Friday, January 25, 2019

WIS #2: A Little Comic Relief

In my last post I introduced a new series of posts 
I'm working on called Written in Stone.

Since I began my WIS series with pithing a live frog,
I thought I would lighten the tone with a little humor in this post.







And last, one for my brother, the engineer, from his sister, the geologist: 


Future Geologist and Future Engineer
Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada
Summer, 1955
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue.

 Bay of Fundy out of Westport
Summer 2016
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Friday, January 18, 2019

Written in Stone: Rocks Don't Scream

In my first year at Acadia University,
I considered majoring in biology.

I quickly abandoned that plan when I observed 
an experiment in my Biology 100 Lab.

Frog Dissection Gone Awry
flickr: dave whittaker  license

My instructor picked up a live frog,
stuck a needle into the base of its skull
and wiggled it around to destroy the frog's brain.
To my horror, the noun pith became an unforgettable verb.

Then he proceeded to dissect the immobilized frog,
so we could observe its beating heart, working lungs,  
and leg muscles contracting with electrical stimulation.

Since frogs can breathe by absorbing oxygen from the air 
through their skin, they remain "alive" after their brains 
have been destroyed and their living physiology can be observed.

The instructor calmly assured us 
that the pithed frog could not feel any pain.

Intellectually I accepted that,
but the revulsion I experienced
ended any thoughts of a biology major for me.

I switched to geology,
because rocks don't scream when you cut them.

A Rock Saw wikimedia 

I never looked back!

I had always been interested in rocks and fossils,
but now I fell in love with geology
because it was Stories Written in Stone:
Stories spanning unfathomable stretches of time
playing out in the past, present, and future.

I learned to read the rocks 
and understand their majestic stories.
I became a wonder-filled traveler in time.

In future Written in Stone posts, 
I hope to share my wonder.

 An Enduring Love
North Mountain Basalts on the Fundy Shore:
They were the first rocks I learned to identify.
Summer 2015
Point Prim, near Digby, Nova Scotia, Canada
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Friday, January 11, 2019

Pursuing a Lifelong Passion ~ My List of Books Read 2018

Are you an avid reader?
I am.  Reading is one of the greatest pleasures in my life.

Explore any reader's home,
and you will spot signs that an avid reader lives there.
Walk through my home and you will invariably see
a big coffee table piled with books and magazines,
a bedside nightstand crowded with books,
a bathroom floor stocked with magazines, 
and multiple bookcases overflowing with books.

Some of my earliest memories are of my mother reading to me at bedtime.
I would snuggle under the covers in my lamplit bedroom,
and Mom would sit on the edge of my bed and open a book
to magical worlds which filled my imagination and hers,
worlds wildly different from our staid Charlottetown apartment
at the corner of Fitzroy and Edward:
Heidi and Peter roaming over high meadows in Switzerland,
fantastical whales, elephants, and kangaroos coming to be,
and chimneysweep Tom transforming into a water-baby.
Those early books awakened my young mind
to travel, Earth history, and evolution.

My Grandmother MacBeath's Apartment Building and Home
at the Corner of Fitzroy and Edward
(We lived in the two-story apartment with the red and white door in the mid-1950s.)
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada

But before those books there were others, 
wonderful picture books, nursery rhymes, and fairy tales;
and best of all Bambi!

Many young children have books they beg a parent
to read over and over again.  That book for me was Bambi,
and I distinctly remember my mother groaning one evening
as she reached for it and opened its inviting pages again.
I loved Bambi and his forest friends,
Thumper the rabbit and Flower the skunk.

Sometimes I feel like I was born reading.
I don't remember a time that I couldn't read.
The first book I distinctly recall reading was ~
Can you guess which one? 
Bambi, of course!

One winter evening the wind was keening about the eaves,
and my mother was, yet again, turning the pages of Bambi,
in the warm shelter of my dimly lit bedroom.
She and I were reading it aloud together.
I was soon to be four and very excited at the prospect.

Almost Four
Roy and Me
Circa late 1953
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Suddenly my mother stopped and said,
"Why Weesie, I bet you could read this book to me!"

