Member Monday: Larry Watters

Today’s Member Monday piece was read at last Saturday’s Read Around. Thank you, Larry, for sharing. Thank you, Vickie Linnet, for the photo.

Other Writers Forum members can submit the pieces they read to writersforumeditor@gmail.com , and they could be published in a future Member Monday.

Larry Watters

Vending Machines Are Evil…

Vending machines are evil. When you have severe food addictions like I do, they should put the vending machines out of reach. Maybe up a ladder would work, ‘since I can’t do ladders.

I don’t care how fancy my salad is, how many carrot and celery sticks I bring in (I store them in my shirt pocket, poking up like pens and pencils), or how weird some of my seaweed rice cakes are to other people (I like them), I still find myself drawn to the vending machines here at work. We have a whole wall of evil.

But our machines are not only evil, they are tricky. The ones that take paper money are the ones that don’t have any items over a buck, most being 60 cents or so. We have one that has sandwiches, etc, and they run you over 2 bucks. But that machine doesn’t take dollar bills!

We have another that if it repeatedly refuses your bills, you can reverse your dollar and it works. That one continually surprises people when I tell them to try flipping it around. They have a look of doubt about my sanity, looking as if they decided to humor me (which most do, since I am the favored idiot). But that goes away when it accepts it.

I am the ruler of the vending machines here, a fitting title for my “Life without Clots” style.

 

Vending Machines-Revisited…

It has been quite some time since I blogged about the evil vending machines here at work. One reason is that I have been managing to avoid them, so I have no thoughts about them.

But today I succumbed. And naturally, it generated a thought.

Wouldn’t it be nice if one could read the nutrition label before plunking in the quarters? Our Wall of Evil recently added Sconza’s Yogurt Pretzels to the mix. Hoping against all odds, I decided to buy a bag on the premise of, “Pretzels are good, yogurt is good,” knowing all along that yogurt as a sweet is not all that good for you, no matter how fancy the wrap, nor the claims of the company (Sconza has organic, kosher and other products).

Well, the bag proved me correct in my inner thoughts: The first ingredient was sugar and no fiber. Sigh. But they still tasted good, and hopefully, my “Life without Clots” will forgive my slip.

 

Larry Watters

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It’s Time to Read!

It’s time for our semi-annual Writers Forum Read Around.
Both members and the general public are invited to the Writers Forum to read a selection from their writings.
To remind everybody…
  • Readings are limited to five minutes. This includes any explanations for your piece you think you made need. If it takes you two minutes to set up your piece, you only have three minutes left to read. The clock starts when you get up in front. Plan accordingly!
  • Everybody is welcome to read, but Writers Forum members have priority and will read first.
Our Read Arounds can be the most popular meetings of the year. Writers have shared poetry, short stories, novel excerpts, essays, memoir, humor, and non-fiction. We have a diverse group. Come and support one another!

Read Around is also a potluck! Bring a finger-food to share. Remember…bring items ready to serve. We do not have access to the refrigerator or the microwave.

Writers Forum meets at All Saints Episcopal Church, 2150 Benton Drive, Redding, CA. The meeting runs from 10:30-12:30.

Live Reading at Shasta College Tonight

You can support local writers by attending a reading tonight at Shasta College.

Students in the Script Analysis and Playwriting class at Shasta College will be reading from their works beginning at 6:00 in Room 638. They will read from original plays, monologues, and scenes.

Admission is free, and the reading will be followed by a meet and greet. Refreshments will be available at the meet and greet, also at no charge.

Please go out and support our local writers!

Shasta C Announcement

A Different Sort of Member Monday

Our Member Monday spot usually features an original piece by a Writers Forum member. This week, we highlight a member who could use our help.

A novel from the Aimee Machado Mystery series by WF Program Director Sharon Owen (writing as Sharon St. George) has been nominated for an award. We can help her win that award.

