I have been nominated for the Liebster award

It's been an awfully long time since I published a post on this blog, but it's about time, and I have been prompted to since I have been nominated for the Liebster award, much to my amazement and delight.


I was nominated by the wonderfully entertaining blogger of English, Anna Nolan of Flaming English http://flaming-english.com/ who was in turn  nominated by Sean at http://theplight2write.com/.

I decided to accept since I feel totally honoured although terribly unworthy. This might encourage me to get my act together and blog more. So, thank you, Anna.

Now, this is a very good opportunity for me to draw your attention to some other wonderful new bloggers, and I hereby nominate them for the honour of the Liebster award. You can find them listed below, and I encourage you to visit their blogs and enjoy:

David McAdam of https://davidmcadamwriter.wordpress.com
NiQi Tanya During of http://fabulousandfightingcf.blogspot.co.uk/
Brittany at http://blissfulbritt.com/
Fadi Zaghmout at http://thearabobserver.wordpress.com/

What the nominees have to do if they accept the Liebster Award

The main rules associated with the Liebster Award are as follows:

1: Acknowledge and accept the Liebster Award by leaving a comment on the blog where you were nominated;

2: Copy the Liebster logo and paste it onto your own blog;

3: Inform your nominees by leaving a comment on their respective blogs;

4: In your blog post about the Liebster Award:

  • Link back to the blogger who nominated you
  • Answer the 11 questions put to you by the person who nominated you
  • List 11 random facts about yourself
  • Nominate, and link to, three–11 other blogs which you enjoy and which have fewer than 3,000 followers
  • List 11 questions for your nominees.

Below are the answers to the 11 questions I was asked:

1. What would you like to get out of blogging?
I would love to know if I have reached people who feel the way I do about the issues I blog about.

2. What is your claim to fame?
Hmmmm. Probably for being a very accomplished Jill of all trades and mistress of none. Excepting for procrastination. Really good at that.

3. What matters to you most?
I care most about living as close to Mother Earth as possible, which means that I try to take care to cause the least harm to her in whatever I do. Not an easy task.

4. What is your guilty pleasure?
Seriously black chocolate - dark, bitter and fairtrade of course.

5. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Gairloch in Scotland... no wait... make that anywhere where mountains fall to the sea or a lake.

6. How do you like spending your free time?
Free time? What's that?

7. What is your most abiding memory?
Walking behind my dad as we returned from collecting eggs from the hens. I would have been about three years old, and I remember trying hard to step where he stepped so that the dew in the long grass didn't soak my shoes. This was rather difficult as he also entrusted me with the basket of eggs, which I knew had to be kept safe.

8. Who is your favourite writer?
So many to choose from, but Alexander McCall Smith has to be one of my top favourites, especially his Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, set in Botswana, a place and people I relate to so easily since I hail from South Africa.

9. What type of music do you like?
Now you've got me. So many to choose from. Let me say any music where voices and/or instruments (real ones) are used with clarity and passion. This would cover Bach's Toccata and Fugue in Dm to my favourite mad violinist, Ashanti Floyd.

10. What tends to annoy you?
Stupidity and unnecessary noise. I think the two tend to accompany each other. I'm sure I don't need to clarify the former, but the latter includes loud exhausts on cars, that dreadful thud thud that emanates from the same vehicles and which some call music, as well as the so-called music that one is forced to listen to in various shopping establishments.

11. What quality do you most admire in people?
I really enjoy people who are honest and candid, kind and intelligent. Oh right, that's four qualities. Pick whichever one you like best.

Here are 11 random facts about me:

  1. I've finally decided at the age of 57 what degree I want to do.
  2. I was born in a place called Pietermaritzburg, which is also called umGungundlovu. This is why I prefer English.
  3. I am a vegan (not surprising considering no 2 in the first list).
  4. I have never had a traffic fine.
  5. I have lived in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and now England.
  6. Places I have travelled to: Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Madagascar, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland... I think that's all so far.
  7. I lived on a narrowboat in 2012 and a catamaran in 2008. I don't really like boats all that much.
  8. Like Anna, I cut my own hair and don't care whether anyone likes it.
  9. My favourite food is avocado, followed closely by mango.
  10. My favourite pastime is walking in nature. Or is it painting? Writing? Hmmm. 
  11. I'm really good at DIY.

