Thursday Doors – Arriving at Tau Game Lodge #Africa #giraffe #wildebeeste #elephants

Welcome to Thursday Doors, a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments below, anytime between 12:01 am Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time).

You can join in Thursday Doors here:

My husband, youngest son, and I went on a four-day adventure from Saturday to Tuesday. It was a long weekend here in South Africa and we decided to make the most of it. Our road trip included a visit to a small town called Groot Marico which is the primary setting for the short stories written by South Africa’s most famous short story writer, Herman Charles Bosman. Groot Marico has a literacy centre in his honour with a replica of the original farm school where he taught. From Groot Marico, we went on to Tau Game Lodge in the Madikwe Game Reserve. This proved to be the most amazing place for animal sightings we have visited to date. For those of you who have an interest in such things, there is also a spa you can visit. I spent 7 1/2 hours a day on game drives and 3 hours eating so there wasn’t time for a spa visit.

I am starting backwards with our trip and featuring Tau Game Lodge first. My reason is that I want to record some YT video’s of Bosman’s poetry and a short story to share when I feature Groot Marico and I haven’t started with that project yet.

Entrance to the Tau Game Lodge concession

We arrived to early to check-in to our rooms, so we sat at our table on the platform above the waterhole and watched the animals.

View through the door out to the viewing platform

The watering hole was teaming with animals. The following pictures are my attempt at taking artistic pictures (thank you for the idea, Rebecca Budd).

A giraffe framed by the branches of a tree
An elephant with two giraffe behind it. The giraffe’s long necks are crossing over which I thought was rather interesting.
Elephants drinking and submerging in the water
A herd of Wildebeeste drinking – not as artistic but what an experience!

This is my video of a giraffe drinking. It is a very awkward undertaking for giraffes.

This is a short clip of the Wildebeeste coming to drink at the watering hole:

This is a short video of an elephant bathing. It went right under the water which was pretty amazing to watch:

Thursday Doors – Fantasy Doors and I’m going on an adventure #Thursdaydoors #fantasydoors

Welcome to Thursday Doors, a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments below, anytime between 12:01 am Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time).

You can join in the prompt here:

I am going on an adventure from 6 August to 9 August and won’t be around much.

I am leaving you with this picture of some little fantasy houses I took through the window of a shop in the Lake’s District in the UK. I thought they were adorable and love the tiny doors and windows.

Roberta Writes – Great Expectations by Charles Dickens: The mystery of two endings

Did you know that Charles Dickens re-wrote the ending of Great Expectations?

He made this change after he’d submitted the final chapters to the printers in June 1861. He was apparently persuaded to make the change by a close friend who felt he should end the book in a way that left the reader hopeful that Pip and Estella might get together. It is recorded that Dickens was reluctant to make this change but was eventually won around to the idea of a more conventional ending that he had originally written.

The initial ending depicts Pip accidentally meeting Estella on the streets of London. Estella has lost her first abusive husband to death, but has remarried. Pip recounts this chance meeting as a once-off and there is not expectation by the reader that the two will ever get together. Pip does express a sense of satisfaction and peace that time has softened Estella and made her kinder.

The published ending depicts Pip accidentally discovering Estella in the abandoned garden of Satis house (Miss Havisham’s house that burned down) when he returns to visit Joe and Biddy after many years abroad. Estella has been widowed after an unhappy life with her abusive husband. In the final lines of the novel, Pip comments ambiguously that he “saw the shadow of no parting from her.”

Harry Furniss
13.7 cm by 8.9 cm (5 ⅜ by 3 ½ inches), framed

“I saw no shadow of another parting from her.” — p. 461.
Dickens’s Great Expectations, Library Edition, facing p. 456.
Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham.

This ending leaves the reader with the impression that Pip and Estella might finally be together but the nature of Dickens’ writing and the use of the word shadow hints at possible mists to come.

