Out for lunch: Wordless Wednesday

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Selfish to the end: 99 Word Flash Fiction

Seeing the steep drops close to the edge of the winding road my body tensed and my heart started to thump as though I’d just run a marathon. The now snake-like dirt road , punctuated with tight hairpin bends that dropped away on either side of us, narrowed even further. My gut constricted. Panic became a restrictive vest around my chest. Clutching the seat belt my knuckles whitened. Uncontrollably I screamed.  Jake pulled into a siding. 

“What a view.” Grabbing his camera he headed across the road. 

“No, don’t leave me,” I screamed, “What will I do if you die?”

 

The prompt from Carrot Ranch for this week: May 14, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that answers the question, “What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you are in absolute danger?” Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by May 19, 2020. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

Posted in Carrot Ranch, creative writing, flash fiction, Writing, Writing Challenges | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

The Theban Necropolis, Ancient City of Thebes and Karnak and Luxor Temples: Travel Thoughts 10

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Luxor had none of the hustle and bustle and pure busyness of Cairo which we had left in the early hours of the morning. Driving through the town I felt this was a place that I could return and spend more time. As it was we had a couple of days here to visit the Temples of Karnak, Luxor and Queen Hatshepsut and the Valley of the Kings.

On our drive from the airport we saw the uncovering of the ram headed sphinxes that connected Karnak and Luxor Temples.

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We again saw these when we visited Karnak in the ancient city of Thebes, once the largest city in the world.

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The building of Karnak temple spanned over 2000 years celebrating the local Gods Amun, Mut, Khonsu and the pharohs themselves. During his reign, Amenhotep 111 (1388 – 1350 BC)  poured much of his wealth into the mortuary temple of Karnak, the Avenue of Sphinxes and Luxor Temple. Rameses 11 (1279 – 1213 BC) carried out extensive building projects. With many pharohs before and after adding their bit.

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We were lucky to have an Egyptologist as a guide and he explained the meanings of the heiroglyphics, cartouches and stories that were so well preserved on the walls and columns of the temple and the chapels. In fact he gave us too much information as a brain can take in only so much and then it hasn’t a hope of remembering. He pointed out the world’s first cartoon and showed very early graffiti. It gave me a different idea of grafitti as this was early – done before christ but perhaps a thousand years after the piece had been set. Doesn’t that give us a social history that perhaps tells its own story?

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Karnak is the largest religious building ever made and covers about 200 acres. The Hypostyle Hall is the largest room of any religious building in the world and has 134 columns. As well as the main chamber there are several smaller temples and a temple lake.

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The place was crowded but I couldn’t help thinking how wonderful it would have been to have seen this when I was at school.

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At times it felt as though you had stepped back in time.

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The Temple lake. Behind where I took this photo was a giant scarab (dung beetle) dedicated to the sun god. Our guide told us that if you walked anticlockwise around this beetle at least 9 times you would gain great luck. I don’t know if this is true or not but we did it. Personally I think that all the guides had a good laugh as they watched us .

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Outside the main temple complex there was evidence of continued work unearthing yet more treasures. I believe that no matter where you dug in Egypt you would find something of significance. I wondered how long that mud brick wall had been there.

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We left Karnak walking through the avenue of sphynxes and were taken to our boat that was to be our home for the next week.

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Roger was not feeling at all well. Someone had come on the trip sick and had passed it on to everyone by this stage apart from me so I headed off to Luxor Temple by myself. It seemed that each temple we visited was better than the last and by now we were over-awed.

Like Karnak, Luxor Temple was situated on the East bank of the Nile. Built 1400 BC it is the only temple that is not just significant as an archaelogical and tourist site as it still has religious activity happening within the temple grounds. The Abbu Haggag mosque is found in the temple grounds.

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Alexander the Great claims to have been crowned here along with many other Egyptian pharaohs. Seeing the temple at night was atmospheric and beautiful.

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Having had a 4am start to catch our plane I was now feeling more than a little tired and I was glad I had opted to not go on the hot air balloon trip over the Valley of the Kings. Those going would have another predawn start. I looked forward to a sleep in before exploring the Valley of the Kings.

 

 

 

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“The Inaugural Meeting of Fairvale Ladies Book Club” – A Book Review and just a tad of jealousy

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A long time friend gave me The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Bookclub  by Sophie Green for my birthday with a little trepidation. She knows I read a lot and was worried it may not have been a book to my liking. How wrong she was – I found this book not only enjoyable but it made me jealous of this writer’s ability to put you in place, to describe perfectly emotions that I struggled to describe in my own book. But let me tell you about the story first.

It was set in the Australia’s Northern Territory on a vast, remote cattle property in 1978. It was hot and arid for most of the year, becoming humid in the wet which saw the property cut off from everything as the red bull dust turned to sludge. A family ran the property and the son had just returned from Britain with his bride. In an effort to make her life easier  Sybil Baxter started the Fairvale Ladies Book club which consisted of Sybil, the mother, her daughter-in-law, an American jillaroo from the next property (a couple of hours drive away), a mother that lived in the closest town (also a couple of hours away) and the flying doctor nurse who flew in from Alice Springs.

