Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Blog magazine for lovers of health, food, books, music, humour and life in general

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

MarySmith’sPlace – On the road still Afghanistan Adventures #28


Another of Mary Smith’s riveting adventures in Afghanistan.. and in this one, apart from the perils of being a passenger in a truck on the bumpy roads, there is a pressing need that is not helped by time not bumps….as someone who needs to know where the nearest loo is, this would be nightmare for me…This post demonstrates yet again that Mary is a woman to be reckoned with!

MarySmith’sPlace – On the road still Afghanistan Adventures #28

IMG_0049 (Custom)

It was still dark when I heard the urgent whisper, ‘Sister, sister, it is time to go.’  I crawled out of my warm nest, pulling my chaddar on straight. Khudadad had already rolled up his bedding. Under his impatient gaze I fumbled clumsily trying to roll my sleeping bag to a size small enough to squeeze back into its ridiculously tiny nylon bag. Finally he took over and somehow stuffed it in, picked up our bags and headed for the door. ‘Come. Sayed is waiting.’

‘But, I have to go outside first,’ I whispered.

‘Now?’ Khudadad’s voice rose to a hysterical pitch, provoking mutters and grumbles from the sleeping bodies scattered about the room. ‘Sayed will be angry if we are late. We will stop soon.’

I trotted along the deserted street, trying to keep up with Khudadad’s hurried stride, hearing the thrum of the trucks’ engines warming up. One look at Sayed, fingers drumming on the steering wheel, was enough for me to climb into my place and keep my mouth shut about needing to pee. He was obviously not back on home ground yet.


Head over and read the rest of the post….#recommended

via MarySmith’sPlace – On the road still Afghanistan Adventures #28

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives 2020 – SoCS 2019.09.20 – Two Unwrapped Gifts by Miriam Hurdle

Welcome to the current series of Posts from Your Archives in 2020 and if you would like to participate with two of your posts from 2019, you will find all the details in this post: New series of Posts from Your Archives 2020

This is the second post from poet Miriam Hurdle and this week Miriam shares the two gifts she gave herself in celebration of graduating with as Doctor of Education in 2000.

SoCS 2019.09.20 – Two Unwrapped Gifts

I gave two unwrapped gifts to myself when I graduated with the Doctor of Education in year 2000.

The first gift was two season tickets to six operas in 2001 as my husband would accompany to see the opera. When I was a kid, we didn’t have a radio but my neighbors did. I went to my neighbors to listen to the news, ghost stories and other broadcast. There was a theme music playing leading to the news. After thirty seconds, the music faded as a female announcer came in to report the news of the day. That was the beginning of my classical music appreciation and I later identified the theme music as the Overture of Bizet’s Carmen. I enjoyed singing and started taking voice lessons at nineteen years old and sang pieces of operatic music.

Image result for bizet's carmen

I hoped to see operas such as Carmen, La Bohème and La Traviata, and learn about other less popular ones. Hubby likes mostly country western music, but he would go with me to see the operas. Part of the attraction to me was to dress up and be with other people who had the same interest. At the opera house, people could rent small binoculars at $7 each. We brought two binoculars with greater strength. I not only wanted to see the details of costumes but also the singers’ expressions.

Classical music was not Hubby’s taste, let alone opera. Many people enjoy classical music but have no interest in opera. The first opera we went, Hubby slept through the first half. I didn’t wake him even though his chin dropped to the chest. The only time I would interrupt was when he started snoring which didn’t happen. Snoring in a classical performance is rude to the performers and disrespect to the audience. People don’t cough or sneeze during the performance. They hold their breath and focused. When one movement is over, you’d hear people clearing their throats. The conductor waits until everybody quiets before he raises the baton. For the subsequent performances, I oriented him with the plots, so he watched the acts as if they were Broadway shows.

I stopped subscribing the tickets after three years when the popular operas repeated.


The second gift was a new car. I had a Honda Civic for about eight years. It had enough scratches and mechanical problems. It was about time to get a new car. I had ideas of the features in a new car that I liked, so I made a spreadsheet, listing on each row the specifications such as 4-doors, sunroof, automatic, CD player, and other items. On the columns, I listed four makes of cars – Infinity, Audi, Lexus, and Acura. At the bottom of the spreadsheet listed the price of each car. After the comparison and considered the pros and cons, I decided on the Acura. There were two determining factors, one of them was the price. I had to be practical after paying for three years of a doctoral program. Another factor was Honda had a higher rate of returning customers. Acura is the luxury car of Honda. I like Honda, so I would be happy with Acura. I bought an Acura.

