The River Writers will hold their next meeting, a day-long annual retreat hosted by Kathy Vancil at the Priest Lake Community Church at Kalispell Bay. Members will carpool from Donna Jones’ house at 9:15 a.m. The assignment for the April 20 meeting was to write a childhood memory Out to Catch a Big One By Elaine Faires In late spring and early summer our lives revolved, especially our recreation, around Lake Erie. Often times wind or even breeze would stir up waves. Thunderous white caps would roll toward the then narrow beach almost perpendicular to the shore. We were fourteen, Kay Amsbaugh and I, Elaine Futo. We took it for granted to be so lucky as to live on the shores of this great lake. Looking across the lake toward Canada all one could see was water and an occasional ore carrier in the distance. Kay and I lived in nearby small villages along the shore of the lake. We attended school together three miles from home in the small town of Vermilion, Ohio. My parents were very strict about being faithful in attending school. I was known for good attendance. Luckily, I was a very healthy child. This particular late May day, school was still in session. As I looked out the window in Mr. Peck’s science class, I began daydreaming of summer fun swimming in the lake. He was rattling on about some new invention called transistors and how small radios could become. Every day after school we kids would run down to the beach to see how calm the water was, hoping, wishing that we could soon go swimming. The air temperature was just about perfect. One early morning at school, Kay Amsbaugh approached me in the hall. She said, "How about us skipping school today and going water skiing? Mother is coming to the school to pick us up in just a few minutes. You can use my extra bathing suit." Without hesitation, I said, "I’d love to go water skiing." I didn’t tell her that I had never been water skiing before. Kay went first and skied like a pro, up and over the wake of the small craft from side to side. She made it look easy. Round and round in ever widening circles she skied. When it was my turn, I was all a klutz. Buckle up your life jacket and a few basic instructions were given to me. "Bend your knees, stay low and hang on tight. If you fall or when you fall, the boat will come around and then you can grab onto the rope again." One had to have powerful knees and legs to just get up on the skies in the first place, but I finally did it. I felt very proud of myself. After a few times of landing in the water bobbing around waiting for the boat to come around, I grabbed the rope like a pro. While up on top of the water, actually skiing, I saw a small motorboat approaching. I thought to myself, "Just another fisherman trolling out to catch a big one." The small craft was getting closer and closer. When we were close enough to see one another eyeball to eyeball, I recognized that face. It was my own father! He was supposed to be at work just as much as I was supposed to be at school. The incident was never mentioned to my mother, at least as far as I know. The following writing exercise contains a childhood memory, but basically it’ s built around a word chosen at random from the dictionary. A Matter of Hemming and Hawing By Marylyn Cork Do you suppose there’ s even one word in the English language that has no more than one definition? I sincerely doubt it. When I opened my dictionary at random in the process of doing this exercise, the first word my eyes fell on was "hem"—short, simple, and inoffensive, with only one syllable to fall over. Could there be a simpler word? Nevertheless, it has three distinctly different meanings, and one of those has several variations. Used as a noun, it’s a border or edge on a garment, made by folding over the cloth and sewing it down. Or it can be a verb signifying the act of making a border or sewing down an edge. That’s how I encountered the word as a 4-H sewing club member when I was eight years old. In those olden days, children were enrolled as full-fledge 4-H members at eight rather than at ten years of age, like now. There were no Cloverbuds then, and today probably nobody now would think of asking an eight-year-old to hem a dishtowel, by hand or otherwise. That was my first 4-H sewing project, meant to be displayed at the county fair in the fall. It was tedious, trying work. My eight-year-old hands were clumsy with a needle, and the stitches the implement and I fashioned together made that dishtowel anything but a work of art. Nor did it help matters that the home in which the club was meeting that warm summer day was blacked out with shades and curtains to screen out the heat of the sun. We could hardly see what we were doing. Nowadays NOBODY puts a hem in a dishtowel by hand. For that matter, few ever sew one in by machine. Today’s dishtowels more commonly come ready-made and they’re apt to be cut from terrycloth and have a sort of selvaged edge for a hem or maybe a fringe at one end, instead of being fashioned from the flour sack muslin I was laboring over. The word "surround" is the second meaning of "hem," as in "hemming in, around, or about," or to keeping something from moving freely or getting away, to wit: "Babe, you ain’t goin’ nowhere; I’ve got you surrounded." But the definitions don’t stop there. The third meaning goes off on another tack. "Hem" can be used as a noun to describe a sound like the clearing of one’s throat, perhaps as a means of drawing attention. You rarely hear the word used alone, however, as it has a fraternal twin in usage in "haw," separated by the conjunction "and." When someone asks you to do something, do you "hem and haw" about it, showing indecision or hesitation in speaking? "Haw," too can stand alone, as a red berry from a hawthorn tree, the hawthorn tree itself, or it can be a stammering sound between words. In addition, it can be a word of command to horses, directing them to turn to the left. Take off the "w" and you’ve got another "stands alone" usage as well. "Ha!" without the "s" is an interjection—an exclamation of surprise, joy or triumph. Or—and here we go again, it’s the sound of a laugh! Yes, English is a truly wonderful language, with a huge vocabulary that overpowers all others like a bulldozer cruising over bumps in the road. Aren’t you glad you were born to it with the ability to pick it up effortlessly? Pity the poor soul who sets out to learn it as a second language! And now a tribute from Lorri Harris for no better reason than she wanted to write it. My Sister My sister, my friend, For rain or shine, We do just fine, Me and this sister of mine. She is pretty handy, And really quite a dandy. Her hair is medium brown, And for sure not sandy. She’s not a Suzanne, Or a Suzy Q. Not even a Sue— "How do you do?" She is quite fine, This sister of mine, I only have one, And my love is as big as a ton, For my sister, my Susan.