Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Potluck – Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race (2018) by Lee

This is the final post from the archives of Lee who writes for her blog Woeful to Froful, where she shares about hair and skincare, beauty, positive thinking and music. This is from Lee’s second blog and I believe a great way to finish her series of posts. I went to South Africa at age 10 and went to a local school for two years. I found it very difficult to separate who could be my friend and who could not based on their colour. I still do. We lived in Liverpool during the Toxteth riots and were saddened by the violence that fractured so many families and lives. Lee shares a very balanced view of the subject and I am sure you will think so too.

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This is not a book review as such, just a reaction to a piece of work that unexpectedly moved me.

I will admit that the amount of reading I’ve been doing over the last few years has been quite woeful considering I call myself a writer. I read more as an enthusiastic 10-year-old than I do now as a down trodden, full-time working, mum of three.

It doesn’t happen very often but on a rare occasion, I’m actually able to go out. Crazy! Adult time…away from the kids. It’s almost like a mythical being that only 2 people have ever seen. Like a yeti. Going out for a parent of a young family is like spotting a yeti. But on a recent occasion of being able to go out, I went with a friend to watch Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie and Reni Eddo-Lodge speak.

I was introduced to Reni’s book that night and I promptly borrowed it from a friend. I knew I would find the time to read it, holding onto it until I went away on a friend’s hen do.

The plan was to read it on the train journey to Liverpool, on the plane to Marbella and lounging by the pool. It’s probably not the usual pool side reading but I knew I needed to read this book. And I did. I devoured it in 2 sittings, it didn’t even make it to Spain.

I can say that when I did read voraciously, I didn’t read critical works, I am a fiction gal through and through. But reading this book about feminism, race and all the issues that creates and encompasses, I feel richer for it. It was enjoyable and informative and it hit much closer to home than expected.

I am someone who is lucky enough to say as a black woman, that I’ve had very few encounters with explicit racism. A type of privilege, I suppose. I know that there are forces against me that I will never see, the things that are embedded in society, within our British culture, a term I now know as structural racism (rather than institutional). I believe I have been faced with the more subtle forms racism can take though.

And that’s the thing with this book. It’s thoroughly British. Like Eddo-Lodge says, British children are well aware of the Civil Rights movement in the US, MLK, Rosa, Harriet. But what do we know of our own BLACK British history. It’s something that is sorely neglected on TV and in schools, although if you have a chance to watch David Olusoga’s “Black And British: A Forgotten History,” your eyes will be opened as mine were to stories I couldn’t have even imagined. I was shocked about how entrenched we as people are in British history and that it’s not just a legacy from slavery. We are not a recent addition.

As I come from Liverpool originally, I was well aware that I was being brought up in one of the biggest former slave ports in the country. It’s a beautiful city with some not so beautiful periods in its past. Nowadays, to me it feels like a real cultural melting pot in comparison to the town where I live now. That’s a legacy of Liverpool being a port.

I also remember noticing how many interracial families there were around and never batted an eyelid. It seemed completely normal to me. Liverpool is a truly metropolitan city.

But there was a term I knew as a chid which I always knew was wrong, “half-caste.” I just never realised its actual origins were based on a statistical social study conducted about mixed race families in my home city post-slavery. This was a section of the book that resonated with me quite strongly since I have a white husband and biracial children.

And that was something that just kept hitting me as I read, especially the first chapter, “Histories.” Just how close this is to me. Not just the mentions of Liverpool, the Toxteth riots just down the road from where I grew up a few years before I was born, but mentions of London and Handsworth in Birmingham, all places I have or have had family.

My eyes have een opened to issues that I suppose I wilfully ignored in the past until they were actually a direct problem for me. There wasn’t anything in the book that if it hasn’t happened to me, it’s happened to family members around me.

And the subject matter is made even more relevant by the fact that my mother and her siblings came to this country near the end of the Windrush in the 1960s. Something that’s making the headlines due to the way those citizens are being treated now. My Dad came over in the 1970s, and I’ve heard over the years the odd snippet of history from them of the issues they faced.

For my Mum, working as a nurse as it was one of the few professions open to her. Which makes sense as you will notice to this day that a lot of health workers in this country are not white and many that are white, aren’t British. How my Dad and his friend, instead of running from a group of skinheads, stupidly or valiantly confronted them, most likely buoyed by youthful arrogance and somehow gained the upper hand. He obviously lived to tell the tale.

Lodge, who is slightly younger than me, seems to be a version of me, but amped up by a level of activism I never contemplated before. She found her activism at university while I just got drunk! The book is a must read for both black and white people, a way for both sides to express and understand the playing field of the world. I especially strongly recommend it for anyone who stands strong and proud and claims to be a feminist.

The night I saw Chimamanda and Reni talk, I felt more connected with my blackness and my place in the world. Seeing intelligent and educated black women speak on the issues that matter to us. And reading this book, I feel like I understand where I fit better. As I grow as a person who feels empowered in the way I look and feel about myself, reading this has made me realise that I must feel empowered AND act when it comes to issues of feminism and race.

I let my polite British demeanour stop me from speaking up way too much in case it creates awkwardness or animosity. Stupid, really. I need to find my own style of combatting the little issues around me and hopefully a ripple effect will be created and in my own small way will have helped with the wider issues.

I returned the book to my friend but I will be looking at purchasing my own copy as I enjoyed it so much. I will read this again, I have to as a reminder of what my obligations are to the world and myself.

xx woeful writes xx

©Lee Woeful Writes 2018

About Lee

My name is Lee and welcome to my little written corner of the world. You’ll find posts on here about haircare, skincare, beauty, positive thinking and my favourite songs. Stick around, read a bit, leave a comment, hey, why not join me on your favourite social media to keep up to date with blog goings on!

Connect to Lee

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My thanks to Lee for allowing me to share posts from her archives and I hope you will head over and enjoy browsing them yourselves.. thanks Sally.


Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Potluck #Astrology Born A Libra Under Venus (2018) – Valentina Cirasola- Interior Designer

This is the final post from author and designer, Valentina Cirasola who has three blogs all under the same roof to enjoy.Friday Fashion Blog   Home Designs Master Blog and The Good Life Blog. I have chosen this post because my mother was a Libra born on October 5th and I am sure several of you will have your birthdays in the coming month.

#Astrology Born A Libra Under Venus (2018) – Valentina Cirasola- Interior Designer

Planet Venus the lover and planet Uranium the visionary passed over me the instant I came out in the light and in this world. Ever since my life has been a colorful succession of events. Venus seduces me in every moment of the day with beauty and Uranium shows me the path. I was gifted with many talents that I have successfully blended into my profession, but the intention of my planets was to keep them hidden for my enjoyment, instead, I made a business from all them. The projection of how people see me is incredible, but they don’t realize, I must work twice as hard to be credible and be taken seriously.

(Photo: – Artist: Kisslilly)

A Libra like myself has powerful emotions and knows how to control them. Libra people are attracted intensely by people who share our same love of beauty, otherwise, we totally ignore them.

Being ruled by Venus, a Libra seeks peace, harmony, and balance, three keywords I use as the foundation to build a stylish home or a wardrobe.

The charge of a Libra is positive, that always reflects in the work I do. In fact, I think my home interiors seem happier, more colorful, less structured than others, but always harmoniously balanced. The characteristic of a Libra is to balance, unfortunately, aside from the preoccupation of having everything always perfect, we tend to put on the scale even people and situations, when they don’t meet our criterion, we let them off the scale.

Libra belongs to the element air, it is the sign of ethics, logic, and justice, prefers laws that work and that everybody respects, rather than living in a freestyle society, where rules don’t matter. That same ethics establishes the foundation of our life, we thrive on long-lasting relationships with friends and loved ones.

