“Once upon a time …”

Once upon a time … a Barn Owl nest was destroyed in a storm, and the only survivor was a young female. (“I’m a Barn Owl, so I can do this!”)

Once upon a time … a Jackalope (Antelope/Jack Rabbit) climbed into a rowboat to escape a storm, but the boat was washed out into the sea. (“I can’t swim, so I have to think this through carefully!)

Once upon a time, an abandoned kitten fell off a fallen tree and into a swollen river. He was lucky to be able to grab a branch and pull himself out. Exhausted, cold, and wet, he dragged himself into a hollow log and curled up. (“Did anybody leave any food in here?”)

Once upon a time, a man was planning his retirement.  His dream was to buy a little farm out in the country, where he could live the rest of his life at his own pace, and with the tranquility of the countryside surrounding him. (“It will be lovely to have no obligations to others, and just do whatever I want … and on my timing. Heaven!”

So what happens?

Well …. The Barn Owl accidentally bumped into the Jackalope, and between them they saved a kitten. All three found an old farm to live in and were planning on living “happily ever after”.

The man retired and, as planned, bought a little farm in the country. Everything went according to plan until …

The following is an excerpt from “The Odessa Chronicles”:

**  ***  *****  ***  **

Joshua Jeremiah Jonathan Jacob Jackson Pebblestone had worked pretty much all of his life, and was now retired and about to start living his dream. He had bought a small farm, out in the country, so that he could enjoy the sights and sounds of rural life. He had been planning for this moment for many years, and now here he was … opening the old wooden gate to his own little farm.

He looked at the gate and smiled, for engraved in the top bar were some letters. The letters were almost totally hidden by years of weathering, and blended in with the wood, but he had noticed them the first time he saw the farm. He had traced his fingers over the letter shapes, and quickly realized that they spelled “Moonbeam Farm”. Perfect! he had thought to himself. Perfect!

He walked cross the yard, unlocked the farmhouse door, and went directly into the kitchen, where he made himself a cup of tea. His belongings had all been delivered earlier, so he sat down and smiled. This was what he had worked for. His life, from now on, was going to be one of peace and tranquility.

His first night there was uneventful, but … the next morning? He walked into his living room and the cushions that should have been on his sofa were gone! He found them all piled up in the corner of the room, very close to the fireplace. He shook his head and thought, I don’t remember putting them there. Why would I put them there? Oh well, I’ll put them back on the sofa. He did so immediately. When he woke up the following morning, the sofa cushions were once again on the floor and near the fireplace. I must be moving them while I am asleep, he thought to himself.

He later went over to the barn and was also rather puzzled by what he saw. The barn had clearly not been used for a considerable time, and yet one small area in one corner was very neat and tidy. There was some straw there, which had an indentation in it, as though some small person had been lying there. He also noticed that, on the other end of the barn, there was a pile of small bones on the floor, as if dropped from above. He looked up, but all he saw was a large wooden beam, which helped to support the roof.

One night, he woke up rather earlier than usual and heard a sound from downstairs. He quietly got out of bed and put on his slippers. By the light of the moon, he slowly went down and into his living room, where he quickly turned on the light. He saw that not only was there only one cushion on the sofa, but he also saw a cat near the fireplace, with another cushion in its mouth!

He thought it looked friendly, so he bent down and said, “Who are you then?”

The cat turned its head to face Joshua, and said, “I am Dewey. Who are you?”

Joshua was in shock, as he had not been expecting the cat to talk. “Ummmm … well, I am Joshua Jeremiah Jonathan Jacob Jackson Pebblestone, and I live here.”

So do I,” said Dewey, “but I was here before you!”

**  ***  *****  ***  **

“The Odessa Chronicles” is a book of short stories based around those four characters, and is suitable for ages 4 to 104. If there is a child still within you, you will love the stories. You will love the characters involved. You will love how they keep their quite different personalities, and yet slowly progress to not only living together in harmony, but how they also eventually became best friends.

“The Odessa Chronicles” is available from any on-line book retailer, or direct from Friesen Press Bookstore. For reviews, amazon.com has the most. Click on book cover over to the right (may have to scroll) for more information.

