How To Fold Clothes

Even clothes of varying shapes should fit neatly on top of the pile. You do this through immaculate folding, so that a button-down takes on the same area squared as a pair of corduroys, and all of our Peter Pan collars spread flat beneath a man’s bulky knit sweater. 

When he’s been home so late night after night, the clothes can feel like tea leaves. This shirt’s sweat stain is on his side, this shirt’s remoulade stain is not. Martinis do not stain and he is lucky for that, though he probably doesn’t even know it, accustomed as he is to peeling a shirt off, throwing it into a hamper and putting it on again, clean. 

Image credit: PDPics/Pixabay

Image credit: PDPics/Pixabay

The pile shakes as you slap down each folded shirt, towel, pantleg, furiously folding and dizzy from illness. You reach from the heap to grow the pile. You can still fold our clothes. Cancer isn’t contagious so there’s no risk of infection.

From the heap comes a Barbie’s dress, carelessly tossed into the dirty clothes. I’m guilty as it sparkles, the way only hers can. You hold it in your hand, letting its fabric catch the light. Admiring it in a way, the briefest smile. You turn to me and say, “Gosh, the woman your father is sleeping with sure is small,” then slap the dress onto the pile to join all of our other clothes. 

- Jeanie Riess is a writer from New Orleans. She has written for The Oxford American, Smithsonian, The New Republic and others.

How To Manage Your Tattoos And Food

Your first tattoo is gateway ink. Think about the theme you want to begin with this one; it’s going to matter. Your first tattoo is the Wonder Bread spots, on your calf. As soon as it heals, begin planning the next tattoo.

Make all your friends become vegetarians. Be a good cook, and take the time to show them the basics: pasta, eggs, salad with nuts. Garlic. Lentils are fast food. Always have lentils in the cupboard.

Your favorite food is Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. When you decide that your next tattoo will be the Kraft Macaroni & Cheese box on your bicep, you will discover that they changed the packaging. It now has ridiculous cartoon characters on it.

The author with her friend, Mark in 1990

The author with her friend, Mark in 1990

Write to Kraft and ask if they have a box of Macaroni & Cheese with the old design because you need it for your tattoo.

Potatoes are your second-favorite. They should be eaten at every meal. Go to the Potato Museum in Bruges. Drink vodka.

Kraft will write back and decline your request, but they will enclose coupons for free Macaroni & Cheese. These coupons display the old design.

Stay close to all your vegetarian friends. When you are dying, they will help you keep weight on. Pizza. Red wine. High-fat yogurt, if you can find it.

Wear sleeveless shirts to show off your Kraft Macaroni & Cheese tattoo. Warning: people will love you for your tattoo and not for yourself.

- Betsy Brown is author of Year of Morphines, a National Poetry Series winner. She is a poet and writer based in Minneapolis. Everything she ever learned about food was from Mark.

How to Transport a Thanksgiving Turkey

Start by buying a bigger bird than you think you need. It will be frozen solid so don’t wait until the last minute like last year. On Thanksgiving Day, get up at 4:00 a.m. In a dark house with a single kitchen light burning, make stuffing by tearing two loaves of Wonder Bread into little pieces. Add onions and a lot of sage. 

Wash the bird and study the skin for pinfeathers. Pull them out with a paring knife until you can run your hands over the bird’s skin and not feel a single feather. Pack the turkey with stuffing and put it in the oven. Turn off the kitchen light and go back to bed. At 9:00 a.m., when everyone is awake and dressed for Thanksgiving, take the midnight blue roasting pan with the nearly done turkey out of the oven and set it on top of the stove. Put the lid on the roasting pan. Wrap the lidded roasting pan in a dozen layers of the Detroit Free Press and tie with twine. Call one of your children to put their finger on the knots so they are tied nice and tight. Place the wrapped roasting pan on more layers of newspaper in the trunk of the car.

