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…
“I found Peaches!”
I look up from sorting papers at my stepdad George’s kitchen table. He died a few days earlier, at home, at age ninety. Now seven of us are sorting, dividing, and donating his belongings. Jean is working on the shelf under the sideboard. I expect she’s found a cache of home-canned peaches in glass Ball jars. The peach harvest here in the mountains is always a big deal.
She points to a box of a certain size. Turns out she’s found the cremated ashes of George’s insanely speedy Miniature Pinscher, Peaches — with a capital “P.”…
Around the globe and across the years, rag dolls carve their own niche
There’s magic in humble scraps of cloth, deer hide, fur, and cornhusks. With a bead or two, a hank of yarn, and a few embroidered stitches, a rag doll can be birthed. The first parent to cobble together bits and bobs into a human shape and hand it to their child will never be known. The British Museum has a Roman rag doll from 1st-5th century A.D. The linen dolly still retains dabs of paint and even one blue bead, felt to have been a hair ornament…
Autumn hikers travel farther than expected
Kathy turned the ignition key, her brown eyes drawn to Smudge. Like a flexing body builder, the black cat struck pose after pose in the window. His eyes flashed gold with the rising sun. Kathy, popping in a CD, eased her SUV out into the road. Miffed at losing his audience, Smudge, with a sassy tail flick, vanished — off to do whatever it is felines do when their mistresses go away.
Cinnamon-and-coffee-scented steam rose from the cup holder.
“Wonderful,” she whispered. After her troubles in the spring, Kathy had decided to spend Saturday…
Teens sneak out at night and find…
A soft whirring hummed through the four in the morning silence. Two bicycles, lights extinguished, rolled through the inky Virginia neighborhood.
The fat, smiling moon — a waxing gibbous for those who care about such things — had abandoned the June sky hours earlier. Off to the east, light pollution from the DC suburbs bleached the horizon. Porchlights hinted at oversized houses on ten-acre lots. Sycamores sprouted from shadowy dells, remnants from the days when Holsteins polka-dotted the land.
A few muscular pumps at the pedals brought Sam’s bicycle atop a rise. On…
A short story of a turn-of-the century girl’s dreams
Sunshine covered the children in the one-room schoolhouse. Nothing escaped the morning light flooding through Mountain Gap School’s paned windows. Sunlight highlighted the crooked part in Mary Lou’s hair and the patch on Tommy’s shirt. Only the scratching of chalk on slates and the snuffles of a child with a cold disturbed the quiet.
Outside, the Carolina Road squeezed the clapboard school up against Hogback Mountain. …
Opening the door brings in the unexpected in Waterford, Virginia
“Hmm, maybe the purple is best right here by the green.” Belinda Owens sat on the back porch of her log home in Waterford. The village’s handful of streets sprouted vernacular Virginia houses dating back a century and more. Sure, DC — only fifty miles away — was historic but the District never gave her this feeling of timelessness, of crisscrossing with ages past. Belinda found it easy to imagine she was living fifty, one-hundred, or even two-hundred years earlier. She and Dolph, her husband, called Waterford “the magical village.”…
A short murder mystery from Virginia’s hunt country
The murder had been easy, surprisingly so. Adam whistled tunelessly as he puttered around the shop. He refilled the brass holder with business cards and straightened out the stack of “Visit Middleburg” brochures. Outside the antique shop, the light was starting to fail. The days were so short in November. They’d be short in Puerto Rico, too, but they’d also be warm. He hated the cold.
His mother had always said the best times were the unplanned ones. He chuckled. The best murders seemed to be the unplanned ones as well. “Crimes…
San Francisco, a teen girl, and the medical intern
Hers was the first stomach I ever pumped. I stood by the semiconscious teenager’s head and chanted under my breath “In with the good, out with the bad.” With an experienced doctor walking me through it, I had inserted the tube. I snaked it through her nose and ran it all the way down into her stomach. The stomach full of a mishmash of capsules and tablets. Now I was pouring a black slurry of charcoal into the tubing, letting it rest a minute, then drawing her stomach contents out. As…
Recompense for the immigrant
I like to think it happened at the Old Courthouse,
though more likely it was in a beige or green government room.
Nevertheless, in my mind’s eye,
my egg-shaped grandfather stands with the mayor
at the top of the Old Courthouse steps.
So diminutive he’s nearly invisible,
flanked by the white Ionic columns
which like a whale’s baleen filtered out the good Daytonians from the bad.
The premier Greek revival courthouse in America,
plopped down on the flats at Third and Main,
a limestone facsimile of Athens’ Temple of Hephaestus.
Nearby, on its own acropolis, shouldering…