__MAIN_TEXT__
feature-image

Page 1

OurEverChangi ngLanguage,ShortSt or i es, Medi at i on,Poet r y,Nat ur e,Humour ,Best sel l er s, Phot ogr aphy,Puzzl es,Geneal ogy,Reci pes, Nat i onalKi t eFl yi ngDayandsomuchmor e!


Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine is published monthly by Goylake Publishing and designed by Melanie P. Smith of www.melaniepsmith.com


www.hannah-howe.com

https://kidsstoriesblog.com/

www.moms-favorite-reads.com

www.ronesaaveela.com


https://melaniepsmith.com

https://sylvafae.co.uk/blog

https://www.facebook.com/TEHodden

All contents Copyright Š the individual authors and used with their permission. All rights reserved.


https://www.wendyhjones.com/buy-direct/

https://www.poppyflynnsaucyauthor.com/

www.moms-favorite-reads.com

https://www.grantleishman.com

www.facebook.com/momsfavoritereads

Discover more about us through our video:

https://youtu.be/s0CNofMbQdM

Never miss an issue by subscribing to our FREE magazines: www.tinyurl.com/momsfavoritereads-subscribe -5-


The Language — She is A-Changing by Grant Leishman .................................................................................................... 8

Mom’s Favorite Reads Author — Wendy H. Jones ........................................... 64

Laughter is the Best Medicine! by Hannah Howe ............................................ 24

Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Bride by Chantal Bellehumeur ..................... 14

Snow Day by Chantal Bellehumeur .................................................................... 30 Jogging by Maressa Mortimer ............................................................................... 57

Yellowstone National Park in February by Melanie P. Smith ........................ 20 Frost on Kenfig Sand Dunes by Hannah Howe ................................................. 52

A Snowman or a Snowball by J. Jones (Age 10) ............................................... 47

Rainbow by Stan Phillips ...................................................................................... 11 One of Life’s Stations by Stan Phillips ............................................................... 56


Techniques to Deepen Meditation by Val Tobin .............................................. 12 Europe by Book by Hannah Howe ...................................................................... 22 Things to Celebrate in February by Poppy Flynn ............................................ 26 Genealogy: by Hannah Howe ............................................................................... 40 Expect the Unexpected by Father Ian Maher ..................................................... 44 Hoggywobbles by Sylva Fae ................................................................................. 48 Music by Shri Jaykishan Hariharbhai Kapdi .................................................... 54 How to Stop Yourself from Writing by John Greeves ..................................... 59 Women of Courage: Heroines of the SOE by Hannah Howe ......................... 62 Dundee Dragons by Wendy H. Jones .................................................................. 63 Starlings by John Greeves ..................................................................................... 66 National Kite Flying Day by Melanie P. Smith ............................................... 70

Dutch-style Pancakes by Maressa Mortimer ..................................................... 46

Word Search by Mom’s Favorite Reads .............................................................. 25 White to Move—Supplied by Chess.com ........................................................... 29 Hot Rod Todd Coloring Pages .............................................................................. 42 Puzzles by Paul Godding ....................................................................................... 51

20% OFF First Book Promotion with the Fussy Librarian .............................. 70 Connections eMagazine ......................................................................................... 71


The Language — She is A-Changing by Grant Leishman I'd like to talk about something that's been niggling away at me for a while and that is the assumption that writing is and always will be, a rule-defined, structured, and tightly controlled exercise. I've had a few discussions about this with several people and there is this prevailing attitude that all books for sale, must conform to a set of rigid structures, as regards style and grammar, in particular. I want to challenge that assumption somewhat today. I went to question why, a living, evolving language such as our own beautiful language should be hide-bound by arbitrarily decided structures and styles. It seems to me and indeed to some of my colleagues and friends that this insistence on uniformity is stifling some of the incredible creativity that is out there, in the independent author world. I started thinking about this a while back after I had been given the opportunity to read a novel from an unknown, young author. My initial thought as I plowed through his tome was that this was utter rubbish. It didn't conform to any writing standards I'd ever been brought up to follow. The dialogue wasn't attributed properly, I just felt the grammar left a lot to be desired and the language of the street was like a foreign tongue to me. But then, I stopped myself. This young man was in his early twenties, he'd grown up on the streets of New York and lived in a totally different world to me. Who was I to criticise his writing style, so dismissively? That got me to thinking: Who decides what is "right and proper" in the written word? Who determines what is the style, format and grammar for published books?

The answer was obvious, it's our education system and the big-five publishers. So that led me on to consider what is the demographic of the people that hold the power in the Education System and the Publishing Houses. Again, the answer was obvious US! The Baby-Boomers. We are the ones who have determined what is proper English and how it should be presented in the written form. Our generation has been the most prolific readers in history. Our access to education and to books has been unparalleled. Certainly, in the West, libraries provided us with untold opportunities to read and most of the people I grew up with, like myself, were prolific readers. It's hardly surprising then that we

-8-


set the rules on what was good, what was acceptable and what would be published. We had less distractions than the succeeding generations and therefore reading books was a fine and enjoyable pastime, given our limited choices. We, as a generation, have become extremely protective of our version of the written word and every day I see numerous posts berating the authors of excellent stories, for shoddy, structure, style and grammar. If there's a phrase that fries my brains it is; "more show, less tell". I'm convinced half the people that use it don't have a clue what they're talking about - they're just parroting something they've heard and think it sounds as if they are literary experts, in some way.

Baby-Boomers� who fanatically believe our version of "good writing" is the only acceptable version – B*LL*CKS, I SAY! NEWSFLASH, PEOPLE: The language we know and love is a-changing. Instead of criticising and destroying the fragile egos of these young, talented storytellers by lambasting their work and declaring it to be rubbish, we should be embracing this brave, new world and encouraging them to keep writing, to keep being innovative and most of all to keep writing what their peers want to read, not what some old fuddy-duddy like me thinks is the correct way. IT'S ALL ABOUT THE STORY and I, for one, am sick and tired of self-righteous, self-appointed rulers of the literary world telling me and many others what is good and what is bad. Yours and my time, as authors, is limited. We are already reaching the end of our reign as self-appointed grammar Nazis (for want of a better term), so please stop trying to hog the limelight until your dying breath and allow the new, next, undiscovered authors to come shining through.

Look, the succeeding generations from us "experts" in the field of writing are not writing or reading as much as we did and one of the reasons for that, it seems to me, is that talented, young authors are frequently shot down in flames by "know-it-all -9-


If we want the joy of reading to be continued into the remainder of this century, then we have to let go our vicious grip on the reins of the publishing world and allow the bright, new stars to shine. It isn't all about US! - although I know that will come as an enormous shock to many of my fellow indie authors.

story, I would offer the thought that there really is no such thing as a bad book. A book is a collection of someone's hopes, dreams and aspirations and can, in my humble opinion never be called intrinsically bad. There are certainly books I don't want to read but a simple scan of the blurb will usually confirm that to me. Like a television channel I don't want to watch, I'm in control and I can change channels or indeed, not read that book. Books are the collective pool of a generation's wisdom, so I cannot, in all sincerity, declare a book to be intrinsically "bad". Note, I'm not talking about spelling here. Not proofreading for spelling mistakes is still a cardinal sin, in my mind, but structure, grammar, style, that's an individual author's choice, surely. For anyone interested, the young, man that I used in this example today is called Angel Ramon. I still probably won't be buying his books, in the future, as they're just not my style at all, but I do recognise the drive, the tenacity and the need to express himself, to his generation, that Angel has. I call him a man on a mission and that he certainly is. By all means go and check out his work. It may be more to your taste, than it was to mine.

Before I finish today, I want to leave you with a thought, about a comment I hear regularly.

Remember, our language is a-changing and we should let it happen, not fight against it, tooth and nail. Language is a living, breathing entity. English has such majesty and power to evoke intense emotion and paint mind pictures, that it is impossible not to embrace it fully, in all its iterations.

"There are just so many bad books on Amazon these days". While, I won't dispute there are some, (I like to call them confidence tricksters) who try to fool us into buying books that don't even tell a

Grant Leishman is a fifty-nine-year-old full-time author and editor, domiciled in the beautiful island of The Philippines. After careers in finance and journalism, Grant finally found his true bliss in life, writing. He is happily married to Thess and they have two daughters, Rose and Angeline. Discover more about Grant on the Mom's Favorite Reads website https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/grant-leishman

- 10 -


The Rainbow by Stan Phillips Every now and then life reminds me that it has so much more to offer than sly politicians, and battle hungry generals, and greedy merchants, and persuasive media barons. Every so often it encourages me to raise my eyes beyond this world and see the transient glory of an evening filled with light, With shifting clouds, With small rainfall, and the setting sun, all coming together to create the glory of a rainbow.

I can't keep the ephemeral wonder of it. But I can hold it in my heart. Can remember the message of it. That silent song that echoes long after the moment has drifted into memory. All really is well If we allow it to be so.

Stan Phillips is an 80 year old poet, musical podcast maker, part-time wannabe male model, and occasional stand up comedian. “I used to be a psychotherapist/counsellor when I had an honest job. I was born into prewar London, and attended 17 schools (my father believed they couldn’t hit a moving target) and I eventually finished up here in Ireland. Still wondering what I will be when I grow up — but enjoying writing my quirky poetry as I do so.” Discover more about Stan on Mom’s Favorite Reads website: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/stan-phillips - 11 -


Techniques to Deepen Mediation by Val Tobin Years ago I bought a crystal ball to use for scrying. I practiced with it diligently but became frustrated when it didn’t work as described in all the information I had about crystal balls. In a fit of pique, I did a meditation to see what I could do about my lack of success. Impulsively, I sat with the crystal ball in my lap. Suddenly image after image flooded my mind’s eye. For the first time, I received clear and distinct visions. The crystal ball had amplified the images I could receive and boosted my ability to see them during meditation. I’ve used that technique since to enhance my meditations. I have also, incidentally, improved my work with the crystal ball, though it still doesn’t work for me in quite the way the books and articles describe.

but that is only one option. You can meditate in a more relaxed cross-legged posture rather than the full lotus position, which can be difficult for beginners. Put a cushion under your butt to stabilize yourself and make you more comfortable, especially if you are sitting on the floor.

Typically, people turn to meditation when they want to relieve stress, but then after practicing it for a while, they reap other rewards as their ability to reach deeper levels of meditation improves. If you are interested in getting deeper into your meditations, then there are techniques that can help you do so.

Sitting up on a chair with legs and arms uncrossed and feet flat on the floor is more comfortable for those with back problems. You can also lie down, and you can even stand, walk, or dance, though beginners wouldn’t start off with these last three options.

Breathing Technique for Meditation The simplest technique to start with involves deep breathing. Slow, deep breathing calms, but quick, shallow breathing indicates stress and agitation. When beginning a meditation, taking three deep breaths helps you centre yourself enough to relax and release stress from the day. Bringing the mind to focus on the breath pushes aside all other thoughts and distractions.

When first starting out with meditation, sitting in a chair or lying down is the most comfortable and practical posture, and it is important that you are comfortable, relaxed, and free of distractions. Don’t force yourself to sit with legs crossed on the floor if you have back or knee problems. If you are lying down, make sure you are comfortable. I can’t lie on the floor or my back aches, so if I can’t lie on a bed or couch, then I sit up, either cross-legged on the floor, sitting against the wall, or on a chair with a straight back.

Once you have slowed the breathing by taking those initial three deep breaths, you can regulate your breathing to a more natural cadence, but continue to maintain deep abdominal breathing. Anytime a thought or something in your environment distracts you, focus on the breath, which should be deep enough to make the abdomen rise and fall as you breathe in and out.

Posture When Meditating Most people picture the cross-legged lotus position when thinking about correct posture for meditating, - 12 -


Meditations that Provide Deep Trance States Shamanic Journeying using drums or rattles, playing crystal singing bowls, chanting, or anything that has a rhythmic pattern or uses toning or sound frequencies can induce a deeper trance state. Many of these methods make use of the principles of entrainment, which is training one object to match the vibration of another object. You can also buy CDs that use brainwave entrainment to deepen meditation. Examples of such CDs include the Holosync® program and Trypnaural Meditation. Recorded meditations are a great way to deepen your meditative state, and there are many inexpensive, or even free, recordings available.

Increased frequency and duration of meditation sessions improve the depth and quality of your meditation. As you practice, you will also stumble across other techniques, as I did with the crystal ball. You will find out what works best for you as you instinctively guide yourself towards the meditations that are most productive for you. In the end, you will experience greater insights into yourself and your concerns, and receive clearer guidance from your higher self.

Guided Meditations and Meditations that Direct Focus Guided Meditations channel your focus onto images provided by a recorded voice or by a group leader who guides you through a set of instructions or scenes that tell a story or take your focus in a specific direction. Chakra meditations help you align the energy centres in your body so you can start your day more balanced or realign yourself at the end of the day. You can find a surprising and simple explanation of the chakras in this clip from the children’s show Avatar: The Last Airbender. Regardless of what you believe about chakras, the messages in this clip are helpful in these troubling times.

References Image: ssoosay via flickr, Candle Flame Goldman, Jonathon, Healing Sounds: The Power of Harmonics, Rochester: Healing Arts Press, 2002.

Guided meditations deepen your meditation by keeping you focused on the instructions in the meditation. When you listen to the voice of the guide, you are better able to tune out your environment and stay with the meditation for longer periods. Meditating with your eyes open but focused on a candle flame or into the heart of a fire can also help you shut out distractions and maintain a meditative state that deepens the longer you maintain the focus.

Davis, Martha, Ph.D., Robbins Eshelman, Elizabeth, MSW & McKay, Matthew, Ph.D., The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook, Fifth Edition, Oakland: New Harbinger Publications Inc., 2000. Disclaimer: The information presented here is not intended to substitute advice from your physician or health-care professional. Before beginning any health or diet program, consult your physician.

