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Mars: Dreams, Predictions, and Reality

Svetlana Zernes

© Copyright 2018 by Svetlana Zernes


Photo of a crater on Marz.  Credit to NASA.
For centuries, people created their ideas and visions about Mars. Some predictions finally came true, even more did not.

Let’s take a look at the accuracy of famous (and infamous) historical ideas about the Red Planet. . . .


Grandma's Stories
Tupa's Indian Stories and Me

Shelley Marichal

© Copyright 2018 by Shelley Marichal

Photo of Shelley's great grandparents, Francois Suprenault and Sophie Stinweskit.
Francois Suprenault and Sophie Stinweskit., Shelley's great grandparents.

. . . .My grandmother was a product of Okanagan and Blackfoot Indian and French background. The wisdom passed on to her from her parents and grandparents transcends time and brings new meaning to my life as I continue to grow and experience the world around me with my own family.

As a child, I used to love to sit and listen to the stories of the past that my grandmother would pass on to me. To my knowledge they have never been written down and have been stored away in my memory of treasures. Whether they are 100% truth, I don’t know and it isn’t important to me. I often reflect back and realize that sometimes she had a glint in her eye with a smile breaking through under her story telling. I am sure that she elaborated on certain details just to see me squirm. . . .


Fluorosis the Mystery Disease

Kavitha  Yarlagadda

© Copyright 2018 by Kavitha Yarlagadda


Photo of children suffering from Fluorosis.

A quiet village, people going around their daily chores in a mundane way, all seems well, but as you go further into the village, we come across young children limping around, a crippled man dragging himself on the ground to move around and a stooped woman going about her work, this is the sight that greets us, as we enter Cherlapally, in Nalgonda District, a small village hardly 100 km from the famous city of Hyderabad, with around 1050 families. Around 50% of the people of this village are suffering from Fluorosis of both types dental and skeletal fluorosis. . . .

When Round Trip Becomes One Way

Victoria Blakey

© Copyright 2018 by Victoria Blakey


Photo of the author.

I was so excited but wondered how I’d fare on the long flight and road trip to my destination in Gambia, West Africa. My right leg still ached from a torn hamstring and sitting for such a long time surely would irritate it I thought. I planned this six-week vacation for a time to relax, explore and heal. What I wasn’t excited about was the tedious journey to get to my destination. My route included a two-hour flight to New York, a seven and one-half hour flight to Dakar, Senegal, West Africa, and over an eight-hour road trip to reach Gambia. . . .

Your Roots Are Showing

Amie McGraham

© Copyright 2018 by Amie McGraham


Photo of flowers and a lake in the sunset.

This story goes beyond a typical cross-country road trip travelogue; it’s a deep exploration into the soul of a family caregiver. I wrote snippets of the trip as I drove across country, eventually ending up at my childhood home to care for my mother with Alzheimer’s. It took time and courage to piece it together, and like most of my writing lately, the words are woven together by the inescapable thread of dementia. . . .

A Delicate Balance

Sara Etgen-Baker

© Copyright 2018 by Sara Etgen-Baker

Photo of the  Chihuahan Desert.

This is a true account of the move my husband and I made from my native North Texas to the Chihuahan Desert near El Paso, Texas. Although I agreed to support my husband in relocating, I was bitter and resentful and wanted to turn back. But within hours of our arrival, the dusty terrain and simple landscape of the Chihuahan Desert taught me an invaluable lesson. . . .

The Stranger in the Box

Sara Etgen-Baker

© Copyright 2018 by Sara Etgen-Baker

Photo of Grandpa Etgen.

This is a true account of my experience years ago when I was given the key to my grandmother’s attic. I set about exploring her attic, curious about my family. I was not disappointed for her attic was a treasure trove waiting to be explored.

I approached the door leading into my grandmother’s attic. Using her skeleton key, I turned the lock; opened the door; and stepped inside, the floor creaking beneath my feet. I fumbled my way across the dimly-lit attic toward a nearby dormer window and wiped the grime from it, letting the morning light stream in. . . .

The Phone Call

Cheryl Ferguson Bernini

© Copyright 2018 by 
Cheryl Ferguson Bernini

Photo of Cheryl and her mother.

My mom, Anne, was diagnosed with a rare heart condition when I was 15 and a sophomore in high school. Due to this illness, she was always speaking with a doctor or laboratory. What you are about to experience is one of those conversations. As you can see from the picture, my mom was a genuinely fun-loving woman, and we had a great time together while she was here. . . .


