Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Potluck – Serious poetry is art but is it too elitist? 2013 by Joy Lennick

Welcome to the  Posts from Your Archives, where bloggers put their trust in me. In this series, I dive into a blogger’s archives and select four posts to share here to my audience.

If you would like to know how it works here is the original post:

This is the last of the posts this series, from the archives of author and poet Joy Lennick, although certainly not the first post that we have enjoyed here on Smorgasbord from this entertaining writer. This post by Joy, written in 2013 is on the subject of poetry and explores the distinctions between what is considered serious poetry and that which is written by us mere mortals!

Serious poetry is art but is it too elitist? 2013 by Joy Lennick

While I personally know and have the utmost respect for Migel Jayasinghe and appreciate his intellectual mind and poetry tips, taste is subjective, whether one is reading poetry or a novel.

Unfortunately, not everyone lives on the higher plane more erudite folk occupy, and I have grown up in the knowledge that there are and always have been lesser and greater mortals and minds on our planet, and long may that be the case. Indeed, where would the world be without intellectuals!

However, it must be agreed that many of us, even those with the keenest desire to learn, assimilate and ingest knowledge, can only digest so much. And the point is, do us ‘others’ want to get bogged down in often dense, ‘difficult’ poetry that, even after three readings, remain a conundrum. Regardless of which level of poetry one aims to write or read, the subject is vast, especially for the really serious scholars, and this is where Migel scores.

However – while not quite the village idiot – my own intellect seems to hover somewhere in the middle…Loving words as I do, I am perfectly happy with that and enjoy writing fairly spontaneous, sometimes witty, sometimes serious poetry. That’s not to say that they all ‘just happen’ without thought – be they simple poems or those of a more complicated nature. However, while I always bow to the clever use of words – the poetry I mostly favour has a pleasing rhythm and musicality and either amuses, entertains or informs me.

While my particular poems, which are varied, may not satisfy the elitists or academics in our midst, I have had numerous poems published in newspapers, magazines, anthologies and in book form over the years, so they must have appealed to someone. I dislike distinct ‘divisions’ – after all we share this unique planet whatever bright or low wattage our brains transmit and should all try to work together to make it a better, happier place to live – but it cannot be denied that there are intellectual divisions. When it comes down to it, it’s a bit like an intellectual teaching a dog to dance. The dog may be able to master quite a few steps, but he will never manage the tango. More’s the pity…

Fully aware that we are all as different as night is to day and tastes vary enormously, there is a need and room for IT ALL. But heaven save me from having to constantly thumb through a dictionary (or ‘ask Google’) while I’m dissecting a dense poem! Viva la difference!

Sally here:  On that note here is a poem also written in 2013 that has all the right words in the right order for me…..I watched with shock and horror on that day in 2001, thinking that it was a very strange time of day to be showing a war movie… all around the world people still remember..

Anyone who cares about humanity – and there are, fortunately, billions of people who do – couldn’t fail to be horrified by the terrible acts of terrorism which happened in New York on that dreadful September day in 2001. To all survivors, families and friends of those affected, take heart that many people really do care, and still remember. My own ‘unbelieving’ reaction was to write the following poem”:Joy Lennick

THE AFTERMATH OF 9/11 by Joy Lennick

Long after eulogies have been said;
guilt and recriminations have been put to bed –
cherished memories float on battered minds
that lift the spirit, and a kind
of healing process then begins.
Dry-eyed: the well is spent –
a limerick is found…
a loving note he meant to send.
A breeze-born waft of jasmine
and she is there…
A burnished copper leaf
reminds you of her hair.
A favourite walk, café, a tune…
memories held so dear.
You pray that time will not prune
too much and leave the futile fear
that one day, the memory of their
earthly presence will all but disappear.

©Joy Lennick 2013.

About Joy Lennick

Having worn several hats in my life: wife, mum, secretary, shop-keeper, hotelier; my favourite is the multi-coloured author’s creation. I am an eclectic writer: diary, articles, poetry, short stories and five books. Two books were factual, the third as biographer: HURRICANE HALSEY (a true sea adventure), fourth my Memoir MY GENTLE WAR and my current fiction novel is THE CATALYST. Plenty more simmering…

A selection of books by Joy Lennick

One of the reviews for My Gentle War

I found this book totally enchanting, not just for the way it was written (which was completely original being unfettered by any rules on writing and therefore delivered with great feeling). It evoked some long lost memories from my childhood, of family forgotten or misplaced by faulty memory. I thought of my grandmother clasping a homemade loaf of bread under her arm, giving it a good buttering, then with a large bread knife, sawing it off and setting a ‘doorstep’ sized slice free for jam or honey to follow. I wasn’t born at the time of the war, which doesn’t spoil any of this account and although I know it from history books and oft heard tales, was not a good time to live through, yet I’m left thinking there was another side to these times, told here with great fondness. Sometimes I think we’ve lost a great deal for all our modern ways. This is a lovely book and worth a read. Pat McDonald British Crime Author.

Read the reviews and buy the books:

And on Amazon US:

Find all the books, read other reviews and follow Joy on Goodreads:

Connect to Joy


My thanks to Joy for permitting me to share more of her wonderful posts from her archives and I hope you will head over to enjoy many more…Thanks Sally.


Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives -#PotLuck #BookReview – Educated by Tara Westover Reviewed by Chuck Jackson

Welcome to the series of Posts from Your Archives, where bloggers put their trust in me. In this series, I dive into a blogger’s archives and select four posts to share here to my audience.

If you would like to know how it works here is the original post:

This is the final post for author Chuck Jackson and I have selected a book review that he wrote for Educated, a memoir by Tara Westover

Educated by Tara Westover Reviewed by Chuck Jackson

“If [J. D.] Vance’s memoir offered street-heroin-grade drama, [Tara] Westover’s is carfentanil, the stuff that tranquilizes elephants. The extremity of Westover’s upbringing emerges gradually through her telling, which only makes the telling more alluring and harrowing. . . . By the end, Westover has somehow managed not only to capture her unsurpassable exceptional upbringing, but to make her current situation seem not so exceptional at all, and resonant for many others.”The New York Times Book Review

When a book makes the New York Times Best Seller, I take notice. I don’t have the opportunity to read all best sellers, but they are on my ‘to be read list.’ If you are an author or blogger, you know reading is one of the best ways to enhance your writing. Experts tell us to read books within our genre. I’ve read and reviewed several memoirs and Educated ranks high on my list.

All three of my books are memoirs, yet I list one of them as fiction based on real-life events. My memoir What Did I Do?, is the account of the abuse I received as a child. There were so many times while reading Educated, I could relate to Tara Westover’s emotional state because of similar abuse. Her feeling of helplessness and confusion as to the reality of the world around her was familiar feelings for me.

I was shocked that in the ’90s children in America could be raised in a societary vacuum. How did children not have some birth records? How did a family go unchallenged for keeping their children from schools? How did their family and neighbors allow the abuse without intervention?

Unfortunately, child abuse proliferates today as it did when I was a child. My family, neighbors, and teachers turned their heads to my abuse and refused to intervene. It is not difficult for me to understand Tara Westover’s narcissistic father and how he controlled his family. I found it difficult to comprehend how someone known in their community could be as anti-establishment and radically religious as the Westover family and not bring intervention from the authorities. How did Tara’s brothers sustain the severity of injury without medical treatment and not have law enforcement investigate?

I remember my struggles of guilt when I left home. I remember the confusion of what was reality and how my parents explained it was their duty to teach me right from wrong. They called it ‘tough love,’ and it was to prepare me for adulthood.

Tara Westover in Educated felt sinful when she turned against the teachings of her father. She felt her faith challenged if she sought medical attention. She felt insecure and unworthy of success when she began her separation from the family and initiated her education. I wanted to scream at her when individuals offered assistance, and she felt it was wrong to accept it.

The story in itself was captivating, but the writing style and expertise of Ms. Westover was an enlightenment for me. Her ability to draw the reader into the emotional reality of her world kept me turning pages. I kept recognizing the proficiency of using the senses ‘to show and not tell’ with her writing. However, she does have a doctorate from Cambridge.

