Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine May 2021

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

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Am I a Real Mum? by Maressa Mortimer ................................................................................................ 8

Traveling Through a Painting by Chantal Bellehumeur ................................. 16 Got a Light by Cherime MacFarlane ................................................................... 40 Alpaca Therapy by Chantal Bellehumeur .......................................................... 56 Family Ties by Penny Luker ................................................................................. 72

Coast to Coast by Alan Southworth ..................................................................... 30

Laughter is the Best Medicine! by Hannah Howe ............................................ 38

Do You Ever Wish by Stan Phillips ...................................................................... 11 On Being Grown Up by Stan Phillips ................................................................. 27 For Mothers by Stan Phillips ................................................................................. 77

Luna & the Magical Piano by Kaia (Age 8) ........................................................47

Mom’s Favorite Reads Author — Rachael Wright .............................................34

Europe by Book by Hannah Howe ...................................................................... 12 The Benefits of Journaling by Wendy H. Jones ................................................. 36 Things to Celebrate in May by Poppy Flynn ..................................................... 49 Ancestry: Parish Registers by Hannah Howe .................................................... 54 Authentic Authority by Father Ian Maher .......................................................... 70 Heroines of SOE by Hannah Howe ..................................................................... 76 International Nurses Day by Melanie P. Smith ................................................ 78

Hot Rod Todd Coloring Pages .............................................................................. 28

White on Defensive—Supplied by ................................................. 39 Word Search by Mom’s Favorite Reads .............................................................. 48 Puzzles by Paul Godding ....................................................................................... 75

20% OFF First Book Promotion with the Fussy Librarian ............................... 78

Connections eMagazine ......................................................................................... 79

Utah: Old But Not Forgotten by Melanie P. Smith ........................................... 14 Birds & Animals by Sylva Fae ............................................................................... 52

Am I a Real Mum? by Maressa Mortimer We’re all familiar with ‘Imposter syndrome’, where we might downplay our achievements, our job or our hobby. When people ask us what we do, we say, “Oh, I’m a full-time mum, I homeschool my children. Oh, and in the evening I like to write, you know, just for fun...” There are other times where some of us mums can feel like that. It’s Mother’s Day this month, and for adoptive and foster families, it can be very difficult. It’s the month for awkward questions, like “What about their real mother?” I know, I could do with losing some weight and getting fitter, but last time I checked, I was still real, not imagined... I’m also the one dealing with tears, preparing meals, soothing, sticking on plasters (wish we had shares in some plaster factory!), and cleaning up after four little darlings. I’m the one consoling my children after nightmares, hugging them better when heartbreaking sadness overwhelms them or when their early years’ trauma causes misunderstandings. Does that make me a real mother? Or am I only a real mother because a piece of paper from the Courts says so?

Then there is the more tricky one. “They’re so lucky to have you.” Not really. You see, there is nothing lucky for my children in their loss, grief and hurt. I’m beyond blessed, of course, at being allowed to love and care for these precious little beings! (Also, I can honestly say my kids are the best; after all, I got to choose them!) My children are maybe fortunate that they have been given a second chance at life, but that isn’t lucky. There is nothing lucky about missing out on formative years, nothing lucky about being harmed or anything else that necessitates Social Services to -8-

ever, I grin, and think of all the mums who take that line for granted. After all, there is no comparison, is there? But you see, MY kids do have a way to compare, as I’m not their first ‘mother figure’. So when my children tell me I’m the best, I’m beyond chuffed! So this Mother’s Day, hug your children even closer and say a prayer for those children who have had several ‘mothers’ through no fault of their own. And also pray for all those, unreal, unnatural, nonpermanent, improper, special mums, who are ‘only’ the adoptive or foster mum, and who might not have a pleasant or sweet Mother’s Day this year, but instead deal with their children’s grief and rage. I’ll be eating my real cake with a lovely non-imaginary coffee made by one of my children, admiring my children’s homemade proper, real cards.

remove a child from their birth family. Ever. Foster carers see the grief and heartbreak as well, bearing the brunt of it, I think. Without the permanency that adoption allows a family. I can’t speak from experience, but I have heard many sad stories around Mother’s Day in Foster families. Who do you make the Mother’s Day card for when the teacher asks? There is sadness and hurt in all this, but also joy and beauty. My children love me, and have always called me ‘Mum’, even though it took me a while to recognise their shrill voices in the playground! They are incredible and so full of life and joy, they brighten my day. They fill our house with laughter and mess, more than we could ever imagine (both the laughter and the mess...!). To receive a card or gift for Mother’s Day is always special, but for me, it feels extra precious. And when my children write, You’re the Best mummy


Fibonacci Poems


A Fibonacci poem (or Fib) is a multiple-line verse based on the Fibonacci sequence so that the number of syllables in each line equals the total number of syllables in the preceding two lines.

Kids. All mine. I love them, They are special kids. One day they just came in my heart, And my love Still grows. Kids. Mine.





My life.

My child,


Calling me.

Filled my heart with love,

It took me a while

My home with toys and noise and tears.

To hear my name being called out;

Happy and sad, both

To recognise “Mum”

Are needed

As calling

To live,

My name.





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 descend 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 in December 2019. My latest novel, Walled City, launched on December 5th, 2020, and I’m nearing the first draft of its sequel! And Viking Ferry, a novella, has unexpectedly been released at the end of March! Visit my website to read my blog or to buy signed copies from my shop! - 10 -

Do You Ever Wish by Stan Phillips Do you ever wish you could cross the bridge, and go where nobody else has been?

Do you ever wish you could vanish into an sylvan wonderland?

Do you ever wish

you'd found a place where magic is waiting for you?

Do you ever wish you could be where dreams come true and you are a child of life trembling on the brink of the wonder of being?

Stan Phillips is a 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: - 11 -

Europe by Book by Hannah Howe

The Crumpled Letter (Belle Epoque Mystery Book 1) by Alice Quinn On the French Riviera during the belle époque, a murder draws two women into the dangerous shadows of Europe’s privileged elite… One winter evening in 1884, beautiful young courtesan Lola Deslys discovers the lifeless body of a chambermaid hidden in the gardens of the Hôtel Beau Rivage in Cannes. Even more distressing is that Lola knows the girl well. When the inquiry into her murder fails to reveal a single substantial clue, Lola is persuaded by novelist Guy de Maupassant to delve into the case on her own. Eager to exert her independence and defy conventions, Lola agrees. But she needs help in her investigation, and there’s no better partner in her pursuit—however unlikely—than Miss Gabriella Fletcher, a highborn, well-educated, and currently disgraced English governess. To solve this dreadful crime, Lola and Miss Fletcher must navigate the depths of respectable society. But will their determination suffice in a city where fortune, secrets, men, and appearances reign supreme?

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Mikky dos Santos Art Thief Thrillers Vol 1-3 (Mikky dos Santos Thriller Series) by Janet Pywell Follow Europe’s most cunning art thief, forger, and amateur sleuth as she tracks down priceless antiquities and foils nefarious plots, all while shocking the people she meets with her ruthless attitude and elaborately-inked body.

STOLEN SCRIPT Mikky can’t wait to jump on a plane when she hears her dear friend Simon needs someone to fly to Greece to locate a priceless 900year-old Torah scroll. She lands in Greece only to discover a constellation of nefarious characters who all seem to have their own ideas about the fate of the scroll. And then the lawyer representing the Torah’s donor abruptly disappears…

MASTERPIECE Mikky dos Santos leaps onto the London art scene like Mick Jagger as Jumpin’ Jack Flash. She’s playing the long game, waiting for her neighbor to die so she can steal nice Mrs. Green’s Vermeer. But some other art thief gets there first— one who’s not about to let a sweet old lady stand in the way. And they’ve unleashed Mikky’s wrath by killing her. So now it’s another long game—one of ‘who do you trust?’ BOOK OF HOURS A dear—but dangerous—friend tracks Mikky down and asks for her help in authenticating a beautiful and possibly priceless medieval prayer book, a Book of Hours. Suddenly, Mikky finds herself caught up in someone else’s web—a deadly game played out across three countries. 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:

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Utah: Old But Not Forgotten by Melanie P. Smith

© MPSmith Publishing

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Traveling Through a Painting by Chantal Bellehumeur Christine was a young woman who was curious. She loved touring different cities, visiting historical sites, and going on adventures. However, she found travelling exhausting and often wished she could instantly be transported to the places she wanted to visit. Since childhood, she'd had a vivid imagination. Her wish to ‘quick-travel,’ as she called it, often made her daydream. She would look at paintings or pictures from the pages of history or art books and travel guides, and visualize walking through them into the beautiful scenery. There, she imagined herself walking around the old or modern sites. For the weekend of her twenty-sixth birthday, she agreed to accompany her boyfriend Connor to a wedding in London, Ontario. Sebastien, his friend from high school, was finally tying the knot with his long-time girlfriend Julie. Although Connor hadn’t seen Sebastien in almost five years and Christine had never met him, they both thought it would be nice to go to the wedding together. To Christine, it was also a chance to explore a new city, so she and Connor took a few extra days off work. She really wasn't looking forward to the long car ride from Montreal though. Luckily, Connor's great-aunt Shannon lived in the city of Toronto which was on the way. She’d happily agreed to let them stay over a couple of nights, to break up the trip. Her house was still about a five and a half hour drive from where Connor and Christine resided, but it was better than going straight to London which would have taken over eight hours even without traffic. Christine fell asleep as she always did on long road trips. It was a habit she’d picked up as a

baby, because her father used to bring her on car rides whenever she was fussy and refused to sleep. When Connor pulled into the double driveway in front of his great-aunt’s red-bricked house, Christine stirred in the passenger seat and slowly opened her eyes. "We're here," Connor told his yawning girlfriend. "Finally," she replied before opening the door of the small blue rental. It was a nice summer day, and the sun shone on Christine's pale face as she stepped outside. The sound of birds chirping made her smile, and she slowly started to come back to her ‘own world’ as Connor always said when she was in a daze. The sound of the car trunk being closed brought Christine back to reality. She briefly saw somebody walking a dog, but barely noticed that person. Her focus was entirely on the beautiful furry husky on the leash. "Coming?" Connor called as he waited for her at the top of the paved driveway, near the large double garage door. - 16 -

Christine joined her boyfriend and walked with him on a flat, narrow stone path towards Shannon's front porch, letting him pull the large rolling suitcase they’d chosen to share. Flower beds filled each side of the curving path, and Christine noticed a few buzzing bees flying from one bright flower to another.

flew around the long plastic container, and landed on short perches to take some of the birdseed. "I wonder what it would be like to be a bird," Christine dreamily said out loud.

Connor lifted the heavy luggage up the three steps onto the wooden porch and Christine dreamily followed behind him.

"I imagine you would feel free," Connor replied. He then jokingly added, "although if you were a bird you might not go far because of your fear of heights."

He rang the doorbell while she looked at the perfect lawn and waited for Shannon to greet them. Christine admired the pretty flower garden with decorative gnome statues in the middle of the green grass. In the centre was a tilted barrel full of dirt and flowers of various sizes and colours spilling out.

Christine playfully hit Connor on the right shoulder in response to his comment, just as a short grey-haired woman opened the door. She was dressed in perfectly ironed beige pants, a wrinkle-free flowery blouse, and a pearl necklace. In contrast, Connor and Christine had comfortable jeans and t-shirts on. "This is my violent girlfriend Christine," Connor told his great-aunt. "She abuses me all the time." Christine was about to hit Connor again, but realized it would only make his statement appear more truthful so she let out a sigh instead. Shannon obviously didn't take Connor seriously. She’d laughed at his comment.

A short rock path on the dirt led to a stone birdbath. A finch dampened his brown and white feathers and shook his tiny body to remove the excess water. Two brown squirrels zoomed by, one chasing the other. Christine watched them run up a small tree that had been planted on the nextdoor neighbours’ front lawn. She knew it was an oak because of the fallen acorns, and tried to imagine it as big as the ones she’d seen in the woods. Her eyes were drawn to a birdfeeder hanging from one of the thin branches. Two sparrows

“I’m happy you finally made it my dears!” she exclaimed and gave them each a tight hug. Her strong flowery perfume filled their nostrils. With a welcoming smile on her face, Shannon invited her young guests inside her big house. Christine instantly fell in love with the tidy place. It looked like it was full of memories and potential stories. From the entrance, she could smell a flowery scent and see the living room as well as the dining room with its antique furniture and lighting, vintage rugs, decorative knickknacks, crystal candy dish, taper candles in elegant silver holders, old hardcover books, and photographs. There were also many framed landscape paintings on the Victorian-styled wallpapered walls. - 17 -

Her favourite was one with a doe standing by a partially frozen river in a snowy wood.

"Exactly," Christine enthusiastically replied. She was glad somebody understood.

"Do you paint?" Christine asked as she removed her black sporty sandals from her small feet.

Shannon arrived at the top of the staircase and turned right. She stopped in front of the first bedroom on the left. "Well, this will be your room during your stay. I changed the bedsheets and pillowcases this morning and put an extra blanket on the bed." Christine noticed the thick quilt. "I doubt you'll need it," Shannon continued, "but just in case."

"Yes. I do," Shannon responded with a touch of pride. Christine heard the hint of an Irish accent which surprised her despite her knowledge of Connors' Irish heritage. He had the stereotypical ginger hair and freckles. "I paint a lot of winter scenes even though it’s not my favorite season," Shannon added and laughed. The accent was stronger now. "I guess I just love how pretty the snow looks, and spattering paint with my brush is quite fun. But, I'm not a fan of the cold." Christine could relate to the woman's statement. She enjoyed watching the sparkling snow fall during winter, but despised the cold. During the colder season, she didn't like being outdoors. Instead, she enjoyed reading a good book in the comfort of her apartment with a warm blanket and a cup of mocha or hot chocolate. As Christine and Connor climbed the wooden stairs to the second floor, led by Shannon, Christine noticed more framed paintings hanging on the beige painted wall. They all had Shannon’s signature on the bottom right corner. "They’re beautiful," she told the artist. "I feel like I can almost walk right into them." Connor told his aunt about Christine's desire to quick-travel which made her blush. It sounded silly when somebody said it out loud. However, Shannon didn't react in a way that made Christine feel odd. Instead, she admitted that she also sometimes imagined herself traveling within her paintings. "It would be nice if I could simply paint a destination and just go there by walking into my canvas. It would save me time and money."