Val Tobin writes speculative fiction and searches the world over for the perfect butter tart. Her home is in Newmarket, Ontario, where she enjoys writing, reading, and talking about writing and reading. Discover more about Val on Mom’s Favorite Reads website: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/val-tobin

- 13 -


Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Bride by Chantal Bellehumeur While Samantha's boyfriend Jerome was away on a weekend camping trip in the wilderness with four of his best buddies, Sam was looking for something fun to do. None of her girlfriends were free to get together for a meal or drinks that weekend, so she considered going to a museum by herself. She had not visited one since being in high-school, and was now in her early thirties. After doing a search online of all the museums in the city of Montreal, Samantha decided to go to the History Museum located downtown. The temporary exhibit on wedding dresses interested her. She loved fashion as well as learning different customs of the past, so this was right up her alley. Samantha knew Jerome would not have wanted to come with her. It's not that he would not have gone with her if she asked for his company, but it would not exactly have been his first choice for an outing together. This was the perfect time for Sam to go. Samantha took note of the museum's exact location as well as the directions on a piece of white paper she ripped off a square pad and put it in her big black Mary Poppins purse, as Jerome called it. She then got dressed in a pair of tight designer jeans as well as a nice light blue t-shirt that matched her eyes and checked herself out in the bathroom mirror really quickly to make sure she looked okay to be out in public. She was really checking on her long brown hair, which often had a mind of its own. Sometimes, it frizzed so much that Samantha thought she looked like a poodle. Today her hair wasn't so bad, but Sam decided to tie it up in a ponytail with an elastic that had a light blue flower attached to it. It made her look younger.

Satisfied with the way she looked, Samantha headed for the front door. She put on her cute, blue, high heel sandals, said bye to her lazy black cat named Jack who was just starring at her with his yellow eyes, and left her apartment. On the way to the bus stop, Sam heard honking numerous times and realized that there was a procession of cars nearby because a couple had just gotten married. She turned her head left as she was crossing the street and saw a decorated black stretch limo as well as other cars go by making a lot of celebratory noises. At the bus stop, a young happy looking couple was cuddling on a bench despite the fact that it was really hot out. Samantha was already sweating from the heat even though she had only been outside for two minutes. There were no clouds in the blue sky to hide the rays of the bright sun, nor any wind. The air felt really humid. Sam wondered how Jerome and his friends were doing out in the woods; if the shade from the trees did not keep them cool, they could always jump in the cold lake, she thought. Thinking of water made her realize she was really thirsty. Having forgotten her water bottle, Samantha was happy to see the bus coming so she could - 14 -


find shelter from the burning sun. She found the inside of the vehicle hotter than outside once she stepped in. After finding a seat, she opened up a window to let some air in, but it barely cooled her off.

though. Sam wanted Jerome to mean it when he officially asked her to be his forever, not do it because she demanded it. Samantha knew a few women who had given their boyfriends an ultimatum; get married or it's over. Sam didn't want to do that. Rather than force her boyfriend into marriage, Sam simply made her desire to be with him forever clear. She told him she wished him to give her something with sentimental value. She even suggested getting promise rings rather than engagement rings so that they would not have to be the couple who got engaged without ever setting a wedding date. Now it was up to Jerome to make the next move when he felt ready. Sam could not help but feel impatient, but did her best not to show it.

As Samantha fanned herself with her right hand, she observed the other passengers in the bus. Lately, she could not help but notice all the men and women who wore rings on their wedding fingers. She longed to hear Jerome ask her to spend the rest of her life with him, but it wasn't happening.

When Sam first brought up wanting a special ring, Jerome had replied with a smile that he wanted to buy her one, just not right away. He said he didn't want to give her something cheap, although Sam had expressed that she did not want him to spend a fortune on her.

It seemed like every wedding Sam had attended, she was asked to be part of the wedding party. She started off as a flower girl when she was three years old, and moved up to being a bridesmaid several times. "Always a bridesmaid, never a bride," she started joking at one point. She did not find the saying as humorous lately. In fact, with the wedding of one of her close friends right around the corner, she felt a bit depressed at having to play bridesmaid again without any sign of becoming the main attraction one day.

Thinking about Jerome, whom she missed, Sam sighed. She loved him very much and knew he loved her just the same, but lately she was feeling down about not having a meaningful ring on her finger. She found her emotion strange since she wasn't big on jewellery and had never fantasized about committing to anyone before. She had always been faithful to her boyfriends in the past, but never saw herself as a possible future wife. In fact, she didn't really believe in marriage before. Samantha was always happy for her friends or relatives who got married, but she didn't see it for herself; until she met Jerome that is.

Sam and Jerome had talked about marriage together and they both thought it was very expensive, yet Samantha still wanted her boyfriend to take their relationship to the next level. She didn't care how much money Jerome spent on a ring or how fancy it was. She didn't even care about it having a diamond on it. Samantha just wanted something to represent their love and commitment to each other. She did not want to put any pressure on Jerome

Sam knew Jerome wanted to get married one day and have kids. Not necessarily with her, just in general. He had told her when they first met. At the time, the idea of starting a family together kind of scared Samantha and she was afraid that she might end up breaking Jerome's heart. But she soon felt that Jerome was the - 15 -


one for her and could see herself happily being his wife as well as the mother of his children.

had a balanced relationship. Sam felt very lucky to have found Jerome.

In the past, Samantha never quite understood what love was. She never connected with anyone and didn't want to settle simply to avoid being alone. She turned down two proposals because it did not feel right and now, she often had dreams of herself in a white dress. Her mind created different scenarios of her and Jerome getting married; off to Vegas, a small ceremony and reception on a cruise ship, a big wedding with every living relative and acquaintances in attendance, exchanging vows in front of the justice of the peace at City Hall and then going off to a fancy restaurant in the old port of Montreal in a horse drawn carriage, an outdoor wedding on a sandy beach or in somebody's backyard‌

Jerome made Sam smile and laugh every single day. He treated her well, took care of her when she was sick, helped her with meals, errands, housework. They had a lot of fun together, no matter what they were doing. Everyone thought they looked so cute together. So, why could that not be enough? Sam thought about it on a daily basis, and pondered on this as she got off the hot bus and walked into the crowded metro station. Sam became so distracted by her own thoughts that she ran into the metal turnstiles without making use of her magnetic monthly bus and metro pass. That brought Sam to a painful little halt. Once Sam realized her stupid mistake, she did what was needed to prove she had paid for the public transportation service to make the turnstiles move and headed down a slowmoving escalator.

Sam knew she would be happy even if she and Jerome never got married. She was already happy. Her and Jerome were planning to move in together at the end of the summer once Jerome's apartment lease was up.

As Sam walked by a big advertisement poster for an upcoming bridal show, she recalled dreaming about her wedding day as well as planning it growing up. What little girl didn't think about finding their prince charming and looking like a beautiful princess? Sam had definitely found her prince and felt like a princess with him every day because he spoiled her on a daily basis; not with meaningless gifts, but with thoughtful gestures and words plus unexpected surprises here and there that showed her how much she meant to him. Jerome understood that it was the little things that mattered to her and Sam appreciated everything he did for her.

A lot of couples moved in together as a test to see if they could share their living space before getting married now a days, but Sam already knew her and Jerome could live harmoniously together. Jerome was practically already residing in her apartment since he was always over and had already brought a lot of his belongings over. Sam had made room for it all and continued to go through everything she had accumulated over the years. She donated what she no longer needed or used to various charities in order to make more room for Jerome's stuff.

Sam really didn't understand her sudden need to go wedding dress shopping and walk down the aisle. Why all the fuss for a single day? She didn't need to marry Jerome to be happy. So, why could her and Jerome's plan to simply live together be enough? The answer came to her while she was inside the airconditioned museum.

It was true that Jerome and Sam spent time alone in their own apartments, but they didn't need to be in each other's company every second once they lived together. They were both aware that they would each need what they both called "me time" and knew they could make it work because they communicated well and wanted what was best for the other... They - 16 -


She was learning many new things.

After paying the entrance fee with her Visa, Sam took one of the elevators up to the second floor and made her way to the exhibit she was interested in seeing. She was offered a headset to be able to listen to various bits of information at each station and took one, thanking the teenaged girl who gave it to her.

During her visit, Sam had noticed that not all the wedding dresses on display were white. Some of them had been light yellow, pink, or maroon. She discovered that women usually just wore the prettiest dress they owned on their wedding day and that the tradition for a bride to wear white started during the Victorian era.

Sam began exploring on her own, starting with the first display which was a long checkered dress from the early 1800's.

Queen Victoria had worn a white dress to marry her Albert in 1840 because she liked the colour, and it became a trend. White material was actually hard to come by and expensive in the past. Only wealthy people could afford it. Soon, it became the symbol of purity. Before then, purity was symbolized by the colour blue because of the Virgin Mary. Part of that tradition remains today since women are supposed to wear something blue on their wedding day.

Behind each large glass box stood unique wedding dresses from different time periods, between the 1600's all the way up to the year 2010, as well as information on the materials used and hours it took to make it. Most of them had been hand sewn. The names of the brides were also mentioned, and often a black and white portrait of a woman wearing the dress on display was hung on the wall beside the glass box. Samantha thought a lot of the women looked much older than they were in their portraits. Some of the women reminded Sam of her grandmother even thought they were only in their early twenties. Sometimes, a short biography accompanied the images and Sam read that several of the women died young from sickness or while giving birth.

The tradition for brides to have a train on their dress and wear a veil over their face came from the days of the Roman empire. It was meant to scare away evil spirits and also make it harder for a bride to run away if she felt the need to do so. Sam giggled at that. Sam found the history of bouquets funny as well. Garlic was originally used to make evil spirits stay away but also to mask body odour before deodorant and perfume was invented. So, brides carried garlic with them. That eventually changed to flowers which obviously smell a lot better.

As though that wasn't sad enough, Sam read about some marriages going wrong; husbands being abusive, gambling away money, or developing drinking problems and their wives staying because they felt they had nowhere else to go. So much for a happy ending, she thought.

Sam learned that in the middle ages woman liked to pick wheat and sew it on their wedding dresses, and during the Victorian era woman mainly chose to include ivy as part of their outfit by making a wreath with them. They wore the fresh flowers on their heads and then planted them after the wedding so that more flowers may bloom. Later, they picked part of what grew and gave it to their daughters for their weddings.

Happy stories were exposed as well and Sam enjoyed reading them. Additional information such as the history of each dress style plus some traditions of marriage could be heard on the headset by pressing a button at each station. Sam listened to everything the recorded male voice from the headset said with deep interest.

As for the garter brides wear on their left leg, it replaced people trying to tear a piece of the - 17 -


bride's wedding gown after the ceremony for good luck. Sam could not believe that people used to chase brides and ripped their dresses to get a part of it simply because it was considered as lucky. Brides were often seriously harmed and left half naked. How horrible! It always amazed Sam to find out the odd things people did in the past and their reasoning behind it. She wondered what historians would think of her generation down the road. During her fun tour, Sam saw something that closely resembled a cage which had been worn under a dress. It was called a crinoline and was meant to shape the bottom of the dress. Sam tried to imagine herself, or anyone really, wearing such an uncomfortable looking thing and wondered how one might move around in it. She wondered if they were able to sit. This was definitely not one of her favourite outfits. “How do you put that on?� she asked herself and soon found out by noticing a series of five black and white explanatory pictures. Sam fell in love with a few of the other old dresses and imagined herself dancing in

- 18 -

them. She wondered what Jerome would think of the ones she adored, and which dresses he might like to see her in. Samantha figured he would most likely prefer the more modern wedding dresses, although she had no doubt he would find her beautiful in just about anything. He always found her attractive, even in cozy pyjamas and slippers. At least, that's what he told her. The question of why Sam felt the need to be a bride resurfaced in her head. She then realized that people usually expected a happy couple to eventually get married. Society expected it. In consequence, she wanted to feel like Jerome would have wanted her to be his wife and perhaps the mother of his children just like she would want him for a husband and father her kids if it wasn't so costly to get married and raise children. Sam didn't want to start a marriage in debt. That had always been a major concern of hers. So many couples spent years paying off their wedding expenses and later stressing over the costs of kids.


written on it. Inside the thin ring, the names Samantha and Jerome were engraved in small cursive letters. Rather than ask Sam to marry him, Jerome asked her to spend the rest of her life with him. Sam answered yes of course, and excitedly extended her left hand so that Jerome could put the ring on her delicate finger.

Perhaps Jerome is simply waiting for the perfect time to officially ask me to spend the rest of my life with him, Sam thought to herself as she was looking at the last items on display; old shoes, corsets, long veils, plastic flower wreaths, lacy garters, and fancy jewelry worn by brides of the past. There was no rush to get engaged. Sam was with the person she loved and that's what mattered. She had read enough stories of forced wedding and unhappy unions of the past to appreciate what she currently had; true love. A piece of paper would not change anything. She realized that she would rather always be a bridesmaid, never a bride, yet continue being with somebody who loved her for who she was, than to be an unhappy bride and wish for a divorce later.

Jerome had taken the liberty to purchase a thicker ring identical to the one he bought Sam so that he could wear a token of their love too and proudly show that his heart belonged to somebody. That made Samantha very happy since she wanted them both to have something special and she absolutely loved the idea of matching promise rings. In addition to this special evening, Jerome showed Sam a picture of the rings he would have liked to get. He suggested they purchase them if they ever decided to have a simple wedding. Sam thought the rings were quite original. They had to be custom made because it involved engraving fingerprints. Sam would wear a ring with part of Jerome's fingerprint and vice versa, so that they always had a piece of each other with them. They were a bit costly, but Sam thought they would be worth every penny. In the meantime, she fully appreciated her promise ring and kept looking at it with a smile.

