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A group of authors writing interesting posts weekly and interacting with readers.
Let the countdown begin. We’re heading to the period most of the people here in Finland dread the most, Winter. This is not about being cozy under a blanket and watch the soft flurries falling from the sky. This is about a nightmare that repeats itself every year.
I’m talking about darkness, freezing temperatures, and of course, working outdoors. This has been one of those years when Summer lasted literally three weeks, as the first day of August marked the time to change the summer wardrobe with the winter one. The tomatoes I planted in Spring didn’t even have the time to give a single fruit and are now rotting under the merciless temperatures under 10 C. Was it even worth it? I feel like I’ve wasted five good plants of tomatoes, sending them to a desperate kamikaze mission.
You might think I’m crazy, but I feel sorry for their too short life. Like a general, I watch my soldiers deadly wounded in a battle we didn’t even win.
The problem is that I already know next year, I will still try to plant them once again (will I ever learn?).
Nevertheless, longer summers are still possible, and I’ve experienced them. But they come very randomly, and it’s like throwing the dice, crossing the fingers, and hoping to win.
Now I know what you’re thinking: can’t I find anything nice to say about fall and Winter? Of course, there is something nice. The fall colors here in Finland are unique, particularly in Lapland:
I love the warm touch of the scarf worn for the first time (after a long summer). The smell of the first hot cereal soups, the days spent searching for mushrooms and berries. The fantastic pictures I get of birds preparing their flight formation to reach the Summer on the other side of the planet.
I also find it enticing when the snow finally falls and gifts us with a bit of light. As you can see, there are good parts to it. I’m just disappointed with the imbalance with which we receive those gifts. There’s one old say about having too much of a good thing, and this is what I’m complaining about.
But, as my husband always says to console me. "Things will change one day, and good things are still waiting for us, so let’s not get bitter for those little things." I simply love him!
© P.J. Mann, 2021
I’m no stranger to odd events. Since childhood, I’ve experienced Out of Body occurrences, not to mention a keen empathic ability to connect with spirits. It’s no wonder I’d also experience the terrifying condition known as Sleep Paralysis.
Scientists, researchers, and sufferers all have their own explanation on what really causes sleep paralysis, (SP) but it still remains a mystery to most, while victims of this condition are left to resort to medical treatments, sleep centers and some go as far as hypnosis, pagan rituals, and other religious practices. When desperation sets in and one will go to great lengths for relief of this mysterious and frightening condition.
Most scientists claim SP is a basic brain glitch that occurs at the intersection between wakefulness and rapid eye movement, (REM) sleep. When asleep, our bodies alternate between NonRem and Rem Sleep. This transition controlled by chemicals pushes us between sleep and wakefulness.
This is a type of Parasomnia that involves a brief loss of muscle control that happens just after falling asleep or upon waking up. This is where hallucinations can occur. Yes— the creepy stuff.
Doctors will tell you the only relief is to follow a better sleep pattern, better diet, anxiety meds, or meditation. I have done all of these and have not seen any relief from this condition.
Despite what science says many different theories have evolved from various cultural beliefs such as:
Call it what you will, it remains a terrifying experience to the sufferer or shall I say, victim. Each encounter can be quite different.
There are two types of Sleep Paralysis
Most cases claim that the body is in a frozen state and unable to move. Speech can also be affected by the inability to produce any type of sound. Hallucinations are common and may involve:
SP can begin at ages seven to twenty-five. Eight percent of people experience this. There is a higher risk in a family that has had SP.
My first encounter with SP was back in my teens. My mother had it as well as an aunt and uncle. I remember long before I had my first attack my mother retelling her encounter in detail the next morning after an occurrence. My dad would have to push her to release her from this temporary state of paralysis. It was no surprise to her when I had joined the SP Team.
I remember being fully awake but unable to move any muscle and trying to shake myself out of this coma internally. It seemed to pass only leaving me terrified as to when the next one would occur. I had them off and on and then they stopped when I was married and moved to Arizona with my husband. I began to wonder if it really was some sort of demon in that house. I had warned my husband that if he heard moaning coming from me it was a signal to shake me.
