Replacement Program for November

WF Program Director Sharon Owen has found a program to replace this year’s cancelled Authors Fair. WF members Robb Lightfoot, Charlie Price, and Jim Dowling will be hosting a panel discussion on short story writing for the November meeting.

We will announce more details as they become available.

 

Thanks.

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Member Monday: Grandmother’s Skirt by Alicia McCauley

Welcome back to Member Monday. Today we feature an essay by Alicia McCauley. Alicia is a teacher, a writer and the President of Vigilante Kindness. Her essay, Grandmother’s Skirt, was recently published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Merry Christmas. Welcome, Alicia.

Grandmother’s Skirt

by Alicia McCauley

A tiny crack splintered through my heart when I hung my grandmother’s skirt up in my closet this Christmas.  It’s a red and green plaid skirt that sits perfectly on my hips and floats at my knees, a traveling pants sort of miracle being that I’m six feet tall and my grandmother was five feet tall on her tallest days.

The skirt is one of two items I took from her closet when she passed away.  The other was a bland oatmeal sweater that smelled like her.  I kept that sweater on for days after she died, breathing in her smell even as I laid in bed nights, listening to the sounds that felt all wrong in her house.

But the skirt went unworn.  

The first Christmas season after she died, I couldn’t put it on without crying and so it hung at the back of my closet, its red and green merriment lost in a dark corner.  The second Christmas season after she died, I was able to wear the skirt with only the slightest quiver in my bottom lip when I looked in the mirror.

I paired my grandmother’s skirt with a black jacket zigzagged with zippers and tall, black boots with the skinniest of heels.  For good measure I added my favorite leather studded bracelet.  I remembered my grandmother wearing the skirt, so proper in her heels and pantyhose and a red sweater on top.  She would’ve laughed and shaken her head at her modest skirt paired with my hints of edginess.  

A thousand times I wanted to send her a photo.  I wanted our pictures to stand next to each other, each of us wearing this magical skirt, her red lipsticked mouth smiling next to my own pale grin.

Every single time I took her skirt out for a spin, I was showered with compliments.  I’m not fashionable or trendy in any sense of those words.  I’m gangly and awkward and when I can find pants that don’t look like I’m readying for a flood, that’s a fashion win in my book.

When I stepped out in my grandmother’s skirt, it was a whole new experience.  Compliments were showered upon me.

“I love that skirt.”

That is a fantastic skirt!”

You look radiant in that skirt.  It really brings out the color in your cheeks.”

Needless to say, I felt great in that skirt, so great that I carefully put it in my clothing rotation as often as possible.  I took the skirt to see ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’.  I wore it to three Christmas parties.  I wore it to the Christmas sing-a-long on the last day of school.  Finally I donned it for our Christmas morning church service.

As we read the Communion passage, I held the plastic Communion cup, complete with wafer sealed on top, and swirled the grape juice so that it coated the sides of the cup in red.  I thought about how Christ’s sacrifice covers my sins. I savored the wafer on my tongue and washed it down with the bittersweet juice, running red down my throat.

After church and after all the gifts were opened, a knot caught in my throat when I hung my grandmother’s skirt up that Christmas afternoon.  I ran my hand over the wool and slipped the skirt back into the recesses of my closet.  

Later that day I strapped on my helmet and pedaled out for a Christmas bike ride.  Under a blindingly blue sky and with the taste of Communion still on my lips, I thought of all the gifts I’ve received this past year, both tangible and not.

I smiled because somehow in spite of her passing, my grandmother still manages to give incredible gifts.

In her skirt I felt vibrant.

I felt confident.

I felt beautiful.

And the most magical gift of my grandmother’s skirt is that when I took it off and placed it back in the closet, all of those feelings still remained.

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

Member Monday: Sleepover from Walks with Thurber: A Memoir by Jennifer Levens

Welcome back to Member Monday. Today we feature a piece by Writers Forum Treasurer, Jennifer Levens. Welcome, Jen.

Sleepover

from Walks with Thurber: A Memoir

by Jennifer Levens

Author’s Note: This is all from the dog’s point of view, so the misspellings are his and on purpose.

I had a sleepover at my house. I know, it has been a long time since I got to talk to you. Mom has been busy, whatever that means. I have been going for more and more walks. But I have to tell you about my sleepover. You know I like white fluffy things and purple things. (That’s because Mom likes purple things. Sometimes she is a purple thing herself), but anyway about my sleepover. Mom brought my friend over and he stayed here. He got to sleepover at my house!!! Mom took us both for walks but not at the same time.

His name is Stan, but Mom calls him Sweetie Pie. Is that a food? Mom and Dad get pie a lot. They don’t let me have it. I get bananas and apples and grapes (not many of those) and a cracker at the morning and a cracker at the night and fish oil pills and then sometimes if I have itchy places or I sneeze a lot I get other pills. Sometimes I fake sneezing, because Dad wraps pills in meat. I like meat a lot too.

About my sleepover, the car smelled funny after Stan was in it. He wasn’t in my seat, but something happened. Mom brought him home and my blue thing for my seat wasn’t there again. I have another thicker blue thing. It is softer and more fun. Anyway, Stan stayed for a long time. Why does he get a bowl of food all the time and I only get two bowls a day? I wouldn’t eat his food. It is hard and in really small balls. He throws it up and catches it. I can’t do that with my food only the apples and bananas and grapes.

Anyway Stan slept in a cage. Mom would never let me sleep in a cage. I couldn’t even fit in Stan’s cage, but Stan says he likes it. It is like a cave and it smells like him and he sleeps real good in it.

The first night Stan woke everybody up. He grrr…d and he woofed and he was real loud. I only do that when there is danger like from that gray thing that crept along the fence and hissed at me and made mean faces at me. I don’t really know what Stan was grrr…ing about. I mean, I guess I am used to the stuff that happens around here. When I go to Stan’s house he says he likes it, because he gets out of his room for a while and my Mom walks him. He says she rescues him from the smelly place where there are all sorts of us and other people like, eeuwwee, cats and stuff. I don’t think I would mind a snake. Snails live at my house and I don’t mind them. They are really easy to catch. Anyway, back to Stan and me. Mom didn’t take us to Dog Park. She left us all; me, and Stan, and Dad all the next day after Stan got here. She came home smelling of woods and trees and why didn’t she take me? I would have really liked that.

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

Member Monday: The Airball Queen by Alicia McCauley

Welcome back to Member Monday. Today we feature an essay by Alicia McCauley. Alicia is a teacher, a writer and the President of Vigilante Kindness. Her essay, The Airball Queen, was recently published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Possible. Welcome, Alicia.

The Airball Queen

by Alicia McCauley

Friday afternoon was our school-wide reading program finale in the gymnasium.  The finale was a series of races and games.  There were jump rope relays, basketball relays, soccer relays, minute to win it games, hula hoop contests, scoot board races and a host of other challenges for my first graders to participate in.   There were times when I was doubled over, laughing so hard that I was crying because of balls escaping, jump ropes tangling, and all my first graders clapping and cheering each other on with abandon.

One of the harder games was a basketball shooting game.  Each kid stood at a line taped in the middle of the key and shot five baskets.  This was a supremely hard task for first graders.  That basket might as well have been in the clouds.  One of my darling little girls-a teeny, tiny breath of a kid-was chosen for this game.  

She was an adorable kid with curls of hair that bounced each morning when she would run to me and wrap her arms around my leg in a hug.  When she got excited about something, her blue eyes opened wide and she flapped her arms.  I’d seen her do this when reading her favorite books, when mastering particularly difficult math problems, when playing at recess and especially when she painted.

She stood at the line, basketball in hand, with a serious expression screwed on her face.  She shot.  Airball.  She scrunched up her face in concentration and shot again.  Airball.  Her third and fourth shots arched through the air and again fell short.  

I bet you’re thinking this is one of those stories where she made the fifth and final shot and ran a victory lap around the gymnasium filled with kids who chanted her name and hoisted her up on their shoulders.

It isn’t that kind of story.

Not one of her five shots even came close to grazing the net.  

Not a single one.

Back in the classroom after the conclusion of the reading program finale, we’d gathered at the carpet to talk about all the fun we had competing and cheering each other on.

My tiny airballer raised her hand to share, “Mrs. McCauley, I was nervous about that basketball game because I’d never played it before.”

She paused and I’d waited, scripting in my mind words of encouragement or some sage advice about perseverance or something, anything to ease the sting of all those airballs.

She continued, the pitch of her voice rose to an exuberant squeal, her arms flapped in wild excitement, “I was nervous at first, but then I played the game and I was AWESOME at it!!!”

Wait, what?  

She explained, “I’d never thrown a ball that high before.  I threw it really high five times.”  She held up five proud fingers. 

My face broke into a huge grin, mirroring the smile on her own precious face.

How silly I was for thinking I needed to pepper her with my “sage advice”.  As is so often the case, I found myself marveling at the unconventional wisdom of my students. 

I can be so hard on myself when it comes to trying new things, so fearful and bound in nerves, so unwilling to try lest I fail, or, worse yet, lest I fail in public.

The next time I’m facing a new challenge, I’m going to remember her face, scrunched up by every ounce of concentration.  I’m going to remember her candor in admitting she was nervous and afraid.  But most of all I’m going to remember her wild, flapping arms and the triumph on her face for throwing the basketball higher than she ever had before.

She didn’t make any baskets that day, and for that I’m grateful because if she had, I would’ve missed the lesson.  She didn’t score any points, but one thing is for sure, my itty-bitty airball queen was a winner.

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

Member Monday: An Excerpt from Argentine Assignment by Chloe Winston

Welcome back to Member Monday. Today we feature an excerpt from Argentine Assignment, Chloe Winston’s latest book. Here’s a little more about Chloe.

Chloe Ryan Winston 001Chloe Ryan Winston was born on a ranch in eastern Oregon, graduated from Marylhurst University, and earned a master’s degree at Idaho State University.  She lived in Ashland, Oregon, which is featured in her writing, as well as Mexico, and has traveled extensively to fifty-eight countries.  Ms. Winston has contributed to several blogs, and as a travel writer to publications including The Los Angeles Times, International Travel News, and Mature Lifestyles.  She has been a cruise destination lecturer as well as a high school teacher, counselor, and administrator. Chloe will be signing copies of Argentine Assignment at Barnes and Noble on October 24 at 1 p.m.

An Excerpt from Argentine Assignment

by Chloe Winston

The plane’s engines were already rumbling as we scrambled up the narrow, wobbling steps as though the devil himself could have been right on our heels.  I didn’t dare look back.  I whispered, “Knee, don’t fail me now!”  It wouldn’t do for that old sledding accident to kick up a fuss.

A dim light at the top told me the door was ajar, perhaps we could squeeze through that opening. Was it left open for us? Who was on the other side? Were we leaving the frying pan for a fire?  I tripped, my dicey knee buckling a little, and I grabbed the skinny rail to keep from falling.  One of my fingernails ripped.  A brisk gust of wind tore the scarf off my head.  I glanced down. 

The curly girlish wig that I’d put on Jaime’s head was now askew. I yanked one reluctant hand off the rail to reach over and straighten it.  I wanted him to look like a girl until I found out what was going to happen after we boarded the plane. And perhaps should keep him looking like a girl until I handed him over to Derry in Mexico.

My hurried movement threw us both off balance for a moment.  I feared we would fall, and I took a quick breath. Just a few more steps. The door opened a fraction wider, showing a slender hand extended to us.  I shoved the boy inside just as the airplane’s engine strummed more deeply in an initial readying for takeoff.  As I shoved him, I again lost my footing, falling to my knees. A painful slip.  Our helper giggled—a strange reaction I thought, but at least a friendly sound. We probably did look funny…entering a plane this way rather than the more usual collapsing corridor.  I got to my feet, losing sight of Jaime for a moment. Then the attendant slammed the door behind me, swinging the lock into place.

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

Member Monday: All the Forever We Had by Linda Boyden

Welcome back to Member Monday.  It’s a pleasure to feature a poem by poet, storyteller and children’s author, Linda Boyden.  You can purchase a hardback copy of Linda’s newest picture book Boy and Poi Poi Puppy at All About Books.  Welcome, Linda!

All the Forever We Had

By Linda Boyden ©2014

All the forever we had,

four days,

three nights,

a speck of time

but with enough joy

to last an eternity

apart.

 

Joined at the heart,

time and space

could not separate us.

We wait for Time to

loop us together,

cradle us again.

 

Until then

we stay apart,

forever lovers,

heart-in-heart

against the dark.

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

Member Monday: Dylan Retrospective by Linda Boyden

Welcome back to Member Monday.  It’s a pleasure to feature a poem by poet, storyteller and children’s author, Linda Boyden.  You can purchase a hardback copy of Linda’s newest picture book Boy and Poi Poi Puppy at All About Books.  Welcome, Linda!

Dylan Retrospective
By Linda Boyden ©2014

What happened to the wild poets
the crazy word makers?
Red
White
Black

            Brown
Hell, get drunk enough and everyone’s Irish,
30 pints of Guinness reveals the truth.

Where are the crazy poets?
We were the wanderers,
the word listeners,
the rat-ta-tat-tat beat
filling our brains
guitars trilling
to Smoky Mountain blessings
thoughts blurred as snow fields.

We passed the bread basket,
played jug band music,
hoped to eat,
sometimes didn’t.
So we wrote
we hoped
we lived to write.
We sucked up coffee,
and often just sucked;
used hunger as the fuel

to wind up unforgettable.
Immorality is one letter shy of immortality, a few cigarettes

and beers from the gutter.
Stolen lyrics, forgotten lines,
who cared, who remembers?
We got our words out.
We got our worlds out.

Now who will catch the torch?
Who cares where the hungry poets spend the night?
Who knows how to feed one?
Do we? Does anyone?
When are you going to howl, America?
Or are you star-spangled to death,
a no-child-left-behind-single-file-parade
to acres of beige houses with white trim?

When will you howl, America?
Where are your crazy poets?

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!