The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 11:32 am Saturday, March 4, 2023

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Kitchen is the Heart of My Home

By Denise Bell

No matter how big or how small the kitchen is, how big or small the get-together is, my family always manages to find their comfort zone right there in the kitchen. Sure, we mingle amongst ourselves here and there throughout the house. But conversations, the real memories I have of our gatherings throughout the years bring me right back to the kitchen.

During my teenage years there was a group of us who would hang out in my mom’s kitchen playing cards and drinking Diet Pepsi for hours and hours throughout the summer. The simple mention of making gravy carries me back to the joy I felt while the aunts were in the kitchen, having partaken in a jelly jar of beer and giggling to no end. I was lucky enough to have been assigned the duty of making the gravy and the dear Aunts toasted to the gravy lady with another jelly jar of beer. A scar on my wrist is a reminder of the wonderful time I had baking with my grandchildren at Christmas time.

It was in my kitchen where my daughters and their friends laughed while they made chocolate chip cookies during their teenage years. The kitchen was where I learned my daughter was going to marry her high school sweetheart. It was there I learned was going to become a grandmother for the first time!

I hold all my kitchen memories near and dear to my heart. The old ones and the new ones. After any event I hold at my house, while I straighten up the house and do the dishes, I look back at the events that had just unfolded. I reflect on the memories of the day, appreciating the company that I have been blessed with in the hours prior. I giggle to myself at the remembrance of my 5-year-old granddaughter who decided to present us all with her “dance of the scarves.” Commanding all to center all the attention on her performance.

So many precious memories, safely stored in my head. As I wait for my family to gather once again, I am anxious for the new memories to unfold in the heart of my home, the kitchen.

More Changes

By Gaye Hoots

Renegade Writers has lost our second member, Shari Keller. You may know her from Artists on Main, the shop she ran, and where she gave art classes. She was a talented artist and a retired nurse. I remember her as a caring person who worked hard looking after her elderly father until his death. She worked hard to be sure we got the perfect cover for the last book our group published, which she designed. Once, I complained that my photos were not flattering, and she grabbed a camera, and snapped several shots which did flatter me. Isn’t that what we all want?

A few weeks ago, I was in Mocksville and stopped by the shop where Sharri was in the back, busily preparing for an art class. She looked great, and we chatted for a few minutes. It never occurred to me that this would be the last time I saw her.

Recently I got a summons to jury duty in Pamlico County, where I now live. I had been selected several times in Davie County years ago but never had to serve. Pamlico County is smaller than Davie and has an old, cold courthouse. There were 75 of us, and when we were sworn in we were asked if we objected to being sworn in with a Bible. Ten people raised their hands and did not place their hands on the Bibles.

We watched a video with instructions for jurors. A retired judge who volunteered his time gave us a passionate talk about duty to our country and our responsibility to serve in military service or as a juror. He sounded sincere and made a good impression. They drew names for jurors and alternates and dismissed the rest of us. This was a grand jury case, and the jurors were to serve for a year. This week I got a check for $12 for my time.

Recently the price of food jumped, which came when wages increased. The Bojangles ham and tomato biscuit, my favorite, is an example. I paid 35 cents initially for added tomato, and last week in Advance it was 35 cents, but the ones in this area last charged 69 cents and McDonald’s charged 89 cents for tomato on a cheeseburger. They were out of tea and charged $1 for a small cup of water.

After paying $5 for that meal, I went to Food Lion and purchased two nice sirloins, a half-gallon of half-and-half milk, a box of Romaine lettuce, a box of cherry tomatoes, a large baking potato, and a large sweet potato for $25. This provided several meals of steak, salad, and potatoes for less than the burger at McDonald’s. The only difference was I had to cook, which I am not fond of, but the steak only took about five minutes in a hot cast iron skillet and the potatoes were prepped for the microwave.

I am not giving up my Bo biscuits, but I am decreasing the amount of fast food in my diet. I am also driving less to cut costs as my view at home is equal to any I see exploring the back roads, which I have always enjoyed, but I am not giving up my monthly trips to Advance,

An Irish Tale, Part I

By Julie Terry Cartner

Meghan skipped happily to the water’s edge. School was over for the day, and, though it wasn’t summer yet, the balmy day beckoned her to the seaside. With her mother’s warning, the same warning she heard every day that she went to the beach, “You can play on the shore, but do not get in the water.”

“I won’t,” she called back even as she contemplated taking off her shoes and socks and at least wading.

“I mean it, Meggie,” Mom shouted. “I know you.”

Smiling, Meggie sat to take off her shoes, then wiggling her feet in the warm sand, she looked longingly at the water. There was something about the ocean, the waves, the enticing sound of the water moving in, then retreating, “Come get your feet wet,” it seemed to say; “Come closer…” And yes, that’s exactly what Meghan wanted. She loved the water, in all its hues, moods, and conditions.

