Green Eyes and Fireflies, her second book, a continuation of her book “This Life and the Fireworks” contains 57 vignettes (her fans call them cupcakes) in which you live vicariously with the author. Each unique story will capture your imagination. Life, love, war, true stories, poems, fiction, and a play, are all here for your entertainment. Like that box of chocolates with all the flavors, shapes and colors to entice you, each one a confection to savor. So be brave and flit about like a firefly feasting and enjoy the illuminations this author brings.
Like the wonderful refrain from that famous song “Swingin’ on a Star,” by Van Heusen and Burke: “Would you like to swing on a star, carry moonbeams home in a jar, and be better off than you are,” the author covers this promise — allow her to light up your life with amazing experiences, “Be Italian,” See the “Taj,” etc!
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Green Eyes and fireflies
By Carole Dale
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2016 Carole Dale
All rights reserved.
Why Green Eyes and Fireflies?
"Reading your book is like entering a magic portal," my extraordinary friend Mary Finke wrote me after editing my undisciplined Wild West no rules way of writing. My Wild Women Writing colleagues always have a good laugh at my original spellings and turn of phrase. "Doing what comes naturally" as the song goes! "Why does the caged bird sing?" Maya Angelou asks: I believe we each have the song inside and when and where we choose to sing is what defines us.
I remember the first time I saw a firefly – it was against the dark night sky of my little factory town of Belle, West Virginia. The DuPont factory illuminated the night sky with endless flames of fire and smoke, but to see these little magical flitters of light was such a delight! Writing for me is like catching a firefly in a jar; it is a brief captured moment of magic.
My green eyes I inherited from my father amongst a sea of family cornflower blue eyes. The green is not emerald, not forest green, but more a deep-sea dark jade green. Although my green eyes are rarely noticed, I can assure you they see the glory of the world and the beauty of the people I love.
The incomparable Katherine Burkman, "the she who must be obeyed" Wild Women Writing colleague, must once again be blamed for every effort I have expended to write this second book. Kathy is a powerful force of nature who encourages me and many others to "do something!" And we do! I thank her again.
I so appreciate the unexpected moments when out of the blue a person will approach me and say, "I loved This Life and the Fireworks – when will you have another book?"
I thank them for putting the fire in me to continue!
Just as "This Life and the Fireworks" did, this second book of "Green Eyes and Fireflies" invites you to share my adventures, along with some fiction and poems that have entered my magic portal. Like the firefly captured in a jar, I hope we can share a flash of illumination and insight into ourselves. Every "cupcake" stands alone as before, and I hope as you read you may capture each one as a personal firefly moment.
Carole Elaine Stewart Dale
The moth repeatedly thrusts its fragile body toward the lamplight. I can't resist watching from my living room chair the energy of wanting. This moth flings forth over and over, hitting the windowpane, wanting but deprived of his/her ultimate goal, to be consumed by fire, its life extinguished. Snap – just like that!
Terrorists volunteer for the ultimate body blast but then expect the reward of delights in paradise with virgins. So what does the moth get? Why are we all wired for wanting? Every living creature has the wanting gene!
Mother Nature is a rascal it turns out.
I'm sitting in Nordstrom's Bistro enjoying a restoring bowl of Wedding Soup. It is delicious, the flavors balanced to perfection, not too salty. It was just what I needed – wanted!
I lean back against the upholstered banquette as if I am sitting in a private opera box. I observe two young women who share a large table for eight. Both have ordered pizza and French fries. Nordstrom fries are very sexy; they are served in a swirled black wrought iron vase-like shape with the fries wrapped in paper looking like a bouquet of flowers. The fries are covered with herbs. They are delicious. I eat them only in October – my birthday month. But I want them every day!
The girls were in my view so I wasn't staring, but I found them to be very worthy of watching. First, why were they dining on French fries with pizza? How decadent is that! They were both slender, beautiful, with long silky black hair parted low on the side; both in black dresses but one wore a turquoise scarf around her neck and the other a red scarf. They did not talk to each other, nor did they have cell phones. They ate their pizzas with a knife and fork. They chewed in sync. Were they twins? I wanted to ask. They had excellent table manners.
I wanted to be them! But I also wanted to be me. Wanting is a dilemma sometimes. "Careful the things you wish," my grandmother would warn. How silly I thought. When you want/wish something it can only be good! Yes?