The misty marshes near Pip’s childhood home in Kent is an important setting in this book and is used as an instrument by Dickens to symbolize danger and uncertainty. Pip initially meets Magwitch the convict in the graveyard on the marshes on a misty evening and that has significant implications for his future. The search for the convicts by the police also happens in the mist as does Orlick’s kidnapping of Pip. The day Pip travels to London after receiving news of his great expectations is also depicted as being misty, as is the night when Magwitch arrives at his door later in the book.

Old Orlick means murder – Picture credit: This is one of 21 etchings by Frederick William Pailthorpe (1838-1914) are from the Robson & Kerslake edition from 1885.

The hint at shadows and mist in the closing paragraphs with Estella in the garden at Satis house could thus easily hint at further turmoil to come for Pip.

From another perspective, by the end of the novel, the reader is aware that Pip misreads situations and makes incorrect assumptions so the idea that this could be just another wistful idea or ‘expectation’ is not fully expelled.

Personally, I felt that the original ending would have been better and would have given Pip a real chance to move on with his life and find someone better and nicer than Estella. I did not like her even if she was a product of Miss Havisham’s upbringing.

What do you think? Which ending do you think is better for this novel? Do you think Pip and Estella get together based on your reading of the original ending?

Roberta Writes – Thursday Doors: British Museum, these are a few of my favourite things #BritishMuseum #TreeofLife #RosettaStone #TheHolyThornReliquary

Welcome to Thursday Doors, a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments below, anytime between 12:01 am Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time).

You can join in here:

Entrance to the British Museum in London

In 2018, Terence and I travelled to London on our own for two days before travelling on to Budapest. We spent a good 5 hours at my favourite museum. Many wonderful and mysterious historical objects lie behind these doors.

These are a few of my favourite things in the British Museum.

Tree of life – Museum of the World

The Tree of Life is a sculpture created by four artists in Mozambique. The Tree of Life was constructed from 600 000 guns and other weapons that were used during the civil war in Mozambique. After the war ended, citizens were encouraged to hand over guns to the authorities in exchange for ploughs, bicycles and sewing machines. These decommissioned weapons were cut up and provided to the artists.

The Rosetta Stone

The Rosetta Stone is one of the most important items in the British Museum. When it was discovered, nobody knew how to read ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. Because the inscriptions say the same thing in three different scripts, and scholars could still read Ancient Greek, the Rosetta Stone became a valuable key to deciphering the hieroglyphs.

You can find out more about the Rosetta Stone by listening to this podcast:

The Holy Thorn Reliquary

What the British Museum says about the Holy Thorn Reliquary:

“This reliquary was made to contain a thorn, supposedly from the Crown of Thorns that was placed on Christ’s head before the Crucifixion. The armorial enamelled plaques in the base show that it was made for Jean, duc de Berry (1340–1416). The Crown of Thorns itself was a French royal relic, housed in its own chapel in Paris. Individual thorns were detached to make precious reliquary jewels.”

I’m going to end this post by sharing my favourite song from the Sound of Music: My Favourite Things

Dark Origins, African Myths and Legends: Stories of the Western Cape – The Flying Dutchman #Ghoststories #FlyingDutchman #TableMountain

This month’s Dark Origins, African Myths and Legends post on Writing to be Read discusses the origins of the legend of the Flying Dutchman. I’ve also included a reading of the story. Thanks for hosting Kaye Lynne Booth.

Writing to be Read

In the late Middle Ages, the spice trade from India and the so called Silk Road from China were of economic importance to Europe. After Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Empire in 1453 the European overland trade routes were disrupted and they needed to find a sea route to India and China.

Christopher Columbus attempted to find a sea route to India by travelling westwards. He discovered the Americas.

Portuguese explorer, Diogo Cão, explored the African coast south to present-day Namibia, and, in 1488, Portuguese explorer, Bartolomeu Dias, discovered the Cape of Good Hope. In 1498, Vasco da Gama headed an expedition which led to the Portuguese discovery of a sea route to India. This route around the Cape of Good Hope (current day Cape Town) came into use by the European East India Companies.

