The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 2:03 pm Friday, April 28, 2023

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Editor’s Note: As Yogi Berra said, readers of the Renegade Writers may have experienced deja vu all over again while reading last week’s submissions. They were a repeat, as previous work was inadvertently printed. We apologize for the confusion, but hey, good writing is worth  reading again and again.

Autism Awareness

By Julie Terry Cartner

Mesmerized by the dust motes sparking in the sunlight beams coming through her window, eight-year-old Kenzie reached out, hoping to catch them on her fingertips. They were magical, and she sat there, transfixed. As often happened, time ceased to have meaning, and she had no idea when the noise buzzing in her ears finally transformed into her mother’s voice calling her to dinner. Annoyed by the interruption but understanding this is the way things are done, which had been drilled into her head umpteen billion times, Kenzie stood up from the floor, brushed off her pants, and headed into the kitchen, restraining herself from stomping her feet. Part of her therapy was focused on learning self-control. “You can’t control what others say or do, Kenzie. You can only learn to control yourself and your reaction to what’s going on around you.” That mantra had been drilled into her head by her therapist, then her mom.

“What have you been doing, Kenzie,” her mother asked. “I’ve been calling and calling you. “I need to stir the pasta, so please set the table and pour the drinks.”

Kenzie tried; she really did, but she didn’t have the words to explain to her mother about the dust motes, their shiny sparkles drifting through the air. Like a cloud, she thought, or fairy dust. Mom would never understand. She’d just tell Kenzie to quit woolgathering. So instead, she just mumbled, “Sorry, Mom,” and did as she was asked.

She liked setting the table. Each napkin folded precisely so all the corners matched up, each fork placed exactly in the center of each napkin, the knife, blade facing out to the right of the plate inside the spoon. Nice. Neat. Clean. Unfortunately, she didn’t feel the same way about drinks. With the ice maker, it was difficult to control the number of cubes falling into each glass. Sometimes she’d open the freezer and reach in with her hands so she could put exactly six cubes in each glass, but if Mom caught her, there would be a lecture. “Unsanitary,” she’d say, even though Kenzie obsessively washed her hands.

With some judicious juggling of cubes, Kenzie managed to get the correct number of ice into each glass, then she filled each glass with water, stopping exactly one-half inch from the top. All this took time, of course, and by the time she’d managed to fill the glasses to her exacting standards, the pasta was done, and dinner was on the table, Mom tapping her foot impatiently.

It was just her mom and Kenzie now. After many fights, often about her, Kenzie knew, her dad had walked out. “I didn’t sign up for this,” he’d said. He’d continued with words too ugly to say, indicating he thought she was lacking intelligence and that had no use for her. Then he’d shaken his head and walked out.

Kenzie knew she wasn’t stupid; in fact, she knew more about lots of things than he did. Right now, it was astronomy. Already she could name 37 constellations, and she added a few more every week. Soon she’d know all 88. It had started, like with many children, with the Big Dipper, but her fascination grew. She could see the patterns as if they were outlined in flashing neon lights, and she wondered why others couldn’t. Her dad could only find three: the big dipper, the small dipper and Orion’s belt, not even the entirety of Orion. He was the one who wasn’t smart, she thought to herself, smirking.

Her mom didn’t understand her either, but at least she tried. After her teachers at school had requested a conference, Mom had come home both sad and relieved. She’d explained to Kenzie that her teachers believed she was in the autistic spectrum and suggested she meet with a doctor for testing, followed by counseling and therapy. It wasn’t that Kenzie was bad or misbehaved; she just saw and existed in the world in a different way. They explained that Kenzie could learn how to fit in, while still maintaining her individuality, but they all needed to work together to make that happen. The counseling had started, and, though progress was slow, it was still progress.

Boston Marathon

By Denise Bell

     The Boston Marathon is the oldest annual marathon in the world and is one of the six major marathons in the world. Attracting runners from around the world, it is held on Patriot’s Day, the third Thursday in April. Held every year since 1897 the only year the Boston Marathon was not run was 2020. The only year it was not run on Patriot’s Day was 2021. That race was held in October 2021.

     I became interested in running in 2013. My daughter’s had run half and full marathons in Detroit including the International Marathon which goes over the bridge into Canada, along the Canadian side of the Detroit River and back to the US via the tunnel under the river. My nephew has been a runner since high school. It was his passion. He ran the Detroit Marathons as well as others around the state. Some of these races he finished with times which would qualify him to run the Boston Marathon. Qualifying times go by age group and for his age group he had to run 26.2 miles in 3 hours or less.

In March of 2013, I decided that I would like to run a bit too. Just enough to get active. I had no desire to run marathons. So, I joined a “Couch to 5k” group in my neighborhood. Our first race would be in May at the beginning of our city’s Memorial Day Parade. We gathered every other evening and ran along a peaceful, tree lined trail that ran along a large lake. A little further each night.

On Monday April 15, 2013, three hours after the first person crossed the finish line two bombs were denotated killing three people, injuring over 200 more and ending the race. My group cancelled our run that evening and the next night our coach handed us bibs that we wore that night as we ran. 4.15.13 Boston- Runners United to Remember. We ran that night in support of all of Boston and those directly affected by the bombings.

