Saturday, November 26, 2016
There are times in every writer’s life when their Muse will not play fair, when the page remains blank far too long, when the ideas do not spring to mind, and the enthusiasm to do what has always come easily fades. This has been one of those periods in my life.
I have wracked my brain for something to fill the page but nothing will come. It is not a case of writer’s block. I’ve had that before, more than a few times, and have always overcome it by simply writing any old thing that pops into my head, and before I know it, a page is filled.
No, this is far more serious. I’ve always said that life is a series of pathways, and we choose which path to take on our journey, but when Fate plays a nasty hand in things and we do not have a choice or say in the matter, then it becomes disastrous.
I have been fortunate in that I had a happy childhood raised within a family who always saw the funny side of life and despite not having the luxuries of life always remained positive. My parents were good, honest people who strove to do the best for their large family. I married a hard-working, kind man who loved me enough to let me do whatever I wanted. A man who helped me through many difficult situations, and provided me with all the encouragement needed when I chose to follow my dream of becoming a writer.
A few years ago I encouraged one of my sisters to write her life story. If I live long enough I will edit and finish it for her, as although she tells of her many trials and tribulations in the pages she penned, she in no way told the complete story. Currently this beloved sister is very sick, hence the blockage in my brain. She is not afraid of leaving us, in fact in the last weeks has prayed to go more than a few times rather than spend more days unable to continue in the way she wants to. But I am afraid of losing my lifelong friend who has been the best sister I could ever wish for. I have faced grief a lot of times in my life and perhaps time does heal. I think perhaps this is only half true as a tiny part of it remains with us forever, but should never be dwelt on, just touched now and then when memories invade the day to day activities. But then again what is life but a series of memories.
Anyway, to get back to my sister’s story. She has suffered more than any one person should but has always overcome her many health issues stoically. In fact she has concealed the true extent of her childhood health problems so well that most who know her have no idea of the suffering endured throughout her life.
I re-read her story last week and this is how she ended it (she wrote this in 2009).
“There are a few regrets. I wish my Mother had lived to see me able to drive a car, I think she would have loved to have sat beside me. I also wished she had been able to see what my sister Pat has achieved with her writing. I wish she had heard me play my music, and to have seen my paintings, I think she would have been very proud of us. This has been my life up to now. There have been a lot of tears, but mostly laughter. I have always tried to be nice to people. I have always tried to be kind. Most of all, I always try to smile. I have a beautiful family, and some lovely friends. You can’t ask for more than that.”
And that says it all—if only everyone could live by those words. Just be nice to people, that’s really what it is all about.
All my books can be found on my Books We Love Authors page.
Friday, November 25, 2016
We have passed the six month mark for our one year vacation. It has actually grown to two years thanks to the amazing prices in the UK thanks to the Brexit pound collapse.
The countryside is so peaceful. I walk the endless trails, roads, and bridle paths. I stop, sit on a rock wall or bench and scribble down words, notes, etc. Totally relaxed. Sometimes we come across a new friend. We will miss the Ross-On-Wye area. Everyone has been so nice.
This fellow was hamming it up for us.
Here, with Nancy's help, is where excellent story ideas turnup (sp, but coundn't resists.)
Took some time away from writing to make a hearty stew on a Hungarian Kotlich cooker. It works so well.
This is the surprise ending. Yes, that is a zebra in rural England.
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
TO BE RELEASED IN DECEMBER
WATCH THIS SPACE
In the Regency era, the hand fan was so much more than a fashion accessory or a cooling device. It had an art and language, all of its own, not only known to ladies but gentlemen too.
The fan with which we are familiar today has been around for thousands of years in one form or another. At its simplest, it could be just a large leaf or palm frond. At its most extravagant the sticks could be made from
The Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians used them, two fans being found in the tomb of Tutankhamun. The Chinese use of the fan is reputed to date back to the Shang Dynasty (C.16th-11th BC). At first, the fans were large enough to shelter passengers in horse-drawn carriages, similar to an umbrella. It wasn’t until Song Dynasty (420-479) that the personal fan came into general use. These fans could be simple bamboo fans, or the moon fan so called from its round shape. These moon fans were much favored by ladies in the Imperial court and came to be painted with the most exquisite scenes of mountains and lakes, flowers, and birds.
The folding fan is reputed to have been introduced into China from Japan during the Song Dynasty. The design is said to have been inspired by the way a bat fold’s its wings. The size of a folding fan is determined by the number of ribs the fan has, usually 7, 9, 12, 14, 16, or 18. A fan painted by a famous artist could fetch a high price, as did the folding fan painted by Zhang Daqian, a Chinese artist, which sold for HK$252,000. The earliest evidence of the fan in Japan was discovered in the wall paintings of a 6th-century AD burial mound found in Fukuoka.
Fans were not much in evidence during the High Middle Ages in Europe but reappeared after being brought back from the Middle East by the Crusaders and from China and Japan by Portuguese traders. The fan became especially popular in Spain where it was adopted by Flamenco dancers. In 1609 The Guild of Fan Makers was formed in London, followed a century later by the Worshipful Company of Fan Makers. Although no longer fan makers, due to mechanization, the Company still exists as a charitable establishment.