When I read a book that touches the reality of my life, it becomes memorable. Tara’s challenge to overcome the low self-esteem and self-conscientiousness was a familiar feeling. Her determination to survive and break free from the oppressive family was exhilarating.

If you read books for entertainment, then Educated won’t be an enjoyable read. However, if true human interest stories with emotional highs and lows enthrall you, don’t miss reading this book. It has to be a top shelf memoir of our times.

© Chuck Jackson 2018

About Chuck Jackson

Chuck Jackson is a retired accountant living in South East Florida. He graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a BBA in Accounting. He spent the last 25 years of his career working as the Budget Manager for a Special District in Palm Beach County. He was a member of Government Finance Officer’s Association (GFOA) and Florida’s GFOA.

Since his retirement, Chuck has spent his years studying and enhancing his love for writing. In June 2016, he released his first book: One Month, 20 Days, and a Wake-Up. In July 2017 he released: What Did I Do?. May 2018 he released: Guilt — My Companion. All three books are available as an e-book or paperback.

Books by Chuck Jackson

One of the reviews for Guilt- My Companion

I happen to know Chuck Jackson, and I consider him a fine man and a wonderful friend. How he has turned out so well with the traumas and betrayals he has endured is a miracle. How he could even write this book is amazing. It is a page turner and reminds me of the book, UNBROKEN, by Laura Hillenbrand. It is difficult to imagine that a boy, growing into manhood could even survive what Chuck endured. Given the times we live in with abuse and harassment so pervasive, Guilt–My Companion, is a book of encouragement for those who are going through terrible times with a dysfunctional family, workplace abuse or especially for those who have been told they were worthless and won’t ever amount to anything. It is an account of suffering, struggle, hopelessness that turns out to be a story of a tough life with a beautiful outcome. Inspirational!

Read all the reviews and buy the books:

And Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Chuck on Goodreads:

Connect to Chuck Jackson

Website Blog:
Flipboard –

My thanks to Chuck for inviting me to share some posts from his archives. I hope you will head over and explore more yourself.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Potluck – Sunshine Blogger Award – An Opportunity to get to know Cathy Cade a little more.

This is the final post from retired librarian and author Cathy Cade, who has been blogging since early 2018. She shares posts on a variety of topics, including some excellent grammar and self-publishing tutorials. I thought that now you have been introduced to Cathy we might find out more about her in this post, where she was awarded the Sunshine Blogger Award.

I was surprised and delighted to be nominated for a Sunshine Blogger Award. Many thanks to Lily Pierce of  Retrospective Lily , which was one of the first blogs I discovered on my blogging journey. I never fail to be inspired by her positive attitude. The blogging tips are helpful too for us beginners.

The Sunshine Blogger Award is peer recognition for bloggers who inspire with positive, creative and motivational content.

Each nominee answers the interview-type questions set by their nominator and passes on the compliment to eleven of their favourite bloggers, setting eleven new questions for them to answer.
Sunshine Blogger Award

My answers to Lily’s questions…

1. Why did you start blogging?

Writing gurus recommend that wannabe writers build up a web presence before publishing anything. I prevaricated, having nothing to publish as yet. The catalyst for me was joining a local writing group, where I found myself line-editing for our first self-published anthology (plug alert: Where the Wild Winds Blow by the Whittlesey Wordsmiths).

Since I’d forgotten most of what I learned (it’s an age thing…) from a proofreading course I took in early retirement, my editing required research, which I shared with the group as blog posts.

To my surprise, I enjoyed writing these, and interacting with other bloggers.

2. What is your favorite blog post you’ve written and why?

That’s a difficult one. I’m enjoying the current Novice Self-publishing posts, partly because it’s helping me organise my thoughts before I get to grips with the next writing group anthology (A Following Wind, in case you’re interested). I’m also helping a member of the group to prepare a manuscript for publication, and this seems a good way to reprise what we’ve covered.

The post that affected me most was Leaving Us. I wrote it after our youngest dog died suddenly. There’s nothing in it to enlighten or entertain the reader, but writing it was cathartic. I later changed the whole thing into present tense (it was written in narrative), which was something of an experiment for me. I was never a fan of present tense in fiction, but it seemed to fit this post. I’m now more likely to consider this as an option when writing, so the post turned out to be instructive as well as therapeutic – if only to me.

3. How long do you edit or agonize over a post before you press “publish”?

I’m getting better about this, but however many times I re-read it, I’ll find more to change in the Preview screen, and maybe again after I’ve published. The worst case was when I published my post on apostrophes and found a grocer’s apostrophe in the emailed post – which had gone out to my followers.

Since then I put a break in my posts – when I remember – so the emails only contain the first paragraph or so .

4. Writers’ personalities are often different than their writing portrays. How would you describe your personality?


I hope that, as my confidence improves, I’m coming across as more like me, but I’m not sure I know who “me” is.

5. What is your favorite social media platform and why ?

I only use Facebook. It’s less foreign to me as I’ve used it to keep in touch with my family. Messenger is an instant way to communicate without phoning at inconvenient times, and it seems to get their attention quicker than text messages.

I finally got around to putting up a Facebook Page recently, but I keep posting on my normal account by mistake. Since my Followers are currently people I know anyway this is not yet a problem (note to self: must interact with more writers).

I did sign up to Twitter but life’s too short. Why spend all that effort thinking up bon mots for something that will disappear later today (and nobody will see anyway unless I build up an audience).

I signed up to Instagram and Pinterest but I rarely go there. WordPress takes as much time as I can spare. When would I find time to write?

6. If you are willing to share your social media links/handles, what are they? That’s it really.

I also post on Commaful at I enjoy playing with the pictures.

7. What tools do you use to “beef up” your blog?

All suggestions gratefully received.

I use free pics from Pexels, Pixabay, Unsplash and still have some credit left on Shutterstock from when I self-published The Year Before Christmas last year. (Free pics aren’t high enough resolution for a print publication). I downloaded Gimp around then (a free open source image editor). One day I will read the manual and learn how to use it properly for more than resizing.

I’m just getting into Canva, and there’s one video that I made on Flexclip, which was fun. I may try more of those.

8. What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned from blogging?

To stop prevaricating and get on with it. The world doesn’t end when I get it wrong. It’s been heartening to find how supportive the blogosphere is in general.

9. What advice would you give to a prospective/new blogger?

Visit other blogs and add your comments (it took me too long to start doing this). It builds your confidence and supports your fellow-blogger..

The blogging gurus will tell you to post frequently, but I have unsubscribed from several blogs because I got fed up with finding their posts in my inbox several times a day. If you are posting often, make sure it’s something people want to read.

Have patience. Building readership can be a slow process but, hey… who’s counting?.

10. Have you ever been nominated for and/or won other blogging awards?

No – this has been a lovely surprise. It’s validation that someone’s reading my ramblings. It doesn’t feel as if I’ve been blogging for long. (When I look at my list of posts there seem more than I remember writing.)

11. Are you satisfied with your blog’s progress?

Is anyone ever satisfied? I’m not in a hurry though; I’m not selling anything (yet). It’s all a learning curve.

And there is still a life to be lived offline, when I can find the time.

©Cathy Cade

Cathy published a book late last year and it would make a great gift for the younger members of the family – never too early to buy books for Christmas (there.. I have mentioned the C word!).

About The Year Before Christmas

Emmie the Elf, works hard, running errands and sweeping out reindeer stalls, but Santa’s newest helper still finds herself grounded on Christmas Eve. Can Emmie prove she’s capable of higher things in time for next Christmas

A review for the book

A lovely story, well written and illustrated.
An ideal read book to read with young children.

Available in print:

And Amazon US:

About Cathy Cade

After a career in libraries, I began writing in retirement and have had stories published by Scribble and Flash Fiction Magazine, and in the anthologies To Hull and Back Short Stories 2018 and Where the Wild Winds Blow from the Whittlesey Wordsmiths. My verse The Year Before Christmas, recounting the story of Emmie the elf, is available from Amazon and Smashwords.

