Friday, February 16, 2018

Service with Invisible Smiles #CTST

The intricacies of life, the myriad minutia, the devilish detail, (the annoying alliteration)...these are the things which complicate our existence. There are so many little foxes running through our gardens.

Of late there has been a population explosion of said feral beasts in my backyard.

Okay, that's enough metaphorical language. I am celebrating the capture, and in some cases death of a few of these little problems. All the small irritations we encounter are invariably beyond our control, especially when up against the might of major corporations. The person on the phone says they understand your problem, but unfortunately they cannot help because that is just the way the system works. Put your hand up if you've heard that one, and gnashed your teeth in frustration.

To Jackie at Bank SA. You are a champion. Thank you for creatively solving my problem: quickly and happily. You cared not with words, but with actions.

To Vicki at Optus. You are a legend. You spoke to me as a person. I actually believed you cared, and although you weren't able to totally solve my problem, you demonstrated genuine empathy. What you were able to do for me was more than satisfactory, as were your customer service skills.

To the lady whose name I forgot at Westpac. Ditto to the above and thank you for reassuring me, and making me trust you.

Three conversations which not only killed some of my little foxes, but also reminded me that people are capable of being not only professional, but empathetic and polite, in the execution of their work duties.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Lie down in peace #CTST

Over the years, at different stages, during the various seasons of life, I have had many sleepless nights. However, the 'many' pales in comparison with the majority in which I have slept soundly. Even in the midst of some emotional trauma (separation and divorce being one of, if not the worst), I have been blessed with sleep.

Sleep is a gift.

Every one knows the importance of sleep and rest, but for many people thorns of anxiety prevent sleep. I know it. I've felt it. When I lie down to sleep, but my mind will not shut down despite the weariness of my body. How do you turn off the mind? How do you shut out the worry? The fear? How do you close the door on anxiety when it feels like an incurable infection?

Three words have been running around in my head for days now. Since I had the noisy church dream through which God gave me a word of encouragement, I have begin to filter out all the voices in my mind. Especially those which cause me to doubt and to worry unnecessarily. There is only one voice I need to listen to...the voice of Truth.

What are these three words? Let it go.

I'm reminded of a line in a Creed song. "The sun shines and I can't avoid the light. I think I'm holding on to life too tight."* Sonny Sandoval from POD sings, "I think the hardest part of holding on, is letting it go."* This is a great paradox.

I sleep in peace. If I can let go of anxiety or at least not hold on too tightly to what I have, I believe I can walk in peace as well. I thank God for the gift of sleep.

*Goodbye for now - POD
*Weathered - Creed

Friday, February 2, 2018

Sinner's Lament #CTST

I am officially a Territorian now: I have a Northern Territory drivers' licence and NT plates on my car. This makes me happy.

Students returned this week, and it was wonderful to actually teach again. I have a new group comprising two of my students from last year, some who have come up from the pre-intermediate class, and three brand new students. It's a nice mix, and I feel happy to have already fostered a relaxed learning environment. It's a good blend of personalities, and I'm looking forward to a fun and successful term.

After six days of monsoon, we saw the sun in Darwin on Thursday. That was nice, but the truth is I like the rain too, and the storms are impressive, albeit a tad destructive.

I had a dream the other morning, as I was oversleeping, through which I believe I had a word from God. This has happened to me before on a couple of occasions. The dream featured an overcrowded church in which I was the only one interested in worshiping God. The message: how can you hear me when there are so many other voices in your head. My desire is to live a life pleasing to God and beneficial to others. I need to focus on listening to the Voice of Truth, and filter out the noise.

Wondering why I called this post Sinner's Lament? What's the connection with the content? Sorry to disappoint, but there is no connection. As I write I am listening to the album Sinner's Lament by Brisbane based heavy metal band, Taberah.

I hope you had a wonderful week. I did.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Sideswiped #CTST

There are occasions, and I expect there always will be, when Dad comes to the forefront of my thoughts. I had one recently whilst I was standing at the counter of Repco exchanging the wrong headlight globe (the cheap one) for the right headlight globe (the expensive one). I related to the sales assistant Dad's words to me when I bought my first car.

