The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 9:37 am Thursday, January 28, 2021

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Our Gift

By Gaye Hoots

We have a new year, and that is a gift. Last year saw many changes that we strove to adjust to, and this year promises even more changes. COVID vaccines are becoming available, which may eventually result in the reopening of schools, businesses, and the ban on group get togethers. I have had an anaphylactic reaction to a bee sting and will probably wait until later to get my shot. Some people did not wear masks, and there will be people who do not trust the COVID injections. There have been many reasons for division this year, including politics.

I have many friends in both political parties and was relieved to read on my Facebook account that no matter which party they are affiliated with they vow to support the new president. January twentieth is a date I remember for many reasons. It was the birthday of my ex-husband and the birthday of my stepson. We will see an inauguration with a robust military presence, because of a prior breach of security in the Capitol resulting in five deaths.

This will not be a happy transition, but I pray it will be a safe one, and that our country will move toward unity. This past year has seen many changes I would never have predicted, including the gender term ban for Congress. If we focus our support, energy, and comments toward unity, it will help.

Our community is a small one, and the people I know appear to have the same priorities I do. I focus on staying safe, sane, appreciative, and helping my family to do the same. Instead of focusing on things I cannot change, or negative happenings, I try to stay somewhat informed but, like Candide, I try to spend my time tending my garden. My garden is not a literal one but caring for myself, family, friends, and community.

Whatever the future brings, I plan to appreciate each day. We have not had a war with another country, and all parents should appreciate this. We have our daily needs met; we have religious freedom; we are not persecuted. Let us direct our energy toward mending fences instead of fighting with our families, friends, and fellow countrymen. If we use our power to improve our attitude and behavior toward changing others, we can make this a better world that politics and COVID cannot destroy.

A Golden Burst of Light

By Julie Terry Cartner

Black clouds covered the greying sky of dusk. Mockingbirds and wrens trilled their good-nights to the day as the sun slid silently ever downward through the obscuring clouds. The tranquil evening rolled calmly toward night. Suddenly, a gap appeared between the clouds, and, for a moment, the setting sun, in all its glory, shone blazingly through the rift.

To the east, the trees encircling the yard, moments before shrouded by shadows, blackened by the absence of light, now glowed with golden hues as if autumn, in all its technicolor glory, had returned, replacing winter’s barrenness, with golden leaves clinging to branches left bare by winter’s trials. Seeming to reach out and grasp the golden beams like an aging woman tenaciously clinging to the vanishing vestiges of youth, pulling the glorious colors toward her as she might reach for hair dye, blush, or lip gloss, barren branches clung to the transitory rays of the sunset.

To the west, fiery slashes of light lit up the bare trees from behind, their branches silhouetted so darkly against the fiery sky that each twig was starkly outlined in amber relief. The glow from the sun’s last stand seemed to set the woods aflame, and for a moment I could almost hear the crackle and ravenous roar of flames as they greedily consumed the trees and shrubs in their path.

But only the soft stirring of a breeze, the gentle chirps of birds and the somber hoots of owls disturbed the stillness of the moment. The fire was only an illusion created by the overwhelming power of the sun.

In minutes, or maybe only mere seconds, the clouds shifted, and darkness descended once again, the gaping hole that had allowed the sun to burst through closed its yawning mouth, consuming the fiery blaze and swallowing up the flames.

Left now in darkness, the earth sighed and closed its brilliant blue eyes, accepting the end of the day and drowsily embracing the soothing night. Peace covered the landscape and calmness prevailed, knowing full well the cycle would continue the next day.

Isn’t that like life? We stumble around in the darkness of ignorance, of inexperience, sometimes of innocence, often consumed by clouds of anger, distrust, or fear. We cling to the last vestiges of light like we cling to the comfort of the past, fearful of the future. We strive for fleeting golden rays, unable or unwilling to acknowledge that the darkness will come regardless, and the morrow, like the sun, will also come again.