Years went by and I began to have the episodes again in my late forties. Each attack was a bit more intense and different. They seemed to last longer and now I was sensing another physical being in the room. My husband was aware of my condition but never had to rescue me from my encounters. Sometimes I’d have at least four of them in a row; the worst part was when I was sleeping alone.
I’m well into my sixties now and currently living in Florida. I’ve had several attacks while in this house. A few weeks ago, I had one that was very different from the others. It began like most, with feeling frozen but what happened next scared the heck out of me. I could actually feel a body climb onto my stomach and lean on me! I could still breathe but felt intense pressure on my chest. It lasted for a short time. I remember waking my husband to tell him and he told me to go back to sleep.
All the details were very clear to me the next morning. I was still me but who or what was this being done in my bed?
Just as I was ready to send off this blog, I had to report another episode last night and it had to be the scariest one of all. I did feel as though I couldn’t breathe and felt as though I was being strangled. I did manage to shake myself out of it but couldn’t get back to sleep for fear it would strike again.
So here I am up at 5 a.m. having my calming Chamomile Tea and researching more information on this subject. The SP night thief managed to steal a few good hours of sleep once again.
© Lorraine Carey
What is Creativity?
Creativity is defined as the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others.
Three reasons why people are motivated to be creative:
In ancient times there were answers to that question. Despite many pantheons of beliefs, I found that the Greeks had the most prominent and well recognized to this very day. They were called The Muses. They totaled nine and were created to bring inspiration, knowledge, artistry, and music to the ancient world. Tasked with the embodiment of certain idealistic artistry. Muses inspired musicians, writers, and performers to reach even greater artistic and intellectual heights. You may recognize a name or two, but few who never studied the Greek pantheon would know all nine. Allow me to introduce them to you, as they may have whispered in your ear while you slept or while you were creating; thereby making your skills even more refined.
The Nine Muses
Goddess of memory, Mnemosyne, was said to be the mother of the muses. Nowhere could this writer find a name of a father, which often indicates a mortal mate. It has been stated that the muses were meant to balance their mother to help mortals forget their troubles and suffering, if only for a little while. Hesiod, in his Theogony, claimed he spoke with the muses on Mount Helicon. His claim was they breathed into him their divine voice so he could proclaim the Gods and their descendants. Thus, he was transformed from a shepherd to one of the most prominent poets in antiquity.
Whether you’re a writer, musician, dancer, or any other type of creative person you may owe your inspiration to a muse. Many people still claim they must consult their muse, but how many of them know their muse by name? I hope that now if you call upon a muse to inspire you, that you will be able to thank them properly for their gift to you.
~Slate R. Raven
Did you know?
High heels were first designed for men. At the end of the 16th century, Persian-inspired style was all the rage in Europe, according to the J. Paul Getty Museum, and heels were seen as being virile and masculine—and a great way to boost the ego of short men.
Clever design for roosters. Considering a rooster's call can reach 140 decibels or louder, it might leave one to wonder how the rooster itself keeps from going deaf when it crows. It turns out, the rooster have built-in earplugs. Researchers found that when a rooster opens its beak to crow, its external auditory canals close off, preventing sound from coming in and doing any damage.
Don't say cheese. We say "cheese" when our picture is taken because the word leaves us with a big smile on our faces. But if Victorian-era folk were to see our gleeful expressions, they'd scoff. Once upon a time, smiling in photos was considered undignified and reserved for the poor and the drunk. To retain a more serious look in their photos, they would say "prunes," a word so dull, the chances of it inciting a smile were slim to none.
The smell of rain is called petrichor. It comes from an oil plants exude that dries on the ground. When it rains, the oil combines with a byproduct from a type of bacteria to produce the smell.
Calculate tips the easy way. Assuming you want to tip 20 percent for good service, move the decimal point one digit to the left and then double that number. It's that easy! For example, if a bill is for $35.50, you move the decimal to the left, which gives you $3.55. Double that number, and you've got $7.10—a 20 percent tip calculated in seconds.