An Evening of Unfortunate Events

Karina Kamran

© Copyright 2018 by Karina Kamran

  Photo of sea waves.

In a big white house on a quiet street, a pen furiously attacks each blank page. Wielded by a magician on the rampage, her stories must be told and their magic needs to be spread. Smiling as she weaves another tale, her desire for caffeine is real and her stomach’s demands for pizza ought to be met. . . .


The Hill

Bill Cox

© Copyright 2018 by Bill Cox

Photo of female roe deer with fawn.
I was born in Aberdeen, a busy Scottish city that sits on the coast of the North Sea. After some youthful travels I returned there and now live with my partner Hilary in a cottage on the edge of the city. Our home is surrounded by crop fields where wheat is grown for the whisky industry, but on the edge of our small horizon we can see the housing estates of the city’s Bridge of Don suburb. In reality there are only three fields between us and suburbia and I have no doubt that one day the housing estates will come out to meet us. There’s a certain inevitability to it, like a rising tide.

For now though, we live in the countryside and not the city. Our surroundings are given over to farming, but five minutes walk from my front door is a small hill that has, over the years, become our own little nature reserve. We call it the hill, but it barely registers on an Ordinance Survey map. However, its contours are such that putting it to crop is more trouble than its worth, so it is left as a small piece of wild land surrounded by industrially farmed fields. . . .


The Eagle Lesson

Judith Nakken 


© Copyright 2018 by Judith Nakken   


Photo of a flying bald eagle.

What did I know from bald eagles? The national bird, right? Had I ever seen one? Geez. While Nancy stood there waiting for my answer, I searched my mind through a whole disastrous train trip from Whittier to the San Diego Zoo during the mid-60’s with another woman, five kids under ten, and a hellacious hangover. (And the bus ride back, straight through the Watts Riot, thanks to my bleary-eyed reading of the train schedule. But, that’s a story for another time.) Monkeys, giraffes, foxes, snakes bounced to and fro in my memory banks … no eagles. . . .


Roaring Into Bulawayo's Royal Treat

Ndaba Sibanda

© Copyright 2018 by Ndaba Sibanda

Rhino viewing at Matobo National Park.

It was an inspiringly cool August afternoon when the Boeing 767 carrying Ahmed landed majestically in the center of the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport runway, 25 km to the north of Bulawayo. That Friday I was glad that Ahmed, my former student from Kuwait, had finally arrived in Bulawayo. After exchanging some warm and excited greetings, he remarked,” “Beautiful airport. I like it!” I smiled, “Though small in size, it is our gateway to such amazing world heritage sites as the Khami Ruins and the Matobo Hills”. . . .

Goodbyes, Anticipated and Unanticipated

Paul Dominic

© Copyright 2018 by Paul Dominic

Photo of sun rays behand clouds.

. . .“Is your mother alive?” The question invariably came up when an individual or group interacted with me personally. For years it brought me certain pain. So I would answer simply yes, though with an obvious reluctance. As years passed I learnt to give another answer, more comfortably. I remember one occasion in the opening exchange with 30-odd retreatants at Shillong, India. A British Sister, the Principal of their College, asked me, “Are your parents alive?” I answered, “Yes, alive, fully alive.” I noticed that she looked puzzled, as also many others! So I repeated, “They’re alive… yes, fully alive in Heaven!” That was more than satisfactory, if surprising, to my audience; it elicited their spontaneous smile! . . .



Elana Renata

© Copyright 2018 by 

Photo of a red tail hawk.  (c) 2018 by Audubon.

I became enraptured with raptors such as Red Tail Hawks, Great Horned Owls, Peregrine Falcons, and Bald Eagles when I started working at the veterinary clinic at the University of Minnesota.

Henry and I met through Maggie, the first year Red-Tail Hawk.  She sat proudly on his wrist at the Midwest Falconer’s Meeting held at The Raptor Center.  A dark morph, red plumage tinged with gold, she flapped her wings and stamped her talons impatiently on Henry’s fist. . . .


The Hatchet Man Cometh

Joe DiMiceli

© Copyright 2018 by Joe DiMiceli

Photo of an AA sign.

 You’ve probably read or heard a gazillion first person stories by alcoholics or their families describing the heartbreak of addiction. But have you ever seen a narrative from the employer’s (or his agent’s) point of view? I worked for the New York office of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) from 1978 to 1985. My title was Administrative Officer, but my work was closer to Human Resources Officer, hiring, firing, discipline and training and I want to relate my experiences counselling alcoholics, but first we need some background. . . .



Virginia Strickland

© Copyright 2018 by Virginia Strickland

Photo of a dark city park.

A shadow began dancing towards my bench. Every night I sit on this bench and wait for someone to show up. Well, two people to show up. They are different every night. There is no way that the same people could be reused. The shadow seemed to be swaying back and forth with its arms moving to and fro. Its owner came shortly after, walking away from the streetlight. There was my second person. . . .



Claire Frances Maley


© Copyright 2018 by Claire Frances Maley

Photo of two ginger kittens.

Timely ripped from her Mother’s womb, Pol entered the world one snowy November morning. She nearly killed her Mother. “What a bruiser! She’ll play Hockey for England.” The nurse said.

As soon as Pol could stand, she pulled open the net curtain and waved Dad off to work. He’d laugh, wave and blow kisses back. She continued to wave until long after he’d driven out of sight. Upon returning home, Pol waited on him, cooking him an imaginary feast in her plastic, toy kitchen.

At three and a half, Pol craned her neck and stepped on the hospital wall pipes beside the glass crib to meet her newly born brother. Why was Mother speaking to this white, wriggling, strange creature with unusual tenderness? Why did he have an orange cast where hair was meant to be? “Your brother is going to have red hair like your great grandfather,” said Dad ruffling Pol’s blond curls. With his face scrunched, her brother let out an almighty squeal. . . .


On Coping

Carolina Williams

© Copyright 2018 by Carolina Williams

Photo of a child's hand held by an adult.

If ever there was something easier said than done, it was being a kid. Adults wearing stiff blazers recline in their brown leather office chairs and welcome any wave of nostalgia that takes them back to childhood, when they were carefree and overflowing with enthusiasm for weeds that resembled flowers and dreams that were mistaken for reality. But, unknowingly, they now view childhood through a lens of sentimentality — an excessive fondness and tenderness that masks the physical struggles and emotional pitfalls that frequently explode in the day to day life of a kid. . . .


The Snowdon Panther

Rachael Bates

© Copyright 2018 by Rachael Bates

Photo of Burt, a wild gaur, the bison of Southern India.

Not many people grow up with a pet bison. We called ours Burt. The locals were always telling us about bison aggression towards humans, but Burt, enormous-hairy-Burt, seemed content to watch us from the forest behind the backyard fence. He visited us a few times a week and we grew rather fond of him, learning to recognize him by a chunk of flesh missing from one of his ears. On occasion he snuck into my mother’s vegetable garden and created havoc with his hooves, or tore up our lawn with his eager grazing. Other than that, he was a welcome addition to our bevy of animals, which included horses and ponies, dogs and cats, chickens, and the occasional baby bird. In all my time living in Ooty, a town perched high in the mountains of South India, Burt was perhaps the largest bison I ever saw. . . .



Chris Smith

© Copyright 2018 by Chris Smith

The Peaceable Kingdom, a painting by Edward Hicks.

One of the meanings of peace is, freedom from turmoil and war. One of the definitions of turmoil is, a confused or agitated state. Furthermore, peace is freedom, which is to be released and set free from turmoil, confusion, agitation, hostility, and conflict. . . .

A Ladybird

Laura Labno

© Copyright 2018 by Laura Labno

Photo of a ladybird beetle.

I was sitting on a park bench. It was a warm and pleasant day. It was early in the evening and the setting sun was still gently hitting my back. I could smell all the good things one could smell during such a day; the fresh evening air, green grass and spring flowers. Yes, it was a good day, a beautiful day indeed but I wasn't able to apprecite it. My head was filled with thoughts that were dark and gloomy and even the brigteness of the sun wasn't able to overcome their depth. I was holding my notebook in my hands and all I wanted was to express all these things. . . .

The Best Word

Sharon Hodson

© Copyright 2018 by Sharon Hodson

Photo of Sharon and grandchildren.

I’ve worn many hats in my almost 58 years on this earth. I’ve been a daughter and a granddaughter. I’m still a niece and a cousin. I’m a sister, an aunt, a great-aunt. I’m a friend and  a co-worker.  I’m a mom. I’m a grandmother.   