'Are you ready to always have your hand in you pocket son?'

I said yes, without having the vaguest idea of how much it would actually cost me in the future to buy, run and maintain cars.

So I paid for the expensive globe, then take it home and fit it myself. (I was going to make this post about this awesome first time achievement of mine, but I didn't want to sound boastful.)

The headlight globe was only one of the 'unknown to me' problems which prevented Mr MVR inspection officer from passing my car fit for registration. The other was two front tyres-worn on the inside. But wait, there's more: a brake light globe, which I replaced only to have the brake switch fail, necessitating the calling of an auto electrician.

Bottom line? I spent what I had budgeted for the registration fees on repairs to get it registered. I can hear your voice Dad. I can't say I wasn't warned.

All that came on top of my car, under the care of another driver, being sideswiped by another vehicle under the complete absence of care of a third party. That was last week. Thankfully, insurance will take care of that one.

(smile) (big smile) (bigger smile).

Friday, January 19, 2018

The Twilight Zone #CTST

I was surprised to see that my last post was six weeks ago. Where have I been? Where have you been, Dave? 

I finished work on December 11 and flew home to see my family which was great. Then I spent a week holidaying in Phuket which was a little crazy, but also super relaxing. Returning to Darwin on New Years Eve, I didn't make it to midnight, opting instead for a 12 hours catch up sleep beginning at 10pm. With one week, at that stage, before I had to return work, I did a whole lot more of nothing, but did manage to get sick (a really bad cold-almost man flu) for the first time since moving to Darwin in August 2016. Thankfully there was plenty of cricket to watch, and everyone knows how much I love that great game. Back at work, I was a little lethargic, but eventually got back into the groove, and before long the whole holiday seemed like a dream.

I think that's one of the things I really like about vacations. especially overseas or even interstate trips: they are real, but not quite real. There's an ephemeral quality to life in another place where you don't work, you just rest and play. You save, plan and wait, then you enter the twilight zone.

Then, like a flash of lightning in a stormy sky, it ends before you want it to, before you can really enjoy it, and soon becomes just another memory.

2018 is here. 2017 seems like so long ago.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Bubs and work buddies #CTST

Who doesn't love this time of year? The build up to the festive season. The celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ: a hope, love, peace and joy fest which we call Christmas.

I'm just 3 days away from travelling home to see my family so obviously I'm pumped about that, but this week has been noteworthy for a few other things which have caused me to give thanks and praise to my God.

Last night was our Christmas party for work. We went to the Darwin Sailing Club which funnily enough is situated right on the water. I really love the people I work with. We don't have a manager so we operate as a management team who report to the owners of the business. Smart, hardworking and nice people who all put our students first. We had a great night celebrating 2017, and looking forward to an even better 2018.

Of greater note: two of my cousins have very recently become first time dads. I love being a dad, even though my children are young adults now, so the prospect of my cousins and their wives beginning this journey of parenthood together is both exciting and praiseworthy.

How's your week been? Busy in the lead up to Christmas? What are you plans for the festive season?

Friday, December 1, 2017

Once Upon a Christmas Moon

 Title: Once Upon a Christmas Moon
Authors: Christine Young, C. L. Kraemer, Genie Gabriel
ISBN: ebook: 978-1-62420-369-5   POD: 978-1979071093
Genre: Anthology/Roamnce/Fantasy
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 1
Buy at: Amazon

A free digital copy of Once Upon a Christmas Moon will be given to a randomly chosen commentor during this blogtour.


A collection of stories about the magic of romance at Christmas time.



When Archer Steele shows up at Calanthe Durand's failing plantation with
an alligator over his shoulder, Cali thinks she's never seen a more
handsome man. During the war she had to defend herself and her servants
from both union and confederate soldiers. Independent and
self-sufficient, she vows to never marry. But Archer Steele has
different ideas. The first time Archer sees Cali in town, he feels an
instant attraction. He decides he will do everything and anything to
convince the beautiful Miss Durand he is worthy of her love. During the
weeks leading up to Christmas, he gives her twelve gifts in hopes she
will fall in love with him.