I don't want to admit this, but wanting has got me into a stack of trouble. I just thought we humans were hot wired to want what was good for us. HA! Yes, I fell for it and have the scars to prove it. I'm not going to tell you about my missteps although I know you want to know. Curiosity is wanting in a cat suit. Beware! I want to have purpose. I want to be self-reliant, loved and respected. I want a peaceful world with human dignity for all. Sometimes all I want is a warm embrace.
And now I know why the moth wants the flame.CHAPTER 3
It was November 1957 and I was living with my Aunt Millie in Columbus, Ohio. I was working at the Jeffery Manufacturing Company office where I learned to key punch data into computer cards all day. I could type 110 words a minute as a typist so this job was not a challenge either physically or mentally. It was a very good experience for me to learn what I absolutely did not want to do for a career.
The truth was I had no one to help me go to college, and I was trying to find my way back to academics. My friends had gone off to college and I felt so alone and needing to find a path up and out!
I saved enough money to fly home to Charleston, West Virginia, for Thanksgiving. It would be my first flight! Airline hostesses were admired like movie stars. They had to be a certain height and weight, no exceptions, to be accepted into the training classes. It was very classy to fly and passengers wore their "Sunday best." Men dressed in suits, women in hats, gloves and high heels.
The little building that was the Port Columbus airport on Fifth Avenue was where I would board my Piedmont flight to Charleston aboard a propeller plane that flew at lower altitudes and could not climb over bad weather as we now can. That cold winter night with light snow resembled the airport scene in Casablanca. However, no "we will always have Paris" moment with passionate farewell kiss. I was traveling alone and knew no one on the flight.
I remember the roar of the engines as we lifted skyward and the disbelief I was actually flying above the city lights of Columbus. As we flew south, the plane began bouncing about with heavy turbulence. I heard a passenger say, "I flew over the Pacific and it wasn't this rough." Some of the passengers began throwing up in the paper bags provided for such moments. I felt more and more afraid.
We began a violent descent. "Oh God please let us land safely in Charleston," I prayed while hearing loud crashing sounds and being thrown violently forward. Finally, I realized we were on land. Someone screamed, "Get off the plane!" We all scrambled onto the icy tarmac, hoping the plane would not explode. We then realized the plane had crashed into the landing tower.
My Dad was meeting me at the Charleston airport, but I learned we were in Parkersburg! A pay phone was available, and we all were taking turns to call family to say what had happened. I was the first one to call.
My hands were shaking so badly I kept missing getting the coins into the slots on the phone. The worst part of this incident is that we had to wait for another plane to arrive to fly us to Charleston and other points south. Can you imagine how it felt to re-board another plane hours after that crash?
It was very late when I got home, and two days later I flew back to Columbus on another Piedmont airplane. I felt like a veteran by my third flight! I flew many times on Piedmont after that memorable first flight, even on that very plane once rebuilt.
By the way, flying to and from the Charleston airport are not for the faint of heart. I remember when they were constructing the airport by slicing off some mountaintops to create the landing and takeoff runways. Basically, you fly off the mountain's edge for takeoffs and, for landings, you must stop just right so as not to crash over the edge. My friend's father was killed in a National Guard plane accident at the Charleston airport in the 50s.
However, the Oscar for flying terrors was the flight from Columbus to Chicago that should take an hour but would up taking over five hours. On that trip Stephen and I were headed to Europe. Our connecting flight was at 5:30 PM. We got caught in one of the worst storms ever to hit Chicago and its environs. We were tossed about and holding hands with the woman sitting with us. We finally landed in Detroit and later flew into Chicago at 10:30 PM! Needless to say, we missed our flight to Europe but were just so glad to be alive!
My son Rob always loved going to the airport to watch planes when he was very young. Plus he flew to Boston every summer to visit his grandparents. When Stephen and I took him to the West Coast when he was 18, the Alaskan Airlines we were flying dropped 400 feet suddenly. He has never recovered from the horrible fright he felt and has never flown since. Ironic, when you consider he is now a fireman facing danger daily.