I hope to publish a collection of my short stories later in 2019. Watch this space.

I live in the Cambridgeshire Fens most of the time, surrounded by flat but ever-changing fields. At other times I live across a garden fence from London’s historic Epping Forest.
please share

Connect to Cathy


Thanks to Cathy for permitting me to share posts from her archives and I hope you will head over there to discover more for yourselves.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Potluck – A Few of My Favorite Words 2017 by Elizabeth Gauffreau

This is the final post from the archives of author Elizabeth Gauffreau who has some wonderful posts, including an interesting look at her genealogy journey, seeking out her family history.

A Few of My Favorite Words 2017 by Elizabeth Gauffreau

Do you spend much time thinking about your favorite words, calling each one to the forefront of your mind so that you can explain to yourself once again just how much that word delights you and why? I tend to have these little reunions with my old friends when I’m driving to work in the morning.

Allow me to introduce you to a few of them.

Leonard Cohen

Lugubrious. Now, “lugubrious” is a fellow I love dearly, but I just can’t take him out in public. How I long for an opportunity to say, “I have a deep appreciation for the lugubrious musical stylings of the late poet-singer-song-writer Leonard Cohen,” but the opportunity never seems to present itself.

Family Photo

Pixilated. I was introduced to “pixilated” years ago in a work of regional fiction (Southern, I think, although it could have been New England). It was used to describe an eccentric old woman who behaved as though taking direction from pixies. I can’t imagine a more delightful way to live: charming and mischievous, with little thought given to responsibilities and no need to justify oneself. Unfortunately, I can never introduce “pixilated” into a conversation because she’ll always be mistaken for her homonym “pixelated,” what happens when your Netflix video starts breaking up.

Modality. “Modality” is one of those words that I am unable to take seriously because of the way it sounds. While I understand its place in the health care lexicon, I simply cannot say it with a straight face. I have to syllabicate it and put air quotes around it: “It is regrettable that the latest treatment ‘mo-‘dal-i-ty’ has had no salutary effect on her regrettable condition.”

Snark. I can appreciate “snark” because it connotes a certain agility of thought and facility with language that the simple passive aggression or petulance of its cousin “sarcasm” lacks. Think of Samuel Johnson’s description of poet Edward Young’s poems: “Young froths, and foams, and bubbles sometimes very vigorously; but we must not compare the noise made by your teakettle here with the roaring of the ocean.”1

Buffoon. Now, as insults go, few come better than “buffoon.” So much more elegant than [expletive not inserted]. By far, my favorite use of the word was by a former colleague to describe a dysfunctional department. He referred to the department as a “cadre of buffoons,” going so far as to label them as such on a flip chart! They had a certain cohesion and delineation of roles that enabled them to function as a group, but individually and collectively they were completely inept.

And I’ll end with “edification,” which is what the purpose of this post should have been but wasn’t.

1 Jack Lynch, ed., Samuel Johnson’s Insults: A Compendium of Snubs, Sneers, Slights, and Effronteries from the Eighteenth-Centry Master (New York: Levenger Press, 2004), 68.

Image of Leonard Cohen by Rama, Wikimedia Commons.

Image of Cover, Samuel Johnson’s Insults, Levenger Press.

©Elizabeth Gauffreau 2017

Perhaps you would like to share one or two of your favourite words in the comments…

About Telling Sonny

Forty-six-year-old FABY GAUTHIER keeps an abandoned family photograph album in her bottom bureau drawer. Also abandoned is a composition book of vaudeville show reviews, which she wrote when she was nineteen and Slim White, America’s self-proclaimed Favorite Hoofer (given name, LOUIS KITTELL), decided to take her along when he played the Small Time before thinking better of it four months later and sending her back home to Vermont on the train. Two weeks before the son she had with Louis is to be married, Faby learns that Louis has been killed in a single-car accident, an apparent suicide. Her first thought is that here is one more broken promise: Louis accepted SONNY’s invitation to the wedding readily, even enthusiastically, giving every assurance that he would be there, and now he wouldn’t be coming. An even greater indignity than the broken promise is that Louis’s family did not bother to notify Faby of his death until a week after the funeral took place. She doesn’t know how she can bring herself to tell Sonny he mattered so little in his father’s life he wasn’t even asked to his funeral…

One of the recent reviews for the book

Apr 05, 2019 Debbie Richard rated it Five Stars

In Elizabeth Gauffreau’s “Telling Sonny,” the strength of the characters is one of the irresistible aspects of this well-crafted novel. It was as if I stepped inside the book and was observing each character from a short distance, strolling with Faby through her neighborhood in Enosburg Falls, Vermont:

“…on every porch was a tin box for the milkman to leave milk, cream, butter, and eggs, with the occasional quart of buttermilk, for those who had a taste for it.”

“…halfway down the street, Mrs. Gibson’s house had gone unpainted since 1910, the year her husband died, the window shades pulled down, as though Mrs. Gibson couldn’t bear to look out and see that life on the street had gone on without him…”

Later, boarding the train in Vermont to travel the vaudeville circuit with Slim White, young Faby was leaving behind all that was familiar, her sister Josephine, Maman, Papa, and Maman Aurore, yet her adventure was just beginning. The landscapes she viewed from the train were as varied as each city they played. ”Telling Sonny” is an intriguing ride.

I missed Faby when the story ended as if I were saying goodbye to a new friend. I look forward to Elizabeth Gauffreau’s next book.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And on Amazon UK:

Read the reviews and follow Elizabeth on Goodreads:

About Elizabeth Gauffreau

Elizabeth Gauffreau holds a BA in English/Writing from Old Dominion University and an MA in English/Fiction Writing from the University of New Hampshire. Her fiction publications include short stories in Adelaide Literary Magazine, The Long Story, Soundings East, Ad Hoc Monadnock, Rio Grande Review, Blueline, Slow Trains, Hospital Drive, and Serving House Journal, among others. Her poetry has appeared in The Writing On The Wall, The Larcom Review, and Natural Bridge.

Liz grew up a child of the 1960s in northern New England before spending twenty years in the South as a Navy wife. After working for Granite State College in Concord, New Hampshire for eighteen years, she recently accepted a faculty position as Assistant Dean of Curriculum and Assessment at Champlain College Online in Burlington, Vermont. In addition to academic advising, teaching, and higher education administration, her professional background includes assessment of prior experiential learning for college credit.

Much of Liz’s fiction is inspired by her family history, and lately she has developed an interest in writing about her family’s genealogy. Learn about her attempts to stick to the facts of her family history at Liz lives in Nottingham, New Hampshire with her husband; their daughter has flown the nest to live in sunny California.

Connect to Elizabeth

Family History:

My thanks to Liz for permitting me to share posts from her archives and I encourage you to check both sites yourselves.. Your comments are always welcome… thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #PotLuck – #Weightloss #HealthyEating – 13 Tips I Learned Over The Last Year 2017 by Ritu Bhathal

This is the final post from the wonderfully varied archives of poet and author Ritu Bhathal. This week I have chosen the celebration and lessons learnt by Ritu when she lost two stone back in 2017… a great reminder of how you can lose weight healthily.

#Weightloss #HealthyEating – 13 Tips I Learned Over The Last Year 2017 by Ritu Bhathal

Well hello, Peeps!

I can’t believe that a year has passed since I decided to change a few things about my life, to lose weight. I set my target and my own little hashtag #icandothis, and went on my way!

52 weeks later, I am happier, healthier, and though not at the target I set myself, I am pleased with what I see in the mirror!

There are many articles and posts out there which will claim to give you miracle ways to lose weight.

I can’t do that, but as I have managed to successfully lose weight, and generally maintain the bulk of that loss, I think there are a few hints I can give, that would help anyone during their journey. As I said, I can’t promise anything, but I can support!