A few famous people were born on the day I was born as a Libra.
October 22, 1811 – Franz Liszt Composer
October 22, 1917 – Margot Fontaine Dancer
October 22, 1942 – Annette Funicello

(Photo above:

The color of a Libra come from lapis lazuli, amethyst, clear quartz. The sun enters Libra on or around September 23, the day of the autumnal equinox. Even though the colors of Libra gravitate around a blue palette, there is a lot positive predisposition towards the warm colors of Autumn, especially orange and the yellow. The walls of my bedroom are a pretty blue ocean, the morning sunrays reverberating on the walls gives me a feeling of a big hug from the Universe and my day starts in a positive way.

This brief description will help you understand someone you might know in the Libra sign. If you give them a gift, remember their colors, if you live with a Libra person, also remember they like order. Keep in mind they are loyal people, when they get hurt, are very clever hiding their feelings. Ciao, Valentina –

Copyright © 2018 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

About the book

This book is a travel narrative of one trip To Puglia I organized with American friends and curious travelers willing to explore, learn, experience, taste and dream in a land they had never visited before and in a language totally foreign to them. A wheel of new emotions opened up before their eyes, they tried food didn’t even know existed, learned to cook in ancient kitchens; they learned to appreciate the nightlife, learned to live without phones, watches and technologies; copied Italian fashion, learned about traditions, rituals, country and folk celebrations; they all tried to learn local dialects and some succeeded well. Their perspective to life was forever changed.

One of the reviews for the book

Teagan  5.0 out of 5 stars Sparklingly Atmospheric January 6, 2019

I received this book as a gift. It’s a delightful collection of travel notes. The author’s sparkling personality is evident. The travelogue feels like warmly told tales. It truly is a treat. The author lets you experience the warmth, beauty, and “romance” of less famous parts of Italy, as via her descriptions and photographs, she takes you with her on the adventure she lived. Through this book you can visit an Italy you probably never knew existed. Ciao!

Read the reviews and buy the book in Kindle and Paperback:

And Amazon UK:

Also by Valentina Cirasola

Paperbacks are available on Barnes and Noble

 Amazon US:

and Amazon UK:

About Valentina Cirasola

I am Valentina, Italian born, my hometown is Bari the capital of Puglia region. I was born into a family of artists, designers and food connoisseurs. When I moved away from my family and started to cook for myself out of necessity, it was as if by miracle, all those years watching, eating and tasting translated into doing. I recalled the perfection how every dish was supposed to look and taste. Watching my family and eating good food every day, gave me the expertise of a professional chef. I had the first funny episode in my cooking life and the only one of this kind: once, I cooked spaghetti without adding water in the pot and of course it was as if I had started firecrackers in my kitchen.

Today, living in America, among many things, I spread lightheartedness and joy, while passing my notions of good life and good health through eating real food. Through public speaking and appearances, I educate and inspire people to eat real food and think of cooking not as a chore but a fun moment of the day. Pour yourself a glass of wine, put on your favorite music or TV program and start cooking with joy, then set your table in a harmonious way, sit down and enjoy the product of your cooking whether there is a family or not eating with you. You are important and your soul will rejoice if you pay attention to it.

I am a passionate cook, avid reader, speak four languages and I trot the world. I also take interest in cuisines of the world and I am especially interested in food in the history. These are all the pleasurable parts of my life that have prompted me to start writing books.

However, my main profession is in interior designing with a special focus upon Kitchens. What a better designer than the ones who cook! My passions are showing up in every aspect of my life. I have been in business as a certified interior designer since 1990, working in my company Valentina Interiors & Designs and have served a variegated group of fun people in Europe and in the United States. To remodel homes and to turn unattractive spaces into castles is the specialty of my business, but to design kitchens and wine grottos is my love, as you can imagine. Those are the rooms of a home that make people feel good.

One of the most fundamental areas in people’s lives is the HOME. Home is where people return to relax; a place that props anyone up in time of crisis. It is the center of everything and a lot of the answers to questions of life are there. In simple words, I love to harmonize people’s lives by finding their excellence, creating their energy with colors and adding beauty, while designing their palates as well. I care that everyone deserves to live in beauty and harmony.

Previous the interior design business, I was a fashion designer and owned my Atelier Valentina from where I created original one of a kind fashion. Now, so many years later, I have incorporated fashion in my interior design business and create powerful personal images for high rollers professionals and people who care to look good for themselves first in every moment of the day.

I have loved my professions for so long and never have given signs of wanting to quit. My books are the reflections of my passions. Welcome to my world. Benvenuti nel mio mondo.

Connect to Valentina Cirasola


My thanks to Valentina for permitting me to share some posts from her archives and I hope that you will head over and explore her other posts. Thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Potluck #Poetry – Weltschmerz (2018) by Anne Copeland

This is the final post from the archives of Anne Copeland, writer of nonfiction articles, books, and poetry, as well as a mixed media and fiber artist. This post is a poem that sums up how I feel about the world at times. If it was not for the sanity and reality check of belonging to an exceptionally talented, supportive and generous blogging community.

pexels-Statue of Liberty


Weltschmerz (2018) by Anne Copeland

This is a state of depression or apathy caused by comparing the actual state of the world with an idealized state. – Merriam Webster Online Dictionary

One day
One Breath
One Moment
And it is all gone.
How did humanity
survive through the centuries
With so much destruction,
violence and hatred?
We keep learning geography,
spelling and math.
We learn how to write
and how to graph.
But we never seem to learn
how to appreciate
the moment.
How to be happy
where we are
with what we have,
or what we don’t have,
who we are,
and who we are not.

©Anne Copeland 2018

About the book

This book contains a collection of beautiful art, plus the personal stories of the 23 multi-talented contributors. The common thread through their lives is that each woman has overcome physical and other challenges to become a successful artist in the textile medium.

Many of these women have websites and sell their work through the Internet sites, while others sell in galleries, exhibits, or through their teaching. Some create to speak to political and other social issues, while others use their quilts to educate the public about their physical challenges. If you have dreamed of expressing your own creativity, this book will provide the inspiration you need

One of the reviews for the book

Leonore H. Dvorkin 5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, moving, and inspiring September 13, 2017

This is a beautiful, moving, and very inspiring book. Prior to reading it, I had little knowledge of this branch of art. Thus it was quite interesting to read about the methods the artists use, as well as to see some lovely examples of their art. Most meaningful to me, though, were the artists’ extremely moving and inspiring stories of all the (mainly) physical difficulties they have faced and still have to cope with. It certainly puts more minor physical difficulties and frustrations into perspective! I hope the book will reach the wide audience that it deserves. It would surely make a fine gift for anyone in your life with an interest in arts and crafts of any kind.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And Amazon UK:

Read more about Anne and her books on Smashwords:

About Anne Copeland

Anne Copeland was born in Fort Jay, New York, in 1941. She has lived with her significant other in Yucaipa, California since 2014. She holds two degrees, one in archeology and one in criminal justice. She is a professional writer of nonfiction articles, books, and poetry, as well as a mixed media and fiber artist.

I am an artist, and I don’t just like to create mixed media and fiber arts and interactive art; I love to read and write about it, and this is what I have pretty much done. Life should never be a bunch of apologies for what we wish we could have, would have, should have done. I am feeling very happy that I have done so many things in my lifetime and my writing has been the base for most all of it.

I am the Editor of a book filled with the writings of the lives of 23 physically challenged fiber artists: Artful Alchemy: Physically Challenged Fiber Artists Creating, and another called Pumpkin, Pumpkin: Folklore, History, Planting Care, and Good Eating

Connect to Anne


My thanks to Anne for allowing me to share posts from her archives and I hope you will head over to her blog to explore more recent posts. thanks Sally.


Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #PotLuck – Blogging A-Z Challenge (2018) – Antoinette Truglio Martin – P Is For Pastina

This is the final post of author Antoinette Truglio Martin who began blogging in 2018.. I am going to share four posts from her archives that were part of her A-Z challenge last year.  Since my downfall is and has always been food….I enjoyed browsing Antoinette’s challenge. Pasta is a favourite in our household.. and Antoinette has a story about Pastina…

“Welcome to my Blogging A-Z April 2018 Challenge. My theme is Food Stories Remembered because there is always a story when food is involved. I consider myself a good home cook with a great appetite for hearty food. I have witnessed the creation of favorite recipes in friends’ kitchens and have learned from the best—my mother, grandmother, and mother-in-law. Recipes may be included. I am remaining uncommitted on this because when I cook, I seldom measure. If you try any of my recipes, you are cooking at your own risk. Grab a glass of wine. Hope you’re hungry!”