Cats have fewer toes on their back paws. Just like most four-legged mammals, cats have five toes on the front, but their back paws only have four toes. Scientists think the four-toe back paws might help them run faster.
Turkeys can blush. When turkeys are scared or excited, the pale skin on their head and neck turns bright red, blue, or white. The flap of skin over their beaks, called a “snood,” also reddens.
Contrary to the popular belief, tomato juice doesn't really get rid of the skunk smell, but a mixture of dish soap, peroxide, and baking soda will do the trick. The skunk spray is oily, which your grease-fighting dish soap will take care of. Peroxide and baking soda add plenty of oxygen to the mix to get rid of the awful smell.
Tomatoes are native to the Americas, so there was no such thing as tomato sauce in Italy until at least the 16th century.
Independence Day. The British Empire grew extremely large before scaling back down. 62 countries eventually declared their independence from the empire, 48 of which celebrate an Independence Day from the United Kingdom.
The “Windy City” name has nothing to do with Chicago weather. Chicago’s nickname was coined by 19th-century journalists who were referring to the fact that its residents were “windbags” and “full of hot air.”
Pez candy was invented to help people quit smoking cigarettes; the original Pez dispensers were shaped similarly to a cigarette lighter.
Ice pops were invented by an 11-year-old by accident. In 1905, an 11-year-old boy named Frank Epperson left soda powder and water outside overnight with its wooden stirrer still in the cup. The mixture had frozen in the chilly nighttime weather, and so the Epsicle was born. He sold the treat around his neighborhood and a nearby amusement park and even patented the recipe. Years later, he changed the name to Popsicle because that’s what his kids called their pop’s concoction.
Peanuts aren’t nuts. They’re legumes. According to Merriam-Webster, a nut is only a nut if it’s “a hard-shelled dry fruit or seed with a separable rind or shell and interior kernel.” That means walnuts, almonds, cashews, and pistachios aren’t nuts either. They’re seeds.
If you like chewing ice, you might be suffering from anemia. Also known as "pagophagia," the compulsive eating of ice may not just be a nervous tick, but a way of cooling inflammation in the mouth caused by a lack of iron, according to the Mayo Clinic. So if you like chomping down on those cubes, see your doctor, stat.
Did you know that the little ball of cotton that comes in your bottle of pills is there to keep pills safe during shipping, is meant to be removed. It can collect moisture because of its absorbent nature, which makes your pills deteriorate faster.
Chewing an aspirin at the first sign of a heart attack can be a lifesaver. The drug inhibits platelets from forming a clot that can block and artery and cause a full heart attack. For the fastest relief (and time is of the essence), chew the aspirin instead of swallowing it.
Faking happiness and constantly reading about other people's happy life is bad for your mental health. Showing carefully selected pictures and selfies, boasting about everyday successes, and overall depicting a happy life to others creates resentments, jealousy, and self-loathing. You know your life is far from perfect and you know you're a fake.
And it's 3 meters high
My husband and I took a wonderful trip to the Dominican Republic. We tried to do everything while we were there, so of course, we signed up for white-water rafting. They loaded us up and dressed us in helmets and life jackets. The surrounding terrain was beautiful and I was enjoying myself. Until the guide told me about the waterfall!
He said it so calmly, too, in a perfect tour-guide voice. “And now we go over a waterfall, three meters high.” And it was too late to get out of the boat! I thought the raft would dive nose first into the pool below, flipping us all into the raging river. This was a real waterfall, not just a rapid. It was vertical. And it was coming fast. Off we went, but somehow we remained upright, and alive!
There are so many things in life that we are very worried about. They sound awful, and we don’t think we can do them. But if we just hang on, take a deep breath, maybe clench a little, we find we can do it! Don’t hesitate to scream if you need to! I think life often feels like being in a raft on a river, and sometimes it feels like my paddle is broken. Best wishes for your own voyage.