Spine Damage, book four in the series, has been nominated for the 2018 “Reward of Novel Excellence” known as the RONE Award! You can see the nomination at this link: http://indtale.com/2018-rone-awards-week-six

Sharon’s book received a 4.5 star or higher review in InD’tale Magazine. This qualifies it to continue to the reader voting phase of the 2018 RONE Awards.  In this round the readers will be narrowing down the nominees for each genre by choosing the books they love best.

The voting for Sharon’s genre will be May 21st – 27th

Here are the voting instructions from InD’tale Magazine:

It is extremely important that all of Sharon’s readers and fans know about the voting dates!  We would hate to think a superior quality book lost only because people were unaware of the time limit. Also, voters MUST be registered on our website at www.indtale.com in order to vote. Once they register, if they haven’t already, they will be required to click the verification link sent to them via email. If they do not verify their registration with this link, they will be unable to vote. This is very important to help ensure that the voting is fair and maintains the high quality standards required for this top-tier award.

Once the voting is final and the four finalists’ books in Sharon’s genre are announced, those four books will then be read and judged by a group of professionals in the industry to determine the very best mystery novel in the indie and small published world!  The winner will then be announced and awarded the prestigious RONE Award at the formal ceremony, October 6th, 2018 in Burbank, California at the InD’Scribe Conference. http://www.indscribe.com

We at InD’tale Magazine have put in an incredible amount of time and effort to create and present the most credible and prestigious award in the industry today.  Our three-round system of elimination covers every facet – highly rated and reviewed, loved by fans, and critiqued by qualified judges.  No other award system today compares, making the RONE award the very highest of honors bestowed on a novel in the publishing industry.

Don’t forget, the voting window in Sharon’s genre is May 21st – 27th. Email writersforumprogramchair@gmail.com if you have questions.

Good luck, Sharon!

Member Monday: Jackie Cundiff

This week’s Member Monday is from Jackie Cundiff. Jackie shared this story at last December’s Read Around.

Our next Read Around is coming up in June. We invite everybody to come out and share a five minute reading of their work. We will post more details next month.

Rotisseries: Ferris Wheels for Chickens

I’m not big on doing barbeque or any cooking outdoors. I’ll be frank. I’m not too big on any cooking, but it’s one of life’s fundamental requirements. If necessary I can put on a good meal, maybe even an elegant meal. I raised four kids, and they fondly think of me as a good cook, but then their memory of their childhood differs from mine. Since my discovery of the George Foreman grill, my barbeque has stood unused, unless one of my macho boys shows up and brings meat. Then they cook it, which is almost as good as take out.

Some years ago, when I was still feeding three boys that consumed mountains of food daily, we purchased a new barbeque. It was pretty fancy. It had a bit of chrome, a temperature regulator, and a fancy rotisserie. As I peeked through the owner’s manual, I came across a picture of a beautiful turkey, done to perfection, using the rotisserie. I read through the directions, and as it looked pretty simple I decided that is what we would have for Thanksgiving when turkey is required cuisine.

The recipe called for a bird of twelve pounds or under. That was okay, as I never liked leftovers, and since there were only going to be seven of us, it seemed adequate. However, just to be sure, I purchased a boned twelve-pounder. On Turkey Day I propped the included booklet next to the grill, just in case I needed more directions, fed the turkey roast through the spit, and carefully inserted the prongs. I sure didn’t want it to fall off the spit. I set the temperature to medium, plugged her in, and we were cookin’.

It had clouded up a bit and a few flakes of snow drifted down. I moved a table close to the grill and raised the umbrella. After all, it was November and snow wasn’t unusual, but I didn’t know what a sudden snow flurry would do to our new grill or to our dinner.

I watched the roast rotate for a bit, and I thought it looked a little dry. I could fix that. I went to the kitchen for a cube of butter. I peeled the wrapper back and inch or so and returned to the porch to rub the butter on the bird. When I touched the butter to the outside of the turkey, it was hot-hot-hot. I dropped the butter, and it fell into the burner. It flared up, and the net bag that enclosed the meat caught fire. I grabbed the spit handle and pulled the turkey away from the fire thinking that it would go out. It just flared bigger. I waved it, trying to extinguish the flame, hit the umbrella and had another fire going. I screamed and called for help.

