Book Hippo

Friday, December 28, 2012

Monkey Love

I've always loved monkeys. I used to badger my mom to let me keep a pet monkey but she wouldn't budge. "Monkeys are meant to be in trees. They'll destroy a house." She was so right but of course as a small child, I didn't realize it.

I watch every tv show about monkeys and apes and for a while when I was in painting, my main subject was monkeys. Monkeys were so cool that I would get mad when people would make the comment that monkeys are a dirty animal.

I would argue with all the force of a child, that monkeys live in trees and all their feces therefore drops to the ground, so they don't really have to think about cleanliness. It's good for the forest, too.

A woman in White Rock had a squirrel  monkey and I used to go to see it. She kept it on a line in her backyard but one day it ran away. I was sad for that.

At the time, I didn't know anything about their behavior nor did others as I have read. In one book, a man explained that in the sixties he'd walked into a room with cages full of male monkeys. They'd all turned their bums to him.

Being a worldly man, he assumed that all those monkeys were gay. No one knew then that monkeys show their submissiveness by turning their bottoms to the person who dominates them.

And the job (if you choose to accept it) is to reach out and touch the bottom of the monkey so he knows that you accept him as a submissive and won't attack him.

So if you do end up keeping a monkey, you will be facing lots of hard work and will have to know how to behave towards one.

It reminds me of a neighbour of mine in Ottawa, she was a diplomat's wife and at one time they lived in Africa. She had a baby chimpanzee and it slept with her baby boy. She raised them together but after a few years, it became dangerous and was a lot stronger than the boy who was about five or six. So they gave it to a zoo.

She seemed to think this was a good solution and didn't see anything wrong with what she had done. But I wonder how the chimp is doing coping with other chimps after having been raised next to a human. Her son, a teenager when I knew them, seemed normal, eating junk food and not helping her about the house, so he didn't suffer. But this brought home to me how smart my mother was.

Her simple "Monkey's belong in trees." was good advice and now I agree that wild animals should be left where they can be able to live how they are supposed to.

I can always get a sock monkey.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Music

I love Christmas carols. But I find I have what might be a strange predilection, and that is, I don't like music from known singers. No Celine Dion sings O Holy Night. I don't like knowing who the singers are and I like choirs.

I don't know when this trait developed. As a child, my mother had A Christmas Sing With Bing and I often listened to the legendary Bing Crosby croon his Christmas spirit in music. Mom would always tell us the story of when she worked at the Hotel Vancouver and Bing Crosby, who liked to fish in BC walked in looking like something dragged in by the cat.

The clerk politely informed the 'bum' that there were no rooms available. He left. Someone came up to the clerk. "Do you know who that is?" Well, the clerk went running after him, apologized and Bing laughed at the situation. Mom liked Bing Crosby.

Anyway, rock n' roll Christmas music I used to love but now it's too loud, too cute. Ah, what a disorder. The only exception is Elvis's Blue Christmas which I do still love.

But now I just buy the choir music, which is nice and relax, no dancing to Christmas, just hearing the thoughts of composers about Jesus, God and how we all need to have the Christmas spirit.

I hope I never lose the ability to enjoy choir music. It's beautiful and peaceful, like I think Christmas should be and it helps me celebrate the season in my own way. But of course, those who like famous singers will love to hear their voices and I respect their choice.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Learned Helplessness

It's strange but I never fixed anything when I was a girl. I didn't know how and nobody taught me. I just assumed that when something stopped working, you threw it out and I kept that attitude long after I grew up.

I wouldn't even sew buttons on, out to the trash went the shirt, or whatever it was, that was no good.

Then I found myself working among some immigrants from Poland and Romania. They were my first indication that the world was not necessarily how I saw it, that there were different ways to see the world. It was quite shocking to find, for instance, that the inspiration for Dracula, Vlad Dracule the Impaler was considered a hero to those people. The earth moved.

So one day I'm washing out a fridge and I took the vegetable bin out and couldn't figure out how to put it back. Oh, no, I thought, what do I do now? Well, one of the Romanians came along and I told her my problem. She put the fridge back together in one minute.

You've done that before, I said. But she insisted she hadn't and told me that all you had to do was look and you could figure out how to put something together. So easy. A rod fits into a hole. Once she pointed it out to me I wondered how I'd never known that before.

I'd always known there were men who could fix things but I never could. She was the first woman I met who wasn't afraid to be able to do something. She could see this trait in all Canadian girls and it was frustrating to her that we couldn't figure out how to do anything for ourselves.

I saw the trait again in a Japanese girl who lived next to me in a house. She ordered an Ikea bed. Ikea is the pet peeve of many Canadian girls who can never figure out how to put any of it together.

My neighbour had it together, the mattress on and bed made within twenty minutes. Another lesson for me. It's good I live in a culturally diverse place or I would never learn that these things are possible, only accept that what I saw around me. ie. that girls can't put together Ikea, was truth. It isn't. It's cultural. Learned helplessness.

So it's taken me a while to learn that I actually can do things. It just took a little push. This is how it's done and  now I can jumpstart my own thinking processes about these kind of things.

Better late than never.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Today's Women

How much easier technology has made life. Even if I don't understand it. That goes for young people, too, who let loose a string of tech-words that I can't follow. It's like an older cousin of mine once said, "They forget that older people have no idea what they're talking about." She was buying her first cell phone at 77 years young.

And it's funny how sexist they show you to be. When I was buying a cell phone charger meant to be used in the car cigarette lighter, I found myself disappointed that there was no man on duty in the store.

When I was younger, it was, 'ask a man' because they knew and women, in general, didn't know. Anyway, a girl it was and I went up reluctantly to ask my question. Well, she knew so much it left my gasping. Of course, I didn't understand one thing she said. Something about Nokia. What's that?

Anyway, I got my charger. It was a Christmas present for my room mate. He still uses it. And I make sure I don't underestimate women anymore.

It's so easy to do, right? Because when I was young, because I went out to work as a gardener, or non-traditional job, some people considered me extraordinary. Older women who had always worked and had given up the chance to marry and have children would say to me, "It's great you do this, most girls are too lazy."

In the old days, there was a definite anti-woman bias in everyone's mind and mouth. I know some say that hip-hop culture is anti-woman with it's 'bros before hoes' attitude, but the young women have so much confidence they don't really need to foster any through 'sisterhood'. They're doing well, thank you very much.

I like the way they get respect for themselves instead of through their men, even if I don't like the ignorance most women have about what our system is all about. They're too willing to listen to show-biz media and 'learn' from special people to understand common life. In my opinion.

But it will work itself out and when they're my age, they'll be looking at a whole new game that's come after them. I do wonder what it will be and what will they think of it?

By the way, I have a Facebook author page, you can visit by going here

And The Mountain City Bronzes is now 59 cents at Coffeetime Romance

Sunday, December 2, 2012

At Last, December

Here it is at last. December. My favorite month. The happiest time of year for me with so many good memories of Christmases past and everybody being nice to each other.

We did have snow for December 1st but now it's only rain and the temperature is rising to about +10 by tomorrow. The only sad thing is that there is sickness in my house. I caught a cold at the end of November by not being properly dressed for the cold. Bad me.

I brought the sore throat and coughing that my room mate caught and for him it's now become a real serious throat ailment. For some reason, whenever I bring some sickness in, he gets it worse. About four years ago, I got pink eye. He caught it from me but in both eyes.

Anyway, I'm hoping that by the time Santa comes all will be well in the health department. I'm thinking this year of going all out and decorating my apartment in a big way, even though we've decided not to have a tree.

Another thing for this goodies. My weight ballooned up to 290 lbs and so I'm keeping all sugar and sweets, except for fruits out of my diet. I've already lost five pounds by doing this so am encouraged. And in January, I enter a weight-loss program run by the hospital, so I'm serious this time.

But I don't think that will ruin my Christmas. I love buying my room mate presents. I've sent a couple of presents to my year old grand nephew and to my step-mom, and I love hearing back whether they like their presents.

We're going to have a proper turkey and dressing and a calm day. So even though things are different this year for us, the spirit is still going to be the same. I'm really going to enjoy it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

An Interview

One of my fellow Muse authors, Suzanne de Montigny, is releasing her first e-book, The Shadow Of The Unicorn: The Legacy on November 30th, 2012. I did an interview with her and have decided to publish now because as of today her story is available at 20% off on pre-order at the Muse Bookstore. 

I hope you an all get to know Suzanne, she's a wonderful gal, full of magic. I hope you enjoy this interview and if you like unicorns, you may want to get the deal.

Can you explain the term 'middle grade' for readers and how you got interested in writing in that genre.
Middle grade is literature aimed at children in the intermediate years of school. Normally, they’re nine to twelve years old, although many older kids enjoying reading this level too. I was an elementary classroom music teacher for over twenty years and discovered over the course of the years, that I was a pretty good storyteller. As a matter of fact, that’s how I got the kids to behave. If they were good, they’d get a story I’d make up on the spot at the end of class. After a while, even teachers started asking me where they could get a copy of my tales. Of course, I didn’t have any – until now.

What is your main character's name and what did you most like about her/him?
Azaria is a unicorn colt who puts duty above all else. He swallows his fear when the asteroid strikes the earth to reassure his friend, Gaelan. Then, later on, when the other yearlings rebel, he stays true to the herd, despite their mockery of him. He’s also got a great sense of humour.

Do you have any interest in writing in other genres?
Yes, I have written a Young Adult Paranormal novel entitled A Town Bewitched about a fourteen-year-old child prodigy in classical violin who struggles to fit in the small town of Hope, British Columbia. When a mysterious fiddler bewitches the town, only the girl knows who is really vandalising the village, leaving dead and gutted birds as tokens.

Have you ever published traditionally and what do you like about e-publishing?
The Shadow of the Unicorn: The Legacy is my first novel. I love traditional books, but the industry is swiftly moving toward e-books this century. Plus I recently developed a visual impairment that makes traditional books very difficult to read without a magnifying glass. E-books solve all that for me. Speaking of which, I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Because of this, I’ve decided that one half of all my proceeds will be donated to the Third World Eye Care Society, a group of opthomologists who travel to third world countries distributing thousands of pairs of glasses and performing eye surgery for free.

What is your writing time like? Quiet? Chaotic?
I get up at five AM and write until seven, when my boys get up. Then I start writing again at around 10:30, after doing exercise or running errands. At 2:30, I pick up the boys. The minute they’re home, it’s all about them.

What are you working on now?
I’m doing a rewrite of my second unicorn book. There are three altogether. And just to let you in on a secret, there will be yet another natural disaster. But I won’t tell what!

I haven’t got an Amazon link yet.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Strong Childhood

I was very strong when I was in grade school. Before grade one, I had a friend named Randy, after we began school, he never talked to girls. Later, when we were older, I had another friend named Karen. We met up with him once because he liked Karen and his idea of liking was to wrestle.

Karen always lost. She told me, "When you lose, you win."

But I didn't want to lose. I threw him on his back and held him down. I won. He started calling me Goliath and told all boys in school about me. I'd already had trouble with them because I could beat them all at arm wrestling.

The thing I can't figure out is, when I began junior high, I lost all my strength. I couldn't beat anyone at anything. I don't know why that happened with the women. The men, of course, get stronger, but the women, I just don't know why I've been such a weakling since then.

Even today, skinny, skinny girls are stronger than me.

It did teach me something and that is not to rely on anything you have because it can be lost. I don't think I was a violent person to start with but it was definitely something to get used to.

So I guess I'll just be a wimpy or wuss but at least I'm not involved in any of the fights that I see on TV between the young people.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Tagged On A Blog

Well, I'm doing a blog tagging jag. I was tagged and now I'm to put up my work in progress for all to read. So here it is and if you want to leave a comment and tell me what you think go ahead. Hope you enjoy my excerpt.

On a night like this, with the wind a-jiggering the sails and carrying the rough words of sailors over to me, I can't stop tears pouring from my eyes and washing the decks as much as the sea. I be feared my thin bones will snap in the storm and the tossing will be a-pushing my shins through my knees. My name is Beggar Charlie and I be ten years old or thereabouts.

The Devil makes times like this so He can a-laugh when a small boy like me slides into the railings and falls among the sodden ropes a-tangling on the decks. I kick the debris around me and begin to scream. I just know that Satan is hoping to make a home for me among the fires of everlasting torture.

“God be with me.” I holler as loud as I can. “Bless those that be on the sea.”

Everywhere there be coarse men a-hanging onto something that will keep them from falling into the great ocean beyond the ship. When I finally manage to lift myself, I be awash with salt from the waters, and slip with each crest of a wave until I make the Captain's cabin, where I dry my spindly body and think to rest in the corner where Captain Butler lets me sleep.

I hunker by the wall, pretending that the storm be but a dream and I be a-cradled on my mother's bosom while she sings me to sleep. If she hadn't died I would still be with her and the thought of her can rescue me from the dreariest of thoughts and the most mortal depressions. Her face in my mind makes the year I had to beg melt away and makes the press-gangers seem as unreal as I hope my life could be. If she be still alive I wouldn't be here on this ship with all these hard-eyed and rope-burned men and all their bitter thoughts at being stuck on the sea when what they want is a pint of ale and with all their bewildering talk is of warm women.

Their shouts a-come to me, even through the wet wood of the cabin and I hear the masts a-creaking with the plundering winds trying to wrest them from the deck. My head bangs on wall when I try to settle down in the corner. I can only think of the glad soil of the earth and how I would rather be on it.

If those press-gangers hadn't stole me, if the Navy men hadn't laughed at my skinny, starved shape, I wouldn't be near the coast of China, in a tempest. Those Navy men sold me to this merchant ship. Captain Butler says to me, “I'm saving you, young lad. Those devils will throw you overboard in a second.” I believe him. It be my only happy thought, that instead of washing decks on a rotting war ship I be fetching things for this Captain who refuses to call me Beggar Charlie, only Master Charles. He says I'm mature, more than ten, he a-tells me and that I speak like a big man, not the child that I be.

I be trying to make the best cabin boy ever. Captain Butler says he be proud to be a father to such a sprout as I, so I work hard and keep my face turned whenever tears of sadness begin. He be the only one on board that I have any comfort with. All the other faces be turning into their own thoughts when I be around them.

I a-fear those sailors sometimes. They be rough men and even though I think they mean no harm, it's hard to stand one's ground with the schooner a-rolling and a-shivering in the waves and the knowledge that I be the youngest on the ship. The other day I passed two of those stone-skinned tars and one of them grabbed me. “You're the Captain's pet, are ye?” I could feel the ridges on his hands through my always-wet shirt.

“Yes Master-sailor.” I says. They laughed at that and tho it was a merry sound that came from them, I could not help but think of the sea down below me and how it goes so far down. If they find themselves the route to jealousy I could be thrown by secret into the waves below. There be no help for anyone alone in the middle of the ocean.

I comfort myself that if those hard men be really disliking me, they would throw me over when Captain Butler be busy at the helm. In truth, I begin to like these men sometimes though the granite veins of blood be a-pumping devilish tricks and games into their minds.

But I can't keep my head from falling onto my chest. I be tired. I work always as the days fly away behind me. My stomach a-dips with the ship but my corner looks so comfortable, it be my only home out here. The place where I hide the tin-type of mother when she was only mine. I lift it to my lips, the blond ringlets rendered grey by the black and white of the picture. I kiss her lovely face.

“Master Charles.” I did not a-see Captain Butler come in.

“Yes, sir.” These are the only words I can sing out here on the waves. All other music is dead in me. His eyes brighten.

“The storm is calming. It's passing. In an hour or two we should be on placid seas. I worry about you when the seas are up. I know you can hardly handle the ocean at all. If all be well, tomorrow we see land, Master Charles and I must over-see the unloading, to make sure the winches are handled right.”

“Yes, sir” Captain Butler does what my mother used to call, 'thinking ahead'. He knows what he be needing to do before he does it and it's quite a feat, I ponder, I will try to do it myself sometime.

“Well, lad. I know you would like to be on land. I'll send Master Richard with you for a little leave. Now don't go far, will you? I'm sure you'd like to get off for a little while, especially after all this tossing.”

I just a-know he can see how happiness just comes to me. Land! I can touch my foot on soil, even Chinese soil be good. I be not too fond of Hickory Dick, or Master Richard as the Captain calls him but it be true that I need an escort. Even one so mean as Hickory Dick.

“Has he ever a-been to China?” I find it jumps from my mouth.

“No, you know he was in the New World. He was at Montreal and he travelled down to America where he dealt with Indians and all he met there. That's why the men call him Hickory Dick, after the trees that he used to cut down. He's only fifteen but he's been in a couple of fights in that part of the world when there were troubles between the whites and Indians. I think he will know how to deal with the Orientals. He has to learn sometime.”

