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Friday, September 30, 2016

Another weekend starts

Probably not as good what concerns the weather, but who cares? As soon as my sister comes home from work, we'll head into town. The local supermarket Colruyt exists 40 years on this date, so they're going to treat their customers to a drink (champagne or juice) and some light bites to eat. Can do our shopping as well tonight as tomorrow, right?

For the rest, it'll be a quiet weekend. Chris still needs to get back into 'Zen-mode' after the busy start of the schoolyear. It's not a light task, seeing to the payment (and other administrative needs) of more than 500 people - and then you'll have to know that all the files need to be complete before the 20th of the month, or else nobody gets paid. She was about crazy and could not sleep anymore, so concerned she'd missed somebody and they wouldn't get paid.

Perhaps we can do some planning now our trip to Paris (beginning of November) won't go ahead. We wanted to go to see Le Fantôme de l'Opéra but last Sunday morning a fire broke out in the Mogador theater and now the organisation cancelled the entire run of this musical show. We'll get a refund for our tickets, and also the hotel can be cancelled without costs.  For the money saved we can probably do a short trip somewhere next year.

And for the rest, enjoy the rest, sleep somewhat longer, take more time to prepare food and perhaps bake some for the coming days. We always like to have some donuts in the freezer, or cake. Comes in handy when you don't have any bread!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Hour record on wooden bike

Today, at 1 pm, an attempt was made to break the hour record cycling a wooden bike. The previous attempt was made last year by Eddy Planckaert, a former cyclist.

Now KTA Dendermonde (one of the schools my sister does the administration for) and HoGent (higher education) created a new wooden bike. This bike is quite unique because EVERYTHING is completely made out of wood - even the chain.

And the hour record was broken! One of the students who created the bike rode it and did a lot better than Eddy Planckaert. Of course the two schools are more than happy with the result. It's good promotion for their woodwork options and they hope more students will want to work with wood in the future.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Spaghetti night

Although not of the younger generation, my sister and I just love pasta! So every now and then we have a spaghetti night just because we love it.

Of course, we've created our own sauce with the pasta (which is wholegrain, much healthier than white one). We make a sauce with lots of onion, mushrooms, red bell peppers, a mix between fresh tomatoes and passata, minced meat and red wine. When the sauce is ready (at best after a day in the cellar) we spread it over the pasta and add grated cheese.

It's a bit of work cutting up all those vegetables, but it's worth the while!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Are we cursed?

Sometimes I'd believe we were. Or is it just the year 2016???

In the beginning of this year, our trip to Ireland was cancelled because of the terrorist attack on the airport of Zaventem (Brussels). Ok, we got our money back from the airline tickets and the hotel, but of course we had looked forward to this trip.

Next we got a message that the concert with Colm Wilkinson was cancelled. Well, not exactly cancelled but postponed to a date when we could not attend. This time we had to cancel the plane tickets ourselves (only got back the tax paid) and again cancel the hotel.

And two days ago, we heard that the opening night (and most likely a lot of other performances) of the 30th anniversary of Phantom in Paris is cancelled. There was a fire in the Théatre Mogador, where the performances would take place. I've called the tickets office in Paris, but they weren't able to say if or when the theater would open again. And we had so much looked forward to this Phantom in French! Now, whether or not the performance will go ahead, we'll go to Paris anyway. We already have our tickets for the Thalys train and our hotel is booked too.  Paris is an interesting place to visit, so that's not a problem.

But nowadays I'm afraid to book tickets for a show anywhere else than in Belgium, because there have been so many cancellations. You'd think we're cursed, right?

Monday, September 26, 2016

Who'll be the next US president?

Not long now before the answer is known: Clinton or Trump.

For us Europeans the American voting system is quite something special. But of course also here people are curious to find out who's going to be the next President of the Unitied States.

Are the Americans ready to have a woman as their leader? Or do they rather go for right-wing Trump?

I was speaking to an American some time ago, and he honestly couldn't say how he was going to vote. Neither of the two candidtes appealed to him. (Btw, I wouldn't know either. I don't have a lot of faith in politicians.) So he didn't know yet if he was going to vote or not.

That's something we can't do either. Belgium is one of the two or three countries in the entire world where you HAVE TO go voting. Not going means a huge fine.

What makes a good politician? Well, for me that would be someone who keeps to his/her word. A good government for me is one that stimulates the economy, spends enough money of the needs (police, social care, education, health) and has only about 10 to 15 ministers. No regional governments anymore.

Any reactions?

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Weekend at the seaside

My sister decided to reward herself for three weeks practically non-stop work. So we took the train to Knokke at noon yesterday and only plan on returning Monday morning.

