My Interest in Psychic Phenomena~ by Author Roni Denholtz

As a kid I liked mysteries and strange stories. When I was about 15, a friend showed me a copy of “Hidden Channels of the Mind” which she’d borrowed from the library. I reserved it, read it, and I was hooked! Since then I’ve been fascinated by the ESP and other psychic phenomena.

So it was not surprising that years ago I had the idea for a connected
series of books about people who’d been struck by lightning and developed psychic abilities like precognition, mental telepathy, astral projection and more. It took me over 6 years to write three books set in this imaginary world and I am just now publishing them.

Have I had psychic experiences? Some. I had a tarot reading once where the reader told me I was going to marry a man I already knew and considered just a friend. Months later, I heard from an old high school friend who told me he was moving back to New Jersey after living out of state for several years. He called me a few months later, we started going out, and the rest is history!

I’ve had a few precognitive dreams. For example, when I was pregnant with our first child I dreamed she was a girl—and she was. When I was pregnant with out second, I dreamed I was having a boy—and I was correct. Of course, my husband says I had a 50-50 chance anyway. I have had dreams about friends I haven’t heard from for a while and then been called by them the next day. That’s not uncommon.

One of my most interesting experiences was after our dog Sable died. I have dreamed about all our dogs, but this was especially vivid. We had decided to adopt another dog after we returned from our vacation. While visiting the national parks in beautiful Utah, I dreamed that Sable was walking with a brownish-tannish dog with a white chest. When I awoke I told my husband that Sable was guiding us to the dog she wanted us to adopt. So when we returned home, I went on Petfinder.com and found the dog in my dream at a shelter about 45 minutes from our home! We went there two days later and adopted Rawhide. I always tell people Sable guided us to him. She knew he needed a good home, but also that he would give us lots of love. 😊

I would love to hear about ESP or other psychic experiences you have had!
Oh, and I found “Hidden Channels of the Mind” recently on ebay, and bought a copy!



Roni Denholtz is the award-winning author of 12 romance novels, 9 children's books and dozens of short stories, articles and poems. Her work has appeared in such magazines as Complete Woman, Baby Talk, Modern Romances, and For the Bride.  You can connect with Roni by clicking on the links below:

                                              GOODREADS


Merry Mazatlan by Ruth Ross Saucier

My friend bought a house in Mazatlan. A lovely house a half block from ocean beach with a rooftop deck that featured sunsets over the Pacific. 



I had seen Tijuana a couple times, but never “real” Mexico, so a visit was definitely in order. From day one I was in love. The first excursion we made was to a supermarket, where we bought a bunch of supplies.  There we found all sorts of lovely options, particularly liquor for sale (a novelty, since Washington State at the time did not allow such indulgences). Here we picked up rum  for me, since I don’t drink tequila, and on the mixer shelves I found a new love: peach juice! 


 Another friend had made punch at one of my parties in the States; it had peach juice as one of the main ingredients, but when I went looking for more peach juice (it goes so well with rum), I discovered that peach juice is not cheap. Not cheap at all in the US.  But there on the supermarket shelf I found canned peach juice that was less than half the price! Thrilled, I bought a slew of the cans and our vacation was under way! 

I had Peach Juice with eggs in the morning for breakfast.  Peach juice drinks at lunch time. And Peach Juice with rum before and after dinner.  But while my friend was drinking tequila, I declined tequila, because I had had an early difficult encounter with that devil juice and swore off it forever!

 

We had a delightful time, walking the beach and shopping and seeing the sights.  Mazatlan is truly beautiful. All the time I was there, I read every sign and pamphlet, trying to retain some Spanish (I have some exposure to five other languages, but not Spanish). I listened to people talking in the streets and struggled to use what little of the language I could acquire. You haven’t lived until you try reading a Lowe’s installation pamphlet in Spanish!


I fell in love with Mexico that week. It was the BEST. I loved my friend, her house, her dog, her neighborhood, the view, the ocean, the beach, the downtown, the food, everything. LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it All.  

And so when the week drew to a close and we were hanging out in the backyard, I found myself trying to read the small print, the teeny-tiny print on the back of the peach juice can. I got to ingredients and found: Durazno. Good. I had already figured out that meant peach.  But what was this? The full ingredients read: Durazno con tequila. 

Con tequila!? With tequila?*

Why, yes.  I had been drinking tequila and peach juice morning, noon, and night. With eggs. With Lunch. In the afternoon. AND with rum: Rum and tequila/peach juice before dinner. Rum and tequila/peach juice during dinner. Rum and tequila/peach juice after dinner.

No wonder I adored everything Mazatlan.


*and no, it didn't say that on the front of the can!


Exploring Creativity ~ by Guest Richard Bist

I’ve always been someone who has been interested in creativity. Part of that comes from being a writer and having a curiosity for the world. I admire other forms of art: painting, music, sculpture, cooking, or anything that involves self-expression and imagination. I love to learn how things are created, how the paint it mixed, how the pieces of a song come together, how chefs can mix and match ingredients to create a beautiful and tasty dish. 

It’s like seeing a magician perform an amazing bit of slight-of-hand and then having the trick explained. Knowing how it’s done doesn’t diminish the trick, but instead the knowing makes it more interesting. What I enjoy is learning how an artist can envision something in their head and the process they follow to make it become real.

The other reason I wanted to explore creativity is because I didn’t have much opportunity to do so when I was growing up. While I had support from some members of my family, there was a vocal group who discouraged my creativity because - in their words - it wasn’t masculine. So my love of writing fiction and poetry was something I expressed quietly and with a degree of reservation. I continued to write, but most of it I kept to myself and only showed to a few close friends. Other forms of art were more difficult to hide.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I finally broke free from that toxic mindset. I realized that I have a need to express myself, not just in words, but in ways I hadn’t yet explored. One of the things I’ve had on my ‘want to try’ list is podcasting. I think it’s an interesting format to express and exchange ideas, sort of like terrestrial radio used to be back in the day. The big difference is that with a podcast, I could do what I wanted. There’s no restrictions on format, length, or subject matter. Complete freedom of expression. I like that.

As I began planning the show, thinking about topics I’d like to explore, I had an epiphany. You see, I originally wanted to do the show for purely selfish reasons. I wanted to explore creativity, figure out how artists performed their magic tricks, and maybe expand my own creative boundaries. While I felt empowered, I realized that my thinking was too narrow. That was due to a conversation I had with an acquaintance.

The young woman I spoke to told me about how she was struggling with her fiction writing. She was the creative one in her family, and they didn’t quite understand her need to be creative. They didn’t want to read the stories she wrote or provide any encouragement. I found it sad and it hit close to home because it was similar to what I had gone through.

That’s when I decided that my podcast needed to be broader. Instead of focusing on how things are created, I thought I’d still discuss creativity and the creative process, but I also wanted to include motivation, inspiration, keeping focused, and nurturing ideas. Basically, I wanted to help people - artists and creators - who were going through the same things that I had. I understood what it felt like to be teased for being creative, for being different. While I couldn’t go back in time to fix things for myself, my hope is that I could instead help others.

The only thing left to do at this point was come up with a show name. That was actually the hardest part. If you’re at all familiar with podcasting, you’re aware there are hundreds of thousands of podcasts out there covering almost every conceivable topic. That meant finding an appropriate name was

important. I spent the better part of two weeks researching names before I stumbled upon the perfect one: The Prometheus Project.

Why Prometheus? A very good question, and one I’ve been asked a few times. If you aren’t familiar with Greek mythology, Prometheus was a Titan who stole fire from the gods and gave it to humanity, thus bestowing knowledge and civilization to the world. Additionally, he was also seen as the creator of the arts and sciences. In my mind, that was perfect. Not that I think I’m a Greek god. Narcissism isn’t one of my strong suits. No, I felt that the purpose of the show - to inspire, motivate, and explore - fell in line with the acts of Prometheus. I’m trying to share my creative fire with others.

To me, what it comes down to is a need to express myself and my ideas. I’m not the best writer, best musician, or best artist. However, being best isn’t what I’m striving towards. I simply want to explore ideas and imagination. I want to try new things, broaden my horizons, and maybe along the way, inspire others to do the same.

I think art is often underappreciated by the general population. What I mean is, while many people listen to music and watch movies, for example, they usually don’t consider where it came from and the process it took to become real. I think that the more people who get to see behind the scenes, who get to see how the trick is done, will end up with more appreciation for art.

But it doesn’t end there. I also think that self-expression is necessary for good mental health. I know that when I take the time to do something creative every day - writing, playing guitar, cooking, whatever - I feel better than on the days I don’t express myself and my ideas. Maybe it’s a release of endorphins, or maybe it’s simply cleaning out the junk drawer in my brain. All I know is that it helps me.

