May WATWB–Hero Rat Retires

We Are the World Blogfest

Late again, but here’s an interesting good news story with a twist–not a person but a rat doing good things, with the aid of human handlers. As most of you know, with all the conflicts around the world over the last century, a dangerous thing left behind is land mines. In this case, it’s Cambodia from the war in Vietnam and/or conflicts within the country itself during other years some decades ago.

From NPR (and many other news outlets that have picked up the story) comes this report:

A heroic rat named Magawa has been working for five years in Cambodia, sniffing out dozens of land mines. He is believed to have saved lives.

Now, the animal is about to embark on a well-deserved retirement.

“Although still in good health, he has reached a retirement age and is clearly starting to slow down,” the nonprofit APOPO said Thursday. “It is time.”

A rat on a line, clearing a mine field
Magawa is shown here working to detect land mines, a job the animal has done for five years.

According to the report, “Even among his skilled cohorts working in Cambodia, Magawa is a standout sniffer: In four years he has helped to clear more than 2.4 million square feet of land. In the process, he has found 71 land mines and 38 items of unexploded ordnance.” For that success, he won and award. Now he can retire and enjoy a life of food and play.

Because of their light weight, the rats don’t trigger the mines–which works out well for parties concerned.

WATWB for April

We Are the World Blogfest

Three days past Friday, April 30th, but better late than never. The last Friday of the month is when these good and nonpolitical news posts are supposed to appear on the blogs of those who participate in the We Are the World Blogfest.

A different sort of good news—about one aspect of living in small town America. Not only the sense of community but a surprising range of essential services, assuming you pick the right location.

We knew that medical care would be something we needed as we aged. Silver City, New Mexico has more and better care now than when we moved here ten years ago. A week ago Saturday, my heartbeat was erratic for two hours that morning. That was the third episode in two years. This time, however, I had a thumb drive-sized device implanted under the skin over my heart. It records data and uploads it to the servicer and then the doctor’s office.

Surprising that I could get this newer technology here in a town of less than 10,000 people. More surprising, Gila Cardiology has a care coordinator who forwards her calls to home on the weekend!  Do you get that in big cities? She walked me through options; in the end, I waited it out rather than heading for the ER. Like before, the palpitations stopped on their own. On Monday a week ago, she called me at 8 AM, confirming that I have occasional AFib. The office sent in a prescription for one of the newer drugs that prevent clots.

As they say on the infomercials: But wait, there’s more! A few years ago, our eye doctor called in a prescription on a Saturday based on a smart phone image she sent him.  Our small town also has a celebrity surgeon who’s a pioneer GERD specialist, an excellent podiatrist in his early 40s, a skilled orthopedist, a choice of physical/occupational therapists and more. My wife and I have seen or been treated by all these doctors.

Note that this is considered a medically underserved area. Our wonderful primary care doctor is continually striving to recruit young residents to intern here, hoping they’ll stay beyond the time the federal government program requires for a deal that pays off medical school loans. There’s a solid regional hospital. Alternative medical care—including acupuncture or acupressure, herbalists and more can be found in Silver. Beyond that, yoga and other Eastern disciplines. Not to mention a variety of spiritual groups for healing mind or body.

Maybe this sounds like a promo for Silver City. Sort of, but I’ll do that in a post on another blog, Views from Eagle Peak, soon. In the meantime, if you’re fully vaccinated and looking for somewhere to travel, you can find out more about Silver City here.

Whatever Happened to That Coming Book?

Huh! What coming book?

Here’s the promo from Eagle Peak Annual. A multi-genre collection of fiction from flash through micro and short. Verse. Non-fiction observations and more. Just the thing for a quick read–or a longer one when you have time.

Alas, it’s STILL a work in progress. Everyone knows stuff happens. It keeps happening, too. So, let’s forget projections. It will be out when it’s done–how’s that?

The good news: it keeps growing. The longer it takes to complete, the bigger it gets. More flash and micro fiction. AND one story that had been planned as a standard-length short piece has grown into a novelette. Hey, more for the money! At least 50,000 words–from stories less than 100 words all the way to 15,000.

Meanwhile, here’s a few fresh snippets. Words newly strung together just for this post. Eventually, the paragraphs below may be part of a time travel book coming later this decade. 

You’ve seen posts featuring Derek here before. He’s back, from an actual dream the author had some time in the past. See, time travel!

