The Woven Tale Press #8

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The Woven Tale Press

(c) copyright 2013

Editor-in-Chief: Sandra Tyler Author of Blue Glass, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and After Lydia, both published by Harcourt Brace; awarded BA from Amherst College and MFA in writing from Columbia University; professor of creative writing on both the undergraduate and graduate levels, including at Columbia University, (NY), Wesleyan University (CT), and Manhattanvill College, (NY); served as assistant editor at Ploughshares and The Paris Review literary magazines, and production freelancer for Glamour, Self, and Vogue magazines; freelance editor; Stony Brook University’s national annual fiction contest judge; a 2013 Voices of the Year.

Contributing Editors: Michael Dickel, Ph.D. A poet, fiction writer, essayist, photographer and digital artist, Dr. Dickel holds degrees in psychology, creative writing, and English literature. He has taught college, university writing and literature courses for nearly 25 years; served as the director of the Student Writing Center at the University of Minnesota and the Macalester Academic Excellence Center at Macalester College (St. Paul, MN). He co-edited Voices Israel Volume 36 (2010). His work has appeared in literary journals, anthologies, art books, and online for over 20 years, including in:THIS Literary Magazine, Eclectic Flash, Cartier Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Sketchbook, Emerging Visions Visionary Art eZine, and Poetry Midwest. His latest book of poems is Midwest / Mid-East: March 2012 Poetry Tour. Kelly Garriott Waite Her work has appeared in The Globe and Mail, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Christian Science Monitor, Thunderbird Stories Project, Volume One, Valley Living, The Center for a New American Dream and in the on-line magazine, Tales From a Small Planet. Her fiction has been published in The Rose and Thorn Journal (Memory, Misplaced), in Front Row Lit (The Fullness of the Moon) and in Idea Gems Magazine (No Map and No Directions). Her works in progress have been included in the Third Sunday Blog Carnival: The Contours of a Man’s Heart and Wheezy Hart. She is the author of Downriver and The Loneliness Stories, both available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Assistant Editors: Dyane Forde Author of forthcoming Rise of the Papilion Trilogy: The Purple Morrow (Book 1) Glen Perkins Poet and fiction writer, he is at work on his first novel. Shanan Hailsip Business and fiction writer. Adrienne Kerman Freelance writer and editor, her essays have appeared in multiple magazines, as well as in The Boston Globe and Washington Post. She has authored a weekly parenting column, MomsTalk, for the Boston area AOL/Patch sites. LeoNard Thompson Has published opinion editorials, weekly columns and essays, and interviewed performers, practitioners, writers, politicians and personalities.

Our staff is an eclectic mix of writers and editors with keen eyes for the striking. So beware – they may be culling your own site for those gems deserving to be unearthed and spotlit in The Woven Tale Press.

Editor’s Note: The Woven Tale Press is a monthly culling of the creative web, exhibiting the artful and innovative. So enjoy here an eclectic mix of the literary, visual arts, photography, humorous, and offbeat. This month: Nematodes, neurons, Jewel bugs, and the simpler of darning socks. Did I mention joy and Coca-Cola? All submissions are credited by their interactive URLs; click on an URL to learn more about a contributor.

To join our community and to submit go to:

Life Blood

7:00 p.m. Wednesday. Edna and I are at our usual spot, the Starlight Lounge, having our usual cocktail. We’ve each ordered a Zombie. A most appropriate inside joke. We are dressed in slightly different variations of the same outfit, long-sleeved silk crepe dresses and close-fitting hats adorned with fake flowers and grosgrain ribbon. Gloves, thick stockings and patent leather T-strap heels. Heavily applied foundation. Lots of rouge-and raspberry lipstick. A little too garish of a shade if you ask me. It’s the end of October, yet nearly as stiflingly hot as August, and in our layers of clothing we are uncomfortable. Having ought the refuge of a darkly shadowed back corner booth, we bemoan, between sips of rum and citrus, the absence of an autumn that is cold and crisp, and we worry, in this heat, how much longer we can keep up our charade. Nearly a year has gone by since Edna and I met and started having drinks at the Starlight. Funny, not meeting each other before, living as we did in such a small town. In any case, last December we found ourselves laid out on side-by-side porcelain slabs, wearing our Sunday best and miraculously revived, owing to having been pumped full of straight gin instead of the usual preservatives. (It would seem that the undertaker had an aberrant sense of humor, or perhaps he was simply celebrating the end of Prohibition a little too liberally.) I notice, as I reach for my mint-garnished glass, the tiniest smudge of powdery green mold on the sliver of mottled skin peeking out between the soiled edges of my right sleeve and my glove. I don’t know which I find more distressing, that my clothes are starting to look shabby or that I am. Taking a last hard swallow of my Zombie, and feeling rather drained myself, I mumble to Edna that we’d better order another round. Just to be safe.


Art Journal Page

Journal page created mainly with left over scraps and cut outs from other projects.

Nematode Garden Crisis

The garden-shutdown, precipitated by a minority of garden participants belonging to the Ancient Intransigent Nematodes of Tea (AIN’T), shocked the woman with a beard. The bleeding hearts cried soft nectar tears. The toad flew in from a marsh in Africa to join a meeting of garden life-forms. A few frogs chorused in greeting as he joined. The snails still arrived last. Only a small number of obstructionist nematodes instigated the crisis. Their purported love of tea remains beside the fact. Soft nectar tears. Š2013 Michael Dickel

They refused to participate in the interdependence of the garden, insisting on withholding compost from the garden until all life forms reformed the cycles of birth, life, death, decomposition, rebirth through re-uptake by others so only AIN’T would benefit. Opposed to Socialist composting, they insisted that leaves, cuttings, wintered stalks, and similar products, belonged only to the seeds that produced them and their favored worms, who re-processed them. They denied that soil, other compost, rain, sun, air, or symbiotic life-forms contributed to producing these valuable food sources. In short, they rejected biological interdependence with a parasitic vengeance that threatened the ecological balance of the garden. 3

As far as their thinking took these worm-brains—which was not very far, for, after all, they were nematodes—as far as they could figure, the food source belonged to the seeds that produced it. The nematodes that processed it, of course, took their take. Their take on things did not agree with the rest of the garden creatures congress. AIN’Ts destructive-purposed refusal to participate in the necessary budgeting of energy, time, and resources to the process had now frozen the garden solid. They had closed down the garden. They brought December, but January loomed ahead. Then the coldest temperatures would penetrate deep into the soil. The whole garden could collapse. Without the protection of compost, the warmth of its decomposition process, the absorption of solar heat by its darkness— without the slight warmth from this necessary system, the roots of all plants would freeze solid. All of the seeds would die. This did not bother the nematodes. They didn’t believe in They rejected biological independence. (c) Dickel January, global warming, the cycle of life that produced the garden or the inter-dimensional mathematical and geometrical recursive reflections of its essence. The worms only believed in eating what they wanted for themselves and in a firm denial of their reliance on others. They pretended an interest in the seeds, but they knew all seeds die when they grow 4

into plants. They did not care for the plants, despite AIN’T rhetoric. The nematodes only wanted the aftermath of compost to themselves. And after the math, which they did not understand, they only wanted for themselves and their own everything they could incorporate into their worm bodies. The toad and a few bird friends feasted on the AIN’T worms. The rest of the garden life-forms worked together to dig the compost out and to spread it on the garden. Meanwhile, the woman with a beard tried to recruit AIN’T nematodes committed to interdependence. The toad discouraged her, saying this group were only soil pests anyway. The toad flew to a marsh in a Caribbean Rain Forest to hibernate for the winter. The garden survived. Barely.

They were only soil pests anyway.