  1. Set yourself a realistic goal – This is so important. I started my journey convinced that I needed to lose two stones in order to be happy with myself. But I was also aware of the fact that, unless I lost limbs, two stone would take time to achieve, especially if I wanted to keep it off. A pound or two a week, slow and steady was what I aimed for. When I lost those two stone in total, I also realised it was too much, so I decided my goal and now have a realistic ideal weight to try and keep at!
  2. Try new things – Since starting Slimming World to aid my weight loss, I have been introduced to a few new things food-wise. Some are not exotic, but just items of food I previously turned my nose up at, such as prawns, fish and cottage cheese! Seriously, I had a big barrier up against them, but I decided to bite the bullet and try them because there are so many weight loss benefits to me opening up my food world. And I discovered Quark. What? You haven’t heard of Quark? It’s a mild soft cheese made from skimmed milk, so is fat-free. I have used it to make pancakes, as an addition to sauces to give them a creamy texture, and sweetened, used it like cream with fruit!
  3. Learn to recognise when you have reached your ‘enough’ level – Control your portion sizes. We sometimes fool ourselves into thinking we are hungrier than we actually are. Take a little less and leave some for later. You will often find that you didn’t need the extra anyway, and a bonus is that you have leftovers that are healthy and mean you don’t need to cook the next day!
  4. Batch cook – When you are planning your meals, you may find it easier to make large batches of certain dishes, which you can then portion up and freeze. This means that if you are feeling lazy, you always have a stash of healthy meals ready, and no excuse for reaching for the takeaway menus!
  5. Treat yourself before you reach breaking point on your cravings – When you are trying to cut out certain items, then you ‘slip’, that slip can be of epic proportions. I know. I have been so good for weeks, then eaten a whole large tub of Haagen Dazs ice cream, or a whole pack of biscuits. Then felt sick afterwards. I didn’t really need to, but the thought of eating these forbidden goodies, drove me to distraction! I ended up nibbling something naughty every day. A little treat meant I wasn’t denying myself, and I was able to control my cravings
  6. Try and weigh yourself every week at the same time – I have been pretty good at this every week. I know that I will be weighing in on a Friday morning. I go to the loo and stand on the scales before eating or drinking anything. I found that this regularity was most important. Having been one of those people who weighed themselves morning and night, every morning, I have seen how the natural fluctuations of your body reflect on your scales. If you are really serious about losing weight, seeing the ups and downs that happen can be disheartening, but the fact is, if you weigh your self regularly, at the same time, you will get a much better reflection of what your diet and lifestyle is doing to you, weight-wise.
  7. Present your meals well – if things look appetising, you’ll enjoy eating them more! If you follow me on Instagram ( @phantom_giggler ) you’ll see that I have taken to photographing my food. And I try to make every meal, no matter how simple, look good. It makes it taste better too!
  8. Add some physical activity to your day – A walk, an exercise class, a DVD at home; they all count! Whatever you do on an average day, try to add half an hour of heartbeat raising activity to it, and it will help to increase your fitness, and aid with any weight loss. I used my exercise bike, and even joined a dance class!
  9. Don’t beat yourself up if you have an off day – We all slip at some point. Really. It happens to the best of us. Instead of wallowing, and getting stuck in a rut of overeating again, whilst mourning that one off day, put a line under it. And start again the next day. It may mean a gain that week, but it will spur you on to do better the next week. Sometimes you know you will have an off period. It may be to do with a special occasion or a holiday you’re going on. Just remember, the eating habits of one day, or even a few, shouldn’t affect your whole journey if you know it is for just that period of time.
  10. Having someone to partner up with you on the journey helps – Not everyone is supportive, or understands why you are on your journey to change your health and weight. Some are pretty flippant about it and that flippancy can put you off even trying. But if you have a friend or family member who is going through the same thing, you can support and help each other, regardless of the views of others.
  11. Be strong – Sometimes, you are going to have to learn to say no. Or you have to stand by your guns and choose something to eat or drink that wouldn’t be your first choice. You need to envisage the new ‘you’ that is going to emerge, once you hit your target, and order that baked potato with no butter, instead of fries, or have a salad instead of a bowl of creamy pasta! In my case, it was saying no to the numerous takeaways that my Hubby Dearest was wanting to order, convinced he was helping me, by arranging food so I didn’t have to cook. That was probably one of the biggest factors in my weight gain, so I became very adept at using that No!
  12. Be accountable to someone – This was something that really spurred me on! And who was I accountable to? Obviously to myself, but the biggest other force was YOU! Knowing I had committed to posting about my journey every week meant I wanted to be posting good news to you all, instead of gains, and excuses as to why I slipped… again! And it helped me so much!
  13. Still know you can have fun! – This week, I am totally having fun. I am eating semi-healthy, but there are times I am totally letting go. If I want crisps, I will eat them, if that ice cream calls my name, I will answer. But I am relaxing. It is my break away. I know that as long as I stick to the tips above when I go back to normal life next week, I’ll be back on track. The odd gain here and there is to be expected, as long as it isn’t every week!

And there you have it, the 13 things that I learned over this last year! I do hope some of these tips helps any of you in the same situation as me!


©Ritut Bhathal 2017

What an amazing job… fabulous – Ritu was lovely before, but she looks stunning after all her hard work.

About Ritu Bhathal

Ritu Bhathal was born in Birmingham in the mid-1970’s to migrant parents, hailing from Kenya but with Indian origin. This colourful background has been a constant source of inspiration to her.

From childhood, she always enjoyed reading. This love of books is mostly credited to her mother. The joy of reading spurred her on to become creative in her own writing, from fiction to poetry. Winning little writing competitions at school and locally gave her the encouragement to continue writing.

As a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and teacher, she has drawn on inspiration from many avenues to create the poems that she writes.

A qualified teacher, having studied at Kingston University, she now deals with classes of children as a sideline to her writing!

Ritu also writes a blog, a mixture of life and creativity, thoughts and opinions, which was recently awarded The Best Overall Blog Award at the Annual Bloggers Bash Awards in 2017.

Ritu is happily married and living in Kent, with her Hubby Dearest, and two children, not forgetting the furbaby Sonu Singh. She is currently working on some short stories, and a novel, to be published in the near future.

About Poetic Rituals.

Delve into a book of verse exploring different topics and different genres, all with a RITUal twist.

A collection of poetry drawing on the experiences of the writer, ranging from matters of the heart, love for the family, situations in life and some verses written with a humorous twist.

One of the reviews for the collection

 Read all the reviews and buy the collection:

and other reviews on Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Ritu on Goodreads:

Connect to Ritu

Facebook page:

My thanks to Ritu for permitting me to dive into her archives to share with you. I hope you will head over and check them out for yourselves. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Potluck Nostalgia -Going Back to the Roots (2016)…Smitha Vishwanath

This is the third post from the archives of Smitha Vishwanath who shares poetry, wonderful travel posts and life experiences on her blog. This week I am sharing one of Smitha’s favourite posts about family and returning to her roots.

Nostalgia -Going Back to the Roots (2016)…Smitha Vishwanath

A 1978 file photo of my grandmother and me

Mangalore is a coastal city in the southwest of India. Coconut trees, paddy fields, buffalo races, temples, beaches, a life that moves at it’s own pace is what makes this place so different from the other cities in India. It was the only place I visited year after year, every summer holiday because it was where grandma lived. I don’t remember being bored or wanting anything else. I would look forward to these holidays with enthusiasm every year.

Grandma’s home had many, many rooms that could house the entire family at any point in time- uncles, aunts, cousins, their children.A home which had paddy fields at the back, the village school in the front and neighbors on both sides, who knew each other for generations.

