Friday, March 24, 2017

Celebrate the small things: Good things

Good things are just around the corner. True, but good things are already here as well. The pump class at gym this morning was the toughest ever, and during a couple of the routines I literally ran out of strength and could not keep up. On the positive side, I did better than last week, and I recovered quickly. (Even though I can still feel it in my arms now - 3 hours after the event.)

The weather has been pretty nice: relatively mild temperatures overnight (25-26 degrees average- that's Celsius) and a storm or two each day with some impressive lightning shows. They said that last week, during one hour, there were over a hundred lightning strikes. Very cool. Unless, of course, you are on the pointy end of one.

Our company's move to the new CBD premises has been postponed yet again, and our manager has resigned, but we are getting closer to those blue walled rooms with doors, and apparently, a new manager will begin on April 10.

Speaking of April. Monday was theme reveal day for the 2017 A to Z Blogging challenge. This will be my fourth year, and for my theme I decided to indulge in one of my passions: heavy metal music. A to Z: headbanging around the world

I'm very much looking forward to it, and even more so to the middle of Easter when we celebrate Easter: my favourite holiday. Also April sees the end of Eastern Daylight Saving Time in Australia which will bring me one hour closer to my loved ones.

All good. Have a great week everyone.

Monday, March 20, 2017

2017 A to Z Blogging Challenge theme reveal

Back in the day, I had very long hair, wore black T-shirts, a denim vest and a studded arm band. I was a stereotypical headbanger. Fast forward 30 years, and the only thing left to physically identify me as a metalhead, is the occasional black, band T-shirt. Nevertheless, I still love metal.

I may be the only headbanging, cricket loving, Christian bookworm in the world...I doubt it though. I mean it's a big world, and that leads me directly to my theme. Headbanging all over the world.

I will scour the virtual globe for heavy metal bands from every continent (except Antartica - I think penguins prefer pop and MOR) to bring you relatively unknown heavy metal bands representing the various metal genres. Added to this feast, will be a few heavy metal anecdotes.

The criteria was that the band had to have a proper music video on YouTube, and some thing recent-not older than five years.


This won't appeal to many, but it will appeal to some. Please join me as I head bang my way around the world in 26 days during April.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things: Doors

We, meaning the company I work for, are about to move to new premises. This move has been about to happen since I started working with them last August. We are now on our third 'firm' move date. The delays have been due to red tape - what a surprise. As an example of the ridiculous fiefdoms being operated by certifiers, the whole front counter had to be moved 30cm in order to improve airflow. Speaking of air, the most recent postponement was caused by another certifier saying the air-conditioning system was not acceptable. It is currently being totally overhauled.

Despite the delays, I am excited about the move. Our boss took us all in to inspect the new place last week, and even though it's rough, and one of the classrooms is only two thirds painted for some reason, it will be a great improvement on what we have now. One of the reasons why it will be better is because there are doors.

Our current premises is two commercial units side by side without internal access. There are three spaces (not rooms) designated as classrooms, plus two other rooms (because they have doors) which are sometimes used for small classes.

Let's be clear, the two main classrooms are open, one to the office and adjacent to the photocopier, the other open to through traffic from one other space (no door) and one other room (door). If I haven't painted a clear enough picture of how unsuitable and inadequate the current arrangements are, then just let me say this: the current arrangements are unsuitable and inadequate.

During the week, I had a couple of small classes so I held them in my office which is a room (because it has a door). At one point there was a lot of noise coming from another space, or maybe a room with the door open, so guess what I did? I shut the door.

Being able to close the door and block most of the noise made me so excited, I interrupted my students and gave them a mini speech about the greatness of doors. I am so thankful for doors.

By the way, the new premises has five good-sized classrooms with doors. (Big smile)

Monday, March 13, 2017

Backyard Legends

There may have been only a handful of us, not even enough to fill a first eleven, let alone field two teams, but the rivalry was no less fierce, and no less intense. We were backyard cricket warriors representing our nation with pride.

We actually never played in the backyard because the local reserve was handy and big; bigger than the MCG, except for the grandstands of course, of which there were none. After school we occupied a portion of the grass and played cricket until the sun went down, or until we were called home by our mothers. Those long summer days and warm nights when we played cricket in the park, then went home and watched it on the television, were wonderful times.

The West Indies dominated world cricket all through my childhood, but Australia's regular defeats did not diminish my love for the game; a love which has only grown stronger through the years.

I never played cricket competitively, never joined a club, but I have become an armchair expert thanks to over four decades of listening to experts describe and talk about the game. I have an opinion on everything related to cricket, and at times I know better than the national selectors.

Australia is touring India at the moment. The test match series stands at 1-1 with 2 games to play. I know exactly who should be in the team to help ensure our victory against very strong opposition in hostile territory, but the selectors aren't listening to me. I'm not saying I could do a better job than them...well, maybe I am - but I have no influence and no authority.

I'm just a passionate fan of the greatest game on earth. I know whoever takes the field on March 16 for the 3rd test will do Australia proud, and I can barely wait for the battle to begin. Go Australia!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Celebrate the small things: winning is everything

All professional, most amateur, and many part-time/recreational sportspeople play to win. Regardless of what they are playing, who they are playing for, or with, or against, they want to win because winning is better than losing. The very best professional athletes and sportspeople, the champions of the various games which entertain us, and with which we amuse ourselves, are obsessed with winning. They hate losing, but more than that they hate not giving it their best: not competing to their potential. The truly great are always in competition first and foremost with themselves regardless of their opposition.

The 2017 National Rugby League (NRL) season started last week, and not surprisingly there were some good games, and some ordinary ones, and some good results, and bad results, depending on you barrack for. Some surprises and plenty of entertainment.

Last night I watched the Brisbane Broncos play the North Queensland Cowboys in Brisbane where the latter team had not won a game in their last five attempts. These clashes have become legendary due to the fact that they are particularly intense and always very close on the scoreboard. The 2015 Grand Final, in which the Cowboys defeated the Broncos in extra time, was arguably the greatest championship deciding game ever.


So these two highly rated and highly motivated teams did battle again last night, and the Cowboys repeated their Grand Final success with a one point victory in extra time.

One lousy point: the difference between a win, (and two premiership points) and a loss. One single point after nearly 90 minutes of gladiatorial combat of the highest athletic calibre, filled with drama and heart stopping excitement. One point to finally declare one of these teams the winner. Some say it's unjust, but the rules are the rules, and one point is all it takes.

One point: a small number with a huge impact. I want to thank the Cowboys and the Broncos for putting on such a wonderful display of rugby league football...again. Great stuff!

Click here for full match report and video highlights if you're interested.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Celebrate the Small things: In between belt sizes

When this hole makes your pants too loose, but the next hole makes them too tight, you have a problem. Being between belt sizes means you are either losing weight, or putting it on, and depending on your goals, this could be a good thing or a bad thing. It is nevertheless, a bit of a nuisance.

If you're a regular reader of Square Pegs, you will no doubt be aware of my other equally superb blog I Don't Cook which chronicles, with riveting flair, my culinary adventures (that is not an overstatement.)

It should be obvious, in a way, how my food blog connects to this particular small things post, but less obvious-obscure even, is how the content of this post relates to being between belt sizes.

I regularly buy frozen dinners. I buy whatever brand is on special when I shop, and the meals are usually of the low fat variety. They come in different portion sizes, ranging from 220g up to around 420g. The small servings have become increasingly unsatisfying due to their...smallness, so yesterday I decided to buy two of the small meals. You know what happened, right?

It was too much. Anyway, I have figured out that a meal of between 300-350 gram is good for me. Unfortunately, that limits my choice so once again I am splayed on the horns of a dilemma. More woe!

Today I am thankful for small servings of generally delicious food, and the small price tags attached to them.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Black Coach

Title: The Black Coach
ISBN: 978-1-62420-311-4
Author: Nickie Fleming

Genre: Gothic Romance
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 3

Buy at: Rogue Phoenix Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble
NICKIE WILL GIVE AN EBOOK COPY OF ONE OF HER BOOKS TO A RANDOMLY DRAWN COMMENTER.