The Cape of Good Hope was also known as the Cape of Storms because of…

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Roberta Writes – Great Expectations by Charles Dickens: book overview part 2

I recently re-read Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, a book I read and loved as a pre-teen. This is part 2 of my overview of this famous novel. You can read part 1 here:

We left Pip in London, living between the homes of his tutor, Matthew Pocket, and Matthew’s son, Herbert Pocket, who is initially his mentor on becoming a gentleman and later becomes Pip’s best friend. Pip’s initiation by Herbert into the manners and behaviours of a gentleman are depicted in the scene below:

Caption from this snippet on YT: Based on “The Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens. I think this scene alone encompasses how most of us nowadays imagine middle-class Victorian London. The conversation goes on, but I wanted to share the smallest and, in my opinion, most representative moment.

Pip becomes extravagant and self-absorbed as a result of his new found wealth, and leads his friend, Herbert, along the same path getting them both into debt.

Miss Havisham summonses Pip to her home and he discovers that Estella has returned from abroad and is moving to London to live with a suitable older woman and her daughter and be launched into society. The underlying understanding is that Estella is now going to carry out Miss Havisham’s revenge plan and break as many male hearts as possible.

Pip is tasked with meeting Estella at the train station and taking her to her new home. The complex love/hate relationship between Pip and Estella continues, with Pip firmly believing Estella is destined to be his wife. Estella starts a flirtation with Drummle, Pip’s nemesis, and it causes tension between the two men, but Pip tolerates it because of his belief that Miss Havisham first wants Estella to break hearts and fulfil her ambition of revenge on men as a larger unknown mass, before Pip and Estelle can be married and find personal happiness.

Pip comes of age (21 years old) and has a meeting with Mr. Jaggers, his guardian and his benefactors lawyer, about his ‘great expectations’. He leaves Mr. Jagger’s office with a sum of GBP 500 on which he most live until his benefactor is revealed to him. Pip is ashamed that he’s led Herbert into an idle life of extravagance and decides to invest a chunk of this money into helping Herbert find a ‘business opportunity’. He does this with the help of Mr. Jagger’s assistance, Mr. Wemmick, but without Herbert’s knowledge.

Herbert grasps the opportunity and works hard to improve himself while Pip continues with his life of idleness and luxury.

One windy, cold night when Herbert is away for work purposes, Magwitch arrives at Pip’s lodging and Pip finally comes to realise that Magwitch is his benefactor and not Miss Havisham.

This clip from the original movie is not exactly how I imagined the initial meeting between Pip and Magwitch taking place based on my reading of the book. I think Pip handled it better in the book than the depiction in this scene, but here it is anyway:

Pip is devastated because he believes this will make him unacceptable as a marriage partner for Estella, but he soon learns she has decided to marry Drummle.

Magwitch, as a convict deported for life, has risked his life returning to England. The sentence if Magwitch is caught is death by hanging. Pip and Herbert work together to make a plan to save Magwitch and get him out of England. They are of the opinion that Magwitch’s arch enemy, Compeyson, is aware he is back in England and is assisting the police in an attempt to have him arrested.

The great plan is eventually put into operation, but it goes wrong and Magwitch is instrumental in the drowning of Compeyson and is arrested and put in jail. He was injured during the altercation with Compeyson and is dying. Magwitch undergoes a new trial and is given the death sentence.

In the meantime, Pip has worked out that Mr. Jagger’s servant is Estelle’s mother and Magwitch is her father. Just before Magwitch dies, Pip tells him that his daughter is alive and a beautiful lady and that he – Pip – loves her. This is a pivotal moment in the book as by showing kindness to Magwitch, a criminal, and calling his daughter a lady despite being the daughter of a convict, he illustrates that he no longer thinks of social position in a black and white way.

All of Magwitch’s property is forfeited to the state so Pip is left penniless. He becomes very ill after Magwitch dies and only escapes arrest for debts because of his ill health. Joe comes to London to nurse Pip and he recovers. The whole experience teaches Pip the value of his relationships with Joe and Biddy and Pip’s internal conflict is resolved by his giving up his social aspirations to reunite with the people who have helped and cared for him.

Pip goes abroad to work with Herbert and learns to live on his income.