During the Regency and Victorian eras no lady of quality would attend a social event without her fan with which she could hold a lively conversation without saying a word. For a list of the language of the fan, go to http://www.angelpig.net/victorian/fanlanguage.html or https://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/2008/07/24/ladies-regency-fans/ or just for fun watch this clip from The Princess Diaries 2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bE3mRxWwM4.
Quite apart from the social etiquette surrounding the use of the fan, they were favored by burlesque and vaudeville performers such as Gypsy Rose Lee, who teased and titillated with large, ostrich feather fans.
Arguably the largest organization in favor of the fan today is FANA – Fan Association of North America which boasts worldwide membership. Like-minded members study, conserve, and collect antique and vintage fans.
You may wish to flirt with a fan or cool yourself with it. You can use it as a decorative conversation piece. Whatever your use for it, there really is nothing quite like the seductive allure of these fascinating concoctions of sticks and fabric.
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Was That Really Elvis Spotted Having A High Tea In Victoria?
Who’d have guessed that the city that we visit for high tea and whale-watching, where they bang out a few laws to keep us in line and drain our wallets of tax money, is the most haunted city in all of Canada?
Well, I didn’t. I just go for the view and the great dinners. Yes, Victoria, home to our parliament buildings, The Empress Hotel and their traditional high tea, (apparently the English are jealous 'cos we’re much Englishier than them. I know Englishier isn’t even a real word; I just invented it!) and more ghost sightings in all of Canada than your local haunted house on All Hallows Eve.
Actually the parliament buildings and The Empress Hotel are where some of the spookier denizens hang out. Both were built by Francis Rattenbury. He was found later brutally slain in his home, by either his mistress or her young lover. Neither confessed. Never recognized as a great architect, he’s buried in an unmarked grave and it's reported that his ghost has been seen in both buildings, still craving the recognition he deserves.
The Empress also boasts of an elderly lady dressed in pajamas who knocks on hotel doors and leads guests to the elevator before disappearing, and a maid so dedicated to her work she still polishes the china to this day. Very stiff-upper-lip service.
But the fun doesn’t end there. At the Chateau Victoria it has been reported many times that staff in Clive’s Classic Lounge have tried to wait on a distinguished old-fashioned lady sitting at the bar, and that the elevators sometimes stop at every floor without anyone touching the buttons. The hotel sits on the site of a former white mansion once owned by Miss Victoria Wilson.
And you can’t even have a relaxing game of golf in this city without ghosts yelling "Fore!" and barging their way through. Usually in April, at the Victoria Golf Course -- the second-oldest golf course in North America and the oldest golf course in Canada -- people have spotted Doris Gravlin wandering the course. She was strangled here by her husband in the spring of 1936. Yes, some people take their golf very seriously and heaven help you if you touch their balls.
In Bastion Square, where the pubs, markets, and hustle and bustle of tourists hang out, it's reported that in nearly every alley and building after dark you can find ghosts hawking their wares. Hey, they’re even open to haggling and they’ll throw in a finger or two to sweeten the deal.
In Market Square, once the red-light area of Victoria, near Johnson Street, you can still find someone to give you a good time for a screaming good price in a dark alley. Even lovely Beacon Hill Park claims the ghost of a woman seen around sunrise, who was murdered nearby.
St. Ann’s Academy, a former convent, still houses the original cemetery with several nuns buried there. In the wee hours of the morning nuns have been seen patrolling the grounds. Emily Carr, one of Canada’s most famous painters, has been seen at her home on Government Street and the James Bay Inn. Looking for that last scene for another famous painting?
Many more ghosts have also been seen in Chinatown, Langham Court Theatre, Ross Bay Cemetery, and Hatley and Craigdarroch Castles. No, you won’t find these in the tourist brochures. Pioneer Square, built over a former cemetery housing more than 1200 bodies, also reports lots of ghostly unrest.
Roger’s Chocolates, located on Government Street, is the oldest chocolate shop in Victoria and one of the first in Canada. The couple worked all hours, slept in the store, and have been sighted there on many occasions. Apparently they have quite a sweet tooth and haven’t left yet. Oddly though, high above a door near the front, a child’s handprints can be seen.
And to answer the question, with all those ghosts running around, yes, Elvis has been spotted so many times eating at Nautical Nellies on Wharf Street, a block from the Empress, that they're inventing a dish in his honour of chicken, banana and peanut butter to add to the menu. Guess they want to keep him coming back to belt out renditions of Jailhouse Rock and Hound Dog on full moon nights.
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|Click Here To Purchase From Amazon|
And coming from Books We Love in the Spring.
A penitentiary is a dangerous place and into the world of the criminal enters a saint. Well, bearing rattles and guardian beasts, the native born find him a saint. To the rest he's more nuts than a squirrels winter stash. There's a god asleep, awakening. Humans that seek justice and a sprite that needs justice from humanity.
So what makes you want to break into one?
You can ask Charlie, but he ain't telling.
And if he did you wouldn't believe it in a dozen lifetimes.
Come enter, the madness this spring.
Or check out this upcoming book signing with me and Suzanne De Montigny
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