I am glad my first flight did not become my last – two endings possible there! I have flown all over the world since, including to India, Russia and everywhere in Europe.CHAPTER 4
"You look like Tallulah Bankhead," words spoken from the mouth of a sorority queen type with a too-pretty face and long Lauren Bacall hair. Her figure matched her heady prettiness. It was the tone of her voice that was so patronizing and I, unsophisticated as could be, still saw through her façade of friendliness. Her handsome young lawyer boyfriend had greeted me with some enthusiasm that perhaps she mistook as a threat. It was 1959 and the sexual culture was pretty much set: every woman was out to take YOUR MAN.
Tallulah was starring in Lillian Hellmann's "Little Foxes" in Washington D.C. and so she was a very popular actress at the time. My image of her was not the young attractive Tallulah but instead a sagging faced, red-eyed alcoholic with cigarette and whiskey breath. I, being a social virgin in every sense of the word, was not prepared for such a hostile comparison from another girl and felt devastated!
In contrast to this rude encounter I had just endured, my entrance to the party had been wonderful. In fact, I experienced for the first time a moment of feeling feminine power. Entering the party down a flight of stairs, I was wearing my first sheath dress, one that didn't hide my figure. It was black, a new color for me. I had a new shorter hairdo that didn't hide my face, and it looked exceptionally smart that night. As I descended, my college friend Dave, who had been in a play with me and given me the nickname, "Lanie puppy, pirate girl" exclaimed loudly, "Now that is what I would want my wife to look like!" Dave was a true Southern gentleman complete with an antebellum mansion in Manassas, Virginia, and a fortune to back him. He was part of the Washington social scene. So I was really feeling pleased!
Soon the society girl, who witnessed this and had brought me down from my cloud with a thump, left with her lawyer date all while seductively running her fingers through her long hair and pushing it way from her face as a grand exit. I wondered why they left when the party had just begun.
All the remaining lawyers were drinking scotch with milk as they eyeballed their prospects. The ratio of women to men in D.C. at the time was not nearly enough guys to keep the girls happy. All of them had the 50s hair cuts and wore pastel seersucker summer suits. I loved the look!
As the evening played on in the D.C. summer heat, the humidity made everyone look dewy and their hair began to move to its own music. Curly hair might get frizzy or droop; straight hair would become puffy causing the meltdown of pretense. It was fun to watch everyone's hair do its version of improvisation.
Later, the same society girl made a grand reentrance prancing down the stairs with a very smug smile and disheveled hair. I guessed her hair had been involved in a serious heat exchange.
Hair has a language of its own and if hair could talk, we would lean in close to hear the whisper.CHAPTER 5
Heads or Tails?
I loved my outfit! I designed it and a talented seamstress named Marguerite followed my instructions to the "T." She never tried to influence my choices – I was free to be wild!
This ensemble was all white. Lovely white crepe fabric cut and formed into a pencil skirt with a major slit up the front that gave my legs a starring role. It was 1970 after all!
I wore a white full body ballerina leotard with a turtleneck and white boots. The white crepe sleeveless bolero reached across my breasts with its curvaceous edges not meeting in the middle.
I had Marguerite make a crepe belt that pointed in the middle upwards. I had her sew silver studs around the belt and bolero edges. With my black hair, the ensemble was a dramatic study in black and white. The outfit seemed to capture the feminine mystique idea of the times.
I was flying back to Columbus from Boston wearing my creation and felt pretty special. People actually dressed up to fly at the time. I waited at the hotel entrance for the van to transport me and other hotel guests to the airport.
A tall, slender man in a grey suit smiled at me and lifted his hat. He would be a Wall Street type today probably. We began talking about Boston – the usual polite stranger traveler conversation. Perhaps looking far more sophisticated than I was, I was quite surprised when he said to me, "Would you please consider being my guest to a very important party I need to attend next Saturday in Boston. I will send you air tickets and buy you any party dress and other clothes you would like to wear. I would be so honored if you would consider my invitation." Words delivered in a very respectable voice. He placed his card in my hand and stepped into a limo.
Actually, I didn't say anything but probably had my eyes wide open in amazement. I was speechless. Being a 50s girl, I felt like I was in a movie and, being a romantic, I thought "WOW!" Was it the outfit?
Many years later in San Francisco where I was attending an international political science conference with other OSU colleagues at the Fairmont Hotel, I was just crossing the street from the hotel when a flatbed truck pulled up with a grand piano. The driver, in a tuxedo, lit his candelabra on the piano and began playing Chopin! It was an amazing site that drew a crowd immediately!