Image result for images of 2000 white acura

Hubby kept up with the oil change and maintenance year after year. We didn’t have any major problem with the car. Four years ago, fifteen years after I had the car, I started thinking about what I wanted to do. I would need to buy another car for my remaining life. When to buy it? The car needed new tires, and we bought four new tires. The tires were good for five years or 50,000 miles. I wanted to wait until close to the end of warranty to get a new car. A school principal told me he kept his Honda to 300,000 miles. My car should make it for several more years with the leisure driving after retirement.

In September 2018, we went to Las Vegas for a week. Upon our return, the car started to get overheated. Hubby tried to drive slower, but it made no difference. I didn’t want to leave Nevada and have the car die in the desert. Calling AAA was in order. The driver came in a tow truck. After his assessment, he confirmed that the radiator broke. The car needed to be towed. We were not near any exit to turn around. The tow truck went forward fourteen miles to an intersection, then turned around toward Las Vegas. The closest Acura dealer was seven miles passed Las Vegas. Well, my insurance covers certain miles of towing and I paid for the rest. The dealer couldn’t work on the car until the next day. We spent a night in that city where the dealer was and picked up the car the next day.

After replacing the radiator, I started to think of shopping for a car but didn’t feel the urgency. I was thinking about doing that within a year. I should have gotten a new car before September this year but I didn’t. Last Thursday, September 12, 2019 was the first week of classes at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), a program for the retirees. On my way to California State University, Fullerton, the car was not running smoothly. I found a place to park and called Hubby. He said the car had some traction issue but not a big problem. I went on to my classes. On my way home, the car had bigger traction problem. I pulled over by the curb, stopped and restarted the car, made it go for half a mile and restarted again. When I made a left turn at an intersection, it stopped in the middle of the road. I rolled down the window, signaled the car to bypass me. After great struggle to restart many times, I was like dragging a pouting dog to go for a couple more miles. Two miles before getting home, the car said, “That’s it, I refuse to go any further.”

Hubby came right away. We called AAA and the tow truck came, towed the car to the dealership which was five miles away. This time it was the transmission problem. The manufacture doesn’t make the transmission for that model anymore. Getting a refurbished or used transmission cost $4,500. It’s not worth spending that kind of money when I’m overdue for a new car.

I got 217,000 miles and 19 years out of my Acura anyway. I’ll be car hunting and get another unwrapped gift for myself.

(Note: I got another Acura in November 2019 – Acura RDX)

©Miriam Hurdle.

About Miriam Hurdle

Miriam Hurdle is a multi-genre writer. She writes poetry, flash fiction, and short stories. Her poems are included in Letters to Gaia, Whispers and Echoes Issue 2, Whispers and Echoes Issue 3, and Outcast and More Words.

Music has rooted in her life. Being a soloist as a teenager led her to taking voice lessons and to have ongoing singing engagements. She continues to sing soprano in choral groups. Lyrics have a major influence in the natural flow of her melodic writing. She writes memoir in the form of poetry.

Along with her brother, she took photos when the films were black and white. Photography is still her enjoyable hobby. Drawing and painting were fun activities as a child. Her favorite was to draw a Japanese girl with big eyes, long hair, small lips and chin. She resumed drawing and watercolor painting several years ago. In her poetry collection, photos and paintings are included to illustrate the poems.

She earned a Doctorate of Education from the University of La Verne in California. After two years of rehabilitation counseling, fifteen years of public school teaching and ten years in school district administration, she retired and enjoys life with her husband in southern California.

About  Songs of Heartstrings

Human being has the willpower to travel through an exhausting journey, win a tough battle, and heal a deep wound. Strength from hope keeps us going until the light at the end of the tunnel is in sight and striving until the storm is over.

This poetic memoir comprises themes ranging from the suffering through an undesirable relationship, surviving an aggressive cancer, to the happiness in true love, the joy of parenthood, and gratefulness toward the Maker. Hurdle reveals the honest self-talk and reflects a heart filled with optimism, faith and trust. She illustrates the poems with her beautiful photos and paintings.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

I downloaded Songs of Heartstrings in my Kindle almost half a year ago. Selfishly, I’ve been reading it a little at a time, because I like to dig deep into a poem, savor it. let it simmer within me, then re-read it days or even weeks later. There is SO MUCH in Miriam’s verse and prose. All of her nature poems – trees, flowers, plants, insects – are lovely and speak to the human in us even while describing the flower or the butterfly. The poems she wrote during/about her cancer treatments are so deep and intense – through reading the poems, I experienced what Miriam felt as she dealt with chemo and worry and wonder. The poem about finding her “balance” yogic pose after recovering from chemo was amazing – I believe she is writing not only about balancing on one foot, but finding balance in her life as she recovers. Hurdle’s poetry is relatable to us all.