The themes in this book were many – interracial relationships, death, grief, miscarriage, isolation, domestic violence, resilience and friendship, love and trauma. It is set over a few years – the life of the book club – and prior to each year commencing the author gives a list of news events that happened in that year. This I loved as it put me back in that year with both memories of the events and of what life in general was like at that time.

Green’s ability to describe the setting put you there. You felt the isolation. You felt the pain of the mother when the daughter had a snake bite. The flying doctor had to come from Alice Spring.  Her drawing of the characters was also skilled making you like them or hate them and she had you emotionally involved. You were bound to them feeling their pain and happiness because these people were real.

The raw emotion that she described so well was where I became a tad jealous. She had managed to describe what I had wanted to in my book Nightmare in Paradise but had been unable to. Listen to the difference:

me: on hearing of the unexpected death of my father.

” ‘But he’s okay?’ I responded.

‘No. He’s dead.’

‘Nooooo!’ A long guttural scream emanated from someplace deep within as I dropped the phone, sinking to my knees on the floor crying.”

Sophie Green: on Sybil hearing of the death of her fiance Ray.

“…..There was that noise again. It was so odd. It sounded like it was in her head but also coming from outside the room,

She took a breath. She had to think about it because she wasn’t sure if she was breathing. Then that noise again. That noise was her, wasn’t it?  She could feel it pulling itself up from her gut. It wasn’t a cry. It wasn’t a howl. It was a protest.

This is not real. I refuse to believe it.

Such rational words and she wanted to say them. But all she had was this noise, …..”

Thank you Sophie Green for expressing so well what I felt that day.

Would I recommend this book: Indeed I would. In fact I am considering it as my choice for book club dependent on whether our library has any copies.

Posted in Book reviews, creative writing, fiction, Writing | Tagged , , , | 20 Comments

Standing Tall: Silent Sunday

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Time Stopped and then it stopped for Everyone

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Have you ever stopped doing something and then found it hard to restart?  Time stopped for me in 2019 and getting going again has proved harder than I imagined.

My last post at the beginning of June 2019 was not the beginning of my saga. That began in February. If that had been the only thing you wouldn’t have noticed my absence. Perhaps you didn’t anyway but I know some did and your emails were bright lights in the dimness. In February 2019 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I wasn’t hiding it but I only told a few friends because I made a decision not to tell my elderly mother who was becoming more anxious as time went by and I didn’t want to add to her anxiety. I didn’t tell anybody that also knew her because I couldn’t ask them to tell lies. Fearful that she may discover my blog I couldn’t write about it. But not talking was harder than I imagined although  I wasn’t that worried about my diagnosis. I  had my book launch in March and went on to China.

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We had booked an incredibly cheap trip and our neighbours across the road asked if they could come. Not wanting to spoil anyone’s holiday again I kept it to myself. The trip was fantastic and I’m sure that over time I will bore you silly with my experiences. On our return I went in for surgery. I told Roger to drop me off which he did and I arrived in theatre alone. It wasn’t long before I was taken to xray for the dye  to be inserted to attempt to find my sentinel lymph node. For the first time it became real and I couldn’t stop crying. The technician was so sweet. I guess it wasn’t the first time he’d had women go to pieces. Then off to ultrasound to put pins in to mark where the tumour was so the surgeon would have a wide margin for error. Another sweet nurse. Back to theatre waiting room for hours. One book finished and nothing to distract me, the waiting was hard. Finally it was done. All that awaited me was a course of radiotherapy which started in June.

Then the Double Whammy. Roger was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow. Unlike me he is not going to be cured. I started radiotherapy and he started chemotherapy. Every day we attended the hospital. Radiotherapy is not pleasant but so much better than chemo. I kept my burns and pains to myself, now not sharing with Roger as well as keeping it from my Mum. Mine finished in July.

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Roger’s was to continue for a year. At first twice a week  and then once a week. They had to hit it hard as it was transitioning to leukaemia – not a good place to be apparently. Luckily it had been discovered on blood tests done for his total hip replacement. As the haematologist told us – normally when I see people with blood levels like this it is because they have a life threatening infection, a broken bone or renal failure requiring dialysis. All of Roger’s organs were in perfect condition.

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I stopped writing. I stopped doing anything much at all. I didn’t dance, didn’t blog and I put on weight (because they told me not to lose any to ensure the radiotherapy didn’t but too badly) and life took on a surreal existence.

But they say things come in threes and they did. My Mum started to deteriorate and ended up in hospital. She was delusional and I feared it was a medication that had been increased. I asked them to check the levels and they assured me they would but I didn’t check up on it because Roger suddenly got sicker and sicker and he ended up in intensive care with septicaemia (infection in the blood). I went between the two of them. They wanted to send Mum to a nursing home – I said no she would be right when she got back to her own surroundings. So I took her home – still delusional but she had worked out how to hide it well. I should have twigged when I picked her up and saw what she had written on her bedside table.

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She only lasted two days at home before having to return to hospital. This time the blood test was done and she was toxic to the drug and thankfully all the delusions have now gone. There was no choice however than to face that her time of independent living was over.