A well-dressed professional looking man came up beside me, joining in the pleasure of the street music. When the music stopped, the gathered crowd cheered and clapped. Suddenly the man beside me grasped my elbow and said, "I think you are very lovely. Please won't you join me for a drink and dinner perhaps?" I turned to him. "I'm sorry. I don't know you." I guess my tone was not what he expected and he confessed, "So sorry, I have made a mistake. I was told the best lady "escorts" are on this corner near the hotel. Forgive me for making this assumption about you." I returned to my hotel room, looked into the mirror. I could see nothing about me that could be sending the signal that I was a hooker! In Boston I was naive but in San Francisco I was wiser.
My nickname at the Joint Chiefs of Staff was "Holly Golightly" from "Breakfast at Tiffany's." I was innocent and thought the world was full of wonder. One of the officers gave me an engraved invitation to dinner and to breakfast the next morning. I swear it was years before I even got the joke. Every time he saw me after that, he had an amused expression. I was naive indeed.
However, my best memory is when my beautiful niece Angie came to Columbus to visit and we both wore picture hats to lunch at Lindey's. We so enjoyed our visit that we were impervious to anyone else in the restaurant. When I asked for the check, the waiter said, " A gentlemen picked up your tab and wished me to tell you both how much he enjoyed the sight of you two having lunch. He wishes to remain anonymous."
I will never know who he was and probably he would not recognize me at this age. But sometimes I wonder if he still dines at Lindey's? Does he still exist? He does still exist because I remember him — a sweet memory! No Strings! La Dolce Vita!CHAPTER 6
I was surprised Smitty included me as a guest at one of his famous dinner parties. Being a hillbilly from West by God Virginia brought a strange brand of celebrity to the nation's Capitol! What I lacked in sophistication, I apparently made up in enthusiasm!
We all worked for the Joint Chiefs of Staff — which placed us in the same security clearance category as the President of the United States. It would be an intimate (one table of guests) dinner party where the conversation would be very engaging.
Having never before taken an elevator to a posh penthouse in a high rise, I felt like my JCS nickname "Holly Go Lightly" from "Breakfast at Tiffany's!" It was exciting! I knew I was crossing into a new stage of life that meant looking only forward.
Smitty greeted me with great warmth and a kiss on the hand. The aroma of roast beef, and bread baking filled my nostrils. How perfect, I thought, was my gift of homemade watermelon rind pickles to go with this meal. PLUS, this was no ordinary jar of pickles. He had no way of knowing that I had bestowed one of the most prized gifts anyone in Virginia could receive. Possibly I am the only person who has ever shared these pickles. Most of the people lucky enough to possess the pickles preferred eating them in secret behind closed curtains in a private dinner.
Excerpted from Green Eyes and fireflies by Carole Dale. Copyright © 2016 Carole Dale. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
ContentsSpecial Gratitude, ix,
Why Green Eyes and Fireflies?, 1,
Heads or Tails?, 13,
Defcon 2, 21,
Here Comes the Bride, 28,
Sweetie Pie, 34,
Dancing with Fire, 38,
Pull Me Through, 41,
Spiritual Mall: Discount Coupons, 48,
Amazing Grace, 53,
Spirit and the Crow, 56,
Yellow Mischief, 58,
Riding Imagination, 59,
Kissing Lesson in Pomeroy, 64,
Where Can My Alligator Be?, 66,
Saved Again, 69,
Slices of Life Lived or Observed, 72,
Sun Kissed, 80,
Rest in Peace Short People, 81,
Baby Doll, 96,
Last Meal, 101,
The Taj at Sunset, 103,
Istanbul and the Pera Palis, 108,
Seeking Samarkand., 112,
Damn Amsterdam, 118,
Be Italian, 121,
Hot Chocolate and Violets, 124,
Art for Life, 126,
A Moment Savored, 127,
Adrenaline high, 132,
Swing High Sweet Chariot, 135,
Slow Dance, 137,
Word Metamorphosis, 139,
Narcissus Blue Boy, 143,
Walhalla Flyover!, 146,
As Time Goes By, 154,
Light Hope, 156,
Cousin Jo, 157,
Falling Down, 162,
Wish Upon a Star, 166,
Chambered Nautilus, 168,
So Long for Awhile, 170,