Of Coffee, April Fools, Short Stories and Fathers

If you were having coffee with me I would say thank you for joining me, how have you been? I have been good cheers to the New Month, hello April what do you have in store for us? Good things I hope.

So did anyone play any good April Fools pranks on you or did you do the pranking?

I didn’t prank anyone but I did write a Very Short Story #VSS called April’s fool:

He used to be the court jester, till he clowned his way into queen April’s heart. No one ever called him King only April’s Fool….

For those who follow my twitterverse account @Beatonm5 you might have noticed I tweet a lot using that hashtag #VSS.. I have been asked many times what this means  it simply stands for a very short story. Twitter and its 140 characters per tweet makes you adept at the fine art of brevity of expression and challenges your creative skills to write a story. If you have a second you can find my #VSS tweets by clicking HERE. If you tweet micro-stories on twitter do let me know and I will check it out and if you haven’t you must try it, it’s also a good way to come up with writing ideas or a story to develop further, for those moments you think you have writer’s block.

If you were having coffee with me I would tell you I attended my first mass today. Before you look at me with that scandalous expression it was not my first mass but rather it was the first mass I have been to where the priest in attendance is a family member. He got ordained as a priest last year but time and circumstance had not made it possible for me to attend any of his services. It was quite weird, watching him, deliver sermons and perform sacred rites of communion with ease of someone who has been a priest all his life. It’s also weird how once, he was my young brother and now I call him Father, he looks older. He looks like someone you can confess your sins to, without being judged and expecting him to mete out a fair penance of Our Fathers and Hail Marys, someone who could officiate your wedding, baptise your little ones and when you laid there on your deathbed someone who would perfom the last rites and finally bury you and into the   hole ye goes… Someone you could call Father.

I remember attending his ordination ceremony officiated by an Apostolic nuncio who is the Pope’s emissary so it was quite an honour. The community decided to welcome him by bestowing upon him the gift of a totem, he was declared of the Moyo (Heart) Clan. I am fairly sure protocol was creatively circumvented and he accepted ever so graciously. He thanked the family for our generosity in letting go one of ours to a greater calling. The ordination of a priest, it feels bittersweet like part marriage and part funeral… Christ being the bridegroom: does that make the priest, the bride? but unlike a wedding you are not gaining in-laws as such, but losing your relation to the church … imagine calling your own son father I guess that’s why priest end up in parishes far from their home and family to prevent awkward encounters and broken hearts just like at any wedding.

If you were having coffee with me I would tell I just got my few seconds of fame from a YouTube video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcmwF7_6Ljo

where I got a shout out from Leeann who I featured on my blog The Girl In the Red Dress ( she has a YouTube channel and shares recipes with Conde a parrot I do believe) anyhow someone watched the clip and is now a new follower on my blog, I would have mentioned them by name but, they are internet shy, so I’ll just say I hope you read this wherever you are…

Cheers, April Showers and May Flowers

~B

PS speaking of pranks, and April I am still trying to figure out if this notice from the Zambia Police is real or not, if you do please tell me so…..

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Of Bond Age

Welcome to the Bond-Age…. You are supposed to read that as Bond Era, like the year of the Bond, and no, its not a new instalment in the James Bond movie franchise but one ought to be forgiven for thinking bondage and not of the kinky kind…

We have survived this long after the introduction of the Bond Notes surrogate currency, late last year, longer than some pessimists had pegged till collapse of our economy. Bond Notes are a surrogate currency, trading at a rate of 1:1 with the United States Dollar, introduced into the system to help ease the cash crisis. According to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe they are backed by a $200 million dollar facility by the African Export-Import (Afrexim) Bank, and to date $102 million worth of bond notes are in circulation.

(confession: I really have no idea what exactly that means if it is a loan or something else and its terms, I worry a little because this is how countries get economically colonised  I’ve read The Confession Of  An Economic Hitman had I heard of said bank before this… and I had never heard of the Afrexim bank before all this; well Google says it is a real financial institution  but I wouldn’t put it past responsible authorities to take creative liberties with the truth and claim to have financial backing so as to instil confidence in their surrogate currency )

The release of the Bond Notes was shrouded in quite the mist of mystery and vaguely phrased terminology like a stimulus package for Export Incentives and Cash Shortage alleviation and I remember a bank even got fined for breach of some confidentiality clause by circulating pictures of the bond notes prior to their release. Even the security features of the Bond Notes were only made public after the notes had been already introduced into the system.

An sms from the RBZ sent as part of their public awareness campaign:

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Who can even make sense of that?

Strangely enough though these notes were supposed to ease cash shortages trading at a value of 1:1 with the USD (easily making the Bond Currency the strongest currency in Africa) it seems to have worsened the crisis and bank queues are even longer than they used to be, and people struggle to withdraw the weekly banking limit, of their own money. The rumour mill has abuzz with talk of introduction of  even higher denominations of the Bond Currency which are currently trading in bond coins, $2 and $5 bond notes; although the Reserve Bank has gone on record to dispel this saying they won’t do so, as that could fuel inflation.

