Warning … This blog post has COOTIES!!


Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

No, not really. Please have no fear of catching anything deadly and do read on …

Remember when we were standing around in a group of friends in the school yard before school began at 9 a.m. or during recess? There was always that one girl or boy we shunned, using the excuse that they had COOTIES and we would all catch cooties, too, if we associated with them in any way.

Now, we knew these kids, our peers and fellow classmates, were not actually carrying a communicable disease, but the thought that they might gave us all an excuse for excluding them from our circle. (And I admit I was also one of those who shivered at the thought of catching cooties, although later I did become friends with at least one of those girls who had been thus named as a Cootie Bearer. And I’m pretty sure I…

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Over There

A great example of fiction used to make an anti-war statement.


This is a work of fiction. A short story of 1580 words.

Clyde was only fifteen years old when the Japs bombed Pearl Harbour. He didn’t even know where Hawaii was, but he knew that he was mad at the Japs. Every man seemed to be joining up, right after. Clyde asked his Dad when he could go, but the old man told him, “Wait a while son, and it might all be over. Anyway, you’re too young now”.

Dad worked at the factory in Kenosha, making engines for Chrysler on the production line. But he wanted better for Clyde; wanted him to go to college, and make something of his life. When Dad had finished with the newspaper, Clyde would read about the war. The Limeys had lost Singapore, and the Germans were not doing so well in Russia. They listened to the radio news too, Alistair Cooke, and…

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Posts from Your Archives – Pete Johnson with Not Waving but Drowning

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

Not Waving but Drowning – Pete Johnson

Stevie Smith wrote this famous poem, in 1957. If you have never heard of it, here is a link; http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/not-waving-but-drowning/

I did not become aware of this poem until the 1970s, and considered it to be a fine piece of work. More than that, it had a connection for me, that even now, is painful to recall. I must start by saying, by way of a disclaimer, that many of the events recounted in this post were told to me later, by my parents. (Though despite my youth at the time, I do actually remember the main occurrence, as if it happened yesterday). This also applies to the exact geography of the location, a place I have never visited since, and which may well have changed, over time.

In the year that this poem was published, I was five years old. Though hard…

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What is it good for …

The question is will we destroy the planet and ourselves before we evolve into something worth keeping?


My wife and I have been watching the Ken Burns/Lynn Novick PBS series on Vietnam, reliving the grim. Every episode sits in my belly like a spiked ball, forcing me to recall and regret (on behalf of our country) the errors that contributed to that nightmare.

Fortunately for me I was too young to be drafted when the war still involved Americans. In fact, South Vietnam fell in ’75 shortly after I turned eighteen. I had dutifully tried to get the forms from the high school office to register for the draft (dragged there by some other guy), but the lady behind the counter said, “Oh, aren’t you guys adorable. No, you don’t have to do that anymore. It’s all over and done with, the draft.”

I’d been a peacenik all through high school, putting together numerous special projects about the peace movement and how come we can’t all just…

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Let’s Talk About Taking a Knee

Thank you beautifully written.


One thing I’ve never been accused of is shying away from an argument – and judging by my six siblings (four brothers and two sisters) it’s a family trait.

However, I got some advice from a fellow author a few years back about engaging in hot-button arguments on social media. His tip was simple, and it made perfect sense…

To paraphrase; If you argue something really controversial you run the risk of alienating potential readers.

This was (is) good advice for an author trying really hard to increase his fan base – so I heeded his advice. Regardless of the topic (and let’s face it…there have been some whoppers on social media in the past few years) I kept my distance. I posted cute pictures of puppies, funny memes, useless trivia and the occasional “save the shark” comment – but I steered clear of the big three – religion, sex…

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Author Spotlight: Susan Toy

Yup you capture Bequia beautifully and write great books. In addition you are a marvellous cook and I can’t wait for this year’s delicious meal sharing1

Reade and Write

Waaay back in April, 2015, I hosted a guest blog by Susan M. Toy, a multi-published and talented writer (if you’d like to read the post, you can find it here).

Susan is back today, this time answering my questions about her writing and her lifestyle, which consists of dividing her time between Canada and the Island of Bequia, which is a Caribbean island and part of the Grenadines (pronounced “Bek-way”). Susan is the author of Islands in the Clouds: A Bequia Perspectives Novel 1; One Woman’s Island: A Bequia Perspectives Novel 2; and That Last Summer: An IslandShorts ebook.

Welcome, Susan!

I know I’m not the only person who’s envious of your lifestyle- dividing your time between your home in Canada and your home in Bequia. I’d never heard of Bequia before I started reading your blog. Tell me about the first time you visited the island.

The first…

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Graffiti in Lisbon — Photo by Arthur Vallin Creative Director HarleyandCompany

Few Americans have yet to discover Portugal. We went recently to visit my British family in Vila Nova de Milfontes in the South. Our journey started in Lisbon where we stayed in an apartment in the central part of Lisbon. Our airfares were inexpensive and our accommodations through Airbnb even more so (we never paid more than $100.00 a night).

Lisbon is a beautiful old city with a large Moorish section that wanders up into the hills behind the pastel colored, red-tiled houses that line the cobbled streets.

Moorish Section of Lisbon – Photo Arthur Vallin Creative Director HarleyandCompany

It has numerous beautiful squares and monuments and is scenically situated at the mouth of the Tagus River. If you are a foodie like us, it also has many inexpensive world class restaurants and markets scattered throughout the city in which to enjoy grilled octopus, ceviche, mackerel tartar, lamb chops, codfish cakes, cheeses and all manner of potatoes, salads, and gazpacho. How I love the different varieties of this tomato delight that to me represents the essence of summer.

Cape Verdian singers www.facebook.com/nosraiz
Paw Patrol to the Rescue in Lisbon

It is advisable to take a ride on one or other of the red, yellow and green trolleys that go all around the city and learn Portuguese history. Ancestors of the Portuguese include Lusitanians (Indo-European speakers), Celtici (Celts), Calaicians, Coelerni, Cynetes, Narbasi, Tapoli, and many other tribes. Of course the Portuguese were great maritime explorers, mapping the coasts of Africa, Canada, Asia and Brazil during the 15th and 16th centuries.

For me however it is Portugal’s Moorish past that I find intriguing. During their occupation of the Iberian Peninsula starting in 711, the Moors brought an vital and unique culture with them. In fact many Arabic words still permeate the Portuguese language like Arroz for rice, and El-Gharb for what is now known at the Algarve.

Street Trolley Lisbon – Photo Arthur Vallin Creative Director HarleyandCompany

From the teaming city of Lisbon we travelled South to Casa da Dina, a delightful bed and breakfast about thirty minutes from the seaside town of Milfontes.

Family dinner at Dina’s

Dina cooks traditional dinners for her guests and her husband Walter, a talkative and informative Uruguayan host, complements these with an unusual variety of Portuguese wines and cocktails. This place won’t come close to breaking your budget, affordable and absolutely authentic. It’s situated down a long narrow, dusty country lane surrounded by wheat fields and cork oak forests. The small village of Malavado nearby hosts a bar in which you can drink beer and watch soccer with the locals.

While staying at Dina’s we easily visited the Atlantic coastline and its spectacular beaches located in the South West Lengejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park. This 100km of coastline, stretching from Porto Covo in the Lengejo to Burgau in the Algarve is stunning, and it is a place where surfers can ride some of the best waves available in Europe. There is a wide variety of beaches, including long stretches of sand and small coves nestled between the cliffs and rocks, which sport a repertoire of forms and coloring caused by centuries of erosion.

Beautiful rock pools perfect for swimming in
Dina and Walter and Carlotta their dog

Here’s a recipe directly from Dina’s kitchen, to yours. Grill Cod then mix in a bowl with boiled potatoes, homegrown tomatoes, cucumber, grilled green and red peppers and chopped garlic — season generously with the best Portuguese olive oil, salt and ground pepper, and some wine vinegar.

Bedroom at Dina’s

We ended our trip to the mainland of Portugal with a family reunion of three generations at my cousin’s house. Their rambling white villa is set in the South West Lengejo and the Vicentine Coast Natural Park on the tidal river of Mira, a ninety mile stretch of fresh and salt water, which meanders lazily down and up from the coastal town of Milfontes. Their property was once home to the local miller who tended the now abandoned rice mill next to it. Legend has it that the original owner lost the property many years ago to a neighbor in a game of cards. An honest judge however gave him half back!

Hammock time by the old rice mill!
Ben swimming against the incoming sea in the river Mira – Photo by Arthur Vallin
River Mira at Dawn – Photo by Arthur Vallin
Sunrise looking up the river Mira — photo by Arthur Vallin
Family Love – photo by Arthur Vallin

I thoroughly recommend Portugal as an inexpensive and exciting place for middle class families like us to travel to. It costs no more to get there and spend a two week vacation than it does to rent a three bedroom house on the Cape or the Carolinas in August! Accommodations are cheap, the airfare is affordable from the East Coast, and food and wine are a fraction of what one would pay in the US.

In our family we have always skimped on buying and owning things in order to travel the world, to get out of the US and to understand first hand that the machinations of American politics have little relevance to others who share the globe with us. It was fabulous to learn about an important and different history and culture, to hear a different language, and to have the luxury to take time out of our busy lives to concentrate on family and the ones dearest to our hearts.

Please consider reading my book The Burning Years

This brilliant book gripped me from beginning to end. The author has extrapolated a vision of the future that is based on her extensive scientific research. This illuminates her vision with plausible future scenarios that both fascinate and alarm. Thank you Ms. Harley, for this journey into a dystopian future that also weaves hope in the resourcefulness and creativity of your finely drawn characters, while at the same time awakening your readers to the present day urgency of climate activism.


How to Help an Author …

Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

Buy/Borrow, Read, Promote to other readers
… those books you enjoy.


Never expect the author to give you a free copy. But, if they offer to do so, you shouldn’t feel you are under any obligation to either read the book or give it a rave review. Unless you truly enjoyed reading that book. (As far as I’m concerned, I’m always thrilled to death with the thought that someone else may be reading my book!)

Buying or borrowing a copy from the library is the best show of support. (And if your local library does not have the book in their collection or the bookstore doesn’t have it in stock then this is a good time to mention the book to them. Did you know that most libraries encourage their patrons to recommend books that may be added to their collections? Both print and eBooks in most cases ……

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beetleypete’s A-Z Film Challenge … The List: A-L

Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

During the Merrie Month of May, I discovered (through friend Felicity Harley’s reblogging of it) a series of posts by a new-to-me UK blogger, beetleypete, titled A-Z Film Challenge. I was late coming into the challenge with my own suggestions (I didn’t begin commenting until around the “L” post, I think), but I was pleased to see that Pete’s series had already attracted a great deal of attention and further recommendations from his blog’s readers that it seemed as though a real online “party” was going on! I also discovered in short time that Pete has an extensive knowledge of World Cinema (which I particularly enjoy) and had many of the same experiences of seeing films for the first time when he was growing up in England as I had growing up in Canada. Turns out we’re just about the same age. While Pete and I mainly agreed on…

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