Blogging A-Z Challenge (2018) – Antoinette Truglio Martin – P Is For Pastina

Pastina is a tiny star shaped pasta. It is cooked like rice whereby boiled water soaks into the pasta creating plump creamy stars. Add butter and a splash of milk, stir, and a perfect baby to granny lunch is ready. I had always known pastina to be a pantry staple.

My favorite memory of pastina was when I was seven years old. My mom had a permanent substitute gym teacher position. Her school was on a split session, so she was out the door before 7 a.m. and home by 1:30.

I was in second grade and my sister, Mary, was in first. My two younger sisters and baby brother stayed at home with Josie, our babysitter. Josie was a grandmotherly lady who wore a house dress and clicked her dentures between sentences. She was an efficient housekeeper and the kindest lady I had known outside of my family. We loved her.

Back then, kids walked to school. At lunchtime, Mary and I walked home. Our little sisters were already sitting around the kitchen table, and Billy Boy was strapped in the high chair. Josie stirred the milk in the pastina pot and ordered Mary and I to wash our hands. Josie dolloped each of us a cereal bowlful of pastina with a pat of butter on the top. Buttery warmth wafted into our noses.

“It’s hot girls,” warned Josie. She’d click her teeth and say, “Take a small scoop from the edge.” She would scrape an edge of pastina into a teaspoon spoon, blow gently, then fed it to the excited baby. Within minutes, my brother’s little hands and face was happily covered in stars.

Equipped with a full belly of pastina, Mary and I were ready to finish our afternoon at school. We’d kiss our little siblings goodbye. It was time for their naps. Josie wrapped Mary and I in a big hug then sent us on our way.

©Antoinette Truglio Martin 2018

About Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer

Antoinette Martin believed herself to be a healthy and sturdy woman—that is, until she received a Stage 1 breast cancer diagnosis. Cancer is scary enough for the brave, but for a wimp like Martin, it was downright terrifying. Martin had to swallow waves of nausea at the thought of her body being poisoned, and frequently fainted during blood draws and infusions. To add to her terror, cancer suddenly seemed to be all around her. In the months following her diagnosis, a colleague succumbed to cancer, and five of her friends were also diagnosed.

Though tempted, Martin knew she could not hide in bed for ten months. She had a devoted husband, daughters, and a tribe of friends and relations. Along with work responsibilities, there were graduations, anniversaries, and roller derby bouts to attend, not to mention a house to sell and a summer of beach-bumming to enjoy. In order to harness support without scaring herself or anyone else, she journaled her experiences and began to e-mail the people who loved her: the people she called My Everyone. She kept them informed and reminded all to ‘hug everyone you know’ at every opportunity. Reading the responses became her calming strategy. Ultimately, with the help of her community, Martin found the courage within herself to face cancer with perseverance and humor.

One of the reviews for the book

I had the good fortune to read parts of this wonderful memoir when I was in the same MFA program with Annette at Stony Brook. Returning to the completed manuscript holds extra joy as I read not only the remarkable journey of surviving breast cancer, but I also smiled with pride in seeing this book in print. Annette’s gregarious, kind, soul shows through on every page as she puts the “e” in epistolary writing, using emails with her “everyone” to chart the path and show the importance on our loved ones on such complicated trajectories. While I haven’t lived through a cancer diagnosis, I have been living with HIV for nearly half my life and I so appreciate the raw, throbbing honesty coupled with the (in my opinion) essential gallows humor needed to survive the unimaginable. I very much enjoyed this memoir and recommend it for anyone who wants a closer look at the strength of a woman forging forward into the unknown of disease, armed with her everyone, humor and determination to prevail. Brava!!

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Antoinette on Goodreads:

About Antoinette Truglio Martin

Antoinette Truglio Martin is a speech therapist and special education teacher by training but really wants to be a writer when she grows up. She has been collecting, writing, and fashioning stories forever. Over the years Antoinette had been a regular columnist in local periodicals and had several essays featured in newsletters and literary reviews. Her children’s picture book, Famous Seaweed Soup was published in 1993 (Albert Whitman Co.). Antoinette’s memoir, Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer (She Writes Press 2017), chronicles her first year battling breast cancer as a wimpy patient. She proudly holds an MFA in Creative Writing and Literature from Stony Brook/Southampton University (2016).

Connect to Antoinette.

Facebook author page:

My thanks to Antoinette for allowing me to share her posts from the archives and I hope you will head over to enjoy further. Thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from the Archives – #Potluck -Hugging the Dogs: Sharing My World 2015- Week 2 by Marilyn Armstrong

This is the final post from the archives of the eclectic blog of writer Marilyn Armstrong and I have selected this one from a series of posts in 2015 – Sharing my World.. being that I am a dog person (until I am adopted by cats from time to time) and I enjoy ice cream… and writing..I thought this was a great way to find out a little more about Marilyn.

Hugging the Dogs: Sharing My World 2015- Week 2 by Marilyn Armstrong


Are you a hugger or a non-hugger?

I came late to hugging. My family is not touchy-feely. They aren’t unfriendly, just more verbal than physical.

I hug, but only people to whom I feel especially close. And with whom I am very comfortable. Come to think of it, that category doesn’t include many people. But it does include the people who are the most important to me, on whom my world hangs.

What’s your favorite ice-cream flavor?

I don’t eat ice cream much, but I enjoy an occasional frozen yogurt. Strawberry is my favorite, but any fruit flavor is good. And vanilla. If I am going to have real ice cream, a good vanilla will win every time. How boring, eh?

Do you prefer exercising your mind or your body? How frequently do you do either?

Exercise physically has been less and less of an option. I’ve been sick so much of the time, recovering from surgery, etc. Now, between the heart issues, the arthritis, and of course it’s the middle of an icy New England winter. Good this blog keeps my brain from going all soft.

Marilyn photographer

Writing is my mental exercise, photography my artistic outlet. I haven’t done much shooting lately because it has been terribly, bitterly cold. Below zero kind of cold and today it’s warmer, but sleeting. My least favorite winter weather. It has turned the dogs yard into a sheet of ice. Fortunately, the roads are clear … but even a simple walk from the house to the car would be full of peril this time of year.

Are you more of a dog person or a cat person? Why?

We used to have cats. Then we had cats and ferrets. Then we had a cat and a dog, then two dogs. Then we had two dogs, no cats. Now we have four dogs, though technically, only two of them are ours. But as I look around me, we have three small ones on the sofa and the big furry guy on the floor in front of us.

Danger Dogs

I guess it’s dogs at this point. Not because I don’t like cats. I like them fine and if I had my druthers, I’d probably have horses. But horses don’t fit well in the house and definitely don’t do well on the sofa. So dogs it is. But who knows what the future holds?

©Images Marilyn Armstrong  2015.

How would you answer those questions.. please do in the comments..

About Marilyn Armstrong

I’m a blogging anarchist, a blogger without goals. A writer, photographer. I don’t have a primary focus nor do I want one. I have a lot of interests and write about whatever catches my attention or is most on my mind. Or in the news.

I’m a bit of a geek and I love my high-tech toys. I enjoy writing about computers and other high tech devices. Especially cameras!

Serendipity is about everything. What I think about. Read. Big and little stuff in my world. It’s what I hope you’ll like to read about. Think about. Laugh about. I will show you pictures of my home, my valley. I will do my best to capture the seasons and how sunlight filters through trees.

About the book

Fighting the of demons of an abusive childhood and having given up on traditional paths to personal salvation, Maggie decides to find her own path … by building a teepee in her back yard. It’s a peculiar route, but her goal is simple: offload the cargo of her past and move into a future, sans luggage. Armed with a draw knife and a sense of humor, she peels poles and paints canvas until winter passes and she is free.

One of the reviews for the book

Cordelia’s Mom 5.0 out of 5 stars Cordelia’s Mom Recommends January 11, 2016

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. I’ve been following Marilyn Armstrong’s blog “Serendipity” for a couple of years and figured any book written by her would be a winner. I wasn’t wrong. Admittedly, this book is hard to read in spots because it deals with Marilyn’s long-term struggle to exorcise the demons of her childhood and young adulthood. Throughout the book, she tries to forgive her father, and at times her mother, for the abuse she and her brother suffered. After surviving such a childhood, she was then beset by ill health. Many others would have simply given up at that point, but Marilyn fought her battles.

Years later, she decided to build a teepee so that her granddaughter could have a private place, but that teepee became Marilyn’s temple instead. I found myself rooting for her at each step of the construction of the teepee, which had become Marilyn’s symbol for inner peace. Marilyn also deals with her decision to leave the Jewish faith and convert to Christianity, a heavy subject indeed, but one she handles beautifully. I would definitely recommend this book – and should any producers be reading this review, can also envision it as a thought-provoking screenplay.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And on Amazon UK:

Find more reviews on Goodreads:

Connect to Marilyn


My thanks to Marilyn for allowing me access to her archives and I hope that you will head over to explore them further. Sally

Smorgasbord Posts From Your Archives #NewBloggers – #DogLovers – My Buddies by Pete Springer

This series of Posts from Your Archives is exclusively for blogs that are under a year old. It is an opportunity to meet new readers and to show off your writing skills.. All the details are in this post along with some tips on how to make your blog more reader friendly.

This is the second post from educator and author Pete Springer who began blogging in April this year. I am sure you will agree that he has made a fantastic start to his new project. I know how many of you are dog lovers, and this one is for you…

 My Buddies by Pete Springer

Jake and Lulu

I’ve been around dogs my whole life. We have raised all breeds and sizes. Over the years, I’ve lived with Pat, Smokey, Rusty, Oscar, Lady, Tango, and now Jake and Lulu. I have nothing against other animals, but I have always connected with dogs. The most appealing quality of dogs for me is their never-ending unconditional love. They aren’t prone to moodiness, tantrums, or giving the cold shoulder treatment the way that some people can.

We’ve raised our last three dogs since they were puppies. Having a puppy in some ways is like parenting a child. You give them love and discipline with the hope that they will grow up at some point. Just like some humans I know, a few of my dogs never quite reached full maturity.

Each dog I’ve lived with has had his/her own set of challenges. The only one we ever got from an animal shelter was Lady. She was a black lab mix and three years old (we think) when we got her. Labs are usually one of the most gentle and loving breeds, but she did not fit that profile. If ever there was a dog misnamed, it was Lady. Now that I think about it, she was the only dog we didn’t name.

My wife and I liked the idea of rescuing an unwanted dog from a shelter. One of the risks of adopting a shelter animal is that you don’t know the pet’s history. Lady was skittish around us at first. Was she mistreated when she was younger? After a short time, Lady bonded with us and was excellent around people. Unfortunately, when she was with other dogs, she became aggressive and psychotic.

After she attacked two dogs in separate incidents, we had to do something. She wasn’t playing rough with other animals; these were attacks with the intent to do serious harm. I’ve only owned sweet and loving dogs before, and this was the first time I ever felt nervous as a pet owner. We could not live with the threat of impending vet bills, lawsuits, and the fear of our dog doing extreme harm to somebody else’s pet.

I tried to return the dog to the shelter, but the owner claimed he had no room for it. We intended for Lady to be an inside/outside dog, but there was no way she could be outside unless she were in her pen. Since my wife and I both worked in the day, this meant getting up at dawn so she could get some exercise. I put Lady in the back of my pickup and drove to a place where I could get her on the leash. If she saw another dog, it was like a switch turned, and she became enraged throwing herself against the windows of the truck.

Despite my efforts to try to keep her away from other animals, we occasionally encountered another pet owner walking his dog. I remember one incident when I had Lady on a leash, and we met an elderly gentleman who was walking his poodle. At first, the man wanted the dogs to socialize and began to approach me. I warned him that my dog was not friendly with other animals, but he either didn’t hear me or assumed I was exaggerating. The guy wanted to talk, and we attempted to have a conversation. After a short time, I had to walk away; he probably thought I was antisocial. I’m a relatively strong man, but I had to do everything in my power and forcefully pulled the leash to keep Lady from attacking his unsuspecting pooch.

After that incident, I called the animal shelter again and begged the owner to take the dog back. Fortunately, this time he agreed. I felt sorry for Lady, but at least I no longer feared that she was going to maim or kill another animal on my watch.

Our current dogs are Jake and Lulu. They are healthy yellow labs weighing in around ninety pounds. Jake is seven, and Lulu is five. They may be reasonably close in age, but their personalities couldn’t be more distinct. If Jake were to set up a dating profile, it would read, likes—food and chasing the ball. Oh, did I mention food? The prospect of victuals drives everything in Jake’s behavior. Wow! Sounds a lot like me! No wonder I have such an attachment to him.

We have to remember not to ever leave food out on the counter. If we forget, there is a good chance that Jake will get it. He gets on his back legs and drags food from the countertops. Jake has a distinctive gait when stealing something. I may be reading in the living room, and I can tell from his quick dash across the floor in the kitchen that he has just taken a snack and is about to have a picnic under his favorite tree.

Jake has to be the smartest dog we’ve ever owned. He has reached the age where he naps a lot. (another similarity we share) He uses his keen sense of hearing to determine whether it’s worth his energy to get up. I am convinced that he has learned to discern the various sounds in the kitchen. If I grab a snack, Jake’s radar is activated. His sonar tracking device tells him, “Do not disturb,” when he hears me grabbing a piece of fruit or some carrots.

On the other hand, he can be at the other end of the house sleeping, and will magically awaken when he hears me going for the crackers or the peanut jar. He never begs, but he walks into the room and stares at me with the kind of laser focus that any strict teacher would admire. I know I probably shouldn’t feed him human snacks, but I have to smile thinking about this quirk.

Another thing that reflects Jake’s intelligence is his incredible memory. My wife and I take turns during the day throwing objects for the dogs to chase. We usually tire of the game before them. At some point, the game ends when one of us puts the ball out of sight and reach. One amazing thing about Jake is he will recall the exact cabinet in which we’ve stored the ball, frisbee, chew toy, etc. I may be walking through the house twenty-four hours later and find him staring at a closed drawer. He doesn’t whine like one might expect a dog to do when he wants something. Instead, he fixates on the location as if he is using telekinesis. It is so comical that I often begin laughing.

Like most pet owners, we have rules for the dogs. There are two couches in our home. The more expensive one is leather, and they know not to get on it. Then we have another sectional sofa in the family room that is known as “the dog couch.” They may get on this one when a sheet covers it. Despite daily brushing, the dogs shed a lot. The sheet prevents the hair from covering the couch. They understand and follow our rules about the sofas.

Jake tests the rules when it comes to our bed. Debbie, my wife, does not want the dogs on the bed. This is a reasonable expectation, but I have to admit that I have enabled Jake to break it on occasion. When Debbie is home, Jake knows better and stays off. I told you he was intelligent. When she is out with her friends or traveling, he becomes the teenager who decides to test the limits. I’ll get involved with something and forget about the dogs. Suddenly it occurs to me that I haven’t seen Jake in a while. I go to check on him, and many times he is fast asleep on the bed. He looks up at me with eyes that seem to say, “Do you need something?” I’m sorry, Debbie, but I find this hilarious.

Another skill he possesses is catching. I throw the tennis ball as hard as my sixty-year-old arm allows, and he will snag it more often than not. Some major league ballplayers would have a hard time keeping up with Jake, and they are using gloves instead of their mouths.

I’ve determined it is the act of chasing that gives him the most pleasure. He wants to get to the object before Lulu, but once he has it, he allows her to take it right out of his mouth. He seems to understand that this is one of the necessary steps to keep the game going. The dogs have figured out a way to make the game work that provides each with some satisfaction.

Here is the game that they have managed to organize on their own:

Step 1: (Insert any human here) _______________ throws a dog toy. Squeaky and bouncing objects are preferred, but the dogs will chase just about anything including socks or a chewed up frisbee that is one-tenth of its original size. It’s humorous to think they are so enthralled with a small piece of plastic.

Step 2: Race to see who can get the prized object first. Jake possesses a distinct advantage in snaring flying toys. He catches them 75% of the time. Lulu is in the below 5% range. It is much more likely to hit her in the nose or head. I try not to laugh at her, but that is a challenge. If the ball hits the ground, the odds even out. Lulu has reached the point of superior athletic ability, but Jake relies on his intelligence and plays the probabilities of where the object will go. For example, to amuse myself, I sometimes will throw a bouncing ball onto the roof. (It doesn’t take much to entertain me.) Lulu waits for it to come down, but Jake runs to a spot where he anticipates it will land.

Step 3: Lulu either gets to the toy or barks incessantly at Jake in frustration if he retrieves it first. She waits for the moment when he turns toward her and takes it away from him. He might turn his body away from her occasionally, but he doesn’t try very hard to prevent her from taking it away once he has it.

Step 4: Lulu prances around with the prized possession. Sometimes she pretends she is going to return it to the thrower and changes her mind and struts around some more. Her indecisiveness has the potential to end the game if we get tired of waiting for her to give it back. I think she is smart enough to understand this and eventually gets around to dropping the toy at the thrower’s feet.

The game ends when the person gets bored, or Lulu decides to lie down and keep the object. This system makes the game work, and each has a hand (make that a paw) in keeping the game going. Funny how things work in the world of dog hierarchy.

Sometimes when I’m messing around, (I imagine the dogs like playing with someone of similar mental ability.) I like to do little tests to measure their intelligence. Our house has two and a half bathrooms. The half bath is an odd setup because it has two doors. One door connects to the computer room and the other to the living room. (I know, having a bathroom next to a living room is pretty weird.) The bathroom is so small that I can reach both of the doors while on the toilet. Sometimes while I’m sitting, one of the dogs will show up with a ball. To amuse myself, (Once again, it doesn’t take much to entertain me.) I drop it outside the other door and then shut it to see what the dog will do. Jake, the crafty veteran, takes off before I’ve even dropped the ball and makes the loop to retrieve it. Lulu, not the sharpest tool in the shed, will sit and stare at the closed door for 5-10 seconds after the ball hits the ground. Suddenly, her light bulb goes off, (better late than never) and she sprints around to the other side.

Although Lulu is not the smartest dog, she has many other redeeming qualities. When it comes to sweet and loving dogs, Lulu is everybody’s friend. It feels good to be loved, and she always thumps her tail in excitement whenever we’re near. She also is one of the best watchdogs we’ve ever owned. That barking comes in handy sometimes. On Wednesday nights I have to remember to put out the garbage can. We have a dog door which connects our third garage (their bedroom) to the outside pen. When I’m taking out the trash, I can always count on Lulu’s greeting, regardless of the time. Since food is not involved, Jake remains sleeping soundly on his dog bed.

One of the risks of being a delivery driver is you are going to encounter dogs. Hopefully, the dogs are friendly and don’t interfere with a driver doing his/her job. Jake and Lulu have formed quite the relationship with our UPS driver. Go brown! Perhaps I should add this to Jake’s dating profile: (Enjoys men in uniform) These days I do a lot of typing at my computer, and the dogs are frequently in the house with us during the day now that we’re retired. When they hear the sound of the UPS driver’s truck, they run to greet him. Yes, they are friendly dogs, but they also know that food comes with these visits. At first, I was embarrassed when I realized they were climbing into the truck with him. “Hey, dogs. Didn’t your parents ever warn you about getting rides from strangers?” The first time it happened, I ran outside to gather my dogs, but the driver was enjoying himself too much. Someday I’m going to have to film this beautiful love story. Now, this has evolved into another routine for them:

Step 1: Wait for the sound of the UPS truck and spring into action.

Step 2: Climb into the truck with great enthusiasm in a most-friendly manner with lots of tail wagging and excitement.

Step 3: After the driver has completed the delivery, wait for the inevitable dog biscuits that their friend will provide them.

Step 4: (This is the highlight of the visit for the dogs and me.) Jump from the truck to pursue the dog biscuits that their friend has tossed from the open door. While they are tracking down their grub, the driver makes his quick getaway. The old diversion trick works every time.

Perhaps you think I am exaggerating for story effect, but I assure you that I’m not. The relationship between the UPS driver and the dogs has reached a whole new level. Sometimes he makes deliveries on the dead-end street behind our fence. One day we couldn’t figure out why our dogs were barking. The UPS driver (I have yet to learn his name, but it’s time that he met the parents.) also heard them carrying on and backed his truck down the street. He promptly tossed two dog biscuits over the fence and drove off. Is that sweet or what?

Two weeks ago, we drove up to the house (Jake and Lulu were in their pen.) and saw a package waiting for us on the front porch. Jake has a digestive problem that requires a specialized type of dog food. It wasn’t unusual to see the box there as we order his food every three weeks. There was one pleasant surprise on top of the package: two dog biscuits. “Just what are your intentions with our dogs, young man?” Too cute!!!

By now you can tell that our dogs are important to us. I guess I’ll leave you with this thought, “If you’re going to be my friend, then you’d better like dogs. They are part of the family.”

©Pete Springer 2019

About They Call Me Mom

Who Will You Inspire Today? Teachers face this challenge and responsibility each day, but in the process, the author discovers that his students can also have a profound influence on him. Pete Springer takes you on his memorable thirty-one-year journey in education as an elementary school teacher and offers the many valuable life and teaching lessons he learned along the way. Get ready to laugh out loud at some of the humorous and memorable experiences that all teachers face, feel inspired by the inherent goodness of children, and appreciate the importance of developing a sense of teamwork among the staff. Learn valuable tips for working with children, parents, fellow staff members, and administrators. This book is ideal for young teachers, but also a reminder to all educators of the importance and responsibility of being a role model. This book is a must-read for all new teachers and those teachers that need a reminder they are human! Mr. Springer educates others in his easy-to-read, story-like, first-hand manuscript. You will laugh, cry, and get motivated to be the best educator you can. After reading this, I have a better outlook on relationships with my colleagues and am reminded to savor every moment. -Tami Beall (Principal, Pine Hill School)

One of the reviews for the book

Bradley Livingston 5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring Story! February 2, 2019

I personally love this book. Peter Springer was my second grade teacher in my elementary school days and I have to say he was one of my favorites no doubt. You could tell that he truly valued the significance of early education. I can’t think of a single one of my friends that were not excited about going to Mr. Springers class everyday!

When I was informed that Mr. Springer was finishing his lifelong dream of developing a book to pass down his experiences, I knew I had to get a copy of the book. It was no surprise that the book was absolutely inspiring. Reading his book brought back some of those wonderful memories of growing up and being excited to go to school everyday. Peter Springer really has a way with kids and the story of how he found his passion for helping kids reach there dreams is a story that everyone must hear!

It is crucial to provide a foundation for kids to dream, learn, and grow. In this book, Peter Springer emphasizes how important it is to give kids this type of environment to ensure that they reach their dreams and goals in the future.

Peter Springer inspired me as well as many other students throughout the years. If you read his book and learn his story, I’m sure you will be inspired as well!

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And on Amazon UK:

Other buy links:

About Pete Springer

My name is Pete Springer. I taught elementary school for thirty-one years (grades 2-6) at Pine Hill School in Eureka, CA. Even though I retired over two years ago, my passion will always lie with supporting education, kids, and teachers.

When I came out of the teaching program many years ago, I realized how unprepared I was for what was in store for me in the classroom. My college education focused mostly on learning theory rather than the practical day-to-day challenges that all teachers face. Thankfully, I had some great mentors to lean on to help support me in the early part of my career.

I have made it my mission to pay it forward to the next generation of teachers. I was a master teacher to four student teachers, and I have several former students who are now teachers, including one who teaches at my former elementary school. That is pretty cool!

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My thanks to Pete for allowing me to access his archives posts and share them with you.. Please head over and explore Pete’s blog further.. thanks Sally.


Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Potluck – The Benefits of Having a Purpose in Life (2017) by Jim Borden

This is the third post from the archives of Jim Borden who blogs on ‘Borden’s Blather’ across a variety of topics. I have spoken to a number of people over the years who have reached their late 60s and early 70s and when asked what their defining purpose in life was, have said that there did not seem much point in having one at their time of life. Well I disagree as I think without a purpose in life, however many or few years there may be before you, would be very empty.  And this post from Jim reminds us all of what there is to life we might be missing out on.

The Benefits of Having a Purpose in Life (2017) by Jim Borden

(copyright World Economic Forum),

The Japanese have a great word Ikigai – which is thought to combine the Japanese words ikiru, meaning “to live”, and kai, meaning “the realization of what one hopes for”. Together these definitions create the concept of “a reason to live” or the idea of having a purpose in life.

While many people struggle to find what their purpose is in life (myself included), experts suggest reflecting on four simple questions:

  1. What do you love?
  2. What are you good at?
  3. What does the world need from you?
  4. What can you get paid for?

As you can see from the diagram at the top of the page (copyright World Economic Forum), when the answers to all of these questions intersect with each other) in the middle, that is where you will achieve ikigai.

There are four combinations of the four questions that only include three of the four circles. For example, looking at the diagram above, when you combine What are you good at? with What does the world need?, with What can you be paid for?” you are “comfortable but have feelings of emptiness.

According to Dan Buettner, an expert on Blue Zones, the areas of the world where people live longest, the concept of ikigai pervades the life of these islanders. Combined with a particular diet and support network of friends or “moai”, ikigai is helping people live longer on Okinawa as it gives them purpose.

But just knowing your ikigai is not enough — you must put your purpose into action, says Buettner. Researchers stress that ikigai can change with age.

And if trying to answer four questions seems like too much, Neil Pasricha, a Canadian entrepreneur, motivational speaker, and author (his newest book is The Happiness Equation suggests finding your purpose through his Saturday Morning Test. This entails contemplating your response to one question “What do you do on a Saturday morning when you have nothing to do?”

If I answer that with “sitting around reading”, it looks like I would satisfy the What do you love? What are you good at? What does the world need from you?. However, I likely won’t make any money from such a passive activity.

According to the diagram, such a choice would lead to delight and fullness, but with no wealth. Since I need to make a living, perhaps I should wait to ask myself that Saturday question again, in six years.

Here’s to all of you finding ikigai.

©Jim Borden 2017

About Jim Borden

Husband, dad, brother, uncle, nephew, friend, teacher, ex-swimmer, blogger, vegan, juggler, learner, introvert.

Now that I’ve reduced myself to a cultural stereotype (with a hat tip to Woody Allen), who am I when I take away all the labels?

This blog has given me a chance to think more deeply about many things, and to share those thoughts with the world (well at least a really tiny part of the world). And in sharing those thoughts, I’ve started to understand a little bit of who I am.

A 60-something guy trying to figure out the world, and his place in it.

Emerson’s words capture perfectly the kind of life I hope to live:

To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.

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My thanks to Jim for allowing me access to his archives and it would be great if you could head over and explore them further for yourself. Thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #PotLuck #Photography – Never Ending Quest for Food (2016) by Terri Webster Schrandt

This is the third post from the archives of author, fitness advocate and photographer Terri Webster Schrandt. I could not share some of Terri’s posts without including a photograph…. so whilst short this is also sweet, particularly as that is the favourite taste sensation of the subjects of the photograph.

Photography – Never Ending Quest for Food (2016) by Terri Webster Schrandt

Male hummer finding foodIf you are a bird watcher, you know that birds love to eat! Every day I delight in watching my hummingbird family enjoying their hourly quest for food.

The male is very brave and has been know to fly right up to me as I patiently wait for the right photo op!

Soon, the female joined him on the quest for their meals.

Hummingbirds on a quest for food

Not long after, a third, then fourth hummingbird appeared, entertaining me with their cavorting and competition for the feeder. Sadly, last May, I found two dead, featherless babies who had fallen from the nest. My theory is that the second set of birds are new babies, now juveniles.

These photos are included in the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge Quest. This was recently updated to be included for the WordPress Discover Challenge animal

Feel free to join these challenges any time!

©Terri Webster Schrandt 2016

About the Book

There is truth to the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words. As a blogger, are you weary of constantly hunting for images to illustrate the subject of your blog posts?

Perhaps you are a new blogger struggling to get more readers. Or a seasoned blogger continually seeking inspiration for quality blog posts.
This guidebook is designed to help you utilize your own images on your blog or website.

While free image sites abound, there are limitations to using so-called “free” images. Gone are the days when bloggers can innocently copy and paste an image from the web and paste it into their blog post.

What will you get out of this guide?

In each chapter I give easy but important tips for maximizing the use of images on your blog’s website and within each blog post.

Seven informative chapters walk you through–

  • the importance of using images;
  • the real dangers of using others’ copyrighted images;
  • easy ways to edit your images using free programs and apps;
  • building unending inspiration and content around your own images;
  • attracting readers with images used in quotations, blog link-ups, and other tools;
  • how social media sites link your images, and why you need them;
  • a list of image resources available.

After reading this short guidebook, you will want to grab your smart phone or inexpensive digital camera and start taking photos!

One of the recent reviews for the book

As a teacher author, I spend lots of time worrying about the legal and practical use of photos in my blogs (I have three of them). I’ve heard horror stories from efriends who ended up paying $thousands for photos they thought were free and ended up with someone’s copyright. Getting permissions and using public domain images–that’s the smart way to handle blog images but not as easy as it sounds. I have my own photographs but they usually look amateurish.

That’s why I picked up Terry Schrandt’s Better Blogging With Photography: How to Maximize Your Blog Using Your Own Images (Second Wind Leisure Publishing 2016). I use tons of pictures in blog posts, social media, and books I write. Making sure they’re all legal is a challenge. I know just enough about copyright law to worry that despite my best efforts, I’m breaking the law. Terry points out the solution is pretty simple: Make your own pictures.

The book starts by asking one simple question:

“Are you a new blogger struggling to get more readers? Are you a seasoned blogger continually seeking inspiration for quality blog posts? Do you feel there is something missing from your blog or website?”

She explains that any online writing goes better with pictures. Your blog must include the image that will attract an audience, make them look twice, and then announce it appealingly on social media platforms.

Here’s how Terry unpacks this (the chapter titles):

Why use images on your blog or website
How to curate and use your own images
Editing your images
How to use your images to generate blog ideas and readers
Cresting readership with your images
Photo-friendly social networking

A few of her suggestions I liked are (with quotes when taken directly from the book):

“I started taking photos of everything, just in case I needed it for a blog post.”
“…if you write a blog post with no images, you may as well not even bother to publish the post.”

“According to Katie Paul: ‘When I blog, I usually spend more time finding and formatting a photo than I do writing the post. I pay careful attention to my pictures because I know that 63% of social media is made up of images and engagement with images is…'”

“Why use your own images? Can you say ‘copyright infringement’?”

“Even posting the following so-called disclaimer on your blog is basically useless. ‘This blog claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted.'”

“Creative Commons sites do not guarantee that they have the right to give you permission to use the image at all. You are using the images at your own risk.”
A nice use of images is as background for quotations.
Good online image editors (both freemium) are PicMonkey and Canva.

I teach a lot of classes that touch on the legal and professional use of images online. The safest solution is to create your own. With a few adaptations, this book could be a text for those classes. As Terry says, “…a thousand words (in a blog post) are worth a picture!” 