It started with a dream, a very detailed one in full color. A place Derek had never been but clearly must go, given the content. A task he must do. He wore black khaki slacks, a maroon cotton turtleneck and an off-white sport coat with tufts of grayish/black fabric running through the material. He saw a multilevel building of large grayish stone blocks before finding himself in an upper level. It looked to be at least 3,000 square feet with large metal fire doors, painted fire engine red, hung on overhead tracks.  Relics were stored there, in bags or sacks. He overheard discussions about selling them on the black market. Objects like those in his backpack. Things he might give away in time—the right time, but never sell. Phoenician amulets, classical Greek coins like an Attic drachma or Celtic bracelets. He might have a Martian flight insignia too—not a present-day memento, of course. Risky to carry them everywhere in eternity. Still, they came in handy as anchors. Timeline adjustments didn’t always take.

Wide awake, Derek replayed the nighttime experience, moving in time and space to the site. He exited to an aging fire escape, its open ribbed steps covered in multiple coats of black paint. He trod the metal stairway down and around the outer walls. One floor down, he passed a small alcove with a window. He saw a wooden object on a table next to the glass. A peg an inch and ½ square and eight inches long, wrapped tightly with bare wire. The windings were spaced perhaps a quarter inch apart, covering a third or less of the wood. Not an effective armature—possibly a primitive cultural token or something manufactured to sell as one. The weathered wood had the look of artifice.

One more turn took him from the employee parking lot to the public spaces. Through a ho hum double glass door, Derek entered a much more inviting area—a small museum/retail site with artifacts are displayed under and atop a glass counter. Legal sales were made there, it appeared. Items with legitimate provenance given the descriptions. Not until then did he notice the red coveralls that he carried on a hanger. I must work here. It’s my uniform. Must have forgotten that. Derek thought. He hated those dreams with missing details—especially when needed for a time trip.

A woman greeted him with a grin. “Hey Derek, how’s it going? Love that jacket—you trying to impress the ladies?” Must be a coworker—Tina, yes, that’s her name.

“Hah! Just one of my style preferences, Tina.” He shrugged and did a quick spin for her.

“Good enough, guy. No need to be stuck in the past; that’s what we sell here,” she laughed.

“You got it, Tina. By the way, do you know what happened with those skeletal remains and a spear I turned in?”

“No worries, Derek; the processing crew are handling it. Maybe you’ll see the stuff on display next week,” Tina’s eyes darted left and right before answering with a smile. Perhaps she wasn’t sure, just placating him.


Continue reading

Reblog: March Book Reviews from Myths of the Mirror

Some wonderful, solid reviews from a great writer.

March Book Reviews

Happy April! Time for some reading!

I’m planning to take some time away from the blog to finish up my WIP and spring clean my house. Yeesh. I need a band of house spirits to help with that second task. One of the challenges with a log house, is wiping down each and every dusty log.

Wish me luck.

March book reviews include my 4 and 5 star reads of fantasy, a medical thriller, two poetry collections, a short story, and a Vietnam War memoir.

Click on the covers for Amazon global links.


Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

I loved The Enchantment of Ravens and looked forward to reading another of Rogerson’s books. Just imagine a fantasy set in a Great Library where books ruffle their pages or grumble or sniff or snap at your clothing as you pass. Some of them are talkative, others love to sing opera, and a few are so wicked they have to be chained and locked in a vault. Imagine a world where demons can be bound as servants and where love tests the limits of evil. Where a haunted sorcerer and librarian’s apprentice join forces to save the world. Oooooh. This book is so magical.

The story is told from the POV of the apprentice. Elizabeth is quite daring, full of energy, genuinely emotional, and mostly fearless. Secondary characters are equally rich with distinct personalities. There’s a lot of humor in the relationships as well as tenderness and a touch of clever banter. The book isn’t a skinny little thing, but the plot moves well, and the story kept me turning pages.

And if that isn’t enough, the writing is beautiful, visual, and evocative. I love the imagery: “As the afternoon shadows deepened, the coach clattered into the Blackwald, the great forest that slashed through the kingdom like the stroke of a knife. Everything grew dark and damp. Here and there among the undergrowth stood shocking white stands of birch trees, like specters floating among the black gowns of a funeral party.”

Highly recommended to fans of fantasy, beautiful writing, and giant libraries full of magical books.