And maybe, just maybe, we need the darkness. Maybe we need the time to calm, to reassess, to rest and recuperate from the golden frenzy of each day. Maybe, if we embrace the tranquility of darkness, we will be able to look at our own lives, our choices and decisions, and determine our path forward. With clearer insight, maybe, over time, our minds, bodies, and souls, so overwhelmed by the exhaustion of life, by the overload of internet information, will be able to rest, re-group, and recover, to prepare for the light of another day.

Maybe, if we can look at the brilliant explosions of a sunset through the black, ravening clouds as a brief gift, a fleeting glimpse of heaven, then maybe we can let them go for now and allow the darkness to take over for a while, a brief respite from the turmoil of the day, the time to prepare for another day of work, national and international news and social media.

With Covid-19 still running rampant, violence and hatred barely suppressed, divisions of ideology creating chasms of distrust between family, friends and neighbors, let us try to remember that the world needs both the light and the dark, that there are many and variegated shades of both light and dark, and that those variances make us who we are as a people, a community and as a nation. Hold on to the light, but don’t clutch it like a baby clutches his favorite stuffed toy. Instead, let our fingers relax, knowing that even when the light slips away for a while, as you slip into soothing slumber, it will return with the dawn of a new day.


By Marie Craig

I have taught hundreds of women and two men to tat.  This is a craft that uses small thread wound on a bobbin which is inserted into a three-inch shuttle.  For about six dollars, you have the equipment to make beautiful, dainty lace.  It’s small enough that you can keep it in your purse or pocket to enjoy whilst you’re waiting.  I sometimes tat when I’m getting my car serviced or I’m seated in the doctor’s waiting room.  I get some funny looks.  Remarks to me are either “What is the world are you doing?”  The second response is “Oh, my grandmother used to do that.”  Then I’ll see the tears in the person’s eyes as they remember their special family member.

I really don’t like to fly, but went with my granddaughter out West four years ago.  I swallowed my fear and did it anyway.  My salvation was my tatting.  I made sure I had it with me as a distraction.  The female flight attendant came down the aisle checking on everybody and let out a loud proclamation, “Oh, my goodness!”  I was concerned that my shuttle was suddenly deemed a weapon and that I’d be tossed from the plane.  She continued, “I haven’t seen anybody tat in a long time — not since my grandmother!”  I was, of course, relieved and hoped the other passengers knew the story.

I taught tatting twenty-nine times at John C. Campbell Folk School near Murphy.  One of the last times I did this, I made a comment something like tatting seeming frivolous and non-essential.  One of my students who was already a tatter, but came so that she could have a vacation and enjoy other students, disagreed with me on that statement.

She had a doctorate in counseling, and her current job was counselor to the sheriff’s department in a big city in North Carolina.  I had never thought about PTSD except for those in the military.  But she shared with us how stressful and upsetting it can be to have a law enforcement job and have bad memories of crimes, murder, and choices they must make.  These personnel shared their gruesome experiences with her.  She said that when she got home, their stories would almost give her PTSD.  She said that the main thing that gave her peace of mind was tatting.  It’s a requirement to count and focus on the different parts of the directions of the lace, or round doily, or stationery embellishment.  If you crochet or knit and make a mistake, it is fairly easy to pull out the errors.  Tatting, however, demands that you untie each individual knot that is wrong.  So, you don’t want to make mistakes.

I had a more pragmatic view of this art form once she explained this.  Tatting has been helpful to me as I’ve travelled to teach: five one week sessions in Utah and local classes through the years.  As tatting has embellished dress and blouse collars for me, it has also embellished my life in offering trips to other locations, meeting new students, and winning a few ribbons in competition.

The conversations of the students were interesting.  One woman was an advisor to the President of the United States.  All she would tell us was that she was involved with South Africa.  Students have ranged from teachers, nurses, attorneys, a card dealer on a river boat, and librarians.  I learned so much from them.

Oh, the men… One of them was present in the class with his wife. He learned quicker and had beautiful samples of his work. He did far better than his wife, and boy, was she mad. The other man was a young architect. He surpassed any student I’ve ever taught.


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