The Plight of Pawns

The trouble with elections is, they only last for a few weeks during which individuals of voting age  count.  The four years that follow that same voter becomes nothing more than a pawn.  The announcement today of Hydro increases that will top 25% is another reminder of this. DSC00591 (3)

During the election campaign we heard how important families were and that seniors, having given years of service to the province, deserved consideration.   In speeches the same people told us huge increases for electricity they would not allow.  The Hydro increases announced today proves them to be liars.  Does anybody think there won’t be a new pipeline?

So what will 25% mean in dollars and cents, and who will be most affected?  Let me count the ways.  Take your present Hydro bill, divide it by four and add that amount to your present bill.  For me it will be about $700 a year or almost $60 a month.  If you think you can cut back to keep from paying more, you’ll have to shut all power off for 1.75 days each week.  That’s 42 hours each week of the year.   But that’s not all the bad news.  Prices of everything you and I will buy will go up.  A business must pass its costs on to the customer.  Health care will be more expensive.  School districts already strapped for funds will have increased costs which will translate to fewer services for student.

And who will be most affected.  That one is easy.  The same families we heard our politicians say they will make sure they get a fair shake, the same seniors on fixed incomes they claimed they would protect from the poorhouse.  What about young people trying to make ends meet in colleges and universities?

But maybe the bigger issue is that we have allowed politicians to lie to us, making promises they had no intentions ever to keep.  I know if I told my employer over and over I would do a job and then I didn’t do it, that employer would have the right to fire me and most likely would do so.

I wrote the Premier today and hope a lot of people will do so.  Don’t you think enough is enough?

Remembrance day poppyIt’s Remembrance Day today.  Have you ever wondered why we wear a poppy and why we gather to remember?  Our youth, I’m sure are wondering about it.  Without anyone pointing them to the answers they might get the mistaken idea that what happens on November 11 each year glorifies war.  So what is it we should never forget?  What should we always remember?

Yes, we should remember those who gave up their life fighting against oppression.  They did not go to glorify war.  They joined in the battle, because evil regimes threatened their loved ones’ freedom and oppressed other people.

We must never forget that freedom and peace sometimes comes at an enormous individual and collective price.  How fortunate people in this country are can be seen in the fact that few who have never experience war firsthand really understanding what it means to have lost all basic freedoms and to live in fear daily.

It is vital that we now always guard the freedoms we have lest we lose them.  No group, no country is immune to those with evil and selfish goals and ambition and would not stop short to enslave others to reach those goals.  field of poppies 4

Years ago I wrote a poem in memory of my father who was killed when I was five.  He was not a soldier, but he was a citizen of a country held in the grip of an evil dictator and his hordes of henchmen.  Near the end of the war all males older than fourteen had to report to defend against advancing armies.  The Russian army had advance close to Breslau or home, then a city in East Germany, now called Wroclaw in Poland.  A few weeks earlier we and all civilians had been ordered to flee to points west and south.  That late winter he lost his life.  We have never been able to find out where he is buried.  One unsubstantiated report we did receive said he was shot while forced to dig a mass grave.  The poem below, “Did the Bugle Weep for You?” I wrote years ago a day or two before Remembrance Day.

Did the Bugle Weep for You?

My father, young and full of hopes and dreams

Of life yet to be lived for many days there after                                      Bugler at dusk

Of your mother’s smile, your wife’s soft touch

Of your sons’ and daughters’ smiles and laughter.

In the last days cold duty called you to take arms

To defend against advancing army’s guns

An army of men also with dreams and hopes

For their future days and waiting loved ones.

My father, young and full of hopes and dreams

A dictator’s senseless war one cold, dark day slew

Your hopes, your dreams and your life still young.

At the end of your day – did the bugle weep for you?

(WHM in my father’s memory)

Instead of adding a second excerpt of “Beyond the Law” at this time I decided to post the first excerpt of a novel I’m in the process of writing.

Many people who read my novel “Secrets of Hawking Manor” implored me to write a sequel to the story of the Carstairs family.  I was not inclined to do so for some time, but individuals kept asking.  So several months ago I began that work. The first chapters I wrote in a relatively short time, about four months.  Subsequent chapters have been slower in developing.  I’m about half way to completing the sequel and plan to have it done in the late months of winter.  Here are the first two pages of “Storms over Hawking Manor”.

Storms over Hawking Manor

The Trial

The momentary silence in the courtroom hung like a swollen cloud over the men seated opposite the prisoner’s box.  A battle raged within Henry Carstairs’ heart.  He sat near the front of the room next to his brother, Benjamin, and Simon Lawson, Christopher’s father.  Henry stared across at the man, his former friend, seated in the prisoner’s box.  This man had poached for months in the woods of Eagleridge, part of Hawking Manor’s estate, and he had shot Christopher, Eagleridge’s manager’s son.  The youth had been Benjamin and Henry’s dear friend.  He had come upon this poacher suddenly.  Henry, along with Christopher and Simon his father, had set out on a cold, wet day a year earlier to catch the unknown man who had come regularly into the Eagleridge woods to poach.  It was Christopher who had sighted the poacher first.  He had wounded the man who was in the act of gutting a deer.  The thief refused to heed the youth’s warning.  Not knowing the poacher was Eugene, a former Dragoon, an expert with various weapons; Christopher did not realize how dangerous this thief was.  Although the poacher had bled profusely from Christopher’s bullet, he had shot and mortally wounded Christopher in return, before Henry and Simon had been able to come to assist the youth.