REVIEW:

The Black Coach
Nickie Fleming

Reviewed by Tamara White

5 Stars of 5

Abuse, Murder, Love, and the Black Coach

Nickie Fleming’s crisp and colorful words thrust the reader back into a time where horse drawn coaches were the mode of transportation and women’s dresses dragged on the ground. The author’s words give you a real sense of being there. I enjoyed the pace of the book. The book moves effortlessly through the well-defined plot. The book creates an immediate interest in the main character. From the first page the author quickly draws you into the tumultuous life of the young blonde hair woman Maggie. Maggie is a woman who possesses a quiet determination that gives her the strength she needs to defy her beginnings. From the moment you meet Maggie you want to see her make it. Neil Pickering, the man whose life becomes unexpectedly intertwined with Maggie’s, is a unique character. He is as intellectually strong and determined as he is handsome. Whenever Pickering is present his personality commands the scene. His need to understand medicine matches her need to survive. I enjoyed the gritty murders that take place in the book. The murders have a dark undertone, which left me eager to finish each page and discover who has such a thirst for death. The Black Coach plot offers its readers mystery, hope, intrigue, and a quiet love story. It is an immediate for anyone passionate about reading.


TAGLINE

The Devil is riding his black coach across the moors of Yorkshire and hunts virgins. Or is this so?

BLURB

Strange things are happening in the village of Pickering, Yorkshire. Two girls are found murdered, and there is talk about strange going-ons at night. Caught in the middle of this turmoil is Maggie Thompson, an orphan, who needs to fend for herself. Running away from an employer who maltreated her, she nearly dies during a winter storm. She is rescued by a man who lives in a nearly abandoned house. Neil Harrington has his own secrets however. Maggie will have to trust on her feelings to know what is right or wrong. And she can’t forget there is a killer on the rampage…

EXCERPT

It didn't take long before Maggie was fast asleep once again. When Martha noted her drooping head, she put a cushion behind it, to make the girl more comfortable and lastly spread a plaid over her, lest she should catch a cold.
She studied the girl for a while. Cleaned up, she already looked a lot better than the previous day. She had better talk to the master. The girl's speech was remarkable fine for a working-class child. She felt sure there was something of a mystery involved here. Perhaps thinking about this would lighten Neil's mood. He'd been mourning Lady Suzanne long enough to her liking.
Around noon her son walked into the kitchen for his lunch. He looked up when he saw the sleeping girl.
"Is she fit to come down already?" he wanted to know.
"She's not completely better," Martha told him, "but she ate all of her breakfast, and as you can see she's sleeping again. No better healer then rest, I say."
"The master asked me how she was," Amos said. "I'm glad I can tell him she's doing fine."
"Did he need you to fetch something?" Martha wanted to know. They both knew to what she was referring.
"I brought in the usual. I don't mind, though," her son acknowledged.
She nodded. "We have a good master in his lordship. No matter what other people may think, he's a decent human and I'm proud to be serving him."
"So am I," Amos agreed.
He sat down at the kitchen table and immediately began to eat when his mother put a full plate before him.
"I thought you'd like some stew," Martha said. "There is enough meat in it to give you stamina for the next trip."
No need for more words. Mother and son understood each other perfectly.

