Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives 2021 – #Pot Luck – #AfghanistanAdventures #54 Winter travel by Mary Smith


Since this series began in January 2018 there have been over 1000 Posts from Your Archives where bloggers have taken the opportunity to share posts to a new audience… mine. The topics have ranged from travel, childhood, recipes, history, family and the most recent series was #PotLuck where I shared a random selection of different topics.

In this series I will be sharing posts from the last six months of 2020

It is an opportunity to showcase your writing skill to my readers and also to share on my social media. Which combined is around the 46,000 mark. If you are an author your books will be mentioned too, along with their buy links and your other social media contacts. Head over to find out how to participate: Posts from Your Archives 2021

This is the second post from author Mary Smith and I have enjoyed all her adventures in Afghanistan and Pakistan over the last couple of years but there were a couple I missed and I am going to share those in this series. I highly recommend that you head over to Mary’s to read the others in this wonderful series.

Winter Travel Afghanistan, December 1989, Day Mirdad

The delay meant we were a long way from our destination, when darkness fell. At the next check post the mujahid guarding the chain, tried to persuade us not to continue our journey. Jon thanked him, but said we must ensure our patients reached the clinic in Day Mirdad. The mujahid played the beam of his torch into the back of the vehicle. When he spotlighted Zahir, without his turban, he jumped back hastily and waved us on. Poor Zahir, for once, we were grateful for the terrified reaction he provoked.

At the next check post Jon tried the same story. The mujahid peered into the back, saw Zahir and said calmly, ‘Oh, a leprosy patient. Never mind, we can give you a separate room for him.’ Jon requested permission to speak to the Commander who opened the window of his office a grudging few inches. We watched as Jon talked, gesticulating occasionally towards the vehicle. We saw the Commander shake his head and give a brief reply. Jon tried again – the Commander slammed the window shut. We were not going to reach Day Mirdad that night.

We were directed through a gateway into a large, bleak compound. Crunching over the frozen snow, we reached our room, unwilling guests of the Nasre Party for the night. The room was frigid, my head was hurting and we were all cold and cross. A man came in to light the bukhari around which we huddled, morosely sipping tea. We had to ask twice for food before we were eventually served a quantity of greasy, grey liquid with a few pieces of very stringy, dried up meat. Not even Zahir could find anything to laugh about.

When I awoke in the morning I discovered I’d lain on, and broken, my glasses, my head was throbbing worse than ever and, when I learned, despite the fact we’d not exactly been willing guests, we were expected to pay for our board and lodgings I was furious. Determined to tell the Commander exactly what I thought of his shabby treatment of us I headed across the compound towards his office. Rahimy talked me down – otherwise we might still be there. With bad grace I climbed into our vehicle.

At least the day was crisp and sunny, which helped lighten the mood, as we headed towards Day Mirdad. We left the snow behind us, but it would soon catch up with us again, and we would have to complete the work in Arif’s clinic as quickly as possible. For Jon, it meant examining the accounts and handing over the money required for the running of the project through the winter months. For me, it meant interviews with Arif to collect information, statistics and stories about his work, to be included in reports.

Day Mirdad is situated between Pashto and Hazara lands. Arif was Pashto. Before the Soviet invasion had forced him to abandon his studies, he’d completed two years in medical college in Kabul. Arriving in Pakistan as a refugee, he somehow heard about the leprosy centre in Karachi, and was accepted as a candidate in the training programme. Arif and Jon had been class fellows in Karachi but were not close friends. As a Pashto, Arif could never accept coming second to anyone in anything, while Jon, south-of-England-born, had a similar arrogance. Somehow or other at the end of the training, each was able to feel he had done better than the other, and honours were even.

As we approached the clinic the landscape became more desolate and barren. Grey, naked mountains rose on every side until it seemed there was no level ground anywhere. Everything was on a slope; the buildings, the fields – tiny handkerchief sized patches of brown – the few trees growing sparsely here and there. Houses were hidden behind very high mud walls in which heavy gates were set. Occasionally we had a glimpse, through an open gateway, of the mud built homes, constructed like fortresses. Pashto women are even more jealously guarded than Hazara women who, by comparison, are allowed tremendous freedom.

We drove through an imposing entrance into a large compound, on three sides of which was a two storey building. Arif came bounding down the steps to meet us, arms outstretched to embrace Jon in a welcoming hug.

Many are the tales of encounters between the soldiers of the British Raj and the fiery tribes from the Frontier Province, depicting the Pashto as tall, swarthy tribal chiefs, tangled black curls escaping from beneath their turbans, dark eyes flashing in challenge. Arif is nothing like those romantic heroes. Standing at barely five foot four he is stocky, has brown eyes which don’t flash particularly challengingly (well, maybe when angered) and a fair complexion. He is restless, excitable, unable to sit still for more than five minutes, and given to generous arm gestures when talking – which he does at great length and speed.

After embracing Jon he clasped my hand warmly, grinning, ‘Welcome, sister. I have many stories to tell you, but first we will drink tea.’ We followed him upstairs to the guest room which was large and sparsely furnished – a gilim which barely covered the floor and a pile of bedding. A Kalashnikov stood in one corner of the room, and when Arif saw me eyeing it, he rushed to give an explanation, ‘For protection, sister, for protection. When I go on tour Ashraf, you know Ashraf? My field assistant. He carries the Kalash – just in case. There are many thieves about, and maybe they think Arif has a lot of money because he works for a foreign organisation.’

