Category Archives: Uncategorized

Worrying thoughts on Climate Change

I’ve just finished reading this article on Medium by Umair Haque. I think everyone should read it. It paints a bleak picture of the future unless we do something immediately.

Umair Haque says,

“2022. It was the year that climate change became frighteningly real. Europe burned, Pakistan drowned. A mega-heatwave stretched from China to America, reaching every corner of the globe. Rivers ran dry, and crops failed.

One of the most urgent tasks our civilization faces is educating people about the reality of climate change. After too long, spent in a haze of denial, largely coming from the far right, funded by Big Energy, it’s undeniable now that climate change is real, and it’s here. And yet really understanding it? Most people, even at this juncture, have far too little awareness of what it really means.”

Leaf Cutter Bees

Image by Franz W. from Pixabay

I recently noticed that my white geranium flowers seemed to be being eaten by something. The petals had become shredded and looked very tatty. Strangely, the red ones hadn’t been touched.

At first, I blamed birds. I know in the spring some birds eat the yellow flowers of daffodils and primroses, so I thought perhaps they were being attracted to the white colour.

Then one day as I was sitting on my garden seat, which is next to one group of white geraniums, I saw a small bee. She flew down and settled on one of the geraniums. I expected her to begin feeding from the nectar, but no. She proceeded to bite the petal she was on. She cut a beautiful, neat semicircle of petal and flew off, carrying it with her legs. She came back several times and each time cut a semicircle of petal and flew off with it.

I was somewhat bemused by this behaviour. I knew about leaf-cutter bees. We had them cut bits out of our rose leaves in the past, but never petals. Well, they’re called leaf cutter bees, not petal cutter bees.

I watched her for several days, busy cutting the petals. Then we had some canna come out and to my annoyance, she started on those!

She seems to have stopped now, fortunately, so our flowers are once more looking lovely.

After seeing this behaviour, I looked up leaf cutter bees, but found no reference to them cutting anything other than leaves.

Anyway, here’s a bit more information I discovered.

The bees cut the leaves (or petals) and take them back to their nest, which is usually in a hole. It can be in wood, a bee hotel, or masonry. They aren’t fussy.

I love this particular one and the sense of humour by its creator.

Once there, they form thimble-like structures to which they add a mixture of nectar and pollen. She will continue to build these cells and provision them. Then when she has finished, she lays a single egg in each cell and caps it with a piece of leaf (or petal!). Each nest may contain up to 20 eggs.

Female eggs are laid at the back of the nest, while male eggs are laid at the front. This is because the males hatch first and fly out to hang around until the females emerge.

Apparently, there are seven species of leaf-cutting bees in Britain. They are all small and have wingspans of 8-14mm. The bees are dark brown in colour and are covered in lighter brown or orange hairs.

They are amazing pollinators, being much better at the job than honey bees, apparently, so in spite of the minor annoyance, they should be encouraged.

Have you had any problems with such creatures? Please let us know in the comments box.

If you would like to receive an exclusive, free short story by me, called The Haunted Table, simply click the link. This will take you to the page where you can download it.

Maria and Tom have bought an antique table for the old cottage they have bought. When they hear strange noises in the night that sound like crying, they worry their house is haunted, but the sounds seem to come from the table.

They set about trying to find what is causing the disturbances. The answer is stranger than either of them had thought.

(Clicking the link will add your email address to my email list, but don’t worry, you can unsubscribe immediately if you wish. Nor will you get any spam. I only send out an email each quarter, or if I have any exciting news–like a new release.)

Out Now: I See The World Through Darkness

Another exciting -sounding novella by David Kummer. I really enjoy his writing. If you like horror, he’s the author for you.
I would also recommend Everywhere, Somewhere. Not horror, but I thought it excellent.

David Kummer

You can read this story on Amazon by buying it on Kindle, or you can click on the right button to buy directly on this website and read it here.

At midnight, my first new story in over a year releases. This will kick off my first ever book series, and it marks a return to psychological thrillers, which I haven’t written in almost 4 years. Not only will this short novella shock you, in June of 2023 I’ll release the first of three books. You can read a sample of the first one, The Misery House, below.

This new book series is a return to psychological thrillers and horror. But with a twist! While there are frightening antagonists and a stream of tragedies, the main series focuses on 1 family, their unbreakable bond, and overcoming trauma. If you enjoyed my novel Everything…

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The 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse.


Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

Recently I’ve been watching the news, as have most of you, I suspect, with increasing anxiety. The world seems to have gone completely mad. We no longer consider anything but the short term. Even things that threaten our own existence.

I think that the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse is a great analogy as to what is happening.

‘What are these Horsemen?’ you ask. Well I’ll tell you.

They first appear in the Old Testament in the prophetic book of Zachariah and Ezikiel. Then they re-appear in the New Testament Book of Revelation.

