An evocative poem from that great writer, Frank Scarangello.
Lara is a Native American adoptee with some harrowing stories to tell about the treatment of Native Americans in America and Canada.
You can read her bio on this Blogger link. https://www.blogger.com/profile/08395257432521760435
This is her own website. https://blog.tracehentz.com/
And here is a link where you can read her new book. https://cosmicglue.pressbooks.com/
I suggest checking out those links. Like me, you could learn a lot about something we know so little about.
As I was waking up on Chistmas morning, ready to make tea, and unwrap gifts, something happened that left a hole in our blogging community that will remain forever unfilled.
Three hundred miles to the north of Beetley, Mary Smith passed away peacefully, in Scotland.
Few bloggers can hope to leave behind the legacy that Mary has. An incredibly interesting life, lived to the full. Books and short stories that show us other cultures and lifestyles, as well as her love of the history of her home town of Dumfries.
Humour, wit, and warmth, even as she endured debilitating treatment for cancer and took us along with her on her final journey.
Mary was a blogger’s blogger. Engaging on posts, leaving comments, sharing on social media, always there to help and encourage anyone.
Rest in peace, dear Mary. Surrounded by the love of your family, and your many blogging friends.
Her family kindly let us know, posting the last ever post on her blog.
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.
Today I am very pleased to feature English blogger and writer, Cathy Cade.
Finding my Courage
There were a couple of reasons why I would have skimmed over Pete’s first call for guest posts, however attractive I found the prospect of reaching a wider audience. What on earth would I write about, for a start? I struggle to think of topics to post on my own blog.
Time would have been a factor too – isn’t it always? As well as formatting our writing group’s third anthology, I’m currently revisiting my ‘practice novel’. I have been known to tackle the ironing to avoid revisiting this novel.
But very little of my retirement wardrobe requires ironing, these days, which leaves me short of postponement strategies. And most of it boils down to simple cowardice.
I actually completed a first draft of the aforementioned practice novel before losing confidence and putting it aside in favour of short stories. Short stories are less scary and are quicker to produce and obtain feedback on. I could share them with online writing forums or a local writing group. However nerve-wracking it was to present my own work for feedback, I found critiquing others’ writing just as scary. But the sky didn’t fall.
Short stories can be submitted to competitions… some even free to enter. I sent off stories to competitions and most disappeared into the void. The world didn’t end.
Short stories can be sent off to magazines. The best of these gave helpful feedback when rejecting my stories. And the sun rose next morning.
I started a blog – the writing gurus all said I ought to, but I’d put it off. Who would be interested in my ramblings? What on earth would I blog about? (Still a challenge.) After my first tentative posts, I realised that the only one interested in who read my posts was me.
On publishing our writing group’s first anthology, nobody laughed at us for trying; the world didn’t end when it needed amending.
I reviewed my rejected magazine stories and sent them out to other magazines, both print and online. Some were accepted!
I followed other blogs and plucked up courage to comment. Some of the bloggers came to look at my blog.
We had the group’s anthology printed locally, sold them to our u3a members and went into a second print run. We published a second collection the following year. With one of our members producing our covers, all it cost us was the ISBNs, so I took the plunge to publish books of my own (on Amazon and Smashwords). The sky still hasn’t fallen.
If, like me, you have the courage of Oz’s Cowardly Lion, take heart. Most things in life become easier once you’ve taken that first scary step. Even guest blogging.
Here are some links where you can read more from Cathy, or buy her books.
I am very pleased to feature a short story sent to me by Indian blogger and writer Vaidehi.
Here is her short bio.
Vaidehi writes travel stories, short stories and haiku poems on her blog “Weary feet…Happy soul” at http://www.vvaidehi.wordpress.com. She is based in New Delhi, India.
I am old and frayed now. Nevertheless, I am classy, one of substance and not like the new ones on the block. And yet, here I am, abandoned and lonely.
When I was young and in good company, I had many admirers and conversations in elegant circles revolved around me. Life was good.
Over the years, I was slowly relegated to the background. At first, to the back of the shelf and then to the trunk in the attic. But nobody can deny that I was and still am the best in deductive crime fiction. The characters that unfold as you turn my pages are still alive in the minds of people. I am told that they are still making films and serials with my main characters.
All this crowding and jostling in the trunk exasperate me. Even a trash can would be better than this! Soon, I was picked up with several others of my clan and shoved into, you guessed it right, the trash can. Talk to me about a self-fulfilling prophecy!
Abandoned and hurt, I had no faith in humankind. After a long and painful journey, I lay in the dump and resigned myself to being shred or burnt or just left to decay.
I woke up from my stupor when a gloved hand picked me up and crammed me into a coat pocket. “Now what?” I thought. I dimly remember that I passed through several hands over the next few days, none that is worth mentioning.
So, I was pleasantly surprised when the young woman looked at me with interest and I felt the care in her touch. She cleaned my red leather cover carefully, removing the smudges and stains of years of neglect and the rough and tumble of the last few days. My title glittered again and I shone like a new coin.