Writing this post today, makes me nostalgic. I vividly remember loving every moment of my time there- right from the minute the flight hovered over the little airport built on a mountain top, to reaching home 16 kms away (though it always felt like a never-ending distance with the number of turns, bumpy roads and slow moving traffic). Stepping out of the airport, the tall coconut trees, the fresh country air, the smell of the earth after the rains, seemed to say that nothing had changed . The warm, humid air, the sound of “Kannada”, “Tulu”, “konkani” (languages spoken in Mangalore) were as welcoming as everything else (when one is away in a foreign land, the joy of hearing one’s language is unfathomable). I was home! Getting in to the car at the window seat, I would roll down the window, to take in the smell of salt and fish in the air, to feel the wind in my hair and the drops of rain that kissed my cheeks. Rickshaws, cycles, buses spilling with people, grazing cows, fishermen selling fish on the roadsides, fleeting sights that my little heart pined for. When the car approached ‘Pumpwell roundabout‘ my heart would beat faster. That meant grandma’s home was near. Another few kilometers on the road, passing by a temple built on a lowland , then two little hills on either side of the road and the final turn into the village in which Amma (that’s what I called my grandmother, that’s what my mother called her and it actually meant mother) lived. As the house came closer, I felt my heart would burst. It’s funny how I felt the very same feelings every holiday , every single time I went to granny’s house and though years have passed, that feeling remains the same; not dimmed by age or dulled by the experience of travelling far and wide. The car would screech to a halt at the gate and at the door would be Amma, eyes filled with love and the kindest of smiles.

Holidays were spent following Amma like a lamb… watching her grind the masalas for the day’s meal on a grinding stone (everybody in the village said Amma had magic in her hands; she could make the simplest of dishes special (she would close the windows and doors while the food cooked as the aroma could tempt the neighbors, she would tell me wisely).

granny's food.jpg

Amma’s cooked food- Fish fry, crab masala, okra coconut curry, red rice and mangoes- complete Mangalorean cuisine

There was a novelty about everything she did- bringing ‘life’ to normal daily chores. In complete amazement, I would watch her as she drew water from the well, cleaned the fish sitting humped on a small wooden seat to which was attached a sickle; see the crows dive down to get the insides’ of the fish that she would throw at the foot of the coconut tree, watch the cat scare away the crows, see her ‘shoo’ away the neighbors’ hens from the compound as they would destroy her well-tended plants or chase the street dog away , that had made the unpardonable mistake of wandering in through the iron gates; with a volley of words and a swinging baton. Grandma was like a soldier- alert on all fronts and at all times. Even the unpredictable Mangalore rains couldn’t get her family’s clothes wet as she would swoop down to pick the clothes on the line before the drops touched the ground.

If all this was not enough, at night she would tell me stories from the great Indian epics –Ramayana and Mahabharata. I knew the stories verbatim but I loved listening to her soft, mellodious voice against the quiet of night; only to be broken by the sound of crickets. With one hand on my head patting me to sleep, she would tirelessly fan me with a newspaper as power-cuts were a norm in those days…and still are, though much lesser.

During the day-time, on days she was not troubled by the rains or a wandering animal or the little kids of the village who threw stones at the mango tree in our compoun hoping to get some of the sweet, juicy, ripe mangoes, she would tell me stories of grandfather and show me treasures of the past- a “Turkey towel” that grand-dad got for her in 1945 when he was posted as part of the Indian army, in Chandigarh- white and soft- as fresh as the love with which she spoke about him , her wedding sari – orange brocade, wrapped in a white, muslin cloth. The zari (gold thread-work) on the sari had dulled over the years but her eyes were still as bright as they may have been on her wedding day as she touched it – the work so intricate and rich. I had heard these stories a hundred times but I could never tire of listening to them again. It was our special time together , when I felt like a responsible adult discussing important things with her.

Grandmother was far ahead of her times- she had completed her grade 10 which was a significant achievement in the 1930s, wore heels on ‘katcha’ (unpaved) roads during her young days, kept abreast of the news and loved discussing politics. It was from her that I learnt to fight for my beliefs and to stand strong in the face of troubles. Grandma was my first hero and will always be…

Twenty years later, the house has been renovated but it still has albums of our childhood in an old wooden cupboard which is not opened regularly (the cobwebs between the cupboard doors tell the story), books that I had read as a child, line the shelves on the walls- Malory Towers, Famous Fives, Nancy Drews, Ramayana, Mahabharata , Tell Me Whys and many more; the pages have yellowed with time but the memories they bring back are fresh. I remember the hours that I would spend on the terrace under the shade of the guava tree, lost in another world until I heard Amma calling me down for lunch. My coin collection which found it’s way to my grandmother’s house from my parents house lies on a mantle untouched (but dusted); bringing back memories of my dad’s many travels and the coins he brought back.

my grand ma.jpg

A recent picture with the old Godrej cupboard in the background which houses a million treasures…with amma and my daughter

he steel Godrej cupboard shrieks (it obviously needs oiling) as you jerk it open. In it, lie my oil paintings- the ones I had done in Grade 9-safely kept like they belong to Michelangelo or Leonardo Da Vinci. There is an old diary, a letter pad, some other papers, each with a story of it’s own, even some college notes and a cassette player, just as I left it. This room was mine during my college days and though it’s been years that I moved out, it still feels the same. For a moment it seems like time has stood still and these paraphernalia lie there awaiting my arrival; each visit they bring back a new memory of the past – some sweet, others not so sweet, yet memories that I would not erase for anything in the world. Each little belonging, a piece of the jigsaw puzzle that makes ‘ME’ – a stark reminder of my roots …admonishing me, no matter where I go or what I do, this place is my history, as true and real as the blood that flows in my veins, my harbor to which I need to return to and anchor myself just once in a while…to be able take the journey forward.

No matter how far one travels and wherever one goes, one needs to return to the harbor and anchor oneself just a little, just once in a while and just take a moment to remember how far one has come…Smitha Vishwanath

My kids, my younger sister with their great grandmother at the revamped portion of the house…


Not everyone may be as fortunate to have the luxury of having a room full of memories to return to…because of time, distance or no reason at all.

Memories then need to be engraved in the heart, etched in the mind or utmost carried in a backpack. Roots need to be hard-coded to have an innate sense of belonging and identity and a soul that is nourished -not shallow, blurred and lost in the noise and chaos around the world for that is what makes us…our roots!

©Smitha Vishwanath 2016

Roads: A Journey With Verses – Vandana Bhasin and Smitha Vishwanath

About Roads

“Roads” is a poetic rendezvous that takes the reader on a panoramic journey, making one pause, ponder and celebrate life.

The book is a light, alluring read that instantly strikes a chord and elevates one’s spirits. A trove of 60 poems, it is quilled with beads of nine virtues: Courage, Wisdom, Serenity, Love, Hope, Strength, Joy, Compassion and Gratitude. The verses encapsulate life’s ebbs and flows while prompting the reader to enjoy its simple pleasures.

“Roads” is a book that you would want to keep on your bedside, for a quiet read before retiring for the night or for the morning wisdom to seize the day. With poems revolving around emotions that each of us experiences, “Roads” very easily develops a personal connect with the reader that is defiantly refreshing.

“Roads” is a journey with verses. Take it on yours.

An early review for the collection

Roads: A Journey With Verses is a beautiful book of mainly freestyle poetry written by Smitha Vishwanath and Vandana Bhasin. I have read and enjoyed a lot of poetry on Smitha’s blog in the past, but this was my first introduction to Vandana’s poetry.

I thought this was a wonderful combination of work by two talented poets and I enjoyed the different styles of writing by the two contributors. Smitha writes delicately beautiful poems in which her messages are subtly shrouded as if within a loving cocoon of words. Vandana’s writing is more strident and forthright, but I enjoyed her style equally and her strong messages for women’s rights moved me greatly.

This book is divided into sections as follows: Courage, Wisdom, Serenity; Love, Strength, Compassion and Joy, Hope, Gratitude. Each section is divided into subsections setting out an arrange of delightful poems in each subcategory. Each subsection is introduced with a short introductory verse which conveys its meaning for the poets and each poem is introduced with a paragraph setting out the the meaning and purpose of the specific poem to the writer. I really enjoyed reading about the inspiration and meaning behind each poem.

Head over and buy the book:

And on Amazon UK:

About Vandana Bhasin

Writer, blogger and an avid reader, I like to quill verses and share my views on life and its varied facets. I believe in creating an identity for self and working towards turning my dreams into reality.

A banker turned writer, I discovered my passion towards writing whilst on the journey to know myself. Writing transformed me in a way that I had never imagined.

My works have been published in more than two dozen anthologies.