 

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“The Shamrock and the Thistle.”

Many of you know that I have a significant library of music, covering a wide range of genres. Music has always been important to me and, while I have over 7000 tracks currently on my pc, I have a large number of vinyl albums yet to be converted to digital.

Back in the 1960’s, and on a Saturday evening, I would often be found at a local pub …. upstairs in a room used by the Peterborough  Folk Club.  The entertainment there was generally very good. English Folk Music appealed because if its simplicity (totally acoustic), and that there was often some kind of message in the song.

I was recently converting  a few albums to digital, when I came across this one. It is interesting because both the Irish and the Scots have issues (historically based) with the English and, once they realized that they both shared similar feelings, were able to unite … at least in perspectives. The Corries are a duo (used to be trio) who explain it quite well.

The  song is about a couple of Irish guys who take the ferry over to Scotland in order to share Hogmanay (Scottish New Year celebration) with the Scots (both cultures have a reputation for partying!) They get their little “dig” in at the English towards the end! You even have the words to help you with the accent!

Enjoy a good fun song!

“Zombie”

When I discovered Disturbed’s cover of “Sounds of Silence” (previous Post), I also discovered Bad Wolves cover of The Cranberries’ “Zombie”. I have many Cranberries songs in my library, and loved Dolores O”Riordan’s vocals. It was a sad day when she left us so prematurely in 2018, which made me question the ethics of marketing a cover version of a song which she made so popular so soon. I was however curious, so I did listen to it. While it did not create the same impact as “Sounds of Silence”, the brief introduction and the performance which followed, certainly got my attention. It was an excellent cover and I loved it. Enjoy!

“The Sound of Silence”.

I couldn’t wait until Saturday for this one!

I am guessing that many of you, when in your mid/late teens/early 20’s … heard a song which totally absorbed you to the point that you blasted it to everybody within hearing distance. It probably didn’t cross your mind that different people have different tastes in music! For me, this is one of those recordings!

In 1965, Paul Simon released an album “The Paul Simon Songbook” which included  “The Sound of Silence”. It was a very plaintive and simple acoustic presentation, which suited the subject matter perfectly.

The following year, he and Art Garfunkel, released a more up-tempo version complete with band backing. That more commercial and quite different presentation; the heavier sound, together with Art Garfunkel’s harmonies is the version that most people remember.

Fast forward to this week! A few days ago, I was listening to some music on YouTube when I saw a link to a “Sound of Silence” cover. I am normally not too interested in cover versions., but this one was different. It had logged 668M views! So what got 668 million people interested? I now know and, what has really surprised me is that as much as I love both earlier versions, surely this one has the most powerful relationship with the lyrics.  Did it get you at all?

Ray Update.

We are still working on Ray’s issues but, as is usually the case in life (at least based on my experiences), there is rarely a “black and white” answer to anything.

Ray’s unrest during the night could be the onset of “doggy dementia” where he is imagining things that really aren’t there. Perhaps he whimpers at night because he does not like being left on his own. Perhaps he is simply hungry, or perhaps his food is giving him a problem.  Perhaps he has a medical condition?  Perhaps he has more than one of  the above.

The easiest one for us to address was his food so, after consulting with his vet and a dog trainer friend, we have switched his food to one apparently more suitable for a senior dog. Also, instead of giving him two meals a day, we now give him four (reduced quantity of course!). If digestion was the problem, then we should have resolved it. If hunger was the problem, then his fourth meal of the day should now resolve that.

The result? An improvement in a number of areas. He has not been sick for a while now. He is more alert on his walks, and has his silly moments which we hadn’t seen for a while, so we are concluding that things have improved for him. However, we are not “there” yet as he is still active (seemingly at a reduced level) throughout the night.

This seems to be associated with nocturnal “house sounds”, but he has lived here for almost 9 years so perhaps that is the “doggy dementia” possibility. It could also be that he does not like us two going to  sleep and leaving him alone because he is very attached to us. It could also be that he is taking his guarding tendencies too seriously as he gets older. We are currently trying him out with some music throughout the night. So far we have tried music by Libera, Enya, Leonard Cohen, Stan Rogers and an Environmental recording. We’re still working on it!

Stay tuned!

“My Dream”

One aspect of most (perhaps all?) creatures, is that a common threat will tend to bring them together. We are no different in that we too have a tendency to unite against a common enemy however, despite the seriousness of COVID-19, there is still antagonism, discrimination and just plain aggression, both within and across numerous borders, towards people who are perceived as “different”. Politicians who sow the seeds of dissention with divisive politics, must take some of the responsibility but, ultimately, each of us is responsible for our own actions.

I am sure that we are all hoping for the control of COVID-19 and its variants during 2021. Most of us are probably hoping for the vaccine as early as possible. There seems little doubt that it will soon join the many other life threatening conditions that are now under control but then …  we are left with the ever present antagonism and discrimination.

Below is “My Dream”, which is a poem taken from my book “Just Thinking” (click book cover over to right – may have to scroll – for more information. The link below goes to my  reading of it (audio only).

My Dream”

I dream of a day

When we’ll all be friends

I dream, as I look at the stars

That the world will see

That being valued and free

Is better than destruction and war

***

I dream of a day

When my friends are yours

Although from quite different lands

That you understand

All colours and beliefs

Can live in peace. Can hold hands

***

I dream of a day

Hopefully not far away

When compassion wins in the end

We’re all human after all

We all stumble and fall

Let’s help each other up and be friends

***

I dream of a day

When the killing has stopped

And peace prevails at last

Borders are open

Old vendettas forgotten

Past beliefs… will stay in the past

***

I dream of a day…

But it is only a dream

So many people will say

Perhaps I am delusional

Perhaps just a dreamer

But to survive, we must find a way

***

To break down barriers

To live together in peace

That will be a challenge for some

But why must we label

Our different neighbours?

Why can’t we become as one?

***

We all want respect

We all want freedom

Let’s open our eyes and see

That we all want the same

It’s really not complicated

It’s peace, for you and for me

***

I dream of a day

When world peace is achieved

When the pen is the only weapon

There will be universal love

And to the power above I’ll say

Thank you. Our Earth has become Heaven.”

Don’t ……………………………!

Don’t comment … Don’t dwell on this past year … Don’t stress over your current life challenges … Don’t worry about next year. Just listen … relax …  and have a wonderful Christmas holiday, and here’s a thought to take with you into the new year:

“The things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things you do for others remain as your legacy.”  (Kalu Ndukwe Kalu)

Reading during COVID?

One thing we can all do during these peculiar times is to settle down with a book. It passes the time nicely, and can be educational and/or entertaining and/or just plain thought provoking. Best of all though, you don’t have to go outside to get a book. Just order from any number of on-line retailers! In our COVID-times … what could be better?

For dog lovers, and anybody who wants to learn a little more about dogs, plus anybody who loves a “rags to riches” kind of story … “Who Said I was up for Adoption?” is a book about the first 18 months of an abandoned and troubled German Shepherd/Rottweiler Cross who moved in with us. He was also my first dog!

 

 

 

For something just plain fun to read … “The Odessa Chronicles”! Imagine an owl (Odessa); a cat, and a jackalope coming together due to a series of unfortunate circumstances, and setting up home together on an old uninhabited farm. Now also imagine a human who had just retired, and whose dream was to live out his days peacefully on a little farm. You can probably guess which farm he purchased! You can probably also guess that his life would never be the same again. “The Odessa Chronicles” is a book of short stories suitable for ages 4 to 104!

 

 

Finally “Just Thinking” is a book of poems about various aspects of life.  You may find them enlightening, thought provoking, or perhaps some will mirror your own life. One of the poems was used last year as a discussion piece for senior students at a US school!

 

 

 

All three books have links (click book cover pics over in the right side column), and amazon.com has the broadest selection of reviews. Purchasing direct from Friesen Press Bookstore may be financially beneficial!

Finally, note that all three books are available in eBook, paperback and hardcover formats.

So … given that you are being advised to stay home as much as possible, treat yourself to a book and enjoy this change of routine!