Plastic money, is the order of the day, but it’s still the standard operating procedure to first ask the cashier if the swipe Point of Sale machines are working and if they accept your particular bank, because some banks apparently don’t play with others, and local banks are suspending MasterCard and VISA transactions outside the country or placing limits on transactions.

How about doing RTGS …one would think that something called a Real Time Transfer should be instantaneous yet they take anything from 24hrs to 14 days, where does the money disappear to? Instead of just whizzing digitally from one account to another at the click of a button like magic? What if it disappears there and never comes back, what if maybe that’s how all the cash disappeared ??? You would think is a terrible time to invest in banking, but you would be wrong, banks are making a killing, your money in the bank doesn’t earn any interest and it will probably get eroded in transactional charges every time you swipe your card, or transfer money and other hidden costs, you might even get billed for enquiring your balance… and meanwhile some banks are making double digit million dollar profits…What a time to own a bank

If you figured you could runaway from the Bank Queues and try to make a withdrawal from some unscrupulous mobile money agents, you would find they charge a “commission” on top of the transaction fees and people desperate for their cash have no choice but to pay and that’s how it starts. Mobile Money Operators say such practices are illegal and should be reported, but desperation breeds strange bed fellows; once one person is willing to pay a premium for their cash then someone else will, and then another and another and soon chaos and the parallel market thrive….

Fuel supply is quite sporadic and one can’t just waltz or rather drive to a fuel service station without checking if they have fuel cause they just might not, and you ought not be surprised to find separate queues at the same service station, one for US Dollar fuel and another for Bond Currency fuel.

fuel

Oh yeah, it also shouldn’t further surprise you to see that they are most likely to run out of Bond Currency fuel first too. They blame the Reserve Bank for not clearing their foreign currency payments to suppliers and in return the RBZ says it works on some priority list where not all foreign currency payments are equal; some payments are more important than others….

The RBZ FOREX Priority list

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Officially there is no parallel rate though in effect there is, by offering discounts for cash transactions as opposed to using plastic money which basically translates to cash being worth more. Unofficially there is a multi-tier pricing where there same product has a different pricing depending whether you are using plastic money, United States Dollars or Bond Currency. This is illegal and an RBZ amendment act was passed into effect  which will see perpetrators being jailed for “devaluing” the Bond Currency.

That’s some Bondage for you

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Of Queue Waiting: Suggestions

A reader made the following comment after reading my previous post Of Queue Waiting:

Comment  I don’t understand. If you have a number, and you know how much time it will take, then why not head back home? You could come, as you stated, two hours before the bank opens. Get the number. Then return to your home and chill out for a few hours and do whatever you want to. You can use your 3 and a half minute average to calculate how long you have till your number arrives. And according to that you can leave for the bank. That way you wouldn’t have to wait in a queue. 

… it seems such a simple solution doesn’t it….Confession: I have even wondered the same thing myself. Theoretically it’s ridiculously as easy as that …… For half a second you can’t help wonder why people waste so much time waiting around in queues… you could hold a position leave then come back but in practise such a system would fail mainly for one reason: The Human Condition. People are generally not the most honest of beings, and if you are not there in person to witness what’s going on, with your own beady little eyes; shenanigans will happen….

Even when you never leave the queue you for any significant amount of time you still notice people worming their way into a position in front of you from out of nowhere claiming they came way earlier than you did and got a position before you or “claim” that someone else was holding the queue position for them. (sometimes it’s true) It doesn’t help that some enterprising individuals see a business opportunity in selling premium queue positions.

It’s like stealing candy from a baby, not that am giving anyone any ideas but if one were inclined to make a quick buck, all you need is a pen some paper and maybe a scissors

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You get to the bank very early before anyone else does….

On the pretence of wanting to maintain “order” in the queue; you start handing out your list of numbered little papers corresponding to queue positions but here is the trick; you keep some numbers for yourself so it means that the actual positions in the queue are vacant… When people start queuing in earnest; when the bank is open and the ATM is dispensing cash, you then approach potential “clients”.

It’s easy to spot someone in a rush, desperate to get their cash, milling around at the back of the queue looking longingly at people at the front, and in their hand a lil paper that’s showing a triple digit number and little chance of their getting cash that day. Or the executive type who drive up to the bank in their vehicles and wind down their power windows and ask “zvakamira sei nhasi?” which translates to anything from “Whats up?” to “Any chances of getting cash today and what’s the withdrawal limit today?”

Those are the ones willing to pay to get a position in the queue… You spot your mark and say “Good day to you, pardon me for intruding I can see you value your time, I am selling a spot in the queue I can even organise that you get in the top 10 but those one cost you extra…” If you are of unscrupulous disposition, you can even sell the same position more than once (after all you made the numbered lil pieces of paper you could make duplicate numbers)…. Easy as pie.

