October Story of the Month: Through the Dirt to the Son

I find myself drawn to the “pen” when I experience emotional pain. Writing a fictional story helps me to turn the pain into something that I hope will help others who may be experiencing the same. This is one of those stories. 


For Inez, clearing her mind of the ugly words was the hardest part. Prayer, verses, sweet worship with friends. Nothing seemed able to displace what Yola had said. The words hung there, accompanied by a heaviness inside that weighed down her soul.

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Creative Cooking in Lean Times

The cool evenings of fall always bring out my desire for lingering in the kitchen, after a summer of quickly-prepped meals to avoid the heat. Recently, I decided to have spaghetti, and as I cooked up a batch for dinner, memories of my mother and her creative cooking came to mind.

Creative, not in how she cooked, but how she stretched what she cooked.

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The Non-Maniacal Order of Adjectives

Here’s a bit of fun for language fans. Maybe you’ve already seen this, but it was only recently that I discovered this gem. English speakers do something naturally with adjectives, according to author Mark Forsyth:

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien wrote his first story aged seven. It was about a “green great dragon.” He showed it to his mother who told him that you absolutely couldn’t have a green great dragon, and that it had to be a great green one instead. Tolkien was so disheartened that he never wrote another story for years.


The reason for Tolkien’s mistake, since you ask, is that adjectives in English absolutely have to be in this order: opinion-size-age-shape-colour-origin-material-purpose Noun. So you can have a lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife. But if you mess with that word order in the slightest you’ll sound like a maniac. It’s an odd thing that every English speaker uses that list, but almost none of us could write it out. And as size comes before colour, green great dragons can’t exist.

If you have your doubts, come up with a descriptive sentence of your own and place the adjectives outside of Forsyth’s listed order. It’s a fascinating exercise!

From The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase, by Mark Forsyth (2013).

InSight

I sensed that I wasn’t the only one with my gaze directed toward her. She was not easy to ignore.

A young woman — beautiful face, clothes casual and colorful, long hair swinging as she made her way to the corner. She carried a loaded backpack, but its weight didn’t affect her happy gait. A man passed by her with a lingering look that might have caused discomfort for others.

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I Collect Old Books: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

My first-edition copy (1964) of CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. My fourth grade teacher read this story aloud to us. Hearing it for the first time, I distinctly remember thinking “This family is poorer than us!” One of my favorite stories from childhood, I think it made me the chocoholic that I am today.

Did you know that the author’s original intention was for Charlie to be “a little black boy”? Read the interview with his widow on BBC.

Weaving Childhood Memories into My Stories: Hair Pressing Time

School Picture Day is the annual Fall occurrence of best wear and toothy smiles in schools across the country. My school’s Picture Day happens next week, and the event is stirring up fond memories of my mother preparing her children for that day.

Other than Easter Sunday, the Lowe Kids never looked better during our elementary school grades than we did on Picture Day. Mom would make sure we were wearing our neatest and nicest. And on the evening before the day, she would “press” the girls’ hair with the hot comb and use foam curlers to set the curls overnight. When we left for school, Mom had her little girls ready to stand before the camera, with a send-off of “Don’t let that cameraman touch your hair!”

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September Story of the Month: Telling Stories

During my childhood, it got to the point where my sweet relationship with my mother was broken due to her bad choices. I never stopped loving her, but, unfortunately, things with us were never again the same. She died 22 years ago, shortly after her 68th birthday (September 20). Questions I had for her were never answered. Apologies I craved from her were never received. 

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A Dream: Indestructible

Most of the time my dreams are made up of disconnected scenes that don’t make sense and weird, sometimes scary, situations. I usually wake up and (1) am thankful that it was just a dream, and (2) wonder about those people in my dream whom I’ve never met. Fascinating. This dream “stars” my brother and me, and is another quirky one. This time, though, most of it had a meaning that was clear and wonderful to me.


The car would not start, and they were in the middle of a street that was full of men and women walking in all directions.

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