We had stipulated weapons should not be kept on clinic premises by staff, a rule we suspected was frequently broken, although usually they had the sense to hide the thing before we appeared. I knew Hassan kept a Kalashnikov in Sheikh Ali, despite having made a big drama once about returning it to the local Commander. Now, he ensured we didn’t see it, but occasionally forgot, as when telling a story of being attacked by a wolf, which ran away when he fired his gun. He’d suddenly stopped talking as he realised he’d given himself away – then made matters worse by trying to say that he was just taking the gun home for a friend.

If Arif felt he needed the protection of a Kalashnikov while on tour, often on foot, I felt there was little we could say against it but I could never really see the justification in having one in the clinic itself. If thieves broke in to steal the medicines, they would surely be well armed. There would be a bloody shoot out which would most likely result in our staff being seriously injured, or killed – and the medicines would still be stolen. In this part of the world, however, men, from when they were still young boys, carried guns. It was expected. Only it used to be an old Lee Enfield which somehow seemed less of a killing machine than an AK-47 assault rifle.

©Mary Smith 2020

About Mary Smith

Mary Smith has always loved writing. As a child she wrote stories in homemade books made from wallpaper trimmings – but she never thought people could grow up and become real writers. She spent a year working in a bank, which she hated – all numbers, very few words – ten years with Oxfam in the UK, followed by ten years working in Pakistan and Afghanistan. She wanted others to share her amazing, life-changing experiences so she wrote about them – fiction, non-fiction, poetry and journalism. And she discovered the little girl who wrote stories had become a real writer after all.
Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni: Real Stories of Afghan Women is an account of her time in Afghanistan and her debut novel No More Mulberries is also set in Afghanistan.
Mary loves interacting with her readers on her website.

Books by Mary Smith

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A recent review No More Mulberries (I can highly recommend the book too)

Jan 25, 2021 M.J. Mallon rated it 4.5 stars really liked it

I really enjoyed No more Mulberries. The story’s strength lies in its cultural detail, and in its great variety of characters. The tale transports you away to Afghanistan to a country we all have heard a lot about, but few have ever been there. It doesn’t shy away from mentioning the truth of living in Afghanistan where losing face and a woman’s place and freedoms are far different than in the west. It also touches upon the stigma of leprosy. And yet, with all the trials and tribulations there is a sense of how much Miriam loves this adoptive country, so much so, that she decides to convert her faith and become a muslim.

It is a slow burn of a story, with much detail in the beginning explaining the path that took Miriam from Scotland to living in Afghanistan. It is also a love story, and in some ways a love triangle between the ghost of her dearly departed first love, who was killed, and her new husband Iqbal with tensions apparent especially towards the end of the story.

The ending was emotionally powerful and brought all the threads of the story to a satisfying conclusion. I began to understand Miriam’s motivations.

A well-written, engaging story which I would highly recommend especially to those who appreciate cultural stories about family, marriage, love and honour. 

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – and:Amazon UK –  Blog: Mary Smith’s PlaceGoodreads: Goodreads – Twitter: @marysmithwriter

 

Thanks for visiting today and I know that Mary would love to receive your feedback.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates – Reviews – #Afghanistan Mary Smith, #Prehistoric Jacqui Murray, #Mystery Mary Anne Edwards


Welcome to the Wednesday edition of the Cafe and Bookstore with recent reviews for authors on the shelves

The first author today is Mary Smith with a review for her novel set in Afghanistan, a book that I can highly recommend…No More Mulberries

About the book

No More Mulberries is a story of commitment and divided loyalties, of love and loss, set against a country struggling through transition.

British-born Miriam’s marriage to her Afghan doctor husband is heading towards crisis. Despite his opposition, she goes to work as a translator at a medical teaching camp in a remote area of rural Afghanistan hoping time apart will help are see where their problems lie. She comes to realise how unresolved issues from when her first husband was killed by a mujahideen group are damaging her relationship with her husband and her son – but is it already too late to save her marriage?

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

Jan 25, 2021 M.J. Mallon rated it 4.5 stars really liked it

I really enjoyed No more Mulberries. The story’s strength lies in its cultural detail, and in its great variety of characters. The tale transports you away to Afghanistan to a country we all have heard a lot about, but few have ever been there. It doesn’t shy away from mentioning the truth of living in Afghanistan where losing face and a woman’s place and freedoms are far different than in the west. It also touches upon the stigma of leprosy. And yet, with all the trials and tribulations there is a sense of how much Miriam loves this adoptive country, so much so, that she decides to convert her faith and become a muslim.

It is a slow burn of a story, with much detail in the beginning explaining the path that took Miriam from Scotland to living in Afghanistan. It is also a love story, and in some ways a love triangle between the ghost of her dearly departed first love, who was killed, and her new husband Iqbal with tensions apparent especially towards the end of the story.

The ending was emotionally powerful and brought all the threads of the story to a satisfying conclusion. I began to understand Miriam’s motivations.

A well-written, engaging story which I would highly recommend especially to those who appreciate cultural stories about family, marriage, love and honour.

Read the reviews and buy the book : Amazon US – And: Amazon UK

Also by Mary Smith

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Read the reviews and buy the books:Amazon US – and: Amazon UK –  Blog: Mary Smith’s PlaceGoodreads: Goodreads – Twitter: @marysmithwriter

The next author today with a recent review is Jacqui Murray for Against All Odds (Book 3 of the Crossroads Trilogy) A series that I can highly recommend.