Next week, I’ll discuss the ending of this book as it is a little controversial. Dickens rewrote the ending and both are known. Many critics believe the original ending was the better one.

A few interesting quotes from the second half of Great Expectations:

“Out of my thoughts! You are part of my existence, part of myself. You have been in every line I have ever read, since I first came here, the rough common boy whose poor heart you wounded even then. You have been in every prospect I have ever seen since – on the river, on the sails of the ships, on the marshes, in the clouds, in the light, in the darkness, in the wind, in the woods, in the sea, in the streets. You have been the embodiment of every graceful fancy that my mind has ever become acquainted with. The stones of which the strongest London buildings are made, are not more real, or more impossible to displace with your hands, than your presence and influence have been to me, there and everywhere, and will be. Estella, to the last hour of my life, you cannot choose but remain part of my character, part of the little good in me, part of the evil. But, in this separation I associate you only with the good, and I will faithfully hold you to that always, for you must have done me far more good than harm, let me feel now what sharp distress I may. O God bless you, God forgive you!”

“So, I must be taken as I have been made. The success is not mine, the failure is not mine, but the two together make me.”

“Do you want to be a gentleman, to spite her or to gain her over? Because, if it is to spite her, I should think – but you know best – that might be better and more independently done by caring nothing for her words. And if it is to gain her over, I should think – but you know best – she was not worth gaining over.”

“My name is on the first leaf. If you can ever write under my name, “I
forgive her,” though ever so long after my broken heart is dust pray do

“O Miss Havisham,” said I, “I can do it now. There have been sore
mistakes; and my life has been a blind and thankless one; and I want
forgiveness and direction far too much, to be bitter with you.”

As a general update on my writing, I have a short story called The Nutcracker included in a WordCrafter Press anthology called Refracted Reflections which is now available for pre-order:

Roberta Writes – Thursday Doors: Doors to my author mind Part 2

Welcome to Thursday Doors, a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments below, anytime between 12:01 am Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time). If you’d like to join Thursday Doors, you can do so here:

Last week, for Thursday Doors, I wrote about the impact of doors on my life and how I see my mind as a passage way full of closed doors behind which I store all my thoughts and ideas about life, work, religion, people, and, of course, my writing. There are doors into my children’s writing ideas, doors into my poetry writing and doors into my adult writing. Doors also play a significant role in my books.

You can read last weeks post here:

Thank you to the talented Teagan Riordain Geneviene whose post about her author’s mind inspired this two-post series of mine. Your can read Teagan’s post here:

The cover of my first poetry book, Open a New Door, also features a door. I took this picture through the doorway at the game lodge where Terence and I got engaged in 2000. We took the boys there for the weekend and enjoyed revisiting it very much.

The inspiration for this title and cover came from my favourite Broadway show, Mame, featuring Angela Lansbury and Beau Arthur. When I was a very little girl and before my youngest sisters (numbers 3 and 4) were born, I used to play my mother’s collection of LP’s on her old record player. Often I used to dance and sing with sister number 2. We would dress up in mum’s theatre dresses, hats and scarves and make up shows to the music. We even performed them occasionally for the farm employees and I performed at school a few times when my dad could be persuaded to bring the record player to school and I would dance and sing for the class. I loved to sing and always had a place right at the front in the school choir.

My purple Quality Street song from Mame was called Open a new door. You can listen to it here:

This is one of the first poems I ever wrote. It’s not my best poem, and I wrote it when I thought all poetry was rhyming verse, but I still love it. It reminds me that there is more to life than my daily hamster ball.

Who’s really free

The sky is dark, coloured an unrelenting grey

Outside it’s damp and dreary, a dismal day

I gaze out of the window, splattered with rain

I stretch – an attempt to ease my physical pain

The lines of traffic extend for miles each way

A depressing sight that fills me with dismay

The landscape is blurred, shrouded by a soft mist

An addition that gives the scene a threatening twist

Tall buildings adorn the horizon, shabby and bleak

Tiny ants dart inside, refuge from the rain they seek


A ray of sunshine, creeps through a gap in the cloud

It gleams bright and bold, of its success quite proud

An arrow formation of birds crosses my line of vision

The rain and the cold have forced a flight decision

Such a contrast from my world, confined and cramped;

The birds, completely free, from this land have decamped

They roam, unfettered, across an unrestricted, spacious world

As I watch, my toes in my smart shoes, are tightly curled

I turn away abruptly, back towards the bright, artificial light

I quell any questioning thoughts invoked by this compelling sight.