“He be older than I.” I said.

“Yeay, Master Charles. I say he's near to a man but still the second youngest to you. I think you should find commonality with him.”

I a-struggled over some of the Captain's words. It be plain to me that my brain gets funny when it's tired and a-scared of dying but I let the Captain know I liked his plan. It's hard to promise something when all is a-moving around you but I opened my mouth to swear to be his loyal sea-dog while I was here, but Captain Butler put his arm on my back.

“Master Charles, lay down and sleep. The sandman wants to see you, that I can tell. This storm will blow over this night, I suppose, and I want you to enjoy your escapades on land.”

I never be so grateful to anyone as to Captain Butler and it's funny that with all the a-weaving of the ship, I soon felt sleep coming on. The boards a-calmed under me during my dream of Captain Butler having me as a son. And how is it possible that a mood can a-change overnight to a hopping, dancing feeling in his bones?

* * * *

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Abandoning Luck

Luck is a funny thing. Some people seem to have a lot of it, like the man back in White Rock who won every contest he ever entered. He had a trailer he won and a car and a barbeque. He had won so much that whenever there was a contest and people heard he entered, they never bothered to put their name in, feeling, what's the use? Which, of course, increased his luck because there weren't as many people competing against him.

Myself, I feel I have good luck in the bad luck.

Years ago, when I was in painting and visual arts, I made contact with an organization that showed art for a fee.  I didn't realize that the woman who ran it was a manipulator and so when she offered to forgo the fee to give me a break, I accepted. I thought it was good luck.

I sold my sculptures and she began to look for a payback. I needed to come in and man the desk, sell other's work and keep an eye on things, hadn't she done me a favor? I did it but after a few weeks of her looking for favors, I began to feel I hadn't made such a good deal, hadn't had as much luck as I thought.

Then, out of the blue, she left town, practically abandoning the organization, which found ten thousand dollars missing. Nothing was done about the money and a new woman took over the running of the place.

This was my good luck because now I was off the hook and the new woman was a nice, honest and straight-forward person. No more favors.

It's that kind of thing which has happened to me all my life, the bad luck then the good luck that makes me think that luck may just be a state of mind or even a creation. Surely I 'see' good luck in things which are bound to happen. Like the woman who obviously didn't know how to run a business organization having to skip town when her 'deals' came back to bite her.

Is bad luck bad choice? Bad judgement?

Well, gamblers will tell you all about luck but I don't play scratch and wins anymore because I think luck is just too ephemeral to trust. Use good judgement, get to know the people who you might want to deal with and make yourself indispensable to your boss, that way you'll always have luck on your job.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Ugh. What an awful Halloween. There were hardly any kids out as it was raining. This was entirely Sandy's evening. Rain, rain, rain. Costumes ruined. But still some kids went out. I guess as long as the little ones find some fun, it's okay. Once we get older, we tend to forget how much fun a child can have with next to nothing.

Our city here of Ottawa is in a good location. We had a really bad earthquake a couple of years ago but we miss most of the devastation that other places seem to have. Certainly we're nowhere near the horrendous damage of the Eastern Seaboard of the USA.

Hurricane Katrina was just eight hours of rain when it hit here. There was flooding but not much.

When I first moved here I thought Ottawa had bad weather but the winter is no longer six months of -20 degrees Celsius but a nice -10, which I can handle well. I didn't even need any mitts last year.

But Sandy has got me worried. My room mate is always watching science shows on television. I know from them that the earth has gone through phases of extreme weather. Two hundred and fifty mile an hour winds and rains that cause rivers to rise by fifty feet.

The cause, they say, is global warming and they add, there is going to be a lot of extreme weather coming our way again. So when something like Sandy happens, I wonder if this is the start of it and if we all have to be worried all the time now for these storms. One per year is one too many.

Bikes instead of cars and other things are what they tell us we can do about it but since I don't drive, I don't know what I can do personally.

I guess we all have to be on our guard from now on and try to help out in any way we can. I'm going to paste a message from MuseItUp leader Lea Schizas;
MuseItUp Publishing may be a Canadian house but our authors come from all over the world, especially the United States where Sandy has caused horrific damage to our neighbours.

For the entire month of November, with any purchase made from our MuseItUp Bookstore, we will donate 10% of the purchase price to the Red Cross toward the devastation caused by Sandy. On behalf of all of us at MuseItUp Publishing we'd like to thank you for your support.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Violence In The Old Days

Last night I was thinking of the old days. When I grew up there was a lot of violence children had to put up with.

First of course, were the gays, not only did gay men and women have to worry about getting a beating but all school age boys had to do violent things to avoid being called gay and beat up.

The girls had to have a boyfriend in high school or she was a 'lez' as they used to say back then. Well, girls back then weren't physically violent but they did a lot of psychologically cruel things, like a girl without a boyfriend or one who pays too much attention to other girls would walk into the showers to change for gym. All the other girls would pick up their stuff and move as far away from her as they could.

And those girls who didn't want to get in on abusing someone had to, or risk being called, Lez too.

Back in grade school there was the strap. Only the bad kids got the strap but I remember good kids standing around a kid showing off his red hands and saying, "it wasn't really that bad." That kid was always getting the strap, still a lot of kids had sympathy for him because it was a punishment that hung over all our heads.

Lastly, another thing that irks me now is the fact that we were supposed to train our dogs by hitting them on the nose with rolled up magazines. Any time they didn't do what we wanted, they'd be bunged on the nose.

Imagine if that were you, just finishing a meal and someone comes up and hits you in the nose to get you to go into the bathroom to do your business.

I actually trained my dog, Cindy, like that and hated every minute of it but didn't have any other idea of how to go about it. I just remember that look and slouch that came over her whenever I went to get the magazine. It worked but it's nasty.

It's much better nowadays when you take your dog outside and praise them and give them a treat when they do the right thing.

So good riddance bad old days, hope never to see your like again.

The Mountain City Bronzes is available at

Monday, October 29, 2012

Cats On Parliament Hill

Once upon a time, about ten years ago, I wrote an article on a society formed to rescue cats. These are cats which are abandoned and are living behind dumpsters or under wrecked cars or anywhere they can. A miserable existence.

They informed me that there were 25 colonies of cats in Ottawa, cats that have banded together, I suppose to make it easier to live. Or maybe loneliness? As they were once house cats, I think it's not too hard to imagine that they're used to companionship.

This brings me to one of my favorite places in Ottawa, the colony of cats on Parliament Hill. I can walk there any time I want because I'm so close and I love to go up and check on the cats.

They used to live like other colonies of cats lived until about the eighties, when an older lady decided to take care of them. She came every day and fed them and pet them and made life easier for them.

Well, she aged and died. Before she did, a friend of hers told her he would make sure the cats were taken care of. He would take over feeding them. He went farther, not just feeding them but building them a little home that he fills with straw. Here, they can get out of the snow for warmth and the rain won't bother them.

There's a little box where you can leave a donation for the cats food. Sometimes people bring small cans of kitty food for them. They have old chairs in there where the cats can curl up.

If you go up there you can also see raccoons as they like to eat the kitty food, too.

People love to go see the cats on Parliament Hill and I like that. It means that they do care, that they're better kinds of people than the ones who just abandon their cats to an existence that's lonely and hard.

The woman who rescues the cats told me that every single cat she's rescued has been grateful. Licking and licking until she's has to put them down because their lives are so bad on the street.

So I take my camera up to the Hill and snap photos of the cats, happy that they have at least some comforts.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


It has been known for centuries that sometimes drinking certain water will cure some diseases. For instance, the Ganges has been used to cure cholera.

The reason for this was not known until just around WWI when a researcher found bacteriophages. Unfortunately, his research was halted by the war and lack of funding. The next the medical world heard of bacteriophages was when Felix D'Herelle did his best to make them common knowledge.

The research and use of bacteriophages was taken over by the French and most especially by George Eliava of Georgia in the former Soviet Union.

In fact, Georgia is one of the few places where suffers can get this treatment.

So what? Right? What the heck are bacteriophages?

They are viruses that attack bacteria and in this day of superbugs that are resistant to anti-biotics, they can be the saviours that many people need. People from all over the world travel to Georgia to the George Eliave Institute, which is first place in research and treatment.

The drawback is that Georgia does not use anesthesia and so it is very painful, they have to make a cut where the infection is and draw back the skin to expose the infection. The bacteriophages are applied directly to the bacteria infection.  I believe their cure rate is way over 90%.

