The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 9:53 am Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Climb Every Mountain

By Julie Terry Cartner

“If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform one million realities.” Maya Angelou

I recently saw a video of a British couple auditioning for Britain’s Got Talent. Both the woman, Denise, and her husband, Stefan, are blind. She is also recovering from breast cancer, chemotherapy, and all that goes along with that insidious disease, and yet, she was personable, outgoing, and outrageously funny, and, of course, talented. Denise sang “Climb Every Mountain,” from The Sound of Music, accompanied by Stefan, and hit every note – beautifully, I might add. She and her husband received a standing ovation, rightfully so.

And it made me think. These are two people who have struggled their entire lives with the challenges of being sightless in a visual world. This was a woman who had persevered through what many women see as the most terrifying diagnosis imaginable, breast cancer. Cancer, itself, is a word that strikes fear in most people, and breast cancer is just so, so personal.

And yet, they’d chosen to perform a song that’s all about the positive, about dreaming, about achieving one’s goals, about hope.

Now, it is true that anyone with a handicapping condition has, from an early age, learned to battle and fight for things that others take for granted. A visually impaired person struggles just to traverse a world that is simple for those of us with 20/20 vision. Navigating cracked sidewalks, street crossings, curbs, traffic lights, and crowds of people is beyond challenging. Figuring out how to be independent when you can’t drive is also. We take for granted the number of times we jump in our cars to pick up an item from the grocery store or a prescription from the pharmacy, but a visually impaired person can’t do that. He or she must rely on public transportation, some form of ride share, or the kindness of family and friends.

Equally, fighting cancer takes an inner strength beyond our imaginations. To keep battling, to not give up, to push through the invasion of cancer, and doctors, and surgery, and recovery is not for the faint of heart. And to hold on to personal dreams while facing this struggle takes a special person.

These are typical of the everyday challenges of their lives. But then, they had the fortitude to take another step, to dream beyond the day-to-day navigations of life. Imagine standing on a stage in front of thousands of people that you can’t see. You play the opening chords, or sing the opening notes, and have no idea what reaction you are getting, and yet you power through and hope the invisible people before you like what they’re hearing. This is courage.

When asked why they had decided to compete in BGT, Denise answered, “We just want to grab the bull by the horns, you know, and take every opportunity.”

I don’t know where their journey will go, or what successes they’ll achieve. I know they got four Yes votes from the judges, the applause of over four thousand viewers, and over 20 million hits on social media thus far. I also know that they took a chance. They took the first step to follow their dreams.

Emerson tells us: “I have learned, that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected…”

Victor Hugo states: “There is nothing like a dream to create the future.”

And Langston Hughes, one of my personal favorites, says: “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.”

Thank you, Stefan and Denise, for taking that step, for being the example we sometimes need to follow, for reminding all of us that the reward for following your dreams is far greater than the risk of not succeeding, or even worse, the ultimate failure of never having tried.

Climb every mountain,

Ford every stream,

Follow every rainbow,

‘Till you find your dream!

Making Copies

By Marie Craig

Between typing for other people, creating math tests, being a bookkeeper, and printing church bulletins for many years, I have a lot of experience in making copies.  I remember having to write the same sentence many times for punishment for grammar school misdeeds.  I tried taping 3 pencils together and writing that sentence.  It didn’t really work, but maybe that was an early copy machine.

     In typing my term papers with a manual typewriter and needing an extra copy, the technique was to use carbon paper between two sheets of paper.  You didn’t dare make a mistake because it was so difficult to correct.  This was especially hard if you had to include footnotes.  Most people don’t know what carbon paper is these days, but it’s interesting that at the bottom of a business letter, even now, cc: means carbon copy when you’ve sent another copy of this letter to a second person.  Cc is also used in emails.

When I was teaching math in a middle school, the tests were duplicated on a machine which was called Ditto, or Spirit Master.  There were two connected pages, one of which was similar to carbon paper.  You wrote on the top page, pressing hard, which transferred the mirror image of your writing to the back of the top page.  Then you tore the pages apart and put this reverse image side showing on the drum of the machine.  Alcohol in the machine made these words and numbers print the positive way on a sheet of paper.  The machines were hand cranked.  It was important to finish these copies ahead of time so that the alcohol could dry.  If not, the students held the papers to their faces and swooned over the enticing alcohol smell.  These came in several colors: purple was standard, with red, green, and black also.  I used to save the colored sheets and then have several different colors on my tests or creations such as Christmas cards.

When I was teaching math at a junior college, I created a test for my students and walked over to the next building to use the Spirit Master copier.  There in the hall were my co-teacher and his visiting friend who worked for the U.S. Forest Service.  We were introduced and ten months later, Bill and I were married.  So I have a soft spot in my heart for this type of copy machine.