And if all this is happening right beneath your nose imagine what would happen if you were to leave the queue for too long….. Not forgetting that unforeseeable circumstances might mess up your calculations anything could happen while you are away, you could come back and find that the whole queue has changed you don’t recognise anyone you see and that might be because the people you were with gave up or went to a different bank and new people showed up… what do you do.. what do you do…? Oh yeah and the bank just might run out of cash while you are away…..

The longer you spend outside of the queue the harder it is to get back to your position especially as you get closer, to the ATM people tend to become aggressive in allowing people to in front of you and they will eye you suspiciously when you say I was in front of you, especially if they sweated all day in line and never left it for a second and you expect just to waltz in ahead to the front of the queue goodluck with that…

Maybe just maybe if the banks took a more proactive role in the maintenance of order in the queues cause it seems they have a morbid fascination in having people just queuing up outside, as if they have no better place to be, and that’s also it, where can you go when you have no money going home and coming back is an unnecessary expense, so you wait…  It’s also a convenient excuse for anything, “yeah sorry about that…{insert anything from being late to not showing up for an appointment or work or school or even forgetting to buy flowers for that special someone’s birthday] I was at The Bank the whole day you see…” It could even be an alibi for how to get away with murder…I was at the bank the whole day…

If banks wanted am sure they can even tell you the exact number of people they can serve before cash runs out so you don’t have to just wait and hope… It’s fascinating I have been reading in our local financial papers how banks have made massive net profits in the region of million dollar figures. If they wanted, they could afford it, to make a wait in the queue such a pleasant affair, ice cold refreshments, chairs, benches, entertainment, free WiFi while you wait…

How about even making a system like those pizza places where you get a timed buzzer when you place your order and it a buzzes when you order is ready, or better yet use a system like at the doctor’s. Where you make an appointment you know exactly the time to the minute when you will get your money. How about a Queue Buddy mobile banking app that lets you track your position in the queue giving you real time update as to how long you have till it’s your turn to get served… The bank could even send you an sms remainder or call you to confirm if you are still coming to make sure the system runs smoothly and you never have to wait in a queue with longer than five people (That’s 15 minutes at the bank tops…)

Anyone with any suggestions on innovative banking solutions please do share….. maybe we could start our own bank and make million dollar profits too………….

 

Of Queue Waiting

…..Greetings from QueueWait,  I have spend so much time waiting in this here bank queue, one might think I went on vacation to  QueueWait….

I usually somehow manage to survive without setting foot in a bank or bank queue, resorting to plastic money in all its expensive charges glory…. Its not that I have lots of money to spend or anything but its just more convenient than spending a whole day in a bank queue… The struggle is real….

The cash crisis situation seems to have taken a turn for the worse and as a result I have been forced to wake up at the crack of dawn to forage for cash at the bank……

I arrived at the bank at what I thought was a decent hour, two hours before official bank opening time, figuring not many people would be there, boy was I wrong….. the were already 57 people in front of me and I am the 58th. I even have a number that says so…

58

A handy system that helps curb the scourge of queue jumpers, nobody likes a queue jumper; we all have places we would rather be, than here, now, waiting for money, our money not handouts or charity but our blood sweat and tears… where did all the cash go again?

 

It is weird standing in a neat queue long before The Bank is due to open and it is not even waiting in line to get into the bank, its waiting for them to put money in the automated teller machine, which they do after The Bank opens, which is after The Bank gets its consignment of money I guess from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, RBZ. So you wait patiently not even sure if The Bank will get its delivery of money and then hopefully you. You ask the people next to you how this particular branch operates, they tell you the money comes around 9.30am and then the ATMs start dispensing money an hour and a half after that. In hindsight  you realise maybe you should have had something to eat before coming to the bank, that’s what you get for thinking a bank run is a simple in and out and thank you for your time mission…..

You stare at yourself in those bank windows that are really one way mirrors, but at least you can wile away time checking out your posture starring at your reflection and reflecting…. its a good thing you took a bath and decided to dress decently because by the looks of things you wont get time to go back home and change for your meeting for later during the day…

You pass time by turning on your Wi-Fi and searching for any open Wi-Fi Hotspots, you might get lucky and find one too. Its something to do until your battery level goes critical, you should have charged your phone before you left the house, or brought a power bank….. Next Time remember that…..

Queue1.jpg

You start talking to your fellow queuesmen (hmmm a red squiggly line appeared on that word, not surprised considering I just made it up) There is always that one guy who is overly friendly who tries to engage everyone in conversation telling you how you must entertain yourselves otherwise you could just drop down dead of stress. Someone even makes a suggestion about how The Bank must take out the TVs in the banking halls and put them outside since people spend more time outside The Bank, than inside….

Shout out to that one guy whose idea of making small talk is asking inquisitive personal questions that no one feels like answering and most of the time ends up just having one sided conversations with anyone who dares make eye contact with….

After a while the stranger next to you becomes familiar like an old acquaintance and it pays to remember what they look, in case you have to leave the queue for a short recess to stretch your legs then you can come back and just say “I’m back” and squeeze back into your position without having to take out the piece of paper verifying what number you are in the queue… and just when you are thinking your number is far from the ATM, someone taps you on the shoulder and asks you what number you are… you tell them and ask why, and they say they are number 205 and looking for their position in the queue…. they are waaaaay to the back… Where did the cash go?

Finally the armoured truck delivers the day’s cash consignment for The Bank.. People cheer and generally get a little lighter spirited, money does that doesn’t it? This is when the Queue jumpers usually make their play, trying to persuade people that they were here earlier, even greets you with  the “hi! I am back“…. “But If you were here earlier then you have a number?”… “I lost it”…”Too bad!”… aint nobody got time for that

Some ladies are prepared for this; If you ever wondered what they carry in their those handbags, a change of “sensible” shoes from the heels and wrap fabrics to spread on the ground and sit. Its a good plan sitting because now you have been standing for close to three hours and your feet starting to ache. Queue

You think you are suffering, you are wrong, there is a pregnant lady who seems ready to pop, should she even be here in that condition? But what if she needs money for hospital, and the money is in the bank? Some hospitals only accept cash or take medical aid cards but with a cash co-payment….. where did the cash go?

Finally the security guard announces that the ATM service has now started and the limit per person is $300 which is also the weekly cash withdrawal limit, so if you get your $300 you don’t come to the bank till next week. The next part is the tricky part, the notes come out in $2 bond note denomination and the ATM cash slot tray can only dispense a maximum of  15 notes per transaction which is $60. So to withdraw your full $300 you have to do five $60 transactions. I am sure The Bank is quite happy with this arrangement as they get to bill you cash withdrawal charges five times……

The thing is with everyone withdrawing their weekly limit, it takes an average of 3 minutes and 30 seconds for one person to complete their business on the ATM. (I timed it)

I am number 58 which means I’ll be standing here 3hours 22 minutes and 8 seconds

There’s always the impatient person who complains real loud about everything and anything and how they have places to be and keeps threatening to just quit and go, but they never do, but they talk about it, a lot. While others just quietly disappear from the queue without telling a soul, they never come back…. but the queue moves ever forward, slowly…

….And then just when you get within a two people away from the ATM you are so close you can hear it beep as the person at the ATM punches in their transactions… you get told that it’s run out of money…..

How long does it take to refill an ATM with cash; approximately 1Hour 30 minutes judging from the time it took in the morning… how long does it take to realise that the bank has run out of money and no money will be dispensed by the ATM 2hours, at least that’s how long you wait for before deciding this is pointless and no one has come out of The Bank to tell you anything about anything ……

You just start walking home, because frankly you don’t have cash for the taxi… maybe if they accept a bank transfer ? Where did all the cash go??????

~B

wrote this post to pass time while standing in a Bank queue

 

OF Things Found In Boxes

Of The Things Found In Boxes….While Unpacking

You never know what you have until you are done unpacking…..

I shared with you some of the curious things I discovered while I was unpacking in my last post about moving and bonfires, and if you must know I am rocking a pair of 80s fashion pants…. Well I am bringing the 80s back, style I really am an old soul and not just by the fifty strands greys in my beard….

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I found these pants in a wardrobe that’s been in storage for quite the longest time ……

While on that subject of longest of times I also discovered this smoke-preserved barbequed meat, also known as biltong or Chimukuyu in Shona.

Who knows how long its been there? Dare I eat it?

Eat.jpg

Spicy

Ok if I suddenly develop mad cow disease or get any crazier than one would expect from a writer type…. please refer my doctor and or psychiatrist to this post, I am assuming the meat is beef but frankly it could be anything that once lived under the sun……

 

The first thing I unpacked was my dumbbells…. Because Fitness Freak.

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Yeah I can run for quite far with one in each hand and then repeatedly punch at imaginary targets which is great practise for when I need to defend myself from invisible assailants with featherweight punches.

A Credence Clearwater Revival Vinyl LP tape….

CCR.jpgThe moon is shining outside and I am bopping away to some….. Bad Moon Rising as I write this post…..

Some interesting T-shirts I have never gotten round to wearing because I wasn’t brave enough….

A book project I started writing ten years ago…… when I was this big *you can’t seen my hands but I gesturing my height and or size reference * I signed of as B-Man *groans*

Yes, I went to Gokomere High School in case you are wondering……

For the fun of it I might just type it up and publish it on to here….. it deserves its slice of immortality than just to live in a grave of long forgotten dreams in box beneath my bed…. Maybe I might even finish it…… if anything its proof the writing bug bit me a long time ago……

Fun fact did you know it would take a 29 39040seconds to tick away 1 000 years…   I did the math… without a calculator

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And finally a boxful literally of bullshit, genuine African Elephant bullshit from Gonarezhou game park…..