Of course, a person would only need to go through this if regular antibiotics don't work. But for the future, if all the plants which antibiotics are made from are destroyed along with the rainforests where they come from, or if superbugs become extremely widespread, they may be our only chance to relieve the sufferings of humans.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Prehistoric Wanderers

I have a big interest in prehistoric news. So I was thrilled to read a book about the new findings about how people came to the west coast of North America.

Now, ever since I was a child I've heard about the ice-free corridor that was supposed to exist. I've wondered about that and tried to imagine how it would be possible to have such a thing.

Well, according to new studies, there was no corridor. They have never found implements or tools anywhere that would indicate where it was.

One fellow, though, reached into the sea. As oceans were lower back then, he did his searching by lowering buckets into the water and dredging the bottom. He found blackened ash where they built their fires and tools they had made. He found remains of cooked meals, mostly shells from what they were eating and he even found some human bones.

His conclusion: people reached North America by boat. They sailed around by the shoreline and got off pretty much where they felt like going ashore.

And who were these people? Well, from skeletons found, they were most probably Jomo people from Japan. These days they're called the Ainus and they're the indigenous people of Japan.

Some of their skeletons have been found to date back before the peopling of North America. So it seems prehistoric peoples were great travelers.

Personally, I think the people of the Himalayas tend to look like the Apache, who look like the Dene, so I suppose they came from all over Asia to here; in boats.

It would be interesting to find a prehistoric boat, they have found some from Christ's time but a prehistoric boat would be so thrilling. I guess it isn't likely, but, it's nice to dream.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Poverty Calling

Most everyone on earth goes through some kind of bad spot in their life. I have a friend who was very poor as a child, not enough to eat, no heat in the house. He credits this to his ability to survive, especially when it comes to finding free stuff.

Now, he lives in a big house with a fireplace. So when he needs wood he just drives around in his car looking for trees that are down. When the workers arrive to cut it all up, he asks can he have it, he'll help cut it. Wholah! Free firewood.

I had my own period of poverty but it was after I'd grown up. It was in the nineties when I was in my thirties. My way of surviving it was to walk on down to the National Archives to their newspaper section and take a look at microfilms of depression era papers.

I found that they were stock-full of tips and ways to save money, egg substitutes and how to make things last. It really showed me where to save and ways to cut corners. I still had to do without for a lot of things, but there was lots of good advice in these papers.

Now, I know this is an entirely different time period and maybe most people wouldn't be able to find much to help them with their mortgage or gasoline price but with the way the economy is now, I find myself wondering if a lot of middle-class people couldn't benefit from reading those old papers.

It's just a thought and it would just be for a time. This economic crisis that we're having in North America is not as bad as the depression but all the same, people need to eat every day and they need to feed their kids.

So next time you pass an archive or library where they keep these old copies, maybe have a look, there might be something that you can use coming from the times of extreme poverty for all. There just might be some good come out of that time.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Well, it's the day after Thanksgiving. My room mate and I thought we'd just get a turkey breast instead of a whole bird, so I went to our downtown grocery store and bought what seemed to be part of a turkey with enough meat for two.

Hah! We cooked it, even after my room mate discovered that what looked like meat was a neck tucked under a back. The store made it seem meaty although I think they probably meant to sell it for turkey soup. But it sure looked meaty.

Anyway, cooked, it turned out to be almost pure bone, so David and I had a vegetarian Thanksgiving. I know, I know, some are saying, well vegetarian is good but we do look forward to our birds.

When I was young, I ate nothing but nuts and pasta and bread. I didn't have a weight problem, like I do now, but I was always becoming anemic and having to take iron pills. There is a way to eat where you can get all you need from non-meat products but you really need to plan what you're going to eat.

Back to Thanksgiving, I just wanted to say that I read what is supposed to be the true story of Thanksgiving. The story is always told that the pilgrims of the USA didn't know how to survive in the New World and their Native friends taught them and they had a Thanksgiving meal as a celebration.

The Native story that has come down is this one: The early Americans wanted the land that was occupied by a certain tribe. So they went to them and slaughtered every last man, woman and child and Thanksgiving was their celebration that the tribe was now extinct and they could move onto their land.

I wasn't there so I don't know which one is true, but it's something to think about.

Now on Christmas we'll be getting a whole bird. Lastly, for Halloween, why not download my horror short story The Mountain City Bronzes? It's only 99 cents.

And why not visit my Author's page on Facebook

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Halloween Month

Well, it's that time of year that children adore. Halloween is on it's way and already the stores are full of candy and costumes. One great thing about being older is that you can remember when things were different.

How many of you can recall those bedsheets (old ones) with eye holes cut in them. Just throw it over your head and go. I can't precisely remember any of my costumes.

We started around six o'clock when I was a child. Supper, then outside to do around to any and all houses that were in White Rock. We stayed in our area, but still had to beware people who would ruin our fun for us.

Like people who put razor blades in apples or teenagers who thought it fun to throw firecrackers at a little kid's head.

After Halloween had lost it's fun for me, and when I lived in Ottawa, it became the custom to have a big party at community centers for all the neighborhood kids. How boring I would have found it. I remember once at school when my class was having a party. A big lot of candy was just thrown on the floor and all the kids jumped in.

I was aghast at this 'animal' behavior. I vowed never to throw myself into a pile of writhing children fighting for a piece of candy. I just stood there knowing on October 31st I would get my chance at candy.

Another thing I liked was cutting a face in the pumpkin. My brother was much better at that than me and always had original faces. Mine were just triangles so  I wouldn't make a mistake. Mom never did roast the seeds though, and I think that's too bad, maybe she would have felt more included in Halloween. Instead, she thought of it as a kids thing.

Back to today. Lots of kids now go out again at Halloween and do the trick or treat thing. If I go driving with my room mate we see kids in neighborhoods going up to doors and some of the houses are really taking the scary thing seriously. Decorations and blinking eyeball skeletons.

So Halloween is not dead (or undead) and it's good to know that all sorts of children can have a ball on All Hallowed Eve.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Cancer...don't answer.

My mother used to say that I shouldn't worry about diseases so much when I was a child. "By the time you're old enough to get that...they might have a cure." Not exactly words of wisdom but it kept me from worrying and it turns out that it's a little bit true.

My mom died in 2000 from cancer. Lymphoma. Now I'm hearing the word nanobees in relation to this disease. Cancer cells can be destroyed by bee poison, you know, the kind in stings. So they've created microscopic 'balls' on which they attach 'pins' in each one is bee poison. It's injected into the cancer and kills it all. Fantastic. It is just started being used now and might be available in two years for all. Maybe Mom was right about that one, if I get cancer, maybe they'll be able to cure it...destroy it.

And then there's Multiple Sclerosis and the shunt put in the blood vessel which has a lot of people up and walking who couldn't even move before. Unfortunately, they've also had some deaths caused by the shunt. But I think they seem to be on the right track and will find a way to make it work.

Two years ago, my dad passed away from Lewey Body or Dementia, they were never quite sure which it was. Both are types of Alzheimers. It's not too long ago but already they're saying they think they have a medicine that will remove the plaque from the nerves of the brain.

So both are too late for my parents but maybe my mother left something for me to look forward to. Maybe I'll be cured of cancer and Alzheimers both and be able to live a lot longer.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

If Only I Had...

A few years ago, my room mate began watching The Antique Roadshow, both the American and British versions. Although I was usually reading a book when it was on,  I would look at interesting things and wait for the appraisal before going back to my book.

I started to wonder if I had anything antique that was worth anything. Well, there was my pendant that my parents bought for my birthday in the sixties, with all sorts of symbols, it's supposed to bring positive energy to the wearer. I didn't suppose it was worth anything, even though it's in pristine condition.

But it did make me think of some postcards I'd had as a child. My grandmother's neighbor, Mrs. Golder, came to her one day and said, "Earlie, I have these postcards my grandkids used to play with, they're too old now but your grandkids are the right age." So that is how I got all these postcards from 1900-1914. I loved those cards as a child but when I moved out east, I didn't take them with me. I thought they were all gone and I wistfully wondered what they would be worth as antiques.

In 2008, I visited my Dad in BC. I mentioned those postcards and he said he still had them. What? My step-mom Shirley and him went through all their drawers and found all those postcards. I was ecstatic! Now I would have all sorts of money. I mentioned this to Dad, too and he told me there was all sorts of those postcards for sale everywhere, at most, they're worth about three dollars. Disappointment. But never mind, I wanted those postcards.

