This ring was an anchor.



Ginger Slonaker pastel on paper

pastel on paper 7.5” x 11.75"


The Delivery
J. Gentile

Today a strange package showed up at my door.

It was a few months into the pandemic when my world started to shift. Up until this point, I had found myself embracing the isolation, a perfect excuse to cut ties with exhausted relationships and focus on self-healing. It was a rare opportunity I welcomed, after years of repeated travel for work, taking me across the country and the world. I began each day with an optimism I thought had escaped me long ago. The possibilities for the future seemed endless, but after weeks confined to my home without human contact, life’s narrative began to warp. As the world shuttered around me, I searched for distractions to prevent my mind from folding in on itself. Ordinary minutiae amplified while my activities simplified, each evening ending with an account of how I spent my day.

3.26.2020Weight 130 -Ten pounds downBreakfast: Egg Taco with tomato, onion, Sriracha -Suddenly fond of onions and Sriracha has become a staple Morning walk: Light drizzle – The sky has never been this clear in LASneaker purchase online – Found an identical replacementInstacart order from Sprouts – Still working out the quirksCleaned bathroom ceiling – Wow. I obviously never look upVietnamese Pho for dinner – New favorite recipeWatched Killing of a Sacred Deer and District 9

Apparently, it was important for me to track everything. Without this record, there was no passage of time and without the passage of time there was no necessity to move forward.

6.15.2020It was a yellow bubble-wrapped envelope, delivered by the U.S. Post Office. Not that unusual since I had been ordering exclusively online and the deliveries were frequent. Some of my early purchases included cases of smoked oysters and sardines, bulk cleaners, and art supplies. I was particularly suspect of this package since the return address was from Wuhan, China and I hadn’t remembered ordering anything from overseas. I grabbed a mask and a pair of disposable gloves and brought the envelope inside. As I carefully opened it, it was unnervingly lightweight, and I was paranoid that it contained some kind of poison like anthrax or ricin. Instead, I was surprised to find a red bag, marked with the Cartier logo, and containing a red jewelry box with the same logo. I slowly opened it, revealing a black velvet interior supporting a rose gold band with three diamonds set across the front. I immediately grabbed a sanitizing wipe and cleaned everything.

The irony of being a single woman receiving a wedding band in the mail while isolating at home during a global health crisis seemed like a sick joke. Suddenly I felt truly alone. Was this my future? I stared down at the wedding band, curious about its meaning. I’ve spent most of my adult life unfettered, embracing my independence. Now I questioned why I’d made the choice to run solo.

The packaging was well conceived, convincing, and official in appearance. An authenticity card from Cartier Paris was also included in the little red bag, stamped and numbered alongside a bill of sale from a Swiss watch shop on Kings Road in Hong Kong. The invoice listed the cost to be HK$15,200.00 which is slightly less than $2000.00 USD. I removed my surgical glove and slipped the band onto my ring finger. It fit perfectly on my dry over-sanitized skin. Was it actually meant for me? Could it be real and I secretly have an admirer, or will I wake up one day to a $2000.00 charge on my MasterCard? I immediately called the credit card company to place a fraud alert.

Although I’ve never been married, this isn’t my first wedding band. I wear a simple gold ring on my left pinky finger that I almost never take off. It was my father’s wedding band. He gave it to me one day when I was visiting home from California. It had been stowed away in his jewelry chest for many years after my sister had it resized to fit her ring finger when she was in high school. Wanting so badly to be married, she snuck it out of the house on a day when he had left it home, which he did often when making furniture deliveries, fearing it would snag and cause the loss of a finger. When he realized what my sister had done, he became livid and hid it away until the day he gave it to me. “Here Jen, why don’t you keep this, you’re the only one left without a wedding band.” He kind of laughed like he knew I wasn’t ever going to settle down. I think he saw a part of himself in me, the nomad in search of adventure, which reminded him of the man he was before he married, before he became a father, before he burdened himself with responsibility. The man who joined the army twice in order to see the world. We were so similar, which was probably why we fought so much. His wedding band, now half its original size, barely fit onto my pinky finger. He knew he would never be able to wear it again or read its inscription, which had melted away with half the gold, and only the date remained.

10-24-59My parents met at a dance hall in Rhode Island on the eve of Easter in 1957. My father asked my mother to dance and then joined her and a friend for midnight mass at St. Rocco’s church. This is the same church where I was baptized, along with my brother and sister. We all had our communions and confirmations there. This is the same church where my sister was eventually married, and it’s also where my father’s funeral mass was held when he passed away at the age of seventy-two in 2011.

Saint Rocco was a French Saint and protector against the plague and contagious diseases. He is pictured kneeling beside a dog with an open wound on his leg. He is also the patron saint of dogs, invalids, the falsely accused, and bachelors, among other things. A statue in his image is proudly displayed above the front doors of the church. That evening in 1957 was the start of a lengthy courtship between my father and mother, in which my mother eagerly awaited a marriage proposal. When it didn’t appear after two years, she decided to break it off. My father’s response was, “Well then, let’s set a date and get married.” There wasn’t any fancy proposal or engagement ring. My mother even went by herself to pick out her wedding band, white gold with a setting of five diamonds. It was an unusual design for the time, and the local jewelry store let her take the ring home for a test run over the weekend. They ended up returning it to the store, after my father showed it to his jeweler friend who later fabricated a copy. There’s no inscription and I am told I will be inheriting it one day. That will be number three if we count the fake ring from China.

Like my mother and most people with wedding bands, I never remove my father’s from my pinky finger. This is the result of a close call it had years ago, during a manicure, when I thought it was lost forever. The salon was one I’d visited many times for treatments. It was filled with large fancy massage chairs, and racks of nail polish in every color imaginable lined the walls. One of the many Korean women waved me inside, and sat me at the only available station. I put my feet in a basin as it filled with warm water, and the seat came to life, softly vibrating until my bones began to melt and my eyes slowly shut. The nail technician gently placed each of my hands on the chair arms. I could feel her carefully inch the gold band off my finger. In my relaxed state, I let her, feeling passive and trusting, as she placed it on a tray beside me. A few minutes into the treatment, I heard a faint metallic ding. When I looked over, the ring was gone. I immediately sloshed my feet out of the basin of water and I searched the perimeter in a panic. Eventually my nail technician joined me, but the ring was nowhere in sight. She tried to resume the treatment urging me back into the chair. “We will call when we find it,” she kept repeating.

I was sweating and moved erratically, which reinforced my need to find the ring. A woman to my right, wondering what all the fuss was about, observed the ruckus with alarm, peering at me over her candy apple red fingernails and her toes delicately splayed with cotton. Her scrutiny compelled me to explain. The words flew from my mouth. “It’s my father’s wedding band and he has cancer and it’s a bad sign that I can’t find it.” Tears rolled down my cheeks. I never thought of myself as particularly superstitious, but the thought of losing his wedding band sent chills up my spine. This ring, as long as it was secure on my finger, was an anchor, keeping my father tethered in this world. I was not ready to lose him. A second technician started to help us search. After a few minutes, a tiny older lady approached and started to talk to them both in Korean. I assumed she was the manager by the way she dominated the conversation. Then in English, she reassured me that they would find my ring and with superhuman strength she grabbed the base of the massage chair and lifted it up off the floor. I could see a gold glint of light. I reached out and grabbed the ring and put it back on my pinky finger, where it lives to this day.

With my left ring finger still vacant, I wondered why I never married? If sheltering in place allowed the perfect excuse to cut ties to flawed relationships, it became clear that it was also a catalyst in bringing those relationships back.

The Dutch government released guidance a few months into the shutdown for its single citizens, encouraging arrangements such as a cuddle buddy, stressing that human contact was essential to mental and physical wellbeing. This agreement could be intimate if both parties chose, or it could be simply someone to hug, lounge with, and ride out the isolation with. At the time it made perfect sense to me.

6.25.2020Today I had the urge to ride the beach bike path from Torrance to Santa Monica, something I’ve never done. I needed to be out and around people, so I masked up and hit the road. I peddled through Redondo, Hermosa, Manhattan beach, Marina del Rey, Venice, Santa Monica until I passed the pier and realized my tire had gone flat. I pulled out my phone and was shocked when I saw the time. I had been riding for two hours and had covered twenty miles. How would I get back? Luckily, I wasn’t far from a bike rental shop. They were not able to fix my flat but did fill the tire with air. Back on my bike, I continued through Santa Monica, Venice and Marina del Rey where finally the fatigue and dehydration started to set in. In desperation, I decided to take a short cut through unfamiliar city streets, forcing me to ride on the sidewalk, where I nicked a fire hydrant, and I lost control of my bike. I landed on a patch of grass in front of a business park adjacent to a busy intersection. Unscathed but mentally marred, I climbed back onto my bike and rode off in denial, as if nothing had just happened. I made it as far as Dockweiler Beach before my tires went flat again. Exhausted, thirsty, and in an alternate state of mind, I made a call to my ex-partner, who dropped everything to come to my rescue. He tossed my bike in the back of his truck and climbed in the driver’s side. Both of us wearing face masks, I sat next to him and I couldn’t help but think, “Maybe he’s my isolation buddy after all?”