An ancient evil from the old country has arrived in the high desert of
Oregon. Gnome children are vanishing then re-appearing, showing various
stages of traumatization. Tiamoon, warrior gnome, will put her skills to
use alongside Killian, a handsome warrior, also in need of a cause.


With their world destroyed and their space ship malfunctioning, the
dogizens of Planet Canid have little choice but to crash land on Earth.
They face tortuous experiments at the hands of the Geeks in Green...or
they can trust an eccentric inventor and his zany family to deliver the
Canine Queen's puppies and help them celebrate new lives.

EXCERPTS: Once Upon a Christmas Moon

Twelve Days to Love
Christine Young

Near New Orleans October 2,1867
“Sam! Close the shutters on the back landing. I’ll get the front. Hurry. There’s a storm coming.” Calanthe Durand felt the small hairs on the back of her neck rise and shivers run down her spine. A big storm was on its way, probably a hurricane. Energy and fear poured through her like the pounding rain and flooding that accompanied high winds. Closing the house to the storm was imperative.
Cali took a moment to smile. She’d heard Sam grunt. He didn’t talk much, but she wouldn’t have survived the war or these last two years without Sam and his daughter Daisy. Both sides, the North and the South, had occupied their home. Daisy and Sam were family, the only family she had. She’d do whatever was necessary to protect them. Even with emancipation, life wasn’t easy for blacks in the south.
“I’ve got them, Miss Cali.” Daisy rushed past her and out the door. Wind whipped her hair and tugged at her dress. Branches torn from trees landed on the porch.
Cali followed, the storm swirling around her, her hair beating against her face. Her breath was ragged, and fast as her heart thundered. She pushed and tugged at her skirt, trying to detangle the fabric from her legs. “Get inside!” The tempest raging around them swallowed her voice.
“Not until we’re finished here.” Daisy fastened a shutter before moving on to the next one.
They worked together to protect the windows from the storm on the raised porch which stood five feet off the ground as wind howled around the eaves. A steady rain poured from the black sky, and lightning slashed the darkness.
Cali pushed dripping strands of hair that had slipped from her chignon away from her face. “I’ll light the candles. It could get dark here pretty fast.”
“Horses and livestock are safe for now.” Sam stepped beside her. “Hope it’s not a big one.”
“Hello up there. Hello, bonjour, anyone home?”
Hearing the voice from below, Cali left the protection of the house to lean over the porch railing. Below her a man stood, with cupped hands to his mouth and a dead gator slung over one shoulder a quiver filled with arrows on the other. “Hello. Can I get shelter from the hurricane?”
“Don’t know if it’s a hurricane.” Terrified of unknown men, Cali didn’t want to do the charitable thing. She pursed her lips, thinking, but all that came to surface was memories of troops commandeering her home. Good lord but she’d had to hollow out a bedpost to hide her jewelry. The soldiers had taken everything they could see. Sometimes she felt as if the war had ripped her soul from her body.
“Maybe not a hurricane. Could be just a bad storm, but I don’t want to be on the swamp right now. The water’s rising.” A loud roar and a thunderclap followed his pause. Behind him an old Cyprus tree crashed to the ground, uprooted by the wind.
“You can take shelter in the stable.” Cali watched his back stiffen, while she swallowed hard, but she wasn’t about to back down. The stable was good enough for some wandering man who she owed nothing. Besides, there was a tack room with a bed. No one slept there anymore, but she kept it clean and the moss in the mattress was fresh. Daisy had rolled it out two days ago. Yet a small niggling in the back of her head kept telling her this wasn’t a traveling man but one of means. He was a man she should treat as a gentleman. She’d been taught better but the war had changed all that and the lessons she learned were not served to her with a silver spoon.
“Much obliged.” He nodded before turning toward the barn. His natural swagger and broad shoulders sent a different kind of sensation through her. Warmth swept inside, swirling within and heating her frozen heart. For a moment he looked back, a strange expression on his well-chiseled face.

