The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 9:25 am Thursday, June 9, 2022

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Small Plates

By Marie Craig

On my recent birthday, my grandson took me for lunch at Lizard’s Thicket in Columbia, S.C. This is a popular chain of restaurants near the center of the state. When I lived there, I always enjoyed going to one of them. The menu had a unique item, “Small Plates.” The next sentence explained that children or adults could order this size. So, I had a slice of ham about 9 square inches and two small servings of vegetables. It was the perfect size to enjoy and not feel overstuffed. It cost $5.10, a bargain these days.

It seems that most places you go, you are served enough food for two or three people.  It’s no wonder that so many people are overweight.

Many years ago, we lived in a small town where the residents all knew each other. There was a senior woman who had inherited a huge fortune, and she had remarried. We would see them at a restaurant where they would order one plate of food and an empty plate. At the time, being judgmental and inexperienced, I would think that she was too stingy to buy him a meal. But now I know that as you get older, you don’t need as much to eat. I guess they were just not hungry enough to need two plates of food.

Perhaps the concept of large plates and huge amounts of food carries over into the world of possessions. One of my pet peeves is the vast number of storage units to house people’s extra junk and belongings. They don’t need this stuff; they could just downsize and save the money of storing which can reach several hundred dollars rent each month.

Years ago, I went backpacking several times. As I researched how to travel light, but still have the necessary equipment and necessaries, I read about a strong, husky hiker who cut off part of his toothbrush handle to reduce weight in his pack. This is pretty extreme, but it might help us to remember that each thing we own or carry adds up to the total weight and size of our load, whether it be on our back or crammed into our bulging home. This also affects the amount of money we spend outright or add to our credit card.

Advisors for personal weight control say to always choose a smaller plate to use at home. They say it encourages you to eat less. As children, we were told, “Clean your plate.” Maybe we are still minding our parents when we get a huge plate of food and feel honor-bound to eat everything. As prices increase and scarcity of food products increases, we may be forced to eat on small plates.

Of Water, Family and Gratitude

By Julie Terry Cartner

“We don’t have any water.” Words I hate to hear, but words that help engender appreciation for the element we often take for granted.

I can’t tell you how many times that day I started to do something that involved water, from as simple as washing my hands to watering the plants, taking a shower, washing dishes, or doing laundry. I’d head towards one faucet to turn it on, remember, then walk away, only to turn to another one. We absolutely take our water, one of the most vital elements of life, as a matter-of-fact occurrence. Turn a faucet, and voila, instant water.

It’s probably good, to occasionally lose water; it’s sort of grounding, a reminder that we should appreciate the simple things.

When you live in the rural areas of the world, you rely on well water rather than city water, and sometimes things happen.  Primarily we have no water when we have no power, and those two items coincide with someone hitting a power pole, ice storms, and/or other serious weather incidents. It doesn’t happen frequently, and, if it’s weather related, we’re usually prepared. But this time there’s a problem with the well.

It wasn’t the first time in our almost 30 years living here, so we knew what to do, but on a very hot, sunny Memorial Day, it wasn’t what we wanted to do.

After a long, hot, sweaty day of mowing, raking, tethering, and baling hay, the last thing anyone wanted to do was deal with a well on the blink, but that’s where family steps in. I won’t bore you with the details of repairing our well; suffice it to say it involves pulling the whole contraption out of the ground, finding the break, repairing it, then feeding the lines back into the ground. Yesterday, if involved two tractors and six people.

And that takes me to my second point. Family. In this case, everyone who helped was actual family, various in-laws who helped haul water into the house in buckets so we could flush toilets and water animals, combined with more in-laws who helped pull, repair, and replace the lines. Other times family can be more loosely defined as a community of people, related or not, who are willing to help one another.

Regardless, part of being human is to care for others, to help others in need. Our humanity is what makes us more; more than creatures just struggling for survival. The Covid years have been hard on so many levels, and they’re not over yet. Covid continues, as do the repercussions of the lives we’ve had to live. But, as much as I wish Covid had never happened, and as much as I fervently wish it would go away, I can look at Davie County and be proud to live in a community that does take care of each other. Without naming any specific organizations, people have, and continue to, help in a myriad of ways.

And so, my points. When we lose the very basic things we need, as in water, we remember to appreciate them when we get them back. And when there’s a need, people step up. We see it all the time in the news, people coming forward when others are in need. Our humanity is what makes us who we are. That’s what family, be it nuclear or universal, does. People. Family. Community. And finally, Gratitude. We’ve all seen it; people so overwhelmed with appreciation for others’ help, they can barely express their feelings in words, powerful to both the giver and the receiver. Our reminder that above all, we are people with souls; we care. In the words of George Bernard Shaw, in Pygmalion, “The great secret…is having the same manner for all human souls; in short, behaving as if you were in Heaven, where there are no third-class carriages, and one soul is as good as another.”

Water, Family. Gratitude. Humanity. These might seem disparate entities, but we need them all, and all are part of what makes us human.

Recurring Nightmare

By Gaye Hoots

The recent school shooting in Texas is every parent’s worst nightmare. Most schools are secured with locked doors and protected by a resource officer, but it was reported the locked door had been propped open by a teacher, eliminating the protection. I found conflicting reports on the resource officer; he did not engage the shooter as previously stated, and there is nothing currently on where he was or what he did.  An alarm system could be installed on the doors that would sound a loud alarm and automatically lock all doors unless the door is opened with a computer override.

The cry for gun control is another issue, and I see no reason to purchase an assault weapon. The shooter was described as having been bullied because he wore pants that were too short, etc. He was also referred to as a bully himself. His father admits to being absent from the boy’s life, and he had moved in with his grandmother, whom he shot when she tried to stop him. He had dropped out of school, and worked at Wendy’s, which enabled him to purchase the guns.

There is no report of him being in the mental health system, but the bullying was a clue. Because of my experience in mental health, and the school system, I believe this should have been addressed. When a child wants to drop out of school that also needs to be addressed, and every effort made to help them finish school, by means of tutoring, computer classes, etc. It is almost impossible to support yourself with less than a high school education. A child carrying this much anger around should attract attention.

Two of the articles I read surprised me with the information that more people died from injuries inflicted by fists and feet, than by guns. This was fact-checked as accurate. The other was that the school shooters were under twenty-one years of age. Their anger may be directed at the school because of perceived injustices suffered by the shooter.

I believe there should be a screening process when guns are purchased. Any healthy individual should be able to buy one, but they should be vetted. Mental health is the issue and is far more prevalent than most people realize. There are few families untouched by some form of mental illness or addiction.

Last week as I was having my hair done by a stylist I had never met before, I mentioned that I was a retired psychiatric nurse. I may stop telling people I worked in the mental health field because this happens often, and there are few resources for those who do not have insurance. She told me that she has panic attacks and ADHD, which was mainly under control because she took meds. Her husband was diagnosed as bipolar, and she was worried that he was not taking his meds, had quit his job, and she was afraid he would end up like her brother who was schizophrenic and had panic attacks, and died as the result of a fist fight in a bar.

When a shooting happens, the media is a circus of those blaming one thing and then another. The fact remains that nineteen innocent children and two teachers died in a school that should have been secured but was not. There is much criticism of how the responding officers handled the situation and a scramble to try and clean this up.

The focus should be on all the things that we can do to prevent this in the future. We all have children we love in the school system. What can we do to protect them? Every issue needs to be addressed, mental health, gun control, school security, and officer training. It is not one or the other but all the above, and it is our children’s safety at stake.