By A.J. Park
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As Far Back As I Remember
Some things about me have been true as far back as I remember. I absolutely love purple. It has been my favorite color my whole life...as far as I know. I do recall my mother saying I would outgrow it. I never did. Dark shades of royal purple and the lighter shades of lavender and lilac have always touched my heart and figured into my home decorating. I never have purchased much clothing in these colors, but if given any that were purple, I would wear them until they fell apart.
In addition to purple, I have other "favorites" which have held their positions in my mind since so far back I cannot recall what exactly happened that let them rise to their current position of importance. For instance, I love dragons, and fairies, and oriental knickknacks. I also have collections of shot glasses, jokers (from decks of cards) and salt and pepper shakers. Why I give them such a large place in my life, I have no clue.
Two things that have also been true about my likes is my total love of jasmine (which resulted in the naming of my only child), and the love of waves crashing against rocks.
To this day, I've never seen waves crashing. I do love waterfalls, though, and I had plenty of exposure to them growing up. Therefore, I always assumed the love of waves was just an extension of my waterfall obsession.
Where my love of jasmine came from, I really had no clue. It is not as if this tropical flower was readily available in Upstate New York.
Recently I have been watching a DVD set of one of my favorite shows from my youth, Dark Shadows. I remember rushing home from school and finishing my homework just so I could watch this "horror soap opera". After the first two episodes, I realized the sign on was, in fact, waves crashing against rocks. Could this be where the desire to see this phenomenon? I began to wonder...it did make sense. I watched this show for its entire run from 1966-1971, so my exposure to the opening credits was extensive.
As I continue watching this show, I find myself deeply enthralled again. It was while watching the second season that the scent of jasmine was mentioned as lingering scent, whenever the ghost of Josette was near. Once again, I had discovered the probable cause of my partiality to this delicate flower.
Finally, after 64 years, I have discovered the roots of my fondness for things I had no early exposure to.
I wonder when I might discover why I love purple...
~Cindy J. Smith
How do you pronounce that?
British place names are diverse, influenced by Saxon, Viking, Norman, Latin words, among other sources. What you see if definitely not what you get. At least not always.
Here is a selection of British place names that often throw those folks unfamiliar with the pronunciation – including my fellow Brits!
Confused? Yep, that’s English for you.
It hasn’t been easy dealing with the pandemic, my day job, heath issues in the family and keeping up with writing, editing, and marketing. Too much stress can really take its toll.
To me it meant that I needed something not just to keep me busy, because I was already busy, but that could have taken me away from thinking about my busy schedule. From my experience, nothing beats the planning and remodeling the yard.
So, I took my chance starting from something that had bothered me for a long time: the small path that leads to the greenhouse. Ten years ago, I planned that path without many thoughts, and the slate tiles I arranged directly on the ground are hardly visible anymore.
Learning from the construction sites I am following, I took notes on how to do the job. So this is my starting point at the beginning of Spring (yes, I know there was still some snow LOL):
The idea was simple, to do the path again in a way that it wouldn’t sink into the soil with time. I needed 102 tiles for the border, gravel for the bottom, and coarse sand for the base under the slate tiles. This would have required unearthing the tiles, digging the earth until at least 10 cm deep, placing the landscaping fabric, the gravel (and settle it), the 102 tiles for the border, the sand and the slate tiles.
One thing came immediately to my mind was that this isn’t something one person alone should do unless… Of course, unless I divide the tasks to be done only during the weekends. Therefore, the first weekend I unearthed the slate, went to buy the material and started to dig.
I felt like an undertaker!
Then I would rest for one week and the next weekend I would have set up the gravel and border tiles.
The last weekend was the turn of the sand and the final slate tiles. The result was surprising me because the general outlook reminded me about the sinuous shapes of the Art Nuveau, Hector Guimard and the asymmetric smooth curves on his design. Some might call it imprecise, twisted. I call it art!
Oh, here’s the result of course, immediately after, and now with the Summer taking over the garden:
The best result was that I could keep my sanity and go through the most difficult period of my life so far. Now things seem to have settle and we’re on the path of normalization.
Now I started to get excited about garden jobs, and I have other plans for the summer. A building Summer!
© P.J. Mann
What is phobia?
A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder defined by a persistent and excessive fear of an object or situation. Phobias typically, result in a rapid onset of fear and are present for more than six months. ~Wikipedia
Many phobias develop as a result of having a negative experience or panic attack related to a specific object or situation. Genetics and environment. There may be a link between your own specific phobia and the phobia or anxiety of your parents — this could be due to genetics or learned behavior.
I created some videos for you, enjoy!
Nyctophobia is fear of night or darkness
I have a healthy fear of darkness, just like most people. I'm fortunate that it didn't escalate to phobia when as a child, I imagined monsters in every closet and under the bed. Just like most kids, I quickly outgrew the fear of darkness.
Although I don't like posting selfies or self-videos, luckily, I don't have this problem.
Automatonophobia is fear of human-like figures
Well, with this, I do have a problem. I keep double social distance when I see dummies in stores. As a nurse, I struggled with this phobia every year when I had to take CPR refreshment courses. I was fortunate that the instructors saw me many times giving CPR to real people during codes, so they let me wear gloves and cover the creepy, plastic dummies with a bedsheet so I don't have to see or touch them.
Cynophobia is fear of dogs
I would feel devastated if I had this phobia, and my heart goes out to people who do. I couldn't imagine my life without having and hugging a furry friend.
Equinophobia is fear of horses
I'm so lucky not to be one of the 8% population who has irrational fear of horses. I love these majestic, intelligent animals.
Trypanophobia is fear of needles
Now that would be bizarre if a nurse had this phobia. However, even though I don't have a problem with needles, I prefer not to have tattoos.
Have you any phobia?
Share your experience with us.
Posted by Erika M Szabo
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Hard to believe, but they all have something in common
Have a good look at the book covers in the image above.
They all have something in common.
Yes, I know it’s not easy to spot, after all, there’s a cookbook, a novel by a famous playwright, the original books from several top movies of the last seventy or so years, even one that was made into a superb TV series, starring House and Loki. Oh, and of course, a storybook and a novel for children.
Is it the colors, the style, the genre, the lettering fonts?
Last chance; any guesses?
Okay, I’ll put you out of your misery.
It’s the authors.
Still not figured it out?
When thinking what to write about for this week’s article, I decided to take a hint from the recent publication as a Kindle Short Read of my tale ‘Death of a Sparrowman’, and yes, the title is a direct reference to Arthur Miller’s play. For those of you who may not be familiar with Miller’s famous work, ‘Death of a Salesman’, it is the story, heavily laced with irony, of the last day in the life of Willy Loman, the salesman of the title. It is a very American work, with great depth and insight regarding a man’s inability to accept change and his loss of individual identity as he pursues the American Dream.
I decided my short story would take these two themes (identity loss and change of circumstances), set them in an environment outside the States, and in a world with which I was familiar. Thus, the salesman became the Sparrowman, the profession became that of a covert courier for the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), and, in case readers were familiar with Miller’s play, I drove the tale toward a similar tragic conclusion.
Just a minute, you cry. What’s all this got to do with the book covers and their authors?
Well, one of the three great influences on my own writing is Ian Fleming, one of the authors above. I also wrote ‘Sparrowman’ as a low-key tale, with a slow-building underlying tension, in a similar vein to the novels of David Cornwell, better known as John Le Carré.
There’s another clue.
Le Carré and Fleming were both intelligence agents, the former working for both MI5 (British counterintelligence) and MI6, whilst James Bond’s creator, and also the author of ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’, was active in British Naval Intelligence prior to embarking upon his writing career.
Got it, yet?
Yes, all of the authors in the above images were, at one time or another, intelligence agents!
I wonder what it is about the life of a spy that results in so many evolving into top authors. Perhaps the intensity, the loneliness, the experiences? Next time you pick up a cookbook or children’s tale, ask yourself about the secret life of the writers.
Click to read about Eric's books:
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