My favourite season has always been fall. Fall is beautiful and colourful. Where I live here in Edmonton, Canada, the weather in September, even October,  can be wonderfully warm. Sometimes it’s even hot (well, hot for Edmonton, Canada - in fall) in early to mid-September.

Almost 58 years old - could be considered the ‘fall’ of life, or at least late summer.  It feels like it to me - beautiful, colourful and warm. This is the story of how I came to cherish this part of my life. . . .

The Illusion of Inspiration

Erin Darby Gesell

© Copyright 2018 by Erin Darby Gesell


Photo of moon setting over the ocean.

I am a runner. In the physical sense—I train for and compete in ultra distance races on the regular, and I wish it were socially acceptable to run everywhere I go rather than walk—and in a less literal sense in that I need to skip town as frequently as possible.

In an emotionally complex chain of events that I am only just now beginning to realize, contradictory to everything I am, I bought a house five years ago. I think that this decision was an attempt to anchor myself. I did it in my way—white girl from small town Nebraska buys a beautiful old house in North Omaha, a predominately black neighborhood, alone. In committing myself to that house, to Omaha, to Nebraska, places I was so desperately escaping each weekend, I lived in total rebellion with myself. . . .


Travel with my Father

Winston C. Pagador

© Copyright 2018 by Winston C. Pagador


Photo of Winston and his father.

I wanted to see travels through my father’s perspective, and perhaps to discover something new.

Seated in the window, I found him staring the vast Malay Peninsula that lay spread beneath us, his eyes taking in the small dotted islands that seemed swimming against the blue ocean and then buildings, roads and houses visible as the aircraft decreased altitude, readying its final descent. ‘How is it possible that at six in the evening, the sky is still bright enough here?’ said my father. His face beamed with excitement and disbelief. . . .


Too Close to a Rhinoceros

Josephine Jones

© Copyright 2018 by Josephine Jones

Picture of a charging rhino.

Georgina had asked me, while we were sunbathing on the beach, if I would make a foursome, with Bob a friend of Frank's and herself for a weekend in a game park. It was soon after Frank and Georgina had met, at a hotel dance. He joked that he had picked her up. Then he had asked her out for a day trip. As a good friend, she replied that she had arranged to meet me, he suggested I went along and he would bring his friend. He and Frank were working as electricians in the Matchbox Company. The outing had gone very well. Frank was tall, dark and good looking but Bob was shorter than Georgina who was shorter than me. I was five foot five and a half. . . .


In The Steps Of Ernest Hemingway

Josephine Jones

© Copyright 2018 by Josephine Jones

Statue3 of Hemingway in Havana..

I wanted to go to Cuba because it has an interesting history, from the overthrow of Spanish rule and slavery to a communist state which allowed Catholicism and now permits private enterprise and encourages tourism.

Next I tried to get books written by Ernest Hemingway from the Library. The only one I could find was Islands in the Sea, set around islands off Cuba.
Then I looked on the net and found several of his books for £8 inclusive, from the Book People. I had already read The Sun Also Rises, a novel about Italy in the Second World War. I also enjoyed For whom the Bell Tolls, about the Spanish Civil War. Both had been made into films which I had seen.

So a trip to his house and the bars where he drank was a must for things to do in Cuba. And now I was thrilled to be actually in Cuba after I had read so much about it. . . .


Gay Young Couple In Alice Springs

Josephine Jones

© Copyright 2018 by Josephine Jones

Duke and Dutchess of Kent.  Approx. 1969.

That was the headline in The Centralian Advocate on Thursday 28th August 1969.  Of course, Gay did not mean then what it does now. Earlier that year July Neil Armstrong had set foot on the moon. Television had not yet reached the outback of Australia so we had seen a film of the landing in the Memorial Hall. This film had been provided by the Americans from the nearby secret Space Base which everyone knew about.

The week before there was great excitement in Alice Springs, Australia. The Duke and Duchess of Kent were coming on an official visit from England. . . .


The Defector

Rod Martinez

© Copyright 2018 by Rod Martinez

Map of the island of Cuba.

This is the true story about my mother-in-law. It follows the story of a shy teenager from a small town in Cuba who defected to the USA via missionary work. Should this timid island native never have had the guts to make such a brave move, I would have never met my wife. . . .


