An Invitation to Join the Club

As the dawn sheds light on a new day, I find myself reflecting on yesterday’s celebration of Canada’s birthday.

Canada is many things, including a beautiful land of diversity, both in landscape and people. We’re far from perfect and face our own struggles, but overall, we are blessed.

However, Canada is but one country, and sparsely populated in relation to land mass.  At just over 37 million, we’re a drop in the bucket.

What about this club thing in the title, Bierman? And what’s with the handshake photo? Don’t you know it’s dangerous nowadays? I’ll get to that, soon, I promise. First, I’m going to give you a quick bio about myself, so that you have a gist about who’s extending this invitation.

Here goes: I’m a white, middle class, Christian man, with a nuclear family. I have over twenty years’ experience as a Correctional Officer. I’m the son of immigrants who arrived as children, from Holland. I am proud of who I am, my heritage, my country, and my family.

I hope you are proud of who you are too. You have every right to be.

You see, this club is not exclusive, it’s open to everyone, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, political leanings, and occupation.

There are some rules, however:

  1. You must have a pulse.
  2. You agree to behave in a respectful manner to all. Do not mock or belittle anyone because you think their ideas, religion, beliefs, interests, what have you, are foolish.
  3. You agree to disagree, refrain from assigning unfair labels to someone, simply because their opinions do not coincide with your own.
  4. You agree to inform yourself and question what you see and hear on the news. That goes for social media, too. You are intelligent and have free will. Please do your research before you make assumptions. I’m sorry, I know real issues exist, but this particular item is gasoline on an inferno. Blue Lives Murder T Shirt on Amazon . So every police officer is a murderer? I don’t think so. I’m using this one because it hits a bit close to home. I don’t know what you do for a living but think about possible stereotypes for your profession. Are they true for all who work in that field?
  5. Honest questions are encouraged and even polite debate, but do not expect a conversion to your way of thinking. Oh, by the way, might be wise to leave the thesaurus at home. Sophisticated or uncommon words that are meant to demonstrate superior “intelligence” often do the opposite. More importantly, they do not foster amicable relations.
  6. We all have trauma and scars from the past. Yes, even the rich and famous. So many things shape us into what we are today. I think it’s important to remember that we are all one footstep away from being someone else.

So, what is this club? Well, I guess I’ll call it, The Club of Humanity. The invitation has no expiry date. All that is required is to follow these simple rules and check any bitterness, anger, and prejudice at the door. If you’d like, I can leave a bin of glasses at the entrance to wear, so that members can see others through a new lens.

Thank you for reading this. I hope to see you there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Thirst for Gold, Part One of Three

Dawson City, Yukon, during the Klondike

October 21,1897

The horse sped by and kicked up chunks of manure that struck the front of Albin’s Mackinaw jacket. He shook a fist at the rider and blued the air with curses. His foul mood further soured as he slogged along the muck-slimed boardwalk to Heaven’s Hearth Inn. He began to contemplate the madness that had driven him to come here. All the best claims had been staked.

Hen cackles pierced his thoughts, just seconds before he heard the rattle of glass panes. The front door of The Gilded Bruin Saloon had smacked against the outside wall after being given a hard shove.

A young bull, his massive head squished into a wide-brimmed hat stumbled outside. His twiggy sidekick was slung over a granite outcrop shoulder like the strap on a haversack.

A pair of scurvy-plagued down-and-outers, one draped in a threadbare horse blanket that fell across pyramid shoulders, the other, a gargoyle with moth eaten gloves that exposed frost bitten digits, pleaded with the corned louts for a handout.

The sidekick waved a boney arm dismissively, slurred them to eternal damnation and ordered them to pull foot.

The bovine, however, whispered in his ear and gave him a wink. His partner chuckled before his mouth curved into a crescent moon.

“Can you stand, Tom?” It was a rhetorical question because Tom was dumped onto the porch before he could answer. He wobbled on new-born fawn legs and had to grab the nearest awning post.

“Ya gotta ‘nuff dust Gabe?”

Gabe nodded. “Plenty.”  He squeezed a meaty hand into his pocket and pulled out a caribou-hide poke, after opening the draw strings, his sausage fingers removed a pinch of gold flakes. “You ready for some fun!” He winked and tossed them into the filthy spittoon beside the door.

The beggars raced for the spittoon, shoving, and punching each other, they knocked it over, spilling the vile liquid over the porch. The pair landed in a heap and continued to battle with the ferocity of feral cats, alternatively clawing at the opponent’s eyes and the liquid. The philistines howled with delight.

Disgusted, Albin averted his gaze. The fires of Hell were being stoked for these two. God’s wrath would fall upon those who made a mockery of starvation. His eye caught something that confirmed the Creator’s justice and His benevolence towards Albin. Something glittered in the muck, just an inch from the porch. The fool had unwittingly dropped a significant amount of gold. The combatants were entangled, and the devils were too drunk. Temptation called for immediate action, but Job came to mind . . . patience was always rewarded.

The wait had the lifespan of a sneeze. The gasping corpses tired quickly and agreed to an even split. Both ruffians gave a final whoop and stumbled off, no doubt on the prowl for harlots.

Albin moved swiftly, scooping the gold, he placed it in his red handkerchief. The Lord certainly does work in mysterious ways. As in everything, this had happened for a reason. The gift wouldn’t be squandered, he knew what to do.

He entered the den of iniquity. At first, the patrons took little notice of the large man in the filthy coat, but as Albin wandered past the bar, even the most inebriated threw him looks of revulsion. He side-stepped a painted lady who straddled her client’s lap. She wrinkled her nose and demanded the head of whomever had let this pig inside.

Albin paid no heed to any of them. His focus remained fixed on the vault style door at the far end of the room. A solid slab of oak, it was leagues out of character with the typical match-stick construction that littered this shanty town. The most impenetrable portal in Dawson, complete with a heavy deadbolt, its only weakness was a small peephole. Behind it was the fortified lair of Dawson’s Klondike King, Karl Jackson.

The door wasn’t the only thing barring unsolicited entry. Two behemoths stood guard, both armed with Smith and Wesson revolvers. The one on the left appeared to be around thirty. He fell three inches short of Albin’s six-foot-two stature, but every square inch rippled with muscle. His hair was black as Satan’s heart, heavily coated with Macassar Oil and parted just above the left eye, one of a pair that were darker than a mine shaft. His face would have caused a swoon among the fairer sex, had those peepers been less soulless.

His back up had an extra inch of height and an equal portion of muscle. Close-cropped brown hair spiked above hazel eyes that signaled a generally docile disposition that would turn murderous if provoked or commanded to do so by Jackson. Probably mid to late thirties, but the weathered face, and the sizeable scar under the left eye suggested the accelerated aging of a hard life.

A phantom hand gripped Albin’s stomach and he questioned if this truly was God’s plan. He slowed his gait to a shuffle and prayed silently and swiftly for guidance and deliverance. The effect was immediate; a surge of confidence that removed doubt and relieved pain.

There were two powerful motives to see this ordeal through. One practical, the other was the need to lay eyes on a beast who profited from misery and death.

The guards had noticed him, and Albin sensed the entire patronage holding its collective breath. All were hungry for blood. The door men sized him up. How must he appear? A big man covered in horse crap with a wild look in his eyes, headed straight for them.

In unison, their hands moved to rest on their pistols. Neither displayed emotion beyond amused curiosity. The reach for the guns was purely instinctual. No morale code would prevent them from killing him, as one might a pesky rat, but shooting would be bad for business, so unless he made a grievous error, he should remain on this side of eternity.

Albin raised his hands to show that he was unarmed. The larger man nodded and relaxed his grip, but Macassar Oil repeatedly clenched and unclenched the pistol butt. His ambivalence stretched Albin’s nerves.

“Whoa there, partner. Where do you think you’re going?” Mister “docile” stepped forward and raised a hand the size of a Clydesdale hoof, the other had returned to roost on the pistol. His voice had the quality of one who gargled with stones on a daily basis.

Albin came to an abrupt halt, arms still vertical. “I’m requesting an audience with your boss.”

To be continued . . .

 

 

 

Review of Silent Heroes, by Patricia Furstenberg

The Blurb:

How far would you go to save strangers in need? And who really are Marines’ most trusted allies?
Military Dogs would risk their lives for their humans in a heartbeat, but can soldiers do the same when personal struggles and global affairs defy humanity?

My Thoughts:

Patricia has certainly done her homework when it comes to research. Silent Heroes sheds light on the plight of the Afghan people, far better than any newscast. This ‘in your face’ tale may be fictional, but the vicarious journey into the depths of earthly hell cannot be underestimated. I was schooled on the true collateral damage, and that is the personal trauma of all who are dragged into war.

The desperation of a father who seeks his lost children, the terror of a village constantly under threat, and the bond between canine and soldier, are skillfully portrayed. The fact that Silent Heroes broached the subject of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was a refreshing change from the usual, ‘good guy shoots bad guy and remains unaffected.’

What impressed me the most was Patricia’s attention to detail in her explanation of Afghanistan’s history and how the Taliban rose to power. I’d been completely unaware of these facts, despite years of watching news footage. I finished the book better educated and with a greater sympathy for all involved.

There were some areas where past and present tense were used interchangeably, and character perspectives changed suddenly, more clarity could have been given.

Silent Heroes is an intense and action-packed read that anyone with an interest in culture, foreign affairs, and the personal cost of war would find appealing.

Four Stars for Silent Heroes.

silentheroes

Meet Patricia:

Patsmall

Patricia Furstenberg is a skilled, multi-genre author, poetess and mother, known for her uplifting, thought-provoking themes and her appealing characters. With a medical degree behind her, Patricia is passionate about mind, brain and education and the psychology behind it. Her writing echoes the realities of life and is accented by ‘creativity and vivid imagery.’ She knows how to ‘capture the reader’s imagination.’ Her prolific writing is described as: positive, diverse, crisp, joyful and uplifting. As a winner of the Write Your Own Christie Competition, the Judges ‘were impressed by her thorough investigation and admired the strength of her narrative; they were impressed by her style’. The judges thought Patricia’s writing style is ‘well structured, with a great sense of tension and suspense’, ‘confident and intriguing’. The Judges were Mathew Prichard, David Brawn from Harper Collins UK and Daniel Mallory from Harper Collins US. She lives happily with her husband, children and dogs in sunny South Africa.

Connect with Patricia and purchase a book: 

Amazon.com

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Canucks in the Poconos!

I have to admit, the Poconos Mountains, in Pennsylvania, was not our first choice for a vacation spot. We had dreams of taking our kids across Canada, to the province of British Columbia, where we’d spent our honemoon, seventeen years ago. However, flights across Canada cost more than those to Europe.

Instead, we searched Airbnb and found a little gem. Nestled in the mountains was a three-bedroom guest house located on a horse ranch named, Pleasant Ridge Farm. It’s near the small village of Cresco. Within a relatively short drive, there were beaches, waterfalls, guided cave tours, hiking trails, horseback riding, an amazing live theater, and souvenir shops. The home was clean and cozy, and we were able to visit the barn to meet the horses and friendly staff. Our only gripes were the lack of a toaster, and the proximity of the manure pile to the house. It didn’t smell, but it was less than 200 feet from the back deck and clearly visible. Needless to say, we ate our meals inside.

I’m not going to bore you with every miniscule detail, or family snapshot of our trip, just a few photos with a caption. They are mainly awkward or funny signs, because, hey, this is supposed to be a writing blog. 🙂

 

This sign is posted along the driveway leading up to the ranch. It’s probably a joke, but I can hear some teeth grinding among the grammatical purists. That being said, isn’t it WAY GOODER to slow down and avoid a collision?

 

 

Beware of these kids! They SEE ALL and report EVERYTHING to Mom!

My finger itched for the nozzel of  a spray can! I wanted to place the word ‘For’ in between the words, ‘Watch’ and ‘Children.’ Anyone else plagued with that kind of OCD? Instead, I took the route that would have me sleeping in the guest house, rather than a jail cell, and made a joke of it. I wonder if it’s just an error in the translation from Pennsylvania Dutch?

 

Isabel shows her thoughts on her first horseback riding trip. Either that, or she’s demanding two scoops of the promised ice cream cone.

 

Please remember poor Gus and all geese. Without them, those who clean their poop from our parks would be out of a job.

 

So, being the “wise” father, while playing around on the rocks at the base of a waterfall, I cautioned the kids to be aware of their slippery nature. In a ‘Do as I say, but not as I do,’ parental faux-pas, I jumped from one to the other and got slimed. Amanda, smart enough not to leap, slipped and fell in what must have been an act of empathy. Needless to say, it was ‘Stain remover to the rescue!’

 

One of the trip’s highlights was taking in a live production at the Sight & Sound Theater, in Lancaster. The stage wrapped around the audience on both sides, with some of the sets matching the dimensions of small buildings! There were live camels, goats, doves, pigs, and even a dog, included in the performance. Being a Christian, I enjoyed the production entitled,  Jesus, the story of the life of Jesus from his birth to ressurection. I appreaciate that not everyone shares this belief, but the amazing effects and acting may entice you to visit.

Overall, it was a wonderful and memorable holdiay, spent with the most important people in my life!

Here are some links that may interest you:

Guest House at Pleasant Ridge Farm (Airbnb)

Sight & Sound Theater

Welcome To The WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! Day 5.

Watch Write Showcase Tour

Gwen Plano

Welcome back! I hope you’ve been enjoying the blog tour. If you haven’t done so, please feel free to check out the last four days, it’s well worth the read. Today I have the privilege of hosting RWISA Author, Gwen Plano. If you like her writing style, just click on the link at the bottom of this page to find out more.

THE ROSARY

by Gwen M. Plano

Young or old, we are all children at heart. This truth became apparent to me last December when I had neurosurgery.

Prior to the operation, a clerk handed me a stack of documents to sign—billing forms for the hospital and the doctors and several medical release forms that included a list of potential risks. My apprehension grew as I fingered through the papers and provided my signature. It was then that I wished that my mom could be with me. Like any child, I thought she could make it all better. But sadly, she had passed away nine months prior.

My mom was a person of prayer, and when I was young, she’d gather her seven children, tell us to get on our knees, and then proceed to pray. We’d follow her lead—usually protesting—and pray for family members, friends, and the unknown masses. Often, she led us in saying the rosary. Prayer was my mom’s response to any challenge or difficulty, and we had plenty of both on our farm.

Mom’s most common expression was, “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!” While some of us might curse or yell in frustration, Mom would say this phrase instead.  So, when one of my brothers sent a golf ball through the picture window, Mom called out “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!” before scolding him. When we siblings squabbled with one another, Mom would mutter, “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!” before sending us to our bedrooms. Without exception, we grew up knowing that when Mom said “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,” we were in trouble.

I can’t remember a time when Mom wasn’t praying. Whether washing the dishes, hanging the wash on the clothesline, working in the garden, or driving us to a sporting event or a 4-H meeting, Mom quietly prayed. I asked her about this once, and her response left an indelible impression.

“Life is short,” she began, “and we must use every moment to the fullest. People need our prayers, and some don’t have a family to pray for them like we do.”

I didn’t understand her comment about using every moment to the fullest until I grew older. But her explanation helped me grasp why she rarely watched television and why she rushed from one room to another throughout the day.

When Mom passed at ninety-two years of age, she left a legacy of beliefs and practices that had found a place in the heart of each of her children. We may have complained about kneeling on the hard floor, but even as little tykes, prayer became part of our lives because of our mother.

At her passing, we were bereft. Mom was our strength, our compass. She was the one we called about concerns, both large and small; she was the one we talked with about our hopes and dreams. Her passing left a huge emptiness that still echoes in our memories. When we sorted through her belongings, not so surprisingly, we discovered she had a dozen or so rosaries. I received two of them.

When I checked into Cedars Sinai hospital in Los Angeles, I took my mom’s wooden rosary with me. I felt her near when I held it, and this sensation gave me comfort.  I held the beads tightly and imagined Mom with me.

After the surgery, I was rolled into a room on the Pain Floor where all neurosurgery patients were housed. Next to me was an adjustable overbed table, and when I awakened, I realized that my mom’s rosary rested on it.

My nurse, Lucy, regularly came in to check on me, and each time she walked through the door, she sang a refrain which included the words, our lady of the rosary. I was surprised by this, because Cedars Sinai is a Jewish hospital. After Lucy left, an aide visited, and she explained that her sister was a nun, and my rosary reminded her of this sister. Later, the night nurse came in and told me about immigrating to the US and how she loved the rosary.

During my hospital stay, one staff person after another visited me and shared family stories and photos—all evoked by the rosary that rested on the overbed table. As I was preparing to leave, Lucy came in to say her goodbyes. She pulled a photo from her pocket.

“This is my mom,” she proudly stated. “I thought you’d like to see her.”

The image was of a petite woman, hunched over by time, smiling broadly at the camera. She stood next to her much-larger daughter, Lucy. I was stunned; she looked like my mom.

As the hospital staff came to say goodbye and wish me well, I suddenly realized that Mom had been with me the whole while. I had been loved and cared for by many at the hospital, but it was Mom who drew them near with her rosary.

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:  Gwen Plano