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It’s a cure for people who experience chronic nosebleeds, smoke this bad boy up and presto, you wont get nosebleeds as frequent. Ok you don’t really smoke it, you burn it and inhale a bit of the smoke, you inhale but you don’t smoke there is a difference right? Hashtag AskBill I don’t know about the actual physiological pathways but it works, if any doctors are in the house please do let us know… my granma swore by this stuff and I used to get regular nosebleeds but look at me now I don’t remember the last time I had one….

well I think I am mostly done with unpacking, and life gets back to its regular scheduled programming

~B

PS I hope you had already eaten maybe I should have warned you about the elephant dung but its dry and smells like well compost and decaying leaves…..so I figured it shouldn’t violate any sensibilities ….☻☺☺☺

Of Battle Of The Books

 

If you were having coffee with me……… we would be hosting a special guest author Candice Coates.

My dear friend Candice has two novels ready for publication Warden nor Nexus Gate 4037: The Animal.

She had an interesting dilemma of not knowing which one to get published first and so decided on an equally interesting concept of Battle of the Books where The Reader decides after reading teaser excerpts  from the books and completing a poll… the crowd favourite gets published first… sounds simple enough…

battle Sticker (1).jpg

We had an interesting chat with Candice about writing, books, battles and aliens grab a chair some coffee and join us……..

why a book battle?

The concept for the Battle of the Books came from my own indecision. First, neither Warden nor Nexus Gate 4037: The Animal are my first finished manuscripts, however, they are the strongest in my opinion. I chose to battle them because I was undecided about which should have the seat as my purchasable debut novel. The two tales are extremely different in character, but I recognize that the one published first may in fact set the tone for my audience. What better way to have the tone set than to have the audience decide.

-Whats in a name? How did you come up with the book titles ?

         Book titles are tricky things, aren’t they? I honestly believe that each tale named itself in a way. Whenever I think about either of them I think about them by the names they currently have. I’ve fooled around with other titles for Warden but nothing else seemed to fit. Nexus Gate is also titled ‘The Animal,’ since this book is a series, like Warden, but unlike Warden the story is told in a linear way. *SPOILER ALERT* Each additional title, like The Animal, is describing the character of Tucker John and where he is currently within his journey.

I know you would say you love both equally but …. is there one you are secretly hoping gets picked and why?

         You are right I do love them equally, but if I had to be the ultimate deciding vote for which would be published first, I would go with Nexus Gate 4037: The Animal. The concepts within this story, the struggle with morality, the confrontation with racism/colorism and just about any other ‘ism’ are relevant now, and honestly, has been for a while. This story deals with these issues in a straight forward, way but does so in a manner that allows the reader to be aware of the struggle but enjoy the growth and the flow of the story. I think I subconsciously told the story as an allegory for the mindsets of today. We are living in a world of extremist; people who are extremely ignorant of reality either because they are sheltered or by choice, people who are extremely hateful because of fear or how they have been cultivated. No matter which side of the spectrum a person is on, both are rooted in a form of fear, and when fearful people are the decision makers, the results are without a doubt devastating. The backdrop of the Nexus Gate shows you what that could potentially look like if fear wins from either end of the spectrum.

In short, comparing the two, Warden is an awesome ride of action and adventure. Readers will enjoy it, they will fall in love with the characters and the worlds created. But Nexus Gate will make the reader think, cause them to be a bit more introspective about their own views and thoughts and how they deal with people who are on opposing ends.

what happens to the one that comes second???????

        Even second place is a winner here. The second place holder will also be published but not for at least six months after the winner has had time to shine. Even now the second place holder is gaining a following and that is a good thing.

Do you ever get surprised at the way the story turns out? or that’s impossible every scene and plot is meticulously planned out on some vision board

   I am often surprised at how my stories tell themselves. I may have one idea but find that my characters have another. When I write I view myself as a stenographer. I type what the characters tell me. There have been times with stories I was working on that I was writing a scene straight from scratch and found myself literally yelling at the computer at the character whose scene I was typing, calling them stupid and asking them why they were doing what they were doing. I was appalled at their behavior but I just kept typing. Now, I do write out the ‘synopsis’ if you will, when I first catch the seed of a story, then I will type scenes as they come even if they are not in order. In which case, I save them in a file and work on the manuscript and when the story weaves in the direction of a previously written scene, I add it in.

if you could go back in time, to when you first picked up a pen, or was it typewriter what would you tell yourself?

I would tell myself to just have fun, and not to overthink the process. But I would also tell myself that there is a lot of work ahead, that the first draft is just that, a first draft of many. I would also tell myself not to have thin skin that every story is not for everyone and that is okay. Be confident in the work you’ve made no matter the negative feedback or silence that may come. If you’ve done an honest labor of love, be proud of that and celebrate the achievement even if only one person reads it. Perhaps the story was for that one person alone, and that too, is okay.

Early Bird or Night Owl

I am a struggling night owl. I’d like to get to bed earlier. For me, that is before 1:30am…most times I am in bed closer to 4am. I can get up early though without much issue BUT I will need a nap for obvious reasons. In my adult years, I’ve found that naps are indeed a blessing from God. Lol.

Tea or Coffee

Tea always. Coffee on occasion, especially in cake or ice cream.

lastly…. If aliens from the future, light years from now were to come to earth why should you be the first person they see before they ask to be taken to “our leaders”

Well, I am very hospitable and I think I would give them a good impression of Earth people. I am also pretty good with linguistics so communication might be easier for me. Also, who’s to say I’m not the leader 😛

candice

BIO: Candice Coates is a fiction writer, jumping from genres ranging from Speculative Science Fiction and Fantasy to Comedic Clean Read Romance and Drama, all with touches of her Christian faith. She is a lover of Ireland, tea, and just about anything with pistachios. When not writing she is creating visual art with pen or paint, or she is creating new designs for her handmade polymer clay jewelry line, Shizen Brook. To read more of her work you can find her at her author site, candicecoates.wordpress.com or icameforthesoup.com. You can also find out more about her and how to stay connected by going to www.about.me/candicecoates

_ _

 

sticker.jpgThe battle of the books promo started on the 20th February and will run till the 25th of March pop by her site read a bit and vote wisely…..

~B

PS do hit us up and let us know what you think thanks a bunch…..

 

Of Coffee, Moving and Throwbacks

If you were having coffee with me, well we might not be having coffee because the teapot is in a large bucket somewhere and I found only one cup and everything is in boxes, we have just moved you see.

You never realise till you have to move home how much unnecessary debris you accumulate with time, all those things you once thought might come in handy, just like chickens coming home to roost. I guess by nature most people are hoarders making hay while the sun shines, saving for the proverbial rainy day. You wake up one day and realise your life is crowded with clutter which you have no good reason for keeping and some serious house cleaning is needed.

On the upside all the things you thought were gone forever swallowed by some vortex of all consuming nothingness suddenly get spewed out from beneath beds, in between sofa upholstery, in cupboards and drawers for some reason you never open, ever.

You dont know how much stuff you have until you have to pack and move and suddenly the boxes and bags you needed well you need double that and little bit more too.
Packing is fairly easy, unpacking on the other hand is a process which you never entirely finish.

If you were having coffee with me I would tell you that while unpacking boxes, I have discovered things that I packed over a decade ago and never quite got round to unpacking. Its like a trip down memory lane but I need space for new memories so I will de-clutter and make new memories its almost metaphoric as it is literal.

Assorted Mail and Cards

I found a birthday card from when I was 5… While I wasn’t really five I was way older maybe 3 times that plus five but it was a joke. Crazy times

One Philips VCR and accessories.IMG_20170305_172948.jpg
This was quite the beast in its hey days boasting 4 heads and Turbo Drive whatever the heck that meant.

One Video Cassette Rewinder.IMG_20170305_173216.jpg
Remember a time when you used to rent movies from a video club and they would insist that you rewind the video cassettes before you returned them otherwise they would charge you a small fine and besides it was the right thing to do. Imagine hiring a movie and having to rewind it first before you could get round to enjoying your movie night. Anyway this little baby with LED indicator could super rewind a 3HR VHS tape in just under 60s. I would take it to the Video Club and if I helped them rewind a couple of tapes they would let me borrow
.
A couple of Video cassette tapes and some audio cassette tapes.

I watched classic Disney cartoons, I know all of Santa’s Reindeer by name, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donna, Blitzen. I dont know how many times I watched Rudolph and the only actor I recognize as Superman is Christopher Reeve. I grew up listening to music by ABBA, and Bob Marley I want to go back to a time, when the music made you feel alive and not just crazy beats and mumbled bars.
And something from way back,�..
Vinyl records.
These things never die unlike they digitally superior cousins, compact discs CDs and DVD that easily get scratched

Crazy Notes
If I told you at some point in time one could walk around with billions of dollars you would find it hard to believe

And how about this note here

ten trillion Dollars

Ten Trillion Dollars

It got so bad they had to slash off the zeros and start again and then eventually did away with the currency all together.
If you were having coffee with me, we would be having a large bonfire, burning boxes and boxes of memories we would sit by the verandah mugs in hands and be warmed by the fire as years of memory became ash….. Maybe I just like playing with fire.

~B

PS this post should have pics but USB memory stick with the images is currently in a very safe place, somewhere I just don’t quite remember where..

PPS I found the pics ☺☻♥

Of A Cake For Every Season

guest Of A Cake For Every Season no rhyme or reason…….. By CatMac

If I were having coffee with you I’d bring a cake. I’d probably bake you a gingerbread which is my current go to recipe. It is a very simple cake but I love the stickiness of it, the unexpected spiciness of it, the buttery melt in your mouth richness of it. I would add some candles so it could be a belated birthday cake.

I would tell you that cakes and baking have always been very important for me. That I come from a long line of bakers and how proud I am that my daughter has followed in the tradition. We don’t make the same cakes though so she isn’t quite following in my floury footsteps. I’m a messy baker 😉

I would tell you how no sooner had my daughter got off the plane after an 8h flight at Christmas than she was in the kitchen baking cakes to take to her former teachers/my colleagues at school the next day. That’s my girl.

I would tell you about an Internet article I once read about an amazing lady who made a cake every day for a year and gave them all away. I would love to be that lady but am too lazy.

I would tell you that I used to prefer cooking to baking. I enjoyed the anarchy of combining any old ingredient and seasoning “to taste”. With age, I find the careful measuring out, sifting and combining of ingredients involved in baking to be satisfyingly soothing.
I would tell you that baking has long been a way for me to gauge my mental state. If I don’t bake, there’s a problem. However sometimes I can go into baking overdrive which isn’t necessarily a good sign either. This has recently been the case as I left a school where I’ve been teaching for five years and pupils who mean a great deal to me. I’ve been coming home from school and baking cakes for the next day’s farewell party and the next and the next…And that the slight saltiness in the cakes might not just have been from the butter.

I would tell you that baking has long been a way for me to share my Scottish culture. I was once asked to talk about my country by my daughter’s English teacher and baked over 100 pieces of shortbread to give to pupils. In over 30° C heat. And 80% humidity. The shortbread didn’t stay crisp and crunchy for long. The pupils didn’t seem to mind though.
the very best shortbread recipe

I would tell you how cakes have become an essential teaching tool for me. My first classes most years are “Show and Tell”s. I show a cake I’ve baked and tell my pupils how important baking is for me. I also tell them how lucky they are that I chose to talk about baking rather than walking. My smelly training shoes are a lot less appetising than my cakes. Then we have cake and juice. Sadly, none of my pupils has reciprocated with a “Show and Tell” cake. There have, however, been medals won at sporting competitions, necklaces bought by now dead grandmothers, bracelets gifted by older sisters now living overseas…..cakes break the ice.

I would tell you how I’ve run conversation classes for colleagues in schools where I’ve worked and brought in cake and coffee. In fact, I arrived in a new school a couple of weeks ago where I found some former colleagues who have fond memories of my cakes. And me, I hope.

I would tell you how one year I set myself the challenge of finding a cake for each literary work I taught. Our first novel dealt with the First World War “Regeneration” by Pat Barker. How better to convey the horror of trench warfare to my 16 yr olds than with….Trench Cake, I thought. It worked, the cake was not good. I explained to the teens that rationing, being in force in GB at this time, meant eggs were hard to get hold of so vinegar and baking soda were substituted as a raising agent. One boy told me that his mother baked like that and this brought it back to me that times are hard and I counted my blessings.How to bake a first world trench cake

Our next work was “King Lear” and I brought in an edible test for students…Eerie Eyeball Pops! And yes, they had read the play and recognised what scene the pops referred to.
eerie eyeball pops
I left these in the fridge to the last minute-30°C heat-and warned my pupils to let them reach room temperature before trying to eat them. A former pupil joined our class so I gave him one and he bit into it before I could warn him. Fortunately, his very expensive dental work held up.

Our last work was “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad and guess what? I serendipitously found a “Heart of Darkness” cake recipe. A delicious chocolate sponge with a ganache centre. Which I baked in a heart shaped mould, of course.
Heart of Darkness Recipe

I was disappointed this year to discover that all Hardy’s “Far From the Madding Crowd” inspired in me was….Shepherd’s Pie. I also drew a blank at Shaw’s “Saint Joan”. I had no idea what to bake but knew it would have to be burnt 😉

I would also tell you about a cake which I didn’t bake. I walk a lot and talk a lot. I met an old lady to chat with returning from my walk one day. I’d see her regularly pottering about in her garden and we’d have wonderful conversations. Do not ask me what about as she didn’t speak French and I didn’t speak Créole. But neither one of us believed in letting the language barrier get in the way of a good conversation. One day I saw lots of people outside her house on my way past and was happy for her that her family was visiting. I didn’t walk for a while and when next I passed by, her house was closed. I asked her neighbor where she was…only to learn that she had passed away. I had added her to my list of “lovely people to make cake for” and sadly didn’t find the time to do it. I will always regret this.

I would tell you that I usually give photocopies of my recipes with my cakes. I like to think that in years to come, when I’ve left this beautiful Caribbean island behind and perhaps even shrugged off this mortal coil, a former pupil will bake one of my recipes for their child or grandchild and tell the story of a Scottish teacher who baked. Wouldn’t that be the most beautiful way to be remembered?

I would thank you for inviting me for coffee and we’d eat our cake, at last. I’d apologise and comment that my cake really wasn’t as good as usual and I wasn’t sure what went wrong. We’d both agree that the world would be a much better place if only more people sat down to tell stories, drink coffee and eat cake together…..