Read the reviews and buy the collection also in Spanish and Portuguese: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Read reviews and follow Miriam: Goodreads

Connect to Miriam

Website and blog: Showers of Blessings
Facebook: miriam Hurdle
Twitter: @mhurdle112

My thanks to Miriam for permitting me to share her posts and thank you very much for dropping in today and I know that Miriam would love your feedback. Thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Letters from America 1985-1987 – Adventures in the USA – The Driving Test Texas Style by Sally Cronin

Somebody recently asked if I was going to repeat the series of Letters from America as they had missed many of the earlier ones. I then realised that it was two years since the first post went out and there are some newer readers to the blog who might be interested in reading.

At the same time as I was writing my weekly letters home to my parents, I was also writing articles on various events that took place or about places we visited. I wrote this piece about the dreaded driving test that we had to take to enable us to buy a car and get insured. We both had full licences from the UK but had to give this up and obtain a Texas licence… This was 35 years ago so both the test and some of the then rules of the road are likely to have been changed. One of these was a written test which was not introduced into the UK until some years later.

The Driving Test Texas Style by Sally Cronin

From the date of arrival you have 30 days to apply for and take a Texas driving test. Within a week we had obtained a copy of the Texas Driver’s Handbook from the Department of Public Safety. Very similar to our own Highway code, but differing in several important areas such as in road signage and right of way when driving. Several pages are devoted to the various responsibilities, and penalties for failure to comply, and at first glance they were intimidating. We needed to be totally sure of all the different elements as we would be completing a written test which we had to pass before undergoing a practical examination.

Signs and signals are basically the same as in the UK, but one thing to watch very carefully , is that it is legal in Texas, and most other states, to pass on the inside, and to even turn right at a red traffic light if your road is clear. In the UK it was illegal to undertake, and whilst you still would check before moving into an inside lane, in the US you needed to be almost paranoid in attention to your rear and side mirrors.

At least we had enjoyed three weeks of driving practice in David’s temporary company car before the test, and we spent considerable time doing our homework. Both of us had driven for several years and were only too aware of our bad habits!.

The morning of our test we drove to the Department of Public Safety with some trepidation, unsure of what to expect. We had already filled in our application forms and stood in a long line waiting to be seen. An eye test is conducted at the counter and both thumb prints taken. You are then given two sheets of questions and told to sit in the examination area. Thank goodness we had done our homework, although the questions all had multi-choice answers, which meant you had one in four chances of getting it right, there was no room for guesswork. After completing the questions it was back in line and the papers were marked.

Thankfully we both passed having asked more than 14 questions correctly, but were told that they were booked up for the day on the practical tests and we needed to come back in the morning for ours.

Having had another nervous night’s sleep, we presented ourselves at the DPS as soon as they opened at 7.30 a.m, to ensure being first in line. Our tests were booked one after the other from 8.00 am. although it was 8.30am. before David was called over by a police officer.

When David returned 20 minutes, later I was waiting by the kerb for my turn, and as he got out of the car he shook his head at me. He had failed, but he didn’t have time to say anything, as the trooper indicated for me to take the driving seat. I was already nervous, not knowing quite what to expect and quite frankly, slightly intimidated by an armed policeman sitting in the passenger seat. He introduced himself as Officer Rodriquez and told me to drive to the rear of the building, where I was told to reverse into a coned off parking space and parallel park. This was almost a disaster as I was so nervous; you could have got a taxi to the kerb.

I was then directed to leave the car park and proceed onto the main road. As in England, signals and checking mirrors are of vital importance, and I made sure to look as if I was aware of both.The rest of the test was conducted around a nearby housing estate where the speed limit was 20 miles per hour. Several right and left turns were involved and the officer told me to “Stop”…..which I did immediately having checked my rear view mirror and slamming the breaks on. Officer Rodriquez peeled himself off the dashboard and turned to glare at me…. “As smoothly as possible”  Clearly not the Emergency Stop that I had expected as part of the test then!

He then made me reverse up the road for 50 feet and around a corner until told to stop. I had convinced myself that I had now failed after nearly sending him through the windshield; the rest of the test passed in a blur. We finally arrived back at the test centre and parked at the back of the building. Officer Rodriquez was rapidly writing on a pad which he then handed across the seats for me to sign. Then amazingly told me to go and pick up my temporary licence. He got out and left me holding the portion of the test and shaking from head to toe. The maximum points that can be deducted before failing the test was 30 and I had 26.