By Robbie Cheadle

My book, A Ghost and His Gold, also features numerous doors; some opening, some closing, but all signifying change. Here is a short teaser:

“The muffled rapping penetrates Pieter’s thin early morning sleep. He stirs and rolls over. The insistent rapping continues, forcing his reluctant consciousness upwards, towards full awareness.
Sitting up quickly, he awakes fully, sudden fear acting like a bucket of cold water. The blankets drop away from his body and the frigid iciness of the early June morning chases away any remaining vestiges of sleep.

Over the past months, fear has eaten into his mind’s core like a malevolent caterpillar. Fear of the future. Fear of the soldiers. Fear of losing his farm. It’s been there, rotting his brain matter, ever since the declaration of war in October the previous year. The injury he sustained early this year exacerbated its effect until his mind is a worm-infested apple, brown and soft inside. He takes some deep breaths, determined to prevent the poison from spreading and affecting his reactions. Poor reactions could result in his death and that of his family.

He stares into the total blackness, trying desperately to see, while his body reacts to the biting cold, with gooseflesh breaking out on his torso and arms.

Who can be knocking on my door at this time of morning? It can only be bad news.

Next to him, his wife, Marta, starts to stir as she too responds to the intrusion.

“Pieter, are you awake?” The piercing voice competes with the wind that rattles the slats of the wooden blinds, and whistles under the ill-fitting front door.

Something’s wrong.

This is a picture of the front door of the farm house that inspired A Ghost and His Gold. It is purported to be haunted by the ghost of a man who became my Pieter van Zyl.

Roberta Writes – Great Expectations by Charles Dickens: book overview part 1

When I was a little girl of 8 years old, my sister, Hayley, was born. Hayley was a dreadful baby, she cried all the time and she would not sleep, ever.

My dad was sleeping in the spare room so I moved in with mom to help her with the baby. I did get Hayley to go to sleep a few time by walking her around for a few hours while she wailed non-stop.

One evening, Mom and I watched Great Expectations. I’m not sure if I would have been allowed to watch it if Mom hadn’t been very tired, but watch it I did, and I never forgot the opening scene when Pip meets Magwitch in the graveyard. I also remembered Miss Havisham in her wedding dress living in her spooky dark house with the banquet table covered in rotting food among which rats played and spiders nested.

During my first year of high school (12 turning 13), I read the original of Great Expectations with a dictionary by my side. I looked up words I didn’t know and some of them, like countenance, I’ve never forgotten. A few of these words even creep into my own writing from time to time. If you have read A Ghost and His Gold, you would have experience my usage of countenances in this scene:

“After a further period of timeless silence, another presence makes itself known. A shadowy red form. It exudes anger like flashes of lightening, making the fine hairs on Michelle’s arms stand to attention. The shadow elongates like a piece of chewing gum and tears down the middle. The rent widens and stretches to form a mouth.

“I hate you,” the voice that issues from the rent booms.

The voice frightens her, and she turns and starts pushing her way through the countless milling people, their faceless countenances disfigured by gaping holes from which a collective and continuous doomed moan issues.”

This is the opening scene from the original movie of Great Expectations that I never forgot:

I have re-read Great Expectations a few times over the years, it is my favourite Dickens by far, and I listened to the audio book recently.

I thought I would write a few posts about it and this is the first in which I will share an overview of the book. If you haven’t read it and know nothing about the story, but wish to read it in the future, don’t read this overview as it will contain spoilers for the story.

