Sunday, 22 July 2012

Back in the saddle...

Hello everyone!  Been absent for a little while as I was getting settled into my new home.  I'm now living in the Highwood country on a ranch nestled beside the beautiful Highwood River.  Has taken me a bit to get this whole thing battened down and make the move but waking up every morning to sound of the river flowing by is truly heaven on earth!  This week though, I am doing a little diving on the west coast on the warship HMCS McKenzie.  She was sunk as an artificial reef back in '95.

Going forward, and once I get home next weekend, I will be back tweeting, texting, writing and reading as my new life here takes hold.  So thanks for hanging in there with me as I made this transition and I hope you find my little quips enjoyable. :)

This week I am An Avid Readers Haven, doing an interview so stop by and enter to win a chance for both Fools Gold and Silent Waters.  They'll go fast so don't waist any time!

I'm looking forward to reconnecting with you all and thanks again for hanging in there with me as I start a new journey in my life.  Be well and be happy...


Thursday, 24 May 2012


I remembered a special piece that was done by Tom Brokaw back during the 2010 Olympics.  It brings me back to my last post that I find so inspiring. This video clip sums up everything that I feel binds our two nations. The United States and Canada do have a synergy that is unique and cannot be ignored or diminished by anyone.  We are unique our two nations in cultures, beliefs and attitudes.  But... that is what makes us so unique unto ourselves.

I posted awhile back a story that I shared about the Iranian hostage situation where the Americans were taken hostage. That was when I was aboard my ship and we were oh so close to war.  Tom speaks about that and how we played a vital role in freeing the American hostages.  And yes... the rest is history.

I hope that you all can share in the pride I fell for our two countries and the bond between us.  But I don't hold that to just our two borders for I feel this same bond for everyone everywhere.  We all unique and we all have our special place in this world. United, we can do amazing things. Like tell suspense thriller stories!  Lol.  Well hell... that's at least what I'm gong to be doing! ;-)

Hope you all enjoy this video clip. Be safe and be free,  But most of all, enjoy life - so get off that couch and go out and find your own adventures in this amazing world we live in.

Take care we'll chat with you all soon. :)


Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Inspired by others..

There are few things that can grip you - take hold of your very soul, and make you bow down in humble admiration as the way a song that inspires can.  Such are the two videos for tourism that have been recently released by my home province of Alberta and that of the USA.  I am posting these links for all of you to share and hopefully, feel the synergy I feel with all of our neighbours and humanity the way it is captured in these songs and themes. The USA tourism video and song by Rosanne Cash is beyond words. it makes you feel something by just the act of listening.   The other video for my home town of Alberta moves me in other ways that also makes me so very proud to live in such an amazing place.

I hope that you all find a little peace with these clips and enjoy them as I do.  Please feel free to comment and let me know, just how these videos either moved you or brought other feelings to light.

Thanks again for sharing your world with mine..

Take care.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

The Birth of Mkeri - Part One

There are many times I have sat back and pondered on the beginnings of this journey called Mkeri.  It was led me down paths that I never expected. Opened doors and shown me worlds that if I hadn't of lived them... I wouldn't have believed them.

But for me, Mkeri was born the day we stepped off that KLM aircraft, and walked down the steps to the searing Tarmac in the Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

The whine of the turbines reverberated through the fuselage as the KLM stewardesses announce the preparation for landing. Dropping into a banking turn, the servo motors resonated and vibrated through the floor boards as the landing gear was dropped.  Levelling off, an announcement crackled over the PA system.

Due to a lone giraffe walking across the runway, we had to circle until it was clear. Sure enough, ten minutes later we were once more ascending, and levelled off for a touch down. As the scenery flashed past, the main gear squawked on the runway and the nose began to drop... I saw her.  Standing on the far side of the airfield, she had her neck stretched up into the green tops of an Acacia tree.  Unmoved by the reverse thrusters that shrieked as we were pushed forward against our seat-belts; her world was calm and at piece.  Far from what we were about to be thrown into. My first wild giraffe.

The heat that assailed us sucked the breath from our lungs as we descending the steps to the hot, black pavement.  We had just arrived at the start of the dry season.  This, was their summer.  This, was just the beginning and only at a cool 38 degrees C.

No one spoke as we were ushered into the terminal.  Surrounded by military and police carrying AK-47 machine guns slung loose at their side, we were one by one escorted to a table and interrogated.  The first questions was - Do you have any American money?  Already pre-warned to this part of their world, we did what everyone in our situation would do.  We lied.  Giving him just a few hundred dollars, it was transferred into Tanzanian Shillings.  Mind you... at a very poor rate of exchange!

Next question... do you have any weapons.  Again I lied.  I was carrying my prized Buck folding lock-blade knife which had been my best and most trusted friend when in the Navy.

I passed the customs.

The drive on the bus back to our staff house on the north shore of Oyster Bay, was a solemn ride.  We had never seen such poverty.  A country that had just opened it's borders two years prior, after throwing out all whites in their attempt to regain control of their own destiny, was one that left us with no words. The degradation of the country that had once been during the British empirical rule, was everywhere.  Whitewashed buildings with bare  concrete and only patches of white remaining.  Broken and crumpling balustrades and benches along the seawall was disheartening to say the least.

As we turned down the street from the ocean drive and rumbled along the rough and broken paved road; we seriously were asking; "What have gotten ourselves into?"  But as we pulled up to the fortified home with guards and a welcoming field supervisor and staff administrator., you could say that we were home.  Yeah right!  I don't think so!!!

The following weeks were filled with preparations to enter camp.  We had a lot of work to do as we were assembling vehicles and quads shipped over on a cargo ship. Drills and swamp buggies were also assembled.  With shipping containers filled with gear and my recording equipment, we all had to account for every item and loaded onto their respective trucks.

Two weeks after arriving, the convoy left the safety and bustle of the city and headed north.  Following the coastline as we bumped and rocked along the dirt roads, we caught glimpses of the Indian Ocean . The occasional breeze lifted the dust and dirt from the caravan and for a moment - just a mere moment, offered us a respite from a world we come to know and admire.  We were headed for Bagamoyo.  We were headed for Mkeri.  Destiny was awaiting me in a world that  would soon, turn the world I thought I knew, upside down.  We were here... we, were in Africa!


Monday, 23 April 2012

A little Late - But I'm still here!

I've been doing a little soul searching these past few weeks while I have been absent.  Oh yeah, I do apologise for that. Sincerely.  Some of it has been my eye surgery as I adjust to the new lenses and all; but some of it has been reflecting on my blog and the direction it should be going.  I like the writing muses I have been doing but  I think it's time to delve into more of what makes me, me.

What I mean by that I guess, is what drives me to write - where did it all start and where is the inspiration coining form?

 I have been writing all my life, going back as far as my junior high school days - but, I was lazy.  Lacked the drive the commitment and motivation.  Hell, I was a hormonal kid with a set focus. Girls, flying, camping and anything else involving hanging with my friends! You know what I mean.

My serious side of writing I guess started before I headed off to Africa. I wrote a 300 page manuscript that was shear and utter crap! The base story was terrific but I lacked some serious skills!  Lol. I would show you some of that, but I do want you to hang around for a bit.  Besides... I may resurrect that old batch of weeds and rediscover Jake's beginnings.  Hmmm... actually, that is kind of funny. I haven't thought about that in years but THAT manuscript was the true birth of Jake McCord. Jake after all, is my alter ego!  How could I have forgotten!!!  There are a few things in life that I have not yet managed to quite get to and good 'ol Jake does the job nicely. Good on him! Lol. I'm glad he's leading the way.

Okay, seriously, where it began? In the jungles of Africa.  That is where The Bridge at Mkeri was born [pronounced - Ma-Kier-ee]. I have since revised that title a bit as this book isn't about one single title. It's a series of four. I can guarantee you though that  Jake will not go quietly into the night. He has other plans...

Africa.  Conjures up all sorts of images and adventures in ones mind.  I can tell you first hand that everything you can think of?  It's there!  And more!

The dark jungles that are cut by coursing rivers and streams; filled with crocodiles, snakes and man eating animals.  They are alive and doing quite well as they wait for you.  If you do manage to find yourself over there, alone and walking peacefully along - remember just that. Remember, those that have gone before you, and take heed of this warning.  For you my friends, are not alone.

I was working that year doing seismic exploration. For some of you, that don't know, it's the search for black gold - oil. Okay... actually in this case, lol, we were looking for gas really.  But the end result is the same.  I was one of two operators running a crew. Operators do just that - operate the recording equipment.  If you want a great story that explains what and how it works - check out the Bandit Creek Books "Fools Gold". They are a collection of short stories and mine is one of them.  "Where Rabbits Run Wild" has a very good description of how it all works.

It was a very hot day during what is known as the Hot Season, and I was beating a path through the jungles outside of  Mkeri.  Carrying my Panga for protection and for cutting bush, I stopped as a commercial went through my head.  Weird huh? Lol. Before I left, the Armed Forces were running a recruiting commercial and it went something like this:

"It's 7:00 am and 30 degrees. The sweat is running off you like a wild river . Beating  flies and mosquitoes that wold rather carry you off quietly into the jungle - you have been slashing bush for the past 2 hours.  You are about to give in. Then... you remember. It's not a job, it's an adventure!"  

Well okay... it didn't really go like that! Lol. But, it did go like that after I was done with it! Lol. Yeah, I don't really know what that commercial was anymore except the last part. But it was that very moment, I broke into an opening in the jungle and on the far side was a stone fortress overgrown by trees and vines.  In the 1700's the Germans had occupied this region and they had built these small fortifications to protect their interests.  Then, wouldn't you know it, out popped the romantic in me.  As I climbed the walls, I could see the aqua-green waters of the Indian Ocean. Sitting down, I studied the ruins and the surrounding beauty and it all started to flow.  Like music across a symphony, it built in complexity and volume as the story began to unfold in my mind.  Jake was always a part of me - always has been. But Janine... she was new.  That short haired brunette with calculating eyes and skills unmatched by most men, stepped out of jungles before me. She had a wry grin and an ease about her that I fell for that very instance. What man wouldn't?  She followed me for the rest of that journey. Always close by, she would remind me of what was to come. Of when I could be with her. She stole my heart in those jungles as I gazed across the rolling swells, and she's held it ever since.

Sometimes a story can grip the writer in the most profound way.  To guide you and steer you through the pages as their world unfolds before you.  In a minds eye, you become one with them.  You live and love and sometimes, you even die with them.  Not to worry though, Janine is safe and resting this very moment aboard  a small river class ship as she cruises off the coast of Malta.  Jake however, he is still up to his 'ol tricks as he walks the Africa plains in search of his one true love.  The Sultans Sisters.

Hope you have enjoyed this little glimpse into the world of Jake and Janine.  Next time I will begin my adventures in the dark continent as I tell you the whole story.  The birth of Mkeri.

Till next time - keep loving and living as if there were no tomorrow,


Sunday, 1 April 2012

"Fools Gold". A Bandit Creek Anthology

Hello Friends. Well today is the official release of the Bandit Creek Anthology, Fools Gold.  This collection of short stories is a compilation of April Fools jokes; told through the eyes of the writers. Heartwarming and uplifting stories, it is sure to bring a smile to your faces.  I hope you all pick up a copy and enjoy it.  This is a great collection of stories from some of the very talented writers and friends.

My story where Rabbits Run Wild is about a very unique creature that is known to the people of the northern states and into the parries of Canada.  I won't give it away to let you know what it is, but you have to ask yourself - is it fiction, or folklore?  I'll leave that part up to you. As you travel through the pages discovering the elusive little critter, stop and ask yourself - have I have ever seen one? Maybe you have.

This little animal has lived in my heart all my life and I thoroughly enjoyed searching for them as a child in the southern prairies of Saskatchewan. Growing up, we would spend many a night under a full moon, snow shoeing across the snow covered hills around my Grandfathers farm searching for these elusive creatures.  As I got older, I would travel with my Cooey .22 rifle in hopes of bagging one these prized animals. But alas, it was not to be. They are smarter than you think.

Here is my excerpt for my story:

"Not all Rabbits in the mountains of Bandit Creek are cute and cuddly in Bandit Creek. Some come with a warning label."

In addition to my story are the following by some great writers;

Fool For Love by: Louise Behiel.
A woman is dragged from a contented, happy marriage to a life on the run.

Never Count Your Chickens by: Victoria Chatham.
- Two boys play an April Fools joke on their employer.

Wishful Thinking by: Alyssa Palmer.
Cee-Cee tells Ruth about her past, but how truthful is is?

Airport Security by: Julie Rowe.
On her way home from her tour of duty in Afghanistan, Dr. Abigail Westward discovers it's not easy to leave her fellow soldiers or the memories of combat behind.

Baby Fever by: Sheila Seabrook.
Baby cribs and baby swings and a winking, blinking doll. Oh My!

Lucy's April Fools by: Brenda Sinclair.
Will this be George Jack's year to catch Lucy in an April Fools joke, or will his wife outsmart him again?

Hope you enjoy these light hearted tales. Have a great April Fools Day!


Sunday, 25 March 2012

99 Red Balloons... By: Trip Williams

  Legends are born unto themselves. Created by man - myth or fact, these iconic symbols of our lives can become something that transcends time.

Facts are often distorted. Blown out of proportion, they usually are embellished to the perception of the teller.

This story is about just that. A band of young airmen destined to become  Legends. It was truly a time of glory.

99 Red Balloons Go By....

It was a Sunday morning at the end of a hot July in 1976. Fog covered the fields of wheat around Canadian Forces Base Penhold, as the sun cast out across the Alberta prairies.  The Air Cadet League of Canada was winding down their first intake of cadets at the base during the summer training program and the proud band of flying scholarship candidates were getting ready for their wings parade.

Traditions are born from the actions of those few who have a vision. On this base, it had become such a tradition. The cadet band marched each and every Sunday morning between the twin barracks that housed the cadets at 6:00 am.  Awakening everyone to the bugles, trumpets, saxophones and drums as they proudly paraded off to base commanders home to play a morning revelry in his honor.  After six long weeks, this event was growing thin. 

That was me in the front row, 2nd from the left.  I was one of the proud few.

The band, you must understand, had become our enemy!  Flying Scholarship was the elite - we were gods among the cadets.  The chosen few who had passed all the exams, and review boards had earned our place at the top of all scholarships.  We were being trained to be pilots.  With this very expensive program came a few elitist privileges. This was, but far from being limited too, being at the front of the line at lunch in the mess hall, wearing civilian clothing on the base when not at flying school, taking the weekends to leave base and escort fair young maidens into Red Deer or Sylvan Lake for a day pass and our most treasured of them all; sleeping in on Sundays!

This is where the war began. You can imagine the irritation that one would be subjected to? listening to the cadets first learning to play those bloody instruments, and then listening to the continued cacophonous noise blaring each and every Sunday as they marched between the barracks! While we were trying to sleep!

The band by all means had their well earned dues forthcoming and I was surely not one to object. At first, the band complained that we should not be allowed to push our way into the mess line at lunch. After all, they didn't see the importance of us returning back to the flight line. Then, we lost our privilege to be wearing street clothes on base. The push was also on for us to loose our weekend forays into town as well.  They had gone too far! It had to stop!

By our last week, our obligations had been met to the flying school and we were now in fact full fledged pilots.  Our wings parade was on the Friday before and we were officially  graduated from flying scholarship. That meant that the last Sunday before we left, was free game. We had only a few more classes to attend that upcoming week to complete a few hours of ground school and then it was then homeward bound.  What a delightful thought.

A plan was proposed - bold and never attempted.  One of daring and total disregard for any of the base authorities and regulations.  Or was it?  Seemed to us that such an endearing had never been attempted and most certainly executed. They say that revenge is a dish best served cold. We couldn't think of anything colder!

Our barracks for flying scholarship was on the north end of the west building; third and top floor.  We had two rooms that bracketed the north end washrooms giving us a perfect killing zone. The Sunday prior had been the trial run.  Timing was everything as we laid out our plans.  180 water balloons were to be launched from our windows raining down a cold and wet tribute to our beloved band cadets!

The morning sun glinted on the horizon as we set up our ambush. It was time.  Beds were pulled into position as the band formed up on the north road. Balloons filled and placed on the lower bunks adjacent to the windows. Twirps and tweets began emitting from the pigeons below as they warmed up - the windows were opened. Loading crews stood by to pass the balloons to the firing teams.

It was show time.

The Sergeant Major hollered out. "Band! By the left - quick march!" The noise exploded as instruments rang out to the Royal Air Force March. Now practiced and accomplished the music was uplifting and emboldened us as they proceeded along the road; turning to march between the two rows of buildings and between the windows of the killing zone.

"Stand By!" was hollered down the hall.  Cadets from their rooms further down the hall emerged; unsure of what was unfolding.


The band noise was too great - we couldn't hear the order.  There was hesitation. The balloons remained locked and loaded.

"FIRE!!!" was hollered again.  No one heard.

The first balloon sailed free and through the crisp morning air as it soared high overhead of the band.  As if on cue, the sky became dark as what seemed like a thousand balloons soared from the windows. The first balloon hit a flute player in the front row.  Crap!  It was my girlfriend! The second barrage rained down exploding all through the band as the music subsided under the wave after wave of balloons exploding and showering them with ice cold water. Screams erupted form the band cadets as the popping sounds of balloons exploding covered them in the deluge. 

The assault was a success! 180 water balloons were launched in 37 seconds!

Cheers erupted from the cadets watching from their windows and cheers echoed the halls as the flying scholarship had once and for all, wreaked havoc on the band!

Needless to say, there was a fast and furious reprisal from the band squadron commander as he petitioned to the base commander to have us all stripped of our scholarships and sent home in shame.  I somehow think that the base commander must have seen the humor in it.  Our own squadron officer after the meeting and assumed berating, appeared to us laughing, when he finally got hold of us and although he tried desperately to be serious - it didn't work. The message from the base commander - don't do that again!

As the years have gone by, I think about this battle from time to time, and each and every time I do - I smile. A big broad smile, that etches its way across my face. I ran into a cadet about a year ago and I asked him about how he liked summer camp and we got to talking. As I began to tell him the tale of the water balloons, I was taken aback as he finished telling the tale of our exploits. He too relished in the pride of such an adventure and told the tale as if he was right there firing off those balloons himself! That happened before he was even born.

As I said my goodbyes, I was left alone once more to my thoughts and the extreme pride I felt, for the what we had all done that fateful Sunday back in 1976.  A legend had been born that day. And with it, heroes. Those magnificent bastards who dared to defy the strict protocol of military discipline and deliver a well deserved blow to an annoying enemy.

I had heard years later that the band never did march again through those barracks on Sunday mornings, and that some of the instruments had to be even be sent off for major repairs. I'm sure I don't have to tell you how saddened I was to hear of such news.  

At least..., that's the way I see it.