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The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Juggling

By Gaye Hoots

Yesterday I drove back to Oriental with a van full of furniture that partially obscured my view. It was a borrowed van that I rarely drive. My day started with an appointment to have a crown put on my tooth. That went smoothly, and I returned home to finish loading the van. Faith Works was there starting to put the roof on the house my granddaughter lives in. They plan to finish it and then start on my house. I discussed finding a home for my grandson’s Labrador with them, made arrangements to pay them, and left.

I had to use Cash Points to leave money for the painters who had painted the condo. I left the money at my daughter’s, hugged the twins goodbye, and left. When I got to Tanglewood, I realized I had left the keys to the condo on the chain with my car keys at my daughter’s, so I returned to pick up the keys and say goodbye again. My next stop was at Costco for gas where I discovered my credit card and Belk cards were missing. I had to go to a service station and use another credit card to get gas. I left calling the credit card companies after I arrived at Oriental. It took about an hour to have them cancelled, but no charges had been made to either card thankfully.

A handyman came to unload the van for me at the condo. The view of the sun setting over the water made it all worthwhile. I found a can of soup for supper, made my calls, and called it a night. This morning I had my coffee and started working to get things in order, did a bit of cleaning, and left to go for breakfast and to the grocery store. I stepped out the door and my neighbor, who is also moving in, called out to me that I had a flat tire.

I left a message for my daughter to see if she had a spare tire. She messaged that she did, so I called the handyman to see if he could change it for me. He is coming later to assist with that. Before I could look for something to eat for breakfast, I got a text that the motor to the air conditioning unit had gone out at my granddaughter’s. We had to discuss how to pay the serviceman the $500 plus for repairs.

My cup of coffee was gone, and I was running on empty. Being a survivalist, I checked the refrigerator and found two Jimmy Dean frozen biscuits the painters had left. I ate one of them while looking at the water and sailboats, which were beautiful.

After the handyman got there, we could not locate the spare tire. I used Google and found a video of the tire location. When I clicked continue to go to the next frame, I downloaded a virus that shut my computer down. He used his phone to get the video, removed the tire which had a puncture, and took it to be repaired.

It has been disconcerting being in a town where I do not know anyone, but I have been able to get help with all the issues so far. My problems are relatively small to many others in the year of 2020.

Teamwork, Kindness and YouTube

By Julie Terry Cartner

‘Tis the season of love, family, and gratitude. When you’re doing home construction, as so many have during this pandemic lockdown, ‘tis also the season of trial and error, frustration, and sometimes, success.  One might wonder what home improvements and the Thanksgiving season have in common.

Over the last several days, my husband and I put a tongue and groove ceiling into an addition on our house.  After some research, we put the first boards up. It was hard! We called for reinforcements. My brother-in-law came, and it was still hard. After a couple of hours of work, we had three boards up, and those, not too well. The concept of tongue and groove makes sense. Seems easy. The tongue slides into the groove, and you have interlocking boards. Easy, right?

Not so, at least when you’re dealing with ten, twelve, or fourteen foot boards. They sag, they don’t connect. You push and pull, and maybe hit them with a hammer or mallet, but they don’t fit together. But they’re supposed to. You get two muscular men on ladders. It should happen. It doesn’t.

Enter YouTube. You can find tutorials on almost everything on YouTube.  Think about it. Nobody has to post to YouTube; people choose to. Sometimes it’s to sell something or to make money, but many times people learn a skill, then post to help others. Unnecessary, but kind. The giving season all year long. Thanks to YouTube, we learned two hacks, and the next day, the tongue and grooving went much faster. We finished today. Four days of work, and two rooms and a pantry are done, but without YouTube, we wouldn’t be close to finished.

YouTube gave my husband a way to make a tool that made all the difference in our success. But it wasn’t YouTube, it was the person who was willing to make a video to help others. We’re in this miserable stay-at-home, everything is closed, people are scared COVID-19 pandemic, and the world, as we’ve always known it, has changed to something almost unrecognizable. And I say almost because, even at the worst of times, people are good. Somebody made a video that resulted in making our lives easier, and we now have a beautiful tongue and groove ceiling. But it doesn’t stop there. We needed help, called, and help came. He didn’t have to; he chose to. That’s family. Over the course of four days, my husband and I worked together for a goal. He could have done it without me. It would have taken longer, but he could have gotten it done. But together we could work harder, faster and smarter. That’s teamwork. That’s marriage.

Ultimately, pandemic or no, we’re humans. And as humans, we need to take care of each other. Just as each board needed both the tongue and the groove, we need others. We needed help and got help. We received kindness, and, in turn, we need to be kind to others. Behind our masks, we’re still people. Taking care of each other, strangers or kinfolk, it doesn’t matter. We’re still human. We still care. We need to remember our humanity. Help where we can, however we can. As we begin this uncomfortably strange holiday season, let’s remember our humanity. Let’s help each other however we can. Let’s remember the faces behind the masks are the faces of people. People we can help and love, and they, in turn, can help others. Probably more than ever in our lifetimes, we need to find ways to help.

Fruitcake

By Marie Craig

Just say the word “fruitcake” and lots of people will gag.  It’s really an obscure title. Google for information, and you will find it spelled “fruitcake” and “fruit cake.” One word or two? I guess it doesn’t matter. It gets a lot of bad press. The media says it’s terrible, so you believe it. Another example of fraud.

However, I have a recipe from many years ago that is so easy and so delicious that I think you’ll change your mind. There’s no baking, so your oven can rest, and you can save energy and time.

You’ll need a box of graham crackers that you will have fun smashing in a big bowl, or put them into your blender that you only use once a year.  Around Christmas, you can buy a box of pulverized graham crackers to avoid having to prepare. Then you’ll need 24 marshmallows that you melt; don’t get cheap ones because they don’t melt. Put the marshmallows and a half cup of orange juice into a big bowl that you can put into the microwave for one and a half minutes.  They should get all mushy. Add the graham cracker powder and stir like crazy before the marshmallows get hard again.

Then stir in one fourth cup of cooking oil and one third cup of more orange juice. Next add ground cloves and cinnamon. The original recipe called for a teaspoon of each (more about that in a minute). Adjust to your preferred taste for spices. Add 1 cup candied fruit. (Wonder why that’s not available year round?  I guess the candied fruit tree only produces in December.) Add 1 cup raisins. Stir some more.

Line a loaf pan with a long piece of wax paper. Dump the mixture into the pan and press into the corners and flatten the top.  Wrap the wax paper around the top.  Put foil around the top of the pan and place in the refrigerator where it’ll stay until you need to serve some to guests or sneak a piece at night.

I think you’ll enjoy this and change your biased mind about fruitcake.

I married in early October years ago. Two months later, I wanted to make my husband one of these, so I put all my ingredients in a big bowl and was all through but stirring everything up. I took the bowl into the living room to show him and took an extra spoon so that he could taste it. I dipped out melted marshmallows and got some of the graham crackers also. He put it in his mouth and jumped up and went running to the kitchen sink. He put his head under the running water to rinse out his mouth. I had dipped into the unstirred spices, and they were really strong. I thought he was teasing me at first, but then realized I’d burned him up. I still laugh thinking about that. It was not intentional. After his mouth healed, he actually enjoyed this special Christmas dessert.

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