Friday, July 23, 2021

A Favorite Decade and Lessons Learned

Last week I decided to participate in my friend Rain's
Rain's Thursday's Art Date for the first time.
I'm going to take part as often as I can,
and thank goodness the deadline extends well into Friday,
because it's well into Friday.
This week's prompt is Your Favorite Decade.

Can you pick a favorite decade?
My favorite is the 2020s.
Yes, pandemic and everything that goes with it.

I attribute this to Watson Kirkconnell.
I'm willing to bet that you're thinking
Watson Kirkconnell???

Maybe not my friend Debra at She Who Seeks
because Kirkconnell is a memorable and noteworthy Manitoban.

I met Kirkconnell sometime during my year as a grade eight student
at Wolfville High School in 1963- 1964.
My parents had returned to their alma mater in the fall of 1963
to earn their education degrees, and Kirkconnell was the President of Acadia University.

Wolfville High School's Basketball Team
(I'm in the upper left)

My parents let me attend numerous university functions,
often on my own and even at night. 
At one of them I met Dr. Kirkconnell, likely when Teresa Stratas,
a famous Canadian-born operatic soprano, performed at Acadia that year.
Both Dr. Kirkconnell and Teresa Stratas were appointed Officers in the Order of Canada,
two of 7,212 people so honored (as of January, 2020).

Teresa Stratas
Watson Kirkconnell attended our Baptist church as well,
and I would often see him from my perch in the choir loft.

How about this for an illustrious career?
Kirkconnell was professor of English at Wesley College in Winnipeg from 1922 to 1930 
and head of the classics department there from 1930 to 1940.

He led the federal government’s “Nationalities Branch"
(which became the Citizenship Bureau) during the Second World War.

He headed the Humanities Research Council in 1943 and the Baptist Federation of Canada in 1944.

After a period at McMaster University, 
he was President of Acadia University from 1948 to 1964.

He wrote 40 books, 130 brochures, and 600 articles, as well as innumerable translations
from some of the 50 languages with which he was familiar.

And he was especially important for translating Ukrainian and Icelandic poets into English.  All information from Manitoba Historical Society

Watson Kirkconnell certainly made an impression on me,
so much so that I went to his 80th birthday celebration at Acadia in 1975.
On this occasion he said something I've never forgotten,
and it's the thing I remember him most for.

He said that every decade he lived was better than the one before
and that he was looking forward to his eighties as the best decade yet.

I thought at the time, in my mid-twenties, that that was how I wanted to live my life.
I wanted every decade I lived to be the best one yet.

Now I'm in my seventies, and I love this challenging decade.
By the time it's over, I'm sure it will be my best one yet.

I now recognize that each day is precious, because it could be my last.
I am not burdening myself with the drive to live each day as if it were my last.
That's exhausting and too much pressure.
Instead I'm savoring each day and appreciating what it gives me, good and bad.

Life has taught me some lessons over the decades, 
and these lessons fill my heart and bring me peace:

Being born is an improbable and miraculous gift.
Just by being born, I've won the biggest lottery ever.

Joining the Human Story
Myrtle Louise MacBeath
with her parents, Sara and Don MacBeath
March 1950
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Life is motion.
I wish this weren't true, but it is.  You have to keep moving physically, even when it's hard and hurts.  Whatever your physical condition, do something, move forward, and improve.

Never stop pursuing your dreams!
As long as you are alive, you are worthy of achieving your dreams, big or small.

Walk in another's shoes before you judge.
You never know what someone is going through.  Grant people empathy, compassion,
and understanding, especially if they're grumpy or rude.  Try not to judge.

You get out of life what you put into it.
My father's adage was "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well."
This was not the best advice to a daughter who is a perfectionist, but he meant well.
I learned early on in courses that had poor teachers or professors
that what I got out of a course depended on what I put into it.
I've applied that lesson to many important things in my life.

Never stop learning!
We are privileged to live at a time when the world's knowledge is literally at our fingers,
and the volume of knowledge is exploding!
Curiosity, imagination, and chasing your passions enrich all phases of life.

My Mother
who taught me to read and to never stop learning.
Acadia University, Wolfville. Nova Scotia, Canada
Circa 1947
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Be generous!
My father always said, "If you can't afford the tip, you can't afford the restaurant."  
This is important throughout life, not just in restaurants.  
Be generous with tips, with charities, with little kids selling lemonade,
with firefighters' holding out boots, with complements, and with appreciation.

Forgiveness is good for the soul.
Forgive others for things they have done to you, and give forgiveness to those
who ask it of you.  Forgiveness is a powerful force and soothes your soul.

Smile, even when you don't feel like it.
Smiles are free and easy. They can lift another's spirits and your own,
so spread them around, to the little kindie with bows on her shoes,
to the hot and tired groundskeeper,
and to the invisible and overlooked elderly and disabled.

Value the work of others.
There is dignity and worth in every job, so value the contributions of everyone.
It's not the size of a paycheck that matters,
but rather contributing to the functioning and wellbeing of our society.

My Favorite Photo of My Father
who taught me the values of hard work and the dignity and value of all work.
St Peter's Bay, Prince Edward Island, Canada
Circa 1929
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Kindness is my favorite word.
Another adage of my father was, "You catch more flies with honey than vinegar." 
I've translated that into treating others with kindness, as I would like to be treated.

Be gentle and forgiving to yourself.
None of us is perfect.  We all make mistakes.  Most of the time we do the best we can.
So forgive yourself and treat yourself with the understanding
and compassion you would give others.

Laugh often and loudly.
Laughter makes just about everything better,
so find things that make you laugh and laugh freely.

Family is everything.
However you define "family," love each other, stand up for each other,
and don't let stupid things push you apart.
If you're lucky enough to have brothers and/or sisters,
love them and treasure them for they will be a constant throughout your life.

First Photo Together
Donnie, Barb, Me (Louise) with Bertie, and Roy with Gretchen
Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada
August 7, 2019
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Most Recent Photo Together
Barb, Bertie, Roy, Me (Louise), and Donnie
Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada
August 7, 2019
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Don't be a gingerbread man.
It's easy to be a runner, to run from love, or challenges,
or confrontation, or opportunities.
Courage is the wiser course.  

See the humanity in those who are different from you.
People in our world are hurting, and the fear and hate of those
who appear different are making things worse.
We are one species, Homo sapiens.
We have far more in common that the superficial variations we see among us. 

Love is the greatest gift of all, and it comes in many forms,
from the soothing touch of a mother's hand,
to the rambunctious lick of a favorite dog, to the look in a lover's eyes.
I have been blessed with love throughout my life,
and my greatest love of all is my husband Terry.

Terry and I Enjoying Life
Vegas, Nevada, USA
April 4, 2021
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Thursday Art Date?
My main form of creativity is writing, and today I'm sharing writing.

I hope all is well with each of you!

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

On the Bay of Fundy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


Friday, July 16, 2021

Mornings with Rain

It's still Friday, even if I'm posting late!
I have learned the hard way that I can no longer
burn the midnight oil to get a post up, an age-forced concession.

My inspiration this week is my talented blogging friend Rain
And my amazing friend has just gone live with her new art channel
on You Tube, Rain Frances Art.

Rain and I Are Powerfully Connected to the Bay of Fundy
On the Fundy Shore, New Brunswick side
Maritimes, Canada
Summer 2021
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Rain is the most holistic person I know.
She lives life on her own terms and is devoted to
her true love Alex and her six fur babies.

At the beginning of the pandemic, she and Alex packed up everything,
left the wilds of Quebec, and moved to the wilds of New Brunswick,
just before the border shut down between the provinces.

What doesn't Rain do?  
She gathers wild produce from the forests and fields.
She gardens, even growing potatoes in dirt-filled tires.   
She cooks and bakes delicious food,
including her own scrumptious cheeses from scratch.

