writers and writing

Essay: Add Sugar

Sep 18, 2020

When my mother cooked sweet potatoes, she put them in a casserole dish with miniature marshmallows on top.  When she baked acorn squash, she scraped out the seeds and put in butter and brown sugar.  She added white sugar to fresh strawberries and fresh peaches and lots of other fresh fruit. 

And because I was a kid, I thought this was the way to eat.  It wasn’t until I was an adult that I ate fruits and vegetables by themselves—and of course, I discovered that they taste pretty great without any additional anything. 

Essay: Acting the Elder

Sep 11, 2020

A group of young people is gathered in my back yard for a potluck supper.  One by one and two by two, I talk with the guests. 

One couple tells me about their honeymoon, a backpacking trip to Europe.  “Madrid was the best,” the husband says.  “We saw an exhibit of Picasso and it was awesome.”

I ask about career plans and his wife says she is undecided.  “I’m studying economics and sports medicine,” she says. 

Essay: A Lot of Fire

Sep 4, 2020

I’m standing at the jewelry counter waiting to purchase a battery for my watch.  At the other end of the counter is an old woman talking to the salesman about her wedding ring.

“I want to wear it,” she says, “but it doesn’t fit right.”

She lays her left hand on the counter, a lovely hand with long fingers which are twisted with arthritis.  The salesman gently helps her slide the various sizing rings over her knuckle.  Beside the old woman is a middle-aged woman whose features identify her as a daughter.  She catches my glance and we share a smile.

Essay: Spiders on the Ceiling

Aug 28, 2020

Spiders on the Ceiling 

Sometimes our family rented a cottage for a couple weeks in the summer and nearby was a soda shop with a wide front porch.  My girlfriends and I liked to hang out on this porch where we could watch the world go by and eat our chocolate sodas.

We spent hours sitting at little round tables in wrought-iron chairs, leaning in to gossip and leaning back to laugh.  It was our favorite place to be—and we were there almost every night, feeling comfortable and safe.

Essay: Leaky Faucet

Aug 22, 2020

When I walk into the bathroom at Brimley State Park, I hear water running in the shower.  I assume someone is getting clean, but after I’ve washed my face and brushed my teeth, the water is still running and no one has emerged.  

 

 

Peering around the corner, I discover that the shower head is dripping steadily and I try to twist the knob tighter.  No luck.  Not my problem, I think, but maybe I’ll mention it to someone.

On this edition of Michigan Writers on the Air, we explore living and writing during COVID-19.  Writers Anne-Marie Oomen, Jerry Dennis, Lynne Rae Perkins, Ellen Airgood, Anne Stanton, Karen Dionne, and Fleda Brownshare their thoughts and some of their current work.

Essay: Wisdom by Heart

Aug 14, 2020

Since college, I’ve been collecting quotes from various sources—novels, newspapers, friends, strangers—looking for wisdom, insights, affirmations. 

 

 

In the early years, the quotes were mostly about romantic love—which often ends badly, which is what makes it romantic.  Lines of poetry helped me survive the heartbreak, such as these from Edna St. Vincent Millay: “I know I am but summer to your heart/And not the full four seasons of the year.”

 

 

Essay: My Dad Knew

Jul 31, 2020

When I was growing up, summer vacations were often two-week road trips to scenic destinations.  Our family of four would stay together in motels and eat in restaurants—which seemed exciting at first.  After a few days, however, I wasn’t feeling well—with a stomach ache and no appetite.

 

Essay: Lost Causes

Jul 24, 2020

My first husband called himself a “box salesman” and started his own company, selling corrugated packaging.  Some of my savings helped launch this enterprise and I very much wanted it to do well.  Thus, as a supportive partner, I learned to call the product “corrugated,” not “cardboard.”

 

Essay: Grilling Out

Jul 17, 2020

“What is that thing in the driveway?” I asked my mother.  It looked like a little flying saucer with a round metal body and four spindly legs.

“It’s a charcoal grill,” she said.  “Dad’s going to cook hamburgers on it tonight.”

I was guessing that Dad didn’t know about this yet.  None of us knew anything about charcoal grilling which was something my mother had heard about on television.

Essay: A Ride Home

Jul 10, 2020

When I was a little kid, I spent Saturday afternoons at the movies with my friends.  Somebody’s parents would drop us off at the theater and we would sit through two Westerns and a dozen cartoons, passing boxes of jujubes and milk duds up and down the row.


Essay: Fences and Neighbors

Jul 3, 2020

 

Our neighbors have put a fence around their yard. They have a good reason, wanting to protect their toddler from wandering into the street.