An overview of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Pip is an orphan boy who lives with his older sister an her husband on the marshes in Kent. His sister is an overbearing woman who abuses Pip physically and mentally and also mentally abuses her kind and gentle husband, Joe. Joe tries to protect Pip from the worst of his sister’s unkindness, but he is not willing to be overly confrontational with his wife so his protection is limited. Joe reminded me a lot of gentle Matthew Cuthbert from Anne of Green Gables although Pip’s sister, referred to as Mrs Joe in the book, makes Marilla Cuthbert seem kindly and pleasant by comparison.

Pip has a habit of visiting his parents graves in a lonely graveyard on the marshes. While he is visiting their graves on Christmas Eve of his 7th year, Pip is discovered by an escaped convict. This convict, who we later find out is called Abel Magwitch, uses vile threats to compel Pip to bring him a file and food early on Christmas morning. Pip’s conscious smites him all night, but his fear forces him to steal food, in particular a beautiful pork pie, and alcohol from his sister’s pantry and take it to the graveyard. On the way, Pip comes across another escaped convict, who we later discover is called Compeyson. Pip tells Magwitch about Compeyson, thinking they are friends, but it is quickly obvious they are not.

Later on Christmas Day, Pip witnesses both convicts being recaptured while fighting each other in a ditch.

Pip’s pompous Uncle Pumblechook, a man of some financial means and obsessed with social standing, arranges for Pip to go to the home of an aging wealthy woman who is very odd and reclusive but who has an adopted daughter, Estella. Pip is to play with Estella and amuse the older woman, Miss Havisham.

When Pip arrives he discovers that Miss Havisham was jilted at the altar by her fraudulent fiance who conspired with her jealous half-brother, Arthur, to swindle her out of a sum of money. Miss Havisham never recovered mentally and still wears her wedding dress and the wedding feast is still laid out in the great hall. All the clocks in her decrepit and decaying house were stopped at twenty to nine in the morning which was the time Miss Havisham discovered her fiance’s treachery. She is eccentric and embittered and seeks revenge on all men for her fiance’s and brother’s betrayals. She raises her daughter, Estella, to be cold and plotting an an instrument for her future revenge on all men.

Pip is greatly influenced by the wealth he sees in Miss Havisham’s house, Estella’s beauty and haughty manner and dismissal of him as a labourer who is far beneath her in social standing. He wishes to uplift himself in her eyes and sets about trying to improve his own education and standing in life. Pip becomes disgruntled with his own proposed future of becoming an apprentice to Joe and learning his trade as a blacksmith. An arrangement Pip had previously looked forward to but after working for Miss Havisham for several months, seems to keep him in his place as a lowly labourer.

Pip sister is meanwhile attacked and sustains a serious injury which leaves her brain damaged. His teacher, Biddy, moves in with him and Joe to help look after Mrs Joe.

Miss Havisham lets him go from her employment some months later, after ensuring he is indentured to Joe as an apprentice.

Not long after Pip starts working for Joe, he is visited by a prominent London lawyer, Mr Jaggers, who tells him he has a secret benefactor who wishes him to be brought up to be a gentleman. Arrangements are made for Pip to leave Joe’s employ and his sister’s home and go to London to live as a gentleman and obtain an education. Pip wants to go and turns his back on his old life in order to try to win Estella’s affections. Pip is convinced Miss Havisham is his secret benefactor and intends for him and Estella to ultimately marry. Pip does not make any attempt to gain employment or use his better education to earn his own living, preferring to live a life of idleness and runs of debt. Pip expects to settle this debt when he comes into his ‘expectations’.

This is the scene when Pip meets Miss Havisham and Estella from the original Great Expectations:

Next week, I’ll share an overview of the second half of the book.

Roberta Writes – Thursday Doors: Doors to my author’s mind Part 1

Welcome to Thursday Doors, a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments below, anytime between 12:01 am Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time).

You can find Dan’s latest post here:

Last week for Dan Antion’s Thursday Doors Challenge, Teagan Riordain Geneviene wrote a post about her author’s mind. Your can read Teagan’s post here:

Teagan’s post got me thinking about doors and their meaning in my own writing life. They do seem to play a significant role because I see doors as entry points into new and exciting things in life.