They are named as War, Pestilence, Famine and Death, and will ride at the End of Days.

Let’s take them one by one.

War.

Image by 849356 from Pixabay

There seems to be a lot of fighting around the globe at the moment. It’s not only Russia and Ukraine, although if you watch solely the news in the UK, you might think so. There are wars going on in Africa, (including Rwanda where the British Government has thought fit to send illegal migrants!). Have we forgotten about Syria’s civil war? And what about the Israeli/Palestinian conflicts?

I’m also going to include here the civil unrest in many parts of the world that have not completely turned into civil wars, but there are violent protests everywhere it seems.

Peaceful protest has gone. Take the Maillot Jaune in France, the storming of the White House in the USA, Sri Lanka, Equador, India, Hong Kong, I could go on.

People are turning to violence almost as a first resort.

So wars everywhere.

The first Horseman has ridden.

Pestilence.

Image by Vicki Hamilton from Pixabay

We can’t forget the pandemic of the last three years. The lockdowns, the deaths, the seriously ill.

Now there’s Monkey Pox. And before that, AIDS. What next?

These things spread because we can travel around the globe so easily nowadays. Jump on a plane and within a few hours you can be in most parts of the world. Once, if someone was ill, they would have recovered, or not be infectious when travel was slow. If it takes a week to cross the Atlantic, a person who is infected would be known before arriving, and quarantine could be begun. But now, they arrive in a few hours and contact many people (maybe even thousands, certainly hundreds) before even knowing they are ill.

So the second Horseman has ridden.

Famine.

Image by Yuri_B from Pixabay

Climate change is having a devastating effect on agriculture. We recently heard about the farmers in the Po Valley in Italy having crop failures because of lack of water in the river. This river is fed from the snows in the Alps, but those snows are melting and are not there any more.

Glaciers are retreating. They are the source of many rivers, and rivers are where agriculture gets its water. Lakes are drying up, causing the death of wildlife who have nowhere else to go to drink.

Now you might think that that’s not a problem. We can desalinate the sea water as they do in Dubai, and use that to irrigate the crops, but it’s not that simple. We are an integral part of life on this planet. We aren’t separate. Insects need water, too. We’re already destroying many of our pollinators with indiscriminate use of pesticides, and their food plants, by indiscriminate use of herbicides, all in the name of maximizing profit. If the wildlife dies, ultimately, so do we.

Then there’s the grain shortage brought about by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. We’ve been told that will cause famine in Africa, and maybe elsewhere.

Here in the UK, the cost of living is rising, and more and more people are living in poverty, not able to afford to buy food for their families. They are relying on food banks. Food banks in a comparatively rich economy in 2022!

The third Horseman has ridden.

We are just waiting for the fourth. Death.

Image by Reimund Bertrams from Pixabay

He may not come soon, but unless we do something to ameliorate these things, come he will. The human race will not survive. It’s not just being too hot that climate change causes, but all these other things too.

The British Government has, I understand given the go ahead for more north sea gas exploration, and I just read that one of the candidates for the leadership of the Conservative Party is promising he will allow no more onshore wind farms. So much for cutting carbon emissions!

Economic considerations come first, before the life on this planet, which will die unless we do something about it NOW.

Church Bulletin Bloopers – Reblogged

A hilarious post from Aurora Jane Alexander.

Thank God for church ladies with typewriters. These sentences actually appeared in church bulletins or were announced in church services:

1. Bertha Belch, a missionary from Africa, will be speaking tonight at Calvary Methodist. Come hear Bertha Belch all the way from Africa.

2. Announcement in a church bulletin for a national PRAYER & FASTING Conference: “The cost for attending the Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals.

3. The sermon this morning: “Jesus Walks on the Water.”
The sermon tonight: “Searching for Jesus.”

4. Our youth basketball team is back in action Wednesday at 8 PM in the recreation hall – Come out and watch us kill Christ the King.

Love’s Labours Rediscovered

Has reading books slipped down your list of priorities. Here are some ways you can start again. Or even start! There are some suggestions that Deborah Grant-Dudley makes as to why some people say they don’t like reading, and ways to discover books.

Deborah Grant-Dudley

10 ways to fit books into your life again

I often hear people say they don’t have time to read. Another way of looking at this is that they prioritise other things over reading. And of course, much of the time, they need to do that. But we can choose what we do with at least some of our time. And we can change those choices when our lives change. Otherwise, our precious time might not be working for us.

I’ve also heard people say they don’t even like reading. This tells me they haven’t enjoyed the books they’ve read in the past. Does it follow that there aren’t any books out there they would enjoy now? With millions of books available, and multiple ways to read them, that seems unlikely.

With a slight shift in mindset, you can fit books into your life again.

Here are some ways to…

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Memories of past winters

With this energy price crisis, I thought about when I was growing up. What sparked this was when a woman on the radio complained about her children being cold in their bedrooms when they were getting up in the morning.