Sam went home feeling less depressed about her situation. When Jerome came back from his camping trip and came over to his girlfriend's apartment, Sam welcomed him with open arms and showered him with kisses as usual which eventually led to them making love in the bedroom. Two weeks later, on their two-year anniversary, Jerome took Sam out to dinner at the restaurant they had their first date on and presented her with a lovely ring Sam had hinted liking. It was a simple silver loop which had the word forever

Chantal Bellehumeur is a Canadian author born in 1981. She has several published novels of various genres as well as numerous short stories, poems, and articles featured in compilation books, magazines, plus a local newspaper. She loves using her imagination and creativity. Chantal used to act both on stage and for the camera. She met her husband while working as an extra in a movie. She has a son from a previous relationship who has inherited her artistic abilities and interest. Along with writing, Chantal loves doing arts and crafts. She’s developed a passion for painting which she finds therapeutic. As a volunteer for Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, she also enjoys impersonating different super-

heroes for their yearly charity event. She suffers from Ulcerative Colitis, and has been using writing as well as other forms of art to help her relax. She also loves to travel. - 19 -


Yellowstone in February by Melanie P. Smith

https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/melanie-p-smith/

- 20 -


© MPSmith Publishing - 21 -


Europe by Book by Hannah Howe

Rose of Sarajevo by Ayse Kulin Ever since Nimeta was a child, she’d done exactly what was expected of her. She married a responsible man she met in college, had two children, and established a busy journalism career—and there was no reason to think anything would ever change. Then one day, while reporting on a protest in Zagreb, Nimeta’s life takes a dramatic turn. Not only does she lay eyes on a handsome reporter who captures her heart, but a little-known politician by the name of Slobodan Milosevic delivers a speech fanning the flames of long-dormant Serbian nationalism. As her love affair intensifies and political tensions build, Nimeta is forced to reconsider everything she thought she knew about family, love, loyalty, and humanity itself. Navigating both the new landscape of her heart and that of her beloved wartorn city, Nimeta must draw upon her deepest reserves of inner strength to keep her family safe. A moving drama set against the backdrop of the crisis that rocked the Balkans in the 1990s, Rose of Sarajevo reveals the tremendous lengths people will go to in the name of love. https://books2read.com/u/bwvrpP

- 22 -


Merde, It’s Not Easy to Learn French: A Story In Easy French with Translation Volume 1 by France Dubin Reading a book in French can be difficult, even for advanced students. French novels are usually full of idiomatic expressions. They use complicated tenses, complex sentence structures, and often slang. This book is in simple French. It’s about the joys and the frustrations of an adult learning French. It includes a good dose of humor, a few exercises, and illustrations. The book has two sections, allowing more levels of French students to enjoy it. Section 1 has the story written completely in French, and includes grammar exercises. Section 2 contains a list of the more difficult vocabulary translated into English and the complete text in English so students can check their comprehension. https://books2read.com/u/4DyPd7

Hannah Howe is the author of the Sam Smith Mystery Series, the Ann's War Mystery Series and the #1 international bestseller Saving Grace. Hannah's books are published by Goylake Publishing and distributed through Gardners Books to over 300 outlets worldwide. Her books are available in print, as eBooks and audiobooks, and are being translated into ten languages. Discover more on Mom's Favorite Reads website: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/hannah-howe

- 23 -


Contributions by Hannah Howe

What did the calculator say to the pencil on Valentine’s Day? “You can always count on me.”

What's the difference between a $20 steak and a $55 steak? February 14th

“I love you,” I said. My partner smiled and replied, “Is that you or the wine talking?" “It's me talking,” I said, “to the wine." What did the paper clip say to the magnet? “I find you very attractive.” What did the light bulb say to the switch? “You turn me on.”

A husband and wife visited a marriage guidance counsellor. The wife complained that the husband did not offer her enough attention, so the counsellor decided on some shock treatment. He leaned over his desk and gave the woman a long passionate kiss. Then he turned to the husband and said, “Your wife needs that kind of attention at least twice a week.” “Okay,” said the husband, “but I can only get here on Wednesdays and Fridays.”

What Beatles song did the boy octopus sing to the girl octopus? “I wanna hold your hand, hand, hand, hand, hand, hand, hand, hand...”

For sale: twenty-volume encyclopaedia. Good condition. No longer needed. Wife knows everything. - 24 -


Word Search By Mom’s Favorite Reads

You can find the answers for this activity on the Mom’s Favorite Reads website here: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/magazines/activities/ - 25 -


Things to Celebrate in February by Poppy Flynn Every day of the month has some kind of official celebration and usually more than one! It might be big; it might be small…it might be wacky or downright bizarre! There are over 1500 National Days throughout the year, here’s just one observance of the many for each day in February 2021. loaves with a sweet paste he called Giandujot. But it wasn’t until 1951 that Ferrero made the paste into a spreadable form and later still, 1964, when Ferrero’s son Michele gave the creamy hazelnut and cocoa paste the name Nutella. February 6th - Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast Day Celebrated on the first Saturday in February. Enough said!

February 1st - Dark Chocolate Day Start the month off with a treat.

February 7th - Send a Card to a Friend Day Obviously created by a card company, but with so many of us in some kind of lockdown, perhaps it’s not such a bad idea.

February 2nd - World Play your Ukulele Day Ukulele is the Hawaiian word meaning ‘jumping flea,’ supposedly because when played well, it looks like the fingers are jumping around on the strings like a flea.

February 8th - National Kite Flying Day You need: A light breeze of 5-20 mph is optimal. Wide-open spaces. Don’t fly near power lines or trees. Don’t fly your kite in the rain. Have your back to the wind when you launch. Don’t let your line out too quickly.

February 3rd - The Day the Music Died Commemorating the deaths of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper in a plane crash in 1959. February 4th - Stuffed Mushroom Day Mushroom caps make the perfect little container for your favourite filling. February 5th - World Nutella Day In northern Italy, during the 1800s, they came up with the idea of adding hazelnuts to cocoa when the later was in short supply. After World War II, cocoa was once again difficult to come by so pastry maker, Pietro Ferrero, used the same trick to make - 26 -


quite ferocious, hippos are herbivores and live as long as 50 years in the wild. There are only two species of hippos, the common hippo and the pygmy. February 16th - Do a Grouch a Favour Day Cheer up the grump in your life with kindness.

February 9th - National Pizza Day Thin crust, deep dish, stuffed crust. Guess what’s for dinner tonight.

February 17th - Random Acts of Kindness Day And you can take that one step further by doing something nice for anyone and everyone.

February 10th - Umbrella Day Well, it is February, but somehow, I get a feeling that you’ll need it for more than just today.

February 18th - National Drink Wine Day Does what it says on the bottle. Cheers!

February 11th - Don't Cry over Spilled Milk Day This day is all about promoting a positive attitude and looking on the bright side with a view to carrying that feeling with you every day. After the past twelve months, I think we all need a bit of that. February 12th - National Lost Penny Day They always seem to get lost down the cracks in the sofa, in forgotten pockets & various nooks and crannies. It might not be worth much, but finding a penny is good luck, so go on a penny hunt today.

February 19th - National Chocolate Mint Day Today is the day to dig out the After Eight’s

February 13th - Galantine’s Day On the day before Valentine’s Day, this is a day for the girls. It’s all about women celebrating women. So, ladies, celebrate your best gal pal today.

February 20th - Love Your Pet Day Of course, you should love your pet every day of the year but give them a little extra pampering today.

February 14th - Ferris Wheel Day Celebrating the birthday of George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr. the inventor of the Ferris Wheel.

February 21st - Sticky Bun Day Go on, be a devil and treat yourself to your favourite

February 15th - World Hippo Day Hippopotamus facts: The hippo is the third largest mammal. They weigh in at about 8,000 pounds. The word hippo translates to river horse in Greek. Africa is only continent in the world where you can find a hippo, but they are native to over 30 African countries. Despite being - 27 -


February 22nd - National Margarita Day Tequila, citrus or other fruits, and sugar, poured over ice or put through a blender to make frozen margaritas. This is the most popular drink using tequila. February 23rd - International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day It’s difficult to know what to say about this one…but I’m sure your dog will appreciate a decent biscuit.

February 26th - National Pistachio Day Nuts are clearly a bit of a theme this month. Pistachios have incredible health benefits, so enjoy them without guilt. February 27th - Polar Bear Day Climate change is a huge threat to polar bears and International Polar Bear Day is designed to raise awareness on the issues facing polar bears and protect their future. February 24th - World Bartender Day Bar tending is one of the world’s oldest professions. This year, they probably need a bit of extra love. Let’s hope the pubs are open so that we can show our appreciation.

February 28th - Public Sleeping Day On the train or the bus, a park bench or a movie theatre. Today is the day to take a nap in public. Why? Who knows.

February 25th - Chocolate Covered Nut Day If you love nuts, what could be better than smothering them with chocolate?

Monthly observances include Black History Month, Creative Romance Month, National Bird Feeding Month and Spunky Old Broads Month.

Poppy Flynn was born in Buckinghamshire, UK and moved to Wales at eight years old with parents who wanted to live the 'self-sufficiency' lifestyle. Today she still lives in rural Wales and is married with six children. Poppy's love of reading and writing stemmed from her parents' encouragement and the fact that they didn't have a television in the house. "When you're surrounded by fields, cows and sheep, no neighbors, no TV and the closest tiny village is four miles away, there's a certain limit to your options, but with books your adventures and your horizons are endless ." Discover more about Poppy on Mom's Favorite Reads website: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/poppy-flynn - 28 -


Chess Supplied by Chess.Com White to move. Can you see how he can win material?

Supplied by https://chess.com the #1 chess website. Used with permission. For more chess puzzles please visit https://chess.com You can find answers for this activity on the Mom’s Favorite Reads website here: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/magazines/activities/ - 29 -


Snow Day by Chantal Bellehumeur Snow days are not just for children, thought Olivia as she walked back home from her little winter adventure. Like most mornings recently, the thirty eight year old woman had struggled to get out of bed that day. It had taken her a lot of effort to lift her head from her down pillow and leave the comfort of her warm queen sized bed to start her latest daily routine; force herself to do some basic stretches, water all the plants in her apartment while talking to them, have a short one way conversation with her two pet goldfish as she feeds them, eat a light healthy breakfast, brush and floss her perfect teeth, take a shower, braid her shoulder length brown hair rather than taking the time to dry it, and get dressed.

Olivia lacked the energy to go out, feeling fatigued despite having gone to bed early and sleeping in. However, her family doctor had ordered her to take a walk every day to get some fresh air and exercise so she'd been pushing herself to do so for the past week; since being on medical leave from the office due to stress. It had done her a lot of good so far. She always felt refreshed and slightly more awake afterwards. It also helped her get her mind off things which put her in a better mood. Normally, Olivia didn't care much for the winter season. However, there was something about this morning's heavy snowfall that made her smile when she looked out of the large horizontal window in the kitchen of her second-floor corner unit apartment. The rooftops and ground were already completely covered in white fluff, and she wondered if it was the kind of snow that instantly fell apart when picked up or stuck together easily. Olivia also wondered if some of the schools would be closed even though it would not affect her.

She watched as a few of her neighbours laboriously dug out their parked cars from the street below with heavy duty shovels and removed the accumulated snow from their vehicle windows with their long snow brushes. She heard a few faint French curses and it made her laugh. Olivia was glad not to have to deal with that kind of mess. As Olivia continued curiously spying, two young children in snowsuits ran by screaming and laughing. They were playfully throwing snowballs at each other. The amusing sight made Olivia feel nostalgic, remembering the good times she had playing in the snow with her younger sister and many friends as a child. It made her want to go back to those carefree days. Olivia decided to make herself a hot chocolate for her morning walk, with a special destination in mind, and poured the liquid as well as several mini marshmallows in her metallic travel mug. She then took out her sporty winter gear from the front hall closet and bundled up. - 30 -


"I can do this," she encouraged herself right before opening the front door of her apartment. Some days were harder than others to actually leave so she had to push herself harder. Little pep talks helped. Today, she realised that she was just doing it out of habit rather than necessity.

At the end of each sidewalk Olivia came to, she had to use more physical effort to walk over the short banks of thick snow the plows had created during their street clearing. She was getting a good workout. Starting to feel too warm, Olivia flipped off the thick hood of her short black cotton jacket plus removed her black knitted woolen scarf from around her neck and continued on her way.

As Olivia reached the small lobby of her four-story apartment building, she could see her friendly superintendent shoveling the wide walkway for what she guessed might be the second or third time that morning. She gently pushed the glass door open to go outside, and as she passed her superintendent she gave him a polite wave to say hi. He waved back and wished her a good day.

It took Olivia over fifteen minutes rather than the usual ten to get to the five acre park which appeared deserted. She trudged her way deeper inside, making a big effort to create a decent path through the accumulated snow for anyone else that might want to venture in the park and also to facilitate her way back. She noticed a few rabbit and squirrel footprints on the surface of the snow along the way.

Olivia already felt like it would be a good day; an excellent one in fact. The weather was really nice and not too cold; only -1 degrees Celsius according to the Montreal weather report, with no chilly winds blowing.

Olivia eventually plopped herself down on a wooden bench under some tall pine trees. The bench itself barely had any snow on it because of the semi shelter the abundant and full pine branches provided, but shortly after sitting down Olivia felt a heavy layer of snow fall onto her head. It appeared that a squirrel which had jumped on one of the snowcovered pine branches had been the cause, and it made Olivia laugh.

The sidewalk plow had not passed yet, so Olivia had to walk in approximately two feet of accumulated snow. Luckily, a few other people had already ventured on the hidden sidewalk so she was able to step into their deep footprints which made things slightly easier. She still broke a sweat as she struggled to make her way to the nearby municipal park, only being able to walk normally during the three times she had streets to cross. They had each been fully plowed, although the snow had already started accumulating again.