After locking up the car I went into join David in the centre where he had booked a retest for the next day. Apparently he had failed by going 22 miles per hour in the 20 mile zone.  I took my test results to the counter and had my photograph taken which was horrendous as you can imagine; I have to live with that for the next two years on my licence as a reminder of the day. Not so bad when you only have to show occasionally, but it is now my official form of identification and I have to show every time I write a cheque in every store I shop in.

David returned the next morning and passed his test thankfully, but the amusing thing was that it turned out I was one of a very few that had passed the day before; most in line commented that they hoped they did not have Officer Rodriquez again!

©Sally Cronin 1985

I have to say that my terror of driving passed, but my fear of bumping into Officer Rodriquez when out in the car, meant that I was a law abiding citizen throughout the next two years. I eventually clocked up over 50,000 miles as we explored both coasts and across central America on our adventures.

I hope you have enjoyed this adventure and look forward to your feedback. More next Tuesday.


Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Music Column with William Price King -Carla Bley – American jazz composer, pianist, organist and bandleader

This week William Price King shares the music of Carla Bley – American jazz composer, pianist, organist and bandleader.

Andando El Tiempo

Carla Bley is an American jazz composer, pianist, organist and bandleader. Born in 1938 she was an important figure in the free jazz movement of the 1960s. Carla was born Lovella May Borg in Oakland, California and was encouraged to sing and play piano by her piano teacher and church Choirmaster. She tragically lost her mother at eight years old and moved to New York aged seventeen to become a cigarette girl at the legendary Birdland club. Here she met her future husband jazz pianist Paul Bley and toured with him as Karen Borg, later changing her stage name to Carla Bley in 1957.

A number of musicians began to record her compositions and throughout her career she has considered herself to be a composer first. She was involved in organising the Jazz Composers Guild in 1964 which brought together the most innovative musicians in New York at the time. And she co-led the Jazz Composers Orchestra with her second husband Michael Mantler. This led to the creation of the JCOA record label which issued recordings by other notable musicians such as Clifford Thornton and Roswell Rudd as well as her own work.
She continues to play and record with her own big band and compose for other musicians.

You can read the full biography at Carla Bley Wikipedia

Now time to enjoy some of Carla Bley’s music.

“Escalator over the Hill” is a jazz opera written by Paul Haines and Carla Bley. It was produced and coordinated by Michael Mantler over a two year period from 1968 to 1971 and performed by the ‘Jazz Composer’s Orchestra.’* There are vocals on most of the tracks and each singer plays a character. EOTH creates a magical universe with a convergence of raga, rock, jazz, avant garde, and surrealist theater – all brought together through Carla Bley’s extraordinary sense and ability to unify diverse musical segments. The mood of this jazz opera is one of almost complete loss of rationality and the sense of morality is absent. All of this takes place inside a cheesy hotel full of low-life degenerates and their vices. Joining Ms. Bley on this album are heavy weights Don Cherry, Charlie Haden, Manfred Mann’s Paul Jones and Linda Ronstadt.

“Music Mechanique” was released in 1979 on the Watt/ECM label featuring Michael Mantler on trumpet, Gary Windo on tenor and bass clarinet, Roswell Rudd on trombone, and Bob Stewart on tuba. The album opens with a track called ‘440’ in reference to the frequency orchestras use to tune up before a concert. The music on this album lies somewhere between big band, fusion, and avant garde, spotlighting the horns. The colorful three-part “Music Mechanique” opens with random tones and sounds and builds up into a frenzy. The random noises come from Bley’s toy piano, her daughter’s glockenspiel, and a walkie talkie. The third parts ends with the band imitating a skipping vinyl record, causing weird rhythmic sounds as if a piece of dust got caught in a groove and the needle which turns the grooves into sound keeps bumping back. Amazing.

“The Lord is Listenin’ To Ya, Hallelujah!” is from Bley’s ‘Live!’ album, released in 1982 and recorded in the presence of a live attentive audience at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall. This song is not as experimental as her earlier works but reflects her religious childhood. The unparalleled Gary Valente, in his trombone solo, performs a brilliant caricature of the ‘salvation style’ which the audiences responds to much like the call and response associated with church revivals. This adds to the musical color of the piece. The ‘Penguin Guide to Jazz’ gave the album 3½ stars.

“Andando el Tiempo” was recorded in 2015 with saxophonist Andy Sheppard and bass guitarist Steve Swallow on the ECM label, and is a three movement composition dealing with addiction and recovery, inspired by a friend of Bley’s struggle with alcoholism. Each section of this work represents different stages of recovery from addiction. This is an album of introspective music highlighting her noncompliance with jazz and classical conventions. Although she has mastered all of the characteristics of musical narrative, here she minimizes her occasional excesses in favor of warmth and class.