The men in the house were gathered around the TV with some football game or other, and my voice wasn’t heard over the crowd’s fervor. However, my daughter heard. She came running with the fire extinguisher. She sprayed the turkey. She sprayed the barbeque. She sprayed the umbrella. She sprayed the deck. She sprayed the air around us. She sprayed me. We were having a white Thanksgiving.

We weren’t having a turkey dinner, though. The new grill didn’t recover. The umbrella was a goner. Amid the general household hilarity, I headed for the shower. Soap and shampoo helped me recoup. But what about dinner? While I showered, my sons fried up some bacon and boiled some eggs. My daughter sliced some fruit, cooked up some white sauce, and toasted some English muffins. Soon we sat down to the traditional family emergency dinner, the dinner that effortlessly materialized when I stayed too long at the bridge table or was generally delayed getting home: creamed eggs on English muffins, bacon, and sliced fruit. The conversation was mostly about fire control, evacuation routes, and of course, my past faux pas, of which I have had a few.

I don’t do Thanksgiving from scratch anymore. I try to hint that someone else do it. One year I even faked a broken oven. Raley’s does a good turkey dinner if the hint doesn’t take, and you can keep it a couple of days before reheating and serving. The things we learn when we get old.

Shasta College Club Looking for Writing Submissions

This is a call for submissions sent to us by the Shasta Community College Creative Writing Club.

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

The Shasta Community College Creative Writing Club is proud to announce that we are creating a literary magazine for the 2018 school year. The literary magazine will be published in cooperation with the Office of Access and Equity, so we are primarily interested in work that includes voices from diverse communities or pieces on diversity or community, but we encourage writers and artists from ALL backgrounds to submit your work. We are accepting fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, and visual art pieces.

Short stories and creative nonfiction should be no longer than 2500 words.

Poems should be approximately 1 page or less.

We will also be taking submissions for a collection of  nonfiction essays on the subject of “community.”  These should be no more than 500 words.

Art work is needed for the cover of the magazine, and additional pieces will be considered for inclusion inside the magazine.

Please include a short bio of no more than 50 words.

All submissions are subject to editing for grammar/explicit content etc.

Submit work to shastawriter@gmail.com by MARCH 18, 2018.

Please feel free to email us with any questions and befriend us on Facebook at Shasta Writers.

One Christmas Miracle

Today we have an excerpt from a work in progress by Writers Forum member Michael Brian Brussin titled For King and Kaiser, and novel set in the trenches of World War 1. This piece recounts a miraculous event that actually occurred in those trenches in 1914. Michael read this excerpt at the December Read Around in 2016, and it is a perfect Christmas Eve story.

Excerpt from For King and Kaiser

By Michael Brian Brussin

 

Cropped Michael Bussin 1Evening came and it began to snow.

“All right—just because it’s Christmas Eve doesn’t mean you can take it easy; that’s just what jerry wants, so stay alert,” Sergeant Wade said to Albert and Jim and the men standing with them.

“We’re on top of things, sergeant, don’t worry,” Albert assured the cautious Sergeant Wade.

“I just wish it wasn’t so perishin’ cold,” Jim said, clapping his gloved hands together.

“Stop your moaning, Jim, it’s Christmas Eve and we’ve got snow; what more do you want?” Albert teased the young cockney.

“Yeah, Christmas,” Jim sighed. “Ya know, it feels like Christmas, even aht ‘ere.”

“It does at that, even in this hellish wasteland,” one of the other soldiers remarked, watching the snowflakes drift onto the parapet and beyond.

It was nine o’clock in the evening and the snow continued to fall. Oil lamps lit English and German trenches, and drum fires burned that had the men taking turns to warm their hands over the flames.

Albert sat by himself with a mug of tea thinking of home. Jim Broadbent sat with another private where they talked about their families and what they would be doing at that moment if they were home. Sergeant Arthur Wade walked up and down in a casual gait, lost in his own thoughts; and Captain Duncan made an appearance, checking on his men and making sure the parapet was lined with watchful sentries.

Hey, what’s that? What’s jerry doing?” one of the sentries said, peering cautiously at the German parapet.

“What is that?” another sentry questioned.

Sergeant Wade jumped onto the fire step and peered over.

The Germans had acquired Christmas lanterns and placed lit candles inside and put them along the top of the parapet.

The silence was then broken by distant singing.

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht…

The entire carol of Silent Night grew louder and was sung in a beautiful voice.

The English trench was captivated and touched by the singing of this hallowed Christmas carol, and when the song was finished the English clapped and cheered.

“C’mon, lads, let’s give ‘em one back,” Jim Broadbent said. “What’ve we got?”

“How about O Come, All Ye Faithful?” Albert suggested.

Sergeant Wade came over to the men and led them in a song like a choir master.

At the end of O Come, All Ye Faithful, the Germans applauded and cheered, and they then entertained with O Tannenbaum.

Christmas Eve ended with an exchange of more songs and a few shouts across the parapets.

“Happy Christmas, tommy!” a voice called from the German trench.

“Frohe Weihnachten, jerry!” Albert responded on behalf of the British.

The men in the trenches woke to an extraordinary sight—two robins perched on the wire in No Man’s Land. One of the red-breasted birds was settled near the German trench, and the other close to the British.

It had stopped snowing, but a soft covering lay on the ground. The sky was a clear blue and a biting yet refreshing cold filtered in the Christmas Day air.

There had been no ‘morning hate’ this day. No shots were fired; both sides honored Christmas with indications of peace. Neither side, however, took a chance looking at his enemy’s trench without the use of a periscope, aware of the ever-ready sniper.

The quiet and stillness remained, then the British sentries picked up some German movement.

“What’s going on over there? Sergeant! Come quick!” one of the sentries called. There was no response. “Jim, go and fetch the sarge, quick,” the sentry directed Private Broadbent.

“What’s happening out there?” Albert asked, hearing the commotion.

“Jerry’s moving about; we can see them. Rifles ready!” the sentry responded; then clicks sounded along the wall with rifles aimed and ready to fire.

Sergeant Wade rushed out of the dugout and looked through a periscope.

Good God, will you look at that!” the sergeant exclaimed.

“What is it, sergeant?” the men wanted to know, still unwilling to look without the safety of a periscope.

“They’re holding up signs…Happy Christmas, and…Drink with us.”

“What’s happening here?” Captain Duncan asked, appearing on the scene.

“Look! They’re coming over the top!” another sentry called.  “They’ve got their arms up!”

Sergeant Wade peered over the parapet without the use of a periscope, as did several of the other men.

“I asked what’s happening here,” Captain Duncan repeated.

“It’s jerry, sir,” Sergeant Wade answered. “They’re all out in No Man’s Land. I don’t think they’re armed.”

“Happy Christmas, tommy! Komm—have a drink with us!” a voice echoed in broken English.

“Let’s go, sarge! How about it?” the men elicited, with some of them already starting up the ladders.

“Stand where you are!” Captain Duncan ordered, stopping the men in their tracks. “There will be no fraternizing with the enemy. Now take up your positions!”

“Come on, captain, sir; it’s Christmas, peace an’ friendship an’ all that,” Jim Broadbent brazenly urged.

“What about a drink, tommy!” another voice rang out from No Man’s Land.

“Komm! We will meet you!” still another man called.

“What do you say, captain?” Sergeant Wade asked. “It is Christmas.”

Captain Duncan looked over the parapet and was amazed at what he saw. Scores of German infantrymen stood about in No Man’s Land, smoking and talking, and some were holding mugs of beer, having a jolly time.

Captain Duncan stepped down and looked at Sergeant Wade, then he turned to the men.

“All right…over you go!”

The men eagerly climbed up the ladders, but then they walked cautiously toward their enemy.

The Germans approached the British, and when the men of the opposing nations met in the middle of No Man’s Land, they shook hands and exchanged Christmas greetings.