Essay: SARAMOM

Jun 26, 2020

When my daughter was a baby, everyone remarked that she looked just like her father—which  annoyed me even if it was true.  Then, as Sara got older, people observed that she looked just like me.  I was delighted but Sara was not. “I don’t want to look like you,” she said.  “I want to look like me.”


Essay: Change of Perspective

Jun 19, 2020

When I was young, my parents showed me photos of themselves when they were young and I would laugh and shake my head.  How old-fashioned they looked!  My mother’s hair with its elaborate artificial waves, her hats and gloves and fancy dresses.  My father’s three-piece suits with striped ties and the classic fedora that he wore everywhere—except indoors.

 

Essay: Boy on a Swing

Jun 12, 2020

I walk by a school and see a boy on a swing.  Not a little boy but a young man of about sixteen, swinging in broad arcs—up and down, up and down.  He is all by himself on the playground and I wonder what has prompted him to get back on a swing.  Then I remember that I did the same thing, not so long ago.

I wanted to feel it again, the soaring magic of tilting up into the sky, of leaning back and pumping myself higher and higher until I am sure I’ll go right over the top.  Until I am sure I will catapult myself onto a cloud.  

Essay: Adagio Power

Jun 5, 2020

I am stirring onions in a frying pan when I hear a piece of music on the radio.  It has a brooding, soaring melody that seems to express all the joy and sorrow I have ever felt.

 

Turning off the onions, I sit down at my kitchen table to listen, convinced that this music has the power to change my life, to supply all the missing pieces, to redeem the losses and renew the dreams.

And I am poised with pencil and paper to get the title and composer:  “Adagio for Strings,” the announcer says, “by Samuel Barber.”

Essay: Glimmer of Hope

May 29, 2020

Somewhere in the midst of the pandemic, the local newspaper published a survey, asking readers what they were missing most—things like restaurants, bars, theaters, barbershops.  Nowhere on the list was what I missed most:  my local library.

 

 

Sure, I wish I could stop in at J&S Hamburg or Sleder’s Tavern.  And even more, I wish I could get a haircut.  But if I had to choose, I’d rather have a book.

Essay: Yoga Teacher

May 22, 2020

When I walk into my yoga class, I notice that there’s a different teacher and I’m immediately upset.  Where is our regular instructor?  Who is this substitute?  Why weren’t we told?  Maybe I should just leave.

 

 

The new instructor introduces herself as Laura and offers no explanation.  Instead, she invites us to sit cross-legged on our mats and center ourselves.  Center myself?  Impossible!  I’m churning with irritation.

Essay: Windbreaker

May 8, 2020

Many years ago, my husband gave me a blue nylon windbreaker—very simple and lightweight, with side pockets and a hood.  I loved that jacket and wore it everywhere—jogging, camping, canoeing, and just hanging out on the back porch.  I had washed it a hundred times and it always came out looking like new.

Essay: No Regrets

May 8, 2020

It was long ago now, but I remember it vividly because I still use her advice.  I was taking a workshop on “Assertiveness Training” and the instructor was talking about saying no.

“Let’s suppose your neighbor asks you to watch her kids tomorrow and you can’t do it or don’t want to do it.”  Everyone in the class nodded; we were all women and we’d all been in this situation before, either asking or answering.

Essay: Laughing Buddha

Apr 24, 2020

My mother had a lovely vanity table with a three-way mirror and fancy bottles of perfume and a little dish where she kept her diamond ring.  At the edge of all this elegance stood a small wooden statue of the Laughing Buddha.  

 


 

Essay: Helping Eddie

Apr 17, 2020

Fresh out of college, I took a job teaching eighth grade English.  One of my classes was a group of students who were struggling, academically and socially—and I quickly discovered I was not prepared for this challenge.      

 


Essay: Exactly As It Should Be

Apr 10, 2020

You’d never mistake U. S. 31 South for the scenic route.  It’s as ugly as its name and U.S. 31 North isn’t a lot better.  Still, this is the highway you have to take to get to Traverse City—unless you know the area and can slip in on some side road.

 


Essay: Brownie

Apr 3, 2020

I am picking out something to eat in a coffee shop when my eyes linger on a plate of  brownies.  

“The mocha frosting is to die for,” the salesperson says. 


Essay: Uneventfulness

Mar 27, 2020

Several years ago, I heard a woman give a talk about a trip to Greenland where she lived with theInuit people, traveled by dog sled, ate raw seal meat. It wasn’t the kind of vacation most of us would choose—but for her, it was life-changing.

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