Back in Ottawa, I showed them to my room mate. He found a couple of postcards with very early motorcycles that might be worth a little and there is one photo of the Prince Of Wales mistress, who was an actress, worth about one hundred dollars. But I've decided to keep them. I read the writing on the back and found that E.S. Golder and his friends are the first generation of car crazy guys. They are constantly writing about the new invention, the motor car. It's too interesting to give up.

Then there were the old coins my mother had. We have a money museum in Ottawa and I've seen one coin we had two of. Both Ming Dynasty coins. They would have been worth millions but as befits 17th century coins, both had been worn away by handling over three hundred years. Still, it would be nice to have. My mom thought she could get a lot of money from it and sold it years ago. Dad says she got next to nothing.

But one thing I really wish I had now belonged to my room mates family. They were shipbuilders in Ireland and a 18th century shipbuilders tool kit had come down the family. I would love to see it. But alas, my room mate's brother sold it years ago.

So now I've run out of things I wish I had. But I'm going to keep everything and pass it on. Maybe they'll be more lucky.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Oprah-Zombies And Other Media-Induced Female Frenzies

I don't know why it is, but it seems women are more likely to be influenced by the media. Especially the show-biz media. You see women walking around and they look ordinary but they're not, they're Oprah-zombies! And their goal is to save the world by saving themselves. Meaning that they're going to wham you with their self-esteem and do all they can to help their children be superstars of life.

Now, don't get me wrong. You may as well be all you can be but I find that women will believe so much that they are told, that it leaves me gasping in wonderment. In fact, I find those ladies with all that self-esteem to be totally unmerciful towards others who may not be the same as them. What does this have to do with believing what you are told. Well, Oprah said this was good, to have self-worth would bring about great changes.

It has, but not always in a good way.

Take men, for instance. They will never say that so-and-so celebrity is a special person and you need to listen and learn from them. NO. Men will say, "This is a free country. Nobody can tell me how to think or what to think." Good for them, I say. We need men to keep a country free. Men will stand up for their rights to think and act as they will. Whereas women, at least Canadian women, will want to know what is right or best. And for that they turn to show-biz media and Oprah.

At least the Oprah-zombies aren't as bad as the Laura Croft kick-ass toughies who don't seem to believe that weaker women shouldn't be allowed their democratic right to walk down the street without fear of being savaged. What about hemophiliacs or arthritics? Why shouldn't they be able to say what they want without the Laura Croft kick-ass toughies threatening them?

I think the solution for women adherence to show-biz media is to teach very plainly while they are still children, the rights and obligations of every citizen of a free country. How it's almost a duty to stand up for those who oppose you opinion because in a free country all are entitled to their opinion. If no one stands up for others rights then we have a system where oppression of everyone's opinion becomes possible.

Just like the women who use the justice system to solve their problems. If nobody tells the truth and we let innocent people sit in jail then what's to stop the police from picking up anybody they don't like.

So hopefully, media-induced female frenzy is just a passing thing and our children will be taught about freedom and not Oprah's dream for a better world. A free country is the best world we can hope for.

Friday, August 31, 2012


It's embarrassing as a child and you can't do something everybody else can. That was the way with me when it came to sitting up straight. I didn't know it then, but I had a problem with spinal alignment. My neck was not curved the way most are but ramrod straight.

This meant I could not hold my head up without becoming fatigued. It also meant that my head would droop down to my chest whenever I did my schoolwork so I had to prop my head up with my hand. Teachers did not like this.

My spine was twisted and crooked so I had all sorts of problem with doing things other kids could do. I had heard of chiropractors but so many people totally pooh-poohed them that I didn't press my mother to take me to one. I dropped out of gym as soon as I could.

I became a gardener in Vancouver and because of my spinal problem, I injured myself again and had to give it up. Years went by with pain, inability to walk occasionally and all sorts of times when I couldn't work.

In the 1990's, it got so bad that I had one constant, horrible headache that kept me from sleeping and going out for the most part, but on one time I did go out, I passed a chiropractor's office. He had a sign out. Free x-rays. What could it hurt? So I got my free x-rays and when I saw them, I suddenly felt better about all the fatigue and pain and embarrassment I'd suffered. The explanation for it all was right there.

After one treatment, the headaches stopped, the tension dropped away. My pelvis had also been stuck. I had to go three times a week but now I only go once every month. My neck is now curved again and every headache is solved by a trip to the chiropractor.

One more story: my chiropractor was brought a two-week old baby who would not stop crying. He made one simple adjustment and Presto! the baby stopped crying and hasn't cried since, I'm told.

So, I'm not really trying to sell you on chiropractors but if you have a problem with posture or fatigue or a grouchy baby, you might do well to check it out with one. It can literally give you a new release on life.

Friday, August 24, 2012

My Great, Big Adventurous Shelf Life

I admit it, I'm an armchair traveler. I have spent many hours reading Paul Theroux and Dervla Murphy and also various adventurers in the jungles, deserts and mountains of the world. I for a time considered going to Africa or Indonesia to see apes or moving through Nepal. In those mountains, I thought, I would find something extraordinary.

Sometimes I just got a map of northern Canada and thought to canoe down the rivers. I could start in Ottawa and paddle up the river, see where it took me. I asked my friend, now my room mate. "How will you get past the rapids?" he asked. I hadn't known there were rapids up stream. I intended to go as far as I could.

The Pacific Islands attracted me also. Tahiti and Cook Islands seemed like they would be just right for someone who liked to swim. Then I read that the islanders actually use their beaches for a toilet. Ugh.

So there was always something I didn't like about those places and although I still think I might want to see Tasmania some day, I've given up on traveling the world to find something extraordinary. For one thing, I'm too old and my knees won't handle hiking anymore, I doubt whether my lungs will go for thin mountain air and I've found that other people countries have unsanitary toilets, sometimes just a hole in the floor.

So I'll just stay home or in the tourist areas where I'm safe and they cater to you but I'm not sorry I read all those books. It gave me a cursory understanding of how different people's outlooks can be and how we're all human and none of us is right and  none of us is wrong, we just are.

That's worth it to me, it taught me not to see myself as right and everyone who disagrees with me as wrong. We all have our little worlds. Mine is satisfactory to me as yours is to you, I suppose. So I'll think of my great, big adventurous shelf life (book shelf) as time well spent.

The Mountain City Bronzes is available at MuseItUp Publishing Bookstore for 99 cents.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

September Trip

It's nice to get a new car. I don't drive, but my room mate bought a very old Mercedes-Benz and fixed it all up. It's wonderful car without any of the rust and smoke of the old Le Baron he had. To celebrate our new car, he's thinking of taking me on a trip in the fall.

Originally he wanted to go to North Dakota, he likes the geology of that area and I've never seen it but I don't have time to get a passport so that's out. We'll probably end up going to northern Ontario and I'm looking forward to it.

I think I'll suggest Kakabecka Falls. My family was there over fifty years ago and for my sister it's one of her best memories. Then there's Thunder Bay, where I was born 54 years ago. It'll be cool up there in September but I like the cool air.

Maybe the leaves will be turning their colours and we will have great scenery for the whole trip, see a moose and we'll stay in lakeside resorts, not campsites.

I'm looking so forward to my tip and I'll be sure to write it up on my blog to share with you all.

Meanwhile, if you feel like a short read of horror, you can buy The Mountain City Bronzes for only 99 cents.
Here's the link:

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Drama Anyone?

I'm not that into Shakespeare but I do read about him a lot and I've come to a decision that many people are lost when it comes to his drama.

Now, let's take a couple of modern characters. One is a right-wing Christian and the other a gay activist. Anybody today, just knowing the characters would KNOW right away where the drama and tension is going to come from. But where does the drama or tension come from when you have a witch and a king? What did sixteenth century people know about kings (or think they knew) that would make a witch or someone else a good character?

We just don't see the drama of sixteenth century personalities. Could it be that a witch could cast a spell and make a king do something awful to his people. I assume most people back then believed in witches and that they could do harm through spells. So what emotions did such a character bring to Shakespeare's audience.

The same with little things like food. When a modern character eats chicken soup, at least in the west, everybody knows something about the character, especially if the mother made it just for him. What about when one of Shakespeare's characters eats a potatoe? Potatoes had just been discovered by Europeans a little time before Shakespeare. Only the very rich could serve them at the table.

When a sixteenth century audience sees the potato being eaten, what do they think? A bold character? Eccentric? Is it a code that maybe this character is dismissive of the poor? As in a 'let them eat cake' moment?

So I think for me and for anyone who is interested in seeing what you can get out of Shakespeare, it would do well to do some study. Forget about reading the beautiful words. Try and see if you can figure out through the characters where the drama and tension lie.

It's just a thought.

For a modern horror story, try The Mountain City Bronzes

Saturday, July 28, 2012


It's hard to be a human sometimes. I lived in a place called Pestalosie College when I was in my twenties. There were ten rooms to a section and in my section was a man with a mental disorder. Now, I didn't mind his loud sermons about 'Jesus lives in the toilet.' His screams didn't bother me. I've been blessed with being a heavy sleeper so he never kept me awake.

The others in my section were not so lucky. Oh, they complained and gave him trouble. "Hey, Markie, there's no one in the bathroom. I think Jesus stepped out." And Markie would rage.

I always tried to be nice to Markie and I found him to be a very sweet person, he just had that problem. Anyway, came the day when Markie moved out. Now every time I saw his room, I wondered where he slept. He had boxes that rose all the way to the ceiling and there was only a foot wide path. I don't know where he sat or if there was a path to the bed. These rooms were only about 4 foot by 11 foot so how he got all that stuff in there was a mystery to me.

He came by my room time after time that day with load upon load. "You're the only nice person here. "He said to me. "I hope you have better luck with this place than I had." And then he was gone and I've never heard from him since.

I guess my point is, I don't think he would have been yelling so much if the other people had been decent to him. My feeling is that the abuse or persecution of the mentally ill is what makes their illness so troublesome to others. They have no one to talk to and are so isolated that they just scream.

A lot of people will say, 'Well, those kind of people, why should we be nice?" But really, although I understand that they can be bothersome to light sleepers, I think there is a bigger reason to be nice, especially to small children who manifest mental illness. It's because we should let them be human. It's because the human race is worth treating well. It's also because everyone can do more than what they think they can and I believe when a mentally ill person can go to work and know that his co-workers will accept him or her. Then they'll be productive people, not relegated to poverty.

I just think the human race is worth the chance.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Amy Bradley

I'm a big TV watcher and I like crime shows. One thing that's best about them is that they put a lot of emphasis on the victim, who he or she was and what their families are feeling. I watch so many that they all fade into the background but once in a while, one sticks in my mind.

Amy Bradley.

She was a young woman on her way up with an exciting job waiting for her. She would have started it in less than a month. Her mother and father and brother went on a cruise. I will not name the cruise line. She struck up several light friendships on the ship.

One night the three other members of her family were all in bed. She was on the verandah and she stepped out of her stateroom to have a cigarette. She's never been seen again. Her family was convinced that she was secreted on the ship and demanded a search. The cruise line gave a cursory search and declared she was not on board and had probably committed suicide. No one in her family believes that. Her future was bright.

Years pass. Someone looking for her happened upon a prostitution site from the Caribbean. There she was but greatly changed. Her eyes held the tormented look that only a person in slavery can have. She was being sold to men vacationing in the Caribbean and several people have talked to her.

Neither the US government or the Caribbean nation will do anything to rescue her. She's been a slave for over ten years now, probably being moved about from place to place.

I was greatly disturbed at this story and felt like I wished I could do something, then I thought: her family is saying they want to keep looking for Amy and keep the story in the public eye. So I will put up the link for the website they set up and if you want to help keep this story in the public eye, could you Recommend on Google? That way more people will read about her and maybe be able to help. The Recommend on Google comes right at the bottom of the post. Thanks all.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Beauty Beast

It's just a fact of nature that women want to be beautiful. But I do think that we've gone a bit too far in this age. I don't know who set the standards for what is beautiful, I suppose all cultures have their standard, but in a world where there are all types of people, I don't see why there is one standard for beauty.

Whenever I meet women who are trying to conform, I like to ask them a question. If the genetic doctors could come up with a shot that would make your baby look exactly like Angelina Jolie, would you take it? How about a room full of pregnant women. Would they want all their daughters to look exactly the same? Carbon copy babies. The answer is always no. They want to see their baby, what she will look like and will love her just the way she is.

So why, I ask, don't you want that for yourself? Why do you want fuller lips, bigger eyes? Don't you want to look like yourself, a combination of your mother and father? What's wrong with a flat chest anyway? Who said it couldn't be beautiful?

Who is that masked man who is setting these standards?

I have seen women I think are beautiful with big, crooked noses or really tall women that were quite striking. What's wrong with unconventional beauty?

I guess I'm asking a  lot of questions but I don't know how it came to be that straight noses, thin legs, big hair and boobs became THE ONLY way to be beautiful. A world where everyone is a carbon copy of Angelina Jolie? Not that I don't like her or her movies, but, no thanks, I just want to be the way I am.

The Mountain City Bronzes at MuseItUp Publishing

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Author Marketing Club

The Author Marketing Club is a new find of mine. It is a site which seeks to help authors promote their books. I have signed up for it for new ideas on how to promote The Mountain City Bronzes.

I think for authors, especially e-book authors, there is never enough or too much promotion. A traditional book promotion, author readings, reach only people in the town or city where it takes place and many traditional authors have war stories about their author readings. Don't get me wrong. I would do that if offered to me, but when you promote online, you know that the places you promote there are people going to that site especially for that reason.

So I think to get the word out about The Author Marketing Club is a good idea, you can visit or join and get e-mails with titles of e-books in them.

I think it works better than even TV promoting. Sometimes you see Tom Clancy or James Patterson books in ads but unless you're a name TV wouldn't work too well for e-books. Nobody would remember the sites to buy the book or probably even the title. Online, this link is right there.

I like reaching out to many different people. I'm eternally interested in people and what they think and how they came be what they think and the cultures. Even if some people seem strange or repulsive, like when you hear about Chinese cannibalizing their enemies in the Cultural Revolution, it still is worth is to come to conclusions about how and why people do the things they do.

Here is the link to The Author Marketing Club

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Animals In Apartments?

The one disagreeable thing about living in an apartment is that it's hard to have animals. I know some people do and I probably would if I could but my room mate has put his foot down. He believes it's cruel to lock an animal up in such a small space.

As a young man he kept Weimaraners, a big, gray dog that likes to guard his territory. He had three of them, Beethoven, Bach and Misty, the female. They were quite happy in the big backyard run they had and very joyously chased Jehovah's Witnesses off the property.

He, David, used to show them, which they took as great fun as he was not serious about it himself. He also used to drive them all the way down to Sandbanks Provincial Park every weekend so they could run on the dunes and swim.

As a child, my own dog, Cindy used to swim. I took her at least once a week to the beach. Neither David or I would be able to take our dogs swimming if we had them because now it's not allowed to let a dog swim where there are people swimming. I don't like this rule because, coming from White Rock, I know full well that children, when they don't want to bother going all the way to the restrooms, will just pee in the ocean. I can't see a dog being any worse than that.

But today I passed the pet store and saw some kittens. One black, two tabbies and one calico. So sweet, so cute but I knew what David would say if I bought one. Cruel!

So I guess everyone who lives in an apartment has to look to his/ her own conscience as to whether an animal living with them is a good idea or not. I've only ever had an animal in a house, with the exception of two Siamese cats that lived in an apartment where I rented a room. So I do know how much they want to get out and catch birds.

So for right now I'll just be happy looking at them in the pet store. Someday...

Well, I'll sign off now, with a reminder that you can but The Mountain City Bronzes at

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Chipmunk Playfulness

All the new findings of animals intelligence and playfulness take me back to the same place. My mother. She always said animals are more intelligent than they are given credit for.

My mother grew up in the woods of southern Alberta. Her father was a section foreman for the railways and they lived in places where the only population was the other people who worked for the railways. So one place was population thirteen and another population seven. She spent a lot of time observing animals and nature and was always happiest when she was near a forest.

I, on the other hand, grew up in a city. A small city indeed but there were a lot of people, in my view. I wasn't sure exactly how smart something like a chipmunk was.

Later on, when I was in my twenties, I went to the woods: Algonquin Park. I went twice. Once, I have written about, this is the second time.

I found the chipmunks enchanting and lively and at one campsite where I settled in one came to play at night on my tent. It was strange and something I never thought an animal would do. The little guy climbed up one side of my tent, which was a wedge tent, and then slid down the other side. It did this over and over again and I just knew it was playing a game and enjoying itself, yes, having fun.

Again and again the chipmunk would climb up one side and slide down the other. It was pitch black but I couldn't sleep, I was too entranced. The next night the little guy jumped into my food, which was hanging from a branch. So it figured out how to get my food.

I thought of my mother that night and wished she were there. Maybe she could tell me of times when she was a child and some wild animal had played with her, something that would let me know how she had known about animal intelligence. After all, although sliding is not rocket science, it would have taken some thinking to figure out that it could slide there.

Now I agree with my mother that animals are probably smarter than we think.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


It's funny what it takes to get a different perspective. Sometimes it's just a word from a friend but I find nothing works as well as going somewhere different for a few days.

When I was young, I went to Algonquin Park. I have written about my first trip there in three previous blogs. I did go again because I found the first time, getting away from the city made me appreciate things a lot better and also to get some things out of my system.

Crowds. Now Ottawa is not the biggest city in North America or even Canada but there are enough people to make a crowd. I'm not anti-social but I do like to feel that I'm alone, not all the time, but sometimes. Away from the rush of coffee shops and grocery stores where I have brought all my own food and drink out of a lake. I found this refreshing.

On the other hand, out in the woods has an element of danger. I could have broken a leg and then I would have to crawl miles back into civilization. I had my rules of the forest: don't run (to make sure you don't catch your leg in a hole made by some animal) and keep all food separate from the rest of your backpack. One thing they'll tell you about bears is: Never get between a she-bear and her cubs and never get between a bear and it's food; and your food is his food.

So I placed all my (it's) food into a smaller backpack and carried it in my hands so if a bear came around as I was hiking, I could just throw it to it and be safe. (I hoped)

I felt I would live my life from city to wilderness, when I got sick of one I would go to the other but it didn't work out so well. I found I like to feel safe and bears do not make me feel safe. I need shelter and good food and maybe a pool. So I guess I'm a nature quitter but I still like the fact that I went and experienced it.

But now I've just gotten back from a friend's house. It's good talk, we went to an antique fair, we've gone apple picking and swimming in her pool. I had a ball.

I've decided that instead of the outdoors, I might just want to go to small towns. They're fun and the people will actually talk to you. Not a bit like Ottawa where if you talk to someone they think you're out to get them.

I have my relaxation strategy now and hope it works for me for a long time. I'll have to write about my second trip to the park but right now I'm just looking forward to my next visit to my friend.

I've decided to post a link to my other flash fiction published in Apollo's Lyre.

you can highlight and paste into the bar. I don't think the link is live.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Changing Attitudes

I always wanted to be an adult when I was a child. It seemed that when you were older, you could do what you wanted. After I grew up I realized that what I thought wasn't true. There are things you have to do that you don't want to do.

But I have found one thing that I never expected at all; and that is how much there is to understand about life and how much you'll look back when you reach a certain age. Just to digress, does anyone about age fifty remember the older people who talked about the Depression incessantly? How boring we thought them! But they knew so much that's all gone now.

Although I'm not real old, I can see a big difference in attitudes, especially since I'm female and I remember the days where, if you were walking with your head up, some busybody man (there was always one) would come and challenge your 'pretensions'. Women with 'attitude' had to be 'put in their place.'

This makes me think of the Victorians, and all the attitudes I'm glad I missed. Can you imagine not being able to wear shorts in summer or even Capri pants? Suppose you had to wear those heavy, itchy wool dresses in winter. Women back in the Victorian age often got very ill because their dress hems, dragging on the ground, would get wet and they would be walking about soaked to the skin. Even in England in was bad, can you imagine in Canada?

I think most young people these days don't understand the past, just like I didn't. I don't talk much about it with them, they will never understand until about thirty years down the road, how much they didn't know. With all the people these days writing on the internet, I think we'll leave more of a record of ourselves than previous people have been able to.

That being said, one last thing I find is that it's a good thing people die. Who would really want to meet a Victorian today? Or a medieval person? We have to make room for the young ones who will take the world in directions we can't imagine.

I do wish the youngsters were a little more respectful, but then, I understand them, another thing is you know they think you're an idiot and you know they have no idea that they're idiots, and you can be satisfied that you understand that.

Well, I'm not ready to die yet but I'm not afraid either. Some day someone will look back and say, "I wish she were here to tell me all the things I didn't want to listen to." Just like I did with my grandmother who talked of WWI. How boring, right? Wrong. But that's life...and death.

Just to leave on a lighter note. Here is the link to a flash fiction that I wrote:


Friday, June 8, 2012

Summer Beach

It's this time of year when I miss the beach at White Rock, BC. It was a great place to go in the evening especially when I had my dog, Cindy, with me. She loved to swim out and bring back the sticks I would throw and even knew the word 'water' meant a trip to the beach.

The first year I was in Ottawa was the hardest. Summer came and there was no beach to go to. Nothing 'right there' where I could just wander down to and take a dip. Oh, there are three beaches in Ottawa but they were nowhere around where I lived and besides, at that early date, 1980, I would have laughed at anyone calling those little patches of sand a beach.

For years I missed the beach but when I finally went for a swim at one of them, I found I had forgotten how to balance when a wave crashes into you. Those tiny river waves almost pushed me right over whereas as a child I used to long for the big three foot waves to pick me up. I would dive right ahead of them and it was so fun.

And yet...there was a small boy playing with a bucket, making little heaps of sand. There was the 'bathing beauties' and their very small thongs. Mothers, a place to eat, all the things that make a day at the beach worthwhile. All the elements are here in Ottawa, just scaled down.

My room mate and I will probably go on a vacation together this year. We haven't decided whether to go east of west. I'm hoping to go to the Maritimes and see a big beach again but I'm okay going through the prairies if that's what he wants. His daughter lives in Alberta. I think he'd like to see her and I could see my brother, who is also in Alberta.

So whatever we do, it'll have spirit, like the little beaches of Ottawa, where, even though no big waves or avenue of restaurants awaits them, they'll just have a ball. A beach ball.

Thursday, May 31, 2012


Sometimes memories disappear, only to suddenly be found, like a photo that you've put in a book. You read the book and come across the postcard and there is the memory again.

It's like that with me about the trip my family took to Barkerville in the 1960s. I have no recollection of the drive up there but my brother and I stumbling about in the Barkerville graveyard is a postcard I don't think I'll forget. There were newborn babies, which I found sad and one Prime Minister's son, who had committed suicide over a girl.

Then there was the day it rained so hard that a bird came and perched under our tent flap to wait out the storm. We watched the little thing and when the rain ended, it flew off.

People walking around in costumes of the past is another postcard as is the rock candy for a dime and the gold panning. We went to a show one night. It had dance halls girls and music hall singers and a Don Rickles-like comedian who embarrassed me in front of everyone. All in fun.

But the rest of the trip has faded. I don't even remember what the area was like. I don't know if it was mountainous or flat. I remember trees so there was forest somewhere.

My brother hated Barkerville, while I thought it was great. I liked the courtroom where Franklin Johnston an actor who lived in my hometown of White Rock played Hanging Judge Begby. He was a local legend in White Rock for this role and when a group of kids would pass by his house, they'd inevitably point it out and say, "Franklin Johnston lives there."

He has become even more legendary since he's died and it's rumored his ghost haunted the White Rock Little Theatre. Which was well known also because of it's fame for lights crashing to the floor during a performance or scenery falling over.

I set my e-book, The Mountain City Bronzes in northern British Columbia but on the western edge, the part that has Alaska on it's border, mainly because, even though I'd been to Barkerville in northern BC, I hadn't noticed the scenery. It's on sale now at Coffeetime Romance:

You can highlight and paste this link to get there. It's only 59 cents. Cheers all.

Monday, May 28, 2012

My Trusty Notebook

I do like to write. I find it very satisfying to take an ordinary day and turn it into a crime or mystery. Let me explain. Coffee shops are profuse in downtown Ottawa. I like to go and sit there with my notebook. I watch people going by and describe them physically and make up little plots about them. This amuses me, although I hope nobody catches me.

You see, a man walking who is bulky could become a savior or a creep, depending on which way me plotting mind is working that day. I like to twist things sometimes because although I do the usual evaluating other people do. "Oh, that looks like a typical man. Family. Twenty years on the job." Suppose I had a story about someone who fools people into thinking he's good.

It is true that you can see people on the street you don't think well of, someone walking around without his shirt on, or long, stringy hair. But these people, as repellent as they seem are actually great characters when you twist them.

It's not all about making white black or black white, but rather about the unexpected, which I find is necessary to writing. The big man with dirty hair? He could be just off from some kind of work, like undercover policeman.

So I enjoy my daily outings to jot down the crowd of the downtown, there's so many interesting people and language is another thing to pick out. A conversation in Polish could be about anything on the page, two people knowing that no one can speak that difficult language and feel they're safe. But wait! The person walking behind them. The older lady with the Maltese Terrier, spent two years in Poland, she knows they're trying to cover up an insurance scam.

Well, that's all for now, my notebook is ready. It's a nice, hot day and that should bring out all the sun seekers. Just right for a plot about an older woman who gets heatstroke and....

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Hero Worship Now

Well, I wrote about how I wanted to be a hero, now I want to reveal who my heroes were. I suppose as a baby, my hero would have been my family but that's too far back to remember, so I'll start with Shirley Temple.

As an under six year old, I watched every Shirley Temple movie I could. I didn't know that Shirley had done those movies in the 1930s, to me, she was a little girl at the time, which would be early 1960s. I can still remember watching one movie on television and there was a close-up of Shirley's face. Suddenly, the tv shut off. A power failure. I was crushed. I have never seen the end of that movie and can't remember the title but I can still remember how I used to adore that special child.

Later, when I was older, I developed a hero-worship of Leonardo da Vinci. I thought that he was the most marvelous man and felt sad that he'd been dead for so long. I would never get to meet him. I had the erroneous idea that he created his inventions in a vacuum. We now know better. Leonardo actually never invented anything. He took existing ideas and improved them.

Historians now know that a lot of people were interested in human flight a long time before Leonardo. Daedalus and Icarus is one story about such a wish. There was actually a monk in the thirteenth century who did fly. He made himself a contraption somewhat similar to a hang glider and jumped off the roof of his monastery with it. He did fly about 100 yards before crashing. He was crippled for life. But surely Leonardo knew of his flight.

Another thing. It is now thought that the Chinese came to Italy in the fifteenth century and Leonardo surely got some of his ideas from them. Like the parachute. As for his submarine, people had been making plans for them for centuries. Even the ancient Greeks had an underwater breathing apparatus which allowed sailors to go underwater to attach mines to enemy ships. Yes, mines. They had them in ancient Greece.

Leonardo stayed my hero for years, that is until I came to Ottawa and met a man I have hero-worshipped ever since. I won't say his name but he is now my room mate and he is so helpful to me. I have also found that I'm not too impressed with athletic talent but am impressed by hard work to get somewhere. It's the doing something with what you have that is real impressive to me now and more deserving of hero worship than someone born with great talent. Don't get me wrong, a lot of them work hard, too, but it's the work, not the talent that impressed me now and I find more conducive, for me, of admiration.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


I always like to think of the time I wanted to be a hero.

There were six of us girl, my older sister and her friend. Me and my friend, and the two girls who lived in the house we were playing at. We were there all day and around 4:30 a boy we all knew came walking up the street. We called out to him and he seemed surprised, he said, "aren't you afraid of the monster?"
We asked what monster only to be told that there was a monster who ate girls in the backyard of the house where we were. He would eat us up and then after 20 minutes our heads would pop out his stomach. He was walking around with heads on his stomach.

We were terrified, especially after he left us there to stew in our fears. I was thinking, though, of how to solve the problem and be a hero. I wanted to be the one who figured out how to get home without the monster seeing us. My sister and her friend wondered if we would have to stay overnight on the porch. They decided
to go down and see if they could see the  monster.

As they braved the danger and walked down the stairs, I felt hero-hood slipping away, I was too afraid to do anything. The smallest girl, who lived at the house, was only two and began to cry. Her mother came out and harshly said, "what are you kids doing to Sherry?" We told her about the monster. She brought her daughter into the house but we weren't allowed, she said we should be able to figure it out.

I was angry and felt betrayed, especially when Sherry began making faces at us from the front window.

My sister began to disparage the idea of a monster and how we'd been taken in by that boy. She declared we were being silly.

After a while, the older daughter was called in and it was just the four of us. The father opened the door and ordered us off his porch, I was still angry. My sister said that she didn't think there was any monster, that she wasn't afraid and that she was leaving, going home, and not afraid, her friend went with her. They were strolling down the hill when my friend said she had to go. She only had to the end of the block and then one house up, I had to go down the hill and down the block.

We ran and split and the end of the block.

I began to run down the hill and passed my sister and her friend. "I'll be home before you." I taunted, even though I knew I had found out one thing. My sister was the hero.

Speaking of things that happen to children: try downloading my e-book: The Mountain City Bronzes

and you can also check out my author's page at AuthorsDen:

Also, You can go to Smashwords and read 20% of my e-book:


Sunday, April 15, 2012

New-Old Music?

Being older, there are things which happen that surprise me because it's so at odds with the attitudes I grew up with. Like listening to old music. When I was a kid, that meant Frank Sinatra, and no kid of my age would've been caught dead listening to him.

So imagine my surprise when I heard in a Tim Horton shop two post-nineteen nineties born kids talking about their favorite band. Who was the band? The Beatles!

How did this music survive for fifty years to speak to these kids?

I wondered about it for a while and thought of all the influences that younger people have grown up with. Mostly bad-guy TV shows like Sopranos or Hip-Hop and Rap, all the negative gangster influences that have had kids walking around with their pants waist down around their knees, the prison-chic style so many seem to like. Or the cholo-fashion of t-shirt and baggy pants with crotch lower than the knees.

But most of all, the take-whatever-you-won't-get-caught taking that a lot of youngsters have. It seems that the younger people are finding that kicking someone's ass is not a solution, just an impulse and as they find that gangsta creed does not work in a civilized society, they want to find something that will.

So instead of the violence and people hating negativity of hip-hop, they've found the simple message of the Beatles, live for love, keep love, get love anyway you can, to be what they want to hear now.

I guess it means that people, though they may be led astray, always know what they need deep inside, they need to be people and to be seen as human and to love.

So I guess it's a good thing those people recorded all those songs, so that later generations can find something to open their hearts.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Good Weather

Well, I'm going out more, especially now, at Easter. There's next to no one downtown. It's so quiet and peaceful, just right for walking around. It's nice and warmish, one still needs a small jacket but there's no discomfort.

I do find it hard to work when it's so peaceful. I think for hours of how I should be writing but it just never happens when all is quiet, I need the noise of the city to focus me, I guess. I find that strange in a way but it's always been how I am. When I was younger, I would take off to the woods in the north for a month or so just to escape. I was so happy to come back, though, when I was ready.

My knees are too decrepit now for me to go walking in the woods but I do go out to my friend who lives in a small town outside Ottawa. It's a quiet place and I enjoy being there for something different. One place I'd like to go is the Iles-des-Madeleines an island group in the province of Quebec but closer to PEI. Here's a poem I wrote about one of the islands. It takes place it the nineteenth century.

Devil's Island

I'll tell you a tale
of our own Devil's Island
and the demonic crash
of the waves in a swell,
the smell and the taste
of the ball-breaking weather
the ghosts that deliver
poor sailors to Hell.

We were out in the water
amongst our Magdalens
the wind plucked the ropes
of our rigging at sea
we looked for a port
and saw many lights flashing
that's old Devil's Island,”
said the skipper to me.

Ghosts began hurling
their fierce imprecations
to “come to the Island
safe landfall to thee”
but the skipper turned round
the ship with a vengeance
that old Devil's Island
will never catch me.”

I thought he was mad
to be scared of a legend
it was my first time
in a storm on the sea
and two men washed over
to Davey Jone's Locker
God bless 'em, they'll rest now”
the skip said to me.

Protesting the treatment
of two forlorn sailors
I said to the skipper
It's not good to tell”
“It's better,” he said,
that they're resting in Heaven
than entering into the portals of Hell.”

Winds lasted the night
then the voices did falter
the lights blinkered out
and I saw very well
so many rocks jagged
just waiting to smash us
The Devil's Isle gateways
await in the swell

If you're on a ship
and the voices of demons
come tell you it's safe
in their harbor alee
remember the shoreline
at old Devil's Island
then turn the ship seaward
and gracelessly flee.

I fully intend to get there someday. It's got so many beaches and nice, little hotels. I can hardly wait. I plan to travel when I'm older so I'm getting my list ready. Cheers