Acts of Convenience by Alex Craigie

The opening of this book got me all riled up! It starts with some political maneuvering that might strike a little close to home depending on where you live. The lives of people are reduced to statistics, and their value is measured based on a cost-benefit analysis. In the case of healthcare, old people are deemed a burden on the system, and the government devises ways to help them into an early grave.

Cassie is a nurse in said healthcare system and doesn’t at first acknowledge that a broader conspiracy is at play. She notices poor care and unfair decisions, but there always seems to be a justification and excuse. Time moves forward, and the situation only gets worse. After 40 years in nursing, she has no choice but to acknowledge that something nefarious is occurring at her hospital.

Get the rest of the post from Diana Peach here.


Another Heroic Rescue Dog for WATWB

We Are the World Blogfest

The last Friday of each month, a bunch of bloggers post good news happening somewhere in the world. It’s called the We Are the World Blogfest. This time it’s about a dog who ran in front of a delivery truck (and successfully stopped it) when her person suffered a seizure. There’s not much more to say about that. The video explains it much better, with visual and audio. Unfortunately, we can’t just copy and share that.

Here’s what the caption says beside the video:

Dog stops traffic to save owner having a seizure

A dog named Clover stepped in front of an oncoming truck after its owner began having a seizure while they were on a walk in an Ottawa, Canada, neighborhood. It’s from CTV via CNN.

Just click on the link to watch this relatively short video.


A Poesy Post

Yes, “poesy” is an archaic term for poetry. Apropos of a writing prompt. A challenge to use some words from an “endangered” list of our own choosing. Not all the ones I came up with are necessarily that uncommon. But most are ones you won’t run across frequently. Here they are followed by the poetry.

  • Albeit
  • Virgule
  • Sophistry
  • Gelid
  • Fecundity
  • Peripatetic

Virgil Virgule had a slashing wit, albeit tendered gently to his friend Jane.

Weekend morns restore Jane’s body and soul.

Saturday at sunrise, a lakeside cedar sauna empties pores;

Promptly plunging into gelid waters slams them shut.

Finland fecundity on his mind, she’s not so sure.

He sees peripatetic pines seeking sweet solace,

Among aspen placid in wintry white year round.

Fulminating on the sophistry of Rehnquist opinions so long ago

Flights of fancy—future fun; satire is dead in a world of alternative facts.


NOTE 1: Virgule is the real name of a forward slash. Trees aren’t known to walk far, if at all. But this is poetry.

NOTE 2: There STILL is a book coming this spring. It IS late. We hope you will see it in time for summer reading. What? As if you might be going to the beach or some other destination! Where you might read it—enroute. Stay tuned; advance notice will be posted when it is forthcoming. You could still read it at home, couldn’t you?

A New Review of Waiting for Westmoreland

It’s always nice to get a good review! This is one from December, 2020. I knew to look for it after Amazon sent me notification of forthcoming revenue. Here’s what D.W. Peach had to say in her four-star review.

Book cover, Waiting for Westmorelan

John Maberry’s memoir tracks his life from his childhood in a struggling family through his disillusionment with the Vietnam War, and how that experience compelled him to make a positive difference in the world. That difference came first as an anti-war activist, second through getting a law degree, and finally, through embracing Buddhism and the recognition that change comes from within.

I most appreciated the account of his childhood and his years in the service. I was a child during the Vietnam War and “protected” from much of the grim news by my parents. John provides a personal glimpse into the war, and his account of his experiences, particularly the devaluation of human life, is heart-wrenching. The callousness and corruption of US political and military leadership, is infuriating.

I found the account of the subsequent years of activism and academic pursuits detailed and not quite as engaging, though they are part of his search for belonging and a way to facilitate change. How that search led to an understanding of Buddhism and the role of karma in his choices brings the memoir to a conclusion. I recommend this story to readers who enjoy memoirs and anyone interested in a soldier’s experience of the Vietnam War, the anti-war movement, and the search for wholeness that followed.


#WATWB January 2021

We Are the World Blogfest

It’s the last Friday of the month. “In Darkness, Be Light.”

A different sort of good news—for America and derivatively the world. The US narrowly avoided the loss of its 240-year-old democracy at the instigation of an aspiring autocrat.

On January sixth, thousands of insurrectionists attacked the nation’s capitol. Their purpose was to deny the will of more than 80 million people to put Joe Biden in office as President, replacing Donald Trump. Trump lost by more than seven million votes in a free and fair election–contrary to his claims and those who accepted his big lie. More than 140 members of the Capitol Police were killed or injured severely. Ironically, 140 Republican members of the US House of Representatives objected to the certification of Biden electors—after their lives (possibly) and those of Democratic members of the House or Senate were threatened by the violent extremists answering Trump’s call to restore him to office.

We can assume that any members of the GOP (America’s Republican Party) who didn’t swear allegiance to Trump in his effort to void the election could have been killed by the insurgents if asked. They failed to get face to face with elected officials—including the now former Vice-President, Mike Pence. Because Pence had already informed Trump and the public that he wouldn’t deny certification of the election, the insurrectionists put up a gallows outside the building and loudly proclaimed the intention to hang Pence.

Biden was safely inaugurated on January 20th, despite the events of January sixth. Since then, he has issued more than forty Executive Orders—many of them rescinding racist, sexist, Islamophobic, environmentally harmful actions. Others would provide various benefits to suffering people. Still more were intended to aid in the battle to overcome the pandemic and give economic relief to those who need it.

The US has disproportionately led the world in COVID-19 cases and deaths per capita far in excess of its population versus the rest of the world—due primarily to Trump administration’s incompetence, negligence and intentions to disregard the threat of the disease. That will change with the addition of people of skill, expertise and experience in positions of responsibility–rather than loyalty to a leader being their only reason for hire.

There is a new, brighter day in America with leadership of integrity, competence and compassion for all its people. Biden is already reaching not only across the country’s diverse population but to the world, bringing hope of reversing climate change and the many forms of hatred.

Yes, this reads a lot like politics. It is, in part. But it’s also human decency. Political leaders cannot solve all the world’s problems. That takes all of us. But they can make things much worse—especially if there are those among us who are OK with that. Many of them are still in office. Many of them and those American citizens who bought the lies he spun, enabled the former president to nearly destroy America as it now exists. They have not given up. They were always here; they just found encouragement and acceptance from Trump. The hope is that the delusions and hatred of those who aren’t too far gone can be overcome by those who have a more humanistic nature—and be awakened to responsibility for their own happiness and success and not blame others for the lack of those goals.

Early #WATWB Heroes

We Are the World Blogfest

A little early for We Are the World Blogfest but the story was on CNN yesterday

It started with a what a drive-thru customer observed a customer in front of her do. The driver threw his drink through the window at the server. Apparently, according to the story on CNN, the guy didn’t want ice in his drink.

Feroza Syed, the customer who observed the outrageously childish behavior of the person in front of her, found Bryanna (the server) soaked and crying. Bryanna was six months pregnant.

Syed gave her a $20 tip, expressed her outrage at the man’s behavior and offered to contact the police. Hours later — and still fuming — Syed posted about the incident earlier this month on her Facebook page and got a huge response.
That gave her an idea. She asked her thousands of Facebook friends and followers if they’d be interested in sending “$5 or (whatever)” to her Venmo or Cash App and she’d figure out a way to get the money to Bryanna.
Donations poured in.
“I used to work retail and this story has me shaking mad,” one woman replied on the post, after donating.
A few days after the incident, Bryanna said her manager told her the woman who witnessed the incident was trying to get in touch with her. They eventually connected.
“(Feroza) was like …’I have a surprise for you and I really want to give it to you in person’ so I sent her my address,” Bryanna told CNN, asking that her last name not be included. “She gave me the envelope and I couldn’t do nothing but cry because I wasn’t expecting that.”
Inside the envelope was $1,700 in donations from people who saw Bryanna’s story on Facebook and, as Syed said, wanted to “put a smile on her face and show her not all humans are horrible.”
“A large portion of the donations were $5, $10, $20 and that totaled up to a large sum of money,” Syed said.
The story continues on CNN. Go there for photos and more details.

#WATWB for November 2020

We Are the World Blogfest

TWO items for this month’s We Are the World Blogfest.


First:  all those people who have volunteered for COVID vaccine trials!

Secondly, the folks at the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. They came up with this overpass–for wildlife, to protect them and drivers on an interstate from deadly collisions. It’s working very well, considerably sooner than expected, to everyone’s surprised delight.

It went up in 2018. Here’s a recent video showing its use by the local animals. Can’t locate one that I can embed here, you will have to click the link to the CNN item–it’s just 46 seconds.