Ride three hours in the blue and white Chevrolet your husband is driving. Listen to your kids in the backseat counting telephone poles and reading Burma-Shave signs. Worry a little that you didn’t buy a big enough bird. Doze off with the smell of roasted turkey heating the car and wake up in your mother’s driveway. See that your brothers are already there and know they are having cocktails and joking in the kitchen. Put the turkey in your mother’s oven and then look for the yellow baster you left in the drawer last year.

The author's Mom and Grandma after dinner.

The author's Mom and Grandma after dinner.

- Jan Wilberg grew up traveling two-lane roads in Michigan and would still rather be in a car than anywhere. She is a daily blogger at Red's Wrap and has had essays published in Newsweek, the New York Times Modern Love, and three anthologies. She was a 2015 BlogHer Voice of the Year, selected for an essay called "Blindsided" about coping with severe hearing loss. Now a cochlear implant recipient, she is reacquainting herself with the hearing world but still likes the printed page better.

How to Paint a Landscape

To paint a landscape correctly you first have to immerse yourself in it. Spend years sifting the dust through your fingers. Walk each step of the trail through the Sierras where the Boy Scouts and horse packers have worn deep grooves in the landscape. Pick cholla and mesquite out of your pants cuffs. Look for horizons that are farther, larger, taller. Watch them fade into sunsets.

Painting by Glen Blankenbiller, 1996

Painting by Glen Blankenbiller, 1996

Take vacation pictures. Develop wheels of slides. Click through them at Thanksgiving, one picture after another of stones, sere pines, more stones. No people.

Get your hands dirty. Get your boots dirty. Take great strides across the landscape. Read Zane Grey and find the places he loved. Take pictures from the summits of mountains and the nadirs of valleys. Watch the way the sky changes with altitude. 

Buy some VHS tapes of quiet-voiced men and women painting flowers and mountains. Watch the tapes. Buy easels and brushes. Buy an endless supply of thin canvas boards.

Let twenty years go by.

Move into a smaller house where you have to travel to see the horizon. Buy better gear but take shorter trips. By the time you stop hiking your entire kit should weigh no more than 20 lbs, inclusive. 

Pick up your easels and brushes, your tubes of paint and buckets of solvent. Buy a small TV for your VHS tapes. Put them all in the smallest bedroom with the smallest window. Leave your slide projector on a shelf.

Paint what you see.

Painting by Glen Blankenbiller, 1982.

Painting by Glen Blankenbiller, 1982.

- Rowan Beckett Grigsby is the less-censored less-palatable alter ego of an attorney who might want to work in this town again someday. Professional editor and graphic designer by day and professional knitter by night, she has been an Unchaste Reader and contributor to the Unchaste Readers Anthology Vol. II (forthcoming), a contributor to Ask a Raging Feminist, a 2016 Pushcart Prize nominee and one of BlogHer's 2017 Voices of the Year for work we consider required reading, including "How to survive in intersectional feminist spaces 101."

For more of Rowan's Granddad, check out Tending Crops.

How to Cook Cod Pil-Pil for Your Son-In-Law and His Mates

Drive sixty miles to La Sucursal in Lugo. They sell the best salt cod; it doesn’t flake and will leave your son-in-law and his mates (and, of course, yourself) satisfied. Why Lugo, in the interior, has better cod to offer than your town, on the coast, remains a mystery.

Immerse the cod in a bowl of water under a cloth so that it can free itself of the salt. Leave for forty-eight hours and change the water every twelve. Shake your head every time your grandchildren come into the kitchen to check if the cod is still under the cloth.

1882 Eva Ferry.jpg

In a clay pot coated with olive oil (generously), brown a chopped head of garlic and eight chilies. Take out and replace with the cod, skin on the outside. Grab the sides of the pot with both hands and shake firmly, in circles. Do it for twenty minutes: it is vital that you don’t stop, even after the sweat starts to pour. The grandchildren will stare at the cod as it lets out its fat to produce the thick, white sauce known as pil-pil.

Dish up with the garlic and chili. Join your son-in-law and his mates in the basement and enjoy your dinner. Your grandchildren will eat their soup in the kitchen, but make sure they eat a bit of cod too: fish is an acquired taste and it is important they start early.