About the book

A million years of evolution made Xhosa tough but was it enough? She and her People finally reach their destination—a glorious land of tall grasses, few predators, and an abundance that seems limitless, but an enemy greater than any they have met so far threatens to end their dreams. If Xhosa can’t stop this one, she and her People must again flee.

The Crossroads trilogy is set 850,000 years ago, a time in prehistory when man populated most of Eurasia. He was a violent species, fully capable of addressing the many hardships that threatened his survival except for one: future man, a smarter version of himself, one destined to obliterate all those who came before.

From prehistoric fiction author Jacqui Murray comes the unforgettable saga of a courageous woman who questions assumptions, searches for truth, and does what she must despite daunting opposition. Read the final chapter of the People’s long search for freedom, safety, and a new home.

A perfect book for fans of Jean Auel and the Gears!

One of the recent reviews for the book

Terri 5.0 out of 5 stars Now That They are Home…  Reviewed in the United States on January 11, 2021

Jacqui Murray knocks it out of the park again with the third book in the Crossroads Trilogy. Set 850,000 years ago, thoughtful and compassionate leader Xhosa fearlessly guides her people to their final home in what we know as modern Spain. Meticulously researched, the setting invites the reader to feels the heat, the flies, and lurking predators as Xhosa’s people navigate their home and surroundings. Definitely a page-turner, Murray deftly weaves the flaws and ordinary humanity into the characters which flesh out the probable personalities of Homo Erectus. Despite Xhosa’s chronic headaches, Seeker’s spiritual capacity and oddness, Wind’s stoicism, and Pan-Do’s experience and capacity to accept his emotions, the People exist and thrive in a cohesive group with an insatiable will to survive. Loyal wolves round out the group and provide a unique perspective to the series relating to the domestication of some mammals. If you are into pre-historic fiction, I highly recommend Murray’s Crossroads Trilogy.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK

Also by by Jacqui Murray

Read the reviews and buy the booksAmazon US – And: Amazon UK –  Follow Jacqui: goodreads – Blog: WorddreamsTwitter: @WordDreams

The final author today is Mary Anne Edwards with a review for the first book her mystery series and a look at the new covers for the books – Brilliant Disguise: A Charlie McClung Mystery (The Charlie McClung Mysteries Book 1)

About the book

Are you sure you could tell the difference between murder and suicide?

Having had more than enough of the big city, Detective Charlie McClung moves to a small town looking for a simpler life.

Turns out his first case is the most complicated of his career.

A young woman is found shot and while everyone is telling him suicide, his gut, and the dead woman’s beautiful neighbor, are telling him something quite different.

How far can he dig before he uncovers secrets never meant to be unearthed? Throw in a shady police chief and an unexpected love interest and McClung quickly finds himself with more trouble than he ever imagined.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Hunter Tondee 5.0 out of 5 stars So good I immediately read the 2nd in series, “A Good Girl”! Reviewed in the United States on January 17, 2021

This book starts off with a bang and keeps going strong! Mary Anne does such a great job creating a mystery and paying attention to detail! So glad I was introduced to her books!

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK

Also by Mary Anne Edwards

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – andAmazon UK Follow Mary Anne on: Goodreads – Website: Mary Anne Edwards Twitter: @maedwards58

 

Thanks for visiting today and I hope you are leaving with some books.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives 2021 – #Pot Luck – Back in the saddle! Afghanistan Adventures #45 by Mary Smith


Since this series began in January 2018 there have been over 1000 Posts from Your Archives where bloggers have taken the opportunity to share posts to a new audience… mine. The topics have ranged from travel, childhood, recipes, history, family and the most recent series was #PotLuck where I shared a random selection of different topics.

In this series I will be sharing posts from the last six months of 2020

It is an opportunity to showcase your writing skill to my readers and also to share on my social media. Which combined is around the 46,000 mark. If you are an author your books will be mentioned too, along with their buy links and your other social media contacts. Head over to find out how to participate: Posts from Your Archives 2021

This is the first post from author Mary Smith and I have enjoyed all her adventures in Afghanistan and Pakistan over the last couple of years but there were a couple I missed and I am going to share those in this series. I highly recommend that you head over to Mary’s to read the others in this wonderful series.

Back in the saddle! Afghanistan Adventures #45

I discovered some more slides, handed them over at the print shop – they say at least three weeks! Photos included this week, while relevant to the post are taken on different times.

three horses

Lal-sar-Jangal – early winter 1989

It was time for the trip to Waras which I was anticipating with trepidation. Not only would my equestrian skills be sorely challenged by two days on horseback – each way – but, so too would my conversational abilities. Although my Dari had improved, my vocabulary was very much women orientated. I wondered how far lines such as “Does the back pain come just before your monthly bleeding?”, “Does your bleeding come regularly?” or, “Is there any smell or itching?” would take me.

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Ibrahim’s brother, Hassan, arrived to accompany us on the journey and early one morning we assembled outside the clinic. All the staff, several patients plus curious onlookers gathered to watch our departure. My horse was a pretty little thing, brown with a white star on her forehead. Outwardly displaying a degree of confidence, inwardly belied by the nervous churning of my stomach, I mounted, waited for Ibrahim to adjust the stirrups, mount his own horse and give the signal, “Y’Allah”, to be off.

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He and Hassan trotted off. I stayed put. It was acutely embarrassing, in front of so many people, all much too polite to laugh, but who must have found the situation hilarious. On previous occasions, the horse had at least started out. After much kicking of my heels and frantic tugging on the reins, I had to suffer the ignominy of being led by Haboly for the first fifty yards, until the horse finally accepted that she was part of the expedition.

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Probably 1994 with son, David and ‘his’ horse

Despite having reluctantly agreed to carry me, there was no way that she was going to put herself out any more than was strictly necessary, and I could not coax even a gentle trot out of her. Resorting to the method used on our way to Haboly’s village, Ibrahim rode in front with Hassan close behind me, occasionally giving my horse a flick with his whip. After about an hour of this Hassan decided enough was enough, and that if he did not teach me something about riding, it was going to take us a week to reach Waras.

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He connected with horses like a horse whisperer!

His method was simple and direct. Riding up alongside me he handed me his whip with the command, ‘Bezi – Beat!’ Reluctantly I took the whip and, feeling acutely self-conscious, attempted to do as ordered but only succeeded in striking the saddle bag behind me. My second attempt connected with the horse’s rump. This so astonished her, she was galvanized into charging forward in a fast trot for all of a hundred yards. As she began to recover from this surprise action on the part of her soft-touch rider and slow down again, Hassan was right beside me yelling in my ear, ‘Bezi!’ There were a few more fits and starts but, at last, she understood, and accepted, that her novice rider actually meant business. She settled down into a steady trot. Flushed with success, I grinned my thanks to Hassan and patted the horse’s neck at which her ears pricked quizzically. I began to feel quite fond of her.

Ibrahim and Hassan sat loosely in their saddles, completely relaxed. I felt like a sack of potatoes lumping around in the saddle, and with every step my spine connected with the wall of my stomach. Progress may have become speedier, but it was excruciatingly uncomfortable. When, after two hours of trotting, Ibrahim suggested a stop for tea I was extremely grateful. Dismounting gingerly, I winced as my cramped muscles protested, but the tea and boiled eggs revived me and when Ibrahim said, ‘We must go.’ I remounted, eager to continue. It was nerve-racking when everyone else in the chaikhana came out to watch how the foreigner rode a horse. To my relief she responded instantly to the dog calling sound, which means “gee up”, and trotted off beautifully. I loved her. I decided to call her Zeba, meaning beautiful.

We were to break our journey at Ibrahim’s uncle’s home in Kirman and Hassan rode ahead to alert the family to expect guests for the night. I watched enviously as his horse galloped over the flat grassland on which we were riding, wondering if I would ever attain such confidence and proficiency on a horse. Ibrahim rode alongside and showed me how to gather the reins in my left hand, Afghan style, my right arm, holding the whip, hanging straight down by my side. I felt that at least I was beginning to look the part.

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Never thought I’d be so comfortable on horseback!

The family had gathered outside to meet us. As soon as we were led inside Ibrahim’s aunt pounced on me and proceeded to massage my aching legs until the muscles relaxed and the pain melted away. Bliss. Later we played cards until dinner was served. Ibrahim never travelled anywhere without a pack of cards in his pocket. On this occasion he offered to teach me a new game but every time I thought I had grasped the rules, he seemed to change them. By the time dinner arrived, I owed him forty five chickens.

I slept little that night, devoured alive by an army of fleas sharing my blanket. In the morning Ibrahim caught me scratching furiously at my ankles and asked, ‘Fleas?’

Not wishing to offend anyone by saying their bedding was flea infested I muttered, ‘Perhaps I got them from the horse.’

Ibrahim was shocked by such a suggestion, ‘Oh, no, the horses don’t have fleas. They must have been in the blanket.’ When his uncle appeared and was told about the fleas he apologised for my disturbed night, but otherwise seemed to take the philosophical attitude that flea infested bedding was just one of those things in life with which we must cope. I escaped outside to find some privacy in which to enjoy a good scratch at the bites in less accessible parts of by body.

©Mary Smith 2020

About Mary Smith

Mary Smith has always loved writing. As a child she wrote stories in homemade books made from wallpaper trimmings – but she never thought people could grow up and become real writers. She spent a year working in a bank, which she hated – all numbers, very few words – ten years with Oxfam in the UK, followed by ten years working in Pakistan and Afghanistan. She wanted others to share her amazing, life-changing experiences so she wrote about them – fiction, non-fiction, poetry and journalism. And she discovered the little girl who wrote stories had become a real writer after all.
Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni: Real Stories of Afghan Women is an account of her time in Afghanistan and her debut novel No More Mulberries is also set in Afghanistan.
Mary loves interacting with her readers on her website.

Books by Mary Smith

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A recent review No More Mulberries (I can highly recommend the book too)

John W. Howell VINE VOICE  5.0 out of 5 stars A Sophisticated Story of Human  Relationships Reviewed in the United States on September 21, 2020

I was drawn to this book by reading Mary Smith’s internet posts about her time in Afghanistan. From the first page, I was mesmerized by the descriptions of the county and its people. Yes, there is a story here, and the narrative is crisp and clear. But there is another significant feature of the book. This book gives a first-hand account of the struggles of living in a country ravaged by war, disease, and poverty. The people and the country’s conditions provide a backdrop to a very complicated relationship between a Woman born and raised in Scotland and her second husband, a native Afghan. The woman had given up her religion and homeland to follow her Doctor husband back to his home country. We find out early that this is the second time the woman has done this.

The main story deals with the relationship between the woman and her husband. Since returning to Afghanistan, she finds that his need to save face and follow the local community’s rules and mores supplants his love and respect for her. She contemplates what lie would be like without him and does defy his wishes and go off to the town where her first husband is buried.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – and:Amazon UK –  Blog: Mary Smith’s PlaceGoodreads: Goodreads – Twitter: @marysmithwriter

 

Thanks for visiting today and I know that Mary would love to receive your feedback.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Reblog – Afghanistan Adventures -MarySmith’sPlace – When roads become rivers


Mary Smith with another wonderful episode of her time in Afghanistan in 1990.. a trip during the spring melt in the mountains with rivers in flood is no picnic..ingenuity and freezing dips are required. I hope you will head over to read the post in full.

When roads become rivers

I thought I’d provide some random snapshots from my second tour of the clinics in Afghanistan, in particular some of the problems we faced while travelling. We left on May 01, 1990 in two vehicles. I was in the Mobile Team vehicle along with Dr Epco, a doctor from Holland who was going to spend several months in the clinic in Lal, Jon and Jawad, the driver from Hussain’s clinic. In the other vehicle, Moosa from the field hospital in Jaghoray was returning after finding an organisation willing to sponsor the hospital.

We’d only reached the border town of Badani when we had to hire a replacement jeep and driver because without four wheel drive, the journey would be impossible. Delays waiting for a new driver – who came highly recommended because as a former highway robbery he could guarantee our safety – coupled with a series of punctures and a leaking water tank meant it took almost four days to reach the Mazar Bibi clinic. The hole in the water tank was temporarily but effectively fixed by melting a plastic water jug to use as a sealer. When darkness fell the first night we discovered the second driver had no lights on his vehicle. In the bazaar of Shahjoi, there was no room in any of the hotels – the driver went home, Moosa slept in one jeep, Jawad and I in the other and the rest of the group under a tree. Around 2 am I was awakened by a persistent tapping on the window – two armed mujahideen were demanding car park fees. Jawad paid them and we went back to sleep.

Although travelling could be wearisome the constantly changing landscape makes up for it – from flat, scrub covered desert to rugged mountains to white rockscapes wind-carved into fantastic shapes. Large tortoises, recently awakened from hibernation lumbered across the road – ponderous but determined. The weather was glorious making memories of last year’s battles in the snow fade.

Head over to enjoy the post and the photographs of the ingenuity required to cross these rivers: Mary Smith’s Place When Roads Become Rivers

A selection of books by Mary Smith

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Mary Smith, Buy:Amazon US – and:Amazon UK –  Blog: Mary Smith’s PlaceFollow Mary: Goodreads – Twitter: @marysmithwriter

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair – New Book #Memoir Patty Fletcher, Reviews #Historical Amy M. Reade, #Afghanistan Mary Smith, #Memoir Pete Springer


Welcome to the Christmas Book Fair where I will be featuring all the authors currently on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore.

The first author is Patty Fletcher who is celebrating the release of her memoir Pathway to Freedom – Broken and Healed: Book One – How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life

About the memoir

In this, the first book in her memoir trilogy, Pathway to Freedom – Broken and Healed: Book One – How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life, Patty shares how her decision to gain complete independence with the help of ‘The Seeing Eye Guide Dog’ school in Morris Town, New Jersey, reveals to her a glimpse into worlds she had never before known existed.

Once home from ‘The Seeing Eye’ she soon begins to realize all is not right in her world.

Watch your step as you journey down the pathway with Patty and Campbell, for there are many obstacles along the way. There are triumphs and tribulations, tears and fears, but through it all that forever guide by her side, King Campbell works tirelessly to keep her safe from harm.

Head over to buy the book: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK

Also by Patty Fletcher

One of the recent reviews for Bubba Tails

Robbie Cheadle 5.0 out of 5 stars  A lovely book that all ages can read and enjoy  Reviewed in the United States on February 23, 2020

Bubba Tails: From the Puppy Nursery at the Seeing Eye is a delightful story for all ages, told from the perspective of King Campbell, an older and more experienced Seeing Eye dog (trained to guide the blind). King Campbell appears at night to the puppies at the Seeing Eye School, and their mothers, and tells them stories about how he came to be selected for the school, his training process and meeting his forever mother. His stories help to allay some of the puppies own concerns and anxieties about the future when they undergo their training to be Seeing Dogs and eventually become companions to a blind person.

This is a most insightful book about how Seeing Dogs are selected, including the qualities they need to have to do this job, as well as the training process they go through before they are matched with a blind person. I say matched because that is exactly what happens, the person is paired with a suitable canine companion. I thought this was very interesting as I had never really thought about how close the relationship between a blind human and their Seeing Dog is prior to reading this book.

The second part of the story when Campbell meets his new forever owner was the most meaningful for me. It was a wonderful experience for me to learn about how the Seeing Dog and their new owner must adapt to working together. The Seeing Dog needs to learn to read their human owner’s body language and respond to subtle signals. The human must also learn to trust their dog and this is quite a difficult thing to do. I can understand that putting your faith in a dog, no matter how much you love it, must initially be difficult when you are unable to see and protect yourself. I loved reading about how this amazing trust developed between Campbell and his owner.

This is a book that everyone can read and enjoy for the story and also appreciate for its detailed insight into the relationship between Seeing Dogs and their owners, and also the world at large.

Read the reviews and buy the books:  Amazon USAnd : Amazon UK – blog: Campbell’s WorldTwitter: @Bubbalee04

And now for some authors with recent reviews for their books.

Time for a book for historical mystery fans by Amy M. Reade – Cape Menace: A Cape May Historical Mystery (Cape May Historical Mystery Collection Book 1)

About the book

The year is 1714. Two years have passed since Ruth Hanover vanished into the wilderness of the New Jersey colony without a trace, leaving behind her husband, William, and their daughter, Sarah. Though William and Sarah have never stopped hoping that Ruth will return, as time goes by it becomes less and less likely they will ever see her again.

Now William is acting strangely. He won’t tell Sarah why he’s conducting business with a mysterious stranger in the middle of the night, he won’t explain the sudden increase in his income, and he won’t share with her what people in town are
saying about her mother’s disappearance.

When the time comes for Sarah to face her father’s secrets and figure out why her mother never came home that December day in 1712, what she learns will shock her tiny community on the New Jersey cape and leave her fighting for her life.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Falmouth 5.0 out of 5 stars Great historical murder mystery and full of intrigue  Reviewed in the United States on November 4, 2020

I thought this book, set in 1712 and 1714, was engaging and intriguing. Sarah’s mother goes missing in the first two chapters. Chapter 3 starts the period 2 years later, with no sign of her missing mother. Sarah and her father are still grieving the loss of her mother but they have needed to do the multitude of daily activities to stay alive in a small, but widespread community. And the father owns a small apothecary business, where Sarah is also knowledgable.

When Sarah’s father starts acting strangely, the story gets really interesting. Sarah is left to deal with the household and other issues that arise. She is a very accomplished young woman, although she has doubts about how she handles these situations.

It’s obvious that the author has done her research and she provides a preface that describes the 1714 area that is now known as the Cape May area in NJ. She also provides a brief glossary, which I found useful.

I think this book can be read and enjoyed by young adults and any other reader who enjoys historical novels.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK

 Also by Amy M. Reade

51dikCmd-RL._UY250_House of the Hanging Jade cover with USA Today

Read the reviews and buy the books : Amazon US  – And: Amazon UK – Blog: Amy Reade WordPress  –  Goodreads: Amy Reade Goodreads –  Twitter: @readeandwrite

The next author today is Mary Smith with a review for her novel set in Afghanistan, a book that I can highly recommend…No More Mulberries

About the book

No More Mulberries is a story of commitment and divided loyalties, of love and loss, set against a country struggling through transition.

British-born Miriam’s marriage to her Afghan doctor husband is heading towards crisis. Despite his opposition, she goes to work as a translator at a medical teaching camp in a remote area of rural Afghanistan hoping time apart will help are see where their problems lie. She comes to realise how unresolved issues from when her first husband was killed by a mujahideen group are damaging her relationship with her husband and her son – but is it already too late to save her marriage?

One of the recent reviews for the book

John W. Howell VINE VOICE  5.0 out of 5 stars A Sophisticated Story of Human  Relationships Reviewed in the United States on September 21, 2020

I was drawn to this book by reading Mary Smith’s internet posts about her time in Afghanistan. From the first page, I was mesmerized by the descriptions of the county and its people. Yes, there is a story here, and the narrative is crisp and clear. But there is another significant feature of the book. This book gives a first-hand account of the struggles of living in a country ravaged by war, disease, and poverty. The people and the country’s conditions provide a backdrop to a very complicated relationship between a Woman born and raised in Scotland and her second husband, a native Afghan. The woman had given up her religion and homeland to follow her Doctor husband back to his home country. We find out early that this is the second time the woman has done this.

The main story deals with the relationship between the woman and her husband. Since returning to Afghanistan, she finds that his need to save face and follow the local community’s rules and mores supplants his love and respect for her. She contemplates what lie would be like without him and does defy his wishes and go off to the town where her first husband is buried.

Read the reviews and buy the book : Amazon US – And: Amazon UK

Also by Mary Smith

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Read the reviews and buy the books:Amazon US – and:Amazon UK –  Blog: Mary Smith’s PlaceGoodreads: Goodreads – Twitter: @marysmithwriter

The final author today is retired teacher Pete Springer with his memoir They Call Me Mom

About the book

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 recent reviews for the book

D. W. Peach 5.0 out of 5 stars A valuable resource for new teachers  Reviewed in the United States on October 19, 2020

I was impressed with this highly accessible, entertaining, and informative read. A long-time educator, Springer shares his practical experience and the wisdom gleaned from working with children within the educational system. My impression was that the book is geared toward new teachers as it offers ideas about setting up a classroom, dealing with colleagues, administrators, students, and parents.

As an early childhood mental health counselor, I was most interested in Springer’s thoughts about discipline. I was glad to discover a thoughtful, holistic approach to children and their challenges in light of the stressors in their lives. Springer highlights a number of strategies that would be helpful to parents as well as to educators.

Most of the chapters provide concrete and anecdotal examples of Springer’s approach in action. He touches on cultural diversity, grief, problem-solving, and other life experiences that are part of a child’s broader education. My favorite chapters were Memorable Students and Funny Moments at School. These two chapters are testaments to his success as an educator as well as to the joy and value of teaching in general.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US – and: Amazon UK – Read more reviews:  Goodreads

Pete Springer, Buy: Amazon USand:Amazon UK – Website: Pete Springer WordPressTwitter: @OfficerWoof

 

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you are leaving with some gifts to share.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Reblog – AfghanistanAdventures#58 – Skulduggery and spies by Mary Smith


Another Afghan adventure for Mary Smith as she plays a diplomatic role under threat of kidnap and extortion…wonderful read as always with stunning photography.