Create it Away

Katie Danis

© Copyright 2018 by Katie Danis

Photo of Katie (twice) playing a uke.  (c) by Katie Danis 2018.

"Create it Away" explores my lifelong experience with Tourette Syndrome. It focuses on how the condition intertwines with my memories of childhood, approaching a frequently misunderstood topic with humor and hope.

The first time I got my leg stuck in a broken drainpipe, I was naked. As my preschool teacher dismantled the pipe to free my entrapped (and freshly nude) limb, a new crease crept from her cheek to her chin. She was twenty-five and had eight wrinkles. When school began she had zero. (In my defense, I held direct responsibility for only seven, and I contest the validity of the evidence that charged me with three.). . .


Lone Wolf

Ellen Gunnarsdottir

© Copyright 2018 by Ellen Gunnarsdottir

Photo of a winter scene in Iceland.

In the early eighties, when I was a teen, my grandfather gave me a summer job as a receptionist at his Reykjavik eye clinic. The clinic was on a street that runs from the pond to the harbour below the hill where ugly timber houses built by Danish merchants cast an oppressive pall over this wide space continually swept by the north wind from the Esja mountain. My grandfather’s clinic consisted of four rooms that ran along the length of a dark building, a lonely place where I never saw any other inhabitants on the staircase. The rooms were carpeted and the window openings were broken. They had their particular smell of disinfectant mixed with old textiles, dirty shoes and sweaty bodies wrapped in coats. . . .



Dina Toyoda

© Copyright 2018 by Dina Toyoda

Photo of a San Francisco taxi.

The street was endless. It seemed like it's been hours since we boarded a Paratransit taxi in front of the hospital in San Francisco, where my mom, finally, heard her diagnosis.  

All along we suspected the worst, but it didn't stop me dragging her from one doctor to another. It took them months to come up with the verdict. 

Afterwards, as we waited for our ride, a small group of would be passengers gathered at the curb.  Paratransit cost almost nothing, but it was a shared ride, and we'll have to wait for the driver to drop everyone off at different locations. When the taxi arrived, it was a smallish sedan, and all four of us had to fit in. . . .


I Write This For You

Krystal Song

© Copyright 2018 by Krystal Song

Photo of a violinist's hands.

There are so many words she will never say to him.

Ziyin was sixteen years old when she met Zhao Heng. Her roommate Cao Jie twisted her ankle, so Ziyin went alone to the classical music concert they had planned to attend together.

It was her first time stepping foot in Jiao Tong University. The campus was much larger than her own, and Ziyin soon found herself lost. She paused, then approached the security guard by the gate. . . .

Of Rainy Days, Library School, Guide Dogs, and Police Cars

David Faucheux

© Copyright 2018 by David Faucheux

Photo of Alex Trebek on Jepordy.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Café Des Amis

Janet, a friend, came to pick me up for lunch. We met our friend Sarah at Café Des Amis in Breaux Bridge. En route, I gave Janet the book China Dolls, by Lisa See. She may read it quickly or return it to the library and check it out under her own name. As noted earlier, Ms. Lydia brought it to me last week. I thought that Janet, who is of part Asian extraction, would enjoy this story of three Asian girls in San Francisco just before and during World War II. She has mentioned enjoying books by this author.

I enjoyed my alligator sausage and savory cheesecake with crawfish cream sauce. I even shared it out and got to taste Janet’s fried eggplant with crawfish topping and Sarah’s grilled crab cakes. The white chocolate bread pudding was good. The outing was sort of a pre–birthday lunch for me. It was so thoughtful of them to ask me where I’d like to go. . . .


The Push

Margaret Ann Gordon Valenta

© Copyright 2018 by Margaret Valenta


Photo of frightened eyes in rear view mirror.

. . . .When it comes to my sense of direction I’m at a loss. When I should turn right, I am positive I should turn left. Noticing the houses were getting scarce, and little or no traffic, I soon realized I was lost. (In 1955 we had no cell phones so we had no way of contacting anyone in an emergency.) Coming upon a car stopped in the road, with the driver standing outside his car, I pulled up behind him, got out, told him I was lost, and asked for directions.

He smiled and said, “I’m Bill Potter. I need a push to get my car started. My battery won’t turn the engine over. If you will give me a push, then you can follow me to where you need to go.”. . .