 

- Originally from Galicia in Spain and a resident of Glasgow in Scotland, Eva Ferry's fiction and non-fiction work has been published or is forthcoming in Salome Lit, The Public Domain Review, The Corvus Review, The Cold Creek Review, Foliate Oak and Novelty Magazine, among others.

Cabbage Rolls On Vicodin

Mom and I come up to help you and Pap after you get your knees replaced. Pap’s old-school, a Greatest Generation guy who’s only comfortable cooking BLTs, maybe an egg or two. Mom and I trade off tasks, but we want to leave you with sustenance: your trademark cabbage rolls.

From your bed, you sleepily tell us the ingredients. The filling is half ground pork, half ground beef, a kind of rice they don’t make anymore (I parboil regular rice), chopped onion, eggs. The cabbage, you say, should be dense. Feel how much it weighs. For the sauce, get Campbell’s tomato soup, the big cans. We’ll also want to get a can of chopped tomatoes to put on the bottom on the pot along with the pieces of the cabbage we cut off so the bottom rolls don’t burn. The sauerkraut should be the kind with caraway seeds. Remember to squeeze it.

Gram, on the phone with the author

Gram, on the phone with the author

Pap helps you out of your room while Mom and I smoosh together the filling. We’re using your big pot to boil the cabbage—not the heavy one of my childhood that gave us your pot roasts, but a lighter one that one of your kids must have gotten you. You tell us to put the whole head in there; stick a fork in the core, and with a knife, cut off the leaves as they get tender and stack them off to the side. “Be careful. You’ll get …”—you search for words, even though you’re nothing if not precise—“… hot hands.” Mom and I look at each other and realize that you’re kind of high from your pain medication. But you’re also right. You remember all this, even behind the curtain of Vicodin, the lessons of your Polish mother.

You show us how to form the cabbage rolls, using a sharp knife to trim the edges. “Tuck in the ends. Not like that. Like this. You don’t want them to fall apart.” You do one before you need to rest. Mom and I are both amateurs at this—it’s a miracle of pharmacology and aging that we’re allowed to use your kitchen—but we do our best.

I’m assembling and layering the cabbage rolls in the pot, and I run out of tomato soup. I scrabble through the cupboards because I know I don’t have time to go to the store, not if you and Pap will eat at a decent hour. I come up with some Prego.

We wake you. We ask you if it’s okay that we use Prego in the cabbage rolls. “Some people do,” you say.

“Some people,” I realize too late, translates into “some poor fools who weren’t taught right.” (Later, you’ll tell Mom, “I don’t know why I said that!” and laugh.) We ruin the cabbage rolls and know it almost immediately—but you eat a little over the mashed potatoes that Mom made and say, “I love you, my angels.”

 

Jennifer Niesslein is the editor of Full Grown People and the author of Practically Perfect in Every Way. You can read more about her Gram, a bootlegger’s granddaughter, in Jennifer’s essay “Before We Were Good White.”

 

How To Be A Racist And Raise Your Granddaughter To Be An Anti-Racist On The Sly

My Cumby grandfather’s racism lay curled around the stoop rail like a concrete hound made alive. Heavy, slow, heaving - almost too much trouble to keep up with breathing. Somehow, it sighed.

Once, as a child, he said, he and his brothers had tied a black child to a tree and played slavery. A child myself, I put a finger in my mouth to pay excruciating attention to a hangnail. My hands my tell clear as tea leaves.

The story went on. The child was no more than three. My grandfather no more than six or seven. They were neighbors. I’ve been to the site of both houses. Nothing but glass from broken tail lights and disembodied flocks of daffodils show there was ever anything there. Lumber company land now.

“It was all in fun,” he said.

I don’t think it’d be fun to be tied to a tree. I’d be scared.

“Well no one would do that to you.”

I’d fight and scream and cry.

“I’d come a-running. I wouldn’t let them.”

No one stopped you, Hugh.

“No one needed to.”

Who would have? Stopped you.

“No one.”

Alright, then.

“No one stopped you, Hugh” could have been his epitaph if he hadn’t been cremated. His ashes blew in our mouths as we tried to say the things you say when someone dies. We pretended against the wind.