Connect to Vandana via her blog: My Feelings My Freedom

Smitha V

About Smitha Vishwanath

A little about me for whoever found their way here deliberately or stumbled upon this page. It wouldn’t be wrong to call me “The Bored Banker”. With 20 years of banking behind me, it’s safe to say that I am good at what I do. The door to banking was open when I finished university and I walked straight through it. Banking chose me and I accepted.

It took me some years, 14 to be precise, to realize that the profession that had consumed a large part of my adult life was simply a job. While I devoted a lot of time and energy to it, there was something missing. That’s when it dawned that banking was just one aspect of my life; it was not “My Life”!

This realization was the beginning of a new journey and this blog, created in 2012, was the product of that journey!

Connect to Smitha


My thanks to Smitha for allowing me to share posts from her archives and I do recommend that you head over to explore for yourselves.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #PotLuck – Ten Tips for Proof Reading and Editing (2017) by Karen DeMers Dowdall

This is the third post from author K.D.(Karen DeMers) Dowdall’s archives and she also has some news, with The Captain’s Witch, her latest book being released on September 1st.. Karen features guest posts and I have selected this one as even writers such as myself, with bad habits…. will find it useful.

Ten Tips for Proof Reading and Editing (2017) by Karen DeMers Dowdall

These are very informative, yet simple and easy to do. Melissa writes that “I spend most of my work hours editing other people’s work and self-editing my own writing. In fact, I spend more time on self-editing than I do on writing. So, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite tips for self-editing.”

– Melissa Donavan,

1.Accept Favor Requests for Editing

When a friend, family member, or co-worker asks you to look at a draft, do it. Even if you’re busy, even if you don’t feel like it or have your own projects to write and edit, take it on. The more editing you do, the better you get at it, and that means you become better at editing your own work, too.

2. Know When to Turn Off Your Inner Editor

There’s a time and place for editing, and often, the first draft is not it. Some writers craft sentence by sentence, perfecting each paragraph before moving on to the next. If that works for you, great. But if you spend hours stuck on word choice or sentence structure and you can’t move forward with the project, turn off your inner editor, blind yourself to typos and grammar mistakes, ignore bad writing, and just let your fingers fly.

3. Make Sure You’re Wearing Your Editing Hat

When you edit, make sure editing is really what you’re doing. In other words, be aware that editing is not scouring the text for typos and stray punctuation marks. Editing is when we strengthen story, sentences, and paragraphs. Proofreading comes later. That’s not to say we don’t do a little proofing while editing or that we don’t do a little editing while proofing. I know I do. However, I always do a full revision focused on editing and another on proofreading. For more complex pieces, I do multiple edits and proofs.

4. Edit On-Screen and Track Changes

Many writers and editors swear by the printed page. But that’s a messy and inefficient way to edit. If you start editing on-screen, you’ll adjust to the new format and soon find it’s much easier than marking up print. If you’re making big revisions (as you should during editing) and you’re worried about losing the original text, use Microsoft Word’s feature, Track Changes, which does just what you’d expect — it tracks all the changes you make as you edit. Then you can go through and review every edit and accept or reject those changes individually or collectively later. This is also a great way to edit twice — once to make the changes and again to approve them.

5.If You’re Not Sure, Look it Up (and Know What You Don’t Know)

Your greatest wisdom as an editor is knowing what you don’t know. Having resources in your arsenal is one thing. Using them is something else entirely. Don’t be lazy! Remember that every time you look something up, you learn something new and expand your writing skills. Plus, the more you look things up, the less you’ll need to look them up in the future. Eventually, they become a natural part of your writing process.

6.Keep a Grammar Manual and Style Guide Handy

When you’re proofreading and editing, you need to be meticulous. Don’t cut corners. If you’re not sure about grammar, spelling, punctuation, or context, you need to be able to open up a grammar manual or a style guide, so make sure you have the right resources handy. Be vigilant, be correct, and use good judgment, keeping in mind that sometimes it’s best to bend the rules, but only if you know what the rules are and why you’re breaking them.

7. Run Spell-Check and Grammar-Check First

Before you do anything, run spell-check and use your word processing software’s grammar checking tool (if it has one). Automated checkers don’t catch everything, but they can catch a lot, and that means you’ll have more time and brain energy for manual editing. Also, use the find-and-replace feature, which allows you to quickly find or replace a single error multiple times. For example, many people are still in the habit of using a double space after a period. I always do a find-and-replace to replace all those double spaces with the modern standard: single spaces after every period or terminal punctuation mark.

8. Read Slowly and Out Loud

The most crucial aspect of proofreading and editing is reviewing every single word and examining the written work at the word, sentence, and paragraph levels. Plus, you should be able to assess every document or manuscript in its entirety to check for readability, organization, and flow. This means you’ll have to go over each piece numerous times. To separate yourself from the content so you can better evaluate the writing, read slowly and read out loud. You’ll catch a lot of minor mistakes and typos this way.

9. Listen for Wording and Rhythm

Editing involves more than checking for grammar, spelling, and punctuation. When you read the piece out loud, pay attention to the rhythm. Does it flow smoothly? Do the sentences alternate in length or are there a series of really short (or really long) sentences that have a droning rhythm? Break up some of those longer sentences and join some of the smaller sentences together to give the writing better rhythm and more musicality

10.Pay Attention to Formatting

Formatting is actually separate from editing. This involves things like font (size, face, and other formatting options, such as bold or italics), paragraph and line spacing, and indents. Chapter titles and subheadings, for example, should have the same font and spacing. Citations should be formatted with consistency (and preferably, adhering to a style guide). Keep an eye out for inconsistencies in this area.

BONUS TIP: Review to Perfection

I like to follow a five-step process for editing:

  1. Read the entire text.
  2. Second pass focuses on wording and readability.
  3. Third review focuses on editing for word choice and sentence structure.
  4. Fourth pass is proofreading (check for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and typos). This is where I read out loud, slowly.
  5. Final review and polish.

(I repeat step five until I can’t find anything to improve.)

©K.D. Dowdall 2017

About Karen DeMers Dowdall

Karen Demers Dowdall PhD, MSN, BSN, was born in Hartford, Connecticut, and spent her elementary-grade school years in the small farming community of Salmon Brook, settled in 1680 by a stalwart group of Europeans. She grew up exploring its lush and dark forest preserve, swimming in Salmon Brook with a plethora of the unexplained, exploring Rock Fall Caves, and ice-skating on a “haunted” pond in winter.

Karen has traveled abroad and lived in the Republic of China, Saudi Arabia, and England. Living overseas opened to her, a vista of cultures, historical vistas, and led her to believe that all cultures have storytellers that reveal all their hopes and dreams through vivid fantasy fictions, poetry, short stories, and dramatic written presentations throughout their culture history.

Karen has always written poems and short stories, and now has three novels that represent fantasy, coming of age, and a dark mystery. Her latest novel The Captain’s Witch will be available in September 2019.

Books by K.D Dowdall

A review for The Stone Arch Secret

A light read full of mystery and romance. The story follows Lilly as she returns to Salmon Brook, Connecticut for a funeral. While there, she decides to look into her friend’s death, particularly an event from their earlier lives from which he never recovered. The trail takes her into the area’s dark history and a dangerous present day. I enjoyed the descriptions of an area I used to live that now will never look quite the same. Lilly and Noah were well-developed characters, and the villain was pure icky without any redeeming qualities. A fine effort from the author that readers of romantic mysteries will enjoy.

Read the reviews and buy the books:

And Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Karen on Goodreads:

Connect to Karen


My thanks to Karen for permitting me to share some of the posts from her archives and I hope you will head over to explore them further.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Potluck – #Ireland – The Thing about Galway (2016) by Claire Fullerton

This is the third post from the archives of author Claire Fullerton, and I have selected another of her pieces on life in Ireland as I am sure you will enjoy as much as I do

The Thing about Galway (2016) by Claire Fullerton

The Thing about Galway

Even on the best of days, when the weather is temperate and the sky soft and cloudless, Galway City has a worn, secondhand feel to it: an historic, pensive, erudite quality everywhere you roam down its serpentine streets. But there’s also an energetic undercurrent to Galway that seems to thrive on the idea of opposites, which lends the atmosphere a certain air of unpredictability. In many ways, Galway seems like a lively college town, bordered on one side by the dark gray patina of Galway Cathedral, and the ever turbulent River Corrib on the other, which flows straight to Galway Bay on its way through the Claddagh. It’s an undefinable, mood-setting, soul-stirring town with a split personality; it is vividly animated by its youthful culture, yet deeply haunted by its storied past.