(b continued)


Blue Door

Climber in Red Shirt

Summer afternoon in Cracow


Jewel Bugs

Nizam of Hyderabad was once considered one of the richest men on earth, with a collection of gems and jewelry that was unparalleled in world. It is believed he used Jacob diamond, one of the largest diamonds ever mined, as a paper weight. Legend has it that a lot of his treasure is still hidden in different parts of the erstwhile Hyderabad State. So you can imagine my joy when I found this beautiful precious stone in the bushes on the banks of Ameenpur Lake where I had gone for bird watching. I was about to pick up the jewel when it suddenly jumped and settled on a leaf. Ah, it was not the jewel of Nizam but of Mother Nature! No less beautiful, however, than a real jewel.

The Jewel on the leaf: Chrysocoris stolli

When I was a kid small bugs were in abundance, but today due to excessive use of pesticides, all kind of lesser fauna is slowly vanishing. I was mesmerized by the beauty of this little Jewel Bug or Chrysocoris stolli, nicely perched on the leaves of wild morning glory. I do not have a macro lens, and whatever little macro photography I do, I use a reverse ring on my 50 mm lens, call it desi jugaad if you may. So I tried to click some pictures with my 300 mm Nikon lens. The Jewel bugs are more or less harmless to humans, but if you try to touch them they produce a stinky fluid, so better maintain a distance. They are found almost all over the world in tropics and semi tropical areas. 9

Chrysocoris stolli or Jewel Bug


Oh, Darn

When my mother found something particularly funny or helpful in the newspaper, she would clip it out to keep posted on the refrigerator until the paper yellowed and edges curled and, eventually, its significance would be forgotten. She would put up Erma Bombeck columns. Recipes she wanted to try. Comic strips. One “Hi and Lois” strip has remained in my memory for thirty-six years: In the first frame, Hi hands his wife a sock and tells her that it needs to be darned. Lois takes the sock in the second frame, and studies it intently. In the final frame, Lois throws the sock into the trash can with the words, “Oh, darn.” My mom laughed out loud when she read the strip. Of course, I didn’t understand. A thirteen-mile bike trail cuts diagonally through my village, running along an old Conrail track behind houses, between farms and swampland, and through a wooded section, dark and inviting. I can buy eggs on the trail. Organic produce. Local wine. Deer occasionally pause on the trail, stock-still and staring. Cardinals flit between branches of the trees. I pass other bikers, dog walkers, joggers, and a man on a recumbent bike who is missing one leg. I pass the pawpaw tree from which I have picked pear-sized fruits. I pass hickory trees, walnut trees, wild apple and crabapple trees, and, yes, I confess to having harvested the fruits from each of these as well.  On the trail, I smell wild grapes as they ripen and fade into autumn. I see the magnificent bald-hornets’ nest, all whorls and arches, strength and industry. Then too, there is the landfill, first detected by the smell, a smell so different and out of place in this arena of flowing water, blooming flowers and fields. The smell is overpowering. I pedal faster just to get past. I hear the landfill next: the sound of gigantic dump trucks driving in and up a path flattened by too much use, while turkey vultures and seagulls perch from cell-phone towers, surveying the scene below. Finally, just as I prepare to cross the street, the landfill comes into view.


It’s a massive mountain, made up in part of what I’ve discarded. Every day as I pass, it reminds me of what I’ve thrown away; of how much I willingly waste. I have “oh, darn”ed my way through too many things, discarding the worn for something shiny and new, pretending to have regrets when actually feeling relief and pleasure at the anticipation of a replacement. But the sheen wears off and eventually what is new becomes old, and I am left to decide: Shall I repair it or shall I throw it away? My mother had a darning egg. It was smooth and wooden, and full of mystery and purpose. I darn with a rock tucked into the heel of the sock I’m repairing. People would think I’m crazy if they knew I darned socks. It’s simple enough to run to Target to pick up new ones, easy enough to throw away the old socks mainly in good condition, save the one small hole worn through at the heel. But every day as I bike, I’m confronted by my wastefulness. And so I darn. I darn badly, making mistakes as I go, frustrated with myself because girls as young as six once knew how to handle a needle and thread. But still, I darn. Today, I understand that comic strip clipped and posted to the refrigerator. Every year, my mother made wardrobes for four children. Every year still, she makes jelly and jam, puts up peaches and pears, green beans and carrots and corn. She refinishes furniture. Braids rugs. Strips wallpaper. Makes quilts and, yes, even dishes. In making a home, my mother is industrious, doing for herself and her family what is too easily outsourced today. There’s quite an honor in that, an honor that, for far too long, we’ve overlooked. And so I darn. 12

Conservation - The Green Thing

Checking out at the supermarket recently, the young cashier suggested I should bring my own bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment. I apologized and explained, “We didn’t have this green thing back in my earlier days.” The checkout girl responded with “That’s our problem today, isn’t it? Your generation did not care enough to save the environment for ours and future generations.” She was right of couse; our generation didn’t have the green thing in our day. So what did we have back then? After some soul-searching about Our Day, here’s what I recounted to the disgruntled face of the checkout girl: “Back in our day, we returned milk bottles, pop bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could recycle the same bottles repeatedly and we didn’t need those ugly great glass recycle bins that blight the scenery.” But remember, we didn’t have the green thing back in our day. “However, we walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and lifts in office buildings. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower gas-guzzling machine every time we had to go two hundred yards.” But of course she was right, we didn’t have the green thing in our day. “Back then, we washed the baby’s nappies in a bucket because we didn’t have the throw-away kind that clog up the sewerage system. We dried clothes on a line outside, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 240 volts; wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.” But you, young lady, are right. We didn’t have the green thing back in our day. “Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house, not a TV in every room, and the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief, not a screen the size of Wales. In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric energy-burning machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used screwed-up old newspapers to cushion it, not styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap that is made from oil and doesn’t bio-degrade. Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn petrol just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human

power. We exercised by working at physical jobs so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.” But she’s right, we didn’t have the green thing back then. “We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole thing just because the blade got dull.” But sadly we didn’t have the green thing back then. “Back then, people took the bus, and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their mums into 24hour taxi services. If you were lucky enough to have mains electricity, we managed with one electrical outlet in each room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint or chip shop.” But isn’t it sad how the current generation laments on how wasteful we older folks were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then?

A Tale of Three Little Pigs

Over the years we’ve lived in West Dorset, we’ve very often come home from a day out to find a pheasant or two hanging from the front door knob or a couple of freshly gutted rabbits lying on the step. Bags of beans, courgettes, apples, plants, jars of produce – what goes around comes around. A case of share and share alike. In our Greek village it’s no different, even though we’re still new here and the economic crisis is biting hard. We’re given bags of produce, eggs, fruit, grapevines and cactus plants. We’ve been treated like royalty at the panygyri, with food and wine brought to us on plate after plate. A fight’s almost broken out in the plateia over who’s going to be the first to buy us an ouzo. The generosity of our neighbours at home and abroad never ceases to amaze me. 2 That’s the way of village life, although there are those who insist you reap what you

sow. It’s about leading a simple life and doing as you would be done by. Over the past year, we’ve been saving our food scraps and vegetable peelings and leaving them out for collection to feed the hens and the three pigs. We’ve had bags of eggs left on the front door on a regular basis. Our garden’s been rotavated. We’ve had bags of vegetables left in the porch, we’ve had our trees cut, been given pruning advice and had cheery waves and toots of horns every time we venture outside the house. This week’s been no exception. Two great slabs of lean pork, ten thick chops and a dozen big slices of belly pork were delivered with a fag-in-themouth smile to our door. My sister-in-law, who is staying with us, is not too fond of pork so we’ve put it in the freezer. And then we have an invitation to supper next door. It’s only a pig’s head sizzling away in the pizza oven. I’m not

sure about it myself. I’m a farmer’s daughter but, every now and then, a bit squeamish. However, it’s a darn sight better than something pale and anonymous and shrinkedwrapped in a supermarket chiller. At least we know where it came from and it had a good life. Still, with plenty of garlic and roast potatoes, a whole load of ribs and feta in the oven, we might just get away with it. Although maybe not. 3

That’s about it.

4 16

Separation Anxiety

When my mother died many years ago, my father tried to do things exactly the same way Mother did. When Mother made a green salad, iceberg was her lettuce of choice. Her sandwiches were spread with Miracle Whip. White bread was all she bought. Dad followed suit for several years because it was comforting to know he was doing what Mother would have done. Then one day, when my husband and I came over for dinner, I noticed Dad had made a salad using romaine and field greens. “What, Dad, no iceberg?” He looked at me sheepishly. “I think this has more taste.” Then he added, with a nervous laugh, “You don’t think Mother would mind, do you?” After I reassured him, a flood of other changes started showing up. He bought dark bread and mayonnaise (He told me he had never actually really liked Miracle Whip), and he experimented with my mother’s recipes, adding different spices or ingredients to make them his own. I thought about that as I was peeling peaches for breakfast. I peel them by going around and around, in one whole curly-cue peel. My daughter pointed that out to one of my granddaughters one time, saying, “Look how Mimi peels fruit.” I peel it that way because my mother did, and she peeled it that way because her mother did. I made Nestle’s toll house cookies with my little neighbor yesterday, and as I was cooling my cookies on newspapers rather than racks, I explained that this was how my mother had cooled her own cookies. That way the paper soaked up the grease.


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and me

I wonder how many things I do because my parents did them that way. How much of me is in my children? Do we hang on to certain ways because they are comforting and make us think of the ones who did them that way? Is there a little hint of fear that the way we learned is the best way and doing something a different way might not turn out as well? I have no answers. Just musing.

Ain’t We a Pair?

My husband called me when he got to work this morning. “Are you upstairs by any chance?” “No, I’m still at the breakfast table, reading the paper. Want me to go upstairs?” “Yes, please, if you don’t mind. On my dresser is one of my business cards that I wrote a list of to-do things on. Could you read them to me?” I went upstairs and looked on his dresser. No business card. “Honey, it’s not here.” “You sure? I thought I left it there. I wonder if I left it in my shirt pocket. What shirt was I wearing yesterday?” “The pink one,” I said, confidently. “That’s right,” he said. “It was the pink one. Could you go look in the hamper?” “It must have been the blue one because it’s on top,” I said when I got to the hamper. “Yes! That was the one. Is the card in the pocket?” “Yep!” “Great, now read it to me.” “Chersick trcfio. Budlt asscuer contrnt. Child visl dom (locl & unerlck feative)” “Could you read that again? I couldn’t understand you.” After nearly 42 years of marriage, you’d think I’d have learned to read my husband’s writing, but his writing has gotten worse and so has my eyesight. It took awhile, but together the two of us got his notes more or less deciphered. I love how we complement (and compliment) each other.

The Cliff Dive

The summer when I was fourteen, I made pocket money bringing in hay for local farmers and doing odd jobs for neighbors like Mrs. Ryan, a widow up the road. Every Saturday morning, I would cut her lawn and earn 50 pence. It was only a small lawn, but back then 50 pence would buy four bars of chocolate. This particular Saturday morning, when I was pushing my dad’s rusty petrol mower up the road towards her house, I found the normally empty drive occupied by a brand new car with a Dublin registration plate. New cars were a bit of a novelty back then, but the grass would not cut itself and I had two more lawns to do. I pulled the ripcord and the mower spluttered to life. I was making short work of the lawn, racing up and down like a kid possessed, when I noticed her watching me. She was about my age but taller. She had shoulder-length blond hair and was wearing a “Duran Duran” T-shirt, skin-tight jeans and white deck shoes. My heart spluttered like the battered old lawn mower. My cut ended directly in front of her. A cool kid would have said “Hi” or waved or something. I just turned on my heel and started another cut. The sweat was running down my back and my face was as red as a beetroot. Eventually, I got to the far end and was forced to turn back. She was gone. In the space of one strip of lawn I had fallen in love, had my heart broken and wound up alone. It took another ten minutes before the job was finished, but she had not reappeared. I was seriously considering mowing the lawn all over again, when she walked around the corner of the house, a glass of lemonade in her hand and a snarl on her face. She thrust the glass toward me. “Gran said to give you this.” I turned even redder. “Thanks.” 19


“Is your name really Squid?” “Yeah,” I said, not seeming to be able to say more than one word at a time. She held out the 50 pence piece. “Gran said to give you this as well.” “Thanks.” I took the coin from her. My finger tips brushed the skin of her palm. Electricity jumped across my nerve endings. She seemed to have felt it; she pulled her hand away as if she’d been stung. “Is that your car?” I asked, finally getting my voice to work a little. “It’s my mom’s. She made us visit Gran for the week, not that I was given a choice,” she said, with a bit of snarly sulk. “I didn’t want to come. Culchies are boring and it smells like cow shit here.” I was a bit offended, but it was too late for me; even her most unflattering characteristic only made her seem more wild and interesting. I was quite literally sunk. Her name was Denise and she was not alone in her enforced duties to her long- suffering grandmother who seemed equally grumpy, as her older and younger brothers had come along as well. But they were worldy-wise, big-city slickers and I was the country bumpkin determined not to be left behind. The week slipped by too quickly. We made rope swings from the branches of the big pine trees at the end of my garden, cooked potatoes in tinfoil over a bonfire, and the brothers told me stories about the city while I tried not to stare at their sister. Towards the end of the week, Denise threw out a remark about how a black T-shirt made a man look sexy. That night I begged my mother to get me a black T- shirt, even though I am sure Denise just wanted a laugh at the dumb Culchie. The Saturday before they were due to leave, Denise wanted to bike out along the headland. Her older brother Daren tagged along, so we rounded up three bikes and headed for the ocean. Showing off, Daren would race ahead of us, and truth be told, I wished he’d just vanish into the distance forever. That hour riding along beside this gorgeous girl was the most perfect I had ever spent. For a time she even forgot she was above all this kiddie stuff, freewheeling down a hill, her hair spread out behind her on a warm summer breeze. 20

We ended up out at the tip of the headland where we abandoned our bikes in a field and walked across to the cliffs. Although not very high, the cliffs descended sharply down into the ocean, into the deep dark green of the Atlantic. You could climb down their face and stand on a ledge hanging about 25 feet over the water. We sat on a huge slab of rock jutting out like a table, our feet dangling over the edge. “I bet you would not jump from here,” Daren needled me. “I bet you would not,” I countered. “I will if you will,” he said. My stomach bunched into a knot. I don’t like heights, but I am a good swimmer. From our perspective on the ledge, it was a hell of a long way down. Denise was looking at me, leaning back on her hands. I desperately wanted her to see me as something more than a geeky kid who lived next door to her grandmother. “You’re on,” I said. Daren and I got to our feet. We began stripping down. He went all the way to his Yfronts, but I kept my jeans on. No way I was going down to my underwear in front of Denise. Daren stood back from the edge. “You first.” I inched forward, hooking my toes over the edge of the rock. I peered down into the water, trying to see if there were any rocks below the surface. My legs began to shake, and I was sure I was going to wet my pants. I was going to do something that could possibly kill me. Behind me was a girl I was mad about. In front of me, certain death. How did I get myself into this? But there was no way out without looking like a total prat. A tear slipped past my eyelid and escaped down my cheek. That tiny tear set me free – I was not going to cry in front of her. I launched myself out as far as I could, and plunged through the air feet first. The world went silent. The water was exploding around me. In a cloud of white bubbles, I vanished below the surface. At first I did not move. Until I realized I was not hurt. Adrenalin coursed though my 21


veins. I kicked up toward the light and broke through the surface. Two shocked faces peered over the edge of the rock far above. I hollered and punched the air. Then an amazing thing happened: Denise beamed a huge smile down at me. Daren never jumped. The climb back up the cliff was nearly as scary as the jump, but I had done it and I’d survived. The next day Denise went back to Dublin, and I never saw her again. But that’s not the point. The point is, that for one second in my life, nothing was impossible. In that smile Denise had beamed down at me from the cliff, I’d glimpsed heaven.


While working on this painting, I heard the news about a bus accident in Sw children, died after a school skiing holiday. These figures came to me, depic

witzerland, where 28 Belgians, including 22 cting despair, disbelief and shock.


Meet Me at the Bell “Meet me at the bell.” That was how we usually ended our phone calls before hopping on our bikes and joining up for whatever adventures awaited us that particular day. We were best friends, and back then an afternoon could stretch for miles, with an infinite number of opportunities dotting its landscape. Some friendships are like that, too. Just like that. The aforementioned bell was an impressive cast iron affair tucked beneath the red brick steeple of a sturdy stand-alone structure, in front of a densely shaded church. Neither of us belonged to this church. I don’t even remember its name or denomination. We chose it for the simple and practical fact that it was centrally located between our houses. We must have met there a hundred times before continuing on to Burger King for a chocolate shake; or to a different bell (one of the Taco variety) for a burrito; or to the nearby lake where we’d carefully cradle the baby ducks in our palms. Sometimes we’d go to the hospital across the street where my father’s key gained us access to the doctors’ recreational lounge, which was almost always vacant except for other doctors’ kids. Once we determined there were no adults to kick us out, we’d play racquetball, idly tug on the weight machines, or hang out in the sauna. All the while we’d gossip and pine over Rob Lowe, his Brat Pack and our favorite, hunky soap stars. And we’d plan our dreams. We were in the same grade at the same school; attended the same church; and had many of the same friends. I often spent the night at her house which intrigued me to no end, with its impossibly quiet and impeccable order. She had only one brother, who I almost never saw, and two little dogs that actually followed rules. These dogs knew what they were allowed to eat and where they were supposed to sleep. They toggled around on tiny, three-inch legs, leaving not so much as an indentation on the spotless carpets. My own house held four, loud brothers who rarely followed rules and spun through the place like mad cartoon Tasmanian Devils, marking their territories with crushed pieces 25

of assorted Nabisco products, random articles of clothing and broken boyhood paraphernalia. Our beloved, monster-sized German shepherds crowded our couches and beds and, with barely a stretch of their necks, gulped down whole loaves of bread and entire boxes of cake mix–packaging and all–right off the kitchen counter, topping them off with long, sloppy drinks from toilets perpetually left in the “up” position. In my friend’s world, everything had a place. In mine, every place had a thing … or three, piled precariously upon it. I liked my world and was enthralled by hers. Our differences never translated into anything more than a change of scenery. To me, her house offered a spa-like retreat with bathrooms that smelled liked Vitabath (the bright green kind) and soft fluffy towels that I learned to use for wiping down her shower doors and tiles in a battle against water stains and fluorescent green residue. The absence of sibling rivalry made her home the perfect place to watch the much-anticipated premier of Michael Jackson’s Thriller video or to listen to Jack Wagner croon “All I Need,” probably a little too excessively. If we were in the mood for activity and mayhem, well then my house held just the ticket. Friday night pizza was delivered weekly to my front door in towering stacks of flat brown boxes, the top one of which was always opened and half empty before it ever reached its destination. Long, wispy threads of mozzarella floated in the fragrant steam like silly string as each slice broke free of its host pie, trailing the Pied Piper of Pepperoni like streamers from the elegant front hall, down through the brown-paneled family room and into the farmhouse kitchen. On Pizza Night, the heavy, round oak table that ordinarily anchored all eight members of my family for grace and supper, served as a buffet for half the neighborhood kids. Basketball, Ping Pong and Atari were always high on the agenda and a large lawn that gently rolled into to a backyard lake allowed everyone to thoroughly exhaust their youthful energy and imaginations. My friend and I never judged each other. After all, we limped through our awkward years together … during the eighties. When you spray Sun-In and wear blue mascara together, you tend to accept each other no matter what. Just like that. Eventually we turned 16 and proudly slipped new drivers’ licenses into our Liz Claiborne wallets. The bell became a blur in our periphery as we passed by it on our way to the beach, the movies or a friend’s house. I remember meeting at the bell at least one more time the summer between graduation and college. As if formally acknowledging that time was picking up its pace and change was charging at us like a bull, we 26

vowed to remain friends forever, with a fervency of hope and faith distinctive to teenage girls. (We also promised that whomever died first would somehow contact the other to tell her what it was like on the other side. I don’t think either of us are keen for any aspects of that particular pledge to be realized! Is it too late to take it back?) We celebrated graduation from high school with a trip to Los Angeles where we met Rob Lowe. In the fall, we moved on to separate colleges and for a while stayed connected via peach stationary. Then the “we” stopped. For reasons entangled amongst the complexities of life and the insecurities and immaturity of a young adult, I let that friendship fade like the echo of a distant gong. It would be twenty-five years before we saw each other again…at my mother’s funeral. It would be twenty-five years and five months before we met again at the bell. *** I had run across the parking lot to the church that morning, with my husband and sons, trying to dodge the steady drizzle spotting my dress and reshaping my hair. I’d planned this funeral and knew the details and sequential order of things by heart.

Childhood best friends reunited at the bell.

But as I passed through the doorway, my heels fighting for purchase on the slick tile, My thoughts drained away, alongside the rush of rainwater bubbling against the outside gutter and sliding beneath the grated grin of the sewer. I stood there, dazed and confused, my arms burdened with heavy picture books filled with my mother’s face. People were talking, possibly to me, but nothing could penetrate the buzz of nothingness swarming inside my head. I smiled and nodded like a wooden marionette until off to my side somewhere someone called my name. I turned my head and there she was.

Childhood best friends reunited at the bell. Just like that. Some friendships are like that. 27

Digitally Printed Fabrics Symbology is the study of past and present symbols that have become engrained in our being. Symbols signify our existence and our connections with the external world; illustrating feelings such as “I have been here,” ” I believe this,” and “I am like others.” They are markers on the road map of my work, both in their presentation and in their interpretation by the viewer.


Symbols determine the colors and mediums incorporated into each piece. Building layers of color through processes including dyeing, fiber manipulation, printing, and mark-making, I embrace a journey replete with personal symbolism. My vision is to give voice to stories and experiences through the tactile medium of fiber.

Primitive Man


Primitive Fiber Art Series

This is a part of my Primitive fiber art series – Primeval Woman and Primeval even what might be in the future. Both pieces are dyed on silk noil, discharged denotes strength. The Andrika symbol for Primeval Woman means wisdom.


Primeval Man

Man. I am exploring the meaning of symbols from first recorded to current, and d and utilized original stencils. I used an Andirka symbol on the Primeval Man that

Primeval Woman


Fizzy Beginnings It was a well known fact in local circles in Columbus, Georgia that the Colonel who was wounded in the Civil War had become addicted to morphine. And given that he was now retired from active service, he was engaged in trying to find a substitute for the substance which was not so freely available to him now that the county had passed a legislation prohibiting morphine. In 1886, after more than a few years of experimenting with drugs and chemicals, he finally hit the jackpot. One fine day in May 1886, the Colonel called in his assistant Jacob into the lab and asked him to taste a beaker which was filled with a fizzy liquid. Jacob took one look at the beaker. He stared at the strange, bubbling liquid and wondered if the man across the table actually expected him to drink it. But then, Jacob had known the Colonel for many years now and owed him a lot. He tasted the liquid, and actually liked it. What happened later is the stuff that legends are made of.

This post is a fictional retelling of how Colonel John Pemberton invented Coca Cola way back in 1886. While the facts about his injury, morphine addiction are accurate, the character of Jacob has been invented for purposes of this post. 31

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