The Dutch have a saying, “Meten is weten” ( measuring equals knowledge). They believe in the power of reason and common sense; to measure is to know, based on weighing the facts scientifically. And as my mother would say, “Jennifer, listen with your head not with your heart.” I guess all bets are off in a pandemic.

The little red bag that holds the box containing the wedding band from Wuhan, China sits alone in the top drawer of my dresser. It’s a fake. I never wear it, and I never took it to a jeweler, because it’s obvious to me that it’s not real. It feels cheap, which only adds salt to the wound. Why did I receive a wedding band in the mail during a pandemic? I suspect it had to do with the sneakers I ordered that never arrived. I waited for weeks and when I checked the website, they had disappeared from the store catalog, and I was left with a charge of $35.00 from China. After some research, I concluded it was a Chinese brushing scam, where foreign companies send Americans lightweight packages in order to rank higher on e-commerce sites, and it’s usually connected to fake reviews that help legitimize them. My address was highjacked from the sneaker purchase which in turn covered the shipping cost of my ring. Some consumers received packets of seeds or hairbands in the mail, both of which would have been more useful than another wedding band.


Moon & Rabbits
L. Nishizaki

Handcarved and handprinted linocut block print2.5×4.5” print area on  4×6” paperFor more details about L. Nishizaki's art, see her website or Instagram.

月の兎 Tsuki no Usagi – The Moon Rabbit
A fox, a monkey, and a rabbit were traveling in the mountains when they came across a beggar who asked them for help. The monkey gathered fruit and nuts from the trees, the fox gathered fish from the river. The rabbit, however, could not gather anything of value, so she leaped into the flames of a fire. The beggar revealed her true form as Taishakuten, one of the deities of the First Realm. Taishakuten lifted the rabbit out of the fire and placed her on the moon.


Japanese Miso Soup
C. Lastovicka

Serving for one


1 1/8 cups water

2 inch by 2 inch piece of kombu, wiped with damp cloth or paper (to remove dirt)

small handful (handspan approx. 7 3/4 inches) katsuobushi flakes (also called bonito)

1/8 tub tofu (firm or soft), cut into 12 squares

1 scallion, cut diagonally into thin slices (approx. 2 mm)

1 T miso (any kind)


  • Small pot

  • Bowl

  • Strainer

  • Paper towel


  1. Put kombu in a small cooking pot. Pour 1 1/8 cups water over kombu. Let sit covered for 30+ min, or overnight.

  2. Heat pot with water and kombu until tiny bubbles appear, just below boiling. 

  3. Turn off heat and remove kombu.

  4. Heat water to boiling, until it froths.

  5. Turn off heat.

  6. Add a handful of katsuobushi flakes. Turn on medium heat, simmer for 2-3 min.

  7. Turn off heat. Wait until katsuobushi settles to the bottom of the pot.

  8. Put paper towel in strainer, on top of bowl. (It can be the bowl you eventually serve your miso soup in, if it’s wide enough for the strainer.)

  9. Pour the contents of the pot into the strainer and wait for the broth to pass through the paper towel into the bowl. Important: Don’t squeeze the paper towel to get the remaining liquid out of the katsuobushi—just let it go.

  10. Pour the broth back into the cooking pot. Heat it until it begins to simmer. Add the tofu and scallion. Simmer for 2 minutes. (Note: you may prefer the scallion raw. I cook it because there have been harmful bacteria found in scallions that caused sickness.)

  11. Turn off the heat, and wait a minute for it to cool down a bit.

  12. Spoon 1 tablespoon miso into your bowl. (Do not pour boiling water on miso, or it will kill the beneficial bacteria)

  13. Pour some of the liquid into the bowl, and mash the miso in the liquid until it dissolves.

  14. Pour the rest of the pot contents into the bowl. Stir.

  15. Enjoy!


C. Hudak

My grandmother brought
no food, diapers, or baby clothes.
She brought lingerie.

This will help,
Mimi told my mother, to get him
to come home.

I saw her rarely. I remember
food: mushrooms, cookies,
chickpeas, paprikas.

I remember fighting
(Italian and mean),
and I remember green jewels

(to match her eyes).
After she died, I took
what she left me

to an alchemist for
transformation. Please,
make these whole.

The witch made me a ring
of Mimi’s wedding band,
a throw of green stones,

and what gold we could reclaim.

Video of an active fire contained in a smokeless firepit, in slow motion. - S. Miller

Make art and/or writing. Send it to [email protected]. We will publish submissions in this ezine or in our first limited edition hand-bound chapbook. 

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