Guest Post: Robbie Cheadle

I am delighted to host a guest post from author, blogger, and cake-maker extraordinaire, Roberta Cheadle. This is an interesting historical account, connected to the same time period as her latest novel.

Roberta Eaton Cheadle is a South African writer and poet specialising in historical, paranormal, and horror novels and short stories. She is an avid reader in these genres and her writing has been influenced by famous authors including Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, Amor Towles, Stephen Crane, Enrich Maria Remarque, George Orwell, Stephen King, and Colleen McCullough.

Roberta has short stories and poems in several anthologies and has 2 published novels, Through the Nethergate, a historical supernatural fantasy, and A Ghost and His Gold, a historical paranormal novel set in South Africa.

Roberta has 9 children’s books published under the name Robbie Cheadle.

Roberta was educated at the University of South Africa where she achieved a Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1996 and a Honours Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1997. She was admitted as a member of The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2000.

Roberta has worked in corporate finance from 2001 until the present date and has written 7 publications relating to investing in Africa. She has won several awards over her 20-year career in the category of Transactional Support Services.

The story of Jurgens Nieman (10 December 1898 – 27 July 1900)

During the second phase of the Second Anglo Boer War, hundreds of Boer women fled into the veld to evade the British forces. The took their children, trusted native African workers and some livestock with them. This was an attempt to escape capture and imprisonment in concentration camps.

Jurgen’s Albertus Nieman was born on the 10th of December 1989, the son of a Boer scout also named Jurgens Albertus Nieman who was never wounded or captured throughout the war. Jurgens Senior and his 14-year-old son Jacobus Johannes fled the siege at Paardeberg under General Cronje on a young horse which had neither a saddle nor a bridle.
Jurgens’ Senior’s wife, Anna Elizabeth, had been left on their farm. When the British troops neared their home, she fled with her four young children in a horse-drawn cart, together with a small flock of sheep and a single trusted native African herdsman.

On the 26th of July 1900, Anna Elizabeth and her children were caught. The British soldiers loaded them into an open ox-wagon to be transported to the Klerksdorp Concentration Camp. During the day, other families were captured and joined the wagon train.

The following morning, Anna Elizabeth and the children walked over to another ox-wagon to meet a new family. Jurgens suddenly began to fidget and fuss. When his mother picked him up to comfort him, blood trickled onto her hands from a head wound.

On inspection, she found that her son had been shot in the head. English fire was taking place in the distance, and Jurgens was struck by a stray bullet. The baby died that evening and was buried in a shallow grave at the side of the road. A plank detailing his name and other details was planted at the site of the grave.
Fourteen days later, his father passed the grave. He found his son’s body almost perfectly preserved due to the cold weather. He took the casket with him and re-buried it at Rustfontein farm.

This is the bonnet that Jurgens Nieman was wearing when he was shot. The bloodstains are still visible. At this time, baby boys were often dressed in bonnets and dresses.

A Ghost and His Gold, a paranormal historical novel partially set during the Second Anglo Boer War, written by Roberta Eaton Cheadle describes similar tragic deaths of young children.

This is a short extract:
“A few moments later, Annette Smit enters the tent with her children, who’ve been waiting patiently for her outside the tent. She lies the dead body of her baby down on a blanket. Dropping into a seated position on the hard ground, she sits, rocking herself to and fro, and keening softly.
Her worn and seemingly bloodless body is that of an old woman and the large eyes in her white face are wild and haunted. The death of her infant on top of the recent losses of her oldest son and toddler seem to have broken something deep within her mind. It is frightening to watch.
Hatred for the camp supervisor who denied the baby a few drops of brandy constricts Estelle’s throat. The baby is dead. She’ll never take her first steps, laugh and play with her older brothers and sisters or go to school. The camp supervisor did nothing to try and save her. In Estelle’s mind, he is a murderer. Taking deep breaths, Estelle attempts to unwind the knot of anger in her stomach
.
Marta looks at Annette, her eyes are sympathetic. “It’s better that the baby died,” she says. “She’s now at peace with our Father.”
Tannie [Aunt] Sannie’s eyes flash anger. “The camp supervisor could have tried to help! Surely he could have found a few drops of brandy for Annette’s baby somewhere.”
“That is true, Sannie, but God expects you to forgive him. He’ll not forgive our individual sins if we bear grudges against someone else. Worse yet, such feelings, if not repented, could cause Him to turn away from our people and our cause.””

A Ghost and His Gold
After Tom and Michelle Cleveland move into their recently built, modern townhouse, their housewarming party is disrupted when a drunken game with an Ouija board goes wrong and summonses a sinister poltergeist, Estelle, who died in 1904.
Estelle makes her presence known in a series of terrifying events, culminating in her attacking Tom in his sleep with a knife. But, Estelle isn’t alone. Who are the shadows lurking in the background – one in an old-fashioned slouch hat and the other, a soldier, carrying a rifle?
After discovering their house has been built on the site of one of the original farms in Irene, Michelle becomes convinced that the answer to her horrifying visions lies in the past. She must unravel the stories of the three phantoms’ lives, and the circumstances surrounding their untimely deaths during the Second Anglo Boer War, in order to understand how they are tied together and why they are trapped in the world of ghosts between life and death. As the reasons behind Estelle’s malevolent behaviour towards Tom unfold, Michelle’s marriage comes under severe pressure and both their lives are threatened.
Through the Nethergate
Margaret, a girl born with second sight, has the unique ability to bring ghosts trapped between Heaven and Hell back to life. When her parents die suddenly, she goes to live with her beloved grandfather, but the cellar of her grandfather’s ancient inn is haunted by an evil spirit of its own.
In the town of Bungay, a black dog wanders the streets, enslaving the ghosts of those who have died unnatural deaths. When Margaret arrives, these phantoms congregate at the inn, hoping she can free them from the clutches of Hugh Bigod, the 12th century ghost who has drawn them away from Heaven’s White Light in his canine guise.
With the help of her grandfather and the spirits she has befriended, Margaret sets out to defeat Hugh Bigod, only to discover he wants to use her for his own ends – to take over Hell itself.

