On Writing

Between the Lines

The expression “read between the lines” means to look closely at what the author implied or actually felt versus what was written. More simply, what is meant. I’ve been in a pondering mood of late. I finished up a year-long project on July 22 — fourteen months if you cross the days off a calendar. I kept most of my

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Eatin’ at Edna’s

On the set of Shakin' the Blue Flamingo

On the set of Shakin’ the Blue Flamingo, (from left to right) Allison Smith, Stage Manager, Gwen Flager, Playwright, and director Claire Hart-Palumbo.

I’ve been eatin’ at Edna’s for the last couple of months. I can recommend the fried pickles and meatloaf sandwich. But, I’d steer clear of her egg salad. Memories wash over me as decades old songs play on Edna’s jukebox. Feelings long forgotten surface. My emotions are pulled into unfamiliar, yet intoxicating places.

I’m nineteen again, whistling down the Alabama coast roads, daring to be braver than I am. I boil the fresh blue crabs I pulled from the trap this morning. Got company coming for breakfast.

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Miss Claire

Claire Hart-Palumbo and Gwen Flager

Shakin’ the Blue Flamingo’s director, Claire Hart-Palumbo (left) and Playwright, Gwen Flager (right) pose for photos following a Sunday matinee’ performance of Shakin’.

I’ve been watching rehearsals of Shakin’ the Blue Flamingo for several weeks. It’s been wild fun. These actors are amazing creatures. An expression, a gesture or a hesitation becomes spellbinding. And, then, there’s the director. Miss Claire does not sit rigidly in a chair and tap her pen on the script. She does not grumble, scowl or swear. I did, however, see her run her fingers through her hair a time or two. She is a professional. 

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A Facial

Sweet Libby the dogWhen we all played in the sun and water in the Deep South, we believed iodine laced baby oil was the perfect “tanning” product. If we wanted to waste good money, we purchased Coppertone oils and lotions. I have blistered and peeled and blistered and peeled over the years.


Southerners have all types of remedies for sunbaked skin. Most remedies, in fact, are not. After my annual visit to my dermatologist, I pondered a hydra facial.


I mentioned it to my sweet sister, Kate, and she readily provided me with a gift for such facial. This was not my first facial. It was my second. My first facial was performed in an upscale spa-type salon in Houston where both I and the aesthetician had different expectations of the experience.

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Ease Off the Clutch

My sweet sister, Kate, and I maneuvered the hills around Mena, Arkansas, in search of quartz crystals one steamy July morning. As we continued our quest along the deeply rutted road, Kate calmly told me “do not stop.” We did stop. The old graveled road we were traveling began to resemble a washed out creek bed. As I considered what rut or boulder to avoid she reminded me “whatever you do, don’t roll back.” Anyone who has driven stick-shift while positioned on a steep incline inherently understands the significance of that statement. You have to proportionately release the clutch and depress the accelerator to achieve the optimum forward motion. Depending on one’s level of anxiety, high acceleration and a less than perfectly timed release of the clutch creates a propulsion akin to warp factor one. If one jumps off the clutch without sufficient acceleration, there is a great leaping and lurching of the vehicle down the road. I suspect that’s when the phrase “ease off the clutch” was created.

As I continue my journey of playwriting and such, I invite you to join me as I “ease off the clutch.”

By the way, you can start in second gear if you have just the right touch. An old boy from Shreveport taught me how to do that in his daddy’s old dump truck and in his 1970 Plymouth Barracuda. The “Cuda” was “stolen” and burned on the Bossier strip . . . but that’s another story.

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