"Thanks buddy!" she told the fluffy little brown animal with a bushy tail. It stared back at her with its black beady eyes and made a strange noise with its mouth as though in response to her sarcastic comment. "No, I don't have any nuts for you," Olivia added. The squirrel jumped onto another branch, making more snow fall on Olivia, and innocently made its way further up the pine tree. That gave Olivia an idea. After wiping all the snow from her black knitted woolen tuque and putting it back on her head, Olivia got up from the bench and started searching for - 31 -


the perfect climbing tree. She soon spotted a large pine with thick branches going all around its fat brown trunk. She grabbed hold of one of the uneven branches with both hands, and set her right foot on another. Olivia carefully made her way up to the middle of the conifer then had to stop because she could no longer fit into the crowded space. She would have liked to get a good view of the park grounds, but there were too many branches and prickly pine needles in her way. When Olivia was ready to go back down, she carefully began her slow descent. She felt a temporary moment of panic since maneuvering her way to the bottom of the pine tree proved to be harder than her climb and she almost lost her grip. Closer to the ground, she simply jumped right into the snow. She felt too lazy to get up just yet, so she stayed put even though she wanted a sip of the hot chocolate she had abandoned on the bench.

Remembering that she had brought a small bag of unshelled sunflower seeds with her as a snack, Olivia took them out of her coat pocket and removed her thick black gloves. As she sat cross legged in the snow eating the unsalted seeds, she noticed a few black-capped chickadees gathering near her on the pine tree branches and snowy ground. Olivia put some of the seeds in her bare right hand and extended her arm to see if the birds would come eat them. To her contentment, one of the chickadees flew up to her and lightly landed on the side of her hand. It moved its tiny head a few times, then picked up one of the seeds with its pointy black beak and quickly flew away. Then came another black and white bird, and then another... The feathered beings took turns picking seeds from Olivia's hand. When all the exposed sunflower seeds had been taken, Olivia grabbed another handful from her bag and the birds continued coming to her in turns. Some of them temporarily landed on her arms, legs, or head. A few squirrels with brown or gray coloured fur had started gathering around her now too. They stood on their hind legs with their tiny arms in front of their white furry chest, cutely looking at her. Olivia kind of felt like a modern princess in a fairy tale and fought her sudden urge to start singing. "Oh! What the heck!" she finally exclaimed to herself. With nobody around to hear her, Olivia confidently let out a few random musical notes with her voice. It sounded terrible, but made her feel surprisingly liberated and more alive. Her bad vocalisation had temporarily scared off some of the birds, but it didn't take long for them to start flying back to her.

Olivia continued sharing her snack with the chickadees and even threw some of the seeds towards the onlooking squirrels. One of them bravely came closer to her and touched her leg. When Olivia lowered her hand towards it, the squirrel gently took a - 32 -


Olivia allowed her mind to continue wandering. Perhaps she and her husband could make it a date night by extending their walk to one of the nearby cafes for a special dessert coffee; one with whipped cream, caramel syrup, and chocolate sprinkles.

seed and started eating it, completely unafraid. It signaled for more by lightly touching Olivia’s leg again every time it was done eating. When her bag was empty, Olivia returned to the bench and finally took a sip of her hot chocolate. Her animal friends gradually left her company. Olivia sat in silence for a moment. She held onto her mug of hot chocolate with her gloved hands and observed the beautiful winter scenery in front of her. There were several types of trees and shrubs on the short hills of the heavenly park, with their branches all covered with sparkling snow. The narrow foot trail plus double bicycle path circling the large semi frozen duck pond in the centre of the park could not be seen, but Olivia knew where they were because of all the black Victorian style light posts that lined the sides. The electric lights were never lit during the day, but gave off a nice romantic shimmer at night. It provided good ambiance when the pond was frozen enough to skate on. Since it wasn't safe to go skating yet, Olivia considered suggesting to her husband that they go for an evening stroll in the park later on if the weather was just as nice. They were due for some quality time together outside their home. Hopefully, the foot trail would be cleared by then since they did not own any snowshoes.

Olivia thought they could treat themselves to some baked goods too, such as a red velvet cupcake, a piece of cheery cheese cake, crème brûlé, a millefeuille pastry, or even a giant oatmeal chocolate chip cookie. She always had trouble deciding what to order at cafes or bakeries because everything in the display cases always looked so delicious. All that sudden daydreaming about food was making Olivia hungry, and she somewhat regretted giving away so many of her sunflower seeds. She had to admit though, her experience feeding the birds and squirrels had been quite special. Even though she was already feeling completely Zen thanks to the tranquility of her surroundings as well as the positive thoughts running through her mind, Olivia closed her eyes and began doing some breathing exercises. She slowly breathed in through her nose, held it for two seconds, then exhaled just as slowly through her mouth the way her new psychologist had taught her to do during her first therapy session. The sweet smell of the pine needles along with the refreshing scent of the cold winter air filled her nostrils. It was nice to fully relax without having to worry about anything. Olivia had been strictly instructed by both her doctor and psychologist to use her given time off to do things for herself. Normally, she would feel slightly guilty for not being productive, but she realised that she needed to take care of her mental health in order to be functional. Before going on medical leave, she was having trouble sleeping at night and always felt tired in the morning. At her place of work, she often experienced massive headaches, stomach pain, rapid - 33 -


her despite her soft voice and good intentions made her more nauseous. Olivia naturally wanted to feel better again but didn't know how to make that happen. She felt completely helpless and slightly embarrassed about her predicament. Melissa eventually suggested Olivia drink some water and left the bathroom to go get some for her. Olivia could not bring herself to move, let alone stand up in order to open up the locked stall door, so Melissa cleverly used her plastic access card to pick the metal lock from the outside and squeezed her way in. Olivia managed to drink some of the cold water given to her in a recyclable paper cup, realising she was very dehydrated.

heart palpitations, difficulty breathing, nausea, and dizzy spells. One afternoon, the small stuffy windowless office Olivia shared with two other female colleagues was spinning so much she felt the need to go hide in the women's bathroom. She thought she might throw up, so she crouched on the hard tile floor in one of the metal stalls with her head close to the porcelain toilet bowl but nothing came out. She eventually rested her head against the flat smudgy wall, to avoid having her face come into contact with the unsanitized seat, and closed her eyes.

Although she did not have a fever, Olivia's forehead felt a bit warm so she splashed a bit of the leftover water on it with her fingers which felt nice. Melissa considerately offered to drive Olivia home even though the workday was nowhere near finished. It was a big challenge for Olivia to get up and start walking, especially in her uncomfortable high heel shoes. But, with Melissa's help and patience she slowly managed to get back to her desk to collect her personal belongings and make her way to the outdoor parking lot. She got a few questioning looks along the way, but unfortunately she could not make herself invisible like she wished so simply had to do her best to ignore the prying eyes.

Olivia didn't realise how long she had been in the bathroom until one of her colleagues came to check up on her. "Are you okay?" Olivia heard Mellissa calling to her not make herself invisible like she wished so simply had to do her best to ignore the prying eyes.at the time. "You're been in here for over an hour." Unfortunately, Olivia still felt really nauseous and dizzy. She faintly told Melissa as much as she slowly opened up her tired eyes. The fluorescent lights from the high ceiling were too bright and made her feel worse, so she closed them again. Her body felt hot one second so she took off her black cashmere blazer, and frozen the next so she put it right back on over her fancy white blouse. Olivia realised she was trembling and once more thought she might throw up but nothing came out.

Once inside her car, Melissa punched Olivia's home address into her GPS. They arrived at their destination in roughly twenty minutes. It would have taken Olivia almost an hour to get home had she taken public transport as usual, although she wasn't sure how she possibly would have managed in her debilitating condition. She was extremely grateful for the lift and also appreciated Melissa making sure she got inside her apartment alright.

Thinking made her head throb, she could barely find the energy to speak, and hearing Melissa talking to

Although Melissa didn't really want to leave Olivia by herself, Olivia convinced her worried colleague - 34 -


that she would be okay after lying down in her bed for some proper rest. Her teenaged son would be back from school soon and her husband would be home from work by dinnertime, so she would not be alone for long.

go see the psychologist at his home office twice a week for discussions and learn how to manage her anxiety. Although she was open to taking anxiety medication if her doctor deemed it necessary, she wanted to try getting better naturally first.

Olivia took the following day off to get additional rest and made an emergency appointment with her doctor. He was able to see her the day after, and that's when he assessed that all her physical symptoms were due to stress and anxiety. Olivia could not believe that her body would react that way because of work, yet it made perfect sense. There had been so many changes at the office lately as well as tighter deadlines. Her workload as an administrative assistant kept increasing which made her feel overwhelmed all the time. She rarely took her entitled breaks any more, not even for lunch which she mostly just ate at her desk while working. She barely even sipped the coffee or tea she made herself in the office kitchen each morning because she got so busy and ended up forgetting about her beverage. Some evenings, she worked overtime to make up for the valuable time she lost having to attend what she considered to be pointless meetings. Some of that overtime was often done at home since she had access to her work emails on the company cell phone she was given, and could not help herself from checking them regularly. It was like an addiction. Even when she had gone on vacation down South with her family a few months back she had taken some of her work with her because she was still expected to take care of urgent matters.

As she sat on the park bench, now taking another sip of her hot chocolate, Olivia thought about some of the many important things her psychologist had already told her. His soothing voice echoed in her head. "Remember to take deep breaths, go for walks, enjoy yourself. Do things that make you happy."

Olivia was put on medical leave for two weeks, and had a follow up appointment with her doctor to be re-evaluated. She was also recommended a psychologist whom she made an appointment with as soon as she got home that day. The therapy sessions were not cheap, but at least the high fees would be partially covered by her group insurance. Regardless, Olivia understood that they were necessary for her healing process. He plan was for her to

Olivia had started writing in a journal, as recommended by her psychologist. Inside, she listed all the things that made her happy. She mentally looked back on her childhood memories, a time in her life when it didn't take much to keep her content, and started there; playing, building a fort, ice skating, tobogganing, tubing down ski hills, building a snowman, and making snow angels was part of her happiness list. She decided to relive part of her childhood right then and there. After taking a few more sips of her hot chocolate, Olivia placed her mug on the bench and got up. She then took a few steps forward, turned around, and allowed herself to fall backwards onto the thick pile of snow. Staring up at the blue snowy sky, she moved her arms up and down the side of

- 35 -


her head plus her legs out and in from her body as though she were doing jumping jacks to form a snow angel. She took a few deep breaths through her nose while thick snowflakes fell on her cold face before clumsily getting up to observe her masterpiece. "Beautiful," she said out loud even though it looked exactly the same as all the other snow angels she had ever made; except for the size of course. This one was obviously bigger than any of the ones she had made as a child, but it was nothing to brag about. She got over it fast and moved on. Next, Olivia gathered some sticky snow together to form a ball and started rolling it until she was satisfied with the size. She then rolled a slightly smaller snowball and placed it on top of her first, and an even smaller one on top of that. The snowman she built was about half her height; around two feet and six inches tall. Olivia looked around for items that could compliment her new creation. Under a tall naked tree, she found a couple of thin broken branches which she used as arms. She took a long green pine needle from another fallen branch to form a smiling mouth, two acorns to make eyes, and pushed in three small

pinecones about two inches from each other in a vertical line on the top part of the body to look like buttons. The final touch was temporarily adding her black woolen scarf around the snowman's thin neck. "Hello Bob," Olivia said out loud to the happy looking snowman. It was the name she and her sister always used when they didn't feel like putting in too much effort into naming something. "No. I can do better," thought Olivia. "You look like a...Peter. No. Jackson." She struggled with a few other male names, remembering why Bob usually became the default choice, then finally settled for Frank. Deciding that Frank needed a companion, Olivia made another snowman around the same size and named it Joanna. It was the first female name that popped into her head and she just stuck with it. She then made two smaller snowmen to make it look like Frank and Joanna had children. "They are twins called Collette and Michael," she said to herself matter-of-factly; two more names her mind came up with at random. Olivia took out her personal cell phone from her coat pocket to take a picture of Frank and his happy looking snow family, realising how nice it was not to be - 36 -


carrying her work phone with her to check numerous emails or voice messages. She had managed to truly disconnect from the office and was very proud of herself.

something wet on her right cheek. Startled, her eyes quickly opened and she saw her friend Samantha's black Labrador-Retriever named Biscuit practically on top of her. He was happily wagging his cute little tail and licking her face as a form of greeting and show of affection. Samantha was holding the end of the seven month old puppy's leather leash a few feet away, laughing.

After taking a funny selfie with the four smiling snowmen and posting it on her Facebook page even though it would probably end up embarrassing her son, Olivia put her cell phone away and went back to her hot chocolate.

"I'm glad it's actually you," Samantha confessed. "It would have been pretty embarrassing if I had just let Biscuit lick a complete stranger's face." Both women laughed at the thought.

When she was done with her drink, Olivia decided to walk up one of the small snowy hills and roll down like a log. It wasn't as fun as she remembered it to be and definitely not as exciting as sledding or tubing. In fact, she almost broke her fragile fogged up eyeglasses in the process and the fast descent made her a bit dizzy so she didn't do it again. She simply got up to brush off all the snow from her jacket and matching snow pants which proved to be pointless in the end.

Before Samantha had the chance to question Olivia about the fort she was just found in or the snowmen, she quickly sat up to make a snowball and threw it at her forty three year old friend. It hit her right in the chest but didn't seem to bother Samantha in the least. Samantha tried to hit Olivia back with a fresh snowball of her own, but somehow missed despite the close proximity.

After a moment of rest, Olivia chose to build a small snow fort close to her snowmen. Moving around on her hands and knees like a baby, she rolled up several large boulders to form the roundish base, then started stacking some more on top and smoothing the walls together. Using her gloved hands, she dug out the majority of the snow from the middle of the three foot tall fort then laid down comfortably inside on her aching back. She was now exhausted and warm from all that hard work, and ready for a nap.

Olivia stood up and managed to hit her friend one more time with a new snowball before running out of the fort laughing. She didn't get far before feeling a snowball hit her hard in the middle of her back. "Ow!" she dramatically yelled out even though she could bear the minor pain that only lasted half a second. Samantha told her to stop acting like a baby. The two grown women continued playfully throwing snowballs at each other in rapid succession for a good five minutes, with Biscuit excitedly prancing back and forth in the snow from Olivia to Samantha. They stopped the snowball fight when they both became out of breath. At this point, the hyper puppy still wanted to play but seemed content with trying to get Frank's attention.