Opportunity (tanka poem) 

Make your own success 

Leave no pathway untrodden 


Will knock only once in life 

Be sure to answer the door 

from Behind Closed Doors by Robbie Cheadle

I also believe I have a tidy mind. Each ‘collection’ of thoughts and ideas in my life has its own ‘room’ in my mind and they don’t pass through the doors and get muddled. People often ask me how I manage so many projects at once and all the different aspects of my busy life, and this is how. Everything has a separate storage space in my head.

When I was writing my poetry book, Behind Closed Doors, I saw a cover, designed by Teagan, which exactly captured my ideas about how my mind would look if it could be caught in a picture.

This was the cover:

Each of those doors represents a different storage area in my mind: Family, relationships, work and corporate life, prose writing, reading, artwork, conservation, and poetry. Within those layers there are sub-layers and each has its own entry point into my life.

My writing incorporates a lot of doors, either through though processes or though actual depictions of doors and physical choices. Every door is different and every outcome is coloured by that difference in choice. Even artworks are different and have different purposes and meanings.

This cake below was a Covid-19 memory cake and depicted life during lockdown.

These are a few of the poems (limericks) I wrote to go with this cake:

Inevitable side-effects of Zoom and working from home (limericks) 

He sat on his cellular phone in the room 

Having just finished a meeting on Zoom 

What a frightening sight 

His expression, dark as night 

The seed of a monster starting to bloom 


Endless back-to-back meetings on Zoom 

Fill employees with a sense of gloom 

The leader strikes like a snake 

When colleagues make a mistake 

When will it end and normality resume? 

from Behind Closed Doors by Robbie Cheadle

The above artwork and thoughts are completely separate from my children’s artwork. This cake is called Dinah in Wonderland. Dinah is the little back cat who is sleeping at the front of the dark chocolate cake. She is dreaming about a wonderland for cats. A place where nothing would be as it is and everything would be as it isn’t.

This cake and the limerick story I wrote to go with it was inspired by this song from Alice in Wonderland:

I’ll end this post with an extract form Alice in Wonderland, a book I adored as a child and of which I have eight different copies as an adult. Of course, this quote is about a door:

Alice finding tiny door behind curtain

Alice opened the door and found that it led into a small passage, not much larger than a rat-hole: she knelt down and looked along the passage into the loveliest garden you ever saw. How she longed to get out of that dark hall, and wander about among those beds of bright flowers and those cool fountains, but she could not even get her head though the doorway; `and even if my head would go through,’ thought poor Alice, `it would be of very little use without my shoulders. Oh, how I wish I could shut up like a telescope! I think I could, if I only know how to begin.’ For, you see, so many out-of-the-way things had happened lately, that Alice had begun to think that very few things indeed were really impossible.

There seemed to be no use in waiting by the little door, so she went back to the table, half hoping she might find another key on it, or at any rate a book of rules for shutting people up like telescopes: this time she found a little bottle on it, (`which certainly was not here before,’ said Alice,) and round the neck of the bottle was a paper label, with the words `DRINK ME’ beautifully printed on it in large letters.”

You can read more of Alice in Wonderland and see more pictures here:

Roberta Writes – Sneak peak into my WIP, The Soldier and the Radium Girl

I have returned to working on my WIP after setting it aside for three months following contracting Covid in early March. I finally found the enthusiasm to return to this novel and have added over 6,000 words in the last 2 weeks. This is a short extract which also serves as a warning about the tragic consequences of illegal abortions, a topic which has taken central stage on social media recently. It still needs some work and editing, but I am fairly happy with the structure and content of this piece.

Just for a little context, Grace Fryer is the Radium Girl who led the other girls in the prosecution of their previous employer, the United States Radium Corporation. This was one of the cases in the USA which was significant in the development of occupational safety and health standards. I am of the view she was an young women with an interest in politics and the social issues of the time.

Letter from Kate Henderson to Martha Tanner  

17 May 1918

Dear Martha

The most dreadful thing has happened. One of my co-workers at the studio has died of sepsis and I am so terribly distressed.

Mary’s death was so unnecessary and came about because she found herself in the family way and tried to solve her problem by visiting an illicit doctor.

