Monday, March 20, 2017

Happy Vernal Equinox

The Equinox, known to the Pagans as Ostera, is a day of balance, the midpoint between Imbolc or Candlemas and Beltane (the feast of the green man). Twelve hours of darkness and twelve hours of light. It is the time when light overtakes darkness and even though the days have been growing longer since the Winter Solstice, they are now greater than the night. On the equinox the sun rises due east and sets due west.
   The expression "Mad as a March Hare" may be foreign to many, except for those who spent a lot of time hobnobbing during the 1500s when the saying first came into fashion. Back then, "mad" meant crazy or wild, and this could certainly be used to describe the behavior that was commonly exhibited by the normally shy and quiet hare during the spring mating season (which in Europe primarily meant the month of March). 
Image result for picture rabbits boxing
Their odd conduct included boxing with potential paramours but contrary to early belief, it was the female throwing the one-two punch

Erasmus used the words mad as a marsh hare because he felt the hares living in the marshes were wilder due to their lack of hedges and cover. But Chaucer used the expression mad as a hare before him and Lewis Carroll gave the usage new life with the creation of his character the March Hare in Alice and wonderland.  

  March is also a time when we should consciously make an effort to balance our life and offset any sadness with joy, anger with forgiveness. Like being on a tightrope, sometimes balance is not easily achieved either physically or mentally, but use this day to try to align yourself for the days ahead which will be filled with activity. Ask for energy even as you are grateful for the energy returning to the earth.     

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Mysterious Shell Grotto of Margate.

    In Kent England, in1835 a labourer was digging a 
field just outside the English seaside town of Margate.  His work was interrupted when he thrust his spade in to the soil and it simply vanished into the ground.  The master of the nearby Dane House School, was made aware of this strange disappearance.  He volunteered his young son, Joshua, for the task of being lowered, candle in hand, into the void via a length of rope 

   Joshua’s tale was nowhere near as tall as people may have at first imagined.  When the hole was widened enough for adults to enter they too witnessed the wondrous contents of the winding subterranean passageway, complete with an altar chamber and rotunda. 

We recently discovered that Lewis Carroll came to see the Grotto, on 28 September, 1870. He described it in his diaries as “a marvellous subterranean chamber, lined with elaborate shell-work”.

In 1837, just two years after its discovery, the grotto opened to a curious public.  Yet to this day debate rages (in a very English way, of course, involving polite discussion over tea and cucumber sandwiches) about it origins.

It has been suggested that the grotto was a smuggler’s cave – almost all the shells are British and so it could have been a hideaway made by locals for stolen and contraband goods.  Yet this idea doesn’t hold much water. Although near to the sea, the waves remain a number of miles
away and there are no tunnels from coast to ‘cave’. Plus with a distinct lack of an escape route any smuggler would have been mad to hide their booty here – not to mention the fact that they would have had to spend more of their time decorating the place than doing any actual smuggling. So, it’s a no to that theory.

Could it be a Roman temple?  A remnant of dark-age rituals?  A prehistoric astronomical calendar? Make up a theory and it could well be feasible. There have even been séances held in the grotto to try and contact the spirits of the builders, such as the one from the 1930s above.

The latest research which took place in 2006 points
towards an explanation which might please Indiana Jones fans.  Mick Twyman of the Margate Historical Society put forward the suggestion that the grotto was built by the Knights Templar or their associates sometime in the middle 1100s.  
     Why not get the shells carbon-dated? This has been advised against. First and foremost quite a number of shell samples would be needed to ensure that dating caught the earliest shells and not just those used in previous (unknown) restoration work over the centuries.  Secondly it’s expensive and money needs to be more urgently spent on conservation of the grotto.

What are your thoughts on who built this mysterious wonder?

Go here for a virtual tour of this spectacular grotto. 

Photo thank you to:
Ben Sutherland

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Mary Anning Archaeologist and A woman ahead of her time.

  She sells sea shells by the sea shore- remember this popular tongue twister? Well it turns out Marie Anning inspired this rhyme!

Born in 1799 into a working class family on the Dorset coast, Mary grew up near the cliffs of Lyme Regis--to this day--a fossil hunters paradise. Rich in an array of fantastic fossils deposited from the Jurassic seas 200 million years ago, the area contains a wealth of hidden treasures. 

Mary's father, Richard, was a cabinet maker but also spent some of his free time collecting fossils and it was he who first taught her to hunt for fossils.

The father and daughter duo set up a stall along the seafront where they sold the various curiosities they had collected. 

    Mary was banned from the Geological Society of London in the 1800's. But revenge is sweet, although unfortunately long in coming. In 2010 she was named by the Royal Society as one of the top 10 British women to have most influenced the history of science.   