To Debra Wallace, who was born and reared in Letterfrack, fifty miles north in rural Connemara, Galway was the pinnacle of urban grandeur. At the age of twenty seven, she’d blown into town carrying her dreams and her guitar to set up house in a two-story rental, on the edge of lower Galway’s Henry Street. She was an accomplished musician with a whisky-edged singing voice, and her dreams involved joining Galway’s vibrant music scene. The second I met her, I thought she embodied everything it meant to be Irish: She was big eyed, russet-haired, quick-witted, nobody’s fool, howlingly funny, and spiritually attuned. She gave our friendship no probation period when we first met at The Galway Music Centre, for there was nothing suspicious or cynical about her, though she was disarmingly shrewd. Upon learning that I am an American, she put her hand on her hip, narrowed her eyes to a slit, and give me the once over. Then she set her guitar case down and invited me to call out to her house for a cup of tea.

I had no idea what to expect as I made my way to Debra Wallace’s blue painted door. It rose up from the sidewalk, sandwiched in a row of matching gray structures, each with a pitched roof emitting turf smoke that permeated the residential area in an aroma so redolent it made my eyes water. I rapped thrice on the door, and it swung wide immediately. Stepping onto the uneven cobbled brick floor, it took a minute for my eyes to adjust in the shadowy room, for it had only one window and it seemed the haphazardly arranged turf in the fireplace had reached its crescendo and now glowed in a burnt orange aftermath. The heat in the small room was stifling. I took off my raincoat and made to set it aside on the folded futon against the wall, just as I brought the four chairs before it into focus, where three figures looked up at me expectantly. Debra lowered herself onto the forth chair and motioned for me to take the futon as a voice disrupted the damp air.

“Well, you weren’t telling a tale about that blonde hair of hers, God bless it; must have taken ages to grow,” the voice said.

“Claire, this is my mother; Da sits there, and this is my sister Breda,” Debra introduced, handing me a cup of tea.

“Nice to meet you,” I said. It was then I recognized where Debra had acquired her penchant for the once over, for all three Wallace’s studied me head to foot.

“You’re an American,” Mr. Wallace stated. He was short and stout and leaned forward in his chair, with his hands on his knees and his steady stare beaming beneath his tweed flat cap.

“Yes, I’m from Memphis, Tennessee,” I confirmed.

“Ah, Elvis and all that,” Mrs. Wallace said, who looked to be, in tandem with her husband, the second installment of a pair of square, blue-eyed bookends.

“That’s right,” I said, then I searched for a way to escape their scrutiny. I knew I could turn the tables if I could use the standard Irish conversational stand-by. “It looks like it’ll rain any minute,” I said, looking at Mr. Wallace.

“It does, yah. We brought the weather with us all the way from Letterfrack, so we did. If you haven’t been there, you should come see us. It’s God’s country up there; not much chance for the young ones to run the streets.”

“So I moved here,” Debra said with a wink.”

“Speaking of streets, we should get going,” Breda said. “We’ve only come to town for the one day.”

We all stood simultaneously, making our farewells, and after Debra closed the door behind her family, she asked me if I wanted to accompany her to the epicenter of Galway City, which is an area known as Eyre Square.

“There’s a card reader up there, her name is Harriet,” she said. “As long as you’re one of us now, I think you should see her.”

“Don’t you have to make an appointment?” I asked.

“For what?” Debra said. “Don’t be so American. Let’s just walk up the road and call out.”

What could have been a ten minute walk up Shop Street took forty five minutes, for such is the nature of Galway. There is no way to set out from point A to point B within the confines of scheduled time because there are too many people milling around, everybody knows everybody, and it is a crime against Irish society not to stop and chat to the point of exhaustion. I stood idly by as Debra engaged in Irish banter time and again, which is to say that each exchange felt like joining a running joke that had been going on for a while, and we had simply stumbled into its midst. It is a game of wit-topping one-upmanship, this business of Irish banter, and as we made our way to Eyre Square, I was starting to catch the rhythm.

Two heavy wooden doors lead the way into the back of an atrium on the north side of Eyre Square. Debra heaved the doors apart and ushered me inside to where a canvas marquee had a chalkboard before it, which read, “Readings with Harriet: 12 euros.”

What happened next is another story.

But the thing about that day is that it was exemplary of the spirit of Galway, where anything can and does happen, on any given day. This wasn’t the first or last time I’d slid into the day thinking it would go one way only to discover it had seguewayed into quite another. Because there’s an energy to Galway that will catch the unsuspecting unaware. It emanates from the dichotomy of its nature, its marriage of opposites, its union of past and present, and at its foundation are the fluid Irish people, who know a thing or two about embracing the flow.

©Claire Fullerton

Books by Claire Fullerton

One of the reviews for A Portal in Time

A beautiful story, artfully woven between two time periods, A Portal in Time is also a portal for the reader to a gorgeous setting and a haunting romance.

Despite the century between the lifetimes of the main characters, this book slips seamlessly from era to era. Claire Fullerton lends a unique and lovely voice to two distinctly different courtships, contrasting late Victorian and contemporary romance and binding them together with a thread of perennial love. Neither time period overshadows the other; instead, they fuse into a seamless and nuanced tale of love, triumph and tragedy across lifetimes. And although this type of story has the potential to become overwrought with connections and coincidence, Fullerton maintains a light but firm touch from start to finish. As in Dancing to an Irish Reel, she writes in such a way that you want to linger over every word like a glass of fine wine. A Portal in Time was every bit the delight I expected and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys tales of enduring love.

Buy the books and audio editions:

and Amazon UK:

Read other reviews and follow Claire on Goodreads:

About Claire Fullerton

Claire Fullerton grew up in Memphis, TN and now lives in Malibu, CA. She is the author of contemporary fiction, “Dancing to an Irish Reel,” set in Connemara, Ireland, where she once lived. Dancing to an Irish Reel is a finalist in the 2016 Kindle Book Review Awards, and a 2016 Readers’ Favorite. Claire is the author of “A Portal in Time,” a paranormal mystery that unfolds in two time periods, set on California’s hauntingly beautiful Monterey Peninsula, in a village called Carmel-by-the-Sea. Both of Claire’s novels are published by Vinspire Publishing.

Her third novel, Mourning Dove, is a Southern family saga, published in June, 2018 by Firefly Southern Fiction. She is one of four contributors to the book, Southern Seasons, with her novella, Through an Autumn Window, to be published in November 2018 by Firefly Southern Fiction. Claire is represented by Julie Gwinn, of The Seymour Literary Agency.

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My thanks to Claire for letting me loose in her archives and I hope you will head over and enjoy reading through them as much as I have… Thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #PotLuck #Poetry – The Fisherman by L.T. Garvin

Welcome to the series of Posts from Your Archives, where bloggers put their trust in me. In this series, I dive into a blogger’s archives and select four posts to share here to my audience. The next guest in the series has shared post on the blog before, but of course this time I get to do the choosing. For L.T. Garvin’s third post, I have chosen a poem that I am sure you will enjoy too.


The Fisherman by L.T. Garvin

The fisherman is
sun happy
and lake loopy
He loaded his plastic
container full of
black earth and
slithering night crawlers
Balanced in his
patchwork boat
hull and spar built
casting rod,
dropping lines
fish haul for a
fish fry
greasy spoons for
the wild-eyed
But alas,
not today
fish won’t bite
lake won’t pay
but our fisherman dear
hugs his gear
and gleefully glances
o’er the glassy lake

©L.T. Garvin 2017

About L.T. Garvin

L.T. Garvin is a huge fiction fan and literature lover. She enjoys writing fiction, short stories, and attempts at poetry. L.T. has a particular fondness for Southern literature possibly because they have such good food and bigger than life stories in the South.