MarySmith’sPlace ~ AfghanistanAdventures#58 ~ Skulduggery and spies

Jaghoray, December 1989

Nothing to do with Jaghoray – this is Jawad, one time driver, now programme co-ordinator, taken between Lal and Waras on a recent tour

Hussain had sent messages from Jaghoray, warning us against going there, because the translators at Qolijou were making kidnap threats. Mubarak said two of the translators, accompanied by several mujahideen had been to Malestan asking about our expected arrival date and future travel plans. There were rumours the hospital had been handed over to Nasre, who wanted increased funding for the hospital and our Toyota. We spent the morning in endless discussions and pointless conjecture.

Mujahidden

Finally, I suggested I go alone to see Hussain, who had a tendency to dramatise any situation, and meet the translators, and Rosanna, in Qolijou. If Rosanna believed the situation to be dangerous she and I would come to Malestan together and leave from there for Pakistan. If it was nothing more than the usual over-reaction I’d send word Jon should come to Jaghoray. Rahimy insisted he come with me. Zahir and Sharif promptly volunteered to accompany us. Mubarak arranged the hire of his brother’s jeep.

As Jon and Mubarak waved us off next morning, I felt like a spy being sent behind enemy lines on an intelligence gathering mission. A glance at my three companions – one fourteen year old youth who looked about twelve, one extremely nervous ex-mujahid, and one very deformed leprosy patient, who at least succeeded in assuming a suitably sinister appearance with his turban tail drawn tightly across his face – and I decided we more resembled actors in a farcical spoof. We hadn’t even a Kalashnikov or pistol, between us.

Head over to read how Mary facilitated the resolution to this particularly challenging issue: MarySmith’sPlace ~ AfghanistanAdventures#58 ~ Skulduggery and spies

A selection of books by Mary Smith

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Mary Smith, Buy:Amazon US – and:Amazon UK –  Blog: Mary Smith’s PlaceGoodreads: Goodreads – Twitter: @marysmithwriter

Smorgasbord Reblog – MarySmith’sPlace – AfghanistanAdventures#57


Mary Smith​ with this week’s episode of life in Afghanistan in 1989 as Mary and Jon travel through the winter passes with some nervous passengers and a few off road experiences…brilliant as always..

MarySmith’sPlace – Falling off a mountain – snow, ice & wolves AfghanistanAdventures#57

Afghanistan, December 1989

As we prepared to leave Arif’s clinic he became unusually quiet until, as he was saying goodbye, I realised how upset he was by his young brother, Sharif’s departure. He was coming with us to Pakistan where Arif had arranged for him to attend school in Karachi. I promised to take care of him, and with tears in his eyes he finally released Sharif from a tight embrace. If Sharif felt similar emotion, he concealed it well, appearing self-possessed about the prospect of not seeing his family for several years.

Leprosy patient, Zahir on the left, Arif’s young brother Sharif preparing to travel to Pakistan

We stopped for lunch at the edge of Naoor where I noticed Sharif patiently helping to tear up Zahir’s nan before requesting a spoon for him, without which it was impossible for him to eat. His right wrist, which had previously flopped about, had now been firmly splinted. We feared a bone was broken (in fact X rays in Karachi showed the bone had not broken, but had crumbled away, attacked by pus bacteria which had presumably started life in an old, infected wound.) Despite his sorry state, Zahir still retained his high good humour, dissolving into his terrifying asthmatic giggle at the slightest thing. He was also becoming less self-conscious about his appearance, no longer keeping his face hidden behind his turban tail.

As there was only another three hours travelling in front of us to Malestan we decided there was no need to re-fill the thermoses at the chaikhana – more fool us. As the road began to climb steeply, becoming increasingly twisty and treacherous, we found ourselves, once again, in a snowy landscape. There was nothing to be seen, except a few rocks, appearing bald-headed, where wind had swept off their snowy caps.

Head over to discover how things did not work out as planned and how dangerous it became: Falling off a mountain – snow, ice & wolves AfghanistanAdventures#57

A selection of books by Mary Smith

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Mary Smith, Buy:Amazon US – and:Amazon UK –  Blog: Mary Smith’s PlaceGoodreads: Goodreads – Twitter: @marysmithwriter

Smorgasbord Reblog – MarySmith’sPlace – AfghanAdventures#56 – caught in a bombing raid


Mary Smith with another episode of living and working in Afghanistan in 1989.. this week bombing raids, near misses and mangoes… This trip certainly was not for the timid..

MarySmith’sPlace – AfghanAdventures#56 – caught in a bombing raid

To de-stress after completing Arif’s accounts we went shopping in Tezak bazaar, where I’d spent the first night on the road, when travelling north with Khudadad almost six months ago.

The teahouse gossip concerned a recent bombing raid on the bazaar. The Kabul Government suspected mujahideen base camps were close to Tezak. I was puzzled there was so little evidence of bombing raids and was told since the mujahideen had acquired anti-aircraft guns, bombers could no longer fly in so low. The pilots were forced to drop the bombs from a much higher height, sacrificing accuracy for safety.

I wondered how I’d feel if I were ever caught in a bombing raid. Apart from here in Tezak, where the men assured us there would be no bombing for some weeks yet (how could they be sure?), our travels never took us near places of any significance in the war. However, on my second time in Afghanistan the following spring, I found out.

We weren’t supposed to be in Sia Huq the day it was bombed. A broken leaf spring, which refused to be held together any longer with bits of wire and string, forced us to make the detour. Sia Haq, once a tiny village barely two hours from Kabul, had become a major transport depot held by the mujahideen.