Better still, yesterday evening we went dining in Bartholomeus, one of the best restaurants in the region. We've know chef Bart Desmidt since he was a little boy who came horseback riding with his dad. He specializes in fish, of course, because his ancestors were fishermen. He still has friends and family who deliver fresh fish daily. The restaurant already has two Michelin stars, but I think a third one will come one day. It's just so good there!

The weather is also co-operating. It's been sunny and warm for weeks and the rest of the weekend is supposed to remain the same.

Well, it's nice to be here and only do what we like - no more talk of work.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Car-free day

Today the car is banned (or at least, that's the objective) from many a city and road.

However, not so many people can do without their car! An example: a good friend of mine would use his car to go and buy bread. You should know this bakery is about 100 meter from his house!

Also lots of people still go to work by car. The roads to Brussels are full of cars in the mornings and evenings, and causes big delays.

Now I don't know what's so special about cars. I had one, I admit. But I never had a lot of fun driving it. I sold it about 20 years ago because I was afraid I'd run down somebody or hit anything. Too many people drive irresponsably.

We have been completely without a car since my sister equally sold hers now 7 years ago. And we don't miss it a day!

If you live in a city (or near to one) you don't really need a car. You can run your errands on foot or by bicycle using cycle bags. And a trolley helps a lot when you're on foot. It's good for your body, too. You walk a lot and you do a workout when shopping.

When you need to go anywhere, you'll find there is mostly a good public service, either by train, bus or tram. It gets you where you want to be, in even less time than by car. We used to drive our car to the coast. Most times it took about 2 hours for 90 km, because there were always problems underway. By train it only take 1 hour and 40 minutes, and then you have to wait some time in Ghent for your connection to Knokke!

So for me they could just as well ban the car altogether! Keep only vans and taxis on the roads. Everyone who goes to work should do it by public transport. And when you choose to live in a rural area, then you'd best buy a bike to get to the nearest station... but that's your choice, of course. You can also go and live in a town center.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Truth She Knew

Hello folks! Meet author J.A. Owenby, who's promoting her latest novel in a blurb blitz tour.

J.A. Owenby will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes & Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner during the tour. Please make use of this link:


Mama didn’t want me. In fact, she would’ve traded my soul back for someone different if God would’ve let her, but he didn’t, so she was stuck with me. For eighteen-year-old Lacey, life at home is a rollercoaster. She doesn’t think she’ll ever be good enough to truly deserve Mama’s love. But when Lacey enters college and meets Walker, everything starts to change. Suddenly, Lacey is face to face with the realization that maybe what she’s always seen as normal really isn’t. Her entire life—and everything she’s ever believed about herself and her family—is abruptly hanging in midair. Lacey is left facing two paths, and she has to make a choice. The first means walking away from everything she’s ever known. The other means never really knowing the truth. The Truth She Knew offers an honest and powerful glimpse into mental illness, the meaning of true love, and the psychological waltz that a daughter dances as she endures her mother’s unpredictable emotions, manipulation, and abuse.


We followed her to the couch; Linda sat in the chair on the other side of the coffee table and folded her hands in her lap. Walker took my hand as an uneasy gnawing tugged at me. I had plenty of experience with sensing uncomfortable situations, and I didn’t like this one. I was confused as to why Linda was staring at me, too.

“It’s okay,” he whispered and rubbed his thumb across the back of my hand.

“I can tell by the surprise on your face that you’re confused about why Walker brought you here other than to say hello,” she said. “I’m a mental health therapist, Lacey.”

“What?” I jumped off the couch. “Walker? How could you? You brought me here to lock me up?” I tried to step around his feet to leave, but he was too fast. He grabbed me and pulled me into his lap.

“Lace, wait, it’s not you. Aunt Linda isn’t here to diagnose you or anything close to it—please give her a minute to explain . . . for me.”

“I’m sorry, Lacey,” Linda said, “I didn’t mean to scare you. You’re in no way being diagnosed with anything. It’s the opposite, actually. Walker told me a little bit about your mother.”

“Walker!” The humiliation crushed my chest. “How could you? I told you that in confidence. I trusted you.” I tilted my head back and closed my eyes. If I squeezed them hard enough maybe this would all disappear.

Author bio and links

J.A. Owenby lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her husband and two cats.

She's a published author of six short stories, and she is currently working on her second full-length novel. She also runs her own business as a professional resume writer and interview coach—she helps people find jobs they love.

J.A. is an avid reader of thrillers, romance, new adult, and young adult novels. She loves music, movies, and good wine. And call her crazy, but she loves the rainy Pacific Northwest; she gets her best story ideas while listening to the rain pattering against the windows in front of the fireplace. You can follow the progress of her upcoming novel on Facebook at Author J.A. Owenby and on Twitter @jaowenby. 