Boots and Blades
C.L. Kraemer

High Desert, Central Oregon
 Killian stared at the rise of rock from the desert floor. The emerging sun tricked the sky into revealing pink and blue streamers across the horizon exposing the severe lines of craggy mountains. Pine trees scented the air, and the slightest hint of sage tickled his nose.
“Where are they disappearing to? They’re much too young to be running away.”
“Master Killian?”
The young man turned his blue gray eyes from the mountain to answer. “Yes, Ms. Luna. What can I do for you?”
“Are you sitting out here at this early hour worrying about the young ones?” Luna’s black hair was braided down her back and she sported a shawl bright with her clan’s colors. She handed the young man a steaming cup of coffee. “I hope you don’t mind black. I’ve yet to milk the goat.”
Killian flashed her a seldom seen smile. “Ms. Luna, you make the best coffee in the desert. Black is fine.”
Taking up a spot next to him on the porch, she turned her attention to the mountains admiring the soft colors of rose and tan springing to life in the morning sun. “What is it that haunts you so?”
“The illogicality of it all.”
“Aye, I figured that. It is indeed illogical. The children are too responsible to leave unannounced, yet they are snatched from their beds in the middle of the night with no clues.”
Killian sipped the wicked black brew and allowed the liquid to spike his taste buds. The brilliant light of a new day was caressing the landscape and warming the air. “The kinders disappearing are not inclined to run off. They are the eldest and most reliable. These missings make no sense. They don’t happen in the same area or at the same time. They’re completely arbitrary and being so—random—has given me pause to find a method. If I were to discover a pattern, the recovery would be simpler.”
Luna watched the anguish distort his handsome young face. His blue eyes clouded to a dark grey when he spoke of the missing children, and his normally full mouth stretched to a tight slash across his face.
“I don’t wish to sound cruel, but none of these are young ones of your own family. Why take their absence to heart?”
Killian relaxed his scowl a bit, and a smile began to touch his lips. “Because it is they who will be the leaders of our clans in but a few short years. I had hoped to retire my sword someday to warm my boots by a fire. Having a mate and young ones around isn’t such a bad idea.”
He automatically sipped his dark brew. It would indeed be nice to warm my feet by a fire with a mate and children. The problem being I’ve found no person who makes me think in such terms.
“Well, I must admit, Master Killian, I never would have thought you to be the settling type.” She picked up his cup, returning from the kitchen minutes later with fresh coffee in the container.
“Neither had I, Ms. Luna, neither had I, however, aside from our missing young ones, there has been no conflict between the clans, nor have the Others tried to interfere in our affairs in a very long time. It is a good thing for many but for me, what good is a warrior without a war?”
Luna could only agree with his forlorn assessment; what good, indeed, was a warrior without a war? “Maybe a solution will arrive in the near future. You never know.”
Killian shrugged his shoulders. Who knew indeed?