When I had a job as church secretary, I created the church bulletin with a typewriter and a mimeograph machine.  To do this, you typed on the typewriter with the ribbon disabled.  This was a two page material you used.  The top page was plastic, and when you typed with no ribbon, it actually cut into the plastic.  If you made a mistake, you had a bottle of something like clear fingernail polish to fill up the holes.  You had to wait for it to dry and then type the correct words.  So again, you tried very hard not to make mistakes.  The top page was used on the drum with the positive side down.  Then you turned the crank and ink went through the holes onto a piece of paper.

About five years on Jeopardy, they asked a question and in giving the correct answer, they made a mistake because they didn’t understand the two previous processes.

One summer between college years, I had a job in the office of Blue Ridge YMCA Assembly near my home in Black Mountain.  I used the mimeograph machine a lot.  It used tubes of ink, available in different colors.  I had a rush job one day and realized somebody had bought the wrong kind of ink.  It was in a small can and to push the ink out, you pressed the bottom of the can.  I attempted to make this work, but didn’t press in the exact center.  Dark blue ink went on me and the wall.  It didn’t wash out of my clothes, and they had to paint the wall.  Later that summer a sales rep brought an early version of an actual copy machine.  A man who was visiting there had a very special news article that he’d saved for a long time.  They attempted to make a copy of it.  There was a slot for the original and the copy and the original came out the back.  Only this time, the copy came out but no newspaper article.  We finally took the machine apart, and there was the undamaged article wound around a cylinder in the center of the copier.  The man nearly had a heart attack until he regained his treasure.

     Nowadays, we think nothing of using a complicated copy machine or even our own computer printer to make us a copy, but it wasn’t always this easy.

Home (continued)

By Gaye Hoots

When Roy and I separated, the girls and I lived briefly in a small, rented house owned by Albert Poole. The next move was to a house on Markland Rd. where Kendra took in a few stray dogs. I was a teacher’s aide and bus driver and then completed an RN program at Forsyth Tech. When I graduated, I remarried, and we moved to Woodlee on 801 with a combined total of five kids. This was a good neighborhood with friendly neighbors that the kids enjoyed.

During the five years we lived here I completed a BS in nursing at Winston-Salem State and began a master’s program at UNC Greensboro. After five years Kendra and I moved to an apartment in Clemmons where Joyce Dellinger lived. Later I bought the acreage at the end of Odell Myers Rd. and stayed in a small log cabin there. Both girls had married and started a family. When Kendra divorced, she and Vann lived with me there. By then I had added additional space to the cabin, and later Cami and her children moved into a mobile home on the property. I enjoyed having the grandchildren close because I was working full-time in psychiatry and attending school so this way I got to see them daily.

Kendra remarked that I was like Papa Cartwright from Bonanza, living in a log cabin, having all the kids with me, and “cracking the whip.” They grew up and out quickly. Kendra completed a BS degree in nursing and bought her own home. Cami remarried and purchased a home.

I sold the home and bought a condo in Winston. I enjoyed remodeling the cabin, updating the condo, and furnishing it. Joyce Dellinger did much of the work, painting and adding new flooring. Before I moved from the cabin, I had bought a small one-room efficiency condo on the ocean at Atlantic Beach and done small upgrades. The kids and grandkids enjoyed it and so did I. I put it on the rental market to help pay for it.

Before I sold the Winston condo, I had sold the efficiency and bought a larger condo near Fort Macon. It was also on the rental market and used by all my family. Eventually, I sold it and bought a new condo on the ocean at Indian Beach where I retired when I sold the Winston condo. After a few years there I added hardwood floors and a few other upgrades. When I got it exactly like I wanted it Faye’s health was declining and neither daughter was living in Advance. I was also concerned about my youngest granddaughter’s health. Increasing costs of HOA and insurance issues were also a factor. I put the condo on the market and moved back to Advance.

The Zondorys, who owned the home next to the house Mom left me, were going to build and put their house on the market. I bought it and had the yard regraded, updated the septic, and turned the office above the detached garage into an apartment where my grandson lived. Tiffany and Jaden were in the house beside me, and Kendra later returned to Advance to live. I upgraded the kitchen and bath redecorated it, rebuilt the porch, and put new roofs on both houses thanks to the Carter twins.

The sea was still calling me and when I began vacationing with Cami in Oriental, I began looking at properties. Luck was with me, and I bought it just before the market surged.  I completed the work at the Hartman house, which had previously belonged to the Janine Vogler family, and I had first visited there when we were in the first grade. I also began upgrades to the condo before I moved and completed the condo and sold the Hartman house.

I have been here three years now and other than missing the family in Advance I am very happy here, so content that I don’t get off the couch often enough. I am content with the view and a good book. I have family moving here and have stopped looking at other properties. I think this is my last rodeo.