Here are my 11 questions to my nominees:

1. If you could do anything you wanted, what would it be?
2. What is your favourite animal and why?
3. Who has been the most influential person in your life?
4. What do you hope to achieve with your blog?
5. What is your favourite food?
6. What is your pet peeve?
7. What would make you happy?
8. If you won the jackpot, what would you do with the money?
9. What is your idea of good holiday?
10. If your house went on fire, which possession would you try to save?
11. If you could have your life over again, would you change anything?

So, now that you have read all of the above (or skipped to here) please feel free to ignore the nomination if you don't have the time to follow the rules, but if you do accept, I will be delighted.

Finally, thank you, Anna, once again for the nomination. My one and only hour of fame.

Buy cheap photos for your website, blog or article and help save a life

If you, like me, try to do the right thing by buying ethical products and being careful that your actions are as positive as possible, you may be interested in buying photos to help this cause.

NiQi Tanja During is a young and incredibly brave woman who suffers from Cystic Fibrosis. I wrote about her in another post, some time ago. Here is a link to NiQi's blog - I found this post particularly interesting and illuminating:


She needs two new lungs, desperately. And for that, she needs funds. So I set up this site where you can choose from over 700 photos, and feel good that each one you buy will go towards helping NiQi.

The photos are very reasonably priced, and most are of nature.

Here is the link to the site: http://cffundraiser.instaproofs.com/store/?page=multipleCategories&event=857421

Please have a look and see if you can help out. If you don't need a photo, perhaps you would consider forwarding this post to someone who may.

Thank you and bless you.

Life is like a funfair ride

The other day someone remarked on how exciting my life seemed to be. I told them that I hadn't ever planned on excitement and am happy with peace and quiet, but somehow, something always happens. It got me thinking.

Life is a bit like rides at the funfair.
http://www.freedigitalphotos.net Simon Howden

Mine has been like a roller-coaster with big ups and downs and lots of breathless moments.

But some people seem to be on a carousel with ups and downs certainly, but nothing terrifying.

Others are in bumper cars, alternately bashing other people or being bashed.

Many people are in ghost train rides, being scared witless as they go along - I think that people in war situations must feel like this.

There are people who are on the big wheel, experiencing slow climbs to great heights and equally slow dips down.

And it's as if people are on one or maybe two of the rides during their lifetime. As if they bought tickets before they were born, for a specific ride.

And with all of the rides, we end up back in the place we started.

From birth to death, life is a fun ride, scary at times, with the odd breakdown, or even catastrophe, but we go back home after it's over.

Looking at life like this somehow makes it feel less scary to me as it makes me remember that it's supposed to be fun, even when it's scary, and I know I will go back home at the end of the ride.

What do you think? What sort of ride did you buy a life ticket for? Please let me know by leaving a comment. I'd love to hear what your life's been like.

Cas Peace is on my list of favourite authors

I was never a fan of fantasy until I read Cas Peace's first two fantasy novels, King's Envoy and King's Champion, in her Artesans of Albia series.

Other fantasy novels had me scratching my head trying to remember the awkward names of people and places as well as the often difficult-to-picture strange surroundings.

But Cas Peace makes you feel as if you are right inside her novels, with imaginative yet memorable names and descriptions.

However, the highlight of Cas Peace's latest fantasy novels are the amazingly larger-than-life yet very real characters, and her ability to keep you hooked to the last death-defying minute, unable to put the book down and gasping for the next one the second you finish reading.

The Artesans of Albia series describes what happens when a terrible weapon is discovered, a weapon that has the ability to damage the metaphysical powers of Artesans who live in the realms, if not the realms themselves.

Taran Elijah, a young Artesan who is trying to improve his metaphysical prowess, discovers the
weapon. He survives contact with it and when he seeks help, he meets Major Sullyan of the High King's forces, a young and desirable woman and an immensely strong and brave Artesan with advanced powers.

Sully, as her friends know her, ends up in terribly dangerous and life-threatening situations, which, if it wasn't for her staunch friends, she has little chance of surviving.

I'm not going to say more as I don't want to give the plot away, or your enjoyment of reading these fine novels.

As for me, I'm waiting for the release of the third in the series so I can see how Sully gets herself out of deep trouble, again!

So, if you want to experience some amazing fantasy, just jump onto Amazon.

Also available from Amazon.com

Coconut sugar - better for your sweet tooth!

I was buying bee pollen online from my favourite organic shop when I noticed that they sell coconut sugar.

I had never heard of it but have since discovered some amazing things about this sugar substitute.

First, coconut sugar has a low glycaemic index (GI) of 35. Compared to cane sugar at 85, this means that eating coconut sugar won't give you those horrible blood sugar crashes.