A Long Look Back

R. G. Kaimal

© Copyright 2018 by R. G. Kaimal

Photo of path to mountains.

A Long Look Back’ is a reminiscence of my growing-up process. It deals with the challenges & joys that confronted me in this process. I had a rather colorful childhood but a challenging boyhood. By the time I was into manhood things had settled down as can be deduced from the story. . . .

Words That Soak Into Your Soul

Carrie Scarborough Kinnard

© Copyright 2018 by 
Carrie Scarborough Kinnard

Photo of Carrie and Mom.

Words that soak into your soul, are whispered…not yelled.

Ever wanted to feel not good enough?

Ever hoped to live with someone who thinks they know more than you ever will?

Ever had the desire to sense you’re just really not that smart?

Ever wanted to pray so much you were certain God was beginning to tune you out like a staticky radio station?

Then, if you’re single, I suggest you go out and find yourself a man with a teenage daughter.

And then you marry him. . . .


Don Hoover

© Copyright 2018 by Don Hoover

Photo of Don and Butch.

There used to be an old one-eyed dog who followed me about,
Every morning and every afternoon as I walked my paper route.
I didn’t know where he came from, and I didn’t know his name.
We didn’t trust each other much, but he followed just the same.
He had a gimpy right back leg, which he favored all the time,
But he still looked rough and dangerous, though perhaps well past his prime.
He never got close enough to pet and that was fine, you see,
Cause I was a little bit scared of him, and he wasn’t sure of me. . . .


Round the Way: Inheritance

Jasmine Hill

© Copyright 2018 by Jasmine Hill

Photo of a sunrise.  (c) 2005 by Richard Loller.

My mom, four siblings, and I lived in a rust colored brick apartment complex in a neighborhood sandwiched between Shreveport Regional Airport, where those with enough resources could flee, and Fair Park High School, where those with none could learn how. This middle ground was known as Greenwood Terrace to those in passing, GT to those with no plans to leave, and the hood to everyone in between. . . .


The House Guest

Celi Azulek

© Copyright 2018 by Celi Azulek

Photo of Celi's mouse.

I don’t know whether it’s just me, but most years I seem to come across three or four animals or birds that require some form of helping hand and they will often spend several weeks with me, as they get back onto their feet. The heroine of this story, The House Guest, was one of these unexpected waifs . . . .


The Bus to Urgup

Robert Walton

© Copyright 2018 by Robert Walton


Photo of mountains.  Photo (c) 2018 by Jon Walton.
Photo by Jon Walton.

Shaky and weak, I stood atop a sandy ridge called Sunset Point. Some Turkish bug still prowled the far corners of my body. My theory that consuming liberal daily rations of Raki in Istanbul would immunize me from such maladies proved to be wrong. My sons stirred beside me. I took a deep breath and pondered both my own condition and our immediate future. Bouncy and chatty, the boys (Jeremy's twenty-nine and Jon's twenty-four) were boys again, excited by our coming adventure. I had doubts, not the least of which was my unhappy tummy. Still, one of the great joys of fatherhood is to do things with your kids. We were undeniably about to do something together. Six miles away in the blue distance we could see our destination, Goremé, a small town in central Anatolia. . . .


A Bear for Lunch

Robert Walton

© Copyright 2018 by Robert Walton


Photo of a bear eating a picnic lunch.

 Kids learn best from doing and watching their elders do, so early on in fatherhood I sought help in teaching my sons: the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Camping entails shared work, shared hardship, shared fun, shared adventure – and shared secrets. You inevitably end up in situations of which mothers would not approve. . . .

Twenty Years

Paul Fleckney

© Copyright 2018 by Paul Fleckney

Photo of a bee on an apple blossom.

There's so much life in a cemetery in spring. The one I use, West Norwood, is one of those old Victorian ones where nature is in charge. There is a caretaker, who discreetly rides the pathways, tending to the excesses, always just out of sight. But he's not the boss around here. Not in late April. Up in the branches, squirrels scoot from one tree to the next, clutching some fresh prize. Down in the deep green grass, bluebells have broken out in enthusiastic patches. In among the bluebells are some tiny white flowers that look like snowdrops, but aren't. Mum would know what they are. . . .


The Value of Patience and Good Judgment

Xiaochen Su

© Copyright 2018 by Xiaochen Su

Photo of a road sign in Montenegro.