 Read all the reviews and buy the book:

And on Amazon UK:

Find more reviews and follow Terri on Goodreads:

About Terri

My name is Terri Webster Schrandt and I blog about the fun things in life from my perspective. I take leisure very seriously because it involves one-third of our lives…really!

I am lucky to have an active lifestyle that involves windsurfing, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), camping, reading, writing, teaching, walking the dogs, traveling, and…

Most of my posts reflect my leisure places & spaces and my reactions to them. I share a variety of stories all related to a healthy leisure lifestyle.

I use all my own images for my posts and participate in several photography challenges.

My summer weekends are spent in the Sacramento delta windsurfing and stand-up paddling (SUP) with my husband of three years (we knew each other in high school and found each other on Facebook—read about that here).

WHY DO I BLOG? These are my goals:

The ultimate goal with this blog is to educate people about the importance of leisure, one blog post at a time!

I love photography and constantly take pics with my Lumix FZ-300 and my Samsung Galaxy mobile phone. Sharing these photos in posts and on Instagram is a much-loved hobby!

My ultimate goal? To continue to write and self-publish non-fiction e-books.

Connect to Terri


My thanks to Terri for allowing me to share some of the posts from her archives.. Please head over to her blog and explore further.. thanks Sally.



Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Potluck – 5 Medical Symptoms Named After Literary Characters (2017) by Patricia Furstenberg

This is the third post from the archives of author and poet, Patricia Furstenberg who as you can tell from some of her books is a dog lover. I love medical conditions.. not necessarily when afflicting me personally, but the causes, symptoms and treatments.. I know I need to get a life. However, some conditions have a literary origin….

5 Medical Symptoms Named After Literary Characters (2017) by Patricia Furstenberg

Fairy tales may be full of charm and enchantment but they certainly provide valuable lessons. Identifying oneself with heroes from literary works is a healthy stage in one’s childhood as children’s imagination is one of the ways in which Mother Nature protects them from the harsh realities of daily life.

The tricky part arises when adults find themselves tied up to literature, whether they like it or not, as several physical and mental disorders are named after literary characters. Here’s a look at five of them:

Sleeping Beauty Syndrome

Sleeping Beauty painting by Victor Gabriel Gilbert

This classic fairy tale, first told by Charles Perrault (17th century), retold by the Brothers Grimm (18th century) and made popular by Disney, is much loved by one generation after the other. The medical condition is also known as Rip Van Winkle Syndrome, after the title of a short story written by Washington Irving (19th century).

This condition is characterised by frequent episodes of hypersomnia and behavioural disturbances. Individual episodes last more than a week, but less than a month. A normal lifestyle is out of the question as these patients tend to be bedridden. Patients experience approximately 20 recurrent episodes during more than a decade. Unlike the fairy tale that borrowed its name, the condition seems to affect predominantly male patients (68 percent) worldwide. It is a very rare disease, occurring one in a million. The onset of the condition seems to follow a viral infection. There is no known cure yet.

2. Munchausen Syndrome

The Baron Munchausen, illustrated by Gottfried Franz.

One of my favourite stories as a child was that of The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen by German writer Rudolf Erich Raspe (1785), based on true stories of a real baron.

The medical condition itself has nothing to do with the social satire depicted in the fairy tale, but rather with a desperate call for sympathy. The patients suffering from Munchausen Syndrome are not sick, but fake the symptoms in front of family and doctors, often secretly injuring themselves to maintain the illusion of illness. The Munchausen Syndrome is a mental disorder caused by childhood trauma, poor self-esteem, emotional or personal disorders. More common in men than women, it is difficult to obtain accurate statistics because lying is very common with this illness.

3. Dorian Gray Syndrome (DGS)

Portrait Of Dorian Gray painting by Mercuralis

This medical condition is named after the classical story by Oscar Wilde in which the main character sells his soul to keep his youthful appearance and beauty until the very last moment of his life. The patient suffering from this condition will be overly preoccupied with keeping his/her young look and a “perfect” appearance.

Dysmorphophobia, or excessive dislike of a part of one’s body, will often manifest, therefore these patients will abuse cosmetic surgery to the point where depression sets in. In addition, they will often abuse weight-loss products, mood enhancers and even their gym membership card. A sufferer of DGS shouldn’t be taken lightly. Although a lack of self-esteem or a narcissistic personality might be the cause, the syndrome itself often conducts to physical disorders as well as causing social and mental health issues (depression, even suicide).

4. Othello Syndrome

The_Return of Othello, from Othello,_Act_II,_Scene_ii painting by Thomas Stothard

Named after the main character in the Shakespeare tragedy ‘Othello”, the patient affected by this malady lives with the constant obsession that their life partner is cheating on them. Psychiatrists John Todd and Kenneth Dewhurst were the first to name and study this mental disorder in 1955.

Within limits, jealousy is a normal human feeling. But when it leads to repeated interrogations of one’s partner, searches for nonexistent evidence, stalking, even violence, it becomes a “dangerous form of psychosis” (Todd).

The Othello Syndrome is believed to be caused by a stroke, a tumour, or some other injury, especially to the right frontal lobe but also by substance abuse like dopamine prescribed in the treatment of Parkinson disease. Alcoholism and cocaine abuse can also lead to the onset of Othello Syndrome. Not to be taken lightly, this syndrome can affect both men and women and it can lead to disruption of marriage, homicide or suicide.

5. Peter Pan Syndrome

Peter Pan

Named after the main character in the book with the same name by Scottish novelist and playwright J.M. Barrie, it was first made popular by Dr. Dan Kiley in 1983. This syndrome defines men who refuse to act like grown-ups and assume responsibilities. They prefer to live in a juvenile world, are enthusiastic and like to have fun, but never settle down in a relationship because they dislike restrictions. They lack decision making skills and the ability to assume responsibilities. To disguise this, they act overconfident and arrogant. Women found in the same situation are affected by the Wendy Syndrome.

These people, although having developed intellectually and having above average IQ’s, have not developed emotionally past adolescence. The main cause is, probably, a lack of affection during childhood. With the aid of psychotherapy these people can learn to overcome their fears, to assume responsibilities and lead a fulfilled, grown-up life. However, this is not a mental disorder. The Peter Pan Syndrome is closely linked to Carl Jung’s theory of “Puer Aeternus” (eternal boy).

A similar syndrome is the Huckleberry Finn Syndrome, named after the main character in the Mark Twain novel. Developing in children due to a feeling of being rejected by their parents, feeling inferior in school or due to depression, it seems to be a defense mechanism. It manifests by a desire to do anything but go to school; these children will waste their time on the streets or playing computer games. Moving into the grown-up stage of life, these children might be at risk of frequent job changing and absenteeism.

©Patricia Furstenberg 2017

Initially written and published on the Huffington Post SA 28 June 2017

About Silent Heroes

Silent Heroes’ is a highly emotional read, action-packed, a vivid story of enormous sacrifice and bravery.

*’Silent Heroes’ is the ideal read for the fans of ‘The Kite Runner’ and ‘Dear John’!*

When Talibans descends in the village of Nauzad and discover girls can read, a woman accepts the blame and is killed on the spot for breaking the Islam law. Her teenage daughter witnesses the sacrifice and swears revenge, her life and that of her brother becoming intertwined with those of the US Marines serving at FOB Day nearby. But the Taliban is infiltrated everywhere and friends or foes are hard to differentiate. The U.S. Marines fight with bravery to protect the civilians of Nauzad and to fend off the Taliban at Qala-e-Bost, thus protecting Bost Airport, a vital strategic point for the allies. Faced with questions about the necessity of the war, with the trauma of losing their platoon-mates and the emotional scars of battle, the US Marines race against time in one last battle of eradicating the Taliban before it is too late.

The War in Afghanistan is a contemporary, vitally important conflict whose meaning needs to be understood by the public worldwide. ‘Silent Heroes’ is a narrative about the value of life and the necessity of combat; the terror of dying; the ordeal of seeing your loved ones and your platoon-mates killed in front of your eyes; the trauma of taking a human life.