When it’s all said and done, I know that I’ll look back fondly on the stories I’ve written and the music I’ve made, but what’s really going to make me proud is knowing that I helped other people to explore their creativity and hopefully built up their self-confidence and self-esteem.

Writing will always be my first love, but I feel that inspiring others to be creative gives me more satisfaction.

Richard Bist has been writing professionally for over twenty-five years, but he’s been writing stories
since he could pick up a pencil. His work has been published in a wide variety of both online and print publications, and he’s recently self-published two short story collections.

When he’s not writing, he works on his creativity podcast and cooking videos, plays guitar and keyboards, and finds time to procrastinate with his two mutts. You can contact Richard by clicking on the links below.



Colors of Fall

komotv.com
Fall color! Vibrant reds, glowing oranges, brilliant yellows. That's what today's post was supposed to be about. But Seattle has seen little color this month. According to this article the "blob"--warm water over the northeast Pacific Ocean--is robbing us of the chilly nights needed for those rich autumn hues.

 komotv.com

 

While the nights have been mild this fall, we have had fog and rain. Yes, far more gray than color.

 

 

 

How to handle this unanticipated lack of fall splendor that has paled my intended topic? Pivot! A term I'm encountering often lately. So, if fall fails to deliver color, I'll look at gray.

Gray isn't always drab--consider the myriad shades and ways of describing the spectrum between white and black. There isn't even one way of spelling gray or grey, depending on which side of the "pond" you live.

Photo from Unsplash

The scale from white to black is infinitely varied. Nature takes full advantage of the range, from the clouds above to the stones below.

 

 

 

Agate from Pinterest
 

Gray, silver, smoky, gunmetal, charcoal, slate, ashy, all of these terms bring different images to mind. The mental picture words create is of prime importance to me as a writer.


 

 

In my story drafts, having to pivot is something I regularly face. Feedback from beta readers may indicate they don't really know my main character, or her actions need more explanation. The picture I'm trying to paint with my words ends up simply black and white on the page.

Reflecting on what I've written and having to look at things differently so I can incorporate reader feedback brings me back to that most important gray matter--my brain.

Meaning of Gray

So, rather than viewing my story as a drab failure, I can use my gray matter to bring vibrancy to a story that readers will enjoy. And with the rainy days ahead, what better way to spend them than coloring the world of my story?




Meet Our Members

Author Lexa Fisher


Lexa writes seasoned romance—romance between characters who are over forty. Her characters value integrity in a partner and a relationship founded on trust. Gratitude and thanks are predominant themes in her cards, and sparkle is always an element in her designs.

To learn more about Lexa and read her prior blog posts, please click HERE

Marcus Antonius: Dredging Up the Perfect Protagonist ~ by Author Brook Allen

A little over fifteen years ago, I finally found myself in a position to begin my first novel. I knew I wanted to write on Late Republican Rome, doing something biographical. But who to write on? Julius Caesar had been done by big names like Conn Iggulden, and Cleopatra had been done so completely by Margaret George and Colin Falconer. Cicero had just had his day in the sun under the skillful pen of Robert Harris. Who else was there?

The one name that kept coming to me was Marc Antony—Marcus

Antonius.

Antony had an illustrious political and military career, but he wasflawed, too. A lover of women, lots of wine (too much, really!), impetuous, and did I mention he loved women? On the other hand, he was extremely courageous, a loyal friend, a man of his word, and a soldier’s soldier, but he really loved women! In fact, he rarely ever let an opportunity slip to sleep with someone new, and as most people know, his life ended tragically.

So why Antony? How could a no-name author create a debut novel on a man whose life ended in horrible disgrace?

The more I looked his life over, as well as the treatment with which
Rome and the first emperor Augustus tarnished his name, the more I thought, “I can’t believe more authors haven’t jumped at the chance to write this guy’s life-story before”. 


Oh, yeah—everybody has read about his affair with Cleopatra and many readers are familiar with Shakespeare’s take on his “Friends, Romans, countrymen…” monologue. But if I was going to really do this and do it well, I had to read between the lines of ancient sources and determine to the best of my ability, what motivated him and eventually even caused him to turn his back on his own countrymen.

That being said, to this very day, Marc Antony is a polarizing personage in history. To listen to Classicists on Twitter or military strategists, a lot of people might ask, “Why even bother with him?” And yet, Marcus Antonius, as he was known in his day, became the central catalyst of Rome’s transition from Republic to Empire.