Being on the road, travelers often come across situations where their own decision-making can very much change the direction of their entire travels. And when the wrong decision is taken, the cost can be unbelievably high in monetary terms, not to mention damages to self-confidence. But it is those wrong decisions that tend to be, ultimately, the most memorable ones. The wrong decisions, by the pure "virtue" of their being incredibly bad decisions, lead to the greatest adventures. In the end, with much more spending than expected, travelers have to realize where is that fine line between "adventure at all costs" and "sound financing while on the road." . . .


Chocolate-Covered Nut

Terri W. Jackson

© Copyright 2018 by Terri W. JacksonX

Photo of a chocolate-covered nut.

You never realize how many lives are touched by the testimony that you share in an autobiography. I am sharing my story because it is my hope that bondages will be broken and people will be freed from a life of despair and their own veil of madness which haunts them daily. I once lived a life without hope. God led me straight to where I needed to be for my life to change dramatically, at just the right time. Somehow, when life seemed impossible, and I wanted to give up, He sent a life boat to rescue me. God truly “never leaves me, nor forsakes me” and has proven that, time and time again. He is a Waymaker, a Promise Keeper. This is a personal account of His faithfulness. . . .

Redemption and Dollywood

Melissa Ann Sweat

© Copyright 2018 by Melissa Ann Sweat

Photo of the Dollywood entrance sign.

My essay describes my first trip to Dollywood and the surrounding Smoky Mountain region, while reclaiming my own creative spirit and musical ambitions through the living legend that is Dolly Parton.

After leaving Asheville in the first part of my trip, I headed west on I-40 to my next destination:  Pigeon Forge, TN for a long-awaited pilgrimage to — you guessed it — Dollywood. I’d always enjoyed Dolly Parton’s music and persona as an entertainer growing up, but I became more obsessed with Dolly as a person when I happened to pick up her autobiography, Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business, at a used bookstore in a nearby town when I was living in Joshua Tree, California, a few years back. . . .


The Zen of Fishing

Leah Gage

© Copyright 2018 by Leah Gage

Photo of a lake through the trees.

Leah has many loves in life, but two of the biggest are fishing and writing. When she’s not doing either of those she’s probably bored.

I put my things on a flat spot on the ground and just stood there for a moment, taking in the scene. The sun was high in the sky and felt warm on my neck and shoulders. The pond was glassy calm, without a single ripple disturbing its surface. I was far enough in the woods that there wasn’t a human made sound to be heard. Birds were chirping in the distance and dragon flies were bouncing from reed to reed along the shore, searching for bugs to eat. It was serene and peaceful and everything that I’d needed for so long. . . .


Reasons Why It Will Survive Another 100 Years

Van Nyankieya Nchogu

© Copyright 2018 by Van Nyankieya Nchogu

Photo of the arch of Septimius Severus in Rome.

Despite being a dead language, existing beyond its shelf life, seeing the rise and fall of empires, setting foundation for today’s major languages, Latin still remains relevant in our cultural, political and social life. Like in Binomial Nomenclature which is used by scientists in naming of plants & animals borrows heavily from the Latin language. From educational institutions, military organizations, municipals and countries deriving their names, official mottos & slogans from the language its effect is felt worldwide. This article strives in affirming why despite being a dead language its influence is still felt today and will survive for another hundred years. . . .


Never Getting Back To Normal
A Dispatch from the Land of Young Eurocrats

Carter Vance

© Copyright 2018 by Carter Vance

Photo of a British protester.

To live anywhere in the EU at the moment and to be even mildly interested in or involved with politics is to be in a state of constant pre-occupation. Crises, both internal and external, seem to crawl out of the collective woodwork with a deliberate, martial frequency. Just as one problem is “solved”, usually through a series of ethically questionable rug-sweeping half-measures, another introduces itself as an uninvited house guest, pounding at the door, bearing some ancient grievance or throwing about the inheritance of the late 20th century’s bad decision. . . .


Facing Gascony

Sandra Hawes

© Copyright 2018 by Sandra Hawes

Photo of a field of sunflowers in Gascony.

Our house faced south to rounded hills dotted with farmhouses and an odd assortment of trees.

September ambled in on a wave of heat. The sunflowers were being harvested in the field opposite the house, by our neighbouring farmer. All was quiet except for the drone of the combine harvester which gave us a feeling of security that the summer had produced a good crop, and we were hopeful that later the rains would swell the lakes. The harvester raised clouds of black dust outside the house. We thought it a good time to stay in and decorate. . . .