Christmas Pawsibilities
Genie Gabriel

“So where is this alien craft?”
Fletcher had never completely trusted Commander Viktor Atrocitor. Since he had taken command of GIG two years ago, the atmosphere at the agency had become cold and suspicious, like the man himself. He seemed carved from six and a half feet of granite, blocky and scowling.
“It has disappeared.” Fletcher knew this statement would draw Atrocitor’s ire and disdain, but what was the use of denying the obvious?
“Fool! Can you do nothing right?” Atrocitor turned to the GIG agents waiting at a wary distance. “Search the neighborhood. Someone must have seen something or is hiding them.”
While Atrocitor berated Fletcher, other GIG agents spread throughout the neighborhood, offending pretty much everyone by demanding they stay in their houses while their property was overrun and searched.
After two hours of fruitless searching, Commander Atrocitor called a halt. “If you want to save your career and this town, you will bring me these aliens within twenty-four hours.”
As Fletcher watched the caravan of GIG vehicles disappear down the road out of Watermark, he felt like a six-year-old kid again. Bullied and humiliated for his belief that beings from distant galaxies simply wanted to explore and build alliances. They weren’t like aliens in movies who wanted to destroy humanity.
That’s why Fletcher started working at Geeks in Green. He thought he found other humans like himself who believed alliances with aliens could benefit everyone. Now he was starting to believe the rumors about Commander Atrocitor being heartless and determined to eliminate aliens were true. How could he know for sure?
His thoughts were interrupted when Agnes staggered out the back door toward the barn. “Who’s disturbing my goats?”
With her hair disheveled and her clothes askew, she did indeed look as if she had spent a raucous night of partying—the after-effects of being zapped by a ray gun.
Laycee and Fletcher followed Agnes into the barn, where the spacecraft was once again visible. Now the hatch was open, with guards standing on either side pointing ray guns at Agnes, Laycee and Fletcher.
“Holy extraterrestrial!”
With a sizzle of purple, one of the alien guards fired his gun and Fletcher crumpled to the ground.
“Why did you do that?” Ryan hustled out of the spacecraft.
“He is of GIG,” one of the guards stated. “He is a danger to our Queen.”
“Is he dead?” Ryan knelt over Fletcher’s inert body.
“Simply stunned. We will revive him when the danger to our Queen is gone.” The two guards loaded Fletcher onto a transport board, which levitated and moved inside the spacecraft.
“Your mouth isn’t moving but I can hear your words.” Laycee’s shocked whisper matched the stunned expression in her eyes.
“Our Canine Queen is birthing and is not to be disturbed.” This time the alien’s mouth moved as he spoke, and he looked like any other human except for a twinkle of star light in his eyes. “Weren’t you getting milk for the royal puppies?”
“Yes.” Ryan refocused his attention on this task, determined to ignore Laycee’s presence. What was she doing here anyway? “Agnes, do you have milk from your goats?”
“My goats don’t much like to be milked.”
“Surely it can’t be that difficult,” Ryan said.
Agnes lifted an eyebrow. “You’re welcome to try. I’ll get a clean bucket.”
Determined to get milk for the Queen’s puppies, Ryan began stalking one of the goats.
“I think it should be a female,” Laycee said.
Ryan felt like a first grader again. “I knew that.”
Laycee coughed behind her hand to cover her laughter. “There’s a girl goat on top of the space ship.”
Ryan looked up the curved, smooth surface. “Maybe there’s another girl somewhere easier to reach.”
He stepped around the space ship and over the boards broken when the craft crashed through the roof. “There’s a girl! Help me get her into a stall.”
While Ryan circled around the nanny goat one way, Laycee closed in on her from the other side. The little goat narrowed her eyes at the humans and, when they were within a couple feet of her, she let out a bleat and ran between Ryan’s legs. Startled, he stumbled and dropped to one knee.
“Watch out!” Laycee’s shout made Ryan turn in time to see an irritated male goat charging toward him.


Christie L. Kraemer Bio
A traveler for most of her life, C. L. Kraemer has settled in the Northwest with her husband and two cats. When not creating a new world or entity, she likes riding next to her husband on their Harleys.

Genie Gabriel
Fur against my face and the soft smell of a dog curled protectively around me existed before my first memories of this life. So began my journey of being more in tune with animals than with people.
I went through the expected motions of marriage, kids, divorce, and career, but usually out of step with most of the human population. This proved to be an advantage in developing an independence and a curiosity about things most people don’t even consider.
A minor health issue led to energy healing and becoming a master level Reiki practitioner. Working at the local animal shelter flipped on the switch to communicating with animals. Each dog I adopted showed miraculous changes most people couldn’t believe.
As a writer, I explored the mysteries of why people behave as they do, and also became fascinated by science, especially quantum physics. But perhaps my favorite way of writing stories is to ask the question, “What if?” and dive into those imagined worlds—surrounded by my beloved furbabies, of course!

Christine Young
Born in Medford, Oregon, novelist Christine Young has lived in Oregon all of her life. After graduating from Oregon State University with a BS in science, she spent another year at Southern Oregon State University working on her teaching certificate, and a few years later received her Master's degree in secondary education and counseling. Now the long, hot days of summer provide the perfect setting for creating romance. She sold her first book, Dakota's Bride, the summer of 1998 and her second book, My Angel to Kensington. Her teaching and writing careers have intertwined with raising three children.  Christine's newest venture is the creation of Rogue Phoenix Press. Christine is the founder, editor and co-owner with her husband. They live in Salem, Oregon.
Christmas, anthology, romance, fantasy, adventure, mystery

Rogue’s Angels

Christine Young
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C. L. Kraemer

Genie Gabriel
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