Now, seated in the courtroom all the grief that day, now months past, had brought into his life crowded back into Henry’s heart.  As he had done many times he wondered again, if he had not planned the capture of the thief carefully enough back then and was in part to blame for Christopher’s demise.  He recalled again the hours he had sat with Simon and Christopher and mapped out strategies to catch the poacher.  “What could I have done differently?” he silently lamented again.

Although Henry and Benjamin had expected the judge to pronounce Eugene Fairham guilty as charged, hearing the judge’s words, “An eye for an eye, a life for a life, Eugene Fairham this day of our Lord, the fifth day of November 1854 I condemn you three days hence to hang by the neck until you are dead,” chilled both young men to the core.  Henry glanced at his former friend.  He saw none of the man’s former spirited energy, his distain for problems other men deemed insurmountable, his unbridled, sometimes callous humor, nor his unveiled love for life.  Now he sat in the prisoner’s box and appeared to be a man drained of self and bare of the will to live.  He sat motionless with his eyes cast to the floor.  For a moment Henry wondered if Eugene was cunning enough in that fashion to try to gain the court’s mercy. “He’s play acted persuasively many times,” Henry murmured silently, but he soon banished the thought.

Finally, a few muffled coughs in the back of the room and the suppressed sobs of a woman seated behind the prisoner’s box broke the silence.  It was then that Simon turned to Henry and Benjamin and whispered, “It will not bring my son back, men.  Your former friend, Henry, also is the son of a mother.  I ask you to plead for your former comrade in arms.”

Simon’s words touched Henry.  He and Benjamin had testified against Eugene during the trial, but after hearing the sentence pronounced, he wanted to shout out, “No, Your Honor, not that!”  But the remembrance of holding the mortally wounded Christopher in his arms and hearing his last words to him again, ‘I saw his face,’ as the youth had dreamed the night before losing his life had sealed Henry’s mouth.  Now pity for his former friend welled up deep inside of him.

Henry saw Eugene turn to glance at the sobbing woman seated behind him.  He stared at her for a long moment.  Then in the stillness of the room the people heard him whisper painfully, “Mother.”

When Henry saw him turn again to face the judge.  He saw the pitiful face of a defeated man, a man without hope, a man Henry had once known to be full of life and energy, a man who had been willing to lay down his life in the service of Her Majesty and his country.

Slowly Henry rose from his seat, “Your Honor,” he stammered.  “On behalf of the father of the youth who lost his young life by the hand Eugene Fairham, the condemned man, I plead for mercy for him.  My former friend and comrade in arms in our monarch’s service once served this nation with valor and distinction.  The horsemen had none more fearless than he was.”  Henry’s eyes fixed on the judge were filled with sadness.  He repeated once more almost in a whisper, “I plead for mercy for him.”

The judge, who was a friend of Samuel Carstairs, Benjamin and Henry’s father, and who was also a distant relative of Rebecca’s mother, Lady Lydia, stared at Henry for a long moment.  He muttered words Henry could not understand.  Turning quickly and casting a stern glance at Eugene the judge accidently dislodged his wig.  Righting it he turned his eyes to Benjamin.  His Lordship held Benjamin in high esteem.  He had met him at the christening of Henry’s son at Hawking Manor.  At that meeting with Benjamin he had learned of the young Carstair’s years in North America, and how he had come to be on that faraway continent.  The story had intrigued him at once.  He, therefore, had sought Benjamin out during the christening festivities to learn all he could about the New World.  Now he commanded, “Stand, Benjamin Carstairs.”  Benjamin stood up quickly.  With his blue eyes, blonde hair, tall and trim youthful figure he looked handsome and strong.  “How say you?” his lordship demanded.

“Thank you for hearing my brother, Your Honor,” Benjamin began.  “The father of my friend, forever young, wishes that the blood of the one who took his son’s life will not be laid at the feet of his departed son.  Like my brother, I too plead for mercy for Eugene Fairham.”

“What would you have the sentence to be then,” the judge called out leaning forward toward Benjamin from the bench above.

“Banish him, Your Honor,” Benjamin replied respectfully.

We’ve had days and days of day long fog now.  It’s almost to the point of getting people down.  So to cheer us all up and to hopefully dispel that grey mist here is a bit of humor.

A grade three teacher teaching about the circulation system tried to make it relevant to her young charges with an example.  “Students,” she said, “when I stand on my head for a while blood rushes to my head.  How can you tell that it does?”

Mary put up her hand and when called on said, “You’re face turns all read.”

“Good answer, Mary.  That’s exactly what happens because of the extra blood.  But tell me how is it that when I stand up straight for a while my feet don’t turn all red?”

Without missing a beat Joey called out, “That’s cause your feet aren’t empty!”


Fall has moved into our part of the world for its three months visit.  Like every season it brings with it its own beauty. The crispness I feel in the air  in the morning, the yellow, red and brown garments I note that many trees have changed into, the voices of migrating birds I hear and the evidence I see of Halloween  in stores all shout, “It’s autumn.  But the picture that for some reason lingers in my mind’s view is one of the past when fall came to the Prairie.

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Memories of summer

The past week reminded us in this part of the world that autumn has taken a grip on our days.  Rain pitched into our faces.  Wind tore at our clothes.  Dampness chilled us.  But summer’s memories remain strong, and remind us that autumn reigns only for a season. digital set one 085

Beyond the Law

Over the past months I have posted excerpts from  from three of my novels, “Secrets of Hawking Manor”, “In Joy and in Sorrow”, and “Beyond the Breaking Point”.  I have finished an edit lately of “Beyond the Law”, another one of my novels and will post the first excerpt for your enjoyment below.

Chapter 1

Beyond the Law

Dawn had spread the first rays of light on the street where Marianne stood at the bus stop.  A light breeze gently massaged her blonde hair.  Her black eyes sparkled.  Her thoughts turned to William.  Her smile told of her feelings for him.  They had shared a late dinner the previous night.  She giggled thinking of how he had proposed to her, after the waiter had left them with her favorite dessert that William had ordered that morning to be sure the restaurant had it on hand.  “I just wish he would not work so hard,” she whispered.  “He is so driven to give me all the material blessings he thinks I desire, when all I care to have is him.”  Startled to hear nearby puffing she turned her head to see who approached.

A young man of slight built almost ran into the shelter of the bus stop.  His dress looked disheveled but expensive.  He nodded to her while sighing, as if glad to have reached the bus stop.  His eyes briefly searched her from head to foot .  He seemed unable to stand still for more than a second.  Soon Marianne wondered why he turned from side to side continually looking up and down the street and shuffling his feet, as if ready to sprint away any moment.Cadillac SUV

She touched the can of pepper spray she carried in her coat pocket.  William had given it to her and asked her to carry it with her.  Glad it lay concealed in her coat pocket she gripped it.  Maybe I should have taken William up on his offer last night to pick me up, she thought.  Watching the man out of the corner of her eye she didn’t see the Cadillac approaching from her left side.  It had pulled into the right lane a few dozen meters ahead of the shelter.  She heard the man beside her swear under his breath before she heard the shots and felt a searing sting at her temple.  She whispered, “William,” before thick darkness embraced her.  She did not see the man beside her dropping lifeless to the ground, nor did she hear the car speeding away.

Listening to tourists chatter who visit here and marvel at the beauty they see in our area I wonder if it has all become common place to me.  Have the voices of daily tasks and news channels drowned out the songs of nature’s bounty?

So for September at least let me purpose to have eyes that see and ears that hear and a heart in tune with what is wholesome and beautiful in our world.                                 ca8ddad8_42538338037577e_446605050d424ef_4557674 23d2b108_22733219f3ddaa6_20946831fe4e7c9_2285362d5a642c6_2241412



I recently purchase and read a book by Tara Conklin called, “The House Girl.”  The book doesn’t feature a lot of intense action and drama.  It tells of a young lawyer who is part of a team planning a class action suit to compensate people whose ancestors were slaves in the tobacco and corn fields of the southern states.  The action switches back and forth between the present and the days of slavery.  One chapter relates the professional and social issues facing the lawyer and another describes the life of a slave house girl.

For me the most interesting parts of the book dealt with the hardships and the dreams of the slave house girl and the other slaves on the farm with her. Like I said, if you’re looking for a lot of bang, bang action, this isn’t the book to read.  Its interest lies in the way the author relates the two time periods, and how she deals with the young lawyer and the house girl.  One might make the point that the young lawyer was as as much a slave as the house girl.  In the first case the law firm exercises control over her life, in the second case the owner of the farm owned the house girl.  One learns a good deal about the people of the southern states both slave and free.


I venture to guess that at one time or another we all experience a nightmare.  Intriguing to me is the fact that waking up seems not to end the nightmare right away, but prolongs it and maybe even heightens it for a time.  A few years ago, after that kind of a dream, I tried to capture the nightmare phenomenon in a poem.  I found the task daunting.  That end product haunts this page below.


stormy nights
hide calming
heaven’s lights.
high above
the hawking void
places no soul should
penetrate alive.
Dreams flee
and nightmares stray
where troubled souls
will venture.
There to torment
the innocent heart
lost in silent cries


      once waking,walking-water-29543120
the ticking
of the clock
cries out,
“It isn’t so!”
And mind roams
slowly toward day.
Considers unreal hours
Spent in helpless chaos
and from past terrors
strives to break free.
Though night has passed,
yet instinctive thoughts
haunted by terror’s claim.
Until dawn brings comfort.
Light hides the night,
relieving the heart
and mind’s torment and
healing the troubled soul.

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