Follow Roberta Eaton Cheadle at:
Website
https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/
Blog
https://wordpress.com/view/robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com
Goodreads
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19631306.Roberta_Eaton_Cheadle
Twitter

Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/robertawrites/?modal=admin_todo_tour
Amazon

Purchase Roberta Eaton Cheadle’s books
TSL Books (paperback)
https://tslbooks.uk/product-tag/roberta-eaton-cheadle/
Lulu.com (ebook)
A Ghost and His Gold: https://www.lulu.com/en/us/shop/robert-eaton-cheadle/a-ghost-and-his-gold/ebook/product-d858km.html?page=1&pageSize=4
Through the Nethergate: https://www.lulu.com/en/us/shop/roberta-eaton-cheadle/through-the-nethergate/ebook/product-1qkz92jq.html?page=1&pageSize=4
Amazon US

Robbie is a fully-engaged blogger, and a valued part of our wider blogging community. She also writes in many different genres and themes, with something that will appeal to everyone. Please follow the links to find out more about her, read her posts, and perhaps buy some of her books too.

Guest Post: Kevin Morris

I am very pleased to host a guest post from Kevin. He has a new book of poetry coming out, and has included one of the poems in his post.

The Last Day of August

The final day of August
Brings Autumn’s coming chill.
Perhaps this is the last
Of Summer’s new-mown grass.
The eternal breeze
Rustles the leaves
And my once brown hair.

(The above poem is taken from my forthcoming collection, Leaving and
Other Poems, which will be available from Amazon in late January/early
February 2022. My Selected Poems is available in paperback and Kindle
from Amazon and can be accessed here,

Links

Blog: https://kmorrispoet.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/drewdog2060_
Tiktok: https://www.tiktok.com/@apollo2362

You can find out about Kevin’s forthcoming book and read more of his work by following the links above.

Guest Post: Jon Risdon

I am very pleased to present a guest post from my blogging friend, Jon Risdon. He is an actor, author, and blogger who resides near the lovely seaside town of Whitby, in north-east England. https://wilfredbooks.wordpress.com/

Why Wilfred Books?

Wilfred Books was set up at the end of 2013, primarily to publish Black Shirt and Smoking Beagles, the biography of Wilfred Risdon, my grand uncle (that is: my grandfather’s brother), whom I never met, I regret to say. I discovered him in the course of my family history research, and the more I found out about him, the more interested I became in his life & work, so I thought there might be at least a few other people out there who would share my interest in him enough to also want to read his fascinating life-story. For what seemed, to me, to be very sound reasons, namely: he was not a household name; he was involved in contentious politics and activism for most of his adult life; it would probably be a strenuous & stressful (and, probably, ultimately futile) task to find an agent and/or publisher to take an interest; I decided to bite the bullet and publish the book myself. To market the book I set up the Wilfred Books website, which accepts payments securely, using PayPal, so no personal details are registered on the site, and I also created a WordPress blog, to promote the website, but also to write about subjects which might have interested my relative.

As related above, the first book published under the imprint of Wilfred Books was Black Shirt and Smoking Beagles, and it is still available as a print version (product code WB01), but also downloadable versions: PDF (product code WB02), ePub (product code WB03) and Kindle versions (product code WB04), in both popular formats (.mobi & .azw3); the ePub version can be read using iBooks on iOS devices, and on a wide range of other platforms; the Kindle version required can be selected from the link in the email confirming the purchase. In the future, I might also publish other books, either about Wilfred Risdon, or subjects related to his life and work, especially his animal welfare concerns; or any other subject/genre which I think is appropriate: check the New Items section on the About page on the website from time to time, for additions to the catalogue.

On that note, in 1967, Wilfred Risdon wrote & published a biography of a man whom he held in high esteem, and for whom he had great respect, the Edinburgh surgeon Robert Lawson Tait and, as it is now out of print, Wilfred Books is pleased to be able to offer a PDF download facsimile version, with the catalogue code WB05, of the original publication, with a preface to the new edition by J. L. Risdon. The book is called Lawson Tait: A Biographical Study and, given Wilfred Risdon’s close association with the National Anti-Vivisection Society, Wilfred Books will donate 10% of the annual net profit, over a minimum amount, from the sales of this edition to Animal Defenders International (ADI), the successor to the previous organisation. If there is sufficient interest, it might be possible to consider making it available in the other download formats, or as a print edition: please email me to register your interest. I look forward to hearing from you!
Jon Risdon jrisdon17@googlemail.com

I hope you will visit Jon’s blog and see what he has to offer.

Guest Post: Christina From Webb Blogs

I am very happy to host the first guest post of 2022, from Christina.

So, here’s a little about me and my blog:
My name is Christina and I have suffered with severe OCD for close to 40 years. I say suffered because that’s exactly how it felt.

I grew up in the 80’s, when OCD wasn’t talked about. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, except that I did odd things and had horrible thoughts. I thought there was something terribly wrong with my brain, and I seriously thought I was going to die. I was terrified.

Nobody knew what I was going through. I kept it hidden from everyone for all those years. Hidden from every single person I knew.

A little over 10 years ago, I finally heard about OCD. Since then I have talked to many doctors, several therapist, joined many OCD groups, read as many books that I could, and spent many many hours online doing my own research. I wanted to know everything possible about this illness that caused me so much fear and stress most of my life. I then told a couple family members and my physician, but kept it a secret from everyone else.

When people ask me why I started my blog I tell them I wanted to share my story. I wanted to tell everyone, I wanted to write about all the things I went through no matter how embarrassing it was. I just needed to let it out, I no longer wanted to hide it. I also wanted to explain what it’s really like living with OCD. So many people aren’t aware of what OCD truly is. It is much more than being organized, it is much much more. It’s frightening, it’s exhausting, and it can be debilitating.

What I didn’t realize was going to happen when I started my blog, was all the positive feedback I started to get. People all over the world wrote to me. Some explained they were going through the same thing. Some wrote to say they never knew OCD was a mental illness. They thanked me and encouraged me to continue sharing my story. I even had emails from people that said they felt less alone after reading my posts. Those words touched me, and any regrets or embarrassment I had for sharing my story had disappeared. So not only do I write to help myself, I do it to spread awareness and hopefully to continue to help someone that is suffering alone like I once did.

Today I not only write about OCD, but I also write about panic attacks, addiction, depression, and whatever else happens to be on my mind. My blog is not only about mental health, I do share silly stories about life as well. I am learning how to live a happier life while having a mental illness. I am discovering who I am, what I want to do, and how to do it. Basically, at 51, I am searching for my joy.

So if any of your readers are interested in reading my blog, I would absolutely love for them to check it out. I hope something on my page they will find interesting.

Here is a link to her blog. Please visit, and welcome Christina to our wonderful blogging community.
https://webbblogscom.wordpress.com/

Guest Post: Darlene Foster

I am very happy to present a guest post from the lovely Darlene Foster. Blogger, and published author of the popular ‘Amanda’ series of books, Darlene is from Canada, and lives in Spain.

Babies and Blizzards
By Darlene Foster

I remember when my brother, Timothy, was born. It had been a typical cold and snowy prairie winter with blizzards creating impassable road conditions. Mom expected the third member of our family to arrive in early February. Dad was concerned that the inclement weather might stop him from getting her to the hospital sixty miles away, when the time came. So he took mom and my younger brother, Lorne to stay with our grandparents in the city well before her due date. Since I had school, I stayed with my great-aunt and great-uncle in the small town near our farm.

I was excited about this as I loved Aunt Elsie and Uncle Ed. They treated me well, Aunt Elsie was a great cook and I could walk to school with my older, and therefore much cooler, second cousins.

In their living room stood a cabinet full of amazing books. I would sit in front of it and stare at the titles. Little Lord Fauntleroy, The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, A Tale of Two Cities, Robinson Crusoe and other classics. I so wanted to read those books behind the glass doors. I still remember the day when Aunt Elsie said that if I was very careful, I could read one of the books. Believe me, I was extremely careful. Eventually over the years I read every one of those books in that cabinet.

The baby took longer to come than mom thought but finally, on February 10th, she delivered a chubby little boy. Dad drove into the city to see her and reported back that mommy and baby were doing great. She even wrote me a letter and sent it back with dad. Apparently, my other brother was being spoiled by grandma and grandpa. We expected mom, my brother and the new baby to be home in a week.

But, as luck would have it, the day she was released from the hospital, another terrible blizzard blew up and the road to the city was closed to traffic. Grandpa picked mom and baby Timmy up from the hospital and took them back to their place. I was disappointed because Lorne got to see the new baby before I did.

The weather stayed nasty for another week and vehicles were not getting through. Mom had been gone for a month now and I missed her, even though I enjoyed staying in town with my aunt, uncle and cousins. In the city, Mom grew homesick, missing me and dad.

When I returned from school one cold but sunny day, Aunt Elsie told me to keep my coat on and watch for a surprise. Not much later, an old fashioned, covered sleigh pulled by two large draft horses plodded down the road through the glistening snow.

Dad shouted, “Whoa!” The horses stopped in front of my aunt and uncle’s house. Dad let go of the reins, jumped down from the seat in front and with a wide grin, opened the door to the sleigh. Inside sat my mother in a hooded red woollen coat trimmed in rabbit fur, smiling from ear to ear. In her arms, she held a baby bundled up in many blankets.
“In you get,” said dad. “We’re all going home.”

Dad had borrowed the sleigh from a neighbour in order to get his wife back home.

It was a magical moment for a little girl to see her mom and baby brother delivered in a horse-drawn sleigh. Straight from a storybook. It’s one of my fondest memories.

To connect with Darlene and to find out more about her life and her books, please follow these links.

Website: http://www.darlenefoster.ca

Blog: https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/

Twitter: Darlene Foster (@supermegawoman) / Twitter

Amazon: https://www.amazon.ca/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA/

Goodreads: Darlene Foster (Author of Amanda in Arabia) | Goodreads

Guest Post: Abbie Johnson Taylor

I am delighted to have received a guest post from wriiter and blogger, Abbie Johnson Taylor.
She describes it as ‘Creative non-fiction’. I enjoyed it, and I am sure all of you will too.

THE CASE OF THE MISSING LAWN CHAIRS

by Abbie Johnson Taylor

“Somebody stole our lawn chairs!” Dad announced.

For many years during the summer months, my family attended weekly band concerts at Kendrick Park in Sheridan, Wyoming, on Tuesday evenings after dinner. We brought lawn chairs and listened to the community band playing old standards, marches, and popular songs. Afterward, we trekked to a nearby ice cream stand for dessert, leaving our lawn chairs stashed behind a tree out of the way, sure in the knowledge that they would still be there when we returned to claim them before walking home. But now, all we could do was gape at the empty spot where we expected the chairs to be.

It was the summer of 1983, and I was home from college on break between my junior and senior years. My ten-year-old cousin, Shelley, who was visiting from South Dakota with her family, had accompanied Dad and me and our Irish setter Clancy to the park. She said, “Oh, no.”

Clancy had wandered off and was sniffing something nearby, blissfully unaware of this tragedy. Dad finally said, “Well, why don’t you two start walking home? I’ll look around and see if whoever took them dumped them somewhere else.”

With Clancy, he headed off in one direction while Shelley and I sauntered the other way toward home, which was only about a block away. While waiting to cross a busy street, Shelley suddenly cried, “Look, there are our chairs.”

“Where?” I asked, turning my head this way and that. With my limited vision, I couldn’t spot them.

“They were in the back of that pick-up that passed us. One of the guys in the cab just gave us the finger.”

“Let’s wait for Dad,” I suggested.

A few minutes later when he caught up with us, and Shelley told him what she’d seen, he said, “Well, I’ll be darned. Come on. Let’s go home. It’s safe to cross now.”

At home, we found Mother watching television in the living room. When Shelley excitedly told her what had happened, Mother asked her, “Did you see what the truck looked like?”

“Yeah, it was a green truck,” Shelley answered. “and there were two guys in the cab.”

Turning to Dad, Mother said, “Well, you should call the police. With Shelley’s description, they might be able to find the chairs.”

“Yeah,” Shelley cried, jumping up and down and clapping her hands.

Clancy, who always got excited when anyone else did, voiced his approval while dancing in circles and wagging his tail.

After shushing the dog, Dad said, “I suppose it wouldn’t hurt.” He made his way to the phone in the hall.

That summer, I’d been reading an Ellery Queen murder mystery which featured some police brutality. Not having had much experience with law enforcement, I wasn’t sure it was such a good idea to call the police about stolen lawn chairs. At least we didn’t have a dead body on our hands.

But Shelley was so excited about the possibility of helping find the lawn chairs. I didn’t want her to be scared. So, I remained silent while Dad made the call.

A few minutes later, when Clancy’s barking announced the arrival of the local constabulary, Shelley and I were sitting on the couch together. She must have read my mind for she moved closer to me, giggling. “You nervous?” she asked.

I should have told her there was nothing to be nervous about. Remembering what I’d heard a thousand times on the television show, Dragnet, I should have advised her to give them just the facts.

Instead, I only laughed nervously as Dad opened the front door while Clancy continued to bark and wag his tail. Grabbing his collar, Dad said, “Let me just put him on the side porch.”

To my relief, instead of an entire crew of policemen who arrived after Ellery Queen reported a murder, there was only one detective. Instead of barking orders at people like Inspector Queen, he introduced himself and engaged us in small talk before asking about the crime.

Shelley was a trooper. She described that pick-up truck and the guys in the cab as best she could, saying, “I didn’t get the license plate number, though.”

“That’s all right,” the officer said, scribbling in his notebook. “That sounds like Ricky Rodriguez’s truck.”

Dad described the lawn chairs and said, “My New Yorker magazine was in one of them.”

“Okay,” the officer said, scribbling some more. “I’ll see what I can do. It was nice meeting you all.”

The next day, Mother received a phone call from the detective. He told her they’d found the chairs, along with other contraband, in the back of that green pick-up. Unfortunately, they needed to keep all found items for evidence, and we didn’t get the chairs back until October. But miracle of miracles, that New Yorker magazine was still folded up in one of those chairs.

Although my paranoia was somewhat abated that night, I still harbor a little mistrust of the law, especially after hearing about numerous instances of white police officers killing black suspects for no reason. I’m thankful I’m not black, but a friend once told me she’d heard of disabled people like me also being victims of police brutality.

But in our small town, there hasn’t been any misconduct on the part of law enforcement personnel. I feel confident that as long as I obey the law, policemen won’t hurt me. I’m also encouraged by the fact that three lawn chairs and a New Yorker magazine reported stolen were found the very next day.

***

Abbie Johnson Taylor is the author of three novels, two poetry collections, and a memoir. Her latest novel, Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me, is now available from Amazon and Smashwords in print and eBook formats. Her poems and stories have appeared in Magnets and Ladders, The Avocet, and other publications. Please visit her website at: https://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com

Please visit Abbie’s site to read more, and to connect with this very supportive and interesting lady.

Guest Post: The Hungry Hound

I am delighted to feature blogger, poet, and published writer, Kevin Morris.
https://kmorrispoet.com/ You can read more of Kevin’s blog by following that link.

The Hungry Hound

I am Trigger.
My Stomach is bigger
Than you think.
Your lunch will be gone in the blink
Of an eye.
Then away I fly.
Should you ask, “who stole my lunch?” I reply,
“Not I”
But, dear reader, I lie …!
I have been known to eat plastic.
My reach is elastic.
You think your food safe?
My friend brace
Yourself for a shock
For I will gobble the lot!
Be it ever so hot!

(The above poem was dedicated to my guide dog Trigger, who sadly died
in 2020, but lives on in my heart).

Kevin’s published poems are available online from Amazon.

He is also featured in an anthology, details from this link.
https://www.lulu.com/en/us/shop/croydon-poets/croydon-poetry-hour-anthology-202021/paperback/product-q777n8.html?page=1&pageSize=4

Guest Post: Chaya Ubhayakar

Today I am very pleased to bring you a guest post from retired teacher and blogger, Chaya.
https://chayasheela.wordpress.com/

My love of words….

It started with….
“Ajja, what is stupid?” I asked my beloved grandfather. I sensed that the girl who had uttered that word in the playground didn’t mean it as a compliment, and I wanted to know what it meant. Ajja was dismayed by my use of the word and said not to repeat it, and more importantly, not to address someone with it…ever. Confused, I was about to go and ask Papa when Ajja quietly gave me a pocket-size Collins English Gem Dictionary (1936 edition and still used by my hubby and me) and guided me to locate the word and learn the meaning. This little gem opened a whole new world for me…. A world of words to look up, and learn.

My Ajja was deeply spiritual, loving, and well-read, with elegant handwriting…. A man of few words. He was my first teacher of the English language. We had two big wood and glass cupboards full of carefully covered, gently treated and almost revered books. Some rare ones like The Discovery of India by Jawaharlal Nehru come to my mind. As a child, I would look through the glass with longing at those interesting, big volumes that were out of bounds for me. (Only grown-ups handled those precious books.) Ajja would often take a book out, put one arm around my shoulder, talk about the book then say, “You will be able to read all these books very soon.” Thus began my love of written and read words.

Nurtured by….
My Papa was a voracious reader who had mastery over spoken and written English. I would find him every morning with his eyes glued to the Indian Express newspaper, reading every word from front to back. On Sundays, I would sit next to him and he would give me the comic section to look at. My Papa was a great storyteller who used expressive words and mimicry to bring his characters to life and mesmerize us. I remember Papa sitting at his old typewriter, with his fingers flying over the keys and immersed in words that would magically appear on the paper. Like many of his generation, Papa’s writing style was floral. He loved to use sayings, proverbs, andexplain their relevance and usage to me. His aerograms sent to England in the ’70s, ’80s to me, my hubby, and my children were so wonderful that I love reading them even now. Papa made me appreciate the power and responsibility of the written word.

My Aai,(Mum) somehow made time in her busy day of taking care of all of us to read to me. Herreading interests are mainly scriptures and teachings of saints. Aai would sit down with me after dinner with a bowl of sliced, fresh fruit and show me mythological big books mostly with pictures. She would turn each page and relate the story in pure Konkani (our mother tongue). Aai showed me that words could transport me to a different world in each story.

Taught by…
My teacher read Marathi literature with such enthusiasm and joy that it was contagious. She introduced me to the nuances of puns, similes, metaphors, and personification. My English teacher drummed the importance of grammar into us and had us chant certain phrases to make sure we would use appropriate words when writing in the past tense, present tense, present continuous, or future tense. To this day, I remember the chants, “ He goes, she goes, it goes, I go, we go, they go.” Or, “I am going, she is going, he is going, it is going, we are going, they are going!”

Hello, Your Royal Highness….
As I left my school days of Enid Blyton and college days of heavyweights like Shakespeare and Wordsworth behind me, got married, and moved to England, I discovered the wonders of words in a whole new way. At public libraries, I had unlimited access to books penned by renowned English writers. In local theaters, I was able to watch plays where thespians brought characters of great writers like Shakespeare to life. I finally made sense of the literature I had read but not fully comprehended as a college-going youngster. I learnt the Queen’s English and pronunciation in a “proper” manner!

A matter of spelling….
Our life took us to America — a land where the written, and spoken language is English. However, the difference in the usage of English In England and America cannot be starker. Another opportunity to learn new words, and relearn old words with different spelling and pronunciation. Once I mentioned to a friend that I called but her phone was “engaged”, she replied curtly “people are engaged, phones are busy!” I went back to university in my fifties to gain a degree in teaching and entered the world of textbooks, and American literature. My favorite classes were creative writing and poetry. My creative writing professor often remarked that he found my writing well-composed and very interesting but, often “wordy”. I valued his opinion and have tried hard to be stingy with words but, alas, “Old habits die hard!”

My love affair with words continues….
My journey as an elementary school teacher gave me ample opportunity to share my knowledge gathered from living on three continents. Although I mostly taught Math and Science, teaching vocabulary played an important part in my day. I adopted words from my students too. Except when they insisted on using double negatives (which was always accompanied by a sheepish look) like, “I didn’t do nothing, Miss!” I could just imagine my grammar teacher being horrified by the use of double negatives which was a definite “no, no!”

I started writing with gusto after retiring. Often inspired by my 91 year-old mum. As a new blogger I have found the perfect platform for my passion for reading and writing. As my love of writing and reading words in Konkani, Marathi, and English continues to deepen, I can feel my Ajja’s and Papa’s smiling approval from their place in my heart.

Please visit her blog to see more, say hello, and welcome her to our wonderful community.

Guest Post: Gauri Sirur

Today I am delighted to feature a guest post from Gauri. Originally from India, she now lives in America.

My Book of Memories
(Or my life chronicled through some of the books I’ve read. And the memories they evoke.)
I glimpse a paperback on a friend’s bookshelf. It takes me right back to college when you were too uncool for school if you hadn’t read the book’s author. My daughter tells me a literary classic — my mom’s favorite — is being remade into a movie. And now I hear my mom’s voice quoting from the book.
Books evoke memories. These are some of mine…

Growing up…
My Book of Memories opens with a fairytale. I am lying in the back seat of the family car, with my shut-eye doll, my fuzzy blanket, and Enid Blyton’s book of fairytales. (There were no seat belts back then.)

My little brother, Ash, rides in front with my parents. He likes to look out at this world. I like to lose myself in imaginary worlds.

I’m happy when it takes a long time to get to our destination.
* * *
At the time of my in-car reading sessions, I was five years old and living in Pune, India. Mom was an avid reader. She frequented a circulating library that offered Women’s Weekly and Women and Home magazines — along with a modest selection of novels — to its predominantly female clientele. And Enid Blyton’s books to the kids who tagged along.
Blyton’s books were inhabited by an eclectic mix of humans, fairy folk, toys, and barnyard and woodland animals. In this fantastical world, you might find a little red door set in the trunk of a very old tree. You turned the round green doorknob, stepped through, and found yourself on a railway platform. From here you could take a train to Fairyland, Goblin Hill, or Toyland.

I have to admit that although I’m far from six now, I still stare very hard at the trunks of very old trees, checking for little red doors. I’m looking at you, giant sequoia. You never know, right?
* * *
In my early teens, I devoured paperbacks. Mainly mysteries and romances. Mom spoke of Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, and Daphne du Maurier in hushed tones. To please her, I read Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, and Rebecca. And then, to please me, I read them all over again.

Dad, a naturalist at heart, got my brother and me a slew of illustrated books on birds, reptiles, mammals, and dinosaurs.

I got back from school one day to find a T-rex and a brontosaurus — both about four inches high — squaring off on top of the radio in the living room. Dad had fashioned them out of Plasticine (Play-Doh). He believed in giving us a hands-on education.

Pluto and Persephone…
Tai, my father’s elder sister, worked at the Oxford publishing house in Mumbai. Every year she gifted me a book for my birthday. When I turned eight, she presented me with two children’s books of Greek mythology. Zeus, Athena, Aphrodite, Narcissus, Medusa. I was as riveted by the names as by the stories.

During a college literature class, a professor asked if anyone knew the story of Persephone and Pluto. I put up my hand. She gazed at me with newfound respect. I thought it best not to reveal that I had gotten my deep knowledge of Greek mythology from a children’s book.

All growed-up…
After marriage, I lived on a farm with Raj, my parents-in-law, and Raj’s granddad. Our farmhouse was three miles from the nearest village. But even here, there was no dearth of reading material.

In his room, Raj’s granddad had a cupboard full of books tenderly covered with brown paper. I could take my pick from Dickens through Poe to Pearl S. Buck.

When we moved from the farmhouse to an apartment in Mumbai, half of the books moved with us. And then, over the years, a quarter of those treasures found their way to Houston, where I now live.
* * *
Some of these books are close to a hundred years old. Time has tinged their pages a light sepia. I have to turn the pages carefully lest they flake off.

I open the books, and a musty-sweet aroma wafts to my nostrils. Suddenly, I’m looking out the living room window of a certain farmhouse in India. A bullock cart rumbles past on the dusty track outside the window, heaped with sacks full of freshly harvested peanuts. Just beyond the track, row upon row of young sorghum fronds flirt with the breeze.

Coming to America…
My book memories of America, where I moved twenty-some years ago, with my husband and daughters, are a world away from bullock carts or flirtatious sorghum.

From Mumbai we flew into Cleveland, OH, where my daughters enrolled in middle and high school. My older daughter’s English Lit. syllabus included The Black Pearl, which was my introduction to American literature. My memories of this book are decidedly mixed.

On the one hand, I loved the book; it inspired me to read another Steinbeck classic, The Grapes of Wrath.

On the other, The Black Pearl remains closely bound up with that fresh-off-the-boat, disorienting sense of foreignness. With the shock of the biting Cleveland winter after the muggy warmth of Mumbai — the cold inking chilblains on the backs of our hands. The isolation — trees bare of leaves, streets bare of people. The echoing quiet. Most alien of all, the smells — the insistent tang of Lysol and wood-polish; that plasticky new-car smell.

Twenty-some years later, the country that once felt alien is now home.

And now, this…
I started my book collection in Houston eight years ago, right around the time of my grandson’s birth. The first book that I bought was Kafka’s Metamorphosis. A fitting title, I thought, for my own metamorphosis from mom to Grand Mom.

Several of the books in my collection, from Hamlet through Harry Potter, are storied in more ways than one. There is enough nostalgia here to fill yet another Book of Memories. But that’s a story, or a blog post, for another day.

Yes, books evoke memories. What are some of yours?

Here is a link to her blog. Please take time to visit, and welcome Gauri to this community.
https://gaurisirur.wordpress.com/

Guest Post: Nadine Gordon On Canada

We don’t hear that much about Canada these days. Ever since the French-speaking people in Quebec stopped protesting about the British Royal Family, and Pierre Trudeau died, it seems that Canada hardly exists outside of North America. No reports of how they have been affected by the pandemic, and not even a feature on one of their ‘big freeze’ weather events. So when I read a post on the blog of Canadian writer Nadine Gordon, I thought it was only right to ask her to appear here as a guest blogger, and let us know what is going on in that vast country.

The Trefoil Muse Blog

https://thetrefoilmuse.blog/

This is a short ‘bio’ about the author, Nadine Gordon.

I began my writing career as a journalist for a small local newspaper. That’s where I discovered while interviewing several subjects that they shone while relating their own stories of how they accomplished that extraordinary feat to obtain victory or explained how to operate that new equipment prototype or even shared what the exciting idea behind the grand opening of a new store was. I thanked my lucky stars that I was the one able to capture those moments on paper through words for others to enjoy.

I have been published in Reader’s Digest, Horses All, The Violet Ray magazines and many newspapers. I write because there is a certain power in the written word that cannot be denied. Words can heal a wounded soul, teach, inspire, entertain and inform people. I also self-published a book called, “The Rose Path.”
I write because, I feel better when I do and from what I hear, so do others who read my prose.

WordPress is filled with talented, artistic entrepreneurs. It contains a wealth of knowledge if you are looking to learn. With the discovery of WordPress I began to take blogging seriously. As a Canadian author I find the WordPress community to be very kind and supportive.

I have come across many helpful sites on WordPress but upon finding beetleypete – well, I just kept coming back.
Beetleypete is very knowledgeable about the blogging world. From his site; I’ve learned what an avatar is and how to utilize the excerpt. Sites like https://www.beetleypete.com also teach blogging etiquette. I like beetleypete’s no nonsense approach.

The day he published: “New bloggers: Following Back,” I commented because even as a new blogger I’ve come across the ‘follow me back,’ phenomenon.
Be prepared new bloggers; if you comment on another site, your own may be visited. Have more than the, ‘WordPress example post’ exhibited on your blog if beetleypete visits! “Canadian Tourists always have Maple Leaf patches on their bags so that we don’t think they are Americans,” commented beetleypete. He has lived in London most of his life but has since moved to Norfork to enjoy a slower lifestyle and country ways.
Beetleypete otherwise known as Pete read, “Literally Torn,” then generously invited me to do a guest blog about Canada because they get little news about us unless it involves a Royal visit.

Upon Finding beetleypete

In Canada, we have been in short supply of worldly news. Starving the World’s population of international news is a fall-out of the pandemic!
(We did receive news in Canada regarding the Royal family’s loss of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. We grieve with the United Kingdom.)
Let me begin by sharing that every five years in Canada, Canadians are legally required to participate in the ‘census’ to help paint a picture of our diverse population and where we live. We completed the census recently.
As a middle class Canadian, I get extremely annoyed when the census comes around asking questions regarding my cultural background. I have a myriad of different cultural bloodlines running through my veins. My family has been in Canada for generations. I was born here. I am Canadian! Enough said!

Even though I was born in the great country of Canada, it would be negligent of me not to mention that:
“I am not going to be reliable source for current events. I live an isolated existence on the Canadian prairie away from the masses. I do not live in an igloo or tee pee; I live in a house with four walls – sorry, for squashing that Canadian stereotype. We do have electricity; television and internet which helps me stay informed. Plus, Google is my friend – I know how research on it. I do my best to entertain those who love to read, learn and muse but there are other journalists better equipped in Canada to write about current events. So be prepared, I’m about to give you a rather satirical view of what is going on in Canada.”
“I don’t normally delve into the world of politics on my blog. However, life amid a pandemic has been frustrating even in our peace loving country thanks to the current political sphere.”

Canada is situated on the top half of North America. We are often referred to as, ‘The Great White North.’ Canada is a large country spanning from the Atlantic Ocean on the east to the Pacific Ocean on the west. I have traveled Canada from coast to coast. Due to the pandemic, some of the provincial boarders are now closed.
Canada is a country with many cultures and belief systems. If you are interested in learning about another culture, the only thing necessary is an open mind and willingness to learn. Canadians are amicable, hard working, intelligent people who enjoy life. We have a great sense of humour. We value laughter. But, above all, we value what freedoms we are afforded. Most Canadians are very aware of the fact that other countries pay attention to our Democratic politics.
Canadians are also aware that our multi-coloured currency looks similar to that found within board games such as Monopoly or Stock Ticker. In our defence, we are a colourful people who deserve colourful coinage!
We are proud to be known as a Peace keeping nation which is why we display our maple leaf when travelling.
I suspect, the world sees our southern United States of America neighbours as more aggressive than those of us living in the Great White North because – they don’t have “legalized marijuana.”
We are known as humble people in Canada – even our own Prime Minister has described us as meek and complacent. Plus, most recently, he smugly referred to us as a bunch of ‘tinfoil hats!’

I find our current Prime Minister and his denigrated political ideals offensive. In my opinion, he has done nothing more than divide our beautiful country with reprehensible, arrogant viewpoints; toting incessantly that they are the “Woke.” If he actually believes that he or his party is “Woke” then they better lay-off of the ‘whacky tobacky’ they are so proud to have legalized in Canada! The “Woke” are out of touch with reality!
I am certain the Prime Minister would like to blame Covid-19 for the unrest in our country. According to the ‘Woke,’ our current madness stems from the isolation of our third pandemic lock-down.
The truth of the matter is that the Prime Minister of Canada was given too much power at the beginning of this pandemic. Too much power in the hands of the wrong person is dangerous. The Prime Minister and the Liberal party scheme behind closed doors – they are dangerous. They have been scheming to take hard fought freedoms and rights away but they have been found out! (Luckily, we still have the sharp-eyed United Conservative Party (UCP) actively working at the House of Commons in Ottawa. The UPC has alerted the Canadian public to numerous underhanded ploys attempted by the ‘Woke.’)
Regardless of what you may have seen televised on Main Stream Media (MSM); ‘meek, complacent Canadians,’ across the country have been banding together, outraged at elected officials who continue to participate in over-reaching, reprehensible acts in parliament such as abuses of power. Outrage alone should show the Prime Minister that Canadians are neither meek nor complacent and, remind him and his party that they are accountable to the people of Canada.
The ‘Liberal Woke’ members of parliament are elected officials who are not speaking, acting or representing their constituents. Instead, the ‘Woke’ party seek to promote their own dictorial ideals.
One would think Canadians actively protesting for their Charter of Rights would be enough to levy the Prime Minister and his party a rude awakening! Instead, their arrogance prevails. It seems the ‘Woke,’ merely roll up one fat doobie after another then check into fantasy land oblivious to the ensuing drama and political dissention they cause!
(Today’s politics or news broadcasts are all about denial, fear mongering & distracting the public with Covid statistics. It is absolutely nauseating! If you are looking for actual news in Canada, you have to look anywhere but Mainstream Media for it.)

Unrest in Canada is always indicated when the ‘Bloc Quebecois’ starts screaming separation. Quebec is the most vocal province we have when it comes to constitutional rights. I have always admired Quebecers for this tenacity. They are spitting mad and wanting a divorce!
Quebec – the rest of Canada is empathetic but, in light of never ending Covid-19 spikes; let me remind you to flatten the curve by quoting our illustrious Prime Minister, “Don’t breathe moistly on anyone.”
Quebec is an eastern province. If they separate, I hope they don’t take Newfoundland or our maritime provinces. Those people would give you the shirts right off of their back after filling your belly with jiggs dinner!
The Prime Minister’s fantasy land of choice is Ontario.
I never hear news about Manitoba. They are an extremely quiet province. The capital of Manitoba is Winnipeg. Winnipeg is a beautiful, extremely cold city. Many people call Winnipeg; Winter-peg. It’s still spring in Canada so the people of Manitoba could thawing their bones. I know from experience what it’s like to try and communicate when teeth chatter from the winter cold. Manitoba has its borders closed for non-essential travel.
Saskatchewan is the breadbasket of Canada.
People jokingly say that we live in Saskatchewan. We don’t but if I stood on a nearby hill with binoculars, I can see that province! From where I live, a carrier pigeon would deliver a message to someone along the Saskatchewan border in about four hours. I haven’t heard any substantial news about my neighbouring province to the east either. What I can tell you about Saskatchewan Canadians is that they are very loyal; especially to their Rough Rider football team. I mean, any people who would carve out a watermelon and wear it on their head like a helmet in loyalty to a football team is alright in my books!

I am from the Western province of Alberta.

Let me say that again; I am from Alberta. The Prime Minister would like to pretend Alberta doesn’t exist. He actually forgot to name our province when reciting the provinces of Canada! What an endearing puppet!