"Feel free to use the dresser," the woman added as she pointed to a long antique wooden unit. It had a golden rimmed arched mirror above it and a small silver bowl with potpourri inside. "The drawers are empty. Same goes for the night tables." Christine noticed that the wooden tables on each side of the queen-sized bed matched the antique dresser. Each one had a white circular crochet doily with an old lamp on it. "The towels and facecloths are in the bathroom," Shannon told them, pointing in the direction of an open door to the left of the stairs. "Let me know if ever you need anything else my dears." Both Christine and Connor thanked Shannon for her hospitality, and were left alone to pick a bedside and unpack before dinner. Christine chose the side closest to the large window. She loved the white lacy curtains and the way the bright sunlight shone into the room. Plus, on her end table was an antique jewellery box and she was curious to see what was inside. It turned out to be empty. The box still held something of interest to Christine; she found a metallic winding key at the back. As soon as she cranked it, Connor turned his head towards her with a mortified look on his face. He knew what was coming; classical music. To Christine's content, the melody of Beethoven's "Eloise" started playing. She closed her eyes to better enjoy the harp-like music.

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“Are you picturing yourself walking through that mirror?” Connor teased. “As a matter of fact, I am. Have you ever noticed that things look more interesting inside a mirror?” Connor responded that it looked the same as what the glass was reflecting. Christine rolled her eyes at him and sighed. “Never mind.” She continued looking around while Connor unzipped the suitcase and began unpacking. The oil painting hanging above the bed's old wooden headboard caught her attention; another Shannon O’Reilly original. It was of a narrow dirt path between two tall stone walls which led to an archway in front of another wall. There, the path divided in two. “If one were to walk to the fork,” Christine thought, “they would have to choose between going left or right.”

"I wonder where each path leads," Christine said. Connor didn’t comment. He just went on unpacking, and eventually Christine started doing the same. Connor interrupted the peacefulness by throwing his thick leather wallet and two sets of clinking keys onto the bed near Christine. Since they landed so close to the edge, they slid off and landed on the hardwood floor with a thump. Connor asked if she could put his wallet and keys inside the musical box. "For safe keeping," he jokingly told her.

By the time they headed downstairs, Shannon had already set the table in the dining room. Dinner was almost ready. They joined Shannon in the large kitchen and took in the pleasant aroma of tomato sauce cooking on the stovetop. “I was kind of expecting stew,” Christine whispered to Connor. “Because my great-aunt is Irish?” he said half laughing.

Christine placed the items in the box, and cranked it a second time to listen to the music again. She pretended to be a ballerina by going on her tippy toes for a few seconds. Then she attempted a pirouette, but ended up almost crashing into the long oval mirror standing in the corner of the room.

“Yes,” Christine admitted and blushed. She hoped Shannon hadn’t heard in case she got offended.

“I thought about making my traditional lamb stew,” Shannon casually said before giving Christine an amicable wink. “But, I wasn’t sure how you would feel about it.” Christine informed her host that she wasn’t picky. "Connor told me that pasta was your favourite, so I made

Connor laughed, and she reacted by throwing a pillow at him. She turned her attention to the mirror; not to look at herself, but rather at what was beyond the glass.

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spaghetti and meatballs. It's actually an old Italian recipe a good friend of mine gave me. Her Nona used to make it."

Christine didn't believe in birthday wishes because hers never came true. She could never keep them secret though, and according to stories she’d read as a child it was essential not to tell anyone what it was if you wanted the wish to become real. Also, all the birthday candles had to be extinguished in a single blow. If it took more than one try, your wish evaporated with the smoke.

"I can't wait to try it," Christine replied. Her stomach gurgled loudly as though it was replying as well. Soon they were all seated at the long dining table, eating delicious pasta and garlic bread off fancy white plates with golden rims and drinking red wine from crystal glasses. Shannon had also taken out her special silverware.

"I wish..." Christine started out loud. After a short pause, she continued in her head. "…that I could walk through pictures and paintings." She smiled, took a big breath, and blew out every one of her twenty-six candles.

For dessert, Shannon brought out a variety of homemade goodies. “I have cookies, brownies, tarts, and my special quicksand chocolate pudding.”

Connor and Shannon applauded Christine and inquired about her wish. "I'm not saying or it won't come true," she answered and laughed. She didn't actually believe that she would be able to walk through pictures or paintings if she kept her wish to herself. She was just playing the game.

Intrigued by the quicksand pudding, Christine decided to try it first. She loved it so much that she took a second helping before selecting a couple of cookies. “If I continue eating, I won’t fit into my dress on Saturday,” she joked. “Oh dear,” Shannon responded. She soon looked deep in thought, then excused herself from the table. A few minutes later, she surprised Christine with a small birthday cake. Connor sang “Happy birthday” along with his great-aunt as she walked out the kitchen with the candlelit cake.

The home-baked cake slathered in creamy chocolate frosting was cut in slim even pieces, and eaten with tea or coffee depending on personal preference; Connor drank black coffee, while the women shared a pot of Irish Breakfast tea with cream and sugar. At first, Christine had felt nervous about visiting Connor’s great-aunt but was now completely at ease. She liked Shannon and thought she was a sweet woman, not to mention that they shared a lot in common including an imaginative mind. Despite the major age difference, Christine felt that conversing with Shannon was like talking to a close friend.

"Connor told me chocolate was your favourite," Shannon said and set the plate down in front of Christine. "Now, think of a wish and blow out the candles, my dear."

Long after the desserts and beverages were consumed, the three of them remained at the table chatting. The periodic chimes of the old grandfather clock in the adjoining room went unnoticed; as though it could not be heard until it struck ten.

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Everyone seemed to jolt awake, yet it was time for sleep. They each did their part in clearing the table, and leaving the dishes for the morning they made their way upstairs. "Good night my dears!" Shannon said before heading to her room. "Good night!" they replied and walked into theirs and closed the door behind them. Shortly after getting into bed with Connor and closing her eyes, Christine opened them again. "Are you awake?" she whispered. Connor didn’t answer and was soon snoring.

Unable to keep her eyes closed and feeling restless, she examined the painting. It looked inviting, and when she touched its bumpy surface with her manicured right hand it went right through. The rest of her body soon followed. She found herself inside the oil painting, in her cotton pyjamas, staring at a framed portrait of the guest room she’d just been in. Connor was sleeping peacefully in the bed.

"Connor!" Christine shouted, but he didn’t stir. The frame she looked at started shrinking on the wall until it completely disappeared. In a panic, she touched different parts of the wall searching for a way out, but only felt the hardness of the stones. "How do I get out of here?" she asked herself. She turned and saw the archway at the end of the dirt path. Barefoot, she ran towards it and found herself at the fork. She looked in both directions and concluded that they looked the same. "Which way do I go?" she said. Nobody answered. Finally, she chose to go left, and it led her to another stone archway. She turned left again and followed the path until she came to another archway which gave her three options; left, right, or straight on. After a moment’s hesitation, she went straight ahead. Reaching an archway on her right, she walked through it. She turned left and started jogging, then running. Each path led her to new archways and paths. It was quite dizzying.

She tried to sleep, but had difficulty. The painting above her head with the dirt path between the stone walls seemed to be lighting up and it distracted her. She soon realized that streetlights were shining on it.

Eventually, she hit a dead end. "Great! I'm in a labyrinth!" she shouted almost out of breath. She stood still to catch her breath and caught an overpowering scent of flowers mixed with the hint of herbs and tomatoes.

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As she wondered what to do, she thought she saw a bearded gnome wearing a pointy red hat poke his head around the corner. “Hello?” she called feeling ridiculous. She received a silent response. Finally, she headed back the way she came, this time at a normal pace, until she found an archway and took a left. To no surprise, it led to another stone archway. This one had thick roots growing around it. Still unsure where to go, she walked through the archway and again turned left. As she followed the path, she saw that the stone walls on each side of her had an occasional red brick lodged into it. Roots grew from them, and various types of flowers slowly bloomed in front of her like magic. Bees materialized to pollinate the new flowers.

A whitetail doe that strangely seemed to be wearing a pearl necklace approached in the distance, past planted vegetables, by a frozen river. Christine could have sworn that it spoke to her with Shannon’s Irish accent. A stag with large antlers appeared in the falling snow beside the doe, and Christine heard her boyfriend’s voice call her name.

Christine felt a burning sensation on her right foot and noticed part of a stinger sticking out of a newly swollen area. A bee had stung her, and it looked like the other winged insects from the colony were about to attack her too. She ran as fast as she could and removed the barbed stinger when she finally felt safe. At this point, she found herself standing in a large patch of green clover. When she looked up, she saw a lamb as white as snow advancing towards her. It gave a cute little baa, then ran off between two rows of potato plants.

Thinking Connor and Shannon could see her in the painting, she yelled to them. Neither one answered, and the two deer looked at her blankly with big dark eyes. She decided to walk towards the deer, where the sound of the voices had come from, thinking she might be near an exit. Unfortunately, they galloped away before she could get close. The doe knocked down a random barrel as it raced away with the stag. Dirt and flowers spilled onto the snowy path and seemed to spread out more than it should. Christine followed the hoof prints in the melting snow and dirt, but after going through two archways the impressions suddenly stopped as though the deer had mysteriously disappeared. After taking another step forward, she realized why. There was quicksand. She managed to step out of the dark unstable mixture before it consumed her. Having no other choice but to go in the opposite direction, she did so and soon saw a big dog in the distance. It looked like a husky, but the closer she got, the more it resembled a - 22 -

large opening in front of the oak tree.

wolf. When the morphed canine bared its sharp teeth and menacingly growled, she ran away.

A brown squirrel climbed down from the thick trunk, got on its hind legs and looked at Christine. It then headed for the opening, stopped, and looked behind at her before continuing inside. Christine took this as a sign that she should follow the bushy tailed rodent.

Flocks of finches as well as sparrows flew past as though they too were fleeing from the wolf, and Christine wished she could join them in the air. She had an urge to jump up as high as she could with her arms spread out, so she did. Rather than land back on the ground, she remained in the air and seemed to soar alongside the birds. Feathers as white as her long flowing hair started growing on her bare arms which soon transformed into majestic wings. Christine gracefully flew with the birds and got high enough in the cloudy blue sky to see the inside of the labyrinth. It was huge and seemed to have no end. As a whole, the inside contained all types of landscapes; mountainous, flat, and coastal.

Once inside, she saw the squirrel head down a set of wooden stairs and Christine did the same. When she reached the bottom, she found herself in a candlelit room with random objects piled on top of each other; clocks, hardcover books, silver candleholders, jewellery boxes, figurines, statues, silverware, tea pots and matching cups, fancy plates. They all looked like antiques.

The further out the surreal labyrinth went, the wider apart the walls were and Christine could see hills, woods, rivers, lakes, rainforest, waterfalls, jungles, desserts, farmland, empty fields, snowy mountains, glaciers, cliffs… "How am I supposed to get out of here?" she wondered. She’d hoped to somehow be able to fly back to Shannon’s, but that was not the case.

Drawn to a large oval mirror within a fancy golden frame, she stepped in front of it. Her reflection showed that her wings had turned back to normal arms. Looking closer at the mirror, she saw the inside of Shannon's dining room.

The birds flew towards an opening in the labyrinth which had a large oak tree in the centre, so Christine followed their lead. The birds scattered and gracefully landed on the tree branches. Christine’s fear of heights kicked in, so she made for the safe ground rather than join the birds in the oak tree. Some birds flew down and headed towards a stone birdbath. They played around in the clear water, loudly chirping away. Hundreds of acorns lay on the ground near the birdbath. Some were lined up together forming borders to a dirt path. She slowly made her way between the borders and walked on. It led to a - 23 -

Although it was a tight squeeze, she crawled inside the grandfather clock and came out the other side into Shannon's dining room.

Thinking she could walk through the mirror like she had with the painting, she lightly placed her right hand on the glass. Nothing happened. She tried again with more force, but the only thing she accomplished was to break the nail on her index finger.

When she stood, Christine saw herself sitting in a wooden chair with her head resting sideways on the dining table. She was wearing her jeans and t-shirt from earlier. Somebody, most likely Shannon, had wrapped the thick quilt from the guestroom around her shoulders.

She looked behind her and saw that the vision in the mirror was simply a reflection of what could now be seen in the clean glass window of a tall grandfather clock.

“Am I having an out of body experience?” she wondered. She walked over to the figure at the table and her soul instantly connected with its body. Her eyes burst open to the loud chime of the grandfather clock, and she found herself all alone in the dark dining room. The full moon shone in the starlit sky through the patio door.

Christine tried to go through the new-found glass, but that didn't work either. She saw a tiny keyhole and realized that the glass window could be opened like a door. It was locked though. "Where could I possibly find the key?” she said.

"I fell asleep?" she whispered as the grandfather clock continued to strike, stopping only after its twelfth count.

The brown squirrel ran up the pile of abandoned antiques, making some of the items fall. Music started playing and Christine recognized the tune of "Eloise" so she looked for the music box. When she found it, she opened it and saw a small antique key. She took the ornate brass key and walked back to the grandfather clock. Luckily, the key fit perfectly into the keyhole, and she was able to open the glass door.

Christine drowsily managed to drag herself up to bed with the quilt. When she woke the next morning, she felt exhausted. "I had the strangest dream," she told Connor as she got out of bed. She noticed that her feet were dirty; they were full of dried up dirt. So were the bottom of her pyjama pants. She also

- 24 -

noticed something green between two of her left foot toes. She bent to remove it and found herself holding a four-leaf clover. In addition, Christine realised that the nail of her right index finger was broken. While Connor continued to ask about her dream, Christine lifted the bedsheet and saw dirt at the bottom of the bed, as well as a dead bee.

"What are you doing?” Connor asked. “Are you going to tell me what your dream was?”

could travel directly there. "This is ridiculous," she said out loud without meaning to.

"I... Can't remember," she lied. She didn't really know what to say and discretely grabbed the bee to throw it in the garbage. As she did, she noticed that its stinger was missing. “Huh,” she exclaimed.

"What's ridiculous?" Connor asked. Part of her wanted to tell him about her odd adventure that included her birthday wish coming true, but she knew it would sound crazy. She determined that it had to be a dream; most likely inspired by everything she’d seen and heard the previous day.

Connor was looking at her strangely so she had no choice but to show him the dead bee. She hoped he could see it. “Did it sting you?” he asked in concern.

She realised there was no logical explanation for the dirt on her feet, pant legs, and sheets which Connor did not seem to have noticed. As far as she could tell, there was no dirt anywhere else, nor any footprints on the floor or dark decorative woven carpet by her bedside. She opened the bedroom door and peeked into the hallway. There was no dirt on the hardwood floor there either.

Christine was relieved to find that she wasn’t hallucinating. “I think it did while I was sleeping, although I’ve no idea how it got here.” Connor shrugged his shoulders in response. Christine wondered if she had been sleepwalking even though she had no history of doing so. She asked Connor if he’d ever seen her walk around in the middle of the night.

"Am I imagining it?" Christine wondered. "Am I going crazy?"

He denied ever witnessing her getting out of bed at night, but was a sound sleeper. “Why do you ask?”

"What's this?" Connor asked, pausing from making the bed.

She still didn’t know what to tell him so she simply answered, “No reason.”

Christine turned to see him holding an antique brass key and her jaw almost dropped.

As she gathered toiletries from the shared suitcase to prepare for a shower, she spotted the small purple envelope containing the wedding invitation. She knew there was a picture of the venue inside, and it made her wonder if she

“Where did you find this?” she asked, stunned.

- 25 -

“Under your pillow.” "What’s going on,” she wondered with a puzzled look. She debated telling Connor the truth. After all, they were supposed to be honest with each other. "What is the truth," she then asked herself. "I found it," she answered and took the key from him. She almost expected it to vanish but it remained in her hand.

“This is real, right,” she asked. “Yes… Are you okay?” he said. “You seem more spaced out than usual this morning.” Christine nodded in affirmation. Whatever she’d experienced could not be shared with Connor at the risk of getting made fun of, but she knew exactly who would appreciate hearing about her adventure.

While Connor took a shower, Shannon made a pot of Irish Breakfast tea. Then she listened to Christine’s story with great interest as she sipped the hot liquid. Christine left no details out. When Christine showed Shannon the antique key, the woman claimed she had no memory of ever seeing it before. “My mind isn’t what it used to be though,” she admitted. Christine’s adventure remained a mystery.

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, magazine, plus a local newspaper. For a complete list of publications, including free reads, visit the following website: products-/

- 26 -

On Being Grown Up by Stan Phillips

Do you ever lie there at three in the morning with your mind on fire? I do.

And it's so long since Your mind was clear of concern. Since you were seven. With nothing to think of.

And you're full of grown-up thoughts running round your brain. Responsibilities. Jobs that need doing, People who have to be advised. Even chastised.

And it was summer, warm. School's off and you're free. You could walk without a care in the world. Floating on the winds of youth. Socks round your ankles, Lying in a park, on the grass.

Bills that need paying, And cars that need repairing, Children to feed and clothe. Shopping to be done, Gardens need to be tended, Walls to be painted.

Watching days drift by. The glory of an unappreciated life Gone in a twinkled eye. Do you remember that feeling?

It's all like going down a hill, On a bike with no brakes, slow motion.

And if you had a wish, what was it? Probably to be grown up. How strange.

Stan Phillips is a 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: - 27 -

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:// 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

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 - 28 -

- 29 -

Coast to Coast by Alan Southworth

I have done a great deal of long-distance walking and walks in the British Isles but by far the one I have enjoyed the most, also the most memorable, has to be the English ‘Coast to Coast' walk, deemed to be one of the most popular worldwide. The walk was devised in the early seventies by legendary Lancashire fell-walker, Alfred Wainwright and was designed to start from Bowness-on-Solway on the Irish sea (West) and crossing the width of the country finishing at Robin Hoods Bay on the North Sea (East). Myself and a walking colleague decided to undertake the challenge in 2006. The length of the walk is 192 miles which we planned to complete in twelve days, an average of sixteen miles per day. We set off on Monday 10th July 2006 from a gloomy Bownesson-Solway after dipping our toes in a chilly Irish sea, a tradition which requires this action to be carried out at the start and finish of the walk.

The following day's walking over wonderful terrain would hold lasting memories of both the scenery and the many likeminded walkers from an assortment of countries we encountered along the way. I need to point out at this stage that it would not be possible to cover the whole of the walk in this article as it would take up the whole issue, I am merely attempting to offer the reader an insight into what is a 192 m walk of diverse and varied interest following in the footsteps of our most celebrated fellwalker.

The walk itself takes in areas of three National Parks – The Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and The North York moors, and comprises thirteen stages which can be varied to suit the individual walker. However, back to the walk. On leaving the coast we headed inland for Ennerdale bridge and forest and a distance of fourteen miles to our first overnight stop at Low Cock How farm, Ennerdale, I must add at this point that although the first day had been wet and gloomy the remainder of the walk was accomplished in the hottest weather of that year with the temperature between 25 – 30deg. so making sure we carried sufficient water was crucial.

Alfred Wainwright on his many lakeland excursions did not always hold with the walkers code of keeping to the footpath and on occasion was known to indulge in a spot of trespass to suit his purpose, however our walk adhered to the path which was well signposted.

- 30 -

ultimately Honister slate mine, Seetoller and Borrowdale which beckoned for our next welcome overnight stay.

There are many highlights on the walk, too numerous to mention, however one or two include - following the shoreline of Ennerdale water, passing Robin Hoods chair, up to the remote Black sail Youth hostel and heading up to the Honister Pass, - 31 -

From Borrowdale we continued on to Grasmere and Wordsworth country where you might take a slight diversion to visit the poet's grave, Grasmere being one of England's villages. From Grasmere on to Patterdale and another stop before a tiring sixteen-mile trek to Shap, the highest point on the M6 motorway and a thriving town until the motorway provided an alternative route to Scotland. Following an overnight stay in Shap we left the Lake District behind us and climbed Kidsty Pike, the highest point on the walk, as we approached Haweswater – the huge reservoir built to meet the demands of Manchester – we were lucky enough to spot a pair of Golden eagles. I would go on describing each stage of this exceptional walk but I would just be writing another guide book, so I will shorten this article and jump to the latter stages ie Gromont to Robin Hoods Bay. This last stage thirteen, takes us from Gromont – home of steam rail and repair sheds – onto the North York moors, over Sleights Moor, part of the intriguingly named Eskdale Cum Ugglebarnby, with views initially down to Robin Hoods Bay. We traversed two moors to arrive at Hawkser where the Woodland Cafe offers a welcome cup of tea. We now had a final half hour coastal trudge before reaching our

- 32 -

Stages: 1. St Bees to Ennerdale Bridge. 2. Ennerdale Bridge to Borrowdale. 3. Borrowdale to Grasmere. 4. Grasmere to Patterdale. 5. Patterdale to Shap. 6. Shap to Kirkby Stephen.

7. Kirkby Stephen to Keld. 8. Keld to Reeth. destination of Robin Hoods Bay, dip our toes in the North Sea, sign the official Coast to Coast register in the Bay Hotel and enjoy a well-earned pint, and fish and chips. Mission complete.

9. Reeth to Richmond. 10. Richmond to Ingleby Cross. 11. Ingleby Cross to Blakey Ridge. 12. Blakey Ridge to Gromont. 13. Gromont to Robin Hoods Bay.

I am a retired engineer and professional woodturner from Lancashire, England. I have an interest in all things wood, therefore, trees, mainly our indigenous native trees. I am a member of the woodland Trust and am a volunteer photographer for the trust. My interests are varied and include hillwalking, cycling and I was a Martial Arts student and instructor for over fifty years. I also play acoustic Guitar and ukulele, badly, I may add, my musical interests are also varied and range from English and Irish folk, through to Classical. I also have an interest in Lancashire dialect writing and poems. - 33 -

Mom’s Favorite Reads Author Rachael Wright Rachael Wright is a Colorado native with degrees in History and Political Science from Colorado Mesa University. She is a devoted tea drinker, Manchester United fan, wife, and mother. Rachael lives outside of Denver with her husband, daughter, and very full bookshelves. Rachael is available to speak at book clubs and events and can be reached on her website


Follow Rachael — Website:

Facebook: Authorrachaelwright/

Lives Paris Took is a story about a real family and a love that transcended time. Straddling life and death, country boundaries, and cultural divides, it is a novel which questions responsibilities and the bonds that, once forged, are never truly broken.

Emmeline MacArthur’s story is about love, the love which bonds a family, that compels a mother’s sacrifice, and the love which creates the framework of grief. The Clouds Aren’t White forces the question, what if the worst were to happen?

https:// B077R8MQKZ

https:// B01ABDLIFQ - 34 -


Pinterest: _created/

Goodreads: show/15058708.Rachael_Wright


Captain Savva Series:

Mrs. Fitzroy: A Captain Savva Mystery Brash, streetwise, Captain Alexander Savva of the Hellenic Police is called to investigate the crumpled mess of a car, and the body inside it, being battered by the sea. With the brakes compromised, John Fitzroy had no chance of surviving the steep roads along the coast. Where many investigations struggle for suspects, Savva has no lack of them.

A gritty, emotionally-charged, mystery, Mrs. Fitzroy is a profound exploration of the lies we tell ourselves to survive. B07B26BL9R

Solitary Reaper: A Captain Savva Mystery

Space Behind: A Captain Savva Mystery

Secrets, lies, and pain lie under the beautiful and serene mask of the isle of Lesvos, Greece. Captain Alexandros Savva of the Hellenic Police knows all three first hand. The decadeold murder of his only child haunts him and pushes him to solve every case regardless of how undeserving its victim.

A family’s seedy underbelly is revealed in the third installment of the Captain Savva Series. Alexandros Savva is still reeling from the shock that his daughter’s murderer and rapist has returned to Lesvos and now works alongside his wife aiding Syrian refugees. Pain and anger have brought him to the bottom of a bottle more than once.

A gritty, emotionally-charged mystery, A Solitary Reaper, is a profound exploration of the love which binds us and the secrets which tear us apart. B07HCP9C69 - 35 -

As Savva follows the trail of sinister deeds and buried vices, something far more dire lays just beyond the horizon, something Savva can’t foresee or stop. B07XZJJKPM

The Benefits of Journaling by Wendy H. Jones Over the past several years journaling has become increasingly popular; even more so in the past year as many people have used journaling to deal with what is happening around them. Whilst no-one can control the virus or the situation in which they currently find themselves, they can control how they act and how they deal with what life throws at them. Journaling can help with this. What exactly is journaling? At it’s very simplest it is a way of writing without pressure on a regular basis. It is essentially a way of getting your thoughts down on paper and recording them in a manner which can help you make sense of them not only at the time, but later. As teenagers many of us kept journals or as we called them then, diaries. As teenagers we were trying to deal with numerous changes, make sense of a world that often felt like it had tipped on its axis. Everything that happens in a teenager’s life is of monumental importance, often seeming much larger than it actually is. Keeping a diary can help a teen to analyse and dissect what they are feeling and to help clear their thoughts. I think a similar thing is happening today. The health benefits of journaling are widely reported and include:

Encourages greater focus.

Boosts the immune system, an area where we currently need all the help we can get.

It opens up the brain to new ideas. The more you journal the more you will take in around you and the more you will not only learn but want to learn. You become more observant, and your brain will process things more deeply and more quickly.

It has a calming effect as it allows you to process and clarify your thoughts.

Assists you to gain new perspective on what is going on around you.

Can help you to start the day or to wind down at the end of the day.

Reduced stress. •

Increased mindfulness.

Improved mood.

Improved brain power.

Improvement in memory function

More stable sleep patterns.

Increased IQ.

These are just some of the benefits of journaling and many more have been documented. Journaling is so much more than putting words down on paper

- 36 -

So, what do you need to start journaling? Nothing more than a notebook and pen. You can buy expensive leatherbound journals meant specifically for that purpose, or you can buy a cheap notebook. You can use an expensive fountain pen, or a cheap biro. Many people now use journaling apps on their phone such as Day One (Apple products only) or Darium (windows/android). To be honest it is not what you use that is important, it is the writing itself. Although, many people who journal find themselves buying notebooks at will and you may find yourself becoming a notebook addict. The important thing about journaling is that you find somewhere quiet and usually alone. It is difficult to write your thoughts down meaningfully if you feel you will be disturbed any minute or that someone could be peering over your shoulder. Once you are alone, open the page, uncap the pen and write. Write anything that comes into your mind. Write down what is important to you. Write down how you feel. Write down what is going on in your mind. Write about your walk, doing the dishes, cleaning the house, the gardening, the libraries, cinemas, shops reopening. If you are happy, if you are sad, how you feel about your children or home schooling. I am sure you are getting the drift - you can write anything you want to write. The important thing is to start writing - as you get into the swing of it your brain will free up as will your thoughts, and you will start to write what is really important to you.

I would advise you to try it for a month and then you will discover your groove and wonder how you managed without it this far in your life. Your next steps are: •

Buy a nice notebook.

Buy a nice pen.

Find somewhere quiet.

Start to write.

Have fun.

You really will discover that journaling can be eye opening, mind blowing, and fun. Try it now.

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: - 37 -

Contributions by Hannah Howe What do you call a boomerang that won’t come back? A stick.

I gave my father $100 and said, “Buy yourself something that will make your life easier.” So he went out and bought a present for my mother.

During a lesson about adjectives, my friend, an elementary school teacher, asked her class to describe their mothers. One boy described his mother's hair as auburn. Impressed by his sophisticated choice of word, my friend asked, "How do you know that your mother’s hair color is auburn?" The student replied, "Because that's what it says on the box."

Yesterday I saw a guy spill all his Scrabble letters on the road. I asked him, “What’s the word on the street?”

I got all my looks from my father. Mostly just the look of disappointment.

What do you call a parade of rabbits hopping backwards? A receding hare-line.

As my lawyer friend once said to me, “Dance like no one is watching. Email like one day it might be read out in a deposition.”

We moved to Wales. It’s beautiful. However, since the move my husband has become suspicious. Last night, he said to me, "You're having an affair with that man from Llanfairpwllgwyngyllwyrndrobwyllllantisiliogogogoch, aren't you?" I smiled and said, "How could you say such a thing?" - 38 -

Chess Supplied by Chess.Com White is on the defensive in this position. After 1. Kxg2 Bh3+ 2. Kg1 Qd5 can you find the key defensive move?

Supplied by the #1 chess website. Used with permission. For more chess puzzles please visit You can find answers for this activity on the Mom’s Favorite Reads website here: - 39 -

Got a Light? by C. Forrest Lundin

Chapter One The streets of the French Quarter were slick with rain. He’d waited at the entrance to Saint Louis Square, across from the cathedral. Jimmy Oiseau swore he’d meet him there after 9 p.m. Jimmy

board. With just enough gas in Jimmy’s old truck,

struck again. He should have known better than to

they left for Mobile. The whole thing went to hell

trust the jerk.

when they crossed the line into Alabama. Three

All he wanted to do was go home. The problem

with leaving the city had to do with money. Jimmy

‘Bama boys took exception to Jimmy freighting Louisiana oysters into their territory.

owed him and he didn’t want to go home empty-

After the fight was over, Jimmy speculated the man

handed. The war over, the military was mustering

they bought the oysters from had alerted the com-

men out all over the place. Ex-military men were a

petition. They lost one entire bag of the damn

dime a dozen. Every man and his brother needed a

smelly things. After delivery, the amount they got

damn job.

added up to a lot less than planned.

Jimmy, a good old Cajun boy, grabbed him before

One of Jimmy’s many cousins hunted them down. As

he cleared the gate and talked long and hard about

they were dividing the cash, he told Jimmy about a

moving oysters from Louisiana to Alabama. Said

so-called windfall. One of the big cargo boats com-

they could freight a bunch of fifty-pound sacks and

ing upriver had hit a severe storm out in the Gulf.

pocket bucks. He needed those greenbacks. Wanted them so much he jumped at the chance without a glance at

the problems they might encounter. Those were legion to quote a Bible passage. They paid a lot more for the shellfish than the figure Jimmy first named. Okay, they handled that… and got the load on - 40 -

Something in the hold tore open several hundred

fields. The woman would skin him alive if he didn’t

bags of coffee. They needed men to come in and

get there before planting season ended.

shovel it up.

And he needed to have a few bucks when he hit the

The broker declined the shipment. Jimmy said the

door. Like a fool, he’d played poker with guys he

man would surely take out a claim on his insurance

didn’t know. Jimmy laughed at him when he found

for the beans. The ship wanted it out of the hold. It

out how much he’d lost. Where the hell was Oiseau,

was free. Gratis, according to Jimmy. If they could

anyway. A half hour later, he worried. Had Jimmy

scrape up as much as possible into sacks, it would

screwed him too?

be theirs to peddle. Jimmy and his cousin took their

The sound of wheels on Chartres Street or maybe

haul south to bayou country to find a buyer.

on the sidewalk had him looking out into the misty

They should have returned. He should have money

dark. What he didn’t expect was to get bumped in

in hand and be on his way to the bus station. If he

the ankle by something. “Ouch! What the hell?

didn’t get his behind home soon, God only knew


what Noreen would do. With the war over, his wife expected to see him home and ready to plant their

Copyright Ó C. Forrest Lundin 2020

- 41 -

He closed his mouth in a hurry when he realized

“I might have. If they aren’t damp. I’ve been waiting

what — or rather, who had bumped into him. A

on a buddy of mine and it’s been a while. I’m won-

man on a board with skate wheels mounted under

dering if he’s going to turn up or not.”

it was pushing himself along on the sidewalk. A sol-

“It’s a crappy night for traveling. I hear this storm

dier who hadn’t come home in one piece used the

has several bayous running over the roads down in

board. He tilted an umbrella to the side and

the delta. Someone said it was on the radio.”

glanced up. “Sorry, fella. I didn’t see you in the

“Damn it. I guess that answers that. I wondered if

dark. Excuse me.”

Jimmy was stiffing me, guess not.” He took out the

The man had a wooden block with a slot for his

book of matches and leaned down to light one for

hand cut in it. Carpet covered the bottom and

the guy on the board. “Looks like I might spend the

sides. He supposed that saved the man’s skin from

night on one of these benches.”

being torn up on the sidewalk. “Pardon me for be-

“Name’s Ted,” The man on the board held up his

ing in your way. I should have been paying better

hand. “What’s yours?”


“Ernie.” He reached down to shake.

“I’m tired. There was a shindig down Chartres

“You get mustered out recently?” Ted asked.

aways. I stayed too long hoping to peddle a few more pencils. What with trying to stay somewhat

“Yup. Trying to get home. I lost a bunch of money in

dry, I wasn’t looking where I was going. I need to

a card game and Jimmy has been helping me…

take a break for a minute.”

well… trying to help me get enough together to get home. If I don’t have seed money when I cross the

He pulled a pack of smokes from his shirt pocket

threshold, Noreen is gonna kick my hind end up be-

and a book of matches. “Well hell, I don’t have a

tween my shoulder blades.”

match left.” The man on the board looked up. “Have you got a light? I could use a drag off this

“Noreen being the little woman, I take it?”

damn thing.”

“You got that one. I’ve known the girl since she was knee high to a grasshopper. She can take skin off at fifty paces with that tongue.” He grinned. “But she’s cute as a bug’s ear and a tasty morsel.” Ted took another drag off his cigarette. It looked to be a roll-your-own he kept in an old Camel pack. “I can’t bring myself to leave another vet out in the damn rain. How about you come home with me?” - 42 -

Ernie wasn’t sure what to say. He didn’t want to

Chapter Two

take advantage of another vet, nor did he want to offend the man by turning down his offer. “You sure this won’t put you out? I don’t want to take advantage.”

It wasn’t hard pulling Ted on the board. A loud curse let Ernie know he’d not been careful enough at the

By the faint light coming from the cathedral, Ted

end of the alley. He bounced Ted too hard on the

smiled up at him. “I’ll make you a deal. You get me

board when the wheels fell into a crack between

home and I’ll put you up for the night. If your friend

paving stones. “Sorry, fella. I didn’t realize how

is a real pal, he’ll be here tomorrow night. You can

rough it is.”

get your bucks and head on home. I suspect he’s stuck where he is until the water goes down. Here in Lousyana, we’re always waiting on the weather.”

“Give me a minute while I reposition. The going is easier on Royal. When you get past Toulouse, start looking for a short ramp leaning against a door. If

He squatted down beside Ted. “I’ll take you up on

you put it down in the street, I can push up on the

the offer, but how do you figure I can get you

banquette. You pull the rope and Brielle will open

home? I’ll do whatever you want, I’m not trying to

the door for us. It’s a good thing we’re on the

weasel out here.”

ground floor.”

“You got a duffle bag?”

The ramp stood where Ted told him to look. Ernie

“I do.”

put it down over the gutter, which ran several inches

Ted nodded. “I thought you might. Put it on the board with me. Detach the strap from the closure.

high with water. It made sense looking at the flow of water that Jimmy might not get back into town.

I’ll hold on to the bag and you can pull me down the

He dashed up and pulled the bell, then turned to

street. It isn’t far, I’m plain tuckered out. The old

help Ted up the ramp. The double doors opened.

lady is gonna bitch at me for not coming home

The paneled solid doors gave way to glass doors.

sooner. With you along, I may skirt disaster.” Ted

A dark-haired woman pushed one wide open and


held the other. “Where have you been, Theodore?

Ernie chuckled. “That’s a woman for you. Damned if

I’ve been worried.” She hurried to shut the doors

you do and damned if you don’t. We get this set up,

behind them.

which direction are we going?”

Ernie stopped to look around the inner court. Stairs

“Down Pirate Alley over to Royal. Then turn left.

led up to the floors above. A door stood open with

Five blocks up on the right. I’ll let you know when it

light shining out into the courtyard. Planters hung

gets close.”

from the iron rail which formed the galleries inside. - 43 -

The entire building was three stories tall.

party.” Ted pulled a rucksack from over his back and

“Gabrielle, let me introduce you to my friend, Er-

handed it up to his wife. “A bowl of your wonderful

nie. He graciously agreed to tow me home, and

beans darlin, with a good dollop of rice if you would.

I’ve offered him a bed for the night. I think he can

Is there enough for Ernie to have a large portion?

sleep in with the boy. En, cher?”

He’s been standing out in the rain waiting for a

“Of course. But let me get you both into the living room. I’ll get some towels. Have you eaten?”

friend.” “There is. Mister Ernie, let me take your coat. I’ll

hang it to dry at the back of the stove. I’m grateful to you for bringing Theodore home. A tow is far easier for him.” She bustled around the kitchen. Gabrielle stopped to lean down and kiss her husband twice. Once when she put Ernie’s bowl on the table and again when she handed a towel to Ted. She took what looked to be a small table cut down to fit over Ted’s board. After putting his food and drink on it, she took the “Ma’am, I’m not looking to put anyone out.” Ernie reached down to pull the duffel bag up and cinch the strap into the metal loop.

towel and scrubbed his head for a moment. Her obvious affection for the man without legs from above the knees, had Ernie embarrassed. It was as if

In the warm yellow light from the open door, her

he watched an intimacy he should turn away from.

smile seemed genuine. Ted’s wife folded up the um-

Still, it was something to see, this lovely woman car-

brella and held the handle out to Ted. When he

ing for her wounded man. A man who would never

took hold of it, she towed him into the waiting

again walk on two legs. Ernie wondered what

room and shut the door.

Noreen would have done if he had come home

“Come into the kitchen. I have the cook stove on.

wounded the same way.

It’s warmer there. You two can dry out. Would you

They settled in to eat. The beans were creamy and

like tea with brandy? Theodore always has one

filled with little pieces of meat. The woman sipped at

when he’s been out in the rain. I have a nice pot of

a mug of something hot while she watched Ted.

red beans still warm. They haven’t dried out, which

When he finished, she removed the bowl, and he

is a wonder as late as you are.”

leaned back against the padded board attached to

“Ah, cher. Don’t fuss. I made a little extra at the

his conveyance. - 44 -

“Merci, cher. That has filled the hole in my middle.

“I can see where it would. Can I ask you a question?

But it has been a long day. I think I will go to bed.

It’s a little personal. You see, I married my girl two

Can you see to our guest?”

weeks before I had to report and ship out. I wonder… well… if she would take care of me as you take care of Ted. How do you do it?” She nodded her dark head. “I have him back. That he is here with me at all is a miracle. Theodore is

my Christmas present. At first, I thought we might not reach this point. Losing his legs was a blow. I didn’t coddle him; he would have shut me out. Still, I let him know I loved him no matter what. It is no hardship to make things easier for him. He is here. She squatted on the tiled floor and hugged Ted.

Our son and I get to be with him, love him. How

They kissed and Ted used his wooden blocks to pro-

could I be unhappy?”

pel his board into the open door on the far side of

“But he’s peddling pencils for money. He can’t pro-

the room. Gabrielle turned her head to the side and

tect you from others… I’m not trying to be mean.

listened, her face serious in the light. The oven

I’m trying to understand.”

kicked on. It was the only sound in the house.

Gabrielle gave a solemn nod. She speared a glance

Ted’s wife stood. “Come. I’ll take you to our son’s

back toward the room where her man waited. “He

room. He has a double bed. The boy can be a rest-

protected me. Theodore gave his legs to the cause.

less sleeper. But the room is warm and dry.” They

The pencils he sells, it is money we would not have

went back out into the courtyard.

otherwise. He came home to me.” Her voice broke.

Ernie stopped her when they got on the far side of

“Home to us. Mister Ernie, if your woman doesn’t

the opening. “I can sleep out here. I don’t want to

love you enough to take you any way she can get

bother your boy. If you have a spare blanket…”

you, you have married the wrong woman. Go home and see if she doesn’t make a fuss of you.”

“No, no. It’s all right. I’m more than happy to accommodate you. It was kind of you to bring him

“I’ve delayed going home because I don’t have the

home. I worry about him. He knows this. I fear he

money I should. We’ll need money for seed, and I

may take a chill and perhaps die on me. Theodore is

was trying to earn it back before I went home.”

a man used to doing for himself. His condition wore

Her hand went to his arm. “Don’t wait. Take what

on him when he got home.”

you have and go. Theodore was my Christmas - 45 -

miracle. Be your wife’s spring surprise, like the flowers poking their heads up to find the sun. As soon as you can go home.” She took him to the child’s room across the courtyard. Ernie didn’t get under all the covers. He thought about everything Gabrielle said. Ernie spent a long time thinking. The next night Jimmy met him and apologized as he gave Ernie his share of the cash. Ernie spent the night in the bus terminal after buying a ticket. Three days later he walked down the dusty road, duffle bag over his shoulder. She saw him from the front step when he turned down the lane. “Ernie!” She screamed at the top of her lungs. Noreen almost knocked him over when she flew at him. “Thank God! I’ve been so worried. Thank God you’re home.” Eyes closed; the returning soldier held his wife. Too late for last Christmas, he’d forever think of this date as their New Year. Gabrielle had been correct. He’d married the right woman. The End

C. Forrest Lundin, award winning author. A lover of everything western, C. Forrest has read everything Zane Gray ever wrote. A recluse by choice, Forrest happily cares for the furry kids, reads, writes, and researches while the rest of the world turns. The amazing things our ancestors did to survive and thrive never ceases to amaze. Each new discovery sparks new ideas. Other books by C. Forrest Lundin:

Glossary: Banquette – Sidewalk in the French Quarter Gratis – free in French

Two Indians and a Dead Man Short Stories: A Cow in Time A Lady Without Means (winner of Indie Lector short story contest 2019) Winter Changes Too Warm For Christmas - 46 -

Luna & the Magical Piano Submitted by Poppy Flynn Written by Kaia Age 8 How many eight-year-olds do you know who are successful, published authors? Meet Kaia Verheyen, who is exactly that. And not only is she an author, but Kaia is also hugely passionate about raising money for a UK children’s charity. ‘Luna & the Magical Piano’ reaches out to fellow young readers with a music-centric adventure unlike anything else on the shelves. Be prepared to criss-cross the planet on the hunt for a magical set of piano keys…

take on a lot more responsibility than is expected of them during their formative years. Our family is very passionate about their work, and we’re thrilled to be supporting them with 100% of proceeds from the book.”

Synopsis: Join Luna and Isabella on their quest to restore the seasons and save the world from a terrible danger, as they embark on a fantastic adventure around the world to recover the magical keys. Their journey will be filled with mystery, danger, fairy dust and bravery. Will they be able to recover the magical piano keys and defeat the Lord of Shadows and his army?

‘Luna & the Magical Piano’ is available now on Amazon.

“Kaia didn’t just start reading young, but she also began losing herself in a deep imagination that we knew wasn’t like that of most children,” explains Wouter Verheyen. “Her stories have impressed everyone around her so, when she said she wanted to write a book, we knew she’d produce something way beyond her years. The final product looks beautiful, and it’s all down to Kaia.”

About the Author:

Kaia was born in Singapore and has lived all over the world. She developed a passion for reading and writing from the age of 5. She loves math and geography, playing piano, reading books about fairies and unicorns, and inventing her own stories. Kaia loves being a role model for her brother Damian, and teaches him everything. She aspires to travel the world and loves helping people and helping the environment.

Continuing, “She also wanted to use it as a fundraising vehicle for HoneyPot Children’s Charity, who provide countryside respite breaks and support services to young carers who are compelled to - 47 -

Word Search By Mom’s Favorite Reads

You can find the answers for this activity on the Mom’s Favorite Reads website here: - 48 -

Things to Celebrate in May 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!

May 5th - World Maths Day World Maths Day is celebrated every year to encourage students around the world to sharpen their mathematical skills it is supported by an online international mathematics competition.

There are over 1500 National Days throughout the year, here’s just one observance of the many for each day in May 2021.

May 6th - No Diet Day What?! I hear you say. Shock, horror! Why would there be a ‘no diet day’? Well, this is all about body positivity. Take a day to appreciate the body you’ve got.

May 1st - Save the Rhino Day The Rhinoceros has roamed the earth for over a million years,

May 7th - International Tuba Day

Save the Rhino Day raises awareness and supports the efforts to save the Rhinoceros from extinction.

Celebrated on the first Friday in May, this day is a recognition of musicians around the world who struggle with the weight and size of their big instrument.

May 2nd - International Harry Potter Day On May 2nd, 1998 the Battle of Hogwarts, the final conflict in the second wizarding war was fought and Voldemort was defeated. In 2012 the UK Prime Minister declared it as Harry Potter Day. May 3rd - Lumpy Rug Day Ironically, despite the name, this is a day for the appreciation of a good rug, so if yours is lumpy, toss it out.

May 8th - World Red Cross Day Recognising the efforts of Red Cross Societies around the world.

May 4th - Star Wars Day May the force be with you, or in the case of today’s date, May the fourth be with you.

‘Worldwide efforts to advocate for the relief of human suffering, whether from disease, famine, disaster, or war.’ - 49 -

May 9th - Lost Sock Memorial Day A day to commemorate all those lost socks that are no longer with us and ask ourselves, ‘did they really all get eaten by the washing machine monster?’ A recent survey showed that the average person loses over 15 socks a year. That’s a lot of missing socks. May 10th - Clean Up Your Room Day

May 17th - Pack Rat Day

Does what it says on the tin. You might even find some of those lost socks! May 11th - Eat What You Want Day

How many of us hoard things? It doesn’t have to be over the top. Today is a day to celebrate all those sentimental things that give value to our lives and reminders of friends, family, places and happy times.

Splurge on your favourite foods today without guilt.

May 18th - International Museum Day

May 12th - Limerick Day

Established in 1977 by the International Council of Museums, this is a day to appreciate all those antiquities that play a part in the history of the world.

Celebrating the birthday of Edward Lear who popularised limericks. A humorous poem of five lines where the first two lines rhyme with the fifth line rhyme and the third and fourth lines rhyme. May 13th - Jumping Frog Day The roots of Frog Jumping Day go back to Mark Twain's first short story. It was first published in 1865 as "Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog". May 14th - Dance Like a Chicken Day Everyone knows this one. Go on let’s see you. Hands under your arms, flap those ‘wings, strut to the music and give that distinctive head bop. May 15th – Armed Forces Day Celebrated on the third Saturday in May, this is simply a day to salute sharply all of the men and women in all branches of the military, who protect you and your country.

May 19th - World Plant a Vegetable Day Go on - do it! Just one. Even if it’s just a pot of cress seeds on your window ledge. May 20th - Be a Millionaire Day Well, I bet we’d all like to do this, but from a practical point of view, take a look at your finances. See where you can make saving and investments and if all else fails buy a lottery ticket (only one!) May 21st - Bike to Work Day Celebrated annually on the third Friday of May. Go on, dust off your bike, get some exercise and save fuel as well as the environment.

May 16th - Love a Tree Day Go find a tree and give it a hug, maybe climb one and share some quality time with it. Trees give us shade, privacy and enjoyment as well as give off oxygen. We couldn’t live without them. - 50 -

May 22nd - World Goth Day

May 27th Sunscreen Day

Not into black clothes and hair and heavy kohl eye makeup? Well, you’ll be glad to know there’s more to it than that. Being ‘Goth’ is an entire culture.

Held on May 27th, just as the summer and vacation season gets underway, Sunscreen Day is to promote awareness of the importance of using sunscreen to protect from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

May 23rd - World Turtle Day As well as celebrating the enjoyment of both turtles and tortoises, today aims to educate people about how to protect them and save their disappearing natural habitat. May 24th - International Tiara Day Go on ladies, put on your crowns and be wonderful. That what this day is all about.

May 28th - Amnesty International Day Amnesty International was founded following the publication of the article ‘The Forgotten Prisoners’ in the Observer on 28 May 1961. Its function is to recognise the need to protect human rights around the world. May 29th - Learn About Composting Day Go on, you know you want to. May 30th - Water a Flower Day

May 25th - Tap Dance Day

Slightly easier that nearning about compost in a month that is full of growing things.

This day was created in honour of the birthday of legendary tap dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson on May 25, 1878.

May 31st - Macaroon Day The flourless cookie. Macaroons are made from ground nuts and egg whites and it’s believed they were first made in an Italian monastery in 1792.

May 26th Sally Ride Day No, not the song! Today actually recognises the first American woman astronaut to go into space. Dr. Sally Ride accomplished this feat as a mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle, Challenger.

Monthly Observances include: Date Your Mate Month, Foster Care Month, National Bike Month, National Hamburger Month and National Salad 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: - 51 -

Birds & Animals by Sylva Fae

© Sylva Fae

- 52 -

- 53 -

Ancestry: Parish Registers by Hannah Howe Parish registers are a great way of exploring your ancestry. Some registers date back to the sixteenth century and from there it is possible to connect with noble pedigrees and take your tree back even further. My research is centred on Wales and England, so my comments relate to the registers available in those countries. A parish register is a handwritten volume associated with a parish church. The registers record the community’s births, marriages and deaths. Originally, the registers were created to prevent bigamy and consanguineous marriage. Parish registers were formally introduced in Wales and England on 5 September 1538 following an injunction by Thomas Cromwell, chief minister to Henry VIII. Without doubt, their introduction helped the state to gain knowledge of the population, and this was deemed desirable, particularly during periods of religious conflict and upheaval.


Records went missing during the English Civil War, 1642–1651, while rats, beetles and damp have adversely affected the parchment over the years. Nevertheless, many records still exist and they are a great resource for family historians.

• • • • • •

Researchers can find parish records in parish churches, record offices and, increasingly, online. Some of the records, especially the earlier ones, record our ancestor’s names in Latin, while standardisation only began in 1753. What you can expect to find in a parish record.

• •

Date of baptism Date of birth (sometimes) Child's forename Child's surname Father's name — blank if illegitimate Mother's name (usually only her first name, and sometimes omitted altogether) Father's occupation or rank (this entry varies by parish) Place of birth

Marriages • • •

- 54 -

Date of marriage Forename and surname of bride and groom Whether a bachelor or spinster, widower or widow

• • • • • • •

Age (sometimes recorded as ‘full age’ i.e. over 21) Whether of this parish or a different parish Occupation (usually, only for the groom) Father's forename, surname, occupation or rank Signature or mark Whether by Banns or Licence Witnesses signatures or marks

• • •

Parish registers offer an excellent link between Victorian birth, marriage and death records, censuses, and medieval pedigrees. They also reinforce information found in the censuses. Recently, a parish birth register from 1801 opened the door to eight new branches on my family tree, so they are well worth exploring.

Burials • •

Age of deceased Occupation, rank or relationship of deceased Place of abode

Date of burial Name of deceased

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:

- 55 -

Alpaca Therapy by Chantal Bellehumeur When Claudia discovered the existence of alpacas, she instantly fell in love with them and experienced the therapeutic effects of being around such friendly exotic animals.

It all started on that hot summer day in July when Claudia and her husband Henry were returning from a romantic summer weekend getaway. They’d rented a log cabin by the lake in the Laurentians to celebrate their twelve wedding anniversary, and had decided to take the scenic route home even though the steady motion of the rolling car always lulled Claudia to sleep.

Claudia slowly opened her eyes and looked out her window. "They kind of look like llamas," she sleepily responded. "But cuter." She’d seen many fields with cows or horses during their many road trips together near their hometown of Montreal over the years, but never anything resembling llamas. It seemed very odd, and Claudia became curious about what she was looking at. As they passed a long wooden building beside the field, she saw a large rectangular sign with the words 'Mckinnon Alpaca Farm' written in big black letters next to a brown cartoonish alpaca head. A large gravel parking lot full of vehicles and the sight of occupied picnic tables near a colourful metal play structure full of active children indicated that the farm was a visiting one, and Claudia expressed her interest in checking it out with a sudden burst of energy. They had already rolled past the entrance, so Henry pulled over onto the side of the road and doubled back. He found a place to park near the back of the lot since all the closer spots were taken.

As Henry smoothly drove on a countryside road with Claudia half-asleep in the passenger seat, he noticed dozens of big fluffy animals with brown, white, or black fur within a large fenced-in field of grass. "What are those?" he said over the faint sound of light rock playing on the radio.

Henry, a handsome man of average height who had the hint of a tan, short dark brown hair, and light - 56 -

Claudia noticed folded pamphlets neatly displayed on a shelf close to the waiting area. They contained information about the various artistic classes and workshops being given for children, teens, and adults at the farm's studio. There were some for soap making, spinning, and felting. People could learn how to make felted scarves, mini animals, and dryer balls, among other things. As she was going through the material, a petite young woman with short blond hair in her early twenties arrived to give Claudia and Henry their tour. As nobody else would be joining them, it would be a private one. To avoid having to say everything in two different languages, the guide gave them the choice of speaking in either English or French. They understood both languages, but chose to have their tour in English.

brown eyes, put on his old Expos baseball cap as well as his sunglasses and got out the dark blue Honda. Claudia, an attractive short and thin woman with shoulder length strawberry blonde hair, green eyes, and a slightly sunburned freckled face was already impatiently waiting on his side of the car. The couple, both in their late thirties, headed for the wooden building in the heat.

The guide introduced herself as Karen, then led her two visitors outside through a door marked private. She walked towards a big wooden barn a few dozen metres away. Claudia noticed some alpacas lying in a shaded area near the tall metal fence by the building. One stood and came towards them. "Hello," she said to it.

They walked through the front door and found themselves in an airconditioned boutique selling products made with alpaca wool; blankets, scarves, slippers, mittens, gloves, hats, leg warmers, ponchos, shawls, sweaters, socks, bags, purses, decorative felt brooches plus other jewelry, and even stuffed animals of various sizes were on display. There were also several framed acrylic and oil paintings as well as pictures of alpacas hanging on the walls.

They entered the barn through the side door and found themselves in a small room with a utility sink as well as two long wooden shelves stocked with large bags of animal feed and stacked up plastic containers. Karen grabbed a long wooden stick which leant against one of the wooden walls and said that it was used to herd the alpacas. "They understand boundaries," she explained.

Beside each of the four cash registers in the centre of the boutique, signs advertised hourly bilingual guided visits to the farm for fifteen dollars. Claudia inquired about the next one and was informed that it would start in ten minutes so she purchased tickets. She was then told to wait at the other end of the boutique next to a post with an alpaca on it for their guide. The post had a round cardboard clock on it with movable black hands currently set to one o'clock, indicating the time of the next guided tour.

When they moved to the next area of the barn, Claudia noticed five electrical fans in the center cooling off the area as they oscillated. She figured it probably also helped reduce the lingering smell of alpaca droppings the summer heat would otherwise intensify. The next thing she saw were numerous alpacas within hay-filled enclosures to her left and right staring at her with big dark eyes. They looked - 57 -

like they were smiling and seemed happy to see visitors. The alpacas were free to come and go, as doors to the barn were left open for them to venture in and out of the fenced-in fields. Beside one of the openings was a small dirty window. A light brown alpaca stood in front of it. Claudia couldn’t tell if it was looking outside or at his own reflection.

then informed them that grey alpacas were rare and, therefore, more valuable. She pointed toward their only grey male, and told them how the owners of the farm had been trying to mate it with one of their two grey females in an attempt to get a grey baby without success. Some of the alpacas let out cute humming sounds as Karen spoke, all the while moving around the enclosures and poking their long necks out from the top of their gates. "You can pet them if you want," Karen announced. "Just don't touch their faces because they don't like it." Claudia didn't have to be told twice. She advanced towards the closest alpaca, moved a hand along its long white neck and couldn't believe how incredibly soft it was. She had expected something rough. Because she had encouraged her husband to pet one too, Henry was now feeling for himself how soft the hair was.

A black alpaca ran into the barn, followed by a dark brown one. "Those two are best friends," Karen said matter-of-factly. When the brown alpaca lay down in a pile of hay, the black one quickly mounted it as though it was about to mate which took Claudia and Henry by surprise. "They're both females," Karen said. "Penelope here is just very possessive of her friend and this is her way of telling the others to back off." Claudia noticed that none of the alpacas wore identification collars. "Do you know all their names?" she asked Karen. "Well, we currently have seventy-four alpacas and I have to admit that I often get them mixed up. But, for the most part I can recognise them by their fur and personalities." The guide explained that the females, or hembras, were kept on the right side of the barn whereas the males, or machos, were kept on the left in order to control mating. She also explained the rules and legalities of breeding alpacas,

"As you noticed," Karen stated, "their fur is very soft which is why we use it to produce fleece and clothing." She briefed the couple on their yearly shearing and wool making. Claudia and Henry continued petting the humming alpacas while listening to their guide speak. Claudia

- 58 -

was a bit distracted though, and couldn’t help making little kissing noises towards her new favorite animals. Henry whispered to her that he was getting jealous. "Alpacas belong to the camelids family," Karen went on. "They are sometimes mistaken for llamas, but alpacas are smaller, have rounder faces, and shorter ears. Also, they're a lot more social than llamas and won't randomly spit at you. The males can get pretty aggressive towards each other though. They sometimes kick each other, at which point we have to separate them."

"Alpacas have six incisor teeth and they are only in the lower jaw, " Karen informed Claudia and Henry. "Sometimes they have to get trimmed. They also have six canine teeth at the front; four on top and two at the bottom. At the back of their mouth near their cheeks you'll find eighteen to twenty molars." She went on to explain that alpacas had three compartments to their stomachs. "They will regurgitate partially fermented food and chew it again, up to seventy-five times."

Claudia moved on to pet a different alpaca who looked like it wanted attention; a black one this time. It was just as soft, and she realised that the pleasant contact she made with the calm animal made her feel surprisingly relaxed; much like how she felt lazing at the private beach of the cottage, sitting by a crackling campfire looking up at the stars, or being on the calm lake in a kayak earlier that weekend. It made her forget her worries.; not that she had many. She was an anxious person by nature, but most of her stress was work related. Sometimes she worried about not being able to set enough money aside for retirement. There were so many places she wanted to travel to and things she wanted to do. Her bucket list was long and continued to grow despite the fact that she crossed things off regularly.

Claudia and Henry continued petting the alpacas as Karen told them more facts. When her well-rehearsed speech was over, Karen asked if they had any questions. Claudia had thought of many earlier but didn't want to interrupt. Her mind suddenly went blank, so she shook her head no. Henry didn't have any questions either. Karen went to the front room and returned with two small plastic containers full of nutritional alfalfa pellets and told them they could feed the alpacas if they wanted. Claudia was pretty excited about it and was the first to grab a handful of healthy treats. She looked like a child that had been offered candies, especially with her two short reddish braids on the sides of her head. She happily hand-fed pellets to the fourteen female alpacas inside the barn, one by one, while Henry did the same for the eleven males eagerly fighting for their turn. It tickled when the alpacas grabbed the pellets with their mouths. Sometimes it

"You're so pretty," she said to the black alpaca with a voice normally reserved for young children. "What lovely long eyelashes you have." A light brown alpaca moved closer to her to get some loving too. This one was showing off four of its long yellowed lower teeth which looked a bit funny to Claudia.

- 59 -

felt like they wanted to nibble on Claudia's hand, but she wasn't afraid of them biting. She just continued feeding them while smiling, and watched as they chewed in a figure eight motion.

steadily walking around or lying beside their proud looking mothers was one of the most adorable things she’d ever seen. They too, let out humming noises like the adults but it sounded even cuter. "Can we take one home?" Claudia jokingly asked her husband. She batted her green eyes at him and playfully added, "pleeeease?" Although Karen knew Claudia wasn't being serious, she told her the babies had to stay with their mothers for at least six months. "Well. That settles that," Henry said. "Can we take one of the adults home then?" Claudia said and laughed. "If we ever move to the country," Henry responded.

When there were no more treats left, Claudia and Henry washed the pellet residue mixed with slimy alpaca saliva off their hands in the sink with liquid soap and hot water.

Karen informed the couple that some people kept alpacas as domestic pets since they were clean and gentle animals that bonded with humans, but that it was expensive to raise them and a lot of hard work. She then told them the dates each of the babies, or crias as she called them, were born; they were all between one and four months old. Karen also mentioned that the farm held colouring contests for children every time one of their hembras became pregnant. The winner got to name the cria. "There have been some pretty interesting ones, like Cloud, Bubbles, and Boop over there."

"Would you like to visit the mothers and babies?" Karen asked. "Do you really have to ask?" Claudia answered. She had just suppressed a childish urge to jump up and down with excitement.

One of the brown-furred babies advanced towards them and stared up at Claudia. It let out a little hum. "I might have to steal this one," she said under her breath. She knelt and put her right arm through an opening in the enclosure in order to pet the cria and was happy when it allowed her to do so. Two more came to see her and she was in heaven. They walked out the main barn towards a smaller one. Once inside, Claudia's heart melted. The sight of nine thin and delicate looking baby alpacas

Karen informed Claudia and Henry that it took about eleven and a half months for alpacas to reach the gestation period, and that hembras gave birth - 60 -

standing up. "It usually happens during daylight hours and lasts about two and a half hours." She said that the newborn crias weighed between twelve and twenty pounds, and that they were ready to nurse and even start walking after only a couple of hours. When Claudia got a chance to speak, she asked if they ever had to bottle feed any of their crias, imagining herself doing it. Karen informed her that they did indeed have to resort to bottle feeding on a few occasions, when the hembras refused to nurse or didn’t produce enough milk. They spent a few more minutes with the alpaca mothers and their babies before sadly having to say goodbye. It was hard for Claudia to do so. She would have enjoyed staying inside any of the two barns for a couple more hours just observing the alpacas and petting them, but didn't contest when the tour was over. With a sunken heart, she followed Karen back to the boutique where she and Henry stayed a short while to browse. The clothing made of alpaca wool was as soft as Claudia had expected. She was tempted to buy something but thought each item pricey and didn't really need anything. She grabbed one of the medium sized white stuffed alpacas off a shelf and considered purchasing it as a souvenir, but didn't really know what she would do with it once she got home. There were some small teddy bears made with the alpaca wool on special, so she ended up buying a dark brown one as well as a black one for her nieces, aged five and seven, as Christmas presents. Claudia and Henry were soon back on the road, and Claudia half regretted not buying one of the stuffed alpacas. She wasn't about to ask Henry to go back to the farm, even though he would have.

Seven months later, Claudia saw an ad in the local newspaper that there would be a free outdoor attraction in front of the archeology museum that included live alpacas as part of a temporary Peru exhibition. When she told Henry about it, he knew she would end up going to see them with or without him. Claudia hadn’t stopped talking about how cute and soft the alpacas at the farm were. Henry decided to accompany Claudia even though he didn’t share the same level of enthusiasm as her for the alpacas. He just enjoyed doing things with her and always ended up having a good time even though they often did things he would never think of on his own. Claudia always found interesting activities or places to visit. She was a child at heart and usually full of life. Henry benefited from her sense of adventure.

The couple dressed warmly for their outing since it was now the middle of winter and snowing. They took the bus and metro to Old Montreal rather than their car because they didn’t want to waste time trying to find a parking space or have to pay for one. It took forty minutes to get to their last stop, and they continued the rest of the way on foot. Henry could barely keep up with Claudia as she power walked on the slippery sidewalks beside the cobblestone streets towards the museum. "What's the rush?" he yelled out. "The alpacas aren't going anywhere." Claudia was just too excited to slow her pace. She felt like a child going to an amusement park. As they arrived closer to the museum, located a few hundred meters from the frozen St-Lawrence River, the sound of drums resonated. They soon discovered a small boxed-in stage set up outside in the large public space for anyone to come up and play the various traditional Peruvian Cajon drums available. A middle-aged man and a young boy, presumably his son, were producing a melody together. They - 61 -

She stepped away from the pen to allow other people to get a closer look at the animals, and briefly checked out a few items for sale at the two tables set up by the animal pen with Henry. There were similar items to what they’d seen at the Mckinnon Alpaca Farm boutique, including stuffed alpacas. She picked one up and was about to buy it despite the high price, but changed her mind at the last minute and went for a small black alpaca keychain instead. She attached it to her black leather purse.

had a small audience, since a few wooden chairs covered with white alpaca pelt had been set up around a safe fire pit in front of the stage. Some of the adults held disposable coffee cups, and Claudia knew that Henry would be requesting a caffeinated beverage for himself soon. She told him they could go to a cafe right after seeing the alpacas which seemed to please him. Beside the stage was an open cabin with a few Peruvian items such as colourful textiles, paintings, and carvings on display. It acted as a free preview for the paying indoor Peru exhibition. Of course, Claudia was mostly interested in the alpacas she could now see within a small metal pen. Several people huddled around it, awwing at the animals, and she had to patiently wait her turn to get close enough to touch one of the five happy looking alpacas; none of which had been sheared. Some of the smaller children were being lifted up by their parents to get a better look. A few people picked up long pieces of dry hay from the high feeders and tried to give it to the alpacas, but none of them even looked tempted by the offers.

During the months that followed, Claudia used her mini alpaca the way some people used stress balls. She didn't squeeze it, but rather touched the soft black fur whenever she felt stressed because she found that it relieved some of her tension and made her calmer. Henry noticed the positive effects something so simple had on Claudia, and decided to do a bit of online research on animal therapy. He understood that the use of animals could help with physical or mental health. Their pet cat Mittens didn't help prove that theory because it was antisocial and was practically only ever seen when hungry or thirsty. But, Henry noticed that Claudia looked more relaxed at the rare times the black long-haired feline sat on her lap to be petted.

When Claudia was finally able to squeeze in between two groups of people, she removed her black gloves to feel the softness of the alpaca fur but soon put them back on because her hands rapidly started freezing. She hadn’t checked the weather report before leaving, and only realised now how cold it was. Her exposed cheeks and nose were numb, and she could see her breath as she exhaled. "Totally worth it," she thought.

Henry then researched alpaca therapy when he learned it was a thing. He ended up stumbling upon the website of an orchard that had animals on site including alpacas visitors could take for a walk. People could also do yoga with alpacas. Henry knew that he had found the perfect birthday present for his wife; an outing to the orchard.

Claudia overheard a few negative comments about the alpacas being out in the cold when they originated from a warm country. She just assumed they would be okay because of all their fur. The animals truly didn't seem bothered. She wondered how the heat didn't bother them, but there was no Karen around to ask.

Henry didn't divulge where they were heading on the sunny Saturday morning of August before Claudia's fortieth birthday. He simply told her that they would be spending time outdoors and to dress comfortably, so she put on jeans, a simple black tank top, and running shoes. She tightly braided her hair - 62 -

at the back under the black bandana she wore to protect her head from the sun and applied sunscreen to her exposed pale freckled skin.

and four alpacas inside. The calm animals looked at Claudia like they were expecting her. She almost expected them to yell out "surprise!"

Claudia fell asleep in the car on the way to the orchard with absolutely no clue of what was to come. Henry didn't even use his GPS for directions as usual, in order to keep the element of surprise alive. When he pulled into the parking lot after a one-and -a-half-hour drive with a pit stop at a fast food chain for a quick bite to eat and refreshing iced coffees, Claudia opened her eyes looking groggy. "Where are we?" she asked and looked around.

"We're here to take one of the alpacas for a walk," Henry told the young male employee standing nearby. Claudia's eyes widened as she heard those words. "Really? We can do that?" Henry nodded and showed the young man his prepaid ticket for the activity. "Okay. Which one would you like to walk?" Claudia wanted to take all the alpacas, but pointed to the one she found the cutest. It was a white alpaca with a stylish hair do. It also looked like he was wearing thick leg warmers. Claudia and Henry were told that his name was Enrique.

"Serenity orchard and animal farm," was all Henry told her. She’d never heard of the place, but it sounded nice. Claudia stepped out the car, and as directed followed Henry to a small red bricked building. Before they even got to the entrance, she noticed a small pen beside a tall maple tree that provided shade. Inside was a brown miniature pony and two black alpacas. One of the alpacas was a baby. Claudia ran towards it and started talking to the animals which made Henry laugh.

The male employee attached a long blue leash to the cooperative animal's head harness, opened the gate to let him out, and handed the end of the leash to Claudia. "You guys have twenty minutes to bring him back. You can walk anywhere along that path over there. You'll see a sign when you can no longer venture with your animal. Just try to prevent him from eating the grass or you won't go far. Oh! and if you want to pet him don't touch his face."

"I guess you can stay here alone for a few minutes," Henry told his hyped-up wife. "I'll be right back."

Claudia started her walk with a giant smile on her face. She had Enrique on her left, and Henry on her right. As she walked along the wide pebble path, she occasionally struggled to prevent Enrique from going towards the patches of tall grass along the sides. She managed to make her way to the end of the path where a 'no therapy animals past this point' sign had been pegged into the ground, then started heading back at the same pace feeling content and relaxed. Henry recorded part of Claudia's special moment with his cell phone.

While Claudia remained with the animals, Henry made his way inside the main building. He came out a few minutes later with papers in his right hand. "Are you ready for your adventure?" he asked. Claudia confirmed that she was, excited to find out what Henry had in store for her. He wrapped a blue disposable vinyl bracelet around her right wrist and was assisted with his own. They were the proof that they had paid the entrance fees to the grand site. Henry unfolded the colorful site map he’d grabbed inside the building and led Claudia down a wide pebble path. She soon saw a small circular wooden enclosure with a roof. It had three miniature ponies

Enrique suddenly decided he was done with walking and plopped himself on the ground close to the grass which he nonchalantly started eating. He would not get back up, but Claudia didn’t want to - 63 -

more," he teasingly responded. "Although we do have about two hours to kill before your scheduled activity." He wouldn't tell Claudia what it was, and suggested they go pick apples then visit the rest of the site. It sounded like a good plan to Claudia. The couple headed back to the main building to buy a plastic bag they could fill with ten pounds of apples and were told which kinds were available. There were dozens of varieties to choose from. They agreed on picking sweet ones, and headed towards the McIntosh section of the large orchard. It took them five minutes to get to the numerous rows of short apple trees, and another five to hand pick their red and green skinned fruits off the lower leafy branches. Since they were not allowed to eat any apples while picking them, they returned to the parking lot and ate one each by their car, neglecting to wash them first. The apples were crunchy, juicy, and delicious.

pull too hard on the leash to force him as she was afraid of hurting him. There was still ten minutes left of their walk so there was no rush to get back. Claudia knelt beside Enrique and petted him. Henry did the same. When there was four minutes left, Claudia attempted to make Enrique stand but he was too stubborn and wouldn’t budge from the ground. It made the couple laugh, yet they weren't sure what to do. "Should I go get that guy?" Henry offered. Claudia thought they should continue trying to get Enrique moving again on their own before getting help. "Come on Enrique," she encouraged. "We have to go now." Finally, Enrique listened and got up to finish his walk. He was brought back to his pen right on time, and Claudia gave him a hug before releasing him back to the same male employee. As a reward for finally cooperating, Claudia put a quarter inside a small vending machine to get some alfalfa pebbles out and gave them to Enrique. The other alpacas wanted some too. She felt bad so she put more quarters into the machine to hand feed them as well. She then sanitized her slimy hands, using the clear alcohol-based liquid from a touchless dispenser. As they walked away from the pen, Claudia thanked her husband for the unique experience. "There's - 64 -

llamas. They found the double door entrance and ventured inside. Many people walked around, trying to get close to the animals or simply pointing at them.

After putting their large bag of apples inside the car and grabbing their individual bottles of water, they headed back towards the animal section. When they passed the alpaca and miniature pony pen, Claudia noticed that Enrique wasn’t there. She saw him being walked by two young women a few minutes later and laughed when he plopped down in the grass.

Claudia, followed by Henry, walked through a big barn where some animals casually rested on hay, then passed a large feeder where a couple of alpacas were eating. Claudia couldn’t help but notice the big piles of poo pellets near the feeders and remembered Karen mentioning that alpacas usually did their business in the same general spots. She presumed correctly that llamas did the same, but ponies did not behave that way so she and Henry still had to watch where they stepped to avoid soiling the soles of their shoes.

"He did the same for us," Claudia told the women who were desperately trying to get him back up. "He'll come around." She wondered if Enrique always gave his walkers a hard time, and if it was a sort of game to him. Henry and Claudia continued down the path, passing by a family with a young girl in pigtails walking a black pony. Another couple walked with a brown alpaca. When they reached the 'no therapy animals past this point' sign which was at the intersection of another path, they turned left. They soon reached a fenced-in field with white fluffy sheep inside and found the way in. They entered the large enclosure through two sets of metal doors. The double doors were meant to prevent any sheep from escaping while visitors entered or left the enclosure.

A small section of the field turned into a wooded area. The couple walked along the uneven dirt among the tall leafy trees and wild plants. They were happy to get some temporary relief from the hot sun and remembered to take refreshing sips of their water which was now lukewarm. The alpacas, llamas and ponies around them acted like they were not there, and Claudia didn’t want to disturb them. For now, she was happy just observing. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for some of the children. A few of them started excitedly chasing the animals while yelling which made them run away. One of the llamas charged towards Claudia and she quickly moved out of its way. She yelped as she did so, and Henry laughed at her brief moment

Claudia and Henry got closer to the baaing animals, being careful not to step in any of the piles of excrement. The foul smell of manure became pretty intense, and the heat didn't help. But, that didn't stop Claudia from getting closer to the animals who also stank. She petted some of the smelly sheep that did not run away from her into their wooden shelter, finding their wool very rough. "I much prefer petting alpacas," she told Henry.

"I know," he responded. "There should be some alpacas over there," he added, pointing in the opposite direction they had come from. They left the sheep enclosure and continued down the pebble path. They soon came to another fenced -in-field. This one was full of alpacas, ponies, and - 65 -

of panic. She laughed at herself after the fact as well. They eventually left the wooden area to venture further onto the green field. Claudia got close to one of the ponies standing alone swishing his long black tail to swat the annoying flies around him. The dark brown stallion let her pet him, nudging her with his nose every so often. Claudia gave the pony a gentle kiss on his soft forehead. He neighed loudly as she was leaving his side which startled her. She did a little jump and Henry laughed at her once more.

picked up their pace to avoid being chased or bitten. They passed some flower gardens and an open green space with benches and picnic tables before arriving at another enclosure which had deer inside. On entering, they noticed that it did not have the same strong odor of manure like the others. They followed a small brown doe along the metal fence towards a woodsy area. It walked towards a large feeder and began eating hay. Claudia noticed a group of about a dozen deer gracefully walking together in the distance which took her breath away. She made her way towards them to snap a picture, but they seemed frightened of her and ran off together with one of the striking bucks in the lead. They looked spectacular.

The couple left the enclosure and continued on their walk, hand in hand. The pebble path led to a small amorphous pond with two white swans majestically swimming in it. Claudia also spotted three sleeping ducks near some large boulders at the edge of the mucky water. They walked to a small wooden bridge going over the pond. As they paused and leaned over the low railing, they noticed five little turtles resting on a protruding log. A few green lily pads floated on the surface of the water, some had beautiful white or pink lilies on them. Claudia spotted a small frog on one and pointed it out to Henry. At this point, it jumped in the water near some long cattails creating a small splash.

As Claudia and Henry stood close together admiring the group of deer that were acting like they were in the wild, a lone doe silently made its way towards them and ended up untying Henry's left shoelace with its teeth. "Hey! What are you doing?" Henry said laughing when he noticed. The doe looked at him with big brown eyes, then got closer to Claudia and chewed on the bottom of her t-shirt.

Claudia took in the scenery before her, breathing in fresh air as she did so. A pair of dragonflies zigzagged along the surface of the water, small white butterflies fluttered around their heads, and chirping birds flew by to one of the many wooden birdhouses or feeders. As they got off the bridge and continued down the path some quacking ducks waddled towards the pond. A white goose came into view and hissed at them for no good reason. "Okay. Calm down," Claudia told the large angry bird. That seemed to upset the winged creature more, so the laughing couple

"You're so weird!" Claudia said and pulled her shirt out the doe's mouth. "But, you're cute." She petted the animal until it had enough, then left the enclosure with Henry. The end of the path brought them to a mini farm. The barnyard odor filled their - 66 -

nostrils, but like in the enclosures they quickly got used to the smell. There were numerous hens walking around and pecking at the ground for seeds, plus a rooster perched on the roof of a dog house. Claudia noticed a few lop-eared rabbits and squeaking guinea pigs in small metal cages. Inside a small barn that seemed to be kept an eye on by a friendly black and white Collie were a grey donkey, two fat black potbelly pigs, and many bleating goats with creepy looking eyes. Some of the goats had climbed up on what looked like wooden play structures. They ran down, creating tapping sounds with their hooves. Claudia took several quarters offered by Henry and used them in the available vending machines to collect pellets for the hungry, greedy goats. She had fun feeding them, then sanitized her hands.

"It's almost time for your surprise activity," Henry announced. "What is it?" Claudia wanted to know. Henry still wouldn't tell her. He made her wait a little longer before moving on, so she got the Collie's attention and petted him as well as scratching behind his soft hairy ears. The long-haired dog sat next to her, panting and enjoying the affection he was given. Henry finally brought Claudia to an enclosure with several alpacas inside. There was a sign advertising therapeutic alpaca yoga on the wooden fence. "What!?" Claudia shouted when she saw it. "Are you serious!?" She had heard of goat yoga and had been curious to try it, but not alpaca yoga. "How does this work?" Henry shrugged his shoulders in response. "I guess you'll just have to find out." Claudia joined a group of ten women and two men, and were provided with black yoga mats and shown into an empty enclosure. The young pixie-like female instructor wearing tight clothing and running shoes told everyone to unfold their rolled-up mats

onto the even dirt ground and get comfortable in a sitting position. The alpacas from the joining enclosure were then let in, and the fun began. During the one-hour class, the animals freely walked around, occasionally letting out humming sounds. They created an oddly satisfying distraction from some of the more uncomfortable yoga positions. Had Claudia not been educated about alpacas, she would have expected them to poop all over the place during the class. It looked like they were trained not to. It was difficult for Claudia to do some of the yoga poses that required extensive stretching because of the tight jeans she wore, but she did the best she could and made the most of her special class. Although her flexibility was impaired, her strength and balance were practically perfect because she did yoga on a regular basis. When the class was over, Claudia returned her borrowed yoga mat and met up with Henry at the orchard's cafe as planned. "That was awesome!" she told him as she sat across from him at a round metallic table. "Thanks for taking me here." Henry expressed that he was really glad Claudia liked her birthday present. "I absolutely love it here!" Claudia added with a smile. "I think this is my new happy place." Henry was finishing up a cup of coffee, and offered Claudia something to eat and drink. She got up to look at the menu of baked goodies neatly written on the chalk wall behind the counter, and decided on a piece of apple crumble pie as well as cold apple cider. Henry ordered an Americano and a piece of apple cake. They were told to sit anywhere they wanted, and their order was soon brought to them at the table Claudia had chosen outside on the small terrace. It was shaded by tall trees and had a good view of the alpaca enclosure.

- 67 -

"Yup! This is definitely my new happy place," Claudia confirmed after taking a bite of her delicious piece of pie plus a sip of refreshing bubbly cider from a small glass bottle. "We didn't toast," Henry pointed out. He lifted his cup as slowly as a sloth, being extra careful not to spill any of the hot liquid. He’d just added his usual two spoons of sugar and a lot of milk so his cup was full to the rim. He shouted "Happy birthday!" loud enough for everyone around to hear which made Claudia shush him. She then delicately clinked the top of her cider bottle on the coffee cup and thanked him again for the special outing before they both took sips of their drinks.

When they’d finished their afternoon snacks and drinks, they went back inside the cafe to pick up a few goodies to bring home. Claudia wanted one of the freshly baked apple pies as well as a bigger bottle of apple cider to share with Henry. They also purchased some caramel apples to bring to their nieces during their next visit as well as a small bag of dark chocolate covered almonds because of its humorous 'alpaca droppings' label. Claudia then checked out the souvenirs on display. She caved in and bought a medium sized white alpaca plush as a birthday present to herself. In the car, she noticed that the fur still had the faint scent of an alpaca, but not in an unpleasant way. Alpacas did not stink.

A few minutes later, the young woman who had served them came back to the table. "On the house for the birthday girl" she said, setting a small white plate down. There was a white cupcake with thick icing and a decorative alpaca head candy on it. Claudia thanked the woman for the unexpected treat. She ate it right after finishing her piece of pie even though she’d told Henry that she was going to ask for a container to bring it home. She offered to share it with him, but he didn't even want a bite. The cupcake was nice and moist, but Claudia had found the vanilla icing a bit sweet. She could feel all the sugar energizing her and was convinced that she would not fall asleep in the car for once. She did though.

Back home, she placed the ten-inch plush on her and Henry's queen-sized bed in front of three decorative pillows. At night, when the couple was ready to go to sleep, the plush alpaca dubbed Enrique was moved to the bedroom's hardwood floor on top of the pillows. It looked like he had his very own bed. The cat knocked him down to take over his spot on a few occasions even though it had never shown interest in any of the pillows before.

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"If you're so jealous, why don't you let me cuddle with you more often?" Claudia rhetorically asked Mittens one time. The cat gave a faint meow in response, looking indifferent, and began licking its white mitten-like front right paw. Mittens never changed his antisocial behaviour.

Remember your happy place," he would often make Enrique say when Claudia was in a bad mood. Claudia held on to the good memories of her alpaca therapies, revisiting them in her mind whenever she needed to mentally decompress.

Whenever Claudia felt stressed at home or didn't feel well and her cat was hiding somewhere, she got into the habit of stroking Enrique's soft fur. She found that it had the same therapeutic effect as petting a live alpaca. Sometimes, Henry would joke around by picking Enrique up and comically making him hum and talk which always made her laugh. She loved how they could be silly together. It certainly made life more interesting. "

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, magazine, plus a local newspaper.

For a complete list of publications, including free reads, visit the following website:

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Authentic Authority by Father Ian Maher Our journey through life, with all its ups and downs and twists and turns, forms and shapes us. We do not develop in a vacuum but become the people we are today through all the various experiences, relationships and places that we encounter along the way learning that, in life, there will always be times when we need to make compromises and change. That might even mean breaking with convention, especially if failing to do so will result in avoidable hurt and pain for others.

very heart of our faith such as the grace, mercy, compassion, love, and justice of God. And we must seek to do that in such a way as to be a force for good, for peace, and for reconciliation in the midst of the fractious and divided climate in which we find ourselves. Our faith must speak afresh into every generation. As ever, it is to our Lord himself that we must look for guidance and inspiration. In chapter 5 of John’s gospel Jesus is responding to some fellow Jews who have been criticising his authority, in particular, over his healing of a person on the Sabbath. That was not the way people were supposed to behave. No doubt the argument, ‘we have always avoided working on the sabbath’ would have been on the lips of Jesus’ critics. But what Jesus was revealing was how the law was always intended for the wholeness and wellbeing of people and never as something to be kept for its own sake, especially if it meant a person’s suffering continued. The law was meant to be a living thing, not a fossil.