She is an avid photographer of nature, documenting everything that connects with her.
She adores and pampers her three cats and three dogs
and features them in gorgeous photos and sweet videos.
She lives for her art and makes time for it every day.
Name a painting or drawing medium and Rain has likely worked with it.

She celebrates life in all its seasons with scrumptious food,
creative decorations, and yummy drinks.
She loves, appreciates, and cherishes her partner Alex.
She reminds me always of Byrd Baylor's profound book,
The Table Where Rich People Sit.
Suffice to say, I've learned so much from my friend Rain.

I've threatened for years to participate in her Thursday Art Dates,
and today I took the plunge with her theme Mornings.
Even I can handle that!
So I'm featuring morning photographs I've taken over a decade or more.
Their only common characteristic is that they were taken in the morning.

Early Morning Country Market
Just Outside Siem Reap, Cambodia 
November 10, 2008
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

A Quiet Morning by the Serpentine Bridge
(which connects Hyde Park with Kensington Gardens)
London, UK
June 1, 2014
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

The Morning the Storm Continued
Aurora, Colorado, USA
March 14, 2021
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Breakfast at the Pavilion
Queen's Beach
Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
March 2, 2015
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Waiting on Nutella Crepes
Portobello Road, London, UK
May 30, 2014
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Bright-Eyed and Bushy-Tailed
Along Piney Creek
Aurora, Colorado, USA
May 4, 2018
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Morning in Downtown Vegas
Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Aurora, Colorado, USA
March 29, 2019
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Early Morning Tidal Pool
Point Prim near Digby, Nova Scotia, Canada
July 24, 2018
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Icelandic Ponies 
June 12, 2014
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

A Bad Morning in Herculaneum, 79 AD
Sheltering in the Boathouses Didn't Save Them from Vesuvius
Herculaneum, Italy 
May 22, 2016
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Saguaro Cactus
White Tank Regional Park, Arizona USA
December 8, 2018
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Early Morning Deliveries
Venice, Italy 
September 13, 2018
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Not a Morning to Have a Hangover
(I'm sure the pilot and lineman didn't.)
Along Piney Creek
Aurora, Colorado, USA 
September 14, 2019
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Morning Glory
Along Piney Creek
Aurora, Colorado, USA 
October 9, 2020
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Morning Shadows
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
Sangre de Cristo Mountains 
Southern Colorado
July 10, 2021
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Morning Freedom After the Pandemic
Circa Resort & Casino
Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
March 31, 2021
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Wary Mule Deer
Along Piney Creek
Thursday, May 13, 2021
Aurora, Colorado, USA
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Moody Morning in Venice may be my favorite morning photo of all.
It was magical to ride a ferry down the Grand Canal for a stop in St. Mark's Square.
I can't pick a favorite city in the world, but Venice is among my most favorites.

Moody Morning in Venice
Gondoliers rowing on the Grand Canal
looking toward St. Mark's Basin
Venice, Italy
September 13, 2018
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

It's been 97 days since Terry was revived in the cardiac catheterization lab.
This morning he completed heart rehab and is doing really, really well.
Every morning hug the person you love,
because life is fragile and yours can change in a heartbeat.

I hope all is well with each of you!

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

On the Bay of Fundy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Friday, July 9, 2021

"Blood Red Sand" by Damien Larkin

Happy Friday, Everyone!
Today I am excited to share an interview with author Damien Larkin!
Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C. released his new military science fiction novel
Blood Red Sand, on Tuesday, the second book in his Martian series.
As my blogging buddies know, I have a soft spot in my heart for Dancing Lemur Press,
and I'm happy to support a fellow author in DLP's author group.

I have not read Blood Red Sand yet,
because I am still waiting for Amazon to drop it on my doorstep.  
However, I did read Damien's debut novel in this series, Big Red.
I really enjoy military sci-fi, and Big Red delivered
a mind-bending thriller that had me flying through its pages.
So I've been waiting for this sequel with great anticipation all year!

