Writer, photographer and lover of the overlooked and forgotten

Photo compliments of author

What would you like to know? I’m guessing you would like to know my slant, my background, what I bring to the party, what makes me tick. Not too much information, just enough. So here goes –

First, my last name is Greek. My grandfather immigrated from Greece in the early 1900s. A fellow immigrant helpfully translated our last name into (sort of) English. “Helentjaris” looks more complicated than it is: the “t” is silent, and, like most Greek names, the accent is on the next to last syllable. Helen — JAR — Us. As a result of the unique…

Author Linda Sittig’s passionate quest

The Millinery Shop by Edgar Degas. Wikimedia Commons

As a child, author Linda Harris Sittig sometimes wore homemade clothing. Her friends in her northern New Jersey neighborhood also wore cotton dresses, corduroy pants, and pajamas sewn by their mothers. Although those other moms might have been excellent seamstresses, none could compete with Mrs. Harris’s tales of her grandfather’s Philadelphia fabric mill. They didn’t know which Irish towns wove the best linen. None rivaled the care she took to assure her daughter wore quality fabric.

A classic choice with a rich backstory

Photo compliments of author

Riding the sea of black robes, the killer whale sparkled a message of inclusion and heritage. Created from pearl buttons, scarlet, and black cloth, the whale was the central motif of the button blanket draped over Christina Gray’s shoulders. It proclaimed the young woman’s membership in the whale clan of the Tsimshian indigenous people. Atop her head, a woven cedar bark hat served as an exclamation point. No other lawyer called to the Ontario bar that June day in 2015 wore such dramatic garb.

At first, the Law Society of Upper Canada refused Gray’s request to wear the traditional outfit…

An eighteen-year-old immigrant reaches the Port of New York in 1910

S.S. Themmistocles Photo in public domain

The first crossing

over the choppy gray Atlantic

was with his father

to work.

The second crossing,

they took their American money


The third crossing,

the last time,

the final journey,

he sailed alone,

abandoning Greece for America’s glitter,

enchanted and

lured by sirens his father ignored.

He gambled aboard the ship

and docked without a drachma

or a penny

or the required twenty dollars.

He was officially a pauper

facing deportation.

His dream beckoned at the end of the gangplank,

drawing him off the ship.

He grabbed…

Kathie Ratcliffe creates gem-like art from bits of cloth

Kathie Ratcliffe with a quilt. Photo compliments of author

With an air of tranquility, the village in Virginia sprawls along the Catoctin Creek. To the west, the Blue Ridge Mountains rise. Less than fifty miles to the east, bureaucrats and powermongers elbow each other in Washington, DC. Yet Waterford exudes peace as if recalling its Quaker roots. Historic homes — brick, clapboard, stone, and log — string along the few streets in an array dating to the 1700s. Sprinkled among the houses nestle a one-room African American schoolhouse, a button-size grocery with sheep grazing out back, churches, and an old-fashioned…

This vibrant remnant of an Irish cottage industry survives in our digital age

Photo compliments of author

Coming up with gift ideas for men, according to groupthink, stretches our imagination. Ties, golf balls, and button-down shirts pile up over the years. Gift buying is a bit easier if the fellow, like my special man, happens to be bald. Hats. Hats to not only keep warm, but to protect the top of his head. Being bald is like being a cat without whiskers — a bald man never knows exactly how close his noggin is to the undercarriage of the car he’s working on. Or…

Create your own writing prompts with ease

Photo compliments of author

Blank pages come in myriad forms. Ghostly rectangles on desktop screens. College-lined blue on white cheap paper. Yellow schoolchild tablets. Heavy pebbly stationary with a monogram. Yet they have a commonality: blank pages beg to be filled. With writing.

I prefer the blank white of my desktop. My fingers can fill a page up in no time at all, except when they can’t. When I’ve hit a wall and don’t know what to write next or what to write at all. Those are the times I need a prod, a prompt, a reset.

Designer Alissa Bertrand of Jabellafleur thrifts and upcycles her way to success

Three young girls in ruffly white dress stand before a woodland.
Three young girls in ruffly white dress stand before a woodland.
Photo compliments of Jabellafleur

The original shopper certainly must have paid a good price for the curtain. Textured as only real silk can be, the coral, bronze, and teal panel would have added warmth and sophistication to any home. But by unknowable means, the discarded piece made its way to a Georgia thrift shop and waited. Waited to be purchased for less than a dollar, waited to be hung on another curtain rod.

Then one day, Alissa Bertrand breezed in and, like a magician, plunked down ninety-nine cents and swept the piece…

Passed down for generations, a family’s history beckons to be known

Image Library of Congress https://lccn.loc.gov/2017650227

Leggy geraniums splashed their red against the window. Through its panes, May watched streams of students, like bees winging to flowers, crisscross the University green. Ornate sandstone and limestone buildings ringed the oval lawn. Silent, sitting on a hard wooden chair at the end of the professor desk, she waited. With a start, she realized she’d been holding her breath.

Professor James T. Schmidt, Ph.D., French dialect expert, riffled through the papers in her shoebox with the precision and care of an archeologist. Every so often, he’d grunt “huh”…

Theatrical costuming wizardry tells us a story

Photo by Anthony Rosset on Unsplash

The Times Square ticket agent shared bad news that April in 1968. Your Own Thing was sold out. I can still see him — a hefty old man with a New York accent. Most everyone was old to me those days. And I’m sure my heavy southern “Ohiah” accent sounded as peculiar to him as his did to me.

I was one of a hundred or so Ohio high schoolers bussed to study Eastern European current affairs in DC and New York City. For most, this trip was the first ever to a…

Diane Helentjaris

Virginia writer with a love of the overlooked. Author of Diaspora, a poetry chapbook. www.DianeHelentjaris.com

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