Searchlights & Signal Flares


Tiny Lights' On-line Writer's Exchange

A Writer's Holiday Newsletter (12/15/05)



Featured writer: Charlene Bunas



Contributors this month:
Charlene Bunas


Charlene Bunas



My usual letter is not coming this year. This year I'm not describing how adorable are our grandkids, how successful our children have become, how healthy Gary and I are. I'm also not describing our wealth via trips and excursions. I certainly am not glowing with our newfound happiness in the togetherness of retirement. No indeed, this year, I'm talking about cookies. You'll find my shortbread piece below. Charlene Bunas Christmas Cookies, 2005 My Mother set the standard for baking holiday traditions. She started in October, giving her fruitcakes a chance to mellow. She baked and froze, tucked each variety of cookie or candy into its own tin box. Each was labeled. She did not have to write "don't open." We kids knew better. The day of the unveiling would arrive and we strained like leashed dogs, waiting for the "OK" command to gobble the goodies. When she died, I took on the mantle. I mean the apron. But no matter how I tie it, it just doesn't fit right. This year, for example, I overbaked the fruitcakes and changed the part about wrapping in the cheesecloth I didn't have and "besides," I thought, "old flannel sheets would do just as well." The cake isn't absorbing the liqueurs and I'm considering putting squares of tasty material on silver platters at Christmastime. After the fruitcakes, I made Mother's Orange Pastries, rolls of pastry wrapped around orange-rinded marzipan. Sounds good? It is. It was. When Mother baked it, the rolls were crisp and flaky on the outside, chewy sweet on the inside. My version of the same recipe turned into sticky crumbs. I think I'll save the savory nibbles to top scoops of ice cream. My persimmon cookies were overgingered and the fudge seemed to notice that I'd left out three of the six ingredients. Holidays are laced with tradition. Not all of us can bake. All of us can smile. Gary still sings in the church choir. He still belts out a great Hallelujah chorus; and, he still appreciates good cookies, the kind Mother used to bake. Gary and I send our best wishes that your holidays bring you delicious cookies, spirited singing and ever special memories.

Charlene Bunas is baking in Santa Rosa, CA.

Charlene Bunas



My usual letter is not coming this year. This year I'm not describing how adorable are our grandkids, how successful our children have become, how healthy Gary and I are. I'm also not describing our wealth via trips and excursions. I certainly am not glowing with our newfound happiness in the togetherness of retirement. No indeed, this year, I'm talking about cookies. You'll find my shortbread piece below. Charlene Bunas Christmas Cookies, 2005 My Mother set the standard for baking holiday traditions. She started in October, giving her fruitcakes a chance to mellow. She baked and froze, tucked each variety of cookie or candy into its own tin box. Each was labeled. She did not have to write "don't open." We kids knew better. The day of the unveiling would arrive and we strained like leashed dogs, waiting for the "OK" command to gobble the goodies. When she died, I took on the mantle. I mean the apron. But no matter how I tie it, it just doesn't fit right. This year, for example, I overbaked the fruitcakes and changed the part about wrapping in the cheesecloth I didn't have and "besides," I thought, "old flannel sheets would do just as well." The cake isn't absorbing the liqueurs and I'm considering putting squares of tasty material on silver platters at Christmastime. After the fruitcakes, I made Mother's Orange Pastries, rolls of pastry wrapped around orange-rinded marzipan. Sounds good? It is. It was. When Mother baked it, the rolls were crisp and flaky on the outside, chewy sweet on the inside. My version of the same recipe turned into sticky crumbs. I think I'll save the savory nibbles to top scoops of ice cream. My persimmon cookies were overgingered and the fudge seemed to notice that I'd left out three of the six ingredients. Holidays are laced with tradition. Not all of us can bake. All of us can smile. Gary still sings in the church choir. He still belts out a great Hallelujah chorus; and, he still appreciates good cookies, the kind Mother used to bake. Gary and I send our best wishes that your holidays bring you delicious cookies, spirited singing and ever special memories.

Charlene Bunas is baking in Santa Rosa, CA.

Searchlights Editor:

Susan Bono

Columnists:

Christine Falcone, David Samuel Johnson, Betty Rodgers

Susan Bono is a writing coach, editor and freelance writer whose work appears in newspapers, anthologies and the Internet. She has published Tiny Lights, a journal of personal essay, since 1995, along with its online counterpart here at tiny-lights.com. From 2000ó2005 she helped coordinate the Writer's Sampler series for the Sebastopol Center for the Arts. Her short essays and columns have appeared in various anthologies, magazines, newspapers and on the radio. Her most recent credits include Passager Magazine, Red Hills Review, the St. Petersburg Times, the Petaluma Argus Courier, the Anderson Valley Advertiser and KRCB radio's Word by Word.

Christine Falcone has been writing most of her life. Her work has appeared in print and online, and it has aired on public television and public radio. One of her writing goals for 2008 is to find an agent for her recently completed first novel, "This Is What I Know," which was named as a finalist in the William Faulkner Wisdom Creative Writing Competition out of New Orleans. She is currently in a new writing space, painted purple for inspiration, busily at work on another novel -- this one having to do with the nature of violence.

David Samuel Johnson was reared on a mountain in Arkansas. He lived the bohemian lifestyle in the Ozarks as a hillbilly vagabond, traversing the mountainside shirtless and most of the time shoeless, exploring the sensuality of the aromatic, organic-rich soil of the forest floor or the harsh poetry of greenbriers twined around a devilís-walking-stick. As a kid he wanted to be a writer and own a snake farm when he grew up. His Mama knew she couldn't dissuade him from either goal. When he brought a poisonous copperhead snake home in his pocket, she bought him a book about snakes so heíd know which ones he could bring home and which ones to leave behind. When he wrote his first poem to a girl in kindergarten, she showed him how to use a dictionary so he could spell the word "beautiful." David's goal of a snake farm and the love of his mountain have manifested into a PhD in ecology. Davidís dream of writing has evolved from his first poem in kindergarten to essays in newspapers to interview articles in magazines and columns in this journal. He is living a beautiful dream, some of which you can glimpse below.

David the Writer

David the Scientist

Betty Rodgers and her husband, Ken, live and watch birds in Boise, Idaho. A transplant among transplants, she has chosen to learn the local landscape through the lens of her Pentax K10D. Her writing career began at an early age when she wrote plays and coerced her boy cousins to perform them. She has enjoyed a life-long affair with journalism, writing for the Sacramento Bee, the Cloudcroft Mountain Monthly, the Sebastopol Times and News, and the Boise Weekly. Born in Steinbeck Country, she has also lived in Maine and New Mexico. Betty publishes a bi-monthly online newsletter for Idaho writers, a labor of love inspired by Terry Ehret. In 2006, she published A Mano, a book of poetry by the late Vince Pedroia.

Thanks to all who participated this month. It's good to know you're out there! We're looking forward to hearing from you and those you inspired sometime soon! Check this column each month to see what's new. Return to Searchlights & Signal Flares menu for future topics and guidelines.

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