Welcome, Damien!  I can't wait to read your new Martian adventure, Blood Red Sand.  I enjoyed your book Big Red, a strange and compelling story, and I was intrigued by Darren Loughlin and the predicament that he landed in on Mars.   

Thanks for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here! 

1.  So who is Damien Larkin?  Tell us a little about yourself.

I spent seven years in the Irish Reserve Defence Forces (which even years later I say ranks as one of the best decisions I’ve ever made). I currently work as a Planning Analyst for a major broadband and tv provider. If I’m not working, I’m either hanging out with my family or writing. I live in a place called Tallaght, which is a suburb in southern Dublin, in beautiful Ireland.

2.  How did you become a science fiction writer?

A few years ago, I was working part time, looking after my young children and had an app development business on the side. I poured what little of my free time I had into growing it, but after three projects effectively blew up in my face, I had to make a serious decision on whether to keep going with it or try something new.
I started thinking about my choices and realised that one of the reasons I wanted that business to succeed, wasn’t because I loved it, but to earn additional income, step away from my other job and write a book. I decided to cut out the middle man and that same day, I started writing ‘Children of the Dying’ (my first self-published book – now unpublished) and three months later I had the first draft done.

3.  In both Big Red and Blood Red Sand you feature the Nazi-founded New Berlin colony.  What drew you to write about Nazi threats and a Third Reich on Mars?

I loved watching war movies growing up, especially ones set during WW2. The Nazis for me are always the ultimate bad guys. They’re as flesh and blood as you and I but became brainwashed into believing absolute fallacies that caused them to commit unimaginable acts of genocide. I remember learning about WW2 as a child and becoming both horrified and fascinated at how a group of people could become so warped. It’s something that’s stayed with me and in certain ways, I write about it to try and understand it.

4.  How did you develop the plot for the story?  Did you know the storyline and its ending from the beginning or did it evolve as you wrote?  

I had a rough idea of the story from the world building in Big Red. Unlike the MC Darren ‘Dub’ Loughlin, I am a fan of history, so I had weaved different events together that Dub hinted at throughout the story, but never elaborated on because he didn’t have an interest in it.
Some of my readers did question me on the events concerning the First Battle of New Berlin and how the Nazis got there in the first place, so that did get me thinking more about the backstory. Blood Red Sand initially started as a prequel short story to Big Red, so I had a vague outline of where I was going with it and hoped at some point to maybe develop it into an anthology. After I sent on the prequel (which is approximately Part 1 of the story) my publisher wanted to know more so I developed it into a novel. I never thought I get to see this entire story being told, so I’m very grateful.

5.  What did you learn about improving your writing and Blood Red Sand by working with an editor?

I always learn so much from the editing team over at Dancing Lemur Press and I appreciate all the lessons they’ve taught me. For Blood Red Sand, it was an area that haunts me – repetition! Between Big Red and Blood Red Sand, I have about three other unpublished works and it’s taken me this long to internalise the feedback and consciously work on improving that area of my writing.

6.  Do you have any tips or words of advice about writing that you've learned in the trenches? 

Yes – write as much as you can and network! On the writing side of things, try and do as much as you can and try not to get into the habit of making excuses. It’s fine to cut yourself some slack and have chill days, but if it’s something you really want to do, you have to be prepared to put in the work and sacrifice. For networking, I believe community is key, especially for writers. It can be a hard slog and definitely lonely, but there are plenty of virtual spaces where you can interact with others, share tips and make new friendships. I would be lost without the Insecure Writers Support Group and the British and Irish Writing Community!

7.  You are a proponent for the Irish and British writing community and are involved with the online magazine Bard of the Isles.  Do you have a favorite Irish science fiction author or book to recommend? 

I’m a big fan of fellow Irish author Barry Corcoran’s dark fantasy “For Those That Do Not Die And Those That Can’t.” Book two will (hopefully) be out later this year. I also enjoyed “Shadow Warriors” by Paul O’Brien and Wayne Fitzgerald. It’s a fascinating look into Ireland’s special forces unit known as the Irish Ranger Wing.
Thank you again for having me on!