Here are some of my recollections.

Nowadays, we all take central heating for granted. And a wonderful thing it is in many ways. Our homes are, or can be, heated to a temperature we are comfortable with in every room. It was not always like this.

Once, when walking past a house that had recently been built, I was told, “That house has central heating.” On enquiring how one could tell, I was told. “It has no chimneys.”

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Chimneys were an essential part of homes at that time (1950s) because the only means of heating was coal. Every room had a fireplace, including bedrooms, although fires were only lit there if someone was ill enough to have to stay in bed. A fire in the living room was commonplace. It heated that room, but others were cold.

Fires need oxygen to burn, and so they drew in air from any gaps, such as under the door, creating a draught; hence the long sausages people put at the bottom of the doors. One thing I do remember is when we had a Baxi fire put in. This was a special grate that pulled air from outside along a tube that opened under the fire. A great invention. The draught could be adjusted so the fire would burn either high or low.

Another disadvantage of having fires was that they need solid fuel. Coal was kept in either a coal bunker or a coal house. These were, of course, outside, and so occasionally someone had to go out to get the coal in. Coal scuttles were filled, of course, but the coal never lasted all evening. And the next day, someone had to go out in the cold to refill it.

Going from one room to another was always a cold experience, and bedrooms were cold. When going to bed at night, it was a rush to get into pyjamas as quickly as possible and under the blankets. Similarly, getting up in the mornings. Talking to friends from that era, they remember, as do I, getting dressed in bed.

I remember, on cold winter mornings, when there had been a frost, there were wonderful pictures on the window. Ferns, flowers, trees, all drawn by Jack Frost in the night. Sometimes the frost was on the INSIDE of the windows! Now we don’t see these pictures. Such a pity as they were beautiful, if transient.

Image by Eirena from Pixabay

Although I love my centrally heated home, I wonder if we really need to heat all our rooms in this time of economic crisis and with a soaring cost of energy. In ones we hardly ever use, perhaps we could turn off the radiators. It would save us fuel, and money, and also help the environment.

I also wonder if living in a constant warm temperature is actually good for us. We are warm, then go out into the cold. A recipe for catching colds, I think.

I didn’t intend for this to be as long as it is. I apologise. If you’ve got this far, Well Done.

If you would like to receive an exclusive, free short story by me, called The Haunted Table, simply click the link. This will take you to the page where you can download it.

Maria and Tom have bought an antique table for the old cottage they have bought. When they hear strange noises in the night that sound like crying, they worry their house is haunted, but the sounds seem to come from the table.

They set about trying to find what is causing the disturbances. The answer is stranger than either of them had thought.

(Clicking the link will add your email address to my email list, but don’t worry, you can unsubscribe immediately if you wish. Nor will you get any spam. I only send out an email each quarter, or if I have any exciting news–like a new release.)

Stopping Book Piracy

An important post on Story Empire that should be read by both readers and writers.

How many readers really know how long it takes to get a book published?

Readers, please read this. You write the first draft. That might take anything form a few months to years. It’s not perfect. There are many things wrong with it. There are the obvious things, like typos, of course, but lots of other things can be wrong.

Timing, for one. You might find you have your protagonist take a week to get from one point to another, but someone else only take a couple of days using the same transport.

You might find your protagonist is blond in Chapter 1, only to turn up a redhead in Chapter 20 (and she’s not been to a hairdresser!)

People’s names. Check the spelling is consistent all through. I’ve occasionally changed the name of a character (or place) during the writing. A check needs to be done to ensure all the references have the new name.

Word usage. Have you used every word with the correct meaning. (I read a book where someone ‘etched towards a rabbit’ (I assumed the author meant ‘edged’).

Do you really need that scene? Does it add anything to the story? Do you need to delete it?

These are just a few of the things that need to be checked. I could go on, but it’s get boring.

So you see, there are a number of rewrites for every book. This can take months, too, before it’s ready for publishing.

Perhaps the book then goes to critique groups or beta readers and work needs to be done on their comments. (Maybe something isn’t clear to the readers that you think is perfectly obvious because you know the story so well.)

Cover design, formatting, professional editing etc needs to be done.

All in all, there is a lot of work goes into publishing a book, and the author deserves to be paid for it. (and the musician and artist, in the case of those subjects, too.)

Read the post on Story Empire

Pirates! They are fine for stories told within the pages of the books we read. But book piracy is another story altogether. Illegal book consumption accounts for 17% of all downloaded ebooks. This is stealing. Those who download and read books for free are just as guilty of theft as those who offer the books on hundreds of illegal sites scattered across the internet.

If you’ve ever Googled the titles of your own books or your author’s name, you’ve probably found your work being offered for free on one or more of these sites.

But now that you’ve made this discovery, what can you do about it? It’s your work. You own the copywrite.