Cumby derives from Cambow. Our first American ancestor was African. Remembered now.

image by Meredith Counts

image by Meredith Counts

- Jennifer Cumby is an editor at Dead Housekeeping.

How to Name a Daughter

Don’t rush into a name for the fetus. It’s just a bump, just a lump in your housedress that will maybe come to nothing after all: you’re not eating well, he drinks too much. The Depression has its hooks in you womb-deep.

Don’t hurry to name your baby. There’s so many of them and they die so young so often. She cries when she’s born; a good sign, a strong baby, but anything can happen.

illustration by the author

illustration by the author


Take your time naming your toddler. You’ve lost children already; you can lose this one too. Farmer’s rules: don’t name the animals you’ll have to slaughter. Don’t name the children that die, unrecorded. 

Call your little girl Precious and Darlin and Princess. She is the youngest and could be any of those things, barefoot in the red clay dust of the yard. Eventually she will return from her first day of school – so big! – asking “Mama, what’s my name?”

Say the first thing that comes into your head.

 

- Rowan Beckett Grigsby is the less-censored less-palatable alter ego of an attorney who might want to work in this town again someday. Professional editor and graphic designer by day and professional knitter by night, she has been an Unchaste Reader, a contributor to Ask a Raging Feminist, a 2016 Pushcart Prize nominee and one of BlogHer's 2017 Voices of the Year for work we consider required reading, including "How to survive in intersectional feminist spaces 101."   

Rowan has also told us How to Clean your Plate and How to Have Nice Things.

How to Make an Introduction

Pull your fat address book out of your overstuffed tote bag and browse the names, all of them, the old friends and the grandchildren and the people you’ve met at City Council and in elder hostels and in line at Publix. Consult your notes to find two people with something in common: a glass-paperweight collection, a love of Star Trek, children the same age. Get on the phone and invite them to your condo for lunch.

Put on your best summer pantsuit. Check your teeth for errant lipstick. Pop a Tic-Tac. Pull your shoulders back: posture is important. Roll out plastic runners to protect the carpet. Gather the piles of papers and photos and books that have accumulated on tables and in corners and put them in the bedroom, where no one is allowed to peek. Put fresh guest soaps on the bathroom sink.

Answer the door with a rush of joy and a 1930s-sorority-girl lilt in your voice. Invite your guests in. Find one unusual thing about each of them to compliment. Offer them iced tea. Tell them what they have in common. Regale each with stories about the other until their formality melts into laughter. 

Recall with a start that you have not made lunch. Open the oven. Realize that it’s full of stored photos, and that your toaster does not work. Offer to microwave some bread for everyone. 

While your guests nibble politely at their hot, soggy slices, call the Yacht Club for a lunch table. As you usher your guests out the door, stop them in a sunny spot in front of some palmettos for photos. Count down to the shutter: One, two, oops, just a second, one, two, three. 

A few months later, mail these to each guest, names and dates carefully noted on the back of each photo, with an apologetic note scrawled on the envelope: you’d addressed and stamped but then shifted them to the back bedroom and forgot to mail them. Your guests will understand.

 

- Sarah Grey is a writer and editor based in Fishtown. She writes about food, politics, society, and language. Her work has appeared in Best Food Writing 2015SaveurLucky PeachSerious Eats, BitchJacobin, and Edible Philly, and in several anthologies. She received the 2016 Robinson Prize for Excellence in Copy Editing from the American Copy Editors Society. Find her on Twitter at @greyediting and on Instagram at @FridayNightMeatballs.

How To Fold Sheets

“Tuck the corners into the ears,” you tell me from across the vast ocean of a bed sheet. You shake it, snap it, and I rock backward from your energy. Half a beat behind, I fold my corners and think of a minuet I learned in second grade. The “ears” are pockets made by the fitted corners. On your side of this housekeeping dance, one ear folds into another, makes a seashell.

My sheet ears are sloppy, soft, as if I can’t hear how to make edges.

When I was little, you made my bed with hospital corners. Why we knew how hospitals folded their sheets so tightly is another story, a long one. Tuck the bottom end under the mattress in one swipe, then tuck each hanging-over side under the mattress in two more swipes. It should look like an envelope, you say.

This is a thing I learn. With you dead three years now, and hospital corners on my beds for nearly fifty years, I wake if a sheet comes untucked at my feet. It rarely does, because those corners are tight.

The day you refolded every sheet in my linen closet, you tucked ears into ears, made origami of pillow cases. When you were done, you labeled your work with index cards. “Yellow sheets, guest room,” you wrote. “Blue sheets, king sized.”

"My mother, holding me before I could fold anything."

"My mother, holding me before I could fold anything."

- Jessica Handler is the author of Invisible Sisters: A Memoir, named by the Georgia Center for the Book one of the “Twenty Five Books All Georgians Should Read.” Atlanta Magazine called it the “Best Memoir of 2009.”  Her second book, Braving the Fire: A Guide to Writing About Grief and Loss, was praised by Vanity Fair magazine as “a wise and encouraging guide.” Her nonfiction has appeared on NPR, in Tin House, Creative Nonfiction, Brevity, The Bitter Southerner, Drunken Boat, Newsweek, The Washington Post, More Magazine, and elsewhere. Honors include residencies at the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, a 2010 Emerging Writer Fellowship from The Writers Center, the 2009 Peter Taylor Nonfiction Fellowship for the Kenyon Review Writers’ Workshop, and special mention for a 2008 Pushcart Prize. She teaches at Oglethorpe University and lectures internationally on writing well about trauma. www.jessicahandler.com.

Annabelle Cleans House, Part 3: Kitchen and Laundry

The final part of three. Read parts 1 and 2 here and here.

Go down to the laundry room in the basement and start a load of wash. Go back upstairs.

Dump out your cold coffee and pour a third cup. Your kitchen is already clean—you clean it three times a day, after every meal. On Saturday you scrub the floor. Fill a bucket with hot water and Lysol, start at the sink and work your way backwards, scrubbing the floor on your hands and knees. Curse the old linoleum that has no finish left on it. Yell at the first kid brave enough to come downstairs, “Don’t you dare come in here, the floor is wet!”

Leave the bucket at the doorway and go down to the basement. Put the clean wash in the dryer. Start another load in the washer. Go back upstairs.

All the kids are in the living room now watching cartoons, shivering under afghans you’ve knitted and eating dry cereal out of the box. Tell them if they make one speck of dirt you’ll paddle their behinds—but good! Find your cold coffee, dump it out, pour a fourth cup and sit at the kitchen table to drink it.

Get up, splash some liquid wax on the floor and spread it around with a sponge mop. Finish your coffee while the wax dries. Then, give each of the kids a pair of their father’s wool socks to put on their feet and tell them to skate around on the kitchen floor to polish the wax. It’s not necessary, but it’s fun for them and their laughing makes you smile.

Close all the windows and doors and turn the heat back on.

The author with Annabelle, her mom.

The author with Annabelle, her mom.

Judith Liebaert is a freelance writer living in rural Wisconsin, where she is restoring an 11-foot vintage Decamp travel trailer to use for her escape with Gypsy Cat. Aside from her regular gigs writing for regional B2B mags, her short stories and essays have appeared in Aqueous Magazine, Maximum Middle Age, and Ravishly along with numerous now defunct lit-mags pre the interwebs. Her debut novel, Sins Of The Fathers, was released by Tellectual Press on June 18, 2016, a story inspired by the still unsolved homicide of a young boy in her small Midwestern town, in the summer of 1966.

Annabelle Cleans House, Part 2: The Main Floor

Continued from yesterday.

Throw open every door and window of the main floor, even in winter when it’s 30 degrees below zero. Turn the heat off so your husband doesn’t blow a gasket overheating the all-out-doors.

Find your cup of cold coffee and dump it out.  Pour a second cup from the pot. Take a few sips and set it down.

Go through the house relocating clutter to appropriate places. Pile upstairs things at the bottom of the staircase. Gripe about everybody else in the family having two broken arms. Make sure they hear you. If the toilet flushes, yell up the stairs, “You’d better not make a mess in that bathroom I just cleaned!”

Pick up all the scatter-rugs and toss them out the door onto the front porch. Strong-arm the sofa and chairs around while you vacuum, to get at the dust bunnies underneath. Remove all the cushions. Retrieve anything of value—pencils, small toys, loose change—then vacuum up the Sugar Smacks, popcorn, bread crumbs, and other crud while griping about how many times you’ve told the kids not to eat in the living room. Put the vacuum away. Do the dusting.

Go outside to shake the rugs, making them crack in the wind. Wait until you are back inside to curse the damnable dust, so the neighbors won’t think you’re crazy. Be sure the kid’s here you.

Lay all the rugs back in place then go look for your cup of coffee.

The House on the Lake, the last house Annabelle ever cleaned.

The House on the Lake, the last house Annabelle ever cleaned.

Judith Liebaert is a freelance writer living in rural Wisconsin, where she is restoring an 11-foot vintage Decamp travel trailer to use for her escape with Gypsy Cat. Aside from her regular gigs writing for regional B2B mags, her short stories and essays have appeared in Aqueous Magazine, Maximum Middle Age, and Ravishly along with numerous now defunct lit-mags pre the interwebs. Her debut novel, Sins Of The Fathers, was released by Tellectual Press on June 18, 2016, a story inspired by the still-unsolved homicide of a young boy in her small Midwestern town, in the summer of 1966.

Annabelle Cleans House, Part 1: Bed, Bath, & Hallway

Editor's note: This triptych of how-to remembrances was so fresh and funny, we decided to run them as a serial. See here for Part 2, and here for Part 3.

It’s Saturday. Wake up at the crack of dawn. Start the coffee. Run your fingers over a bar of Ivory, caking the soap under each nail. The soap will soften your nails and keep them from breaking while you work your fingers to the bone.

Pour a cup of coffee, take a few sips, then set your cup down and forget where it is.

Start upstairs with your bedroom, the hallway, and the bathroom. The kids can clean their own pig pens later; let them pretend to sleep for now. You know they are pretending because you’ve already made enough noise, wrestling the behemoth Electrolux up the stairs, to wake their dead grandmothers.

Vacuum first, then dust, because vacuuming raises more dust. Bang the vacuum against the kids’ bedroom doors whenever you think about the futility of that.

Annabelle’s home from 1959 until 1975, where she kept house and raised four children

Annabelle’s home from 1959 until 1975, where she kept house and raised four children

In the bathroom, rinse the tub and sink then sprinkle heavily with Comet cleanser. Wearing rubber gloves, scrub surfaces lightly with damp sponge and leave the pasty bleach to work on the stains of the worn porcelain while you clean the toilet. Cuss at the hard water stains in the bowl. Flush. Return to the tub and scrub harder, cussing more, then rinse. Repeat for the sink. Windex the mirror, then use the same paper towel to polish the faucets.

Fill a bucket with hot water and Lysol. Scrub the floor on your hands and knees, working your way backwards out the door, cussing at the mildew-stained grout between the ugly, tiny, hexagon tiles.

Carry the bucket downstairs and look for your cup of coffee.

Tomorrow and Thursday: Parts 2 and 3.

Judith Liebaert is a freelance writer living in rural Wisconsin, where she is restoring an 11-foot vintage Decamp travel trailer to use for her escape with Gypsy Cat. Aside from her regular gigs writing for regional B2B mags, her short stories and essays have appeared in Aqueous Magazine, Maximum Middle Age, and Ravishly, along with numerous now defunct lit-mags pre the interwebs. Her debut novel, Sins Of The Fathers, was released by Tellectual Press on June 18, 2016, a story inspired by the still unsolved homicide of a young boy in her small Midwestern town, in the summer of 1966.

Traveling Pies

Hugh Brown. Short-order cook, carpenter, mechanic, soldier, postman and racehorse trainer. Clown, Lutheran, baseball lover, habitual repairer and master builder. He built his family a three-story house in the early ‘50s. He built me a rockinghorse when I was a baby. He built damn good pies too ... Pumpkin and pecan at Thanksgiving (with pies it’s never EITHER always BOTH). Apple, hot with vanilla ice cream or cold with a slice of sharp cheddar. Cherry for my little brother’s birthday. Blueberry. Strawberry rhubarb. Peach when he visited us down south. Vidalia onion, once (or my memory’s wishful & hungry). Hugh knew: Damn good pies are built to be shared. A pie must travel or it’s just plain gloating. 

To ensure your pie arrives alive, you will need a pie carrier. You will build it like one of your pies: with your own hands, and alongside someone you can still teach to crack eggs or hammer straight. You’ll use simple tools, scrap wood, nails & screws, a whittled wooden handle. Your pie carrier will have a sliding door and a removable shelf. It will hold one tall cake or two classic pies. 

You’ll tape a label to the handle. Times New Roman, tiny American flag. Your name and the address of the assisted-living apartment you’ll move to when the tall house trounces your hip replacements. You’ll build pies there through your mid- 80s. 

Eventually, you will forget to put your constructions into the oven. You roll crusts, mix fillings, and end up elsewhere, derailed. The sturdy portable two-story pie carrier will wait on the kitchen table, its sliding mouth full of invisible passengers.

 

-Emily DeDakis is the daughter of a musician and a journalist. She grew up in the Southeast U.S. and emigrated to Belfast, N. Ireland, in 2005. As dramaturg & producer for Accidental Theatre, Emily has developed scripts with dozens of playwrights. Dramaturgy credits include: Gordon Osràm’s Funeral (2016); The Lost Martini (2015); The Kitchen, the Bedroom & the Grave  – winner of a Stewart Parker Trust award (2014); & The Dutiful Wife (2013). She founded the Belfast version of Fast & Loose, a 24-hour theatre project now in its 10th year. Emily’s prose has appeared in The VacuumThe Yellow NibUlster TatlerPoetry Proper, and on 2SER (Sydney). She is currently working on Shipwrecks & Lighthouses (a stage play), Stowaway City (a soundwalk) and F R E A K  FLOODS (a text-sound collaboration with harpist Úna Monaghan). 

(psst: See the companion story to "Traveling Pies" on our Noteworthy blog.)

How to Give a Thank-You Wave

When Dad jumped behind the wheel of a car, all the goodwill he had for mankind came along for the ride. Which explains his penchant for thank-you waving.

If he encountered a fellow driver who slowed down to let him merge or pull out onto a busy street, he appreciated the courtesy and thank-you waved with gusto. You could tell by his rapid, crisp delivery that Dad believed these salutes communicated great power and righteousness.

When Owen “Truck” Roberts served up a thank-you wave, you knew it came from the heart. His version was no weary, weak-wristed raise of the palm.

the author's father, Owen "Truck" Roberts had a penchant for a friendly thank-you wave

the author's father, Owen "Truck" Roberts had a penchant for a friendly thank-you wave

If our car met another at an intersection, and the opposing driver motioned Dad to go first, Truck looked through the windshield, locked eyes with his fellow road warrior and snapped his hand forward, face-high with fingers tight and upright , like tiny soldiers.

“Hey, thanks buddy,” he’d say as his hand flew off the steering wheel. Sometimes he extended his right arm across the inside windshield, so if you had the shotgun seat you had to be prepared for a hand in front of your face. If you were on the receiving end, you couldn’t miss it. Dad’s salutes could cut through the thickest morning fog or the heaviest afternoon traffic.

Those thank-you waves were a lot like him, really: quick, clear and full of life.

- Linda Miller is a freelance writer living in Berks County, PA, who devotes much of her time to writing essays and stories about a happy childhood spent with her Mom, nicknamed Mick, and her Dad, Truck, and her brother John. Truck was well known around their small town, Slatington, PA, as a gregarious teacher addicted to great jokes, Laurel & Hardy movies, fishing, working with Veteran's groups, and watching cartoons with his children and granddaughter