What does a book want? To be handled carefully, to be read with interest and to be valued. She did all this and much more.
I had been with her for quite some time when, one day, she picked me up, put me in her handbag and left for work. I was enjoying the snug ride when she took me out, put a paste-on note on my cover and placed me gently by her side on the metro train seat. I was quite happy to have a separate seat and looked around brimming with pride, to check if anyone had noticed. But I am sad to say that all of them were engrossed with a gadget held in their hands.
As my owner got up to alight, I looked up at her expectantly. To my dismay, she moved to the door, glanced back at me and got off. What? Abandoned again?
I sat there clueless and despondent. While several passed, an elderly man stopped in front of me, read the note and picked me up. Smiling, he flipped through the pages and put me in his bag. My stay with him was brief but wonderful as he too read and valued me. A few days later, I was left by him deliberately on one of the benches of a metro station.
So, here I am, lying abandoned on the metro for the umpteenth time and waiting for yet another eager reader to pick me up. I have learnt now that I am a part of a social project “book on the Delhi metro”. Books are left at prominent places on the metro trains and stations, to be picked by interested readers, who would leave the books again for others. Thus, the chain of readers continues.
Needless to say, I now love being abandoned!
If you would like to connect with her, or read more from her blog, here is another link.
Hurry! Get your free copy of Stevie’s book. One day only! And please don’t forget to give it a fair review after reading.
My family drama ‘Barren‘ is free just for today. It was published in October 2020 and so far has one 5 star rating:
Esme Jones and husband Aron have completed their family and have twin sons Jared and James. Esme’s older sister Eden Reece is desperate for a child, but a hysterectomy has put paid to any chance of her becoming a parent. When Esme offers herself as a surrogate, Eden and husband Billy are delighted. However, when Esme notices the first fluttering of life inside her and a scan reveals that she is carrying a girl, both sisters are not prepared for the outcome which threatens to tear the fabric of the whole extended family apart.
As always, if you enjoy reading it, please consider leaving a review.
Apart from the usual blog hop on Monday, I’ll be winding down on writing blogs next week. We’ll be…
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Jim says it all-via Tallis Steelyard- about the tragic loss of the lovely Sue Vincent. This community will be poorer without her, and she will always be remembered by anyone who encountered her on her blog, and in her writing. RIP, dear Sue.
There are times when a poet must make a stand and say, “This has happened without my cognisance and I will not accept it!” Today has not been the best of days. Today I got a note from a patron. Common enough, especially from her, as she was always quick to praise, swift to encourage. But today the note had a bitter flavour. She was sitting awaiting death. A week? Longer?
And what can a poet do? A poet can protest, a poet can stand tall and say firmly that this will not do. A poet can bang the table with his wine glass obvious of the fact it has shattered and the pieces lie glistening but incoherent, shards of dreams never now to be dreamt.
Others have known Sue for longer than I, others will doubtless feel the grief more keenly, will mourn longer, but my job as a…
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Please use the link to read Sue’s full post. Courageous, and inspiring. We are losing one of the best bloggers and writers this community has ever known.
Today Sue Vincent shared what may be her last blog post. It’s so like Sue that it’s a message of hope as well as gentle regret.
Sue has given so much and so freely—to family, friends, and uncounted thousands she’s touched online. This post of loss and love is deeply personal. But it’s also universal. The world has faced loss and grief on an unprecedented scale over the past year. Sue is part of that pandemic recording. It might not be the coronavirus that ultimately beats her (a far older and even more egalitarian cancer will be credited with that victory) but it played a lead role in delaying treatment which might have bought time.
So here’s my challenge. Please share this post. Please share a tweet and add names of those you’ve lost this past year. Because the world needs to remember every loss, every person whose death was…
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American blogger and writer Pete Springer is a retired teacher. He has only been blogging for less than two years, but has already become a great asset to our blogging community.
He has published a book that he hopes will interest and inspire new teachers, based on his own memories of a lifetime as an educator.
Here is one of his recent posts, giving some idea of what you will find on his blog.
An Impressive Young Man
There are times in a teaching career when you wonder, “Was it all worth it? Would I do it again?” My answer has always been a resounding “yes” to those questions, but I don’t think there is a teacher alive who hasn’t wondered about those things on occasion. All teachers inevitably have bad days, and it can leave you feeling, “What am I doing? I must be the world’s worst teacher.”
One of the mysteries of teaching is that you can have one of these awful days from nowhere. With experience, you learn that these things can happen randomly for no apparent reason. Many times, it has nothing to do with you but difficult situations that are going on in your students’ lives that you are unaware of. Sometimes you discover why things went amiss, but many times you don’t. Just as often, the following day, everything goes according to plan, and you feel like the consummate professional. Such are the ups and downs of being an educator.
I’ve written previously about some of my favorite post-teaching moments. One post was entitled The Delayed Rewards of Teaching https://petespringerauthor.wordpress.com/2019/08/15/the-delayed-rewards-of-teaching/ and, most recently, an article called Our Future is in Good Hands. https://petespringerauthor.wordpress.com/2020/07/09/our-future-is-in-good-hands/
This past week I had one of those beautiful post-teaching experiences that reminded me why I became an educator. When you’re in the middle of a school year, you have these memorable experiences when you see a child accomplish something remarkable or observe a fantastic transformation in a child’s academics or behavior. While these accomplishments are rewarding, the big payoff often comes years later.
I taught Samy Awwad in third grade several years ago. He was a bright and sometimes mischievous (never mean) boy with a great deal of potential. I had the pleasure of teaching Samy’s brother the year before him, and his younger sister two years after I taught Samy. They all were exceptionally bright students with promising futures. Unsurprisingly, their parents set an excellent example by being educated, kind people, who put tremendous value on education.
Just because a student is intelligent is no guarantee of future success. I saw bright students get sidetracked for various reasons as they became young adults. The most common reasons were dysfunction in the family, childhood trauma, lack of motivation, hanging out with the wrong peers, or substance abuse problems.
Then there are students like Samy Awwad, who not only do well in school but take their natural ability and run with it. Imagine being a sixteen-year-senior, having already received preadmission to Stanford, and starting up a nonprofit organization for young people.
Awwad’s nonprofit is called IMMUNIGLOBAL. http://www.immuniglobal.org/ His primary focus is to bring education and awareness of the importance of vaccinations to the community in fighting preventable diseases such as the measles or flu.
Immuniglobal is not a small undertaking. Awwad built his nonprofit from the ground up, including website design and development, workshops, outreach, and phone education.
He approached the problem of vaccine education logically by first building his website from scratch to provide information regarding immunizations. A couple of the most startling facts on Awwad’s website are that according to the World Health Organization, between two and three million deaths are prevented each year by vaccinations. According to the CDC, a savings of an estimated 42,000 lives occur in the United States per year.
Awwad sees the big picture and comprehends that real change comes at the grassroots level while also understanding the need to work with huge companies. He has partnered with large organizations and institutions such as the CDC, CLOROX, and UCLA.
The level of thought and action that Awwad has taken is inspiring. He recognized the lack of immunizations that were happening in Humboldt County, his place of residence. Humboldt was recently ranked 54th out of 58 counties in California in terms of vaccination rates.
So why do some people choose not to get their children vaccinated? There appear to be several reasons. According to The Journal of Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics, the four most prevalent anti-vax philosophies are:
Personal Beliefs or Philosophical Reasons
Desire for Additional Education
According to a National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) survey, the top reasons for not getting a flu vaccine are:
36% feel they are healthy and do not need the shot.
31% do not like needles.
30% do not think it works.
27% worry about the risks.
While 70% believe it is vital to get an annual flu shot, only 46% say they typically get vaccinated.
Perhaps what is most troubling is that diseases that were once mainly under control are becoming more prevalent again. Measles cases are on the rise. The majority of people who get measles are unvaccinated.
Beyond the probable life-saving gains, vaccines have an economic benefit and cut medical costs throughout the world. When diseases occur, more hospitalizations are the result. The COVID-19 pandemic has added considerable costs and added higher risk to medical professionals.
Awwad realizes that one of the most effective means of communication is to take his knowledge to the community directly. He has made several presentations in K-12 classrooms in Humboldt County. (Most of these have been at the high school level.) His approach helps young people become more educated about vaccines and encourages them to become involved in vaccine education and other current critical issues.
One of the most important local programs that Awwad became involved with was a vigorous vaccine education program at McKinleyville High School. He organized an Adolescent Immunization Poster Contest with the Humboldt County Department of Public Health and some local pediatricians.
With the outbreak of COVID-19, the importance of developing a vaccine has come to the forefront. Worldwide deaths have now reached over 600,000 people with several times more than that becoming ill. Even those who make a full recovery from the Coronavirus may have long-term health effects.
Awwad looks at the present and the future to see how he can use his talents and energy. Once a COVID-19 vaccine is released to the public, he would like to present a series of vaccine-related workshops and activities in schools and other places around Humboldt County.
As far as what comes next for Samy Awwad, the possibilities are endless. He is one of thirty undergraduate fellows selected recently at Stanford’s chapter of an organization called “Effective Altruism.” The goal for this two-month fellowship will be to identify the most pressing issues in the world and then decide how best to implement this resulting knowledge in his career.
Awwad plans to take a gap year to continue his work with ImmuniGlobal before enrolling full-time at Stanford. The most likely path for him will be a future in medicine as a physician. Another possibility is for Awwad to study and conduct research in the field of brain diseases. He is always thinking several steps ahead and has several other irons in the fire unrelated to vaccinations. He hopes to use his voice to help minorities and find ways to tackle important issues such as racism and classism.
I find great inspiration from Samy Awwad’s selfless acts to improve his community and make a difference throughout the world. I can’t wait for the next chapter in his life, and I know that his teachers are all proud of the young man he has become. If ever you doubt America’s youth, perhaps Samy and others like him will help change your mind.
Please find some time to check out Pete’s blog, and get to know him and his writing.