#Poetry – When death comes

img_1770

My family suffered a tragic loss this week. The son of a close friend passed on after a two year struggle with bone cancer. I have found this very difficult to come to terms with; it feels quite surreal. I wake up during the night and a picture of his face forms in my mind. The death of a young man, the same age as my son, Gregory, is very hard to come to terms with.

I wrote this poem as a bit of an outlet for my sadness:

When death comes

When death comes calling

Reaching out his gentle hand

Our pain is intense

Watching a dear one depart

Hardest for those left behind.

By Roberta Cheadle Eaton

God bless our dear boy and hold him close to you.

 

Advertisements

Guest author: Roberta Eaton ~ Beliefs and myths of southern Africa II: The Xhosa

This week I am over at Sue Vincent’s blog with a post about the beliefs and myths of the Xhosa speaking people of southern Africa. Thanks you, Sue, for hosting me.

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Roberta Eaton, aka Robbie Cheadle, shares the third of her posts on the beliefs and myths of her home. Other posts in the series can be found by cicking here: Part One, Part Two

Beliefs and myths of southern Africa – The Xhosa (pronounced KOH-suh)

The Xhosa-speaking people of South Africa, also know as the “Red Blanket People” are descendant of the Nguni clan. They are divided into several subgroups each with their own district and related heritages. The major subgroups include Bomvana, Mpondomise, Thembu, Xesibe and Mpondo. This article refers to all these subgroups collectively as Xhosa. The Xhosa people traditionally hail from the southeastern area of South Africa.

Xhosa is a Nguni Bantu language with click consonants. Xhosa is a tonal language which means that the same sequence of consonants and vowels can have different meanings, depending on intonation. Xhosa has two tones: high and low. Xhosa is one…

View original post 1,041 more words

#Bookreview – Savvy Stories 2 The Terrible Twos by Dan Alatorre

book reviews

Dan Alatorre

What Amazon says

The sequel is even better than the original! Savvy Stories 2: The Terrible Two’s picks up right where Savvy Stories left off. Enjoy more of our favorite little girl as she learns to feed the cat (almost), decides to give herself a haircut, decorates the cabinets using Sharpie Markers, and more. Hilarious and heartwarming stories about the lost, magical moments of childhood, viewed through the heart of a father.

My stuff is written for a very small audience, but hopefully appeals to a large audience once they get a chance to sample it. That small audience is, in reality, one person. I think it would be really cool if one day I can hand my daughter a book and say, “Here, this is all about how much fun it was to hang out with you.”

The honesty of a two-year-old is amazing.

Are they all like this? I hope so. What a shame that probably has to change.

I’ve caught my daughter doing stuff where I would expect an older kid to lie, and she persists in telling me exactly what she did, ratting herself out completely. That just can’t keep up, can it?

Whenever it’s just the two of us home along and I need a shower, like after I’ve worked out but my wife isn’t home to watch our daughter, I’ll put Savvy on the bed in the master bedroom and leave the bathroom door open. That way, she can watch cartoons while sitting on the bed, and I can shower.

With the door ajar, she can’t see me, but she can certainly come in if some crisis were to happen – like the DVR switched her cartoon off and put on the news – and I can hear her if were to cry for some reason – like when she was trying to use the headboard as a balance beam and got wedged between the mattress.

She’s two. That stuff happens.

My review

Dan Alatorre has a wonderful way of finding humour and joy in the everyday antics of a toddler. His anecdotes about his two-year old daughter, Savvy, had me crying with laughter while recognising the truth in each story. It is very true that there are two ways of looking at things in life; you can find the amusing side or you can not. Humour makes life so much more enjoyable so I am glad Dan chose to see parenting that way and share his experiences with his readers.

Dan takes his readers on a voyage of discovery as his toddler daughter learns important life skills like saving money, how to wear sunglasses in the most comfortable way for a small child (upside down of course, Daddy), how to bake cookies and how to water the house (everywhere and then some more).

Dan and Michelle also learn some important lessons as they wade through the unknown waters of parenting such as never ignore signs of illness in a small child (I also learned to go to the doctor during the day rather than ending up panicked in the emergency room late at night), how to enjoy the small pleasures in life like a leaf on the stairs, how to make fun creatures and other things out of play dough and, for Dan, how to wash and dry a little girl’s hair.

The Terrible Twos is a great read for people who had already had children and who can identify with Savvy’s antics and learning experiences and for people who haven’t had children as yet so that they can prepare themselves for what is coming. This book reminded me of a fridge magnet I once read which said “Everyone should have children, no one should be spared.”

I rated this book 5 out of 5 stars on Amazon.

Purchase Savvy Stories 2 The Terrible Twos

You can read my review of Book 1: Savvy Stories here: Amazon review – Savvy Stories

#Writephoto – A death without honour

img_0478

This short story was written in response to Sue Vincent’s weekly photoprompt. This week the prompt is honour. You can join in here: https://scvincent.com/2019/01/10/thursday-photo-prompt-honour-writephoto

A death without honour

The man stood, silhouetted against the moon. The large knife in his hands glinted in the pale moonlight. He contemplated the tent containing the sleeping forms of the young couple. His dark eyes took on a distant look as if he were thinking or maybe deciding.

***

Jane was thrilled to be in the mountains at last. She had literally begged David to take her camping. He didn’t want to. He thought she was to girly and soft to camp in such a remote spot but Jane was determined. She argued convincingly.

“Fine,” he said. “We’ll go camping but I don’t want to hear any complains about the lack of facilities. My tent is plain and simple and so is the camping site you have chosen. There won’t be any toilets, showers or electricity.”

“I can managed,” Jane said, her heart singing with joy. The view would more than make up for the lack of amenities.

David smiled at her. “Okay, don’t say I didn’t warn you. “We can pitch our tent near where the track ends so we don’t have to carry it far. I will take my small gas stove so that we can make tea, cook and have some light at night.”

The tent was soon assembled and the blow up mattress installed. Jane stood in the early evening twilight, gazing at the crisp outline of the peaks against the purplish sky. Happiness filled her heart until if felt ready to burst. Here she was with the man she adored in this outstandingly beautiful setting.

***

The man ran through the dense foliage. Fallen leaves, creepers and young plant life lay crushed beneath his undiscerning feet. The sound of the wailing alarm and barking dogs spurring him on.

Thick branches covered in pungent green moss hung from the trees. Occasionally, one slapped him across his face or arms as he plunged on. Small spots of blood oozed from the resultant scratches and scrapes on his forehead and the exposed parts of his arms.

A narrow stream of fast moving water appeared in front of him and he leapt into it, splashing his way along its churning course. The water felt cool on his overheated skin. The day was intensely hot and it was cloying and humid in the bush.

That will help confuse the dogs. They’ll lose my scent.

The man had nothing except the clothes he stood in and a large butcher knife he had managed to steal as he skulked through a tiny village near the prison. Despite his fatigue, he kept moving. Freedom was an enticing incentive. The chirping of the crickets in the trees and undergrowth was so loud he ears physically hurt. He carried on, climbing higher and higher into the mountains.

***

Jane rinsed the metal plates and cups in the nearby stream. The water was flowing swiftly so she was comfortable to use it for this purpose. She didn’t want to contract bilharzia or any other nasty parasite or bacteria regardless of how gorgeous the scenery was.

David was standing in front of the fire, adding sticks and watching the cheerful flames crackling. He couldn’t know what Jane was thinking about the water. It was a relief, Jane didn’t want to suffer through his teasing about her being a soft, city-girl.

The temperature dropped when full darkness crept across the land. David banked the fire and they climbed into their sleeping bag. Jane’s blue tracksuit was warm as she cuddled up next to David. Within moments, their eyes had closed and they both slept deeply.

***

The man crouched in his hiding place in the clump of bushes alongside the stream. He peered through the darkness at the darker shape of the tent. There were no clouds and the bright stars made his visibility quite good. He had been surprised to come across campers this far into the mountains.

It’s to my advantage. I can grab some of their food and drink before I carry on.

No sound came from the tent. The couple were asleep.

He crept forward carefully. Their cooler box and bags were stacked under a tarpaulin next to their tent. He had seen the pretty woman with the short slick hair putting food back into the cooler box after they had finished eating.

His stomach clenched with tension as he drew closer. It had been an extraordinary day and his nerves were on edge. He’d been on the run since he’d smashed the guard over the head with a convenient boulder while urinating in the bushes. Prison policy was that a guard had to accompany any prisoner who needed to relieve himself. Billy hadn’t planned to escape that particular day. He had the outline of a plan ready for if the opportunity ever arose but there was no set timing. Today, the opportunity had arose when he had seen the loose, fair-sized boulder under the bush while he was peeing. The guard hadn’t been paying him any attention and he had been able to seize the boulder and bring it down on the man’s head as hard as he could. Much to Billy surprise, the guard had dropped like a stone. Billy had turned and galloped off into the undergrowth.

He lifted the edge of the tarpaulin and slowly dragged the cooler box out from beneath it. It scrapped softly on the rough ground. He opened the box and grabbed the packages of meat and a loaf of bread that were on top.

“Hey!” the shout rolled around in the clearing. “Thief!”

Billy sprang to his feet, fright unhinging his mind. He lunged towards the voice, his knife drawn. The sharp tip of the blade sank deeply into the man’s stomach. Blood gushed from the laceration and he let out a high pitched scream that turned into a horrible gurgling sound.

The strange scream wrenched Jane from sleep.

“David?” she called.

The gurgling scream abruptly ended as Billy drove his knife upwards and into David neck. His body fell heavily backwards onto his side of the blow up mattress. Blood sprayed over the blankets and Jane. She felt its wet stickiness on her skin and recoiled in horror.

Outside the tent, a dark cloud descended over Billy’s disturbed mind. He looked up at the sliver of the moon and howled at the sky.

The sound shocked Jane into action. She wrenched the tent pegs from their deep holes and forced her body through the gap and out of the tent. Her bare feet flew across the damp grass and into the surrounding trees. Panic filled her with energy and Jane raced through the trees. She had no plan other than to get as far away from the howl and the creature that produced it as possible.

In the clearing, Billy continued to howl for a few more minutes before the cloud over his mind started to lift. Gradual understanding of his situation returned to him as he determinedly gathered this thoughts. If anyone had been watching, it would have been like witnessing a machine starting up.

He gazed in the direction of the trees. He could hear the sounds of the woman crashing through the undergrowth in the dark.

She has to be dealt with. I can’t leave her alive as a witness. Anyhow, she will be so traumatised by the death of her lover she won’t want to live. Killing her is the honourable thing to do.

His decision made, he set off in the direction Jane had taken. His loping pace indicated his confidence that he would have no trouble catching her.

***

The two boys ran ahead along the hiking trail. As long as they stayed on the path and didn’t go too far, their parents were not concerned about the boys forging ahead.

Patrick saw an interesting twisted branch hanging from a tree and stopped suddenly. His younger brother, Simon, ran into the back of him and fell to his knees.

The splodge of red starred up at him.

Blood? Is that blood?

“Patrick,” Simon called querulously, “what’s this?”

Patrick turned back and looked at the dark patch of stickiness that Simon was pointing to. He knelt down and examined it more closely.

“It looks like blood.”

“Look, Patrick, there’s some more.” Simon pointed out a series of splashes along the path.

The two boys ventured forward cautiously. A few meters ahead, they saw a foot poking out of the trees on the side of the dirt pathway.

A few more steps revealed the body of a woman. A great pool of blood surrounded her torso and legs.

Simon opened his mouth and shrieked. The sound went on and on as the shock and horror pumped through him.

His mother suddenly appeared behind him. Grabbing him in a comforting hug. Simon’s screams tapered off into sobbing hiccups.

Patrick showed the body to his father, his small face white and strained with the effort of not following Simon’s lead and dissolving in a screaming mess.

His father bent over the woman and felt for a pulse.

“She’s dead,” he said softly.

***

Hours later, the police came across the crumpled body of a man at the bottom of a steep ravine. Through some strange act of divine retribution, Billy had fallen into the ravine in the darkness of the previous evening and landed on his own knife. It had driven deep into his body and he had bleed out on his own in the great blackness.

***

The man with the knife stood immobile in the clearing gazing at the tent. Hours later, the first rays of dawn danced across the grass of the clearing. The golden light blended with his transparent form and the ghost gradually dissipated. That night it returned, this agitated spirit, trapped between this world and the next. To late Billy had come to realise there is no honour in murder or the death of a murderer.

 

 

#Interestinghistory – The back-to-backs of Birmingham Part 3

The last two houses in our tour of the back-to-backs of Birmingham were replicas of times during the 20th century.

The first house was set in the 1930’s when it has inhabited by George Mitchell. Very interestingly, three generations of the Mitchell family lived in Court 15 over a period of 95 years. This was unusual as people living in central Birmingham moved, on average, every 18-months. George Mitchell was a locksmith as was his father, Benjamin, and his grandfather, Thomas, who moved to Court 15 with his wife Ann in 1840.

This is a picture of the table in George Mitchell’s house, set with everyday items from the 1930’s.

Mitchell

In George’s house, there was also an old pram very like the one that my mother received as a Christmas present and which is described in our book, While the Bombs Fell. This is the relevant extract:

“Elsie slipped through the door and into the glow of the paraffin lamp that lit the adjoining bedroom. She could see it. The perfect gift. A doll’s pram and a doll to go with it. It did not matter that the pram was a hand-me-down from her older sisters, she loved it.

The pram had a concave base shaped like a half circle. There were four wheels and a black hood that pulled up and down.

A china doll with a hand-painted mouth and eyes lay in the pram. It even had painted eyelashes and little painted pearly teeth. The doll wore a hand-knitted jacket and dress.
The arms and legs moved as they were joined with elastic that ran through the centre of the doll’s body.

Elsie knew she must be careful not to drop this doll or it would break and would have to be sent to the dolls hospital to be repaired. Elsie named her doll Rosebud.

Elsie stood jumping for joy, thrilled with her gifts, as her parents gradually woke up. Her siblings were also starting to wake up and came through into their parent’s bedroom. Elsie, however, only had eyes for her marvellous doll and pram.

Gillian received a doll too. Her doll was a fairy doll made from fabric with a lovely painted face. A few months later, this poor fairy doll came to a tragic end when Joey, in a fit of rage, tore the doll from Gillian’s arms and threw it in the fire. The unfortunate doll immediately caught fire and burnt before Reggie knocked her out of the fireplace. Joey tore out of the house and ran away down the road, knowing that when Father came home that night, he would remove his belt and Joey would get at a couple of whacks for his fit of uncontrolled temper.”

pram

The final house, set in the 1970s was inhabited by George Saunders, a tailor from the West Indies. George’s father was also a tailor who went to work for the American forces on the island of Antigua. George followed in his footsteps and also specialised in military dress. He studied in London and progressed to making all the trousers, including the leather riding breeches, for the Horse Guards. George moved into Court 15 in 1974 and worked there, with his son, making, mending and altering suits, trousers and jackets.

The back-to-backs of Birmingham is a very interesting tour and I would recommend it if you ever get the chance.

Guest author: Roberta Eaton ~ Beliefs and myths of southern Africa II – The Khoikhoi (Hottentots)

I am over at Sue Vincent’s fascinating blog with a post about the beliefs and myths of the Khoikhoi people of southern Africa. Thank you for hosting me, Sue.

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Roberta Eaton, aka Robbie Cheadle, shares the second of her posts on the beliefs and myths of her home. The first post in the series can be found by clicking HERE.

At the time when European settlement began, the Khoikhoi were settled in modern day Namibia, the north-eastern Cape and the south-western Cape. The name Khoikhoi means “real people” or “men of men”. The Khoikhoi are closely related to the San (Bushmen) and are sometimes referred to together as Khoisan.

The Khoikhoi were nomadic, moving around in search of grazing land for their animals which consisted mainly of goats, cattle and sheep. They also manufactured animal skins into clothing, bags and blankets and used reeds to make sleeping mats and mats to cover their round and mobile homes. The Khoikhoi also made pottery which could be tied to their oxen or to hut poles when they moved.

God and the…

View original post 909 more words

#Bookreview – The Rhino Whisperer

What Amazon says

Another mystery novel set in modern South Africa. This time, the murders of a ranger and a rare black rhino in the idyllic Shangari Safari Park rattle the local community of Rutgersdrift. Sofia Helenius from Finland lives at the lodge with her boyfriend Tom Rutgers, the owner of Shangari. Sofia is tormented by a secret she yearns to share with Tom, but the cruel events grab the limelight and put everything else in the shade. One of the native Khoi-San families is known to communicate with wild animals, but what if the criminals get wind of this gift?

When another murder happens in the city of Johannesburg, smouldering secrets begin to unravel. How are the murders connected and will it be possible to halt a relentless crime-syndicate in order to save an African paradise?

My review

The Rhino Whisperer starts with two horrific murders; the bodies of a mother rhino and a game ranger are found on Shangari luxury game farm. The horn of the mother rhino has been hacked off and stolen. The owner of the farm, Tom Rutgers, and his beautiful Finnish girlfriend, Sofia, are shaken to their cores by this heartless attack by poachers.

It must be business as usual for their game farm guests, however, and they manage to pull themselves together and host their rich and politically frequent visitor, Stan Makaroff, and his accompanying party of favoured employees, including Sofia’s best friend, Gugu who is Stan Makaroff’s PR manager, as well as their other guests who are looking forward to watching the eclipse of the moon that weekend. After the festivities, a gunshot rings out and the farm vet, Barrie Pienaar, and Stan Makaroff are both discovered in slightly suspicious circumstances. The horns of two rhino in a bag is also found and is taken by the police as evidence.

Later in the year Sofia goes to Johannesburg to visit her cousin, Astrid, for a few weeks and she is quickly drawn into a dangerous situation as the death of another person related to both Shangari and Stan Makaroff occurs under unusual circumstances during her short visit. Gugu becomes privy to some dangerous and revealing information which puts both Sofia and her own lives in danger.

This is a fast-moving tale which highlights both the best and the worst of life in South Africa. The book exposes the rhino poaching, governmental corruption, human trafficking and selling of their daughters into prostitution by poverty-stricken fathers who have degenerated into alcoholics. It also illustrates the community life of people living in Soweto, the strength and support to be found in true and close friendships and the ability of passion and perseverance in people to overcome the evil in society.

I enjoyed the character of Sofia and found her to be a strong and determined female character. Sofia has made some mistakes in her past and is guilty of trying to cover them up in her present life but when the web of lies collapses, she comes forward with great strength of character.

The information about the bushmen, their way of life and deep connection with nature as well as the beautiful descriptions of the Africa bush added to my enjoyment of this lovely book.

Purchase The Rhino Whisperer