Later that year, my nephew qualified for the Boston Marathon and decided to enter. My sisters and I decided to make the trip to Boston to support him. When we all got to Boston the city was abuzz with Boston Strong electricity. Everywhere was a show of unity and support of the city, the race as well as our country. My sisters and I followed him along the route and were there at the finish line one year after the bombing in support of him, the victims and all of Boston.

This month my nephew ran the Boston Marathon ten years after the bombing. My sisters and I did not make the trip, but we were there in spirit supporting him. We were able to follow him on an app and saw where he was on the course. When he crossed the finish line I was as proud of him at that moment as I was nine years earlier. My thoughts then turned in remembrance and prayer for the victims of the bombings and their families. Boston Strong!

A Little Too Serious

By Marie Craig

Years ago, in another lifetime, I made friends with a woman who had children the same ages as mine.  We mamas enjoyed visiting and sharing life experiences while the four young children played together.  We lived on the same street in a fairly large town.  She told me that she grew up a few miles away, out in the country where her mother still lived.  Visits were often.  She shared with me that she had recently been to see her mother on a weekday and had accompanied her to her little church’s prayer meeting that night.  At the beginning, the attendees listed the concerns and illnesses of their friends and neighbors for whom prayer was needed.  My friend told me about one woman who was upset about another woman’s illness and that she was afraid she was going to die.  She talked about this need in great detail, and finally the congregation realized that she was describing a character on her soap opera she watched every day.  I can’t remember if the actress was included in the prayer that followed.

About ten years ago, I was working very hard each day compiling one of the history books I’ve written.  The deep concentration and focus had made me a little goofy.  So I got up to go see what my husband was doing.  His den was at the end of the house, with the doorway between him and the tv.  My giddiness continued as I leaped into the room between him and the tv and yelled “Cowabunga!”  Both cats exploded out of the room, and my husband held his chest as he recovered.  What I didn’t know was that he was watching an old World War Two movie taking place in Japan.  There was intense drama as soldiers hid behind trees shooting at each other.  My timing and choice of exclamation was just a little too much as I unknowingly scared him and two cats.

We had a friend who was very pragmatic and eager to solve problems, both at work with my husband and as our friend.  He described an experience at his church that was an example.  His men’s Sunday School class was upstairs in the old building, and every Sunday they discussed the unsightly Venetian blinds at the window.  They never seemed to reach any conclusions, just talked about the problem.  One Sunday, our friend had had enough.  He walked to the window, opened it, reached up and unhooked the blinds, threw them out the window, and closed it.  He sat back down and said, “Now, can we have Sunday School?”

Oriental to Advance

By Gaye Hoots

The three miles of Teach’s Cove Road, where I live in a small condo that ends in a cul de sac at our building, was the most interesting stretch of my trip. An older man was walking with his Blue Heeler; it was off leash and on the opposite side of the road, but it darted to him as my car approached. I always drive slowly because people walk their dogs and bike here, so I was prepared. The man waved, and I drove another mile, where I saw two deer crossing the street. They are used to traffic stopping for them and slowly walked in front of me. As I started to accelerate, a third deer, the color of asphalt and blending into the road, slowly followed them. As I approached the stop sign. a large, wild turkey slowly strutted across in front of my car. There is little traffic here, so wildlife owns the road.

Since my last visit, I have lost two classmates, Lula Cook, a sweet and intelligent girl and a sister to Bill Cook, and Glenda Potts Boger who was a classmate from first grade until she married during our high school years. Our first work experience was babysitting for our teacher, who had five children, the eldest six years old. We earned our money. Glenda was very family oriented and played piano in her church.

My sister had a minor surgical procedure done. She tolerated it well and could enjoy the wonderful Easter meal Lorene Markland prepared for Faye’s family, my family, the Doug Markland family, and our Methodist minister. Faye and I grew up with the Markland boys in school and church and lived within walking distance. Charles and Lorene live on the same property he grew up on, and Faye and Nick live on the farm we lived on in Advance.

Faye and I visited Judy Howard at Cadence and got to see her daughter Kim, who was there. Judy was happy to have us visit and told Faye she had been concerned about her health issues. She is satisfied with her private room, personal belongings and windows with a view. Judy likes the staff, and they feel the same way. She has a positive outlook and always tries to help the other residents but is careful to keep her door locked so people must knock. Judy told us about many activities she enjoys there. It is always hard to say goodbye to her, and I keep her in my prayers. I spoke with Travisene Carter Boger, whose older brother Jimmy just survived COVID, and whose younger brother Larry is home recovering while his wife has been hospitalized and is seriously ill.

Vance Hartley and his family are remodeling the Lippert house, where he spent much of his childhood. The transformation is impressive, and much of the interior and the roof are yet to be done. They are splitting their time between Advance and their home in Tennessee. The home beside them is also transforming. Lower Advance looks good.

My daughter and her twins were here on her birthday, but we really did not get to celebrate it here and will when we return home. I spent time with Kendra and visited Bob and Betty Potts, who are dealing with some significant plumbing and clean-up issues. Betty is a caretaker, maintains the house and yard, and keeps many medical appointments due to Bob’s and her health. Bob is a proud ninety-four.

I missed seeing many friends in that area and hope to catch up on my next visit. I spent a day giving Vance Hartley a tour of several small towns in the foothills and Hanging Rock Park. I enjoyed the time with Faye and her family, made our RWG meeting, and had a pleasant drive back home.  I am sitting with my feet up, enjoying the sunshine on the blue water and sailboats.