As she remained lying on her back in the snow with her eyes closed, allowing thick snowflakes to fall on her face again, Olivia listened to the peaceful sound of the chirping birds. She could also hear vehicles rolling by on the nearby street and the occasional sirens, but did her best to tune them out. Her short spontaneous meditation session was suddenly interrupted by the loud sound of a barking dog instantly followed by the feeling of - 37 -


Biscuit stole one of the branch arms with his jaw, and brought it over to Samantha. She threw it as far away as she could for Biscuit to go fetch. Olivia found it amusing to see the puppy partially vanish into the untouched snow and move forward with agitated determination to collect the sunken branch. All she could see was the top of his fluffy little black head as well as his thin wagging tail. "I haven't had this much fun in ages!" Olivia announced when she and her friend sat down on the bench to rest. Samantha confessed that she could not remember the last time she had thrown a snowball at somebody, and that their little war had been a blast. "Much more entertaining than my usual walk around the park that's for sure," she joyfully added. "And to think I almost avoided the park today." Samantha explained that she had chosen to walk in the park despite the heavy snow because of the cleared passage she had seen which looked slightly easier to walk in than the unplowed sidewalk. Biscuit came back with the branch and gave it to Olivia to throw this time. She was more than happy to do so. When the puppy came back with it, Olivia gave him one of the chewy bones shaped dog treats she had taken the habit of carrying with her because of her occasional run-ins with Samantha and Biscuit. Of course, the puppy had to earn his treat first, so she made him give her his right paw. Samantha could not keep Olivia company for much longer because she had to get back to her full house to remotely log into her office computer; she was working from home today, and her three kids were off from school. Samantha presumed they were probably fighting with each other by now.

As Samantha got up from the bench, she promised Olivia to get in touch soon for a leisure walk with her and Biscuit or some tea and cookies at home. Olivia took her scarf back from Frank and walked with Samantha part of the way home, on a newly

plowed sidewalk, during which she briefed her friend on her current situation. They had not talked in a while because of their busy lives.

"I wish I had time to play around," Samantha said as the two women were about to part ways at the streetlights. "I feel like all I do is work, make dinner, help the kids with their homework, do housework, and run errands. I barely ever have time to myself anymore unless you count walking the dog." Olivia sympathised with her friend and reminded her to make time for herself. "It's important," she emphasised. "Don't be like me and wait until you burn out." Samantha thanked Olivia for her good advice and crossed the street with Biscuit who had decided to bring the toy branch home with him. Olivia crossed on the other side when her light turned green, and made her way back home with almost as much effort as she had walking to the park. She hung her damp clothing on a fold out rack to dry, then took a relaxing lavender scented bubble bath by candlelight. After drying herself off, Olivia got into her comfortable cotton beige pajamas and matching fluffy slippers. She turned on the electric fireplace and got cozy on the living room couch under a soft thin blanket to read a few chapters of a historical romance novel from the public library before eating a late lunch. After a simple but comforting bowl of tomato soup with melted cheddar cheese as well as a few salted soda crackers, Olivia got properly dressed again in jeans plus a black t-shirt and headed back outdoors; not to play in the snow this time, but to walk to the general store to purchase an adult coloring book and some markers since she had been told that it could be therapeutic. She remembered loving to color in her youth, and after her fun morning of acting like a child she thought it was worth trying it again. She didn't care if her husband, son, or anyone else for - 38 -


that matter, found it silly. If she ended up enjoying it as much as she hoped, she planned on bringing her colouring material to the office when she felt ready to go back.

The sidewalks had all been plowed by the time Olivia went out the second time, so it was much easier to walk, but the snow was still falling pretty hard and the massive street plows were loudly shoveling large piles of collected snow out of the way again. Olivia noticed a middle aged man struggling to shovel out a parking space and did not envy him. She did kind of feel jealous of the toddler being pulled in a red plastic sled though. She loved sleigh rides; another thing to add to her happiness list.

go back to a better work environment which would have to start with changing her own unhealthy behavior. She would need to start taking proper breaks, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, and step away from her desk during her lunch hour. She would also have to take moments to breathe and speak up when things became too hectic, just as her psychologist had already recommended. In addition, it would be very important for her to learn how to separate her work life and personal one, for her own sanity; not just technology wise. If her employer didn't like it, Olivia could always start looking for another job in hopes that the new position would give her less anxiety.

After her quick shopping trip, Olivia came back home with her desired coloring material along with an intermediate level paint by the number set of a lovely winter scenery she found on sale. She felt the need to do creative things to occupy the rest of her time off; maybe develop a new hobby. Olivia had already done a lot that day though, so she spent the rest of it napping and losing herself in her entertaining novel once more. Although she would be obliged to face reality by eventually going back to the office, Olivia promised herself to focus on her well-being and continue enjoying the freedom she was recently given. She recognised that she really needed to recharge, but also

Olivia's mental health absolutely had to come first, and she would welcome the next snow day Mother Nature provided to chill out.

Chantal Bellehumeur is a Canadian author born in 1981. She has several published novels of various genres as well as numerous short stories, poems, and articles featured in compilation books, magazines, plus a local newspaper. She loves using her imagination and creativity. Chantal used to act both on stage and for the camera. She met her husband while working as an extra in a movie. She has a son from a previous relationship who has inherited her artistic abilities and interest. Along with writing, Chantal loves doing arts and crafts. She’s developed a passion for painting which she finds therapeutic. As a volunteer for Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, she also enjoys impersonating different superheroes for their yearly charity event. She suffers from Ulcerative Colitis, and has been using writing as well as other forms of art to help her relax. She also loves to travel. - 39 -


Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree by Hannah Howe Census returns are a great way to learn more about your ancestors. In Britain, regular national censuses have taken place every ten years since 1801. However, the first four censuses, 1801 - 1831, contained mainly statistical information. From 1841 the censuses became more detailed, recording the names of all individuals in a household or institution. That said, the 1841 census can be misleading because the ages of our ancestors were rounded down to the nearest five years and sometimes people didn’t honestly state the parish where they were born. This could have occurred through confusion, or because people were worried that they would lose parish relief, a primitive form of social security, if they admitted that they were born in a different parish; relief payments were issued by the parish of birth and not where your ancestor lived. From 1851 the censuses contained more information, although it is important to remember that some of our ancestors misled the enumerators over their age, possibly through vanity, or because they simply didn’t know exactly when they were born. The Victorian censuses recorded the number of people in a household when the enumerator called, not the number of people who lived there. Therefore, you might find visitors in your ancestors’ house, and members of the family missing. Overall though, these censuses do offer a good impression of our ancestors’ households. The 1911 census offers a bonus in that it is the most detailed to date and that the returns were written in our ancestors’ own hand. Therefore, we are able to witness their handwriting. Sometimes, they made mistakes when completing the census, and this can offer insights into their character. Later censuses are currently not available due to privacy laws, although the 1921 census is due to appear online in 2022. - 40 -


You should be able to find the 1881 census free online. However, to view the other census returns you might have to pay a subscription fee to one of the genealogy websites or access them through pay as you go.

Ann was a housewife with her first baby, Mary Ann, and that a niece, Elizabeth Burnell, aged nine, lived with the family. An obvious question arose from the above: why was Elizabeth Burnell living with William and Ann? By searching for that answer in later censuses I discovered a family secret.

The Howe family Bible gave me the dates of birth for my 2 x great grandparents and their immediate family. By viewing the 1881 census I discovered that my 2 x great grandparents, William and Ann, pictured c1905, were living with Ann’s father, David Jones, a widower, that William, aged 25, was a railway packer working on the recently constructed railway, that

For family and social historians census returns offer a great insight into the past and can be used to construct the Victorian branches of your family tree.

Hannah Howe is the author of the Sam Smith Mystery Series, the Ann's War Mystery Series and the #1 international bestseller Saving Grace. Hannah's books are published by Goylake Publishing and distributed through Gardners Books to over 300 outlets worldwide. Her books are available in print, as eBooks and audiobooks, and are being translated into ten languages. Discover more on Mom's Favorite Reads website: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/hannah-howe

- 41 -


Coloring Page By Adrian Czarnecki Though I love dreaming up and putting together my Siberian Husky themed children’s illustrated picture story books, Adventures of Hot Rod Todd, I don’t think of myself as an ‘author’ or as a ‘writer’. ‘Story teller’ sounds better. My books are so dependent upon the illustrations. That’s where illustrator Cameo Anderson http:// www.cameoanderson.com/ comes in. Cameo really can see into my mind’s eye interpreting my often rambling page descriptions into works of art; there’s a saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words” and with a children’s book that is so important and Cameo nails it every time and then some. So, for your enjoyment, here is a page from the Coloring Book featuring some of the characters and scenes from the books.

Coloring Book FREE PDF download available via website www.adventuresofhotrodtodd.com

Adrian S. Czarnecki is a semi-retired writer of Siberian Husky oriented children’s books based on an actual litter of 6 puppies born to his Dam Empress Maya and Sire Damien Czar on March 14th 2019. Born in Huddersfield, England, Adrian has travelled the world extensively pursuing careers in journalism, photography, PR / Marketing as well as print and sales. Adrian now lives in Idaho, USA with his wife Meta and their Siberian - 42 -


- 43 -


Expect the Unexpected by Father Ian Maher Luke 4.18-22 Life if certainly full of surprises and does not always turn out the way we expect. Good things and bad can arise out of the blue through events and circumstances that we have no way of anticipating ahead of time. A year ago, who would have thought that a virus originating from a Chinese market could change our world in such a devastating way? When we receive a good surprise, it is a source of great joy and happiness. Such things as an unexpected phone call from a friend with whom we had lost touch; or travelling and noticing something of great beauty that we could never have imagined as we set off; or we might find ourselves on the receiving end of an act of kindness from someone we least expect but which makes a real difference. But when we receive a negative surprise, shock would be a better word, it affects us very differently. Our lives may be shaken to the core when receiving news about the illness or death of a loved one; we can be deeply upset by the words or actions of someone we trust but who lets us down; or we can be left in turmoil as best laid plans are left in tatters when something goes wrong.

For good and for ill there is an unpredictability to life that needs to be appreciated if we are to make the most of what we have. In so doing it enables us to be open to the possibility of surprises whether good or bad. Put another way, we must learn to expect the unexpected.

The lives of all of us have been profoundly impacted, some devastatingly so, by the virus. In fact, we are all being changed by this experience. Our lives will be measured in part as BV and AV. Before the virus, and after the virus.

In the gospels Jesus confounded many people who had little or no expectation of him. They certainly did not expect a carpenter from Nazareth to be the Messiah though some, in time, came to be amazed by his words and deeds.

- 44 -


For example, you might recall the stir that the young Jesus caused when he read from the scroll at the synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4.14-22). His listeners certainly got more than they anticipated. The people were, in fact, amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth and through the appropriation to himself of the words of Isaiah which Jesus read from the scroll. Of course, not everyone was pleased about this. Even some of the people who had grown up with Jesus were unable to see Jesus for who he was, so blinkered were they by their own limited expectations of this familiar person who had lived among them. God is, however, a God of surprises who does unexpected things in unexpected places at unexpected times and through unexpected people. Who would have thought that the Lord of the universe would

be born in a stable? Who would have thought that the devastation of Good Friday would be transformed into the glory of Easter? Who would have thought that the kingdom of God would turn the values of the world upside down? All these things should encourage us to expect the unexpected in life and be open to the surprises that God has in store for us, whether those surprises come in the midst of joys or sorrows. Even in the midst of a pandemic we can find those places of grace where God’s love and compassion break through, and that is why we will not lose hope or give up on our faith. In ways great and small God breaks in and changes our life for the better. All we need to do is remain open to that possibility. With God we can learn to expect the unexpected.

I am a priest and minor canon at Sheffield Cathedral. My last post prior to retirement from stipendiary ministry was as the Multifaith Chaplaincy Coordinator and Anglican Chaplain at Sheffield Hallam University, where I worked for 12 years. https://imaherblog.wordpress.com/ Twitter @IanMaher7 - 45 -


Dutch-Style Pancakes Submitted by Maressa Mortimer England will be celebrating Pancake Day on the 16th of February this year. Growing up in the Netherlands, I had never heard of Pancake Day. We had pancakes whenever my mum was prepared to face baking pancakes for four growing children. I’m the same with my kids. We eat pancakes whenever I’m prepared to face a messy, greasy kitchen and oily pans. Occasionally, I buy ready-made pancakes. They’re not the same though.

The pancakes are served with a black syrup that we buy in the Netherlands whenever we are there. It doesn’t taste like golden syrup or maple syrup. My kids are happy to eat their pancake with anything sweet though.

So, this is how I make Dutch-style pancakes: First (remember I have four very hungry children!), I break eight eggs in a bowl. I add a little milk and mix. Then I add flour. Lots and lots of flour, sometimes an entire pack. Then stir in more milk. I stir until the batter looks a little thicker than milk. I add a tiny sprinkle of salt. I pour some of the mixture in a tall jug, as it’s less messy than trying to spoon the dripping batter into the pan. I use large frying pans. I get the sunflower oil really hot, just a small spoon full per pan. I pour in enough batter to cover the pan, but only just, otherwise there is a chance that the middle of the pancake won’t be cooked. I flip the pancake over when the batter is dry at the top. When both sides are golden brown, I slide the pancake onto a large baking tray that is kept in the oven on a very low setting. This is just to keep the pancakes warm for when I’m done.

Dutch pancakes often have very thin slices of streaky bacon in them. You pour the batter in the pan as normal, then place a couple of bacon strips into the batter. It’s still delicious with syrup, trust me… In fact, when we are in the Netherlands, we usually eat at a pancake restaurant once or twice. I normally order a pancake with tomatoes, cheese, salami, bacon...plus syrup! My family thinks it’s gross, but then, they’re English!

- 46 -


A Snowman or a Snowball Submitted by Poppy Flynn Written by J. Jones Age 10

The dark and silence surrounds me, As I drift in my cloud. I can taste the excitement As I wait with the crowd.

Down I go Swirling and whirling. Graceful and elegant,

Floating up here

Like a ballet dancer, twirling.

So very high. Waiting to explode

Unique and delicate We flutter on the breeze,

Out into the sky,

Using our icy fingers To make everything freeze.

Then it happens And out of the clouds I burst. There’s a flurry of other snowflakes,

The fresh smell of winter

But I want to be first.

Is in the air, The ponds are frozen And the trees are bare.

On the ground Children laugh and play. I wonder what I’ll be Made into today. - 47 -


Hoggywobbles by Sylva Fae with Saffra Monteiro with rabbits and hedgehogs. What seems like years ago now, I was fortunate enough to help out a local lady who cared for hedgehogs in her home. I learned a lot but then she moved away, so when I found out that I could volunteer at Shepreth Hedgehog Hospital as part of my Gold Duke of Edinburgh award, I was thrilled and super excited! I never stopped asking questions and was always learning. I was taught so much about handling and caring for hogs and helped to deal with some really poorly hogs. Every shift was different and I was involved with every aspect of hedgehog rescue and rehabilitation. Over time I grew in confidence and began caring for a few hogs at home. I worked at the hedgehog hospital for just under three years and was involved with hedgehog fundraisers, over wintering hogs and also giving public talks to the visitors at Shepreth wildlife park.

My family has always cared for a mad menagerie of animals. Our rambling old farmhouse, up on the Lancashire moors, soon gathered a reputation for being a safe haven for injured, unwanted or just plain weird animals. We had a random bunch of misfits who clucked, quacked, shuffled and grunted their way around the garden until they were well enough to return to the wild. As such, I have always had a soft spot for animal rescues and always prefer adopting an unwanted pet, over buying from dealers. There are so many wonderful places that dedicate their time to rescuing wild animals or unwanted pets, but Hoggywobbles caught my eye because of the fabulous name.

Hoggywobbles is one of the first of its kind – a Convalescence and Release Hospital for hedgehogs – it is run by Saffra Monteiro. It specialises in caring for hedgehogs recovering from illness or injury, right through to fully restored healthy hogs being released back to the wild. Hoggywobbles deals with all aspects of hedgehog care but passes on those requiring acute treatment and medication to larger rescue centres.

While working at various rescue centres, I saw for myself that often these bigger rescues had about 60 percent of their capacity taken up by hogs who had been treated and now just needed monitoring and weight gain in order to leave. And so, I created Hoggywobbles, which fills this gap between acute cases and ready-for-the-wild hogs – think of it as outpatients rather than A&E. They still require experienced hog carers at this stage, and close monitoring, but do not require the advanced monitoring they had when on medication.

Saffra explained how it all started: From a young age I adored animals of every size and type, but I had a particular love and fascination

Hoggy Halfway House Hogs come to me after completing treatment for illness and injury at other local rescues. We then continue their convalescence progress which involves daily monitoring, cleaning and feeding so that they can gain strength and vital weight before

- 48 -


soft release is carried out and they can be return to the countryside.

are also a range of useful hoggy related articles and documents on the page under the picture section for all hog lovers to read. Occasionally, Saffra organises sales and auctions through the Facebook page, and even has a children’s book in the works.

Currently due to lack of space and money, I have hogs dotted around my house, outbuildings and garden. In the future I hope to be able to create a proper hospital building, built solely for that purpose. I also hope to expand the capacity for hedgehog patients and form a team of volunteers who will help with the daily running of the hospital.

https://www.facebook.com/hoggywobbles

Hogs come to me for continued rehab, which can take anything from a few weeks to months depending on the hog. Finally, they are given their freedom using a process called soft release. Disabled hogs are sent to secure enclosed gardens. This is a long progress but it is extremely rewarding and I work closely with local rescues so that we can help each other out when needed to get hogs through the system much faster, freeing up spaces for really sick hogs in need. We even have a Hoggywobbles Ambulance service, run by a group of local village residents. Supporting the Hog House Local folk have been bringing hedgehogs to Saffra for a number of years now, and they’ve become known as, ‘The Hog House’. So far, Saffra has funded Hoggywobbles alone, however as her venture has grown, so too have the expenses. Undeterred, Saffra set up a Facebook page where she welcomes donations to cover the costs of food and bedding. In return, Saffra’s hogs frequently pose for photos and tell their stories to entertain their fans. There - 49 -


Wild Hoggy Help It has never been more important to help our spiky friends than now. They are now on the official ‘at risk of extinction’ list, so please help us to help them so that in years to come, when our kids are growing up, they know what a wild hog looks like and don’t have to look at books just to know what they once were.

What you can do is to ensure your garden is hedgehog friendly, giving them a safe place to live. Add exit holes in fences (hedgehog highways), a shallow bowl of fresh water, and meaty food, such as cat or dog food, if you don’t have hedgehog food. For a number of years now, Saffra has been offering a garden inspection for free to local residents who wish to make their gardens more hedgehog friendly. She can advise on what should be changed and added in order to encourage hogs into your space. She can also recommend hedgehog housing and food and provide information on hedgehog highways.

Also, I would like to add that while we at the rescues always try to be positive and encourage people to help hedgehogs where they can. More recently it seems to be a growing problem that some people finding hogs are attempting to care for them themselves at home without any basic training or knowledge of hedgehogs. We recommend you seek guidance from your local rescue, should you have a hog that requires care or medical attention.

Of course, Saffra’s hoggy services are only of use to those local to Hoggywobbles, however the information, advice and expertise is accessible to all – and there is a huge selection of articles available. If in return you wish to make a donation, the hogs of Hoggywobbles will be most grateful.

Sylva Fae is a married mum of three from Lancashire, England. She has spent twenty years teaching literacy to adults with learning difficulties and disabilities, and now works from home as a children’s writer and illustrator.

Sylva has published several children’s books and also writes a blog, Sylvanian Ramblings. Her debut book, Rainbow Monsters won the Chanticleer Best in Category award. Discover more about Sylva on Mom’s Favorite Reads website: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/sylva-fae/

- 50 -


Paul’s Puzzles By Paul Godding The Mathematically Possible Challenge Using 4, 5 and 10 once each, with + – × ÷ available, which are the only THREE numbers it is possible to make from the list below? 2 3 5 7 11 13 17 19 23 29 #PrimeNumbers

The Target Challenge Can you arrive at 9 by inserting 3, 4, 5 and 6 into the gaps on each line? • •

• •

◯×◯–(◯+◯) = 9

The Roll3Dice Challenge From six of the seven groups of numbers below, it is possible to make today’s target number of 10 when each number in the group is used once and + – × ÷ is available: •

1 1 6

1 2 6

1 5 5

2 2 3

2 4 5

• 3 5 5 • 4 5 6 • Which is the only group that CANNOT make 10?

◯+◯×(◯–◯) = 9

◯²–◯×(◯÷◯)² = 9

◯+(◯+◯)÷◯ = 9

The Mathematically Possible Challenge Using 4, 5 and 10 once each, with + – × ÷ available, which is the ONLY number it is possible to make from the list below?

The Main Challenge Today’s task is to arrive at the target number of 7 by using the four numbers 7, 7, 7 and 7 once each. All four arithmetic operations + – × ÷ are available. Can you do it?

11 22 33 44 55 66 77 88 99 110 #11TimesTable

*** Solutions: http://7puzzleblog.com/answers/

Hello, my name is Paul Godding. I am a full-time professional private maths tutor based in the south-east of Wales who delivers face-to-face tuition locally as well as online tuition to students globally. It would be lovely to hear from you, so feel free to click paul@7puzzle.com if you wish to secure maths tuition for you or your child. Alternatively, you can ring/message/WhatsApp me from anywhere in the world: 07970868121 from within Wales and the UK, or +447970868121 from the rest of the world. - 51 -


Frost on Kenfig Sand Dunes by Hannah Howe

https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/hannah-howe/

- 52 -


© Goylake Publishing

- 53 -


Music: “Aum” by Shri Jaykishan Hariharbhai Kapdi Music is singing in a general sense, but music consists of three things: singing, playing of musical instruments and dancing. Dance follows playing of musical instruments and playing of musical instruments follows singing. So, out of these three things, singing is the best. There are five arts: 1) Music 2) Poetry

the origin of music and the original book of Indian Music.

3) Drawing

Music is divine and music is related with a God and Goddesses.

4) Sculpture 5) Architecture.

Four of the arts are visual and people need to have an understanding of the vision of the artist. As such, it and may not be as appreciated as the art of music. Music entertains all people in general without a need for understanding. In Indian music it is stated that Lord “Brahma” (Creator of the universe) gave a blessing of music to “Saraswati Devi” (Indian goddess of knowledge and music) and music flowed from “Saraswati Devi” to “Narad Muni” (a saint of god and goddesses) and flowed from “Narad Muni” to “Bharat”. “Bharat” created “Bharat Natya Shashtra” (Dance Theory). “Bharat’s Natya Shashtra” is

- 54 -


Music enhances the physical, mental, economical and spiritual aspects of mankind: Physical Aspects: A singer has to master breathing techniques. It is one type of “Pranayam”. Singing and playing some instruments strengthens the lungs. Dance itself is a great way to exercise the body.

Mental Aspects: Singing and listening removes our sorrows, sadness and misery, and our mind is refreshed and joyful. Good and divine music not only affects mankind, but also animals and birds – we see snakes dancing to the voice of a Bin / Flute, and cows gives more milk while listening to music. Economical Aspects: Music is also an education. It can be a profession, so raises our economic status. Spiritual Aspects: Through adorable songs (praise of Gods and Goddesses) mankind gets an emancipation through music.

The author grew up in a family of musicians, to whom music is a blessing of God. The skills of making music are hereditary to him, learning from his grandfather Shri Mohanlal Ramdasji Kapdi and father Shri Hariharbhai – both accomplished musicians. His grandfather established a non professional music class, “Shree Saurashtra Sangeet Vidyalay,” in 1935 in the Bhavnagar city-364001, Gujarat State, India to spread the joy of music. He is also experienced in teaching music. He is “Upantya Visharad” in “Tabla” (rhythm). - 55 -


One of Life’s Stations by Stan Phillips And chopped wood for my fire. And gathered wild strawberries. And kept chickens. And sat on the edge of a platform, past which the trains would never run again. And watch fireflies, and listen to the rustle of unknown creatures busying themselves in an ecosystem grown crazy by the abandonment of the Great Western Railway, and the wilful, misguided plans of Doctor Beeching. Although had his plans been different, my tale would have taken another course. So everything is really as it needs to be. And I would draw deeply on my cigarette and watch the smoke rise on the still night air, and count the stars. And dream. And dream. And only vaguely realise that life would never be quite as simple again.

You'd need to walk across a battered, almost perilous, wooden bridge no wider than your outstretched arms, that spanned the moody river Exe, to reach the narrow path that crossed the field, often cow filled, or bullock bedecked, to get to the gate that led to that isolated, deserted, and almost forgotten railway station. Shrouded as it was by the trees, grown wild and arrogant in their unplanned freedom, with birds flying and crying. With foxes lurking, and rabbits scurrying, hedgehogs creeping. Primroses sprouting, and dandelions alive with all manner of buzzy creatures desperately feeding from the newly sprung bounty of that west country morning. Yes, you'd have to do that to see the place I once called home. But I was young then, and full of energy and ideas that morning when I first crossed the field and moved into that forgotten place. And drew water from a well.

Stan Phillips is an 80 year old poet, musical podcast maker, part-time wannabe male model, and occasional stand up comedian. “I used to be a psychotherapist/counsellor when I had an honest job. I was born into prewar London, and attended 17 schools (my father believed they couldn’t hit a moving target) and I eventually finished up here in Ireland. Still wondering what I will be when I grow up — but enjoying writing my quirky poetry as I do so.” Discover more about Stan on Mom’s Favorite Reads website: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/stan-phillips - 56 -


Jogging by Maressa Mortimer Miranda shivers, rubbing her arms vigorously. Why had she agreed to go along with the early morning running group? She stamps her feet, grumbling to herself about how she’ll get frostbite in her toes at this rate. Maybe she should simply contact Hans, and let him know something went wrong… It’s not just the temperature that makes her shiver. She smiles at an older man that she recognises. Hopefully, she’ll be in his group. A nice, steady pace, plenty of stops and exercises. One of the trainers claps his hands, and shouts out the various groups and who is running with who. Good, so far the plan is possible.

Miranda follows her group, the steady pace making her breathe hard within seconds. She really should have kept up her fitness. The ground is treacherous, the ruts made by off-road vehicles cutting along the path in narrow ledges. If she steps on them, her ankles will end her plans. Soon they turn off into narrower forest paths, her breath making white clouds in the very still air. Some of the other joggers are chatting amiably, and she nods and gives one syllable answers to the woman running next to her. Not to be rude, it’s simply lack of oxygen that makes her answers short. Miranda keeps looking ahead as far as she can, hoping to spot a good place where the trainer is most likely to stop, so she can catch her breath. They do stop eventually, and Miranda edges a little off to swing her arms and lift her knees at the trainer’s cheerful instructions, pulling off her gloves at the same time, her hands shaking. She has plenty of time, according to her watch, but she will need to get clear, as well as stay unnoticed. The woman she ran with is now chatting to another person. Miranda makes sure to be at the back when they set off again. She has to blend in, be as dull as she can be.

Now and then she looks around, struck by the beauty of the woods in winter. She wipes her runny nose, no longer shivering. After the second exercise break, Miranda knows she will need to disappear. She swallows. She hates being on her own in a forest. Again, she considers dropping the plan, but she can just imagine Hans’ reaction. No, she will have to see it through. In a dense bit of forest, Miranda sprints up a tiny little side route, fast and quiet, putting as much distance between herself and the group as she can. She crouches down behind a small spruce, hoping the greenery will hide her. She stays still, breathing through her mouth. After a few minutes, she presses the purple button that dangles from a cord around her neck. The warmth of the button is comforting, and she shudders as she pushes it back out of sight, tapping her watch whilst getting up stiffly. Miranda sets off, jogging slowly along the narrow path. She looks back, almost hoping someone from the running group will appear. Nobody can be seen or heard. She forces herself to focus on what lies ahead. Her heart is beating wildly, and Miranda keeps rubbing her hands dry on her soft trousers. She never runs in tight leggings. Not since the one running group, where it went badly wrong for another woman and her leggings… Miranda prefers to be able to do the exercises without worrying about the strength of stitching in her Lycra. - 57 -


He frowns, “You look older than I expected,” he says, and Miranda tries to smile like the fourteenyear-old she is supposed to be. Her watch buzzes three times, as the man’s hand suddenly shoots out, grabbing her by her wrist, almost pulling her off her feet.

She hears a noise, and her breath catches in her throat. Miranda slows a little, looking around carefully. Then suddenly, the man steps out onto the narrow path, just before an open area with crisscross paths going off in all directions. Nice choice. She feels the dampness of her face turn ice-cold, and stumbles to a halt. The man is tall, taller than she had hoped. He looks at her, all of her, and Miranda shudders. The man’s lips curl up, his eyes reminding her of the forest ground underneath: cold and hard, but a runner’s shoe can change that.

Miranda reacts, her hesitation just a split second. The man gasps in pain as her foot frees her wrist, breaking branches behind him make him spin round, watching tall, uniformed police officers coming at him from various directions. He turns back to Miranda; his face having lost all pretence. He reaches out for her, but as Miranda steps back, handcuffs click around his wrists.

She looks as vulnerable as she can, which isn’t hard to do. Trying to look glad to see him is harder than she expected. Just as the man is within reach, her watch vibrates. Once, twice… “Misty...what a pretty name for a beautiful girl.” His voice seems to struggle with the sweet words, and Miranda wonders how long he’s able to keep up the niceness.

Miranda is glad when the forest is quiet again, voices further ahead a low rumbling sound. She follows her colleagues down too many forest paths, trying to see the beauty again, the peacefulness. Why had she agreed to go along with the early morning running group? She shivers, rubbing her arms vigorously.

My name is Maressa Mortimer, and I’m Dutch. I live in the beautiful Cotswolds, England, with my husband who is a pastor. We have four (adopted) children. I’m a homeschool mum, so my writing has to be done in the evening, when peace and quiet descends on our house once more. I love exploring questions of faith using novels, as it helps me to see what faith looks like in daily life. My debut novel, Sapphire Beach, was published December 2019. My latest novel, Walled City, launched on December 5th and I’m nearing the first draft of its sequel! Visit my website www.vicarioushome.com to buy signed copies from the shop. - 58 -


How to Stop Yourself From Writing by John Greeves There are many well-known tactics writers employ to stop themselves from writing. After all it’s easier to make excuses, than to sit down and write something of substance. It’s something we all do, consciously or subconsciously. Writing is not as easy as many people make out. It takes perseverance, resolution, fresh ideas, self-discipline and many tough qualities, which can be very demanding. We can all find excuses for not writing without ever blaming ourselves. I’ve listed some of my top ten word stoppers:

2. I haven’t got time. Life is always busy. Whose turn is it to pick up the kids? Family and work can easily be cited as the reasons you can’t get down to your writing. Look at other activities you do like watching a ‘soap,’ or going to the pub on a Friday, or that evening class on a Tuesday. If you can make room for these activities, then you can structure time for your writing.

2. Displacement activities. You drag yourself up to your room. Not the best of starts. Mentally you don’t seem prepared. Then you insist on making a coffee, several phone calls, responding to email and then querying an account. You convince yourself all these things are necessary as you tidy up your room. Maybe tomorrow will bring a rush of inspiration, but for now you’re searching for that long lost shopping list.

3. The Self Critic You’ve been beating yourself up lately. The selfcritic has crept back in. Maybe one or two rejection slips haven’t helped and then of course there are all those nagging doubts. Whatever you do, perfection seems to elude you. Why can’t you shape your manuscript like your favourite author? This is a time for - 59 -


6. I like the image of being a writer, but not writing.

resolution not doubt. No one ever promised you an easy ride. Every time you hear the slap of rejection on the hall floor, get writing. There are publications out there, which will take your work, but you need to offer something, which is marketable to the editor.

Unfortunately, too many people play at being writers. That’s fine if you like pantomime, but remember successful writers are usually self-driven. Discipline is important, and hard work necessary in creating success. In real life, the writer pursues a living, which is far removed from any notion of celebrity and only dresses up in cold weather.

4. The well is dry It seems you’ve written all you know from your experience and are feeling stale. Stale bread can be toasted or diced and fried into croutons. There are always other avenues to explore, or boundaries to cross. If life is so dull, become enthused with other places, people and events. In writing, nothing is new; it’s just the ability of seeing a different path to journey’s end.

7. I feel I’m not producing anything of quality at the moment. Look at what you are writing. None of us can be Ernest Hemingway, but we can aspire to develop our voice. Maybe it’s time to put away the manuscript for a while. Perhaps it’s worth taking radical action, such as rewriting it from a different point of view. It may be, the idea simply doesn’t work and needs to be ditched. The important thing is to stop procrastinating, either continue or move on to something new.

5. I am only a novelist Perhaps you aren’t a novelist, that’s the problem. You are a writer, but haven’t discovered the proper avenue for your writing. List other ways or genre you could pursue. Study the market. Take time out to write these forms. This may even help you to return to your unfinished novel. Sometimes you have to trick the mind as well. Pretend you are writing a series of parts and not a book, so it doesn’t feel so arduous.

8. Publication is impossible. Yes, it is hard, but the majority of published writers also faced the same dilemma. You’ll be up against the main publishing houses, which often refuse unsolicited manuscripts; however, there are hundreds of magazines, the web and numerous small presses where writers still have every chance until the big opportunity comes along. - 60 -


9. I’m too old, too young. Young people often complain they haven’t the wide experience to write. Older people complain they are stuck in the register of their generation and cannot mirror the society of today. Age doesn’t have to be a disclaimer. We can all write from our own experience.

10. I’m not good enough Be courageous. Sweep away the nagging doubts. Try something different. If it doesn’t work scrap it and try again. Failure remains an important part of success. The quality of work we produce isn’t consistent, much of what anyone writes ends primarily in the bin, but there are times when quality shines through, but it does take a lot of polishing. Sylvia Plath gave very good advice for all writers. ‘Everything in life is writable if you have the outgoing guts to do it and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.’ So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to cast away fears and start to write again.

John Greeves originally hails from Lincolnshire. He believes in the power of poetry and writing to change people’s lives and the need for language to move and connect people to the modern world. Since retiring from Cardiff University, Greeves works as a freelance journalist who's interested in an eclectic range of topics.

- 61 -


Heroines of SOE—Yvonne Baseden by Hannah Howe Yvonne Jeanne de Vibraye Baseden, later known as Yvonne Burney, was born on 20 January 1922 in Paris. Her father, a First World War pilot, crash-landed in France at the home of the Comte de Vibraye. The Comtesse invited him to dinner, which turned into a romantic occasion because he fell in love with the Comte and Comtesse’s daughter. The couple duly married and, at the end of the First World War, lived in France.

interrogated. War is brutal, but Yvonne’s story reminds us that war as practiced by the fascists plunged unacceptable levels of barbarity. By September, Yvonne was in the notorious Ravensbrück concentration camp. While at the camp, she became ill with tuberculosis and was transferred to the hospital where she remained, with 500 other women, until the closing days of the Second World War when the camp was liberated by the Swedish Red Cross.

Later, Yvonne’s parents lived in various countries within Europe. She was educated in Britain, France, Poland, Italy and Spain learning several languages as a result. On 4 September 1940, aged eighteen, Yvonne joined the WAAF as a clerk. From there, she worked for the RAF in intelligence where she captured the SOE’s attention.

The Swedish Red Cross ensured that Yvonne reached Malmö where they deloused her. She spent her first nights of freedom on a mattress on the floor of the Malmö Museum of Prehistory, sleeping under the skeletons of dinosaurs.

Recommend by fellow agent Pearl Witherington, Yvonne joined the SOE on 24 May 1943. On 18 March 1944, aged 22, she became one of the youngest female agents to parachute into France.

After the war, the Allies arrested the SS guards at Ravensbrück, along with the female Aufseherinnen guards. Between 1946 and 1948, sixteen of the accused were found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and were sentenced to death.

Under the code name Odette, Yvonne arrived in the village of Gabarret where she linked up with the Wheelwright network. Travelling to Eastern France, she worked for four months as the wireless operator for the Scholar network under the cover of Mademoiselle Yvonne Bernier, a shorthand typist and secretary. On 26 June 1944, the Gestapo trapped Yvonne and seven of her colleagues in a cheese factory.

In September 1955, Yvonne became the first regular subject of the BBC programme This is Your Life, although later in her life she shunned the limelight. After her second marriage in 1966, as Yvonne Burney, she moved to Portugal before returning to Britain in 1999. Yvonne died in October 2017 at the age of 95 another example of the remarkable longevity of the surviving SOE female agents.

They shot her organiser, Baron Gonzagues de St Genies, while Yvonne was arrested and

Hannah Howe is the author of the Sam Smith Mystery Series, the Ann's War Mystery Series and the #1 international bestseller Saving Grace. Hannah's books are published by Goylake Publishing and distributed through Gardners Books to over 300 outlets worldwide. Her books are available in print, as eBooks and audiobooks, and are being translated into ten languages. Discover more on Mom's Favorite Reads website: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/hannah-howe - 62 -


Dundee Dragons by Wendy H. Jones According to legend a farmer had nine daughters, known locally as nine maidens (There is a pub called Nine Maidens in the city). He sent the oldest off to get some water from the well (the hospital in Dundee is called Ninewells) and when she didn’t return, sent the next, and the next. You get the picture. Quite frankly, you’d think he would stop after two or three disappeared off the face of the earth but no, he sent all nine. It was then he thought he might as well investigate, which led him to a dragon, probably licking its lips, and the remains of his nine daughters. Returning home, he spilled out the sorry tale to his youngest daughter’s boyfriend, a young man called Martin. Hearing of his lover’s demise, Martin was not a happy chappy, in fact in Dundee parlance you would say he was ‘raging’. So, he whipped up the locals into a frenzy and he and his angry mob gave chase to the dragon before eventually killing it.

Dundee, a City on the East Coast of Scotland, is known as the city of Jam, Jute, and Journalism. A little-known fact is that it is also has links to dragons. What on earth has Dundee got to do with dragons I hear you ask? The answer is, they have a lot more in common than you think, and I’m not just talking about their first initial. Dundee has a rather fine dragon which guards the east end of the high street. A magnificent sight, it was sculpted by Tony Morrow. There are also dragons on the Dundee coat of arms, and another atop the spire of St. Andrew’s Church. A strange spot for a dragon to reside methinks. After all it’s not St George’s church and St Andrew had little to do with passing dragons. The war memorial at the top of the Dundee Law has the coat of arms at its base. If you are wondering, the Law is a hill with this being the old Scottish word for hill.

So, there we have it. Dundee is officially the city of Jam, Jute, Journalism and Dragons. Don’t you just love a folktale with a dragon at the centre of it.

So why this obsession with dragons? The answer lies, as in many cases, in a folktale.

Wendy H. Jones is the award winning, international best-selling author of the DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries, Cass Claymore Investigates Mysteries, Fergus and Flora Mysteries, Bertie the Buffalo children’s books and the Writing Matters books for writers. She is also a writing and marketing coach and the President of the Scottish Association of Writers. As copy editor for Mom’s, she works hard to ensure content is appropriate and free of grammatical and spelling errors. You can learn more about Wendy on her website:

https://www.wendyhjones.com/ - 63 -


Mom’s Favorite Reads Author Wendy H. Jones

Covering your reading needs from the cradle to the grave

Wendy H. Jones grew up in the beautiful Scottish City of Dundee. In a home full of books and with family who read extensively she developed a passion for reading early in life. Having read all the books in the local library by the age of ten, she entered into a spirited discussion with a librarian as to why she should be provided with an adult library card. Showing steely will, and determination, she won her battle and moved on to reading adult crime novels.

The Books... Bertie the Buffalo is based on a true story of when a Water Buffalo escaped from a Buffalo Park in Dundee, Scotland. A rhyming book about the exciting adventures Bertie got up to and how safely returned home. This accompanying colouring book will provide young children with hours of fun! https://bookgoodies.com/a/1910786527

True to her adventurous side she joined the Royal Navy to undertake nurse training after leaving School. After six years in the Navy she joined the Army where she served for a further 17 years. This took her all over the world and fuelled her love for travel and visiting exotic lands. Postings to Hong Kong and Israel allowed her to travel extensively in the Far and Middle East.

An ancient Egyptian dagger. A hungry curse. A city under siege. https://bookgoodies.com/ a/1909423645

Wendy is a committed Christian and is a member of City Church Dundee, part of the New Frontiers Organisation of Churches. She enjoys spending time with her family, especially her nieces, both of whom are excited at their aunt being a published author. She still loves to travel and explore exotic locations, as well as spending time exploring the UK.

A Scottish Broch. An archaeologist scorned. A ghost disturbed.

You can find Wendy’s books, her blog and a contact information on her website at:

https://www.wendyhjones.com/

https://bookgoodies.com/ a/1909423947

- 64 -


Killer’s Cut DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries Book 4

Killer’s Countdown DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries Book 1

https://bookgoodies.com/a/B01ED22X0U

https://bookgoodies.com/a/B00O55H2NY

Killer’s Crew DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries Book 5

Killer’s Craft DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries Book 2

https://bookgoodies.com/a/B01MRJ5A47

https://bookgoodies.com/a/B011OA4Q7M

Killer’s Crypt DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries Book 6

Killer’s Cross DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries Book 3

https://bookgoodies.com/a/B074R6JTKG

https://bookgoodies.com/a/ B017UG4A3Y

Antiques & Alibis Cass Claymore Investigates Book 1 Cass Claymore, a red headed, motorbike riding, ex-ballerina inherits a Detective Agency, and accidentally employs an ex-con dwarf and an octogenarian

https:// bookgoodies.com/ a/B07FVSTGLT

https://bookgoodies.com/a/ B08F2HZT2X - 65 -

https://bookgoodies.com/a/ B07S3ZS8HS


Starlings: Balletic Dancers of the Skies by John Greeves Attitudes to the Common Starling (Sturnus Vulgarus) is a little bit like Marmite, you either love it or hate it. Those in favour of starlings will see them as sociable and gregarious birds, tenacious and adaptable especially when it comes to urban living. They will quickly point out the benefits they bring to both forestry and agriculture by eating a vast number of invertebrates, many of which are pests. Others, will be less generous disposed, citing them as quarrelsome, vociferous and a general nuisance. It won’t take them long before they talk about the damage they cause to soft fruits like cherries and the food they consume, which was intended for domestic live-stock. Some gardeners, will see starlings as the aggressive scourge of the bird table, arriving in flocks, mob-handling other smaller birds, before cleaning out the feeding station and flying on.

Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Liverpool. Edinburgh, Glasgow and Belfast. Sadly those numbers have declined dramatically by 80 % in recent years. Today their numbers are estimated at 1.8 million birds and this staggering decline has now placed them on the critical red list of UK birds. The blunt truth is that between 1995 and 2016 alone, Britain’s breeding population of Common Starlings crashed by a staggering 51%. In the past 1/3 of juveniles used to survive in the first year, that number has dropped alarmingly now to 15%. The British Trust for Ornithology found that although most broods hatched successfully, the real problem occurred away from the nest. Loss of pasture land, farm chemicals and decline of soil invertebrates like earthworms and leatherjackets have all been blamed, but the major cause for this decline still remains unknown.

Whatever your views,(and starlings have to live as well), these birds have amazing adaptability, enabling them to exploit food sources found on farmland, sea shores, moorlands, rubbish tips, sewage farms, suburban gardens and even city centres. As tree hole nesters they have adapted very well to urban living by exploiting any hole with a suitable interior cavity found on a man made structure. Our homes have not escaped their attention, and these noisy opportunists have sought out dryer and bathroom vents, vacant roof-spaces or cavities in our homes to take up residency as our uninvited guests. At one time an estimated 37 million starlings lived in the UK with huge flocks once gathering over

- 66 -


choose to lay their eggs in other starling nests. It’s not fully understood why this behaviour (nest parasitism) exists with some starlings and not with others.

The Common starling is a medium-sized black song bird with short, triangular wings and a short tail with iridescent purplish-black plumage on its head and chest. The starling’s beak is dark brown for most of the year but from December something amazing happens and the bill becomes yellow for both sexes but the base of the male’s bill is steely-blue while the bill of the female has a creamy pink base. In spring the male seeks out a number of nesting sites. To attract a mate, the male builds a rough nest of grass and leaves in his best hole and sings out to entice a mate. In Britain breeding usually begins in mid April but further north and east laying is later. Four to six pale blue eggs are normally laid. Usually one clutch is laid, although a second may be laid. Female starlings in the same area lay their first clutch of eggs synchronously so that all the young starlings will emerge within a day or two of each other. Some males are polygamous, and may acquire a second nest site and mate with a young female, while the first female looks after their clutch. What is intriguing is some of these younger mating females sometimes behave like Cuckoos and - 67 -

In the winter our resident starling population is augmented by a major influx of birds from the colder parts of Europe. Starlings are conspicuous because they are invariably seen in flocks. These flock sizes can vary up to 100,000 birds and gather to feed where grassland invertebrates are plentiful and then coalesce at night time in a roost. These are sheltered places away from harsh weather and predators such as woodlands, reedbeds, cliffs, buildings and industrial buildings. Perhaps the most spectacular part of the Starling’s social life is associated with the night time roost. Here starlings perform a balletic aerial display known as a murmuration before settling down for the night. John Updike described his sight of a sublime murmuration as: the flock ascended as a lady’s scarf...negligently tossed toward a chair. Many others have found poetic beauty in its form while some have tried to understand the science of this natural phenomenon that makes all of us gasp.


Starling Murmurations.

species like Kestrels, Sparrowhawks, and Buzzards are confused by the behaviour of the murmuration and can’t really focus on one particular individual to prey on.” As to the ‘warmer together,’ hypothesises, Anne Goodenough at the University of Gloucester in her 3,200 surveys of starling murmurations found that the temperature was not linked to the number of starling murmurations.

In 1987, Craig Reynolds a computer scientist created a simulation of a flock of birds. His computer generated creatures followed three rules to create the different movement patterns seen in murmurations: nearby birds would move further apart, other birds would align their direction and speed and more distant birds would move closer in. In 2008, a group in Italy were able to film a starling murmuration in Rome and found that Reynold’s modelling rules could be applied. They also concluded that starlings sought to match the direction and speed of the nearest seven or so neighbours, rather than responding to the movements of all of the nearby birds around them. Behavioural biologists have postulated on the causes of this behaviour. Two hypothesis attempt to explain this behaviour in terms ‘warmer together’ and the ‘safer together hypothesis.’ As Nigel Butcher explains to me from the RSPB, “One of the obvious theories about murmuration is that predatory - 68 -


Where to see them. Starling murmurations happen during the winter months, roughly from October to March. The peak in numbers is usually December to January when more birds come over from Europe and join our resident birds. Popular sites to see them include Gretna Green in Dumfries and Galloway and Brighton Pier in Sussex. The Starlings in the UK website can be very helpful in finding a local murmuration close to your home. The RSPB also have a number of prime sites where murmurations can be seen including: RSPB Ham Wall RSPB Leighton Moss RSPB Marazion Marsh RSPB Minsmere RSPB Newport Wetlands RSPB Titchwell Perhaps much of man’s interest has often in conflict with the starling’s needs. With bio-diversity rapidly diminishing different species at an alarming rate, it is perhaps time to remove some of the bad press and give starlings a second chance. As Nigel Butcher from the RSPB says, “I think they are an iconic species which are sometimes misunderstood or unloved. I think if people knew them better and looked at all their intricacies and characteristics they’d discover what a fabulous species they are.”

Links https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/ bird-a-z/starling/starling-murmurations/ https://www.starlingsintheuk.co.uk/roost-map.html

John Greeves originally hails from Lincolnshire. He believes in the power of poetry and writing to change people’s lives and the need for language to move and connect people to the modern world. Since retiring from Cardiff University, Greeves works as a freelance journalist who's interested in an eclectic range of topics.

- 69 -


National Kite Flying Day by Melanie P. Smith

February 8th

kites back to the 5th century where they were used to spy on enemies, send messages, and aid in fishing activities. In 1752, Benjamin Franklin famously used a kite to demonstrate the electrical nature of lightning. The simple kite inspired inventions such as parachutes and hanggliders. Basically, kites have been around for a long time and there’s no indication that’s going to change.

Cover design created to honor National Kite Flying Day

In a park, the wind rustling through your hair. On the beach, sand between your toes, a salty mist settling on your face. In a rural open field, the smell of alfalfa and wildflowers wafting around you. Anywhere you find open spaces on a windy day, you may also find someone flying a kite. Young or old, everyone seems to love kites. Why? Maybe because it makes us nostalgic — a reminder of simpler times. Maybe because, after a long, cold winter locked inside, we need a little time outdoors. Maybe, because they seem a little magical. The bright colors and unique shapes inspire our creative side while the mechanics stimulate our analytical side.

Here are some fun facts about kites you may not know. • • • • •

All of which might explain National Kite Flying day. Kites have been around for thousands of years. In fact, in the 1200s Marco Polo was so intrigued, he brought a Chinese kite back with him to Italy after an expedition. These mystical flying objects weren’t new to China or the South Sea Islands at that time. Historians can trace

The longest kite measured 3,394 feet The fastest kite flew at a speed of 120 miles per hour The longest kite trip lasted 180 hours straight A Japanese kite maker reportedly flew 11,284 kites on a single line – the most recorded in history. Kites were used during the Civil War to deliver newspapers

So, pack a lunch, head to the beach, a field, or your favorite park. Escape the stress of the past year for a little while. As this simple creation sours through the air, let all your worries and the sadness fly away with it. What do you say… “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” — who else just heard Mary Poppins singing in their head?

We are excited to announce that Goylake Publishing has teamed-up with the Fussy Librarian and in partnership we are offering you 20% off your first book promotion with the Fussy Librarian. To qualify for this promotion, your book must be either permafree or listed free during a special offer. In our experience, the Fussy Librarian is the best book promoter in the business. When we promote with him, our free books always reach the top five of Amazon’s genre charts, most often they reach the top three. We promote with the Fussy Librarian every month and will continue to do so into the foreseeable future. Prices start from as low as $15, minus our special discount of 20%. Click here: https://authors.thefussylibrarian.com/?ref=goylake for full details. And, at the checkout, be sure to enter this code: goylake20 to claim your 20% discount. Thank you for your interest. And good luck with your promotion! - 70 -


Brought to you by...

The winter gloom is behind us and a new birth is just around the corner. The first magazine of the new year is always dedicated to spring, love, and new growth. There are some great articles, new releases and even a couple recipes. I hope you will take a minute to check it out.

Marketing seems to be one of those areas that every author struggles with. It’s the same struggle companies world-wide have been dealing with for decades. How do I get my product in front of my target audience? Connections eMagazine can help. The publication is free to readers, bloggers and to authors looking for a little extra exposure. Visit our website for details. https://melaniepsmith.com/

https://melaniepsmith.com/emagazine/

Connections eMagazine is a FREE quarterly publication founded by authors Melanie P. Smith and Rhoda D’Ettore. It is currently produced entirely by Editor, Melanie P. Smith. Over the years, the magazine has evolved and it now features promos, freebies, blog articles, and short stories in every issue.

Discover more about Connections eMagazine on their website here: https://melaniepsmith.com/emagazine-landing/ - 71 -


Editor In Chief—Hannah Howe The Editor-in-Chief is the key figure in every publication. Hannah Howe works closely with the editorial staff to ensure the success of each publication. She is the author of the Sam Smith Mystery Series, the Ann’s War Mystery Series and Saving Grace. Get to know more about Hannah, her projects and her work on Mom’s Favorite Reads website here: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/hannah-howe/

Executive Editor | Graphic Designer—Melanie P. Smith The Executive Editor / Graphic Designer is responsible for developing the layout and design of MFR eMagazine. She also works hard to create new covers each month that captures the essence of each publication. In addition to the editorial staff of Mom’s Favorite Reads, Melanie P. Smith also produces Connections eMagazine. She is a multi-genre author of Criminal Suspense, Police Procedural, Paranormal and Romance novels. Get to know more about Melanie, her projects, and her work on Mom’s Favorite Reads website here: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/melanie-p-smith/

Managing Editor, Art Director & Proofreader —Sylva Fae Our Managing Editor oversees the physical content of the magazine and coordinates the production schedule. She administers the day-to-day operations of the publication, manages submissions, sets realistic schedules and organizes each edition of the magazine. Sylva is is responsible for the amazing graphics that appear throughout the publication each month. She works hard to ensure the images capture the spirit and message our author's convey in their articles and stories. In addition, As Copy Editor, Sylva works hard behind the scenes to correct any grammatical, typos and spelling errors throughout the magazine. Sylva Fae—Mum of three, fairy woodland owner, and author of children’s books. https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/sylva-fae/

Copy Editors / Proofreaders — Wendy H. Jones and Sheena MacLead Our Copy Editors for Mom’s work hard to ensure content is appropriate and free of grammatical and spelling errors. Wendy H. Jones is the award winning, international best-selling author of the DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries, Cass Claymore Investigates Mysteries, Fergus and Flora Mysteries, Bertie the Buffalo children’s books and the Writing Matters books for writers. She is also a writing and marketing coach and the President of the Scottish Association of Writers. You can learn more about Wendy on her website: https://www.wendyhjones.com/

Sheena Macleod lectured at the University of Dundee, where she gained her PhD. She now lives in a seaside town in Scotland. Reign of the Marionettes is her first novel. She is currently working on two additional books: Tears of Strathnaver and Women of Courage—A Forgotten Figure—Frances Connolly. You can learn more about Sheena on her website: https://www.sheenas-books.co.uk/ - 72 -


Feature Editor—T.E, Hodden As Feature Editor T.E. Hodden works diligently to provide content that is interesting, informative and professional. He is a trained engineer and a life-long fan of comic books, Sci-Fi, myths, legends and history. Get to know more about TE Hodden on Mom’s Favorite Reads website here: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/t-e-hodden/

Marketing Director—Grant Leishman Our Marketing Director, Grant Leishman, oversees marketing campaigns and social media engagement for our magazine. After an exciting career in accounting and journalism, he now focuses on his true calling—writing. Get to know more about Grant on Mom’s Favorite Reads website here: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/grant-leishman/

Young Writer Content Editor—Poppy Flynn Poppy Flynn works hard each month to generate ideas, proofread submitted content, and provide stories, articles, poems and other pieces that are creative and relevant from young writers around the world. Get to know more about our Young Writer Content Editor on Mom’s Favorite Reads website here: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/poppy-flynn/

General Content Writers Our Content Writers are freelance authors who contribute articles, short stories, etc. to the eMagazine on a regular basis. They work hard to make our magazine interesting and professional. Get to know our Content Writers on Mom’s Favorite Reads website here: Val Tobin — https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/val-tobin/ Stan Phillips — https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/stan-phillips/ Father Ian Muher — https://imaherblog.wordpress.com/

Discover more amazing authors… https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/

- 73 -


www.facebook.com/momsfavoritereads

www.moms-favorite-reads.com

https://youtu.be/s0CNofMbQdM

www.tinyurl.com/momsfavoritereads-subscribe

- 74 -

Profile for Mom’s Favorite Reads

Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine February 2021