She currently has three books available, Confessions of a 4th Grade Athlete, a humorous children’s book about a boy named Nathan and his exuberant experiences in school and sports. Another children’s book, Animals Galore explores unique animals and their antics. A novel, Dancing with the Sandman, is suitable for all age groups and takes readers on time travel journey back to the 1960s. L.T. Garvin maintains a WordPress site where she shares fiction, poetry, and humorous essays

Books by L.T. Garvin

About Dancing with the Sandman

The Sandman cometh dancing to the beat of rock ‘n’ roll, blasting the turmoil of the Sixties. And where are you? West Texas, of course. Billie Jo Dunstan confronts her past, traveling back to the 1960s through a decade of turbulence and swirling color memories, contemplating life growing up in rural Texas. Tragedy and comedy come alive, preserving the past and a portion of small town life that will survive beyond super highways and the ratcheting progress of time.
Garvin’s (And They Came, 2017, etc.) latest novel offers a reflection of one girl’s coming-of-age in small-town Texas in the 1960s. … Garvin is at her best when offering these cheeky nods to the past, never getting bogged down in nostalgia.
A winning narrator enlivens a charming tale of a town facing modernity.–Kirkus Reviews

One of the reviews for the book

The story starts and ends in west Texas as Billie Jo revisits the small town she grew up in, a town left behind years ago when progress, in the form of a new highway, raced ahead. It’s a place that holds memories so tangible they feel like ghosts rising out of the sand, and they create the substance of the story.

Garvin calls the book a fictional journey, but it reads like a memoir. If you were a kid in the 60’s, this book will feel something like a trip into childhood, a time before helicopter parents and iphones, a time when kids had to create their own fun while learning the painful lessons of life.

Though the book takes place in Texas, there is so much about Billie Jo’s experiences that felt familiar to me, a child of rural Connecticut. In a way, the qualities that make up a childhood – the way adults are perceived, the family quirks, sibling teasing, unexpected kindnesses and losses, how kids think and fill their leisure time – seemed universal. This is a thoroughly relatable book.

And told as a “look back at the ghosts of the past,” the book has a nostalgic aura that lingered beyond the last page, calling forth my own ghosts and eliciting memories that I’d forgotten. Dancing with the Sandman is a lovely, poignant, rich read for all ages, but especially for those who enjoy memoirs and those who were children in the 60’s.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And Amazon UK:

Also by L.T. Garvin

Read the reviews and buy the books:

And on Amazon UK:

Read other reviews and follow L.T. Garvin on Goodreads:

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My thanks to Lana for allowing me to share from her archives and I hope you will head over to enjoy exploring more. Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Potluck With Film Camera in hand, I Explore Quirky Las Vegas (New Mexico) by Marsi

Welcome to the series of Posts from Your Archives, where bloggers put their trust in me. In this series, I dive into a blogger’s archives and select four posts to share here to my audience. This is the third post from Marsi, who with her husband Robert, embarked on a four month journey west. I will be sharing posts from their trip in addition to other posts in their archives. In this post Marsi takes us to the other Las Vegas…in New Mexico.


The past year and a half had been difficult for us. Within the span of this time, we lost my father to a lengthy, painful illness, two beloved geriatric dogs, and both of our office jobs came to an end for reasons beyond our control. We sold our house in Tennessee, put our belongings into storage, and headed west with everything we need for four months of traveling & camping stuffed into our Subaru Outback. Our journey is not just a long vacation, but a plan for healing.

With Film Camera in hand, I Explore Quirky Las Vegas (New Mexico) by Marsi

The “other” Las Vegas is a city that has probably escaped your attention. During a quick half-day stop here in 2016, the colorful personality of this historic New Mexico mountain town drew me in and keeps me coming back.

A quiet and unpretentious little sister to Santa Fe, it is one of my favorite places for shooting film photos, and also happens to be a popular filming location for movies and TV shows. While there are not a lot of flashy tourist attractions in this Las Vegas, the city will appeal to those whose interests include:

I will be posting more about Las Vegas in the future, but for now…On with the photo tour!

***As with all of my film photos, these images are presented as captured, unedited.*** All of the photos below were shot (by me) over two days on a solo New Mexico road trip in April 2017.

Parisian Dry Cleaners in Las Vegas, New Mexico 35mm Film Photography

Colorful historic downtown Las Vegas, New Mexico 35mm Film Photography Nikon L35AF Kodak Ektar 100

On the plaza in Las Vegas, New Mexico 35mm Film Photography Nikon L35AF Kodak Ektar 100

Las Vegas, New Mexico 35mm Film Photography Nikon L35AF Kodak Ektar 100

Homemade cargo trailer in Las Vegas, New Mexico 35mm Film Photography Nikon L35AF Kodak Ektar 100

in Las Vegas, New Mexico 35mm Film Two Brown Stationwagons in Photography Nikon L35AF Kodak Ektar 100

Calumet Mural painted for Red Dawn Set in Las Vegas, New Mexico 35mm Film Photography Nikon L35AF Kodak Ektar 100

Picnic Pavilion at Storrie Lake State Park in Las Vegas, New Mexico 35mm film photograph shot on Kodak Tri-X 400 with Nikon F2

Storrie Lake State Park in Las Vegas, New Mexico 35mm film photograph shot on Kodak Tri-X 400 with Nikon F2

Campground at Storrie Lake State Park in Las Vegas, New Mexico 35mm film photograph shot on Kodak Tri-X 400 with Nikon F2

Storrie Lake State Park in Las Vegas, New Mexico 35mm film photograph shot on Kodak Portra 400 with Nikon L35AF

Retro RV at Storrie Lake State Park in Las Vegas, New Mexico 35mm film photograph shot on Kodak Portra 400 with Nikon L35AF

Cristo Rey Church near Montezuma and Las Vegas, New Mexico 35mm film photograph shot on Portra 400 with Nikon L35AF

Cristo Rey Church near Montezuma and Las Vegas, New Mexico 35mm film photograph shot on Kodak Tri-X 400with Nikon F2

Parisian Dry Cleaners in Las Vegas, New Mexico 35mm film photograph shot on Kodak Tri-X 400with Nikon F2

Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas, New Mexico 35mm film photograph shot on Kodak Tri-X 400with Nikon F2

Sweet vintage truck camper in Las Vegas, New Mexico 35mm film photograph shot on Kodak Tri-X 400with Nikon F2

Pancho's Barber Shop in Las Vegas, New Mexico 35mm film photograph shot on Kodak Tri-X 400with Nikon F2


Pure Oil station in Las Vegas, New Mexico 35mm film photograph shot on Kodak Tri-X 400with Nikon F2

Wander over here for more New Mexico posts.

©Westwardwewander 2018

Atop Lassen Peak in Lassen Volcanic National Park

About Marsi

Hi there! I’m Marsi – Traveler, Designer & Home Renovator, Vintage dealer, Amateur film photographer, and Administrative Ninja.

After a year of researching and loosely planning an itinerary for an epic western U.S. road trip, my husband Robert and I sold our house in Tennessee and embarked on a grand adventure.

Our 2018 travels included thirteen national parks + several dozen state parks, national monuments, national forests, national historic areas, BLM sites, big cities, tiny towns, and everything in between. (You can check out our list of parks visited here. ) Instead of a making a set schedule, we had a very long list of destinations in mind, allowing ourselves the freedom to wander rather than have a fixed itinerary.

I created this blog to chronicle our 2018 western road trip. From time to time we’ll flash back to prior vacay and adventure spots we’ve enjoyed over the years, with some “what we’re doing now” posts thrown in too.

I also post some of my favorite film photos. If you would like to see more of my film photography, please check out my Instagram

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My thanks to Marsi for permitting me to share these wonderful travel posts with you…Thank you for joining us to day and your feedback is always welcome. I hope you will visit Marsi and Robert and explore their travels further.. thanks Sally.