Read about very well trained MWDs, military working dogs, capable of detecting the smallest traces of explosives, working in the extreme weather condition environments, under the stressful battlefield situations that is the War in Afghanistan.

Smart and agile, at the end of the day what these dogs are looking forward to is the close bond they developed with their handlers, which call themselves the dog’s partners, brothers, daddies.

From the storyteller of the Bestseller “Joyful Trouble” comes a riveting, fictional account inspired by the War in Afghanistan, a battle that spanned centuries and has affected the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians.

“Light, knowledge, they bring the courage to look at the people around us, accepting them for what they are.”

“Do you ever think that history speaks of victors and captors, of battles and soldiers whose lives have been lost and history even counts them, but of the casualties on the civilian side?”

“When soldiers grieve, time takes a screenshot and a new star rises in the sky.”

One of the recent reviews for the book

Ms, Furstenberg’s concise yet sentimental style takes us through an emotional book. Her vivid descriptions, both physical and emotional, opened up my mind and my heart to the American soldier’s and the Afghanistan people’s turmoils. The book embraces the special relationship built between humans as well as soldiers with their canine partners who play a very important role. A silent role. Have you ever read about these wonderful dogs? I have not. I’ve read a lot about the situation in Afghanistan but her research delves into areas I wasn’t familiar with. The culture of this country is revealed by her words in such a way that made me enthralled by the citizens and appalled by the Taliban. Read it and be taken on a journey of brutality and humanity which left me feeling happy to be part of the human race. There is hope for a better world.

Head over and buy the book:

And on Amazon UK:

A small selection of books by Patricia Furstenberg

Read the reviews and buy the books:

And on Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Patricia on Goodreads:

About Patricia

Patricia Furstenberg is a multi-genre author, poetess and mother. With a medical degree behind her, Patricia is passionate about history, art, dogs and the human mind. “Silent Heroes” is her 13th book and her first contemporary fiction novel. So far Patricia wrote historical fiction, poetry and children’s books. All her books have one common denominator, dogs.

What fuels her is her fascination with words and coffee. She is the author of the bestseller Joyful Trouble and a prolific writer working on her next novel already, a historical fiction. Will it feature a dog as well? Only tme will tell. Patricia lives happily with her husband, children and dogs in sunny South Africa.

Connect to Patricia.

Author Blog:

My thanks to Patricia for allowing me to access her blog and to share some of the terrific posts with you and I hope you will head over and exlore her archives further. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Potluck #Recipe – Peach or blackberry cobbler: an American recipe by Ellen Hawley

This is the third post of author Ellen Hawley who has enjoyed a wonderfully varied career before leaving the United States to settle in Cornwall. We brought back several recipes from our time of living in Houston that we could not bear to leave behind. Desserts are an art in America.. and pumpkin pie is one that I have happy memories about. Here Ellen shares a recipe for another family favourite.

Recipe – Peach or blackberry cobbler: an American recipe by Ellen Hawley

One of the small joys of living in the U.K. is messing with British cooking. In the interest of which, I’d like to share an American recipe with you: peach (or blackberry if you prefer) cobbler. And if you live in the U.S., you’re still welcome to it.

I’m not actually from cobbler country. I’m a New Yorker by birth and a Minnesotan by I’m not sure what but whatever it was it lasted many long years. Wild Thing, however, is from Texas so over the years I’ve learned some Southern cooking. Not from her—the only things she likes to cook involve meat—but because it’s fun to feed her something she can get sentimental about.

cobbler, eddie 006

The recipe’s is adapted from Trilla Pando’s collection of recipes and interviews, Stirring up memories all the time, which I can’t find online anywhere, new or used, or I’d give you a link. I’d tell you how good the book is, but it would be cruel.

I am, as anyone who’s been reading Notes for a while knows, hopeless with numbers and thoroughly unsystematic, so you’ll find a certain, um, flexibility in some of the measurements. If that worries you, remember that the recipe has survived my numerical incompetence, so it should survive almost anything you can do to it. Except maybe tossing in a half pound of bacon, or some coffee grounds.

A warning: This cobbler (assuming you leave out the bacon and the coffee grounds) has a way of disappearing quickly—it really is good—and I’ve tried doubling the recipe and baking it in a larger dish, but the center never baked through. If you’re going to double it, use two smaller pans.

Peach or blackberry cobbler

  • 4 cups of fruit (or a bit more; I always add more; if you’re using peaches, it’s about 7)
  • 1 to 1½ cups sugar, divided
  • 2 to 4 ounces butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ cup milk (whole or 2%, which is called semi-skimmed in the U.K.)


Heat the oven to 350 F. That’s more or less 175 c. Don’t worry about it–it’s close enough. Set a square baking dish (anywhere between 8” and 9” square will do) inside it to heat.

The original recipe has you sprinkle ½ a cup of sugar on the fruit and set it aside for half an hour or so. I don’t bother. It’s sweet enough already. So if you leave that out, you’ll only need a single cup of sugar. If you’re using peaches, slice or chop them. Melt the butter. Sift the dry ingredients together, or measure them out and use a whisk to mix them. As far as I can tell, the whisk works just as well as sifting.

Pour the butter into the baking dish once it’s hot, then convince the batter in on top of it. It’s thick, so this is awkward, but spread it around as best you can. Then spread the fruit on top of that. The batter will rise up through the fruit as if bakes.

Bake for 50 minutes or until the center’s set. Test it with a knife to make sure it’s fully set. If it isn’t, toss it back in the oven (okay, okay, slide it back in the oven) until it is.

Serve plain or with cream or yogurt.

Trilla, if you’re reading this, thanks.

@Ellen Hawley 2015

About the Divorce Diet

“Food and love and loss and resilience . . . are Hawley’s recipe for a slyly entertaining and heartening novel” (Daniel Menaker, author of The Treatment).

Abigail is sure the only thing standing between her and happiness is the weight she gained along with her beloved new baby. Until she instantly loses 170 pounds of husband.

When Thad declares that “this whole marriage thing” is no longer working (after commenting about how she’s turning into a bit of a pudge), a shell-shocked Abigail takes her infant daughter, Rosie, and moves back to her parents’ house.

Thrown for a loop as a suddenly single new mom, she hunts for guidance in her latest weight-loss book, treating its author as her imaginary personal guru. But as Abigail follows the book’s advice, she begins to rediscover her love of cooking. Her diets have pushed her toward fat-free, joy-free foods, and her mother’s kitchen is filled with instant, frozen, and artificially flavored fare. It’s time for Abigail to indulge her own tastes—and write her own recipe for a good life . . .

Bitingly funny and wise, with bonus recipes included, this novel is an ode to food and self-discovery for any woman who’s ever walked away from a relationship—or a diet—to find what true satisfaction is all about.

“Revenge is sweet. Reinventing yourself . . . is even sweeter.” —Cathy Lamb, author of If You Could See What I See

One of the reviews for the book

The style of this book seems simple and repetitive at first glance, but I was never bored. The style put me into the reality of Abigail as she goes through having been rejected by her husband and dealing with her new situation. The humor sprinkled in liberally made me laugh out loud more than any book I can recall. I knew from the author’s blog that I enjoy her humor, and I was not let down with this book. The style is very different and very good for this story. It leads the reader through this time of change with the crazy thoughts, the fears and trials, and the tenderness of love that holds her together. I felt it along with her.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And Amazon UK:

Also by Ellen Hawley

Read the reviews and buy the books:

And Amazon UK:

Also available at Barnes & Noble:

Read more reviews and follow Ellen on Goodreads:

About Ellen Hawley

Ellen Hawley has worked as an editor and copy editor, a talk-show host, a cab driver, a waitress, a janitor, an assembler, a file clerk, and for four panic-filled hours, a receptionist. She has also taught creative writing. She was born and raised in New York, lived in Minnesota for many long, cold winters, and now lives in Cornwall, U.K.

Connect to Ellen


My thanks to Ellen for allowing me to access her archives and share with you. Many more posts to enjoy on her blog. Thanks Sally.