Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Love is in the Air by Katherine Pym

 

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Johnson Space Center Houston

I was born in Milwaukee Wisconsin. When I was 16 my dad landed a job at NASA in Houston, so we loaded up all our stuff and headed down there. 

Texas Country Road
Steer Skull

I knew nothing of Texas. My imagination considered it a scrubby land with cactus and steer skulls scattered about, from the Panhandle down to the Gulf of Mexico. Was I wrong? Oh my yes. 

Early NASA, Mission Control
We landed at Hobby Airport in mid-July. When the airplane door opened, the hot humid air took my breath away. I’d never seen palm trees and the highways were lined with them. The land was flat and you could see a long way, much different from where I’d come from. 

When I started school after Labor Day, I wore a long sleeve blouse and woolen knee-high socks. I don’t know what I was thinking. The days were still warm and I was miserable.

During the hottest part of the year, I walked outside and saw how heat had burst the rear window of a car. At Christmas, I was amazed we could wear flip-flops and shorts instead of heavy coats and scarves. I found out later that had been a warm winter.

But I adjusted. 
Apollo 11, the Lem on the Moon 1969
The kids at my new high school aligned themselves into two groups, the surfers and the cowboys. The surfers wore their hair longer, the cowboys drove trucks with rifles in the back windows. Along with most of the astronaut's kids, I fell in with the surfers. After all, Galveston wasn’t far away. It was wonderful to be so close to a warm seaside.

I made some good friends, with whom I am still in contact today. The school year rolled around to spring. The high school campus had an open air courtyard. As the prom neared, my best friend, Teri, waved me over one day. She stood near a boy who sat on a brick wall that lined a flowerbed. She said, “Kathy, this is Ricky. You are going to the prom with him and you'll be doubling with us.”

Ricky and I looked at each other. We shrugged and said, “Okay.” It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship we have to this day. 

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 Many thanks to Wikicommons, Public domain.
 Images in this blogspot fall under US copyright Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107
 
Photograph, Aerial view of the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. Courtesy of NASA. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107

Saturday, February 17, 2018

What I do for love, for my granddaughters

February is slated as the true-love month, due to Valentine's Day, where you give flowers and chocolates to your special partner. I posted last February about how I met my husband. But I want to talk of another kind of love, the love I have for my two lively granddaughters. The crazy things I do for love, to entertain them.



Now eight and five years old, my husband and I started babysitting the girls when Jocelyn was a baby and Jorja only four. Jorja was so smart (I know all grandparents say that) but this is true, that she challenged me on every level. Did you know that artificial flowers are "flowers pretending to be flowers"? We got a good laugh out of that one.
Jorja and me with make-up
We colored and painted, played hair dresser (where she looked at my post-menopause curly locks with disgust and proclaimed "you have crazy hair") and played games. She was a ball of energy I had to rush to keep up with. I learned all the cartoon programs: Paw Patrol; Bubble Guppies; Sponge-Bob Square-Pants--I know all the characters in Bikini Bottom.
Jocelyn grew older and wanted to join in the fun. At first, her sister objected but now they have a friendly sisterly competitive spirit (most of the time).

The girls enjoy doing make-up, and making me up. I've been a Cat Vampire, and other characters I have no idea what they were supposed to be. Both girls painted my face with lipstick, eye-shadow, and Jocelyn loves to slather nail polish on my hands and feet.
Jorja, me and Jocelyn Mother's Day

You love your children, but grandchildren are special, that second chance to cuddle a baby, play hide and seek, be painted like a clown, and sweetly send them home when you're tired!



Jocie in blue
 
 
For different sort of love, my novel On a Stormy Primeval Shore, explores the love that develops between a well-bred Englishwoman and a wild, frontier Acadian trader in remote New Brunswick, Canada.
 
 
In 1784, Amelia sails to New Brunswick, a land overrun by Loyalists escaping the American Revolution, to marry a soldier whom she rejects. Acadian Gilbert fights to preserve his heritage and property—will they find love when events seek to destroy them?
 
Purchase ebook or paperback in Amazon and All Markets.
 
 Or visit my website: dianescottlewis.org
 
 
 
Diane Scott Lewis grew up in California, traveled the world with the navy, edited for magazines and an on-line publisher. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

In the Name of Love



By Kathy Fischer-Brown

I can’t say that I never did anything particularly memorable “in the name of love.” Whether a result of my aging brain or selective recall, I can think of nothing to write here about myself. So, I will relate a little story from family lore.

When my dad served in the navy during WWII, his fiancée (my mom) used to send him care packages of his favorite foods: stuff that would survive weeks—if not months—of travel from The Bronx until reaching the SS Virgo, his ship, somewhere in the South Pacific. She’d send him edibles such as salamis, crackers, and nuts in their shells. My father loved sweets: chocolates, chocolate pudding, Boston cream pie…you name it. Brownies were one of his particular weaknesses. My mother’s brownies especially. They were cakey but not dry, satisfyingly chocolatey, and chock full of walnuts.

So, at one point she decided to bake a batch and send it to him. This was in an age when there was no UPS where you could drop off your perishables, have them boxed in Styrofoam coolers and packed in dry ice. You couldn’t even track the package. And in war time, there was no guarantee that it would even reach its destination. Imagine, if you will, the condition in which they arrived. My dad often spoke of this, and how his taste buds had been so amped at the thought of a bite of a delicious brownie…or two or three accompanied by a luke warm glass of navy regulation reconstituted powdered milk. Until he got a gander at those brown and green mouldy bricks.





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Kathy Fischer Brown is a BWL author of historical novels, Winter Fire, "The Serpent’s Tooth" trilogy: Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter, Courting the DevilThe Partisan’s Wife, and The Return of Tachlanad, an epic fantasy adventure for young adult and adult readers. Check out her Books We Love Author page or visit her website. All of Kathy’s books are available in e-book and in paperback from a host of online and brick and mortar retailers. Look for Where the River Narrows (with Ronald Ady Crouch), the 12th and final novel in BWL’s Canadian Historical Brides series, coming in July 2018.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

In The Name of Love Joan Donaldson-Yarmey



http://bwlpublishing.ca/authors/donaldson-yarmey-joan/

Two family stories in the name of love
#1

My husband and I lived on an acreage and my husband work in the country for an oil company. Therefore he didn’t make it into town to buy me a Valentine’s card. So early Valentine’s morning he went outside and packed some snow into a pile. He got a can of red spray paint and painted a heart with an arrow through it on the snow. He also printed Be My Valentine on it. I could see the pile of snow from the kitchen window for months as it was the last snow to melt in the spring.

#2

My mother had moved from Alberta to B.C. to pick fruit and then got a job at a store in Vancouver. Mom’s parents, my grandparents sold their farm in Alberta and bought an acreage near Vancouver. My father was in World War II and was repatriated to Vancouver when it was over.

When dad left the army he got a job and began to look for a place to buy. My grandfather’s health was bad and so they decided to sell their acreage. One of mom’s friends was my dad’s sister and my dad found out about it through his sister. He bought my grandparents acreage and met my mother. They married seven months after meeting and were married for fifty-four years.

The way dad put it: He bought the acreage and got the daughter for free.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Baroness Orczy – Her Life and Times by Rosemary Morris



     For more information and to purchase from your favorite online retailer click cover image


About Rosemary Morris

Before I could read, I admired the pictures in my story books. At five-years-old learned to read and, in later life, shared my favourite children’s fiction. For example, at Christmas, I gave my two older granddaughters A Little Princess and The Secret Garden.
Recently, I visited old favourites among which are Baroness Orczy’s series about The Scarlet Pimpernel then researched the life of this talented novelist, the whose life was as interesting as her novels.

Baroness Orczy – Her Life and Times

Best remembered for her hero, Percy Blakeney, the elusive Scarlet Pimpernel, Baroness Emmuska Orczy was born in Tarna Ors, Hungary, in 1865 to parents who frequented the magnificent court of the Austrian Hungarian Empire.
Emmuska enjoyed every luxury in her father’s magnificent ancestral chateaux, where she lived until 1870 when a mob of peasants burned the barn, stables and fields. Yet, throughout her life, the lively parties, the dancing and the haunting gypsy music lived on in Emmuska’s memory.
Fearing a national uprising, the baron moved his family from Hungary to Belgium, and, until her family settled in London, Emmuska attended convent schools in Brussels and Paris.
Emmuska fell in love with England which she regarded as her spiritual birthplace, her true home.  When people referred to her as a foreigner, and said there was nothing English about her, she replied ‘my love is all English, for I love the country’.
Baron Orczy tried hard to develop his daughter’s musical talent, but she chose art and had the satisfaction of her work being exhibited at The Royal Academy.  Later, she turned to writing. 
At Heatherby’s School of Art, Emmuska met her future husband, Montague Barstow, an illustrator. In 1894 they married, and, in her own words, the union was ‘happy and joyful’.
Her bridegroom encouraged her to write. In 1895 her translations of Old Hungarian Fairy Tales, The Enchanted Cat, Fairyland’s Beauty and Uletka and The White Lizard, edited with Montague’s help, were published. Inspired by thrillers she watched on stage, Emmuska wrote mystery and detective stories. The first featured The Old Man in the Corner.  For the generous payment of sixty pounds the Royal Magazine published it in 1901.  Her stories were an instant hit.  Yet, although the public could not get enough of them, she remained dissatisfied.
In her autobiography Emmuska wrote: ‘I felt inside my heart a kind of stirring that the writing of sensational stuff for magazines would not and should not, be the end and aim of my ambition.  I wanted to do something more than that.  Something big.’
Montague and Emmuska spent 1900 in Paris that, in her ears, echoed with the violence of the French Revolution. Surely, she had found the setting for a magnificent hero to champion the victims of “The Terror”. Unexpectedly, after she and Montagu returned to England, while waiting for a train Emmuska saw her famous hero, Sir Percival Blakeney, dressed in exquisite clothes.  She noted the monocle held up in his slender hand, heard both his lazy drawl and his quaint laugh.  Emmuska told her husband about the incident and wrote The Scarlet Pimpernel in five weeks.
  Very often, although the first did not apply to Emmuska and Montague, it is as difficult to find true love as it is to get published. A dozen publishers or more rejected The Scarlet Pimpernel.  The publishing houses wanted modern, true-life novels. Undeterred Emmuska and Montague turned the novel into a play.
The critics did not care for the play, which opened at the New Theatre, London in 1904, but the audiences loved it and it ran for 2,000 performances.  As a result, The Scarlet Pimpernel was published and became the blockbuster of its era making it possible for Emmuska and Montague to live in an estate in Kent, have a bustling London home and buy a luxurious villa in Monte Carlo.
During the next thirty-five years, Emmuska wrote not only sequels to The Scarlet Pimpernel but other historical and crime novels.  Her loyal fans repaid her by flocking to the first of several films about her gallant hero. The first directed by her compatriot, Alexander Korda, was released in 1935.  
 Emmuska and Montague moved to Monte Carlo in the late 1910’s where they remained during Nazi occupation in the Second World War.
Montague died in 1943 leaving Emmuska bereft.  She lived with her only son and divided her time between London and Monte Carlo. At 82, her last novel Will-O’theWisp and her autobiography, Links in the Chain of Life, were published in 1947 shortly before her death.
A lasting tribute to the baroness is the enduring affection the public has for her brave, romantic hero, Sir Percival Blakeney, master of disguise.

The Captain and The Countess
London. 1706
      
Why does heart-rending pain lurk in the back of the wealthy Countess of Sinclair’s eyes? 
Captain Howard’s life changes forever from the moment he meets Kate, the intriguing Countess and resolves to banish her pain.
Although the air sizzles when widowed Kate, victim of an abusive marriage meets Edward Howard, a captain in Queen Anne’s navy, she has no intention of ever marrying again.
However, when Kate becomes better acquainted with the Captain she realises he is the only man who understands her grief and can help her to untangle her past.

Novels by Rosemary Morris

Early 18th Century novels. Tangled Love, Far Beyond Rubies, The Captain and The Countess

Regency Novels. False Pretences, Sunday’s Child, Monday’s Child, Tuesday’s Child, Wednesday’s Child

Mediaeval Novel. Yvonne Lady of Cassio. The Lovages of Cassio Book One



Saturday, February 3, 2018

A Crazy Thing for Love by Victoria Chatham

  

Our topic for February, Valentine’s month and all things romantic, is: what is the craziest, weirdest, funniest, most oddball thing you have heard of being done in the name of love?

The first thing that jumped into my mind was Peter and Juliet’s wedding scene in the movie Love Actually, when the flash choir and band organized by Peter’s best man, Mark, plays The Beatles’ classic All You Need is Love. If you haven’t seen the movie or would like a reminder of the scene, here’s a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h89BbqoPAcM.

I have so many memories of expressions of love through gifts or cards, – once even a screwdriver. No, not the alcoholic version but the tool which came at just the right time for me to install drapery fixtures. I’ve had flowers, chocolates, or wine when it hasn’t been my birthday or Christmas. I’ve been presented with a hand-carved whale, the first piece of work my youngest son produced in his workshop class when he was seven or eight years old. I have a brass paperweight that my eldest son gave me. I still have notes from my daughter.

And, after more than forty years I still have a pin depicting a Spanish bull that their father bought for me during a family holiday. I’d seen it in a store window, admired it, and walked on, knowing that its one shilling and nine-pence pricetag was still too high a cost for our tight budget. That's about thirty-seven cents in today's Canadian currency. In a gesture that I still treasure, my then husband went back to the store and bought the pin for me. It had nothing to do with the cost, and everything to do with giving me a gift that came from love. 

But the craziest, sweetest story I think I’ve ever come across is my son-in-law’s gift to my daughter on the occasion of her fiftieth birthday. It was a masterful scheme which he spent nearly all year working on without my daughter getting any idea of it. He began by contacting her bosses and asked for vacation time for her over Christmas and New Year, something she had never had in all her years working for them. Her birthday, by the way, is December 23rd (she was almost a Christmas baby.) They were delighted to be involved and helped him arrange an alternative staff schedule so she wouldn’t panic about that at the last minute.

Family and friends were asked in secret if they would like to contribute to one of her surprises, all things she had expressed a desire to see or do. These encompassed spending Christmas Day at a hotel doing nothing but chilling in cozy pj’s and watching TV; a trip to Choccywoccydoodah, a store for everything chocolate with outlets in Brighton and London in the UK and run by two marvelous ladies. Check them out at https://www.choccywoccydoodah.com/. 

Madame Tussaud’s was on her list, as was a play in the West End. She also wanted to visit The Shard, at ninety-five stories the fifth tallest building in Europe. It is located in Southwark, London and was designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano. Another of her wishes was to take a trip on a sleeper train, which they did from London to Edinburgh in time to celebrate New Year’s Eve, or Hogmanay if you prefer, on the Royal Mile. A sweetener for this part of the birthday surprise was that her brother and sister-in-law were there to help celebrate, too.

My son-in-law works for a printing company and was able to put together and print up a special Fiftieth Birthday Tour brochure for her, highlighting the places they would visit and who had sponsored it. The whole event was a celebration of love and togetherness which, as my eldest son pointed out, ruined life as they knew it for other men in the family. There was no way of beating that! Even without the brochure, I know my daughter will always have wonderful memories of that trip and I’m so proud of my son-in-law for showing his love in the way he did.

In the words of Ed Sheeran’s love song, it was Perfect. And you can watch that on YouTube, too at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xA4w2bxVo.