The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 9:39 am Thursday, August 25, 2022

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Favorite Childhood Books

By Linda H. Barnette

As an only child, books were my companions and my friends. Because I loved animals, many of my books were about various types of animals.

My absolute favorite one was Lassie Come Home, a story set in England about the lengths a faithful dog went to in order to be reunited with his owner, Joe. Joe was also an only child whose best friend was a collie named Lassie.  Because of their poverty, Joe’s parents were forced to sell Lassie to a rich Scottish nobleman. The main part of the plot involves all of the situations that Lassie overcame on her perilous journey back home from Scotland to England. She is injured, hungry, ill, and wounded until an older couple let her stay with them.  However, during the winter, she somehow arrives at Joe’s house.

Lassie is an amazing book about love and loyalty, and I, like Joe, have loved many dogs during my life.

Another favorite story was Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty about a horse in Victorian England who spent his happy early years with his mother on a farm. A kindly man bought Beauty but became ill and had to leave Beauty behind when he had to move to a warmer climate because of his health.

After that owner left, Beauty had several other owners who treated him badly, and because of an injury, became a work horse.  Eventually a kind vet fixed him up so he could sell him. Near the end a kind family buys Beauty and gives him a wonderful home. It was also a book whose message was to treat animals with kindness.

Other books I loved were The Black Stallion and The Secret Garden.  Many thanks to my parents for giving me a love for books both by reading to me and buying me books. They have taught me many lessons and have been lifelong friends!

Tough Goodbyes

By Stephanie Williams Dean

I’m deeply attached to my “stuff.”

Mainly whatever I’ve received from my immediate family and grandparents. I’ve been going through my home – saying goodbye to things I’m attached to. I wouldn’t say I like it – it’s tough.

Holding what I love close to my heart, I feel like someone’s wrestling it from my arms. Bits of my heart are carried away with each piece I say goodbye to. Special moments, memories, people – everything associated with it – are gone. Because when I see something in my home – I remember. I remember where I was when I bought it, who I was with, and the happy occasion surrounding it. The trinket stirs memories. Those profoundly sentimental items that once belonged to my family truly tug at my heartstrings. From a tight grasp – my fingers almost have to be pried loose.

  Parting with stuff I have no sentimental attachment to is easier – something I bought from a yard or estate sale – gifts I couldn’t use – items of little quality. I began my purge here—a stripping away of moments. For years such things delighted me – just the act of shopping provided many hours of joy.

I loathe the idea of scaling back and preparing for some transition as I get older – I’m never doing that. Instead, I will surround myself with what’s necessary for my lifestyle and who I am today. Still, that requires parting, with much of which I’ve had a long-standing love affair—another goodbye. And I will grieve the loss.

I’ve discovered that I’m a little happier surrounded by my finest and what has the most meaning. I’m less encumbered. But, that’s still more stuff than I need. I confess that the adage, less is more, might have some truth. Nevertheless, letting go continues to be a struggle. The attachment is real – I love my stuff.

My sweet artist friend, Sandy Donn, expressed it so eloquently on her Facebook page, saying, “My 52-year-old mixer… purchased with Green Stamps when my husband was in Vietnam! I was going to finally let go of it, then started thinking of all those birthday cakes, mashed potatoes, desserts whipped up with this little jewel. Sigh. I cannot say goodbye. Such is my tender heart. I’ve always had a really hard time with goodbyes.”

I get it. I’m right there with Sandy.

Then, I remind myself – the Bible teaches us to trust God, to focus on our eternal lives – not the things of this world.   I do know better.

It’s our tender hearts that need refilling – with more of the right stuff.


By  E. Bishop

Learned a new word today – orophile – a person who loves mountains. My husband and his childhood friend named Grover are two such people. Both grew up in the Appalachian hills where some places you had to take a horse or walk to visit  neighbors or relatives. This narrative is remembrances of the one who lived life on his own terms.

He is a real mild mannered, sweet man, (could say a gentle giant) but burly, too, as in a true mountain man who knows his way in the wilderness. Growing up, he was a real hero to us younger boys because he marched to a different beat. Grover was living near my Aunt Joyce in his early years, but as a young adult decided to be the lone wolf, preferring to provide for himself and enjoy the solitude of the hills. He built a small cabin a couple of miles up the mountain on family-owned land and has lived there for most of his adult life. At times, he tried returning to his community to  make a go of civilization, but didn’t like it, and returned to his beloved one room cabin.

There are dangers to being a true mountain man such as starving, freezing, dehydration and encounters with wild animals and venomous snakes. And, it would probably get lonely at times.  It was a good thing he was not always at home, especially when a bear decided to leave claw marks on the side of his cabin. But, Grover seemed to manage just fine with his two canine companions, living a healthy physical lifestyle hunting for his own food, trapping muskrats or foxes for the furs, and harvesting ginseng for a little extra money. At one time, he tried growing his own ginseng but not sure that worked out so well.

While visiting, sometime in the early 1980s, I noticed wire cages full of rattlesnakes and copperheads and asked him what kind of money could he make from the venom harvested from those snakes.  Grover replied “Honey, I sell them to the churches that do the snake handling services up here.” That threw me back a bit as I never dreamed that’s what he was going to say.

A small number of isolated churches in Appalachia still handle venomous snakes in their homecoming rituals.   Those who follow the “signs” described in Mark 16:18 believe God will protect them from harm while handling these snakes.  This movement is in decline and hopefully Grover doesn’t need the money anymore.

According to friends, at 80 plus years of age, Grover is still living in his cabin and doing okay. His neighbors help him out nowadays by making the trek up the hill with supplies he might need and in general, keeping a closer watch for his well-being.

He is still my hero, and one day soon maybe I can visit him to ask if that bobcat hide drying out on the side of his cabin was for decoration.