For instance, to sustain an argument solely on the basis of ‘we’ve always done it that way’ is a recipe for disaster because it ignores the fact that times and situations change. Another example might be to vote uncritically for a political party for no other reason than having always voted for the same party, is to ignore how politics has changed over time. The world, Europe, our nation are all very different places than they were in previous generations. Politics has changed, society has changed, the Church has changed. Some changes have been good, some changes not so good, and some changes have been downright bad.

What Jesus then sets out to do is explain to his critics that his actions were not something that he was doing simply to please himself or to impress the crowd but, rather, because his life was a reflection of the very life of God. Jesus was the embodiment in a human life of all that God his. His works

Somehow, in the midst of all that, the challenge for Christians is to stand firm on what we believe with regards to what lies at the - 70 -

siren voices of hatred, greed, bitterness, and vested interests, can so easily drown out what is good and of God. Remember how Jesus was attacked for healing a man because his action broke with religious convention?

were the works of the Father. There was no inconsistency. As Jesus puts it: ‘The works that the Father has given me to complete, the very works that I am doing, testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me.’ By looking at, by meditating upon, by seeking to live as closely to the example set by Jesus as we can, we can learn to base our own words and actions in the world on the very life of God himself. We are then able to continue on the journey to be the people God longs us to be and, through our life and witness, to pass on that message to others.

Our calling as Christians in the world is to be on the side of the angels: standing up for what is right and good; living faithfully as followers of Jesus; and being the Body of Christ in the world. We are meant to be God’s countermeasures to the climate of bitterness and division that deface our world. We are ambassadors for a kingdom established on a different set of values. We are witnesses to a God who loves us unconditionally and without limit.

In a world where there is so much conflict, discord and disharmony, it has never been more important for us to stand up for what we believe and to hold fast to all that we believe is good and life-affirming – for our fellow human beings and for the world in which we live. It is important because the

If those are the things we stand for, individually and together as the Body of Christ in the world, we can make a difference.

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. Twitter @IanMaher7 - 71 -

Family Ties by Penny Luker Barry and Carrie were walking along the pier, watching the tide going out. They were killing time before meeting up with family. Under the pier, a lot of rubbish had collected. It didn’t look too bad when covered with water, but now he could see all the gunge. Barry peered through the slatted floor and was saddened by the amount of rubbish when he realized there were two human arms sticking up, out of the debris, one with the puppet, Punch on and one with the puppet Judy. Barry saw the gruesome sight and passed out, smashing down on the wet pier floor. When he awoke Carrie was leaning over him, calling his name. He tried to sit up. ‘Just stay lying down for a moment,’ she said. He thought, what a wimp I look now. ‘Your brother told me all about your childhood. I do understand.’ ‘No, you don’t. There’s a body down there,’ he said.

Carrie peered through the wooden floor. She took out her phone and called the police. Meanwhile, two waiters from the cafe came out and helped Barry inside. Soon he and Carrie were brought a welcome pot of tea.

‘ ‘He told me that your parents were often absent at work, and left you in the hands of your older sister, Estelle, who didn’t want to look after you, so she would scare you both rigid with her Punch and Judy puppets. Punch literally beat you both and Judy made cruel and unkind comments. He told me how he pretended to be asleep and you took most of the beatings and how you both used to sob your hearts out silently when she left the room.’ Barry shook his head. He’d really hoped that Carrie would see him as a strong man and now she would always know how feeble he was. The door opened and a gust of cold air announced the arrival of the police. Inspector Denby sat down across the table from them.

Outside the wind blew, the sea was rocky and the crowds were gathering, but the pier security personnel stood guard on the pebbles below, preventing people contaminating the scene. Soon the police arrived and the crowds were dispersed, but Barry and his girlfriend stayed in the cafe drinking their tea. What did my brother tell you about our childhood?’ he asked eventually. - 72 -

‘Well sir, I understand you were the first person to see the body. Is that right, Mr. Stanford?’ ‘I just saw the arms and the puppet heads,’ said Barry. ‘Tell me why were you looking through the flooring?’ ‘I don’t know. I just always do. I live around the corner. I suppose it’s a remnant of when I came here as a child.’ ‘And then you passed out. It must have been an awful shock for you, to have made you pass out. I don’t suppose you knew the victim.’

‘I told you. I only saw the arms and the puppets and everything was covered in gunge and rubbish.’ ‘Well now Mr. Stanford I have a picture of the woman to whom those arms belonged. She is deceased and not too clean. Are you up to taking a look?’ Barry took a deep breath and nodded. Inspector Denby held out his phone. Barry could feel the blood draining from his face. He grabbed the table to stop himself from passing out again. ‘Do you recognise the victim, Mr. Stanford?’ ‘Yes sir. I do. It’s my sister, Estelle. I haven’t seen her in ten years.’

Carrie was looking shocked, but she reached out and touched his hand. ‘Mr. Stanford, I think we should continue our chat down at the police station. We don’t know how she died or how many hours ago it was, yet, but I think we should take both your statements. Shall we go?’ ‘He’s recovering from fainting,’ said Carrie. ‘I think he should be going to the hospital.’ ‘Oh, I’ll get our doctor to take a look at him. Don’t you worry, Miss.’ The journey to the police station didn’t take long. Barry went straight in to see the doctor, while a Detective Constable took Carrie’s statement. Carrie told her, what time they’d arrived at the pier and that they’d been going to meet other family members but, Estelle, Barry’s sister hadn’t been invited. She mentioned how Barry had been looking through the floor of the pier and passed out. When he’d told her there was a body, she’d immediately called the police. Meanwhile, the doctor had examined Barry’s vital signs and said he could be interviewed, but he had banged his head as he fell and that they must keep an eye on him, in case of concussion. Barry’s brother, Mike, and sister-in-law arrived and were also questioned. Eventually, they were allowed to go home for the night. - 73 -

The next day the scene of crime report came back, which showed that Estelle had climbed up on the ironwork below the pier, possibly with the puppets on her hands. There was no evidence of her being hurt by anyone. It seemed likely that the spray and the wind had caused her to lose her footing. The police couldn’t imagine why she’d been climbing, after all she wasn’t a teenager. Carrie said, ‘She probably was going to frighten the boys for a bit of fun.’ ‘Well she certainly did that,’ said Inspector Denby. ‘I’m sorry for your loss. We will be in touch about the release of the body.’

Much later that night Barry was walking along the beach with Mike. They paused as they passed under the pier, which had been completely cleared of debris. ‘It’s over now,’ said Mike. ‘But what was she doing here and why was she climbing up the pier’s structure? I don’t understand.’ ‘She was out to blight our day. Probably found out we were meeting up, through mum, and was annoyed we’d not invited her. She was out to give you a shock. She knew more than anybody how scared you are of Punch and Judy.’

‘But why did she fall?’ ‘Because the ironwork was slippery and she was wearing puppets on her hands. I want you to know, I didn’t do anything. I just shouted at her to get down. She turned to see who was yelling and fell. I couldn’t help her. She fell into the muddy water onto a pile of rubbish and she disappeared except for her arms, which stuck up at right angles. Probably trying to keep the puppets dry.’ ‘But surely she could have been saved?’ said Barry. ‘I really don’t think so. It was a massive fall, and anyway she taught us how to keep silent, whatever pain she put us through. We can get on with our lives now. She won’t hurt us again.’ Barry looked at his brother with understanding. He wouldn’t tell the police what his brother had said. Now he’d met Carrie, it was time to move away, and start a new family with a happier history.

Penny Luker is a writer and artist from Cheshire. She writes novels, short stories and poetry for adults, and also writes children’s stories. You can find her work at or

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Paul’s Puzzles By Paul Godding The Main Challenge Here’s another selection of mental arithmetic questions. Can you answer all seven correctly? 1. 2. 3. 4.

(10 + 10) – (15 – 3) = ? What is the sum of 0.83 and 0.89? What is 1 × 9? If Ben earns £10 every half-hour, how much will he earn in 40 hours? 5. If you burn 100 calories by climbing 100 stairs, how many calories would you burn when climbing 50 stairs? 6. What is 5,456 – 4,372? 7. Twice my age plus 4 more is 72. How old am I?

The 7puzzle Challenge The playing board of the 7puzzle game is a 7-by-7 grid containing 49 different numbers, ranging from 2 up to 84. The 2nd & 5th rows contain the following fourteen numbers: 6 7 8 16 17 21 28 48 50 55 63 64 81 84 What is the product of the two prime numbers?

The Target Challenge The Lagrange Challenge

Can you arrive at 104 by inserting 2, 4, 12 and 15 into the gaps on both lines?

Lagrange’s Four-Square Theorem states that every positive integer can be made by adding up to four square numbers. For example, 7 can be made by 2²+1²+1²+1² (or 4+1+1+1).

(◯–◯)×(◯–◯) = 104

◯×(◯+◯)–◯² = 104

The Mathematically Possible Challenge Using 5, 7 and 10 once each, with + – × ÷ available, which are the only TWO numbers it is NOT possible to make from the list below?

There are just THREE ways of making 104 when using Lagrange’s Theorem. Can you find them? ***

25 35 45 55 65 75 85 95 105 115



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Heroines of SOE by Hannah Howe

Phyllis Latour Phyllis ‘Pippa’ Latour was born on 8 April 1921. Her father, Philippe, a French doctor, married Louise, a British citizen living in South Africa. When Phyllis was three months old her father died. Three years later her mother married a racing driver who allowed his new wife to race his cars as well. Sadly, this resulted in an accident and her mother’s death.

When Phyllis obtained military intelligence she encoded it for transmission using one-time codes that were hidden on a piece of silk tied around her hair. On one occasion, the German’s brought her in for questioning, but they failed to examine the silk in her hair. On another occasion she deterred would-be searchers by pretending that she had scarlet fever.

In November 1941, Phyllis moved to Britain where she joined the WAAF, serving as a flight mechanic. Through the WAAF, Phyllis came to the SOE’s attention and they invited her to join their physical and mental training courses. Phyllis was motivated to join the SOE because the Nazis had shot her godmother’s father and her godmother had committed suicide while imprisoned. She joined on 1 November 1943 and was commissioned as an Honorary Section Officer.

After D-Day, Phyllis was held prisoner for five hours by the Allies because her looks did not match her official description, so adept had she become at disguise. Eventually, she was recognised by a guide and released. From her vantage point, she watched as the Allies marched through her village heading south on their mission to liberate France.

On 1 May 1944, Phyllis parachuted into Orne, Normandy to operate with the Scientist II circuit, using the code name Genevieve. She worked as a wireless operator alongside Claude de Baissac and his sister, Lise.

After the war, Phyllis married an engineer. Together, they had a family and lived in various countries, mainly in Australasia.

A small woman, Phyllis was fluent in French. Often, she posed as a teenage girl whose family had moved to the region to escape the Allied bombing. As cover, she was an art student from Caen who sold soap from her bicycle and mingled with the German soldiers.

Postscript: Phyllis now lives in New Zealand and last month she celebrated her 100th birthday. She is the last surviving female SOE agent.

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:

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For Mothers by Stan Phillips Yes, celebrate your motherhood. Relish the new and extraordinary lives you have brought into this world. Watch those children as they enhance the society in which they dwell. And be proud. But never forget that "mother" is not the entirety of you. It is not ALL you are. For you are still that questing child of the universe. That painter That dancer That poet That unique creature set on her own course through life who embellishes the world by being in it. So walk in your garden. Hear your music. And count the waves on the incoming tide. For yes, you are a mother. But never forget that you are also so much more. You are you. You are woman. You make miracles. And wondrous things flow from your existence. From Stan Phillips ©

Stan Phillips is a 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: - 77 -

International Nurses Day by Melanie P. Smith

May 12th

International activities… Australia & Ireland– hold weeklong celebrations to honor the great work nurses do throughout year.

Cover design created to honor International Nurses Day

We learned a lot from 2020. All of us have endured struggles, heartache, and pain. If there was a shining light through all the chaos, it had to be the amazing nurses around the globe. Historically, members of this profession have been taken for granted. But, when the pressure mounted, these individuals demonstrated their commitment and courage. Their unwavering dedication and care helped all of us get through a difficult pandemic.

Singapore celebrates Nurses Day on August 1st. Back in the 1800’s Singapore realized there were several hospitals but a lack of nurses to support the doctors. French nuns were trained to fill the need. United Kingdom— A special service is held at St. Margaret’s Church at East Wellow in Hampshire, where Florence Nightingale is buried. United States—The US celebrates Nursing Week from May 6-12. They observe the 12th (Nightingale’s birthday) as International Nurses Day. In 1974, President Nixon was the first president to officially recognize National Nurses Week. In 1980, President Reagan designated May 6 as National Recognition Day for Nurses., which begins a week of events and ceremonies honoring members of this important profession.

In January 1974, May 14th was chosen to celebrate nurses —The anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. “As a nurse, we have the opportunity to heal the mind, soul, heart, and body of our patients, their families, and ourselves. They may forget your name, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

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: 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! - 78 -

Brought to you by...

The Second Quarter edition of Connections eMagazine is dedicated to Spring, love and new growth. There are some amazing authors, new releases and short stories in this issue. I hope you take a minute to check them 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.

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: - 79 -

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:

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:

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.

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:

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:

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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:

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:

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:

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 — Stan Phillips — Father Ian Muher — Chantal Bellehumeur —

Discover more amazing authors…

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