I dread if I ever get to her age (or younger and need care) without someone to guide me through. The rigmarole for getting into aged care is difficult to negotiate for someone who is computer literate and can understand the miles of paperwork that is necessary.  I was also stunned at the size of the move from her apartment to the nursing home.  Between Roger and Mum I had no time. I’d already stopped dancing – now I did little apart from manage my family, putting my continuing pain on the back burner.

Roger was in a bad way with the chemo. At the same time I am in total awe at the way he would not give in. He was determined that he would get as much done as possible so that I would be left with everything in order. When he could he worked on various projects – the first being reconstruct the bathroom that we had pulled out shortly before his diagnosis. The fatigue was overpowering. His loss of appetite due to loss of taste worse. Peripheral neuropathy, sight and hearing problems, blood clots and so many others but the worst was his hip that hadn’t been operated on. He could barely walk.

By December the haematologist said he was in a safe enough position to miss a couple of weeks treatment and he could have his hip done. In January this happened and the difference was immediate and positive. Around the same time he went into complete remission. We’re told the average time is 2 years. I’m hoping for five. Chemo stopped after 8 months in March – a wonderful birthday present. As he recovered we started looking at what and how he might want to spend his time – a trip to Turkey was planned and one to Canada.

Finally I went and saw about the pain which I had been putting down to radiotherapy. Turned out to be lymphodoema for which I am now having treatment.

And then time stopped for us all. Covid 19 changed life as we knew it and we won’t be going anywhere for some time to come I feel. One of life’s little ironies but we have to say that we are blessed that we live in a place where it seems to have been contained and we don’t, at this moment, feel in real danger. I worry about everyone I knew from WordPress that live in countries not as fortunate and I hope you are all safe and well.

We have all been faced with the possibility of our own mortality and that of those we love and it has brought me at least, a recognition of what is important in life. I don’t know that we will ever go back to the way things were before. I know that Roger and I won’t. I hope that humanity won’t either. The world is in this together and together we can see it through. Kindness has been prevalent and we’ve had the gift of time. Use it wisely  – I hope we retain having extra time  but you just don’t know.  There have been some unexpected benefits – for me it is attending a New York Met Opera once a week and the odd London National Theatre production and having less cars on the road and seeing pictures of deserted cities. And finally it has brought humour back to my world.It’s not wrong to laugh in a time of crisis – indeed laughter relaxes and boosts the immune system so you can view  it as medicine. There are so many funny and creative people out there. I’m not one of them but I certainly appreciate them.

Time may have stopped but it will start again. Our lives will be different if for no other reason than we have faced death – all of us. No longer do I feel alone. Soon we will all have time going too quickly. Finally I am ready for time to start moving and me to get going again.

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Washroom Stories: Times Past

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The odd occurrence makes me understand how my mother is feeling as she loses her ability to work out how to operate in the present day world. It happened to me the other day – I did not know how to operate in the washroom ( amenities, toilet block, public convenience, public toilets …..). I was confronted with what looked like a joy stick. I flapped my hands under it, gripped it tightly waiting for take off but I couldn’t get any water to flow but I did discover that if I could ever get my hands wet it would at least dry them very efficiently.  I felt like a bumbling fool, an idiot, a child and realised that this is how my Mum feels most days as she confronts situations old and new that she no longer understands. I did finally work it out – the water came from the little nozzle (that I had thought was the soap dispenser) to the right of the joy stick. I was glad that no-one was around to see my confusion in trying to operate the machinery but it did give me a topic for this months Times Past. I am sure that we all have washroom tales to tell. I know I have a number but will confine myself to one.

Baby Boomer Rural Australia (travelling in England in the 90’s)

It happened at the marina at Brighton. I left my group to go to the toilets which while not being portaloos looked as though they were not all that permanent.  I locked myself in the cubicle and on wanting to leave found that the lock would not unlock and I was stuck inside. My companions I knew would not come looking for me as they would not notice my absence for a considerable time. My best hope was for someone else to enter but this did not happen and in desperation I decided I would have to climb up onto the toilet, straddle the wall that divided me from the next cubicle and then lower myself down onto the toilet and hopefully exit via that door. I had visions of me slipping and my foot going into the pan – breaking my leg as it snapped off. None of my visions eventuated and I did get over the wall and out the door and as I suspected – no-one had thought I was gone a long time at all.

The same happened to me in Egypt last year but this time being older and there being many more people around I screamed as loudly as I could being eventually heard and finally rescued. This time though – Roger noticed my absence.

Please join in giving your location at the time of your memory and  your generation. An explanation of the generations and the purpose of the prompts along with conditions for joining in can be seen at the Times Past Page. Join in either in the comments or by creating your own post and linking. Looking forward to your memories.

I apologise for being slow to respond to your comments and posts on last months prompt and apologise in advance for the same possibly happening this month and for a little while to come. Sometimes life throws some spanners at you to put in the works. We seem to have more than our share of spanners at the moment with health issues. Although I might be slow I do hope you continue to tell your stories as when I can I do enjoy reading them.

 

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