Taking one last, longing look, Megan pulled out her flute and began playing, a skill she had picked up quickly only a few months ago. Even with no training, when she started playing, people would stop, entranced, just to listen to her hauntingly beautiful melodies.

After some time had passed, Meghan paused to look at the sea, often her source for inspiration, her tunes emulating the ebb and flow of the tides. Looking up, Meghan did a double-take when she saw someone swimming towards her. Surely her eyes were deceiving her. It was a log, she thought, or maybe a seal, but no, when the creature said, “Hello,” she had no choice but to accept the creature was human.

“Hello,” she hesitantly called out, “who are you?” She wasn’t sure she’d get an answer; in fact, she wasn’t sure she wasn’t imagining the creature.

“I’m Meara. Who are you?

“M-m-meghan,” Meghan stammered, “but my friends call me Meggie.” And then, unable to help herself, she asked, “What are you? You look about my age, but it’s March, not swimming weather. The water’s too cold; I know, I’ve been testing it every day. Then she added sheepishly, “Mom would kill me if she knew.”

With a light giggle, Meara responded, “Don’t worry. Your secret is safe. Sisters don’t tattle.”

“Sisters?” Meghan asked. “What do you mean? We’re not sisters.”

Coming out of the water, Meara explained, starting with a question. “Do you know what a changeling is?

“Of course,” Meghan replied, “Everyone in Ireland knows what a changeling is. It’s a faerie child exchanged for a human baby. Why do you ask?”

“Because,” Meara replied, “that’s what you are.”

Meghan knew she’d never really fit in. She tried to be like others, but never succeeded. Her curly red hair, no matter what she did, always smelled somewhat salty. And how could she have red, curly hair when her siblings had stick-straight, brunette hair? And then, the freckles: She knew enough genetics to know parents with straight brown hair and unfreckled skin were very unlikely to give birth to someone with red, curly hair and freckles.

Furthermore, she could outswim every kid on the beach and hold her breath for a ridiculous length of time. In fact, she had often thought, it didn’t feel like holding her breath; it seemed her skin breathed on its own. And then, there was her imagination. She could be sitting anywhere, then suddenly the dismissal bell would ring, or her mother would call out “Supper,” even though she’d be sure she’d just sat down. Looking at the clock she’d realize hours had gone by while she was lost in a world of underwater fantasies. But imagination was one thing, a changeling was another. “Tell me,” Megan demanded.

And so, Meara did, a tale of a baby, Meara, daughter of Muireann, a Merrow, or sea faerie. Her baby, stolen at birth, was replaced by the human baby, Meghan. Impossible to determine, at first, Muireann realized the switch when she heard Meghan playing the flute, so beautifully, a skill associated with changelings. Combined with the fact that Meara seemed more human than faerie, Muireann had confronted her servants and learned a tale of jealousy, anger, and deceit, and babies switched at birth. (To be continued…)


By Marie Craig

In my big collection of old family photographs, there is a wonderful family portrait of my dad’s maternal grandparents.  They had ten children total with two dying of them under a year old.  My grandmother was the oldest child.  I’m dating this old photo to be about 1907.  Only three children were left at home and in the picture with them.

Standing at the left is Lee, about 14. My dad’s middle name was Lee, and we named our son Lee.  Both were blessed with great musical talent.  Standing at the far right is Becky, short for Rebecca.  She is about 20 and proud of her huge hat she’s wearing.  Her skirt and her mother’s are black and floor length.  Becky’s son was the source of this photo.

Sitting in the middle are my great grandfather, Frank, their daughter Verlie, and my great grandmother, Clarissa.  The picture was taken outside with a steep bank at their backs.  They lived in the mountains of Alleghany County, North Carolina.  This is probably the only time the parents had their photograph taken.

Verlie was about eight years old and seemed to have Downs Syndrome. At that time period, a lot of families would have a portrait made and not include a handicapped child.  But in this case, Verlie is sitting between her parents, at the center of the picture which is significant.  Clarrisa had dressed her in a pretty dress and put a bow in her hair.  I was told by relatives that her parents were really kind to her, and the married siblings living nearby helped take care of her.

My first response when receiving this was to think, “This looks like the Beverly Hillbillies.” But after I studied the family, my opinion changed from “a picture of poverty” to “a picture of love.” I show this image proudly now.  Researching your family history can change your attitude.

   After her mother died, her father took her to Raleigh State Hospital to live with similar women.  She was about 30.  She lived to be 47.  I wondered why he did this and was a little critical.  But when I did the math, I realized that he was 79 and probably couldn’t take care of her properly.  He died five months after she entered the home in Raleigh.  I hope she had some joy and peace in her new home.