Unfortunately Anning's father died in 1810, following a battle with consumption But not to be defeated Anning continued to sell her curiosities to help supplement her family's income this was dangerous work too, largely owing to the unforgiving seas, steep cliffs and treacherous tides. 

         In 1811 Mary uncovered the first complete 
Ichthypsaurus - or fish lizard- ever seen! Some of her most notable finds included the discovery of a Plesiosaurus in 1823, appropriately nicknamed the 'sea-dragon', and in 1828 the Pterodactyles - a type of flying dinosaur!

Despite receiving no formal training, Mary managed to make a name for herself as one of the foremost fossil hunters of her generation. She taught herself anatomy, geology, and paleontology - a testament to her passion and determination - and became an expert in these fields.

Mary Anning died of breast cancer in 1847 at the age of only 47. But her legacy continues to live on today. 


Monday, February 20, 2017

4.5 Stars for A Deep Thing by A.K. Smith

The story's plot offers adventure, mystery, and a trip to exotic Yucatan.

Having lost her husband to a dive accident, Kendall Jackson wrestles with her grief, as well as with a heaping load of frustration in dealing with her stepson. Then there’s the fear of not knowing who she can trust as her world goes spinning out of control.

A mysterious briefcase, belonging to her husband, contains maps and cryptic messages which lead her on an Indiana Jones-like trek through "jungles" in and out of the city. 

The beautiful locale lends itself to the descriptive writing, and I learned some interesting facts about Yucatan/Mayan history, and about diving in the amazing cenotes (natural, deep wells). I found myself holding my breath when they were exploring those scary, underwater caves.

 It took me a while to get into the story, but the pace soon picks up. The ending was very creative. I would recommend this fun read to fans of adventure. 

Image result for picture four and a half stars

The Wild Rose Press
Barnes and Noble

Back cover blurb:
    Rocked by her husband's tragic death, Kendall Jackson strives to put her life back together. But Ryder, her nineteen-year-old stepson, is bitter and wants nothing to do with her. And she can't keep the grief at bay. Sometimes, it's so strong, she wonders if life is worth living. 
     A call from a cave diver in Mexico gives her hope of mending the relationship with her stepson. Before his death, her husband arranged a diving expedition as a birthday gift for his son. Kendall persuades Ryder to honor his father's last wish. 
     From the campus of Western Maryland College to the woods of Camp David and the caves of the Yucatán, Kendall and Ryder take a journey to discover what her husband worked so hard to hide, and to protect his treasured secrets from falling into the wrong hands. The choices they make will decide their fate and the future of others. Will they risk everything for the truth?                       


A.K. loves seeing the world; Her goal is to step foot on every continent on Planet Earth (maybe even the moon)—she’s slowly getting there. She treasures her family, friends, and kindness. Check out her website at www.aksmithauthor.com or find her on Twitter, and Facebook. @aksmithbook

Monday, February 6, 2017

LOVE and WAR Valentine blog hop prizes galore


 During World War One (1914-1918), wounded soldiers, recovering in hospitals made Sweetheart Pincushions. It was a way to pass the time while recuperating from war wounds, and worked as occupational therapy.These little treasures were sent home across the miles, especially for Valentine's Day, to wives, mothers, and loved ones letting them know that they were thinking of them, and no doubt with hopes that someone out there was thinking of them.

"Forget Me Not" and "Remember Me" were favorite phrases, and even more elaborate verse was used to express the feelings of the soldiers far away. Now these wonderful homespun objects of art have become pieces of history.   

When the golden sun is sinking,
  And your mind from care is free.
  When of others you are thinking,
  Will you sometimes think of me.

   Some British soldiers stationed in India even made quilts, and throughout history sailors of all kinds often extended their sail-making efforts to recreational handiwork including putting needle and thread to work. 
Some were purchased as kits containing printed fabric, threads and beads – all the materials a soldier would need to handcraft a memento for his loved ones . Some were made from whatever fabric and doodads could be scrounged up or bartered for, even feed sacks and reused thread. 
So lovingly made in the midst of the horror, tragedy, and chaos of war, they are truly a symbol of the human spirit and resolve. What hope and love must have gone into each stitch. 