"I can!" I replied with the assurance of a girl almost four.
"I know every word."

"I know you've memorized Bambi, but memorization is different from reading.
When you read you know each of the words on the page."

"I know, Mom!  I can read the words."

"Let's see," she replied.
She turned to a page in the book and pointed to a word.

"Bambi," I read.  "Give me a hard one, Mom."

She paged through the book randomly and pointed at a variety of words.

"The, antlers, thicket, grass, shyness... ."


"Good for you, Weesie!
You can read the words.
Now start at the beginning
and read Bambi to me."

I've been avidly reading ever since. 

Bambi Walt Disney 1949
A Big Golden Book
Vintage Childrens Story
Golden Press

My mother successfully passed on her love of reading to her five children,
and my brother, sisters, and I have passed that same love on to our next generation.
Currently my mother's only great grandchild Ella is experiencing the joy of being read to.

Reading magazines in the bathroom?
My father is responsible for that particular reading behavior of mine.
The bathroom was the one place he could find a little solitude
in our crowded MacBeath home.

My father greatly influenced my reading as I grew,
mostly by his example of reading voraciously,
his driving me to dictionaries to hunt down the meanings of words,
and his sharing of snippets of news or funnies from his daily newspapers.

I literally cannot get through a day without reading.
I must read.
Before I've finished one book,
I've got the next one lined up to go.

I'm grateful to both of my parents for encouraging my reading addiction,
but it's those treasured hours cuddled up with my mother
which set me on a lifelong journey of devouring books.

My Mother Reading in a Sunny Spot
Acadia University, Nova Scotia, Canada
Circa 1947
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Right now I'm flying through Fear:  Trump in the White House 
by Bob Woodward, a book my brother gave me for Christmas.
A tease and an instigator, Roy delights in engaging with me on Trump.

Queued up is Abaddon's Gate by James S. A. Corey,
the third volume in The Expanse series, 
a fabulous sci fi ride into humanity's future.

What are you reading?
I'd love to hear.
Happy reading in the new year!

My Father and His Roommate Reading
I used to sneak his goosenecked lamp under my covers to read
(when I was supposed to be sleeping)!
Acadia University, Nova Scotia, Canada
Circa 1947
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Here's my list of books read in 2018:

  1.  The Great Halifax Explosion by John U. Bacon

  2.  The Curse of the Narrows by Laura M. MacDonald

  3.  Area 51:  An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret
      Military Base by Annie Jacobson

  4.  Sold by J. L. Campbell (IWSG author)

  5.  Flaming Games by Chris Fey (IWSG author)

  6.  Origin by Dan Brown

  7.  The Spy House by Matthew Dunn

  8.  Revelation by C. J. Sampson

  9.  Lunch in Paris:  A Love Story with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard

10.  Galileo's Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson

11.  The Rain Drop That Wanted to Stop by Pat Hatt (IWSG author)

12.  Tick Tock:  A Stitch in Crime by various authors (IWSG anthology)

13.  The Perfumed Sleeve by Laura Joh Rowland

14.  The Connective by Pat Hatt (IWSG author)

15.  The Disconnective by Pat Hatt (IWSG author)

16.  A Higher Loyalty by James Comey

17.  The Hellfire Club by James Tapper

18.  House of Dreams by Pauline Gedge

19.  Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

20.  Reread Galileo's Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson
       (after visiting Padua and Florence, Italy)

21.  The Last Volcano:  A Man, a Romance, and the Quest
       to Understand Nature's Most Magnificent Fury by John Dvorak

22.  Delivered by Pat Hatt (IWSG author)

23.  Detoured by Pat Hatt (IWSG author)

24.  The President is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson

25.  Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis

26.  Civilisation by Ken Clark

27.  Giotto:  The Scrovegni Chapel by Stefano Zuffi

28.  The Royal Pavillion Brighton:  The Palace of King George IV
       edited by David Beevers

29.  Northanger Abbey by Jane Austin

30.  Whiteout by Ken Follett

31.  The Child by Fiona Barton

32.  The Haunted Mesa by Louis L'Amour

33.  Trixie Belden:  Mystery in Arizona by Julie Campbell

34.  That Month in Tuscany by Inglath Cooper

Still Reading by Lamplight
Aurora, Colorado, USA
January 9, 2019
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


Wednesday, January 2, 2019

IWSG: Wednesday, January 2, 2019 ~ Don't Ask!