The doctor perforated her bowel during the procedure, and she developed sepsis. I’d never heard of sepsis before, it is poisoning of the blood, and you die horribly, in the most awful pain.

Charlotte and I went to visit her at the hospital the evening after she sickened. The nurse wouldn’t let us see her because she was delirious with fever and pain.

We went again the following evening, just before she died. The nurse allowed us to go in for a few minutes. She knew Mary was dying, although she never said a word, and I think she wanted to let us say goodbye.

I’ve never seen anyone look so awful. The bones of her face pushed through her waxy skin making her look like a skeleton. Her eyes, she had beautiful eyes, had sunk deeply into their sockets. It made me feel so scared and helpless.

My friend, Grace, was angry about Mary’s death. “Mary’s is an unnecessary and pointless death brought about by the lack of rights for women in this country.”

Grace has been in a state of feverish anticipation ever since the Constitutional Amendment granting women the right to vote was passed by the House on the 10th of January. The vote of the Senate on the matter is to take place later this year. Grace frequently reminds us of the importance of this vote to women.

“Jeannette Rankin did such a splendid job of presenting the case for women’s suffrage to the House. She is right when she says that American women should have a chance to serve their country. Look at us, we are serving America by painting dials for the war effort.”

I must tell you, dear Martha, that it is all confusing and anxiety producing for me. I know from Grace that the New York State Court of Appeals expanded the reasons physicians can use to prescribe contraceptives to married people in January. The use of contraceptives by unmarried couples is illegal and I find it difficult to argue this differently.

Father Baker would be horrified if he knew about the conversations on contraception I witness at the studio. I can’t bear the thought that I’m disappointing him, and I try not to listen. It’s difficult though when we’re all at the same table. Of course, these discussions only occur when Miss Rooney is on the other side of the room and take place in hushed tones. This subterfuge makes me even more uncomfortable.

I wonder what Jake would say about it all. I wish he was here so that I could discuss it with him. I have written to him about some of the discussions at the studio. My friend, Grace, has strong views on women’s suffrage and women in politics and I asked him his views on these issues. He wrote me the kindest and most supportive letter and said he was not against women having the vote. It did help put my mind at ease about being a silent participant in these discussions. Well, I’m not really a participant, I’m more of an observer, but I can’t help hearing what is said.

He did point out that these ideas would not be well received in Millinocket, and I shouldn’t say anything about them to either my parents or yours. Of course, I know quite well that these ideas would not be welcome at home, but I am grateful for his advice and thoughtfulness.

Jake’s last two letters have been short, and he didn’t mention the fighting at all. I know the 26th Division is in the Toul Sector and I read the newspaper articles about the Battle at Seicheprey a few weeks ago with concern. I know the battle was a success for us, but the list of the dead, wounded, and captured was long, so it must have been a tough win.

All Jake said in his letter was that the front lines, including those of the 103rd Regiment, were heavily attacked by the Germans. He said that at first the Bosch secured some of the advanced trenches but that the U.S. counterattacks had succeeded in driving them back and re-establishing the line. Maybe he can’t say much because of the censoring. All his letters have words and sentences that have been blacked out so that is probably the reason. It is a bit frustrating though. I don’t really know what he’s experiencing and can’t offer him any support.

He does complain about the rain and the mud. It sounds dreadful. He said it had rained steadily for five days and nights the previous week and the trenches were full of water.

“We are covered with mud from the tops of our helmets to the bottom of our boots,” he wrote. “It runs off our overcoats and slickers like water.” It makes me shudder to think of him living under those conditions.

On the brighter side, the men keep themselves occupied by playing cards and having competitions about who can shoot the most rats. Jake says he is good at both and wrote about his wins most enthusiastically.

How is everyone at home? How is Mr Tanner? Has his cough improved with the warmer weather? I’m looking forward to hearing from you soon, dear Martha.

I do get a little lonely here in the city, so far away from you all. All the city girls are so worldly and enjoy getting out and about. I am often overwhelmed, and I feel like a country mouse.

Love to you all.