Two chances to win a 
Just leave a comment at Rafflecopter!

go here for Rafflecopter giveaway

To WIN prizes, collect freebies, and meet awesome authors simply visit each page below

1.The Perfect Time For Love ~ Casi McLean2.Spunk & Hunks ~ Anna Durand
3.Love in the Month of February ~ Mary Morgan4.Love Potions and Charms ~ Sorchia Dubois
5.He said he wasn't the romantic kind of guy, but... ~ Peggy Jaeger6.Love and War ~ Gini Rifkin
7.Sexy Chocolate Cakes ~ Kayden Claremont8.50 Great Date Ideas ~ Devon Mckay
9.Hearts Abound ~ Tena Stetler10.Love Every Day ~ Darlene Fredette
11.Importance of Valentines Day ~ Maureen Bonatch12.Souls Forever Bound ~ Judith Sterling
13.Mysterious Origins of Valentine's Day ~ Barbara Bettis14.A Romantic Valentine Dinner ~ Jana Richards
15.Steamy Romance Meets Spooky Suspense ~ Kathryn Knight16.Book Bling ~ Elizabeth Alsobrooks
17.Sweet Romances ~ Katherine McDermott18.Historical Heartbeats ~ Brenda B. Taylor
19.An Awesome Bewitching Author Valentines Day ~ Lisa Voisin20.Idea City ~ Kitsy Clare/Catherine Stine
21.Welcome to the ABA Valentine Hop ~ Linda Nightingale22.Bridie Hall YA Author ~ Bridie Hall
23.A Time For Love Valentine Blog Hop ~ Amber Daulton24.'Out Of This World' Romance ~ Hywela Lyn
25.Time Travel For Love ~ Karen Michelle Nutt26.Valentine's Day - A Family Tradition ~ Holland Rae
27.Historical Heartbeats

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Happy Imbolc/ Ground Hog Day

          What do groundhogs, ewes, a Pagan goddess/Christian saint, and spring cleaning all have in common? They are intertwined in the history of Imbolc, the feast day of Brigid, on February 2nd.

     This holiday is one of the Celtic fire festivals and is also called Oimelc (Imbolc), an Irish term that means ewe's milk. This was the time of year when the first sign of spring was the lactation of ewes. 

It is a cross-quarter day signifying the midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox. It is also a reverse barometer. Just like the logic used on Groundhogs Day. 

If the weather is fair (sun is shining and Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow) the weather will take a turn for the worse and there will be more winter. If the weather is bad, it's good news, better weather is on the horizon.

    The Celtic goddess Brigid, was known as the Light-Bringer, so when the Christians usurped the day they tried to redirect the Pagans to worship St. Brigid, and Candlemas, and it all tied in nicely. 

    St. Brigit (Brigid, Brighid, Bride, Brigit), is known for her special cross, said to have been woven from rushes as she tended a Celtic chieftain, telling him the story of Christ. Many streams, trees, and mounds are named for her in the British Isles. The Celtic Brigid is the goddess of poetry, healing, and smith-craft. Also  the patron of other vital crafts of early Celtic society: such as dying, weaving and brewing. 
Here, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, is being presented with a St. Brigid Cross on a visit to Kildare April 2011.

Myth and ancient custom, call Brigid the daughter of the Daghda, the “Great God” of the Tuatha de Danaan (faeries). She is closely connected with livestock and domesticated animals. She herself had two oxen called Fea and Feimhean.  

Imbolc is also the time for spring cleaning. Time to let go of the past and look to the future, clearing out the old, making both outer and inner space for new beginnings. So burn a candle, get out the broom, take heart, and have hope as we look forward to the rebirth of the earth and our creativity. May your spirit be renewed.

Monday, January 23, 2017


 Remembering Martha Raye

Most of the old time entertainers were made of a lot sterner stuff than today's crop. An honorary member of the Green Beret Special Forces, Raye was considered a "hawk" for going to Vietnam. Hollywood called her names and cruelly blacklisted her for more then ten years.

The following information is from an Army Aviator who takes a trip down memory lane: "It was just before Thanksgiving '67 and we were ferrying dead and wounded from a large GRF west of Pleiku.

We had run out of body bags by noon, so the Hook (CH-47 CHINOOK) was pretty rough in the back.

All of a sudden, we heard a 'take-charge' woman's voice in the rear.

There was singer and actress, Martha Raye, with a Special Forces beret and jungle fatigues, with subdued markings, helping the wounded into the Chinook, and carrying the dead aboard.  Maggie' had been visiting her Special Forces (SF) 'heroes' out 'west'.

We took off, short of fuel, and headed to the USAF hospital pad at Pleiku.

As we all started unloading our sad pax's, a USAF Captain said to Martha.... "Ms Raye, with all these dead and wounded to process, there would not be time for your show!"

To all of our surprise, she pulled on her right collar and said "Captain, see this eagle? I am a full 'Bird' in the US Army Reserve, and this is a 'Caduceus' which means I am a Nurse, with a surgical specialty.... now, take me to your wounded!"

He said, "Yes ma'am.... follow me."

Several times at the Army Field Hospital in Pleiku, she would 'cover' a surgical shift, giving a nurse a well-deserved break.
Wounded twice while visiting Green Beret's, Martha is the only woman buried in the SF (Special Forces) cemetery at Ft Bragg.