High GI foods like sugar can cause obesity, diabetes, atherosclerosis, kidney disease, heart disease and even cancer. See my notes on the dangers of eating sugar.

Low GI foods have a rating of 55 or less, and eating these will help to keep you healthy.

So, back to coconut sugar, what is it?

It's available in granular, crystal, block or liquid form, and tastes almost like caramel flavoured brown sugar.

It's made by making a cut in the coconut flower stem and collecting the sap that runs from it into bamboo containers. This sap is poured into large woks and the moisture is evaporated over a low heat.

An added bonus is that this sugar is high in nutrients such as iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc, vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B6 and 16 amino acids.

It's considered safe for diabetics to use. Be sure to purchase organic sources and remember that Palm sugar is not the same thing.

Are Californian Sea Lion pups dying from radiation poisoning?

Californian sea lions may be dying from radiation poisoning.

Nearly 1000 sick and dying Californian sea lion pups have washed up on beaches this year.

Scientists say they are dying of starvation, but don't know why.

Cesium-137 radiation has been leaking into the ocean since the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.

Ocean plankton have been contaminated with Cesium-137, according to a Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology report.

Sea lions eat fish that live on plankton, which drift with ocean currents. 

Kintsugi - can people mend broken hearts with gold?

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of mending cracked bowls with resin sprinkled with gold powder. The result is always beautiful and often poignant; a statement that something broken can be repaired and enhanced; raised to a different level of perfection.

I have seen photos of these works of art and each time have felt a corresponding kinship with them. They make me remember my own breakages; those dings and bumps of the soul and heart that are never forgotten; that bear scars silently and bravely.

And it made me wonder how I could raise my battle scars to the level of Kintsugi. Is it possible for humans to gild their broken hearts without flaunting the damage, without drawing undue attention to that which is past?

Is it possible to die from a broken heart?

The short answer is 'yes'.

Some of you reading this may be familiar, as I myself have been very recently, with experiencing severe pain in the region of the heart when faced with sudden and heartbreaking news. This may be accompanied by shortness of breath, arm pain and sweating. Possibly even panic symptoms. Many who have experienced this may have been concerned that they are having a heart attack.

However, although the symptoms are similar to those of a heart attack, this response is called a stress cardiomyopathy, also known as 'broken heart syndrome'. The syndrome was first discovered in Japan in the 1990's and has been more recently noted in Western Europe and the United States.

What happens is that when emotional trauma is experienced, adrenalin and other chemicals are released by the body in a 'fight or flight' response. This abrupt flow can stun the heart muscle, preventing it from pumping properly. If the heart can't pump blood out strongly enough it can fail, causing possible loss of life.

Witch hunts - legal femicide? And it's still happening....

Many people view witches, green-faced with warts and broomsticks to be creatures of myth and fairytale. They certainly are key figures in modern Halloween celebrations. Perhaps these rather ugly creatures are mythical, but witches were, and still are, real people.

Witches used to be defined as women who have supernatural powers and cast evil spells on people. People certainly were afraid of them and this fear was upheld by certain tracts in the Bible condemning witchcraft.  Deuteronomy 18:11-12 states that 'Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord' while  'Do not allow a sorceress to live' appears in Exodus 22:18.

In ancient Egypt and Babylonia witchcraft was punishable by law. In 331 BC 170 women were executed in Rome, accused of playing a part in an epidemic illness. Also in Rome, 2000 people were executed for witchcraft in 184 BC and a further 3000 people during 180-182 BC in relation to an epidemic. Witches continued to be hunted in Rome until the Roman Empire adopted Christianity as its state religion. According to some sources, the executions per populace during this era far exceeded the rate perpetrated during the early modern period. Jewish law also condemned witchcraft and during 1BC 80 women accused of witchcraft were sentenced to death in one day.

21st December 2012 - is it really doomsday?

The Maya calendar, a system used in pre-Columbian times in Mesoamerica, is still used by some communities in Mexico and Guatemala. The particular calendar that is causing all the fuss is the so-called long-count calendar. This calendar depicts time in long cycles starting from approximately August 11th 3114 BCE. This year, on 21st December, one of these long cycles comes to an end. This does not mean that this is the end of the world, but merely the beginning of another long cycle.

So why all the fuss? Why do people think the world will end on that day? Apart from the movie entitled 2012 which was released in 2009, depicting the end of the world in December 2012, there are many doomsday enthusiasts who have latched onto various theories regarding the end of the world at this time. These include the collision of earth with a planet called Nibiru, the alignment of earth with a black hole which will destroy us all and the sudden reversal of the earth's magnetic field.