Beanery Online Literary Magazine

December 30, 2011

Feeling Safe



Joe F. Stierheim

     Everybody—everything—in the universe wants to feel safe.

     It is a very simple matter, one that should be surprising to no one. Yet it is a concept that is often overlooked, misunderstood or misused. Often we find it amusing to not feel safe. For instance, we spend a great deal of time, effort and money in stories, movies or games that scare us. We call this entertainment. Volcanoes, tidal waves, civil unrest, wars, crime, hurricanes and chainsaws are all part of the scenarios. When the entertainment becomes real, we don’t like it and so we spend a great deal of time, effort and money to see that such things don’t happen or in hopes of escaping them.

     It is a fact that in our present society, very few of us feel safe. Endeavors to compensate for that take many forms. One of those is (more…)

December 14, 2011

Christmas: A Time for Furnace Fires




Fran Welts

Intro by Carolyn Cornell H olland

 The following post provides a warning to every family at the beginning of the cold winter weather and the start of the heating season.

It is also a warning to all who decorate their homes for the holidays.

It’s 4:30 a. m.

After just a brief night’s sleep your two youngest children ages one and two, waken you from a deep sleep. For no particular reason that you can discern.

You feel somewhat irritated—after all, it’s the Christmas season. The double holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas have overwhelmed you. Money is short. Time is tight. There’s a long task list.

Your feelings of resentment over losing your sleep escalate…your stress level rises as the youngsters show no signs of abating their activities.

They can sleep in once they return to bed. You can’t. You have to work.

What’s a parent to do?



     These might have been Nick’s thoughts when his two youngest children, ages one- and two-years-old, woke him in the wee hours of the morning. His wife and five-year-old son remained sleeping.

Perhaps to soothe his escalating irritation, Nick stepped outside his family home in a small Missouri town to smoke a cigarette in the wee hours of the December 6, 2011, morning.



The holidays bring out the best in most of us.

What wonderful social gatherings, food flavors we never before tried, people we meet for the first time, gifts we give, gifts we receive.  It’s a joyful time when you can almost believe in peace on earth.

But there is a downside, a downside that is often preventable but that sometimes just happens.

Fire.     Tree fires, house fires, kitchen fires.



     Suddenly there was an explosion. Nick ran into the house to find that the explosion had wakened his wife Kelsie.

What was that? she asked.

I don’t know but it shot out of the house! Nick responded.

Seeing smoke and flames coming from their back room, Nick and Kelsie grabbed the three boys and ran to their car. They made it in the nick of time.

If Nick was resentful and irritated that his two youngest children had awakened him in the middle of the night, the feeling soon disappeared. He began expressing gratitude about his early morning awakefulness and alertness.

It allowed him to save his family from a sudden fire.



Christmastime fires are almost always caused by forgetting to water the tree, by overloading a circuit with too many strings of lights, or by plugging the lights into faulty wiring, which can cause a quick fire.

     Christmastime is also the start of the cold weather that winter brings. House fires often start with a faulty furnace.

My family had a rude awakening of this fact when, at six o’clock in the morning on December 6th my nephews Missouri home exploded, blowing out all the windows. He grabbed two of his sons, his wife grabbed the baby and they ran outside just before two more explosions occurred. The explosions, resulting in a fire that reduced the family home to ashes, appeared to be caused by a leak in the furnace. It allowed gas to surround the furnace. When the furnace kicked on it exploded.

They lost everything, then again they lost nothing since their family is unhurt and “things” are replaceable, people are not.



“It sounded like someone had threw a grenade in the house, and it blew everything out the window and everything, and I went running back into the house, and the wife was already up off the couch like, what was that? I go, I don’t know but it shot out of the house!” Nick says.

Nick and Kelsie then saw the smoke and flames coming from the back room and got the three boys out and into the car with little time to spare.  “I didn’t even have time to go in and get my mom’s urn or nothing,” Nick says.  His mother died just four months ago.

“I’d say my mom was on our side by having our two kids be up, because I’m a hard sleeper, and if I got woke up by that, the reaction time would have been a lot slower than what it was,” Nick says.*



     They lost everything, then again they lost nothing. Their family is unhurt. “Things” are replaceable, people are not.


The family has received emergency assistance from local agencies

They had no insurance on the home.  If you’d like to make a donation, Nick King can be reached at (417)259-4716.

Their boys wear sizes 5T, 2T and 24 months.*



July 20, 2011

Mixed-Up Mergatroid



Norma Leary

     Because it was raining cats, bats, dogs, frogs, and unsung rug-bugs in Scootertoot Circle, Bow knew he couldn’t play outdoors this Saturday afternoon.

     As he was wondering what to do on this rainy day, his dog, Scuttlemutt, ran to the door and began barking.

     “Someone’s coming,” Bow thought. Although Scuttle refused to talk, get a job to earn his food, and spent most days sleeping or going in and out, he was great at announcing visitors.

     Sure enough, Bow heard ‘rat, tap, rap-a-tap-tap.’ “Knock, knock, who’s there?” he called.


     “Boo who?” asked Bow.

     “Quit crying and let your rocket-rider regal-alien come in. My waterproof skin is getting water spotted and might shrink,” was his answer.

     “Hi Mergatroid, what’s up?” asked Bow, opening the door.

     Mergatroid put on his pouter outer space face and said, “I used to be far, far up until our Starazoid King saucer-shipped me here to study and write about your Untied States history.”

      Needing to correct Merg’s state of mind, Bow said, “Cool it, Merg. We’re United, not (more…)

July 16, 2011

The Writer’s Dilemma



Joe F. Stierheim

Number of words; number of pages;

how much is a novel worth?

What value the symbols on the page?

What is the measure:

the likes of the market’

the current style?

Too long for some, too (more…)

July 6, 2011

A Beanery Writers Group Homage to Bob Sanzi



Beanery Writers Group

I looked for your car when I arrived at the June 24, 2010, Beanery Writers Meeting.

            I hadn’t heard…You were gone.


     Bob, you left too soon. Some of us needed to learn more from you. It’s hard to believe that you only joined us on June 12, 2010. At your last meeting, June 10, 2011, you were so excited about the new car Nancy bought and allowed you to drive to the meeting.

      We all heard your gruff, commanding, voice, and experienced your unique bombastic manner, at the first Beanery Writers Group meetings you attended. Some of us questioned whether we could tolerate you. You were opinionated, certain you were right, and felt you had to talk and talk and talk to push your point, even after everyone had “gotten it.” You were so certain you were right.

     Your identity was enmeshed in cars—you were quite animated and willing to share a multitude of car stories. After all, you were a car guy who even amused us by turning a prompt on the Kentucky Derby into a car piece. You didn’t seem to understand that (more…)

July 4, 2011

Red, White and Blue Dreams



Diana Reh Hunt


Red, white and blue dreams

born in sandbox games,

rocked to stars ‘n stripes lullabies

in cradles of freedoms to come.

Young hopes fly high on tire swings

when the dreamers’ smiles outshine the sun.


Red, white and blue dreams

come from family farm to (more…)

July 2, 2011

Tourism in Brownsville, Pennsylvania



Mark Sliwa

NOTE: This event occurred in 2000.

     The plain white flyer came in the mail, folded twice and secured by a staple. It was an invitation to the Western Pennsylvania Machine Gun Association’s spring shoot. $5.00 admission and they’d have hotdogs and Pepsi too. Reservations required. I made the phone call and signed up for two thinking this would be a great lunch date for my girlfriend.

     Brownsville, Pennsylvania, was the site for this festival. Sadly, it is a city that has long been in the dire straits of a poor economy. Getting off the highway and into downtown, plywood panels cover many windows on Main Street’s business district. Destitute figures lean in shady doorways. The architecture itself still inspires. Before the collapse of the steel industry this must have been a vibrant place. Time does march on though and some places don’t keep step.

     The flyer’s directions said go south down Main Street, then at the edge of town go three clicks further, and make a left on an unmarked dirt road. It looked like we were headed straight into a DMZ. The dirt road was there and pulling out of the entrance was rural America’s staff car of choice: the ratty old pickup truck. Two sketchy looking occupants were in the cab; local security I assumed. A metal tag adorned the truck’s grill: Western Pennsylvania Machine Gun Association. They must be (more…)

June 25, 2011

Goodbye, Bob Sanzi



Nancy Beaufort

Today, June 23, 2010, I said goodbye to my best friend.

     Bob and I were together for over seven years, longer than many marriages last. It started with an invitation to dinner and blossomed slowly into a deep bond.

     He and I shared many adventures. He took me to sprint car races, drag races and flat-track dirt bike races. We visited Watkins Glen and climbed up through the Glen, then retraced the old road race course. We packed his bike and rode it to Arlington, Texas, to meet up with the folks he rode with while he lived and worked there. We put another thousand miles on the bike before we made the return trip to Latrobe. We explored a bog near Wilmington, North Carolina in search of carnivorous plants. We rode the train to (more…)

June 22, 2011

Listen Up and Talk Down



Norma E. Leary

     If you’re really listening to what people are saying, you’re certainly aware of the continuing epidemic of uptalking.  “Uptalk,” in a manner of speaking, is the habitual verbal delivery of declarative sentences ending with audible question marks rather than periods, i. e. “It truly is annoying?” (Yes, it is, unless you’re tone deaf.)

     Media talk show guests are often guilty of omitting periods more noticeable when the questioning tone is heard throughout declarative, compound sentences. It smacks of the talker bent on alerting listeners not to interrupt because he or she isn’t finished: “Me and my friend (I’m already cringing) went to see his show?, we had box seats? and so were up close? and glad we went” because it was worth the price?”

     Exhausting to hear! As unnerving as a mouthful of (more…)

June 15, 2011

What Happened To Old-Fashioned Love?



Fran Welts

     I’m reminded of the song by that title when having a conversation with a woman I’ll call Jane. We met at a cancer center in Pittsburgh. Our situations made both of us tired, just going along, but still enjoying the good times wherever we find them.
     As we waited in a very crowded room, she asked me why I was there. She told me how she had remarried at age seventy-three years old, just six months ago, after a long forty-five year marriage to her first husband. Joe, her husband now, had also had a long first marriage. They believed in marriage so after a short courtship, they wed.
     At this point there were several heads turning in our direction, many of them young—or young to us!! They had laptops, I-phones, I-pads, and whatever else is new and modern, and were busy typing or texting. But they paused long enough to listen. Like all of us, it’s human nature to listen when someone is telling a story.
     Jane explained that sixty-three days after they married Joe was diagnosed with cancer of the jaw and throat. He underwent removal of his lower jaw, and needed a trachea to breathe and a feeding tube to eat. He cannot close his mouth and he cannot speak.


     Around the waiting room you could see (more…)

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