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 Cavanaugh are:
Patricia Lynne,  Lisa Buie-Collard, Kim Lajavardi and me  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 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 are your favorite and least favorite questions people ask you about your writing?

Happy IWSG Day, Everyone!
I hope that you have had an enjoyable holiday season
and are looking forward to the new year.

Terry and I are traveling, and today we are in Laughlin, Nevada.
I'm holed up our hotel room at the Aquarius ready to make my IWSG rounds.
I told Terry many weeks ago that I was co-hosting the IWSG on January 2nd,
and I didn't care where we were or what we would be doing.
This was my day, regardless!

The Black Mountains 
Near Union Pass
between Golden Valley and Bullhead City, Arizona, USA
(at 70 MPH)
December 31, 2018
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

I cringed when I saw this month's question, especially the least favorite part.
I'm feeling guilty about the writing I didn't get done in December,
so the last thing I want anyone to ask about my writing is
So how's your writing going, Louise?

I never, ever should have emphatically stated last IWSG Day No Excuses!
I started off on a writing roll during the first few days of December,
and then I rolled right off a cliff.
Apparently I did have an excuse for not writing,
because write I did not.

My brother and his wife flew into Phoenix for a week
with Terry and me in Surprise, Arizona.
They have spent much of the last two decades in the Middle East
in Kuwait City, Kuwait and Doha, Qatar,
and I've rarely had a chance to spend time with them.

Thank goodness my husband Terry and my sister-in-law Sue
are good sports and patient,
because Roy and I never shut up,
unless we were battling fiercely at cards.
I adore my brother when we're not locked in competition or debate;
actually I adore him then too.

Roy, Terry, and Susan 
Waterfall Trail, White Tank Regional Park
 west-central Maricopa County, Arizona, USA
December 8, 2018
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

What a week the four of us had:  swimming, hiking, playing cards,
eating, gambling, sharing memories, debating politics, playing pickleball,
even catching the movie "A Star is Born" one rainy afternoon.
I was heartbroken when we dropped them off
at Sky Harbor International Airport for their flight back to Calgary.

Even Keeping the Score Is Intense!
Playing Spades
Surprise, Arizona, USA
December 5, 2018
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

An Epic Hand with Six Straights!
Playing Thirteen (a Game Roy and Sue learned in Mongolia)
Surprise, Arizona, USA
December 8, 2018
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

I had so much fun, I didn't want to stop.
After Roy and Sue left, I kept on playing;
and I shirked any sense of adult responsibility.
This girl just wanted to have carefree fun.
So she did.

Hiking Among Giants 
Waterfall Trail, White Tank Regional Park
 west-central Maricopa County, Arizona, USA
December 8, 2018
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Right up until December 30th when Terry and I had to pack up,
clean our rental house, and drive to Laughlin
through a snowstorm in the Sonoran and Mojave deserts.

So now it's back to reality.
And my usual least favorite writing question,
one Terry asks me often when I'm writing:
Are you having fun;
are sure this is what you want to do?

Yes, honey, I am.  
Just ignore my bald spots from my ripping my hair out.
This is my idea of a good time.

As for my favorite writing question ...
It's any question that causes me to think about and improve the quality of my writing.
I always appreciate honest, insightful, and constructive questions
about whatever I'm writing.

Susan and I
Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada
August 7, 2015
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Are you excited to learn the winners of 2018 IWSG Anthology Contest?
I certainly am.
As I write this post, I still don't know who the winners are,
but congratulations to each and every one of them!

I've read and enjoyed all the IWSG anthologies published so far, 
and I anticipate delving into the 2018 one with pleasure.

I look forward to visiting around and reading your posts.
I'm always in awe of the talent of IWSG writers.
You inspire me always.
Happy New Year,
and happy writing in 2019!

My Favorite Brother
(My Only Brother!)
Beautiful Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada
August 2, 2018
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved