are welcome.”

This sequence goes on for more than an hour before two young ladies step forward, eagerly desiring you to sign their purchased book. As you sign their book, the oldest begins to talk.

“We dream of being writers just like you. We want to get a book published and travel around the country, promoting it.”

Smiling, you hand the pair their book back and say, “Someday, I’m sure you will. Continue writing and dreaming.”

Quietly the oldest replies, “It’s just a dream. You’ve got it all together. We could never be this good.”

Then it hits you. There’s a sick feeling in your stomach. It’s not the bad seafood you had two nights earlier; it’s something else. It’s guilt, and you know why.

Pausing to collect your thoughts, you weigh the matter and make a decision. “Hey. Can you two hang around until I’ve finished signing the remaining books? I want to explain something, but I need to finish.”

Thankfully, they both nod their heads and wander off into the shelves of books.

Forty minutes later, the line is gone, and the two young ladies approach hesitantly. Turning to your assistant, you ask, “Anna, can I trouble you to wrap things up here? I need to speak to someone for a bit. I left a few signed copies under the table if someone comes by late. Thank you.”

Grateful for Anna’s help and handling matters in your absence, you turn your attention to the two young ladies. Handing the pair your business card, you encourage them to email if they ever have any questions about writing or need advice.

“The reason I asked you two to wait around is that I want to clear something up. Yes. Tonight’s presentation went exceptionally well, but I realized that I had given two young aspiring writers the wrong impression after what you said. Let me tell you the truth about this week.”

Pausing to see if they were both listening, you continue. “The truth is, I do not have it together, as you say. This week has been a disaster. I was late getting my speech and slides finished. Making matters worse, I got light food poisoning Wednesday night. Eventually, I completed the presentation at 3 a.m. this morning. Today, I got five hours of sleep and still feel weak from being ill. Later, there was an issue with the slideshow setup, and thankfully, Anna, my assistant, fixed the problem. So, do I really have it all together? The answer is no. More accurately, no one does. It is merely by chance or luck that tonight’s event went as well as it did. If I or anyone else gives you the impression of being perfectly polished in our talents, please understand it is only a perception created by practice and experience.

The youngest girl interjects. “But we are not really that good.”

“That’s just it. Nobody is when they begin. I was just as poor a writer as you two when I started, if not worse. The difference is this. I didn’t let other people’s facade or appearance of having it all together discourage me, and neither should you two.”