The repair job meant an overnight stay, yet another unscheduled delay on our journey from the leprosy clinic in Lal sar Jangal to Jaghoray, en route for Pakistan. We decided to kill time shopping for our evening meal. After weeks in Lal, which has no vegetables, except turnip, nor fruit the sight of mangoes had Jon, Mubarak and I, who’d lived in Pakistan and knew the delights of mangoes, whooping with glee. Juma and Abdul Hamid, neither of whom had ever been out of Lal, were unimpressed.

Our enterprising landlord, whose rooms were full of truck drivers, had erected a tent on his flat roof for our use and there we dined on spring onions, tomatoes, yoghurt and fresh, hot nan washed down with tea.

Mubarak and I in our rooftop tent

Head over to read the rest of this hair raising postCaught in a Bombing Raid – Mary Smith

A selection of books by Mary Smith

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Mary Smith, Buy:Amazon US – and:Amazon UK –  Blog: Mary Smith’s PlaceGoodreads: Goodreads – Twitter: @marysmithwriter

Thanks for dropping by and I hope you will head over to Mary’s to read the rest of the post  thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Reblog – AfghanistanAdventures#55 – Pesky commanders, dentistry & an inside loo by Mary Smith


Mary Smith with another brilliant episode of her ten years working in Afghanistan…and some hair-curling stories of dentistry, hostage taking, budget overruns and the power of motherhood.

l to r: Ashraf, Arif’s Field Assistant , Arif, and important people

Afghanistan, December 1989

When I requested a tour of the premises Arif led me up and down staircases and along passages and in and out of so many rooms I lost all sense of direction. From the guest room there were two exits, one leading through the kitchen down a flight of stairs to the storerooms below, one of which was filled with a supply of wood for winter heating. The second exit from the guest room took us along a short passage to the consulting room and the pharmacy. I was astonished to think this had been built as an average family home. Arif rented the premises from the owner who lived in Kabul with his family. He did say the landlord was a wealthy man, so perhaps his home was more splendid than average. I haven’t found any photos so I guess I didn’t take any – have included random pics for you to enjoy.

I particularly liked one of the upstairs rooms, which was empty and unused; a beautiful room with fret worked wooden designs decorating the walls and ceiling, arched alcoves in the walls. Sunlight streamed through two large windows which gave onto a view of the sloping hillside below us. ‘Why don’t you use this room? It is lovely,’ I asked.

Arif agreed, ‘Yes it is a nice room but there is no heating and it is too cold. If we were going to stay here I would install a bukhari but as you know we are going to build a new clinic in Saydabad.’

The decision to move the clinic had been taken earlier in the summer. Arif was not from Day Mirdad and had faced difficulties in being accepted by the people who were suspicious of strangers. These problems had been made worse by the animosity between Pashtun and Hazara, both of whom came daily to the clinic. Frequent disputes arose as they waited in the compound to consult Arif. The Pashtun people did not trust Arif because he worked with Hazaras, and often went touring in Hazara areas to treat leprosy patients. The Hazaras were equally suspicious of him because he was Pashtun. There were no leprosy patients amongst the Pashtun in the surrounding district and they resented the clinic being closed when Arif went to his monthly tour programme to treat Hazara leprosy patients.

 

Head over to enjoy this fascinating post in full: AfghanistanAdventures#55 – Pesky commanders, dentistry & an inside loo

 

A selection of books by Mary Smith

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Mary Smith, Buy:Amazon US – and:Amazon UK –  Blog: Mary Smith’s PlaceGoodreads: Goodreads – Twitter: @marysmithwriter

Smorgasbord Reblog – #AfghanistanAdventures 54 – Winter travel by Mary Smith


Mary Smith continues her journey through the mountains of Afghanistan and has a night in a military compound which could have resulted in an international incident… and something essential gets broken.

Winter Travel – Afghanistan, December 1989, Day Mirdad

The delay meant we were a long way from our destination, when darkness fell. At the next check post the mujahid guarding the chain, tried to persuade us not to continue our journey. Jon thanked him, but said we must ensure our patients reached the clinic in Day Mirdad. The mujahid played the beam of his torch into the back of the vehicle. When he spotlighted Zahir, without his turban, he jumped back hastily and waved us on. Poor Zahir, for once, we were grateful for the terrified reaction he provoked.

At the next check post Jon tried the same story. The mujahid peered into the back, saw Zahir and said calmly, ‘Oh, a leprosy patient. Never mind, we can give you a separate room for him.’ Jon requested permission to speak to the Commander who opened the window of his office a grudging few inches. We watched as Jon talked, gesticulating occasionally towards the vehicle. We saw the Commander shake his head and give a brief reply. Jon tried again – the Commander slammed the window shut. We were not going to reach Day Mirdad that night.

We were directed through a gateway into a large, bleak compound. Crunching over the frozen snow, we reached our room, unwilling guests of the Nasre Party for the night. The room was frigid, my head was hurting and we were all cold and cross. A man came in to light the bukhari around which we huddled, morosely sipping tea. We had to ask twice for food before we were eventually served a quantity of greasy, grey liquid with a few pieces of very stringy, dried up meat. Not even Zahir could find anything to laugh about.

Please head over to enjoy the post in full: MarySmith’sPlace – #AfghanistanAdventures54 Winter travel

A selection of books by Mary Smith

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Mary Smith, Buy:Amazon US – and:Amazon UK –  Blog: Mary Smith’s PlaceGoodreads: Goodreads – Twitter: @marysmithwriter