Thank you, Damien!  It was my pleasure, and I hope Blood Red Sand
entertains many happy readers.

MOF (Mars Occupational Force 

Blood Red Sand
By Damien Larkin

Mars will run red with Nazi blood…

After World War Two, Sergeant McCabe knew the British army could send him anywhere. He never imagined facing down another Nazi threat on Mars.

In New Berlin colony, rivalry between Generalfeldmarschall Seidel’s Wehrmacht and Reichsf├╝hrer Wagner’s SS threatens bloodshed. The Reichsf├╝hrer will sacrifice everything to initiate the secretive Hollow Programme and realise his nightmarish future for humanity.

McCabe, Private Jenkins, and the Mars Expeditionary Force must overcome bullet, bomb, and bayonet to destroy the Third Reich. While Jenkins fights to stay alive, McCabe forms an uneasy alliance with MAJESTIC-12 operatives known as the Black Visors. Will this be the final battle of World War Two or the first confrontation in an interstellar war?

Release date – July 6, 2021
$17.95, 6x9 trade paperback, 252 pages
Science Fiction - Military/Alternative History/War & Military
Print ISBN 9781939844781 / EBook ISBN 9781939844798
$4.99 EBook available in all formats

Damien Larkin is an Irish science fiction author and co-founder of the British and Irish Writing Community. His debut novel Big Red was longlisted for the BSFA award for Best Novel. He currently lives in Dublin, Ireland.


Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

On the Bay of Fundy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

IWSG: Wednesday, July 7, 2021 ~ Now Is the Time for Optimism and Amazing Things


It's the first Wednesday of the month,
the day that members of the
Insecure Writer's Support Group
share their writing struggles
and writing successes
and offer their encouragement
and support to fellow writers.

To visit the IWSG website, click here.

To become a member of the IWSG, click here.

Our wonderful co-hosts who are volunteering today,
along with IWSG Founder Alex J. Cavanaugh are Pat Garcia, Victoria Marie Lees, Chemist Ken,  and Louise ~ Fundy Blue.

I hope you have a chance to visit today's hosts and thank them for co-hosting.
I'm sure they would appreciate a visit and an encouraging comment.

Every month the IWSG announces a question that members can answer
with advice, insight, a personal experience, or a story in their IWSG posts.

Or, the question can inspire members
if they aren't sure what to write about on IWSG Day.

Remember the question is optional.
This month's featured question is: 
What would make you quit writing?

Happy July, Everyone!
I hope this month finds you happy and healthy!
I'm feeling optimistic and energetic,
like I've been kissed awake by a handsome prince
after a long sleep filled with nightmares.
The Covid months of isolation don't feel real at all.
I feel like amazing things can happen now.  

My Prince Cooking!
(deciding the blender won't work and switching to a food processor) 
July 6, 2021  Aurora, Colorado, USA
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue All Rights Reserved

Case in point ~ My prince made me chocolate mousse today!
You have to understand, in the almost thirty-nine years I've known him,
Terry has never once made anything with a recipe.
His idea of cooking is pouring a bowl of Cheerios or popping a frozen pizza in the oven.

Over our years together, he has mastered
stirring (anything), draining (pasta), and tossing (salad).
But, inspired by a cooking class in heart rehab, he made chocolate mousse,
a heart-healthy recipe using tofu, cocoa, a sugar substitute, vanilla, and water.

This cook and baker watched with fascination as Terry grumbled through the recipe,
littering the kitchen with a trail of ingredients, utensils, and spills. 
Much to my surprise, the mousse was a tasty substitute for non-heart-healthy mousse,
rich, chocolaty, and a little denser in texture. 
Amazing things are happening!

With regard to this month's question,
the only things that would make me quit writing are incapacity or death.
Life might slow me down or sidetrack me for a brief time,
but I keep coming back to writing.
I've written throughout my life, and I can't imagine not writing. 

I hope everyone has fun visiting around today.
I know I'm looking forward to reading your posts!
Happy writing to each of you!

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue