Are you afraid of a spider?

I nearly suffered a heart attack this morning

There I was, checking updates on a popular social media site on my phone. Alex shared a little something from her garden, Grace posted a political comment, Noreen showed a beautiful cat moment. I casually scrolled down when suddenly … EEEIH !!! (loud scream) there was a picture, posted by Lisa B, of an ugly spider (is there such a thing as a beautiful spider?).

My phone went flying, literally. I got such a fright of seeing this ugly monster and was so disgusted by it, that I threw the phone away from me as far as I could. Fortunately, it went sailing in the direction of the sofa where it landed with a soft thud. And I wondered … why do people do this? The majority of folks are afraid of spiders, so why post pictures of them?

Anyway, along with the picture, Lisa B. posted the question if anybody knew what kind of spider this was. And I thought … WHO CARES? Whether it’s a little spider or a big spider, I hate them, I hate them all. Whether I see a real one or just a picture, my heart skips one or several beats.

I do realize that spiders play an important role in nature, and if I see one outside I wouldn’t harm it in any way, but if a spider dares to set one or all of its eight legs in my house … it’s toast.

As such, in my opinion, there are only two ways to deal with a spider … squash it, or suck it up with a vacuum cleaner. Not that I perform either of these options myself. When I see a spider, I scream, run away, and let someone else take care of the monster.

Some might say that there is another option … treating the spider to an anti-bug spray. All I can say about that is … it doesn’t work. Bug spray might work on ants and other little critters, but spiders … they just pretend to be dead.

Many years ago I came across a spider on the kitchen floor. Since I was home alone I realized I had to do something before the spider took off to a place where we’d never find it. So after I had recovered from the initial shock, I grabbed a can of bug repellent and sprayed so much on the spider I nearly gassed myself.

The spider lay there, curled up in a ball. Now all I had to do was get the dustpan and a brush, sweep up the body and get rid of it. Could I do that? No, I couldn’t. I tried, I honestly tried but I couldn’t bring myself to brushing op the black ball.

And then I got an idea … I would vacuum it up. With a vacuum I wouldn’t have to go near the spider, I could use the long metal hose and do the deed from a safe distance.

Off I went to get the vacuum cleaner, plugged in it, and dragged the machine into the kitchen. Much to my surprise to spider was gone. The bloody thing had bided its time for me to leave the room, unfolded its legs, and ran off.

For days I looked for the spider, but it seemed to have disappeared. As such, I can only assume that it went outside for some fresh air. Which was fine by me. Outside is where spiders belong.

Which also leaves me wondering about their Creator. If He can create animals so cute and adorable like kittens, puppies, and bunnies, why make spiders so frightening? A sense of humor perhaps?

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How to get blood out of a carpet

These tips might come in handy one day

Moving into a new home always holds a bit of a risk. You might like the house or condo and neighborhood, but what about the neighbors. Most buyers don’t meet their prospective neighbors and even if they do, they don’t know anything about them.

When I moved into my condo, we had very nice neighbors, but soon after we moved in, they moved out. Our new neighbors were a young couple with a new baby and a large dog. If the baby wasn’t crying, the dog was barking.

We heaved a sigh of relief when the young couple moved out, but the new neighbors who moved in were even worse. Not only did they have two kids of their own, but the women also looked after several other kids, one of them a baby.

All day long I heard yelling, slamming doors as the kids ran in and out of the unit, and the baby crying. Come nightfall the kids left and adults arrived. Night after night there was a party with the men and women making as much noise as possible.

Judging by his letters, my brother is in an even worse position. He lives in the house we grew up in and after our parents passed away he furnished it to his own taste. He didn’t have problems with his neighbors as he’d known them all his life. But one by one, those neighbors moved on, either to a smaller house, an apartment, a retirement home, or their forever home in the sky.