Bio: Catmac

Baker of cakes, devourer of books, walker, talker, petter of cats and dogs and alleged teacher of English. I live with my concierge of a cat in the French West Indies. I would like to thank the lovely Beaton for inviting me to drink coffee with him
Cat.jpg

 

 

~B

Thank you CatMac☻☺♥ you can find her Twitter

Of all the cakes The Heart  of Darkness cake is the most poetic…

I only just discovered her Birthday was a day before mine .. Happy belated birthday, better late than never and never late the better….. 

if we were having coffee we would be having a birthday cake ♥☻ because what are birthdays but an excuse to eat cake

Of FITTING

guest

Fitting by Josie Mills

You and Me
walking down the beach
just after dawn

The old people
walk up the beach into old age
you say
while we walk the other way
eternally young
eternally holding the hour
of walking down the beach
just after dawn

A woman
wrinkled dark and beautiful from the sun
picks up trash
you bend pick up some plastic
put it in her bag
and rinse your hands in the sea

You smile and greet each passerby
while I keep within our world together
and the evolution of beach animals
marks on the sand

You dart and chatter
while I walk quiet and straight
content just to have your hand
so fitting in mine

♥♥♥♥♥

Bio:
I’m Josie Mills, and I’ve been writing poetry since I was around 10 years old. I have a degree in creative writing with a focus on poetry writing. I teach writing now at a community college. I’ve had poems published in the journals Snakeskin and Mantis among others.I live in Denver, Colorado, with my husband, two sons, and our cat Moe :-). I write the blog Open Mind Fashion (OMF) for fun: http://www.openmindfashion.com or http://www.facebook.com/openmindfashion

OMF.jpg

 

~B

..and it happens to be her birthday today, Happy BIRTHDAY ♥♥♥ she wrote this piece awhile ago and I felt it had that je ne sais quois  for a birthday month and also February month of love ♥♥♥♥♥ 

also find her on Twitter for an interesting look at fashion tips for people without a closet full of money…

PS forever young ☻☺ 

Of My Father’s Watch

My Father’s Watch

seiko.jpg

My father had a watch, a Seiko Kinetic automatic watch, stainless steel with 17 jewels. You know the kind you don’t wind up, and as long as you wear it regularly, somehow it self-winds, and ticks on and on and on…. It came in a black velvet box with a warranty card that declared a lifetime guarantee, I have always wondered how long a life time guarantee lasts, whose lifetime do they mean when they say lifetime guarantee…….

My father had a watch a Seiko Kinetic; he wore it every day from the day he got it, a Christmas present from some duty-free shop at some airport somewhere. I do not know how much it cost but I am sure it wasn’t a price one sneezed at… He wore it so much that the skin beneath it was lighter toned than the rest of his arm. When I try to remember him, I remember him wearing that watch. He never did but  I can imagine him saying to me “Son, a gentleman must always know what time it is, you do what needs to be done, on time, when it needs to be done, in time, and then after,  you can do what you want with all the time you have left , but first you do what needs to be done…”

The only time he was without that watch, was when my little hands were throwing dust to dust and everyone was crying.

My father had a watch a Seiko Kinetic, he made me a promise that when I could tell the time like a grown-up he would get me one for my birthday. But death, the untimely visitor came knocking, knocking down even the best laid plans, just like that….. If he could have given me a last present he would have given me that watch for my birthday; I dont remember if he was the sort of man to give grand speeches, maybe I was simply too young to have really known him or had proper father to son talk but if he could he would have said

“My son, we have only life, love and time in this world, The Creator gave you life, you can find love all by yourself and as for time I didn’t start the clock, no one can turn it back, I cannot give it you, only this clock to watch it tick away……..”

sei.jpg

I have a watch, a Seiko Kinetic, it used to be father’s now I have it and I watch it ticking. The hands of every watch, are clippers, trimming us away tick tock tick tock. The hands of time an illusion lulling us into believing we can tame time, control it even, but every second used is discarded,

discarded.jpg

Discarded

rushing off

slipping from my palms,

through the gaps

in my fingers like a leaky jar…..

TIME

never stopping in this moment

 

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What happens

to all the seconds

tipped into the bin of the past?

Discarded

then gathered up into a tapestry of memories and history……  

2015-03-01 09.26.jpg

I have this watch, a Seiko Kinetic, I don’t know if they still make them like this because today marks the day I have watched it tick for 21 years, before that it was my father’s watch. I look at it and I ask myself how much time do we have, not how many hours or seconds in a day but how much time, do we have….

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……The watch keeps on ticking and it doesn’t care how much time we think we have because in the end, it is never enough, it always runs out….. That’s what gives life meaning to know that time runs out…….

time.jpg

My father had this watch, this Seiko Kinetic, I have it now, I watch it tick and I make every moment count………….watch.jpg

~B