Buy Links:

Sorry for everything

The new rage on television since a couple of weeks is the program 'Sorry voor alles' (sorry for everything), created and presented by Adriaan Van Hoof.

Candidates for this show were chosen at random. Some time ago, people could send in their cv for a new tv-show - which, of course, did not exist. Among all those who sent in their cv's, some were chosen for a real program. Only, THEY did not know!

The program is a real conspirancy. Everyone is involved - spouses, parents, friends, you workmates, just name it. For more than a month, a person is filmed anywhere. Then he/she is lured to the studio under false pretenses, and the show begins.

It's fun watching how people are manoeuvred in all kinds of situations without their having a clue. What the person in the spotlight has to do, is to guess what he/she said or did in a given circumstance. You can win a lot of prizes if you have it right. The person yesterday won 100 kg of good Belgian pommes frites, a good amount of the best whisky, a tablet computer, a weekend away with his entire family and a trip to the Galapagos Islands.

Only - I wouldn't want to be part of this program! Just imagine everything you do is getting filmed and broadcasted. No, not for me!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

How subjective is tele-voting?

Nowadays, if you want to win a competition, you have to have many friends! Lots of events work with tele-voting, where the public can vote for their favorite either by phone or computer. So it actually comes down on who can gather most votes.

This subject comes to me, because our former neighbor's son-in-law's project has been chosen into the shortlist by Archifocus (a prestigious website for architects) They were with a number of competitors, but in the end only 8 remain. Their set of architectural pictures are presented on the site of Archifocus and the public can vote for one of them. Well, you can vote as many times you like if you have different mail addresses. The only thing you have to do is to validate your email, and of course also the voters can win a nice prize.

Erwin would very much like to win, and in all honesty I must say he's a good photographer. His wife is only one year younger than my sister and she and her parents lived for more than 30 years next to us. Christel was more like a younger sister than as a friend. She spent lots of time at our home. Her parents did not have a lot of time for her. Her dad worked as a teacher, but he also did a lot of extra work for others, while her mother was always in her sewing-room making clothes to order. Our dad (who equally had a full time job) however, spent a lot of time with Christel and helped her make her homework. That's why she cried as much as we did when our dad passed away. Even now, when married to Erwin and the proud mum of two lovely daughters, Christel is still a very dear friend and she often comes by.

So we like to help her and Erwin to win this competition. We've used our Facebook accounts to gather as many votes as possible. But of course the other competitors do the same. It will depend on how many people you can reach.

It's not quite fair, this system. My preference would go to a jury of well-known photographers who can judge in all fairness which pictures are the best.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Cleaning up

We spent the afternoon cleaning up our barn, which is attached to the house. See, our house dates back almost 100 years and in those days all the outbuildings were close to the house.

We're getting a new boiler next Monday and therefore we needed to clear away the area where it's going to be placed. This meant moving away ladders, cupboards filled with tools, etc. You stand astonished of how much you collect in the course of days!

Well, it's also a good way of cleaning up the place. You normally do it once a year, but it is not bad to get away with cobwebs and other creeping things. We're close to a railroad and the piece of land between our garden and the railroad is a wasteland where weeds grows and all kinds of animals move about. I'll be glad when we move to the coast, because this old house needs a lot of keepîng in order and the older you get, the less you like doing it... At the flat we'll need less upkeep as most of it will be done by the concierge.

Friday, September 16, 2016

The beer pipeline

The historical city of Bruges now has an underground (or tube) - only, through don't go trains but BEER.

Brewery De Halve Maan (Half Moon) which produces the regional beers Brugse Zot and Straffe Hendrik has the crazy (?) idea of changing the way the beer was transported from the brewery right in the middle of the town center to the bottling plant further away. Up to now at least 12 vans a day had to transport the kegs of beer to this bottlery.

The project of course, was not simple. The brewery could not immediately find a contractor who wanted to undertake the job - which included boring pipelines underneath the historical part of Bruges, deep enough not to disturb the other utilility lines. And it would cost a lot! Therefore they thought of crowdfunding.

You can imagine a lot of inhabitants of Bruges were glad enough to join in! For a share of 220 € you'd get a big bottle of Brugse Zot at your birthday, lifelong, and for an even bigger share of 7500 € you'd receive a beer every day of your life. This way, over 340,000 € was gathered from locals.

The undertaking was a success, and as of today, thousand liters of beer flow underneath the city. Less traffic is good for the city, and also tourism will take advantage of it. At the brewery, you have a glass platform from where you can see the beginning of the pipeline.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Too much students take options without future prospects

They really didn't need a survey. Most reasonably thinking people know that our world is in full evolution. Computers and robots are taking over more and more chores.

In the banking world, this is most obvious. More and more banks are sizing down on employees, because more and more tasks can be done by a computer. Think of pc-banking, which is still in evolution. Insurances can be bought on the web, no need for a person to come by and sell you one.

But schools and universities still offer too many study options for jobs which will be redundant in the (near) future. In sales and services, for instance, a lot of jobs will disappear. Some tasks in caring can be taken over by robots, which will also operate on people.

I'm glad I'm already 60. My job as a teacher is still one of those which can't be properly done by a robot! But what will happen with all those people who are made redundant, when robots and computers take over? Will the companies then pay for all of those they put on the street???

I guess this will be a difficult point of discussion in the years to follow. Can you imagine a world in which people are nearly of no use?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Emma G. Loves Boyz

Author Taro Meyer is doing a virtual book blast tour for Emma G. Loves Boyz,  a true love journal (YA/Middle Grade) available now from Red Sky Presents.

Taro will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use this link:


Emma G. is CRAZY about Aaron, lead singer of Boyz3000. Of course, she doesn’t actually know him, but so what? Feelings are feelings. That is until Josh appears… and he’s soooooo CUTE. Navigating her two crushes and her middle school life, especially with eighth-grade hater Renee around, is a challenge. And oh yeah, she’s got to earn money for an AWESOME trip to the Bahamas to see the band of her dreams. Hello???? How much can one thirteen-year-old take??? 


OMG!!! My heart was racing like it was going crazy. Lights began flashing from everyone’s phones and people were Instagramming pictures of the band to their friends and posting them. I tried to take pictures but my hands were shaking so much from excitement that the pictures were blurry. Jenny wasn’t taking any either because she was shaking too. Everyone was screaming and yelling and crying. Two girls fainted and were carried out to get some water.

I was screaming too. I took a selfie of me screaming and then one of Jenny screaming. Her mouth was open so wide I think I was taking a picture of her tonsils!!!

I could see all the Boyz3000 faces very clearly because we were so close up, but especially Aaron’s. I was watching him and trying to take his picture while I was screaming, but my hands were still shaking too much to get good shots, so I stopped trying and just watched him. His expressions were sooo sincere as he sang. His cute hair was falling over his eyes and those eyes were sooo adorable. And his collar was open on his shirt, and I could even see the sweat on his neck.

The drummer, Pete, was setting a great rhythm, and Cory, the bass player that Jenny loves, was twirling and leaping, and then he was leaning back, playing his bass like he was the greatest rock star in the universe. And then Jenny started screaming even louder than before, and she was jumping up and down and her arms were waving at the bass player!

And then…

Boyz3000 started to come down onto the runway that we were right next to.

Everyone was trying to reach out to them and I was right on the aisle and reaching out too.

And then it happened…

Author bio and links

Taro Meyer is a Grammy, Parents’ Choice, and Audie Award winning Audio Producer who has been producing and directing YA audiobooks for over 20 years, including The Princess Diaries Series starring Anne Hathaway, the All American Girl Series starring Ari Meyers, The Inheritance Cycle (Eragon, Eldest, Brisngr) and Judy Blume’s The Pain and the Great One, Here’s to You Rachel Robinson and Tiger Eyes among others.  

She co-produced two touring companies of Trans-Siberian Orchestra's smash rock show Christmas Eve and Other Stories and their TV special The Ghosts of Christmas Eve, receiving Gold and Platinum Albums for her work with the team. She was associate producer of the award winning anti-bullying movie, “The Contest,” and co-produced the premier showcase of off-Broadway’s Little Willie. 

As an actress and singer, she starred on Broadway in the musical Zorba, in numerous regional and off-Broadway shows, and on TV’s All My Children, Another World (for which she also composed music) and the mini-series Memories of Midnight, amongst others. 

Meyer wrote and produced the upcoming children’s album: Mighty Musical Fairy Tales, starring international artist Patti Austin; an updated, joyous musical version of Classic Fairy tales, accompanied by an illustrated book, The Ugly Duckling.

Buy now at Amazon:

Red Sky Presents: Website: Blog: Twitter: Facebook:

Emma G. Loves Boyz: Twitter: 

Heat alert

Our government has issued a heat warning for today and tomorrow. Imagine, it being over 30° Celsius this far in September!

Children and older people (should I count myself among them?) need to take extra care. They'd better not do heavy bodily exercises and should drink enough water during the day.

I cleaned my house early in the morning, when there was still a bit of fresh air blowing in, and this afternoon I've kept quiet. I read some chapter of my latest Inspector Banks novel, did some research for our coming-up trip to Buenos Aires (in 2017), and peeled and cut up some vegetables for tonight's dinner. When my sister comes homes, we can start cooking.

And yes, I drank enough! My glass of water is next to me as I'm typing. I must say I've been feeling well this year. My cholesterol and sugar levels are under control, and my heart is finally beating slower. I've learned not to get bothered anymore by anything that happens. Live and let die....

Monday, September 12, 2016

Youngest competitor at Rio Paralympics wins gold

When you see Laurens Devos, you'd think he's only 10 years old... But the boy has just become 16 and so he could enter the competition.

Laurens was born with a lame right arm and leg. But he did not let this hinder him. From a young age, he like to play table tennis, and it soon turned out he was quite good at it.

Yesterday night, he won the golden medal in Rio. He won every set of his matches! When you see the boy in action, you wouldn't say he's handicapped. Thanks to kine and hard training, he has regained strenght in the lame limbs and now his greatest wish is to compete in the regular competition.

This is already the second medal for Belgium. Earlier on Marieke Vervoort won silver in wheelchair racing, and tonight another table tennisser is going to fight for gold. This one has a mental handicap, but he's ever so endearing when he announces 'he's going to give it a hard blast'.

Let's hope these won't be the last medals in Rio. Our little country is doing quite well there - we also didn't do badly in the Olympics.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

9/11 - fifteen years later

Marc Eyskens, one of our former politians, once said that 9/11 was the start of the Third World War. Nowadays, you can but agree with him.

On this day, fifteen years ago, two airplanes flew through the towers of the World Trade Center. I clearly remember that day. I only had to work in the morning and was doing some corrections in my study upstairs, when my mother called me down because 'a plane had flown into a tower of the World Trade Center'. Not long afterwards, another plane went through the other twin tower.

9/11 was the beginning. Later on the terrorist concentrated on other targets. Remember the bomb in the London tube and in that of Madrid, more recently those attacks in Paris, Brussels and diverse German towns.

Al-Queda has been replaced by ISIS, that's the main change. Fanatics who can only believe in their vision. They are losing ground in Syria and other place in the Middle-East, but nowadays they send their followers to Europe to spread their ideas there. I don't see this coming to an end soon.

In our continent, it has the effect that more and more people become more right-winged. Some say they should better put all the muslims on wagons and transport to elsewhere (like Mars). The Hitler-effect is not far off.

Is there a solution to this problem? I don't know, to be honest. You'd think that everyone here in Europe can go to school and form opinions of their own. Apparently, it doesn't work that way. Lots of youngsters still drop out and then don't find a job. And it's there the terrorist find ground for creating the next suicide-bomber.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Icecream weather

You wouldn't know it's September if you look outside. It's high summer, with temperatures better than in July and August.

Well, nobody complains. We didn't have any spring (rain, rain, rain) and also the summer wasn't all that. Some good days, but more often bad ones.

So now at least we get a feel of summer. You can imagine yourself being in the South of France, Italy or Spain without a problem (there it's practically unbearably hot).

This afternoon we had to cycle to the DIY shop which is a bit outside town, but we didn't mind because of the nice weather. We found everything we needed (and which fitted into our bike bags). On our return home we passed by a tearoom so we decided to park the bikes for a while and enjoy the terrace. Such weather calls for icecream sundaes, don't you agree (or a fresh pint of beer?).

And they predict over 30° Celsius for next week. Where will that end????

Friday, September 9, 2016

Airhostesses 'operate' on 'dead' teddybear

Sometimes you read an article in your national newspaper that can make you smile. Like the one yesterday about what happened during a Brussels Airlines flight from Warsaw to Brussels.

On board was an English little girl with her dad. During the flight the kid began to cry loudly. Apparently her dearly-loved teddybear had 'died' - i.e. the toy had lost a leg. The hostesses on board tried everything to solace the child: they offered her crayons and a book to color in, they offered her sweets and even a portion of real Belgian fries. Nothing helped. The kid was devasted because her toy was 'dead'.

One of the team, though, thought of a way to help her. She offered to take teddy to the back of the plane, where they had 'a hospital'. There 'the doctors' would operate on teddy and make him better. Reluctantly, the girl handed over her toy to the airhostess.

Now you must know that most crews keep a sewing-kit for emergencies. One of the hostesses sewed the leg back on (got to think of it, I don't know how often my mother did the same for me, with my toy rabbit) and brought it back to the little girl.

She was ever so happy! And the father declared he would never take another airline from now on. Moreover, after the landing in Brussels, both dad and daughter were invited into the cockpit and the pilot showed them everything.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Paralympic Games in Rio

Two weeks after the end of the Olympic Games 2016, the Paralympics were declared open.

For starters, I think it's a shame they need to have seperate games. Why not have one Olympic event, where both 'healthy' and people with a handicap can compete? Don't these athletes deserve as much respect as the others?

Going to the Olympic Games is always an honor. But especially so for those who had to overcome lots and worked so much  harder to reach this goal!

When we take an athlete like Marieke Vervoort, you have to know this lady is fighting against death and still wants to take her last golden metal in Rio. I do so admire her for that.

During the last games in London, also the Paralympics games drew lots of public. In Rio, however, these atlhetes will have to compete for only a few spectators. A real shame.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Where The Heart Is

Today features author Jennie Marsland, who's doing a book blast tour for her romance Where The Heart Is. During this tour, Jennie will be giving away a digital copy of this novel to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter. Please use this link: http://www.rafflecoptercom/rafl/display/28e4345f1879


When Rochelle McShannon moves with her father from Morgan County, Georgia to the Yorkshire Dales, she thinks she’s leaving behind everything that matters to her. Her mother has passed away, her twin brother is going west to avoid the looming Civil War, and her family’s unpopular views on slavery and secession have destroyed her relationship with the man she hoped to marry. If returning to her father's childhood home eases his grief, Chelle asks for nothing more.

Martin Rainnie understands grief. Since the loss of his wife in childbirth, he’s known little else, except anger. He’s retreated to his farm and turned his back on the world, including his baby daughter, who’s being fostered by Chelle’s relatives. With little Leah drawing them together, Martin begins to wonder if he can love again – and convince Chelle to do the same.

But the war overseas has far-reaching consequences, even in a small English village. Can Martin and Chelle overcome danger, loss, and bitterness to make a home where the heart is?


“I never thought I’d see this place again. What do you think of it, lass?”

As the horse paused to breathe at the top of a hill, Rochelle McShannon looked down on the huddle of stone buildings that made up the village of Mallonby, her father’s childhood home. Slate roofs glistened black from the shower that had just passed by. The sun was breaking through the clouds now, checkering the distant dales with patches of light and dark. Out there, a tracery of stone walls patterned the green hills. Grazing sheep showed as moving dots on the
landscape. The river Mallon wound through it all, a shimmering ribbon in the fitful sunlight. A pretty view, Chelle had to admit, though she missed the pines of home.

“I don’t know, Dad. Ask me when spring comes.” With a shiver, Chelle shrugged deeper into her cloak. She’d been cold since they’d sailed from New York. Back in Georgia, the days would be bright and warm. Her mother’s azaleas and the white French lilac would be in bloom, perfuming the air around the empty house. Chelle pushed the thought away with another shiver. Could it really be only six weeks since they’d laid Maman to rest? Since the world Chelle knew had turned upside down?

Author bio and links

AUTHOR BIO:  Jennie Marsland lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s beautiful East Coast.  She has had a lifelong love affair with words and history, starting with her family’s stories of life in Nova Scotia in earlier times. Jennie teaches English, science and history at a local private school, and when she isn’t writing, spends her free time cooking, gardening, playing guitar, and catering to the whims of her two very spoiled Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers.

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Who likes housework?

Well, I must admit, I DON'T. I just hate cleaning, dusting, ironing and all other chores. My sister likes cooking and our mum used to like ironing a lot. Can't see the joy in it. Ironing gives me an ache in my back, and when I clean the house, I'm sure to have a few blue marks on either legs or arms as I always bump into things.

Right now, after a long period of being away to other places, the house needs a thorough cleaning-up. Yuk! I wish I had a house-elk like Harry Potter's who could do all these chores while I'm sitting behind my pc working on my next novel. That's what I like to do!

We already have a house ghost (seem to have brought it back with us from a trip to Ireland a few years ago), but the only thing he does is shifting items from one place to another. Not much help either...

I can hardly ask my sister, who already works so hard at her job (she's solely responsible for about 500 people's wages and other administration) to do the job after she comes home. She already does the cooking, because she says it's relaxing.

Ok, so I spent the afternoon cleaning. For all it's worth. Tomorrow you won't see I did go through the living-room with a wet mop. That's what I find so frustrating in cleaning. You need to repeat it (very often) otherwise you won't see the effect. I like things where the effect remains. When I finish a story, I can see the book being published.

What about you?

Sunday, September 4, 2016

A Killer's Grace & My Name is Wonder

Author Ronald Chapman is doing a virtual book blast tour today for two of his suspense novels: My Name is Wonder and A Killer's Grace. These books are published by Terra Nova Books.

Ronals will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use this link:



From the high desert of New Mexico comes a tale of mystery, murder and redemption. When journalist Kevin Pitcairn receives a disturbing letter from a serial killer, he is drawn into a compelling journey with profound psychological and spiritual implications, not just for the murderer, but for himself and society as a whole. As he tries to investigate and then tell the story, he finds himself battling his own inner demons and sordid history. Events conspire to propel an isolated matter to a national stage and audiences that are increasingly hostile. Forced to explore the roots of human psychology and sanity, Pitcairn must navigate moral and philosophical realms. What is the nature of evil? What powers of choice do humans actually possess? How may we be redeemed? And in the end, how do we reconcile with ourselves?


As a freelance journalist and columnist for the local afternoon newspaper, the Albuquerque Chronicle, Pitcairn often received unsolicited mail. In this case, he immediately recognized the name of Daniel Davidson. He knew all about the case. Davidson was convicted for the murder of four of his six Texas victims after protracted delays for psychiatric evaluation. During that time, the state of Oklahoma had opted not to prosecute him for the murder of a seventh victim. But after those many lengthy delays, he was remanded to the custody of the state of New Mexico for trial in the murder of a seventeen-year-old Santa Fe high school girl.

That final proceeding was notorious for ending without a conviction two weeks before. Unlike the Texans, this jury had bought the psychological evidence. Their decision was greeted with derision and accusations of racism from the northern New Mexican, Hispanic community to which the young woman belonged. The police had to quell a near riot. Now Davidson was to be returned to Texas to await execution.

Davidson’s case was unusual. Despite the efforts of anti-death penalty agitators to appeal his case in Texas on psychiatric grounds, especially in light of the New Mexican decision, the murderer requested that his sentence be carried out as soon as possible. It was reported that he understood he had broken society’s covenants and actively sought his own death.



My Name is Wonder chronicles the transcendent adventures of a little goat with big dreams. Join Wonder and his wisecracking guide, the mysterious crow Mac Craack, on a journey through the scenic landscapes of the American Southwest and into the heart of a mindful presence. Along the way, you’ll meet an unforgettable cast of creatures, each with an important lesson to teach.


“So Master Bear, do you have a name I might use to properly address you?”

“Master Bear, hmm, Master Goat? My name is Boboso, and I am that, except when I choose not to be, or when riddling with a goat that is not a goat.”

Wonder laughed with delight. “You are very wise, Master Bear.”

Boboso harrumphed. “Hardly wise, but always a student, Master Goat.” The bear raised his nose as if to catch some odor before resuming. “Where are you, Wonder who is not Wonder? And where are you bound?”

“I’m going to the top of the mountain.”

“I see,” said Boboso. “Where are you now?”

“I seem to be at the end of a box canyon, and my guide, Mac Craack Crow, is missing. I do not know the way.”

The bear bobbed his head as he considered this. “Be assured, Mac Craack Crow is not lost. No crow ever is. And neither are you.”

“But there is no path, Boboso.”

“No goat that was not a wonder would blunder here. Certainly, you are on the path.”

“Blunder, Master Bear? That is the word Mac Craack used several times today.”

A toothy smile came to the bear’s face. “Serendipity strikes, Wonder. The eldest of the bear clan, Anthony the Mellow, says, ‘The path is every step. Lift your vision above the muck.’ And, I would add, blunder is not possible. No way, no how.”

Author bio and links

Ronald Chapman is owner of an international speaking and consulting company, Magnetic North LLC. In addition to international accreditation as a speaker and national awards for radio commentary, he is the author of two novels, My Name is Wonder (Terra Nova Publishing, 2016) and A Killer's Grace (Terra Nova Publishing, 2016 and 2012), two works of non-fiction, Seeing True: Ninety Contemplations in Ninety Days (Ozark Mountain Publishing, 2008) and What a Wonderful World: Seeing Through New Eyes (Page Free Publishing, 2004) and the producer of three audio sets, Seeing True: The Way of Spirit (Ozark Mountain Publishing, 2016, 2005), Breathing, Releasing and Breaking Through: Practices for Seeing True (Ozark Mountain Publishing, 2015), and Seeing True – The Way of Success in Leadership (Magnetic North Audio, 2005). Ron provides a wide array of social media content at, content for people in substance abuse recovery at,  and other content from his master site,  He holds a Masters in Social Welfare from The University at Albany (New York.) Prior to his relocation to Atlanta, Georgia in 2008, he was a long-time resident of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Note: A Killer’s Grace is one of two novels by Chapman being released simultaneously by Terra Nova Publishing, the other being My Name is Wonder. The publisher commented, ““It is remarkable that these two books can be so very different but somehow speak to the same messages.”


A Killer’s Grace Goodreads:

A Killer’s Grace Amazon :

Ron Chapman Websites: for other information from the author. for ongoing social media content including blogs, v-logs, graphical materials, etc. for materials relevant to those in recovery from substance abuse.

Facebook Page:

Note: My Name is Wonder is one of two novels by Chapman being released simultaneously by Terra Nova Publishing, the other being A Killer’s Grace. The publisher commented, “It is remarkable that these two books can be so very different but somehow speak to the same messages.”
My Name is Wonder Amazon Buy/Pre-Order:

The golden days of September

Don't you agree it's quite nice if September proves to be a warm and sunny month? You get nice temperatures during the day, but the nights are not as warm as those in July or August. And it's not quite autumn yet.

I quite enjoy this kind of weather. I've done a lot of washing already, everything's dry by the end of the day. Items like carpets, curtains, etc. Sometimes you can't do the job because the weather won't cooperate! I'm also going to clean up my rotan chairs before I put them away for winter.

Of course, it's less nice for people who have to work! If you're cooped up in an office the entire day, it doesn't matter a lot whether or not the sun is shining.

I guess it'll be pretty busy at the coast and in the Ardennes. Lots of pensioned people who want to spend their free time there.

Are you one of those who can enjoy these golden days?

Saturday, September 3, 2016

'You seem to have a flair for meeting such people...'

For a prequel, I must refer to my blog 'My meeting with celebs'. It's happened again!

In the past, my sister and I have had a lengthy chat and lunch with Eric Clapton, had Johnny Depp do his 'Jack Sparrow' for us privately, sat on a skilift with one of the sons of the former Shah of Persia, stood backstage at a Dublin theater with Frankie Valli...

And during our trip to Venice, I'm sure we've met Michael Bolton! We were on a boat trip to the islands of Murano and Burano when a man asked if the seat next to me was taken. We kept seeing this guy wherever we went and on the boattrip back to Venice he again sat next to me. He began talking and kept on so until we docked. From what he said we could derive he was a singer of some fame...  We immediately checked pictures online when we were back in our hotel and it must have been Michael Bolton.

Don't ask me how it came about, but we did talk about my writing (he was genuinely interested) and our meetings with Depp and others. He smiled and said: "Then you seem to have a flair for meeting such people". Right.

We don't actually do anything to meet celebrities. We don't go chasing them. It's them who come to us, which makes it more special. Clapton himself asked to pull some tables together so we could talk more easily, Depp jumped up (to Vanessa's surprise) and apologized for the behavior of the Texans out of his free will, and Valli also talked to us about the performance (now that's not quite strange, as we were at the stage door). Also Bolton came to sit next to me and began talking himself.

I wonder who we'll meet next....

Friday, September 2, 2016

A sequel to The Medici Diamonds

As most of you who read this blog know, I'm also an author. I write historical fiction with a lot of action, suspense, adventure & romance.

Many years ago, I wrote the first draft of Diamonds For The Devil (part one of The Medici Diamonds) - even though the novel was only published in 2011. I always planned this to be a trilogy. However, for years I couldn't come up with a sequel that promised to have as good a plot as the first installment.

Right now, I've seen the light! Years overtime, but better late than never, right? I dropped the plot I had first in mind and skip in time until the French Revolution. When I was a kid I once wrote a story about a girl in those times, and do you know, it could perfectly work (with some adaptation, of course). The work title is Curse of the Diamonds.

The story line will bring the heroine from France to Turkey and Morocco, and also to England. She'll have a pretty adventurous life but there will be a nice love-story in it as well. I don't want to say too much yet, as I've just begun writing.

Better still, my sister gave me an excellent idea for the third installment! In this one, I'll bring the story to our present-day world.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Back to school

Today, September 1st, thousands of pupils - and teachers - returned to school for their first day of the new school year.

With the little one, tears will have been spent. And not only the little kids will have cried, more so the parents who see their young one enter the school gate...

For young teachers it is always a game of wait-and-see. Lots of them don't have a job yet, and need to wait until they find one later on next week, or next month. It takes about 3 years before a young teacher can find a steady position, and then they need to have worked for the same school all that time.

Our minister of education is involved in talks about the career of a teacher. Government and unions don't see eye-to-eye there. The government wantst to economize everywhere, also in the pensions. But they don't realize that when they don't make the job of teacher more interesting for young people, they'll end up with only the old ones sticking to the job, and lots of vacancies which won't be filled anymore. Teaching is so much more than just being in your class teaching a subject. A good teacher needs to be a psychologist, a sociologist, a nurse, often a parent. You have to be able to disarm a possible dangerous situation... Moreover, you have to get along with the kids. A sense of humor is essential there. Cracking a joke every now and then creates a good atmosphere in your classroom, and the kids will work so much the better.

So good luck to everyone who started today!