It is probably no secret that Canada has an upcoming election. Political posturing abounds between various parties. We have a great many things in our country to be proud of – the current Prime Minister is not one of them. Bearded or unbearded, I find him to be a complete embarrassment! The thought of an election has me on my knees praying to the Universe, “Please let Prime Minister Pinocchio and his ‘Woke’ party crickets return to fantasy land!”
So, while Quebec screams separation on the political front, a petition to unify Canada’s western provinces has emerged once again. The petition is called Wexit. It includes the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Albertan and British Columbia. I guess that bears further watching.
We started hearing the cry for Wexit again in Alberta recently when Premier Jason Kenney of the UCP, decided to flex his muscles and force our province into our third lock-down during the first week-end of May. The Premier’s tactic was to utilize RCMP members and city police forces to dole out tickets with hefty fines and/or arrest any Albertan who gathered peacefully in protest. Specifically, they were to target any Albertans defying rules which contravened Section 73(1) of the Public Health Act of Alberta – especially those who refused to wear masks even while outdoors. The facade behind the lock-down was to flatten the spiking Covid curve by jabbing as many Albertans as possible with the now available vaccines; thereby saving lives and easing the strain on our over-worked, stressed-out Health Care system.
Alberta protesters simply ignored the Premier as they were defending their Constitutional Rights such as the right to assemble and freedom of choice. I would like to point out, that peaceful protests were taking place in cities across Canada and internationally for the same reasons during that week-end.

In Alberta, rallies were held in a variety of cities including our capital city of Edmonton and in Calgary (home of the infamous Calgary Stampede), with no MSM coverage. Bowden; a town between Edmonton and Calgary, held a rodeo on private property. Why the Premier and the news media chose to zero in on the Bowden Rodeo attendees is beyond me. I’ve seen pictures and videos of the tough, healthy country folk, and cowboys who attended. They all looked healthy! Anyhow, there was quite the hoopla over this little rodeo because of their outlandish refusal to mask-up for an outdoor event.
The Premier said he felt like he’d been slapped in the face by the disobedient rodeo goer’s then closed the Alberta parliament for two weeks and ran home to sulk. He even admitted to wanting a new base of supporters.
Rachel Notley, is head of the New Dreamtime Party (NDP) in Alberta. They are the official opposition of Alberta’s UPC and close allies of the ‘Woke.’ She figured since the Premier had tucked tail and run that it was safe for her to poke her head up from wherever she’s been n-deep-sleeping and yell in all her blurry-eyed, glory; “Coward!” No doubt her munchies of choice during Covid-19 has been the orange coloured THC laced gummy bears – this heady delight, is what it would take for Ms. Notley to have found such dreamtime courage. Albertans have not forgotten what her short stint in power did to our province!

As for Alberta’s Premier feeling like he’d been slapped – better a good slap than a swift kick in the butt via pointed cowboy boots!
There have been MSM reports that Alberta is an anomaly. The Government doesn’t know what to do with us. (Political mumbo jumbo and Covid statistics are like the weather in Canada. If you don’t like it just wait a couple of minutes.)
The third lock-down in Alberta is easing.
The redneck slap brought Premier Kenney to his senses or perhaps, someone just poured him a strong cup of Tim Horton’s coffee. In any case, he returned to the Alberta Legislature Building after a two week hiatus prancing around like a proud rooster. Albertans successfully exceeded the Premiers expectations. 60% have gotten jabbed at least once with a dose of vaccination. Kenney is now dangling the golden carrot of freedom in front of his base supporters.

Beginning June 1st, Albertan’s can enjoy the more relaxed restrictions of Stage 1.
Stage 2 of regained freedom begins June 10th. We get more rewards as long as we stay diligent at flattening the curve.
Stage 3, enters at the end of June or beginning of July, with the promise of a Calgary Stampede. It appears we’ll be able to gather publicly – at least at the Stampede in Calgary. (This will be a welcome change from the gatherings held at Walmart or Costco!)
British Columbia is Alberta’s neighbouring province to the west. They too have had their borders closed for anything but essential travel. They are attempting to knock down the Covid-19 spike prior to tourist season.

In British Columbia, MSM actually reported some breaking news on May 27th.
A mass grave with over 215 First Nations children was uncovered in what used to be Canada’s largest residential school in Kamloops, B.C. This school operated between the years of 1890-1969 under a Catholic order called the Oblates of Mary Immaculate until the federal government took it over and ran it as a day-home until 1978 when it closed. Missing, undocumented children as young as 3 years old were discovered by a ground penetrating radar.
The recent breaking story by MSM is a reminder of our not so distant past when assimilation took place in our country through genocidal, prejudicial degradation of our First Nations and Indigenous people.
I am not only devastated for the families and band nations in Canada for these losses but also, for those who continue to suffer daily because of elitist, anti-Semitic beliefs. Canadians will never be able to fully rectify these injustices. Those of us in touch with reality know who the true ‘savages’ are in our society and where they hide. We must hold them accountable for inflictions of horror.
The Prime Minister has offered his feigned, contrition.

On the Federal front, the Prime Minister has also come up with an International travel strategy; this mainly due to his own self-interests. His motivation – he desires to find the magical Blue Fairy who will turn him into a real boy so he can attend the G7 Summit in the United Kingdom which is scheduled for June 11-13, 2021.
It seems a shameful to have spent so much time sharing about Canada’s political sitcom when there are many wonderful things about Canada. However, the current political sphere has me sitting on the edge of my seat wondering what type of absurdity will happen next! The state of our country or, that of any other country in the world since the pandemic began is unbelievable. The news here is the same as elsewhere – it’s all politically motivated pandemic propaganda or twisted with distractions designed to hide politically motivated strategies.
Suffice to say; no news is not good news for Canada!
At the end of the day, whether we exit or we stay, our PM remains nothing more than a drama teacher puppet. That being said, this ‘tin-hat’ bulletin author finds Canadians up Schitt’s Creek without a paddle.

Thank-you for reading! Stay tuned for more Canadian political satires on the blogosphere.
Also, my humble gratitude to Pete for graciously allowing me to guest blog on his site!
For more of my creative stories, please visit: https://www.thetrefoilmuse.com