*The Jazz Composer’s Orchestra was an American jazz group founded by Carla Bley and Michael Mantler in 1965 to perform orchestral avant-garde jazz.

Here is a track from the album with an intro from Carla Bley Naked Bridges Diving Brides you can hear the full album: Andando el Tiempo

Buy the music of Carla Bley: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

©William Price King 2020

William Price King is an American jazz singer, crooner, and composer.

His interest in music began at an early age when he studied piano and clarinet in high school. At Morehouse College in Atlanta where he grew up, he sang in the Glee Club and studied classical music. After graduation he went off to the Yale School of Music where he earned a Masters degree. From there he journeyed to New York where he created a jazz trio ‘Au Naturel’ which performed in some of the hottest venues in Manhattan including gigs on Broadway and the famous ‘Rainbow Room.’ These gigs opened doors for performances in Montreal and a European tour.

While touring Europe he met a lovely French lady, Jeanne Maïstre, who, a year later became his wife. King left the group ‘Au Naturel’ and settled in the south of France where he started a new life on the French Riviera, opening his own music school – the “Price King Ecole Internationale de Chant.” He has had the pleasure over the years of seeing many of his students excel as singers on a professional level, and some going on to become national celebrities. He continues to coach young singers today, in his spare time.

His debut jazz album was entitled “Home,” and was a collection of contemporary compositions he composed, with lyrics written by his wife Jeanne King. His second album was a Duo (Voice and Guitar) with Eric Sempé on the guitar. This album included original songs as well as well known standards from contemporary jazz and pop artists. The “King-Sempé” duo toured France and thrilled audiences for more than three years before going their separate ways. King has formed a new duo with French/Greek guitarist Manolis, and is now exploring new ideas, in a smooth jazz/soul/folk direction.

In addition to singing and composing, King has been collaborating with author Sally Cronin over the past few years on her blog “Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life,” with the series “A Man And His Music – Jazz, Contemporary, Classical, and Legends” and now, the “William Price King Music Column.” Working with author Sally Cronin has been an exhilarating experience in many ways and has brought a new dimension to King’s creative life. King has also created a micro blog, “Improvisation,” which features and introduces mostly jazz artists from across the jazz spectrum who have made considerable contributions in the world of jazz; and also artwork from painters who have made their mark in the world of art. This micro blog can be found on Tumblr.

His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Tormé. King has a distinctive wide-ranging voice which displays a remarkable technical facility and emotional depth.

William Price King on Tumblr – IMPROVISATION

Buy William’s music ITunes

Connect with William

FacebookWilliam Price King
Twitter @wpkofficial
Regular VenueCave Wilson

You can find all of the Music Column series in this directory: William Price King Music Column

My thanks to William for sharing this very unique artist with us and thank you for dropping in today.  As always your feedback is very welcome.

Q and A with D.G. Kaye, featuring Author Toni Pike

Head over to enjoy a wonderful interview by D.G. Kaye with author Toni Pike…find out more about Toni’s books and who has inspired her writing.

D.G, Kaye Book Promotions


Q and A with D.G. Kaye, featuring Author Toni Pike

Welcome to my Q and A author interview today featuring Toni Pike, multi-genre author of both, thrillers and nonfiction books. I’ve read two of Toni’s books so far, and you can check out both my reviews for Desolation Bluff and Dead Dry Heart.

Toni has traveled all the way from Australia here today, lol, so let’s get to know more about her and her books!


Toni Pike


About Toni:

Toni Pike enjoys writing exciting thrillers and non-fiction books. She also loves travelling and being with family and friends. She lives in Australia and firmly believes that coffee and long walks are an essential part of any day.

Do you like books that you can’t stop reading? Pike is the author of DESOLATION BLUFF, DEAD DRY HEART and The Jotham Fletcher Mystery Thriller Series: THE MAGUS COVENANT, THE ROCK OF MAGUS, THE MAGUS EPIPHANY and HOLY SPEAR OF MAGUS.

She’s also the author of two non-fiction books. THE ONE WAY DIET is a no-nonsense guide to losing weight and coping with the journey. HAPPY TRAVELS 101 is a short book of travel tips with great advice for anyone who wants to travel overseas.