The Pyramid of the Sun

Luisa Kay Reyes

© Copyright 2018 by Luisa Kay Reyes


Photo of woman atop the pyramid of the Sun.

When I found out that we were going to spend two weeks visiting my brother and his family in Mexico City, I knew that there was one archaeological site I simply had to see . . . the Pyramid of the Sun. I had seen it featured in several historical documentaries on television and I just had to take this opportunity to go see it in person. . . .



Luisa Kay Reyes

© Copyright 2018 by Luisa Kay Reyes


Photo of a neighborhood in Mexico City.

When we went to pay our rent to our always amiable and elegant classy blonde Spanish landlady, we learned to our dismay that she had recently passed away. Leaving her beloved son, who had unfortunately taken after her husband’s no account ways, in charge of the family’s affairs. And seeing this as a ripe opportunity to set up a hard-partying bachelor pad, he informed us that we would be promptly kicked out of our home in the neighborhood we all called La Privada. . . .

Finding Healing in Prague

Anne Organista

© Copyright 2018 by Anne Organista

Photo of old town tower in Prague.

I expected Prague to be one of the most interesting places I'd visit.  Little did I know it would give me so much more.

Prague’s bohemian appeal and fascinating features made it an ideal destination for culture lovers like myself. But the day before I left, my boyfriend broke up with me. Suddenly, Prague was not as enticing and curling up into a ball seemed like a sensible idea; even though I knew it would have been foolish not to go.

I rose to a gorgeous Monday morning with the Prague skyline peeking through my window. The radiant sunlight, however, didn’t produce much difference. Sleep had been uneasy, leaving my eyes red and swollen. Everything had fallen apart, but this was a dream vacation and I knew it would be a waste not to make the most of this opportunity. So despite my foul mood, I pushed myself to join the others who had already headed for Prague Castle. . . .


Kashmir Problem

Musarrat Zaidi

© Copyright 2018 by Musarrat Zaidi

Photo of violence in Kashmir.

Kashmir’s history is horrible, Kashmiris facing Extreme brutality

Extreme bloodshed, brute lest killing, India’s subconscious dead, UNO, USA, closed eyes, only policy statements, no practicality.  Super powers and UNO talk high like a Don Quicksort about human rights and their vested interests, but do not feel the severe pains of deep wounds caused by Indian forces daggers in the chests of Kashmiris, men, women and kids. . . .


Shoeboxes and Showshoeing

Vicky H. Bourne

© Copyright 2018 byVicky H. Bourne


Photo of Vicky in Bosnia.

. . . .We were at least two hours into the bus journey from Sarajevo before anybody noticed. Helen, a GP from Yorkshire, tapped our guide on the shoulder.

Excuse me.’ She was almost apologetic. ‘But will we reach the snow soon?’

Oh, we’ve had no snow this year. The first time in fifty years.’ Katja, our guide for the week is a tall, strong woman in her early thirties who speaks impeccable English. . . .


History's Eyewitness

Leonard Dawson

© Copyright 2018 by Leonard Dawson

Old poster for Buffalo Bill's wild west show.

 What do Wyatt Earp and Neil Armstrong have in common? Born in 1881, the year the Earp brothers faced the Clantons in a gunfight at the O. K. Corral, my great-grandmother Alice Sapp lived to see Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon in 1969.
Although her life spanned the industrial, nuclear, and space ages, it’s not the number of years she lived that made her life special, but the range and depth of the changes her generation experienced. People can argue that change is dizzyingly rapid these days, but her generation saw more people, events, discoveries and inventions than any other did. . . .



Xavier Stenzel

© Copyright 2018 by Xavier Stenzel

Australian WW II poster.

My great grandfather was a good man. That word seems to be so trite a thing to call someone. A good man. A good person. In a way, it seems reductive almost, an unwieldy and cumbersome title ill-suited to employment nearly every time it is used.

I’ve generally always been of the opinion that most people known as ‘good’ are in fact nothing of the sort. In my own experience, these ‘good’ folk would be more suitably named as ‘nice’. Not good, not bad, just…nice. Perhaps it is that ‘good’ has become so over-used that it rings false in those instances where it is employed, almost shamelessly it seems. . . .



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