My brother got new neighbors, first to the left, then to the right of his house. Immediately after purchasing, the new neighbors started renovating, which meant hours of drilling, hacking, and hammering. It was enough to drive anyone crazy. When the house on the left was finally finished, the owners of the house to the right started renovating. More drilling, hacking, and hammering.

When that house was finished, my brother thought his frayed nerves would finally get a rest, but he was wrong. Now the neighbors invited their friends, held barbeque parties, played loud music, and the more alcohol they consumed the louder they became.

My brother had enough. He was marching over there to give them a piece of his mind. Knowing that the man of the house on the right had about 100 lbs on him and with tattoos on his muscular arms, brother dear wasn’t going over there unarmed. He grabbed a pitchfork and went on his merry way.

In his letter, he asked me how to get blood out of a carpet. Good Lord, what had he done now? He wouldn’t have … he couldn’t have … no, certainly not.

As it turned out, the problems with the noisy neighbors was settled amicably. The blood on the carpet was my brother’s. He had injured himself and who knows what happened but blood had squirted onto the carpet. Now if my brother had a computer he could have looked up how to get that blood out of the carpet, but he is old school and wants nothing to do with computers.

So I did a little research and found that there are several ways to remove blood stains.

If the blood is fresh, take a clean damp cloth and remove most of the blood by dabbing the stain. Never rub. Next, spray the stain with cold water and dab with a dry cloth. Repeat as many times as necessary.

If the blood has dried, mix cold water with a little dishwashing detergent and apply the mixture to the stain. Let it soak for a few minutes and then gently rub the stain with an old toothbrush.

Another method to tackle the stain is to add kitchen salt to cold water until it forms a paste. Apply the paste to the stain and let it rest. Next, take a clean towel and blot the stain dry.

You can also treat the stain with water mixed with two tablespoons of ammonia or hydrogen peroxide, but before you treat the stain test these chemicals in a non-conspicuous area. With chemicals this toxic you never know what damage they might do. Also, make sure that small children and pets are kept away from the room.

The last thing you want is a clean carpet, but a trip to the emergency room or the vet.

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Let’s talk about men

There’s been a lot of talk about men within the past 48 hours.  On-line and off.  I have tried to get my point across and failed miserably.  I can understand why some are confused about me.  On the one hand, I readily admit that I don’t like men; yet in the same breath, I state that I get along very well with them.  How to explain this?  

Jack Nicolson was looking for a few good men. Women all over the world are joining him in that quest. How do women know when they find a member of the male species that it’s a good one?  They can’t squeeze him for ripeness; they can’t examine him (like they would apples and tomatoes) for brown spots showing signs of decay.   It seems to me that women, where it comes to men, are rather reckless.

  • Before taking a job, a candidate can research the company online or talk to past and present employees.
  • Before buying kitchen appliances, most women read the reviews.
  • Before buying clothes or shoes, the chosen item is tried on for fit and comfort.

So why are women who deal with an item they are supposed to keep for life, take a man they meet at face value?  

Some might say they don’t, that’s what dating is for, to get ‘a feel’ for the guy.  True, but not exactly accurate.  How many people – men and women alike – show their true selves while dating?  I think it’s safe to say that before going on a date, a man will shower and shave, comb his hair, and put on something nice.  In other words, he will show himself from his best side.   

If he steps over the line and swears, gets upset or worse gets a little violent, he will state that he was not himself or that ordinary he is not like that.  And women swallow it.  They are so in love that they don’t see the ‘brown spots’.  And even if they do, the sight of the flowers they get presented with, or the size of the diamond in the engagement ring will cloud their vision.   

When I say that I don’t like men, it’s because I’ve seen too many bad apples.  Hence my hesitation to ‘buy’ one.    Over the weekend I talked with Vicky (not her real name).  She got tearful when she admitted to me that she was afraid she was going to end up an old maid.  “Vicky,” I said, “the term old maid is so passé.”  “You know what I mean,” she said, “I’m afraid I won’t find anyone to grow old with, to take care of me.”  

That’s when I started to wonder … why do women get married?  Is it because of love or is it to have some company in their golden years?  Is it for financial reasons?  Is that all that men are good for?  A body to share a space with and to keep the bank account in the positive?  Is that why I steer clear of men?  Because I don’t feel the need for male company and I don’t need to be taken care of?  

Do men feel this when they are in my company? I can laugh and joke around with them.  They know that, unlike Vicky, I don’t want anything from them. I’m not going to chase them and I don’t want to be chased.  They can be themselves, without me being shocked or getting stars in my eyes. Do I get my point across? Do you get it? If you do … great; if you don’t then I guess you have to know me to understand me.

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Why shacking up before you get married is a good idea

Couples are more reluctant than ever about getting married. Whether they are crazy in love or just seem right for each other, saying those wedding vows that will bind them to each other for life is a risk fewer couples are willing to take. Couples offer the following reasons for why shacking up before you get married is a good idea.

You don’t really know someone until you live with them

Dating someone a few times a week with an occasional sleep-over may give you an idea of their personality, but it doesn’t show you what they are like on a day to day basis.

Little things make a difference

When you live with someone 24/7, you get to experience firsthand how the person handles stress, disappointment, anger, and life in general. For some those little flaws might be endearing, while for others they could become major obstacles.

Avoid taking each other for granted

Others prefer shacking up before marriage because it keeps both partners on their toes. Once married a lot of men and women feel they have it made and overnight develop a careless attitude. They relax to the point that their partner no longer recognizes the person they dated. They may quit their job, put on weight, or generally no longer take care of themselves. By living together, especially in the early stages, there is always the chance of the other calling it quits. That percentage of danger keeps the relationship fresher.

Children and family in the mix

If one or both partners have children, shacking up before you get married is certainly a good idea. The adults may love each other, but can they tolerate each other’s offspring? It worked for the Brady bunch, but it may not work for you if the kids don’t get along with each other which, in turn, puts stress on your relationship. Or the kids might like each other, but you might dislike your partners’ kids.

The same could apply to extended family members. You and your partner may get along perfectly, but inconsiderate parents and difficult siblings could sour the deal.

Sexual compatibility

You might love each other dearly, but are you sexually compatible? While you may have tested the waters already, dating sex and relationship sex are two different things. Your partner’s needs may be different from yours over the long haul or you may discover some unusual requests which you may or may not like.

Maintaining a healthy and compatible sex life over the long-term becomes a challenge for all couples. Shacking up before you get married can be a good barometer of how your sex life will mature if you remain together.

Financial compatibility

Why shacking up before you get married is a good idea also applies to whether or not the couple is financially compatible. She may love to spend money and be addicted to shoe shopping, while he may be hardcore thrifty. When you live with someone it becomes more difficult for them to hide their money habits.

Lower exit costs if the relationship fails

Probably the biggest reason why shaking up before you get married is so popular is because if the relationship doesn’t work out, no divorce is needed. With no lawyers or alimony in the mix, the couple can walk away with a clean slate without spilling as much financial or emotional blood that usually happens during a divorce.

Most people don’t buy a car without taking it for a test drive first. Before making a legal and spiritual commitment to another person, many couples today are opting to go slow and take that all-important test drive first.

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couple sitting in front of a house

Pop-up clinics for the Covid-19 vaccine

Lambs being led to the slaughter?

In order to contain the Covid-19 virus in Ontario, Canada, the government issued a number of restrictions. One of them being that social gatherings were not permitted.

“What is permitted (O. Reg. 82/20)

  • Indoor & outdoor organized events and social gatherings are not permitted, except with members of the same household.

COVID-19 Guidance: Indoor & Outdoor Events – City of Toronto

Yet look at the picture … thousands of people are gathered to receive their Covid-19 vaccine. This is just one pop-up clinic, but there are more, a lot more.

Ever since the outbreak of the pandemic, companies and organizations had to close allowing their employees to work from home. Stores had to close, restaurants and bars had to close, sports centra had to close, everything went into lockdown. As a result, numerous businesses went bankrupt or suffered major losses.

As for the general population. Some refused to go into their workplace, commanding others to pick up work-related items. Those who did occasionally go to their workplace refused to share an elevator with another person. Others, on their way to the grocery store, made a wide berth around others they encountered.

Yet suddenly everything has changed. Those who refused to go to work for fear of infection have no fear of standing in line with thousands of others to receive their vaccine. How many of them are already carriers and will infect others? Any number of them will go home, infect their spouse and children, and a number of others they will come into contact with. Those in turn will infect more people.

Those vaccinated will infect others because it has been made public that one can get infected shortly before or shortly after getting the vaccine. If infected, the person will not be aware of it because he will show no symptoms.

Despite the distribution of the various vaccines, the number of infections is going up. In Ontario, the number stubbornly remains around 4,000 per day. Belgium was down to 1,670 on April 27 but two days later is up again to 3,925.

While various vaccines are available, Canada favors the Astra Zeneca vaccine, a vaccine banned in Denmark.

Denmark becomes first country in Europe to ditch AstraZeneca vaccine | Thaiger (thethaiger.com)

How is Denmark doing? To date they only have 245,000 cases – 238,000 recovered and only 2,481 died.

How many people will die of the Covid-19 vaccine? We already know that the vaccine can cause blood clots. Just how many will develop this condition nobody knows because those numbers will not be disclosed. The authorities will want to avoid a panic.

The manufacturers of the vaccines openly state that the vaccine can cause problems, but they sush their conscience with the statement … we save more lives than what we take.

Really, and other than blood clots, what other conditions will the vaccine cause? Cancer, osteoporosis, infertility? What if a record of people suddenly find themselves unable to get pregnant? And if they do, how will babies be born normal, deformed or stillborn?

For those who die it will be said that they died of the virus, or that those people had a heart condition, had asthma, were cancer patients, or diabetics. Anything will do.

What strikes me as odd is that first it was announced that only adults could get the Covid-19 virus. Young people were safe. Then a teenager got the virus and the powers that be had to revise their statement, young people could get the virus but children under the age of 10 were safe. Now they’ve revised that statement too. Can they make up their minds?

It seems to me that they are grasping in the dark and if they are not sure about this, what else are they confused about or worse, hushing up.

What about all those people lining up for the Covid-19 vaccine? Are they lambs being led to the slaughter?

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Do You Trust the Covid-19 Vaccine

Safe or Russian roulette

Whether you’re for or against the Covid-19 vaccine, there’s no denying that one takes a risk when accepting the vaccine. The manufacturers of the vaccine acknowledge the risk but state that they are saving more lives than what they are taking.

To put the public at ease, various politicians are photographed having administered the vaccine, but are they? Who’s to say they are getting the vaccine and not a placebo? I’ve spoken to a number of people and they are worried. Not only do they worry about developing a blood clot, they worry about the long-term effects of the vaccine. Unlike the polio, measles, and chickenpox vaccine, the Covid-19 vaccine has only been around for a short time. As such, nobody knows the long-term effects.

Could those who have taken the vaccine now be at risk for diseases in six months, a year, five years? What if the vaccine increases their chances for cancer, Alzheimer’s, dementia, osteoporosis, or infertility? And if infertility is not the problem, how will future babies be born? Will they be normal or will there be some kind of defect? Nobody knows because we haven’t had a chance to find out.

As for me, I’m not having the vaccine. The Covid-19 virus has been around for over a year, I’ve been doing fine, and I have every confidence that I will continue to be fine. Quite a few people I know have been infected and recovered with minimal fuss. Those I spoke to compared their symptoms with a bad flu. They didn’t even go to the hospital, they remained in quarantine and after a week or ten days felt fine again.

My neighbor who got infected did complain though about the treatment he got. He had to wait three days before he could present himself to be tested and then had to wait another four days to get the result of the test. It’s a good thing the man had the good sense to stay at home and not have contact with his family or he could have infected a whole lot of people while waiting.

Another reason I’m not getting the vaccine is that I’m allergic to medicine in general. I can safely take Aspirin and regular Tylenol (no codeine ingredient), but that’s about it. I’ve been with my current doctor for the past twenty years and she has yet to prescribe any kind of medicine for me. If I have a cold and develop a cough, I have to resort to a syrup for a child, as adult cough mixtures contain alcohol, of which I’m also allergic. Oh and while I’m at it, I’m also allergic to caffeine.

So, where it comes to the Covid-19 vaccine I will decline. I’m not playing Russian roulette with my health.

The thing that surprises me and worries me is that despite the availability of a Covid-19 vaccine, the number of infections are not being contained. I’m following the infection rate of Ontario and Belgium and the numbers are not encouraging. In Ontario the infection rate remains over 4,000 cases daily. As for Belgium, there the infection rate seems to go up and down.

April 28 – 2,946

April 27 – 1,670

April 26 – 2,377

April 25 – 3,934

April 24 – 3,581

One theory could be that those who got vaccinated are infecting other people. After all, the Covid-19 doesn’t protect people from the virus, it merely masks the symptoms for a while. So people who are infected don’t know they are infected and spread the virus to others. In the United States people who have been vaccinated no longer have to wear a mask when venturing outside. This is in my opinion most unwise. As I said, some of those people could be infected without knowing it and infect others who in turn infect others.

In case you’re wondering why my interest in Belgium … we were supposed to vacation there in May 2020. Because of the virus, we had to cancel our trip and postpone it to May 2021. Now that May 2021 is almost here, it clear that we’ll have to postpone again.

Sometimes I wonder if things will ever go back to normal again, or if this is the beginning of the end.

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8 Writing Tips You Can Ignore

Writing advice every writer should throw out the window

Writers are by nature not the most confident of people. They wonder if their work is interesting, gripping, colorful, helpful, funny, or just plain good enough. Knowing that their family and friends are often not the best critics, they seek advice and guidance in books, at webinars, or from their peers. My advice, stop! Stop wondering, stop asking. When you deliver quality work, you’ll know it. In the meantime, throw the following writing advice out the window.

Listen to critics

Whether it’s a book, a story, or a poem, there will always be readers who will love and who will hate you work. Are you the only one who gets praised or hammered? Of course not, even James Patterson and Stephen King have to accept the good with the bad.

While it’s important not being discouraged by negative feedback, occasionally you might find a pearl of wisdom in someone’s criticism. For instance, should someone say that your article was inaccurate – next time do more research; should someone say that your characters were too one dimensional, next time put more meat on their bones.

Don’t rely too much on feedback though. Just read the comments on published books. One reader might give a book a five star review and describe it as gripping and exhilarating, while another might give it a one star review and think it boring and lame. Which one is to be believed?

Don’t worry about your work

Even though you shouldn’t put too much stock into what others say, keep listening to yourself. If you think something is crap, it probably is. That doesn’t mean you have to throw your work away. Put in on ice for a while and revisit later. The idea might be good but the wording might need a little tweaking. Whether you’re angry, sad, nostalgic, funny, or have something valuable to share, you have to feel something. Words alone don’t cut it, there has to be emotion in your work.

You have to read a lot

It’s not because you read a lot that you’re going to be a good writer. Reading, or shall I say, studying books, might help you in plot development, scene and character description, and even help you develop a larger vocabulary, but it won’t necessarily make you a good writer. It’s not because you study Ernest Hemingway, Tom Clancy or Joy Fielding that you’ll write like any of these writers. You have your own voice, your own style, and the best you can do is to perfect that voice and style.

Trust an editor

If that editor is a real editor, I would say yes, absolutely, trust him or her. The problem is, these days everyone with a spellchecker calls himself an editor. It’s not because someone offers to edit your work, for free or for a fee, that they actually have the qualifications to do so. Before you let anyone touch your work, or agree on a fee, ask to see their diploma. Asking for references is not always helpful as they might give you names of family or friends. What you need is the name of a university or college.

Know your genre

Baloney! Far better to experiment and step out of your comfort zone. You might think that you’re a pretty good romance writer, but one day you might sit down, get an idea for a mystery novel, a fantasy story, or a children’s book. When inspiration hits, grab a pen or open your laptop and start scribbling. It’s when you step out of your comfort zone that you might deliver your best work.

If books aren’t your thing but articles are, try different topics. Even if you like writing ‘how to’ articles, try a biography, if so far you’re written about health issue, try writing about the antics of your pets.

You need to write every day

More baloney. If you can write every day, good for you, but if you don’t feel like writing, don’t. If the well of inspiration has dried up, take a break. If you’d rather paint, play with a pet, or go for a walk, feel free to do so. Writing should never become a chore. Once your mind has rested, you’ll be surprised at the number of topics that bubble up.

Nobody will read your first draft

A statement like this shouldn’t be generalized. While it’s true that a first draft might need work, some people have the ability to write something brilliant first time. Some writers will pick at their first draft, adding to it, taking away from it, only to come to the conclusion that what they originally had was their best work. This is why nothing, whether on paper or electronically, should never be tossed in the wastepaper basket or deleted until you’re 100% happy with the end product.

Pick a time of day to write

This only works for a select group of people. Early risers may get up at the crack of dawn, while night owls might feel at their most productive after everyone else has gone to sleep. The majority of people have jobs and writing is a hobby. They drag themselves out of bed at 6:00 a.m., commute to their workplace, and come home tired, where the are expected to cook, clean, do laundry, etc. Where do these people find time to write? Most do it during their downtime. They might write on the train or bus, while they don’t have much to do at work, write during their lunchtime, at night in bed, or over the weekend. In other words, whenever the opportunity presents itself.

When all is said and done, you know yourself best. You know what works for you and what doesn’t. Write and have fun with it. If it goes smoothly and feels right, you’re on the right track, if it’s labored and you think you can do better, you probably can.

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A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I did just that when I came across ‘A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder’ by Dianne Freeman. I didn’t even bother reading the synopsis. I took one look at the title and the cover art of the book and clicked to purchase.

Since I’m a multitasker with limited time for reading, I switched to listening. Over the months I have sampled close to 100 audiobooks, many of which I dismissed. Some were from authors I have followed for years, but the narrators of the stories got on my nerves.

Some narrators read too slow, some too fast. Some put too much emotion in their reading, others not enough. Some pronounced their T’s and P’s too profoundly. Some smacked their tongue while reading, while others suffered from dry mouth. All details that made listening to them unbearable.

Not ‘A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder’ read by Sarah Zimmerman though. This narrator’s diction and delivery was absolutely perfect. She spoke neither too slow nor too fast, she put just the right amount of emotion in her speech and didn’t make any annoying sounds. In fact, in her portrayal as Frances Wynn, the American-born Countess of Harleigh she even spoke as a countess.

For those who need a little persuasion, this is the Amazon synopsis:

Frances Wynn, the wealthy Countess of Harleigh, enjoys more freedom as a widow than she did as a wife. With her young daughter in tow, Frances rents a home in Belgravia and prepares to welcome her sister, Lily, arriving from New York—for her first London season.
 
But no sooner has Frances begun her new life than the Metropolitan police receive an anonymous letter implicating Frances in her husband’s death. Frances assures Inspector Delaney of her innocence, but she’s also keen to keep him from learning the scandalous circumstances of Reggie’s demise. As fate would have it, her dashing new neighbor, George Hazelton, is one of only two other people aware of the full story.
 
While busy with social engagements on Lily’s behalf, and worrying if Reggie really was murdered, Frances rallies her wits, a circle of gossips, and the ever-chivalrous Mr. Hazelton to uncover the truth. A killer is in their midst, and Frances must unmask the villain before Lily’s season—and their lives—come to a most unseemly end
.

As soon as I reached the end of ‘A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder’, I looked for the sequel ‘A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder.’ A rare occurrence for me as I hate book series with a passion. I read all the Harry Potter books of course, but other than that I never ever read a series. As much as I enjoy certain books, when I’m done with them, I’m done with them. For Dianne Freeman I’ve made an exception. Her first book made me want more. Her main character is completely loveable, her side characters interesting, her storyline captivating, with a satisfying ending.

In her second book, ‘A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder’ nearly all the original characters are back with a few additional ones. This is the Amazon synopsis, not that I bothered with it, just knowing that I was about to get reacquainted with Francis Wynn was enough for me.

Though American by birth, Frances Wynn, the now-widowed Countess of Harleigh, has adapted admirably to the quirks and traditions of the British aristocracy. On August twelfth, otherwise known as the Glorious Twelfth, most members of the upper class retire to their country estates for grouse-shooting season. Frances has little interest in hunting—for birds or a second husband—and is expecting to spend a quiet few months in London with her almost-engaged sister, Lily, until the throng returns.

Instead, she’s immersed in a shocking mystery when a friend, Mary Archer, is found murdered. Frances had hoped Mary might make a suitable bride for her cousin, Charles, but their courtship recently fizzled out. Unfortunately, this puts Charles in the spotlight—along with dozens of others. It seems Mary had countless notes hidden in her home, detailing the private indiscretions of society’s elite. Frances can hardly believe that the genteel and genial Mary was a blackmailer, yet why else would she horde such juicy tidbits?
 
Aided by her gallant friend and neighbor, George Hazelton, Frances begins assisting the police in this highly sensitive case, learning more about her peers than she ever wished to know. Too many suspects may be worse than none at all—but even more worrying is that the number of victims is increasing too. And unless Frances takes care, she’ll soon find herself among them.

Fortunate for me and all other Dianne Freeman fans, there is a third book, ‘A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder.’

Amazon synopsis:

London is known for its bustle and intrigues, but the sedate English countryside can host—or hide—any number of secrets. Frances, the widowed Countess of Harleigh, needs a venue for her sister Lily’s imminent wedding, away from prying eyes. Risings, George Hazleton’s family estate in Hampshire, is a perfect choice, and soon Frances, her beloved George, and other guests have gathered to enjoy the usual country pursuits—shooting, horse riding, and romantic interludes in secluded gardens.

But the bucolic setting harbors a menace, and it’s not simply the arrival of Frances’s socially ambitious mother. Above and below stairs, mysterious accidents befall guests and staff alike. Before long, Frances suspects these “accidents” are deliberate, and fears that the intended victim is Lily’s fiancé, Leo. Frances’s mother is unimpressed by Lily’s groom-to-be and would much prefer that Lily find an aristocratic husband, just as Frances did. But now that Frances has found happiness with George—a man who loves her for much more than her dowry—she heartily approves of Lily’s choice. If she can just keep the couple safe from villains and meddling mamas.

As Frances and George search for the culprit among the assembled family, friends, and servants, more victims fall prey to the mayhem. Mishaps become full-blooded murder, and it seems that no one is safe. And unless Frances can quickly flush out the culprit, the peal of wedding bells may give way to another funeral toll.

I already know that as soon as I’ve finished Dianne Freeman’s second book I will purchase this one too and every other book that follows.

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Three books by Dianne Freeman.

Writing Erotica

Writing erotica is unlike any other writing genre. While writers may try their hand at romance, science-fiction, or fantasy and find an audience for their work, writers really have to know what they’re doing to pull off a good erotica story.

While respected mainstream authors shy away from these types of stories, plenty of boys can’t wait to describe their wildest fantasies.

One such boy is Gary (not his real name). He announced on a popular social media site that he specializes in erotica. Really? Gary is not the most talented writer to begin with, so I wondered about his erotica work.

I hopped over to another website, looked up his name, clicked on his book, and read the preview. Five sentences into the story I was already shaking my head and I remembered my author friend’s words … ‘When done correctly writing erotica can be nice and exciting but you really have to know what you’re doing. If not, the whole story becomes laughable.’

I read the excerpt of the book to a few friends and they dissolved in peals of laughter. The whole thing was so absurd. Not just the erotica part but the whole writing style.

Curious we looked up the writer of this story and he was just what we expected … a boy, barely out of high school, overweight, spotty skin, greasy unkempt hair. In other words, a boy who finds it hard to find a girlfriend/boyfriend and as such gives way to his fantasies in stories.

When I remarked that he would do well to take a creative writing and erotica writing course, and quoted Alexander Pope who said ‘Fools rush in where angels fear to tread’, my comment was promptly deleted by the admin of the group. So much for freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Apparently Alexander Pope can make such a statement, but I cannot.

In the name of research, I looked at a few other books and noticed from the previews a distinct difference between male and female erotica writers. Female writers write with elegance and subtlety, concentrating on the forbidden, the mysterious, and the dangerous, while the male writers were much more aggressive and domineering.

While some writers, young and old, write for the sake of expressing themselves but their work never sees the light of day, others publish for all to see. Not that many do see them. These self-published works are soon swallowed up by the masses and disappear into oblivion.

My advice to anyone who wants to write erotica read at least ten books on the subject. Not self-published books, but books published by traditional publishers. Don’t just read them, study them and make notes.

If you think you have a story, before you even write or type one word remember the phrase … Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

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Four pet safety tips

People with small children usually take great pains in protecting them, but where it comes to their pets, they often have to learn a thing or two.

Washer and dryer

Cats and kittens love to curl up among your clothes. Before scooping up a load of laundry and placing it in the washing machine, sift through the clothes and check a cat, kitten or another pet isn’t hiding in there. You might notice a cat, but you wouldn’t necessarily notice a kitten.

By the same token, never close a washer or dryer and start a cycle without checking that a pet isn’t hiding in there.

Chemicals

Everyone knows that certain detergents and alcohol-based products are dangerous around small hands and paws. Yet where it comes to weed killers, people are reckless, endangering their pets’ life without realizing it. Instead of using aggressive weed killers, take a moment a familiarize yourself with natural products that won’t poison your cat, dog, bunny, or other pet.

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/special/organic/homemade-pet-friendly-weed-killer.htm

Before winter sets in, most people treat their car to a dose of antifreeze. Keep that bottle well out of reach as this is a toxic liquid. When finished with treating your car, meticulously wipe up any spills.

If your home gets plagued with ants or cockroaches and you’ve decided to battle them with poison, keep pets out of the room. If you let professionals take care of the task, you might be asked to leave your home for 24 or 48 hours. Talk to the company about the danger to your pets. Remember that pets lick their paws. If they stepped into the remains of the poison that killed the cockroaches, you may have to rush your pet to the vet.

Medicine

If your pet is sick, never administer medication without checking with your vet. Human medication is seldom suitable for animals. While some medication might merely cause them discomfort, others might kill them. Would you self medicate a baby? No? Well, then don’t self medicate a pet. You are not a vet!

Fruits, vegetables, and flowers

Familiarize yourself with which fruits and vegetables are suitable for your pets. Grapes, bananas, berries, and beans might be a source of goodness for you but might put your pets’ life in danger.

You might also want to brush up on what kind of flora is toxic to pets. If your pet is not at all interested in flowers and plants, you’re fairly safe, but if your cat or dog is a ‘chewer’ be on your guard at all times. Keep flowers and plants out of the house, or put them somewhere where your pet can’t get to them.

Don’t gamble with your pets’ life. Be aware of your surroundings and the dangers.

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