Source: Q and A with D.G. Kaye, featuring Author Toni Pike

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives 2020 – #Travel – Numedal Valley in #Norway – Amanda of Something to Ponder About

Welcome to the current series of Posts from Your Archives in 2020 and if you would like to participate with two of your posts from 2019, you will find all the details in this post: New series of Posts from Your Archives 2020

This is the first post from Amanda of Something to Ponder About and this week she gives us a wonderful tour of the – Numedal Valley in Norway

medieval stabbur in norway

Since medieval times, one of the main routes Traders and Pilgrims used to traverse Norway between Oslo and Bergen, was via the Numedal Valley, which stretches from Kongsberg in the south, to Geilo and the Hardangervidda Plateau, in the North west.


Due to this long history, Numedal has one of Norway’s most concentrated collections of medieval buildings and artefacts, comprising over 40 heritage timber buildings dating from the Middle Ages. Visit Middelalderdalen

The Norwegian Stabbur

By necessity, Norwegians had to find an effective way to store food over a long harsh winter and designed a uniquely shaped log ‘Stabbur’, or food storage house, that would prevent food from spoiling, or being eaten by mice and rats.

In latter times however, the visitor to the Numedal Valley will find that most of these historic Log buildings have been converted into authentic and traditional guest lodgings.
numedal valley norway

Nordli farm Stabbur, where I spent a night

You can sleep the night in one of these beautiful Stabburs, some which contain walls and everyday objects that have been decorated with the traditional Norwegian Art known as Rosemaling,, in a style peculiar to the Numedal Valley.

medieval buildings on norwegian farm

A medieval Stabbur in the Numedal Valley

The highest number of Stabburs of any Norwegian valley are located in Numedal. And if that is not enough medieval history for you, the Valley also is home to no less than four Stave churches.

Rollag Stave Church

The Rollag Stave church is one of the better known Stave Churches in Numedal, but as all are off the main highways, they are a little hard to find. ‘Rollag Stavkirken‘ is located a few kilometres north of the village Rollag, in the Numedal Valley. It was probably originally built in the second half of the 12th century, though not all of it is original.

Initially, the church has been a simple church with a rectangular nave. First mentioned in 1425, it was rebuilt around 1660 into a cruciform church. Around 1760, the church was extended to the west.

Early Rosemaling and Hanseatic Art

The walls of Rollag Stave Church are adorned with fruit and biblical motives, which were painted in 1683, and the forerunner to the more traditional forms of Rosemaling. This was following on from the reformation. The close ties with the Hanseatic countries is exemplified in the religious figures of Mary with child, which originated in the German city of Lubeck, around the 1500’s.
Rollag Stave Kirke

The baptismal font dates from the middle ages whilst the altar dates from 1670. The blue lattice like structure in the left of the above photo is known by the archaic term which translates as: Wife’s or Widow’s ‘cage.’

Shocking as it may seem, women were seen as property in medieval times and as such, if a married Priest passed away, the next Priest assigned to that Parish, would inherit not only the Church and its land, but the Widow and any children as well! Times have changed!

Forestwood Rosemaling

My logo for my art

This was a logo I painted and tweaked in a photo editor for my artwork. One of the reasons for visiting Norway in such depth was to study the Norwegian Rosemaling first hand, as inspiration for further artwork and fabric designs.

Forestwood is the name of my website and online shops.

©Forestwood Folk Art 2019

Trondheim, Norway

Trondheim Norway

About Amanda

I am very glad that you stopped by and I hope you find something interesting to ponder about! Blogging is all about sharing one’s thoughts, embracing a global community and making connections, right? Without readers, what good is a blog?

I’m an egalitarian, environmental traditionalist who lives in Australia, however I am an Aussie who is anything but a sun lover. In fact, I am a bit obsessed with cool, wintry climates and Scandinavia, in general, as you will soon find out.

But don’t go thinking it is all about darkness and gloom here, at Something to Ponder About, because if you do, you would be wrong. I write about many different things that interest, puzzle and frustrate me, and things that important to share with others.

Like sharing and discussing pearls of wisdom in Sunday Sayings (formerly Proverbial Friday inviting contributions to Photo challenges on Friendly Friday; writing Travel and Book reviews, tutorials on Traditional Arts and Crafts, as well as good old fashioned home Cooking.

As I think everyone’s opinion is important, please feel welcome to leave a comment on any of my posts and we can have a conversation!

Come and join me. Everyone is welcome here; there’s always Something to Ponder About.

~ Amanda

Connect to Amanda

Blog: Something to Ponder About
Facebook: Forestwood Designs
Twitter: @Forestwoodfolk

My thanks to Amanda for letting me share this post with you and you will find much to enjoy if you head over to browse her archives. Thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – #Reviews #Mystery James J. Cudney, #Familydrama Mary Crowley, #Cyberpunk/Scifi C.S. Boyack

Welcome to the first of the Cafe and Bookstore updates for the week, with recent reviews for authors on the shelves.

The first author with a recent review is James J. Cudney for his latest release Frozen Stiff Drink: A Kellan Ayrwick Cozy Mystery (Braxton Campus Mysteries Book 6)

About the Book

A winter blizzard barrels toward Wharton County with a vengeance. Madam Zenya predicted the raging storm would change the course of Kellan’s life, but the famed seer never could’ve prepared him for all the collateral damage. Nana D disappears after visiting a patient at Willow Trees, leaving behind a trail of confusion. When the patient turns up dead and a second body is discovered beneath the snowbanks, Kellan must face his worst fears. What tragedy has befallen his beloved grandmother?

Kellan’s brother Hampton learns essential life lessons the hard way after his father-in-law accuses him of embezzlement. While trying to prove his innocence, Hampton digs himself a deeper hole that might lead to prison. Sheriff Montague wants to save him, but she receives the shock of her life as the past hurtles forward and complicates her future.

Between locating Nana D and solving the scandalous murder of another prominent Braxton citizen, Kellan and April’s worlds explode with more turmoil than they can handle. Too bad neither one of them knows what to do about the psychic’s latest premonition. The suspicious deaths happening around town aren’t ending anytime soon.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Reader Editor 5.0 out of 5 stars Kellan’s Incredible Life Inadvertently Solving Mysteries Reviewed in the United States on March 18, 2020

In this 6th book of the Braxton Campus cozy mystery series, the author brings another character to the front of the action. Madam Zeyna predicts some occurrences in Kellan’s future that may be insurmountable. Once again, Cudney’s ability to portray his characters made me smile. While we envision Madame Zeyna – we know exactly how she may look – Cudney focuses on her personality and how she fits into the action.

Kellan’s grandmother, the feisty and wise Nana D goes missing. By the way, she is one of my favorite characters in this entire series. Cudney has created a spunky older woman we all might like to be when we age. Kellan is on overload searching for her while also solving the murder of a prominent Braxton citizen the has the town in near lock down. Then there is his tempestuous liaison with the Deputy Sheriff, April, which is becoming a solid relationship, but both have different duties, and this always tears at their relationship. As this series moves along, we watch the characters grow and learn life’s lessons. An air of mystery shadows this story and I feel it may run into the next story, though all the stories in this series are stand-along if you wish to read them that way.

Cudney builds an exciting story around these events, with occurrences and surprises we don’t see coming. As with all his stories, he ends this one with a superb cliffhanger. The story finishes nicely, but now we know there will be another soon.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

A selection of other books by James J. Cudney

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And on Amazon UK: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow James: Goodreads

Connect to James via his blog: This is my Truth Now

The next author is Mary Crowley and a review for her second novel Under a Dark Cloud

About the book

Under a Dark Cloud is a grippingly emotional story of shattered dreams, haunting nightmares and bitter memories. Kelly Henderson wants reprieve to emerge from Under the Dark Cloud that shrouds her life.

Kelly Henderson returns to Bunreen, a small town nestled in the South East of Ireland, weeks after her husband’s tragic death, wanting to re-establish a relationship with her mother and sister. However, as the taxi approaches her old home, she is harshly reminded of the night her mother Lorraine banished her to live with her father in Scotland, when she was only fifteen years of age.

Kelly’s’ heart is heavy and her grief raw, but she must keep strong as she soon discovers there are more secrets within the family. While Lorraine’s indifference to her pain gives renewed determination to right the wrongs of the past and prove she had not been lying about what had happened to her as a teenager. A wrongdoing that led to the breakdown of her marriage and in Kelly’s mind, inevitably caused her husband’s death. It’s time to take back control and get the reprieve she deserves.

Nessa Quinlan has a simple but happy life with her devoted husband Liam; however, her life is turned upside-down when her estranged brother contacts her to say he is dying of cancer. Nessa had broken all ties with Donald after he had killed a local teenager in a road accident showing no remorse.

Kind-hearted, Nessa becomes his carer which concerns her family and best friend Clodagh, but Nessa has more to contend with than the disagreeable Donald, with ghosts from her past threatening to cloud her happiness, which in turn puts a strain on her marriage. This is not helped by Donald refusing medical treatment until one day Kelly arrives on their doorstep as his new Health Nurse.

Can Nessa save her marriage? Does Kelly hold the answers to Nessa’s problems, or will her presence bring further recriminations?

