The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild
By Linda H. Barnette
More than 25 years ago, a friend at church who was a speech therapist at Baptist Hospital, suggested to me that I had symptoms of a voice disorder. Although I had no idea what was going on, I noticed that more and more often my voice slipped from a regular sound to just a whisper. I was pleased to find out that it might be something that could be cured.
Thus began a long journey that lasted over 20 years. At Baptist I was diagnosed with Spasmodic Abductor Dysphonia, a movement disorder which essentially meant that my vocal cords did not work correctly and made normal speech impossible. Even though there was no known cure, the usual approach of giving the patient a passable voice was the process of injecting botulinum toxin, commonly known as Botox, into the vocal folds in order to try to relieve the vocal spasms. For many years I got those injections every 3 months and had several episodes of concerning side effects. During that time I had a working voice most of the time although it was generally weak.
Eventually, I went to Duke weekly for voice/speech therapy, which never really worked as I had hoped it would. However, I was willing to try all suggested therapies.
The last injection that I had was in September of 2015. I will never forget that one because of the gallbladder attack I experienced on the way home! After 2 surgeries and another cancer diagnosis, I decided to end both the injections and the therapy. Luckily, I had been able, with the help of many people, mainly my sweet students, to finish my 30 years of teaching. My decision to end the injections left me with only a whisper, so I could not have taught like that.
At first it bothered me not to be able to speak because I couldn’t talk on the phone, participate in discussion groups, order at a drive-thru or converse normally with friends and family and many other things. You can fill in the blanks. This was not an easy decision, but after hundreds of people asked me if I had laryngitis, I simply turned it over to God and went on with my life as best I could. That was the point of acceptance.
However, I have continued with my life as always. I have discovered a real passion for writing in addition to my work as a genealogist. My friends and family are all kind and patient with me when we get together (pre-COVID). I learned to play the bells at FPC, and although not a great musician, have enjoyed doing that. Technology has enabled me to continue to communicate with people, and I love keeping up with folks on Facebook too. So, in thinking about my particular situation, I am reminded of my great-grandfather, WJF “Bill” Dwiggins, whose mantra was “God giveth and God taketh away.” Little did I know that I had inherited both his courage and his faith!
By David R. Moore
Their backyard was unusually quiet. No squirrels scampering through the branches of trees or hunting for nuts along the ground. No flutters in the trees or birds visiting the feeders or the hanging suet. Then I heard a commotion coming from the woods on the side of the home. Blue Jays were making loud, continuous calls, and a chickadee joined in with its fussing. I spotted the Cooper’s Hawk sitting on a dead limb just eight feet from the ground. Several Blue Jays bounced among nearby limbs making their ruckus. The hawk seemed disinterested while sitting on the branch.
Hawks, with their hooked beaks, strong legs, and sharp talons are medium to large size raptors that are active during daylight hours. With their excellent eye-sight, they forage on a variety of prey including birds, small mammals, fish, reptiles, insects, and amphibians. Most hunt alone but some will team up with others in apparent cooperation.
The female of the species is larger than the male. Perhaps the difference in size allows them to exploit food from different habitats for their brood, or a larger female may better defend her young from intruders. They build nests of sticks which they reuse for years. They also build alternate nests in their territory and may switch nests occasionally.
Like many birds, hawks vacate their breeding range in winter and every autumn between August and December migrate south. Some migrate to more temperate areas of the United States but many migrate to Central American and South America. Unlike most birds, raptors migrate during the day, presumably taking advantage of wind conditions and thermals that speed their travels.
To monitor the health of the species, bird watchers perform Hawk Counts. Dedicated teams of hawk experts scan the skies for the raptors to perform the count. Various sites within North Carolina are used for the counting such as Mount Pisgah (Ashville), Grandfather Mountain (Linville), Hanging Rock, Pilot Mountain, Lower Creek School (Lenoir) and Seahawk Migration Station (Wilmington).
From these yearly counts, generalities can be made about the timing of hawk migrations. Broad-winged Hawks travel through North Carolina mostly in September. Red-shouldered Hawks, Cooper’s Hawks, and Sharp-shinned Hawks travel through in October, and the Red-tailed Hawks traveling through in October and November. The numbers counted are often in the thousands with Broad-winged Hawks being the most plentiful. For the Fall of 2020, about 4,000 Broad-winged Hawks were counted at the Grandfather Mountain site and the Lower Creek School site counted over 7,000. During the migration period it is also possible to view other birds of prey such as Bald Eagles and Peregrine Falcons.
After a squirrel joined in with its scolding, the Cooper’s Hawk finally flew on its way with Blue Jays chasing its tail. Will it overwinter here? The Blue Jays and others hope not.
“Remind Me Again”
By Kevin F. Wishon
A Zoom friend recently spoke of how forgetful we are. She continued by saying we needed reminding more often than we realized. She wasn’t referring to things like birthdays or infrequently used items, but how we think about things which are intangible.
As adults we are good at finding ways to remind ourselves of things we forget. A string tied around a finger or a to-do list are ingenious devices to encourage recall. Lately electronic devices and personal assistants are quickly replacing the old ways. So, we know just by our habit of using these devices, we are poor at remembering. However, I think it might be more accurate to say that we are poor at remembering many details unless we are excited about something in particular. Yet, it’s those intangible things that remain forgotten unless someone gently reminds us.
Not long after my Zoom friend’s conversation, a reminder of something I had not considered in many years came to my ears. Another friend spoke of having gratitude for things we own. I usually try to practice this as frequently as I can. I find it satisfies any feelings of lacking. Still, this friend took it to a deeper level. She explained how she tries to appreciate the many and various hands of those who had somehow made it possible for us to acquire the item. By recalling this, she added that we understand how thankful we should be when considering the mining, smelting, milling, manufacturing, and delivery it took to put one item in our hands.
Another example of being reminded of something comes in the form of forgiveness. In this time of uncertainty and tension, it’s never long before someone steps on your toes proverbially. One day not long ago, I was reminded of this. I listened to a tutorial lecture of new college students, which discussed how easy it was for roommates to fall out after sharing the same dorm room for several months. The speech spoke of our silly pride as being the root of most of these arguments, but what caught my attention was the solution to preventing these situations from reaching boiling points. We need to forgive. I had been annoyed by a friend’s attitude days before, and it continued to upset me. Hearing the lecture, I realized why I was feeling disturbed and upset inside. I had forgotten that I needed to forgive. That forgiveness set me free and dissolved the bad feelings I had harbored for days.
With each passing year, I need reminding more often. I keep books for reference, printouts of information, and adhesive notes loaded with reminders all over my desk. Yet, it’s not those pieces of information I fear forgetting. I need reminding about the way I think about things. Additionally, I need to hear it from someone who can remind me gently. I’m grateful for those who can remind me of my shortcomings and set me straight gently. Their gift is a relief to my weary mind.
The West End Garden Club is one of the oldest garden clubs in Winston Salem, and I’ve been a member for many years. I wrote and read the following Thanksgiving blessing for our club meeting in November of 2013.
Oh, Great Spirit, we gather together with open hearts and in humble appreciation, as we approach the upcoming season of Thanksgiving.
We give you thanks for all we have been and all we will ever be. We give thanks for all we have had and all we will ever have.
Grant us grateful appreciation by planting a seed within our soul that grows the greatest gratitude for the least significant moments of our lives.
In the discovery of renewed gratefulness, also place in our heart not only a thankful spirit but one of generosity in the giving to others.
We pray our gracious spirit of giving will surround and bring comfort to one in need – one to whom our gift might truly benefit and another to whom we might be a light in darkness.
Make our Thanksgiving Day holiday one of true meaning, with both – an attitude of gratefulness and a generous spirit of giving.
RWG Literary Corner
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