I discovered there was MUCH more to Marc Antony’s story than his romance with Cleopatra or Julius Caesar’s funeral. First of all, his grandfather was a national hero, but his own father ruined all of that glory by betraying Rome to a bunch of low-life pirates off the coast of Crete. That is exactly where my story takes off. 

Eleven-year old Marcus must deal with a disgraced family—one that will struggle to see the light of day again until he rises to power. It’s an unforgettable story, and one I’ve lived with for fifteen years, turning the man’s life into The Antonius Trilogy.

My perfect protagonist’s story begins with Antonius: Son of Rome, dealing with Marcus’s tragic loss, through his wasteful early years, until he finally finds himself in the East—snuffing out the remnants of rebellion against Rome’s instated rulers and coming face to face with a major portion of his destiny when he meets a precocious, adolescent Egyptian princess. 

At Actium
Antonius: Second in Command follows Marcus as he rises to the heights of power at Caesar’s side, only to taste his first bitter betrayals in loyal friends and supporters. At the end of the second book, Marcus finds himself victorious and at the height of his power. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, this is one excited author, because today (FINALLY!) after multiple trips to Italy and Greece, and one to Egypt… my third and final portion of the trilogy will launch: Antonius: Soldier of Fate. Naturally, I’ve had some pretty spectacular experiences with my “perfect protagonist”. But he was difficult to hunt down. Aside from the damnatio memoriae—the damning of Marcus’s name, which was the postmortem punishment for men and women who disgraced Rome in some way—I had another set of problems in rediscovering this elusive character. 

Two-thousand years’ worth of extant buildings that hid sites from his period, destruction of historical sites, and changes in geographical river-routes, erosion, or the simple withering-away of historical evidence over time has made it incredibly challenging to recreate Marcus’s world.

Nor was his story intact. Just as damnatio memoriae decreed that his monuments be leveled, his statues smashed, and his inscriptions chiseled away, so did the truth behind his story turn to dust. Men who hated him, such as Cicero, smeared his name before Marcus ever died, but writers like Plutarch, Dio Cassius, and Appian of Alexandria (just to name a few) were all ancient sources that aided me. And there were dynamic secondary biographers to, like Eleanor Goltz Huzar and Patricia Southern.

A full-throttle adventure through ancient Rome, her corrupt Senate, the exotic eastern provinces ensues, and at last ending in Egypt. Difficult? Yes! Marcus’s ultimate punishment of damnatio memoriae didn’t make this easy. But this author learned so much and has developed the grit necessary to pursue a protagonist, regardless of how little of him has survived. 

From photographing the shores of Alexandria in a rocking, water-logged row-boat, driving all over Thessaly and locating the river where Marcus and his legions kept Pompey’s army at bay in the Battle of Pharsalus, to communing with the mystical ghosts of Rome’s past inside the shadowed Tabularium at the west end of the Forum Romanum… I feel that I’ve not only had the perfect protagonist, but that he’s become a friend, of sorts.

Author Brook Allen (and Marc Antony)
Award-winning author Brook Allen graduated from Asbury University with a B.A. in Music Education. However, she has always loved writing. A Master’s program at Hollins University with an emphasis in Ancient Roman studies helped prepare her for authoring her present works. Brook teaches full-time as a Music Educator and works in a rural public-school district near Roanoke, Virginia. Her personal interests include travel, cycling, hiking in the woods, reading, and spending downtime with her husband and two amazing Labrador Retrievers. She lives in the heart of southwest Virginia in the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains. You can reach out to Brook via the links below.

The Legendary Night Marchers of Hawai'i ~ Jacquolyn McMurray

 

Photo by Altinay Dinc on Unsplash

For many of us, October conjures up visions of all-things-scary. In Hawai’i, we have our own unique spooky stories, many that feature the ghostly night marchers—phantom warriors who travel at night with the most high-ranking chiefs.

As terrifying as the night marchers can be, in ancient times their job was to protect the sacred chiefs so no mortal would catch a glimpse of them. 



Because the night marchers’ main function was protecting high ranking chiefs, they tend to frequent places of significant cultural importance, but have reportedly been spotted in many other locations.

Photo by Peter Nicola on Unsplash
Folks report hearing the night marchers before they see them. First, they hear the pounding of drums in the distance, followed by an eerie voice chanting. Then the hair-raising sounds of someone blowing a conch shell at the same time the smell of death invades their senses. And finally, a string of torch lights announce they are near.  

In ancient times, if a mortal looked at a sacred chief, they would be put to death. It is said that the kindest chiefs travelled at night so mortals would not see them. This practice reduced the number of mortals who looked upon the faces of the sacred chiefs, thus reducing the number of deaths. Legend tells us that the ancient practice of the night marchers escorting the chiefs carried into the afterlife. 

If you dare, it is said that you can summon the night marchers by whistling at night. Once summoned, there is no stopping them unless they encounter ti leaves. If you live in Hawai'i, you might want to plant ti around the perimeter of your house, just to be sure!

If you happen to stumble upon a night marcher procession, strip naked and lie on the ground in the prone position and play dead or beg the chiefs to pardon you. If that doesn't work, your only hope of not being speared to death is that one of the ghostly figures will recognize you as a descendant.

One descendant tells the story of encountering the night marchers while in a cemetery on O'ahu. He didn't realize he was standing on one of the known night marcher paths. All of a sudden, he felt very cold and a mist formed around him. He heard someone cry na'u, mine, and realized one of the long dead marchers must have been a distant relative.  The night marchers walked around him, and no harm came to him.

He is considered by many believers to be one of the lucky who was spared. 


Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash

Next time you are on the Hawaiian Islands, if you hear drums pounding in the distance, smell the stench of death, and see a torch procession in the distance, heed the warnings and run. 

Just in case. 





An Artist's Pondering ~ by Steve Henderson

This Was Our Shangrila

Like many artists, I have been painting since childhood. I almost left it all behind, however, after getting my art degree at the university.

Fortunately, time and wisdom intervened, and I was able to move past the prescriptivist teaching of some very kind, but limiting people. I do not like painting gritty urban scenes. I don’t like violent art. I do not gravitate toward ugliness and shock value. These, I was taught, are what’s “in” among a select group, but, as it took me years to discover and joyfully accept, I am not part of this group.

Valley of the Goddess

A country boy who grew into a country man, I like beauty, peace, quiet, and space to move around in. In my paintings, I seek to bring about feelings of freedom, joy, happiness, thoughtfulness, contemplation, and contentment. Throughout the years, various viewers and buyers have told me, “I feel like the person in your painting,” or, “I can step into that landscape and fall into a sense of serenity.”

I love hearing this.

Red Sail Day

I believe that we are all given gifts, gifts which, when we spend the time and effort in opening, discovering, and using, can then be given back to the world around us. That is what I seek to do through my art: to take people on a journey of discovery, to invite them into a place of peace, to prompt them into confidently walking forth on their own path.

Reality does not always have to be harsh, cruel, greedy, thoughtless, mean. Such elements exist in our world – in far too great a quantity – but when we focus too strongly upon them, we forget that reality also consists of goodness, compassion, honesty, integrity, innocence, and joy.

On Watch

Representational visual art, because it is quiet and does not feature a talking head, allows the artist to start a story that the viewer discovers, interprets, and adds to. It is an honor for me to start that story.

Steve Henderson is an artist who lives in Washington state. To learn
more about his art, please click on the links below.






All photos are original artwork by Steve Henderson and may not be used without the artist's permission.  For additional information or commissions, please visit his website.

Opals and Tourmaline ~ by Grace Augustine

I've always wanted a mother's ring. However, having children born in the months of April (diamond) and October (opal), and my birthstone being an amethyst, it would cost a small fortune that I don't have.

This month we explore the beautiful opal and tourmaline. October is
Deposit photos
one of those months with more than one birthstone. I guess there is a traditional and a modern gemstone, and I'm not sure which is which. So, we'll start alphabetically with the Opal.



Did you know that opals are mineraloids? That means their water content is between 6% and 10%. It is also a hydrated amorphous form of silica. The opal has a pearly, waxy look to it. They come in many colors: black, pink, white, grey, blue, green, purple, yellow, red, brown, and orange. (you can see the various colors at https://geology.com/gemstones/opal/ )And you will always find a fire (known as a 'play of color') in the gemstone. Their MOHS ranking is a 5.5-6.5, making it one of the softer gems, so be careful not to scratch these beauties.

In the early 1900's, numerous discoveries of opal assured Australia
Deposit photos

the leader in production and export of this gemstone. Fire Opals are found in Mexico and Ethiopia. Common and fancy varieties are found in Hungary, Indonesia, Brazil, Peru, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Slovania, and the Czech Republic. Opals have also been found here in the United States in Nevada, Oregon, Idaho, and Louisiana.

If you want loyalty and faithfulness, then wear opals. This seductive stone intensifies emotional states and releases inhibitions.

The Tourmaline is classified as a semi-precious stone and has a
Deposit photos

hexagonal crystal system. This crystalline mineral is found in a variety of colors: green, black, pink, blue, red, yellow, purple, white, grey, orange, and brown (you can see all of the colors and shapes here (https://geology.com/minerals/tourmaline.shtml ) It's appearance is opaque to transparent and on the MOHS scare of hardness, the tourmaline comes in at a 7.0-7.5--a fairly hardy gemstone.

Brazil has been the lead source for tourmaline for over 500 years. The first commercial tourmaline mine was found in 1821 near the town of Paris, Maine, however, the most important source here in the States are the mines in Southern California.

This beautiful gemstone is known for it's power in reducing toxin
Deposit photos

related illnesses. Wearing tourmaline also will aid in reducing stress, improve circulation, and strengthen the immune system.

In this photo, you can see the hexagonal point watermelon tourmaline.





To view the other posts in my gemstone series, please visit my members page by clicking HERE







Meet our Members

Ruth Ross Saucier

Ruth lives under the watchful gaze of the Olympic Mountains, somewhere out west of the waters west of Seattle. Today, after 40 years of writing, editing, and wrangling a variety of nonfiction and fiction, she is retired to a life of writing, editing, and investigating any and all curiosities she deems fascinating.

To learn more about Ruth and read her prior blog posts, please click HERE

What We Can Learn from the Coelacanth ~ by Author Marj Ivancic

The story of the Coelacanth is one of joy.

Okay. Maybe not birth-of-your-first-child kind of joy, but it’s certainly one that makes me smile and gives me a bit of hope.


photo: oceana.org

A Coelacanth (SEEL-uh-kanth) is a fish, and for a long time, we
only knew about these little guys from their class pictures in fossil yearbook. They were a pretty fruitful crew about 300 million years ago. But fast forward 235 million years, and their portraits in the rock disappear.

The dinosaurs died out, so perhaps these little lynchpins did too?

And then…

A day in 1938, a captain of a fishing boat pulls in a haul off the coast of South Africa. In among the sharks he’s snagged is a stranger dressed in blue. So, he rings the local marine biologist. She’s always looking for odd specimens for her museum.

She comes.

She’s excited.

Could it be?

She makes some calls. The scientific community jumps to attention.

How exciting! How amazing! A shadow come to life!


(Cue Beethoven’s “9th Symphony” here.)



Beyond the implications to scientific research, this discovery (or rediscovery?) of the Coelacanth is a humbling, hopeful reminder. Man can only look so far, dig so deep. Our eyes and ears and bodies and minds are limited. We can think we know something, but really, all we can do is believe. Believe and trust.

Which means we can always be surprised!

And just because we can’t see something, hear or touch it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It—whatever “it” might be for you—might be out there, living, swimming the waters of wonder and miracle. Keep hope! Keep looking!


To view Marj's other blog posts, please click
 HERE

Life with Mazie~Part 6~by Joanne Jaytanie



There you are! I’ve been looking for you.

I can’t believe summer is over. I've been really busy.



I got my first job.

I’m the office manager for my mom and dad.

Hey, someone needs to keep them focused, and I’m the best dog for the job.


Mom pulled me out of school this summer. She told me Auntie Noel wasn’t teaching because it wasn’t safe. I’m still not sure I believe her. I stayed busy anyway—there’s not enough playtime in the day.




For catch me if you can.




My favorite,

Hide




and Seek.








Mom says I’ll play until I fall asleep. Who’s she kidding. I never doze off.




And after months of begging, I finally got to go back to school. I’ve been practicing every day. Especially right before bed when Mom puts a little piece of cheese on each stair. She also hides cheese pieces on clear container covers in the bedroom and bathroom. It doesn’t matter where she puts them, I always find them!


This is me working with Auntie Noel. She says I’m doing really good at Nose Work. I love it.


And I did even better the second time.



It’s been another busy day, and I need a nap. But don’t you worry. I’ll be recharged and ready to go before you can even miss me!




The Critter Days of Summer ~ by Jennifer Daniels


Well another summer is in the books and it was a beautif
ul one here
in Upstate, NY. I spent a good
 chunk of it on the lake at my parents' house. It was an interesting summer here as I am sure it was for many. We had many visitors of the critter kind. My son went crazy this year with feeding the chipmunks, to the point they were eating out of our hands. If we did not get out soon enough for meal times they would squeak until we fed them.

Our little friends all were named. First came Jimmy, he was always the first one to arrive. He bounced higher than the others. Then there was Pip, that was my son's favorite one. She had a shorter tail than the rest of them. Shortly after she came Tiny showed up. She was the littlest of the bunch, hence the name. You could tell the females from the males because they typically walked more and the males hop. Last but not least is Nux. He was named after a character in Mad Max. He had what we thought was a tumor under the skin, but I think a fly laid an egg in him and he came back one day and it was gone. He also was the darkest of the four.

We all were able to have them eat out of our hands. They would hop right up and sit there while they feasted. My husband got such a kick out of the little guys that he made them their own perch to sit on so they were closer to the porch window. We could reach out and pet them. They are cute little critters to watch.


Then came Bonnie and Clyde, the racoons. They became our nightly pastime, watching them climb up the bird feeder pole then slide down it like they were off to a fire. It was hysterical. They, too, liked the perch that was originally made for the chippies.


They are little bandits! No wonder they wear masks. They stole one of my bird feeders. I have no idea where it is. We have looked everywhere, and to boot, they stole my favorite feeder. They look so funny and cute, but make no mistake about it, they are nasty little buggers.


I hope you all had a wonderful summer, continue to stay safe and protected.

Being Independent ~ by Bruno Skibbild

Forgive me for my spelling and grammar. English is not my first language reading is fine, talking better - and singing in English is almost perfect.

I live in Denmark - Danish is my first language. Living in a small country with one of the smallest language's in the World, there is no way around it when I want to get my words and tunes out there.

Being seen - being heard - being listened to.

That is the dream for me as an independent artist - to get out there - speaking about life itself with sorrow and pain, sunshine and rain - telling the stories from everyday life in poetry and music.

I guess it is the Dream for any artist - you can sit home alone and create new stuff - you can enjoy when you succeed inside. But at the end of the day the dream is for someone else to look at your painting, read your poem or listen to your song.

Because suddenly when that happens you are no longer alone with your Art.

The times that we live in right now are difficult for everybody - no one walks free.

Anxiety, stress and fear of the future are a part of all of us - Artists included.

So what does an Artist do when there is no possibility of getting your art out there in real life?

The Artist starts creating even more - writing another book and another - hoping that some day the world will be ready to receive.

Being independent is not about wanting to work on your own - wanting to be alone. It's about wanting to get out there in the world and find people who are the same - and in my view those people are everywhere.

They might not be in the established industry at first - but we shouldn't forget that inside every star is an independent artist.

For me being independent is about being myself - working every day to take that one step further - to get that one more listener - one more reader.

And every time that happens - I feel less and less alone - being independent.


Bruno Skibbild is a singer/songwriter/author who resides in Denmark. You can connect with Bruno by clicking the link below.

Beautiful Blue Beauties--Sapphires ~ by Grace Augustine

photo: Pinterest
The most famous of all sapphires is, of course, the beautiful 2.5c sapphire surrounded with diamonds that graced the hand of Princess Diana. The ring has since been passed on to the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, who proudly wears this remembrance of Prince William’s mother.

Sapphire is the birthstone for the month of September. This precious gemstone is a variety of the mineral corundum. As the third hardest precious gemstones, it comes in at a 9 on the Mohs scale.  It’s durability makes this stone one to be worn daily. 

photo: Deposit Photos
Ruby and Sapphire are both forms of corundum, but each forms in different ways. While the ruby forms in marble, the sapphire forms in granitic pegmatites or corundum syenites. Sapphires that are completely untreated are more valuable than those that have. Sapphires are mined in East Africa, Madagascar, Myanmar, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Australia, and the United States. 
photo: Deposit Photos

One place to mine sapphires in the US is in my home state, Montana. Spokane Bar Sapphire Mine, outside of Helena, and Gem Mountain Sapphire Mine, outside of Philipsburg, have all of the equipment needed. When you visit, you can sift through your own purchased bucket of dirt, hoping to find one of the blue beauties. Please check out their websites.  https://gemmountainmt.com/
https://www.sapphiremine.com/

The sapphire comes in a variety of colors and is mined in many different locations worldwide. Kashmir sapphires set the standard high with intense color and velvety hue. The Padparadscha sapphire is a rare pinkish-orange gem whose name means “lotus flower.”

During the Middle Ages, Greeks would wear the sapphire while visiting the Oracle of Delphi and to find favor with the god Apollo. In Medieval times, the stone was associated with the tranquility and majesty of the heavens. Because many believed it symbolized heaven, clergy wore sapphires. Kings and Queens wore the precious gemstone for protection and to attract wealth. The sapphire was also found in the breastplates of the High Priest of Israel.

photo: Pinterest/Blue Earth
“From antiquity, gemstones have been thought to possess mysterious powers. Sapphire is said to be the wisdom stone, stimulating concentration, enhancing creativity, and promoting purity and depth of thought. It is believed to focus and calm the mind as well as remove unwanted thoughts, depression, and mental tension. It is known as the stone of new love and commitment and is claimed to be useful in encouraging faithfulness and loyalty. Sapphire is thought to bring peace of mind, serenity, and prosperity.” (Fire Mountain Gems)

Clean sapphire stones with warm soapy water and a soft brush. Rinse the stone well after washing it. Ultrasonic treatment and steam cleaning may be used; however, like many gemstones, sapphire should not be boiled.

Sawtooth Vacation

 

The Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho are beautiful, wild, and a terrific place for a vacation.  The family headed there for a long weekend at a resort with lovely log cabins and a beautiful outdoor pool.  True wilderness, which meant the resort clerk made sure we knew that the local bears had come down from the hills and were prowling around for food, so we should be sure to bag up our garbage and use the tie downs on the garbage cans.  But this vacation was not focused on the wilderness; instead four siblings, their partners, mom and dad, and one grand baby were bedding down in one cabin, and the oldest brother and his wife were parked next to the cabin in their posh RV. Luxury and intense family togetherness!


The cabin had a beautiful covered porch where we set up a string of metal tables so everyone could sit down to dinner.  After dinner the whole crew played a raucous game of cards and everyone finally packed it in when the growing mosquito population threatened exsanguination. Snoozing in the RV meant that we needed to plug it in somewhere, but the cabin windows were fixed and the cabin had no external plugs so there was no way we could snake an extension cord safely through a window. So the cord had to come through the main cabin door...leaving it ajar.  Somehow my husband and I were appointed to sleep on the floor up against the door, so we could hold it shut against all invaders, including garbage-hunting bears.

The real guy was cuter.

The night was long and the floor was hard. Every rustle and snore woke us up, so it's no wonder we were awake at 3 a.m. when a rustling noise came from a grocery bag on the floor.  As our flashlight found the bag, over the edge popped up the cutest little pale gray mouse with huge pink round ears and twitching white whiskers...Mickey had nothing on this guy. 

Unfortunately, the discovery that a mouse had been raiding the baby's cereal enraged the new, first-child mom and everyone was up for at least 30 minutes discussing what to do with the rest of the food.  Mickey Jr. got away scot free, thank goodness, but the rest of us took forever to settle down.

 Sometime around dawn, after two hours of never quite falling asleep, the two of us door guardians heard heavy footsteps thudding up the stairs and onto the front porch.  The adrenaline rush accelerated when we heard a rasping sound as something moved around the metal tables, just on the other side of the not-even-closed doors. Something big was licking the tables for leftover crumbs.

My husband jumped up (in naught but his underwear), wielding his flashlight, ready to take on the invader...was it a bear foraging for food, just outside the door, less than a yard away? 

 "What are you doing?" I squeaked, wondering how the hell opening the door was a good idea.

He clearly wasn't listening though. Fixated on the threat, he threw open the door before I could even get out of my sleeping bag, so we were both front and center when a huge head loomed out of the pale morning light and, backlit, filled up the doorway.

My husband inserted himself right up to the door frame, bravely blocking the killer bear and hissed, "Shoo!"

 Shoo?  Shoo?!?

It was one of the resort's burros; they had freed themselves from their overnight shelter and gone foraging for food amidst the cabins.


 


My Interest in Psychic Phenomena~ by Author Roni Denholtz

As a kid I liked mysteries and strange stories. When I was about 15, a friend showed me a copy of “Hidden Channels of the Mind” which she’d...