Under a Dark Cloud is Mary Crowley’s second Novel following her Debut A Sweet Smell of Strawberries, a heart wrenching tale of a mother’s loss when her son, a talented athlete is killed.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Feb 26, 2020 Joyce Murphy rated it Five Stars

The intrinsic set of secondary characters drawn from Waterford city create a suspense right from the start. Irish drama coming to life with a rich set of colorful characters, flawed in their own way but with very big hearts. A lovely companion book any time you want to sit down, grab a coffee and treat yourself to this special story.

I have just started reading ‘A Sweet Smell of Strawberries’ the authors first book and even after the first few pages, I am already hooked.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon UK

And: Amazon US

Also by Mary Crowley

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK

And on : Amazon US

Read more reviews and follow Mary on: Goodreads

Connect to Mary via her blog/website: Mary Crowley WordPress

The final author today is C.S. Boyack with a review for his Cyberpunk/Scifi Grinders.

About the book

Jimi Cabot made one mistake as a starving college student. When she went to work for the San Francisco Police Department, it nearly cost her the job. The union stepped in and they had to reinstate her. They did so by assigning her to the duty nobody wants, Grinder Squad.

Grinders are people who use back room surgeries to enhance their bodies with computer chips, and various kinds of hardware. Jimi is sure that if she can just bust one grind shop, it will be her ticket back.

Paired with veteran cop, she soon learns that Grinder Squad is a cash-cow for the department. They are nothing more than glorified patrol cops, and generally get the worst assignments.

Matchless is the most wanted grinder of all time. He disappeared years ago, leaving only the evidence of those he enhanced during his career. With these pieces, Jimi picks up the cold trail to try working her way back to more respectable duty.

Grinders is a cyberpunk story set in a world where global warming has eroded coastlines, and society has solved many of our current problems by replacing them with new ones. There are cyber shut-ins, cyber-currency skimming schemes, and more in this futuristic tale.

This book also takes the opportunity to poke a stick at current issues that seem to have lasted into the future. Entitled people, helicopter moms, overzealous homeowner associations, and lack of decent jobs are all present. Never preachy, these issues make up the day to day work of a patrol officer.

I hope you enjoy Grinders as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you.

One of the recent reviews for the book

I’ve said it before, and I’ll no doubt say it again: No one has a wilder and more fertile imagination than C. S. Boyack. His latest release is so packed full of entertainment, it boggles the mind! And the world-building is beyond creative. Holy Moly! This vision of an all-too-possible future is engrossing, funny, frightening, and compelling, all at the same time. And oh, yeah—about the story. It works to perfection as well. Take some cool characters, an interesting antagonist, and a few fun critters being taught wild and crazy skills, stir well, and what do you get? Grinders! A book that’s an all-around treat to read.

Although this was my first foray into cyberpunk, I must say I thoroughly enjoyed the trip. I felt as though I were doing a “country bumpkin” walk through this futuristic cityscape, my mouth hanging open every step of the way. I highly recommend you take that walk, too. You’ll be glad you did.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

A small selection of other books by C.S. Boyack

 Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

AndAmazon UK

Read more reviews and follow C.S. Boyack:  Goodreads

Connect to Craig via his blog: Cold Hand Boyack

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope that you will be leaving with some books under your arm.. thanks Sally.


Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Easter Parade Blog Party April 11th/12th 2020 – #Flashback Photos, food and music

This Easter most of us will be in isolation from family and friends and I know how tough that can be. However, as planned the Easter Parade will go ahead and I hope that you will join me over the two days.

Apart from an opportunity to share your blog and books, it is also a chance to meet others who will be featured or who drop in.

There will be food provided as always and something to drink as well as a bit of music. Since the theme is ‘Flashback’ – the music will be from the 1960s – 1980s

Just to make it a little interesting ……..I would like you to participate by sharing a ‘Flashback’ photograph of you from the 1960s – 1980s and suggest a song from the same period.

This is me in 1978 during my composing and song writing phase, recording a tape to be sent off to record producers….I am still waiting for a response!

What I need from you…

A favourite song from the 1960s – 1980s.. and if possible the link from YouTube and a photograph of you from that era (If you were not born then you can send a photo of you as a teenager)

If you have been featured on the blog before I will have all your information and links.

If you are new to the blog then I will need your blog link and one for Amazon if you are an author.

You can email me with your photograph to – it will be first come first served so get them to me as soon as possible.

And to get you in the mood….The King…Elvis Presley from 1968

Thanks to Jimmy Cool

Look forward to hearing from you… thanks Sally.

Priyanshi shah

Architect,Thinker and Dreamer.

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