~ * ~

Later that afternoon, in Pickering village, the men of the region gathered in the local pub after ending their work on the fields and farms. The talk was lively and the beer flowed freely.
John Barry put down his pint, wiped his mouth with his sleeve and remarked to his mate Ben, "Saw that black coach again yesterday, when I went to check on the sheep."
Ben hardly looked up. "Aye, I'm listening."
"Wonder whose property it is and what its business is. Always appears when darkness falls."
Ben took another gulp of his pint. Then he acknowledged what John mentioned. "My brother's son, Tim, saw it too. He said it rode so fast, as if chased by the devil."
"Yeah, it was speeding for sure. Could not see who or what was in it."
"Not the first time it's been seen on our road. Something strange going on, I think."
Joshua Thistlewaite, the landlord, heard the comments but didn't comment on them. He just poured the drinks like a good landlord. Besides, he couldn't well afford to spend time talking to his customers. The pub was full, as always around this time. His sharp eyes surveyed everything to be sure he could intervene at a timely fashion.
All the men and lads he knew from around, except for the one stranger. He'd never seen the man before. The man entered about half an hour ago and ordered a light ale in a polite way. Now he was seated in the farthest corner of the pub, sipping his pint.
While enjoying a calmer moment behind the tap, Joshua studied the stranger more closely. He looked to be in his forties, had a stern face and lips which seldom laughed. A lawyer or a banker in all probability, he thought.
What bothered him a little was that the man appeared to be listening in on the conversation of Ben and John, although he couldn't fathom why such ordinary talk would interest a man of his quality.
Disturbing his thoughts, the stranger beckoned him.
"What can I do for you, sir?" he asked, hurrying over to his table and trying not to show he had been studying him.
"First, fetch me another pint of this excellent lager and then, if you can spare the time, I'd like to talk to you for a while."
It was said in a cultivated tongue, and Joshua could immediately tell the stranger didn't originate from this part of the country. London or some other southern town, he guessed.
He hurried to carry out the order, while asking Ben to step behind the bar for the time he was occupied elsewhere. He returned to the table.
"I am now at your disposal, sir."
He saw how the stranger glanced shortly at Ben, who was already tapping another pint for John.
"Do you get a lot of people in here?" he then wanted to know.
"It depends," Joshua replied. "On weekdays it can get busy when all the men need to water their throats."
"You must know quite well what goes on in the village," the stranger continued.
Joshua shrugged. He carefully weighed his words, not wanting to reveal too much. His instinct told him something was not right here.
"Not much goes on in Pickering I don't know about."
The gent nodded. "I thought so. Well, I am trying to locate a young woman by the name of Margaret Thompson. She would be eighteen years of age and has blonde hair. Do you know if any such girl lives in or passed by your village?"
Joshua was silent for a moment. The request confirmed his ill feelings. He understood he would have to be very sparse in answering, to make sure he didn't cause harm to anyone or anything.
"Why do you need to know?" he asked, but in such a way the other would not be insulted.
The man smiled. To all appearances, he looked innocent and seemed trustworthy. Joshua knew better. He felt an underlying coldness and sensed some feeling of threat.
"She's come into an inheritance and the trustees have asked me to find out her whereabouts," the man answered, while smiling again, and producing a gold coin out of one of his pockets.
Joshua eyed the coin and reconsidered. It could be true. He knew there existed men who were employed to search for people who were lost or had disappeared. After all, the stranger had done nothing wrong yet.
"Farmer Aldleigh has a blonde girl working for him," he offered, feeling at last he could trust the man enough. "She came asking for work not so long ago. Perhaps she's the one you are looking for?"
"It might be," the other agreed, while putting the gold coin into his hand. "Can you be so kind as to give me directions to this farm?"
"It'll be my pleasure, sir," Joshua beamed. "When you follow the road leading out of the village, you go until the crossroads and then turn left. Aldleigh's farm is a mile or so from there. If you don't wait too long, you can be there before darkness falls."
"Thank you. I'll go and have a talk with the farmer."
"Glad to be of service."
"No, it is I who must thank you," the stranger said while putting a second gold coin on the table. He then got to his feet and grabbed his overcoat.
Joshua returned to his work. His eyes followed the gentleman as he made his way through the throngs of farmers and finally left the pub.


                                                               Author Bio

Nickie Fleming was born and raised in the historical town of Dendermonde, Belgium, home of the legendary Horse Bayard. Nickie read English and Dutch Literature and Linguistics at the University of Ghent, where she took her master's degree in 1978. She began work as a teacher of languages to 16-18 year-olds and has done so during her long career. She has been writing since she could hold a pen in her hand, but only came to publication when she was well over 50—mainly because she was not actively seeking it. Besides writing, Nickie spends her time with the things she loves—and those she doesn't like so much: housekeeping, reading (favorites are thrillers and good romances), listening to good music, going to see shows and concerts, travelling, food and wine... Nickie is single and shares her house with her only sister, who is equally single. The two ladies get along just fine and do most things together.