My eldest daughter, after having decided before attending Guelph university, Ontario, Canada, during the early 90’s, started her 3-4 year psychological course, which lasted just a few short months, as she found it very boring and not anything like she had imagined. She quit and did what her father did… not knowing, at all, what to do! Ultimately, after a waste of nine years with a failed first marriage, she met someone in the States, whom she, later, married, and is now raising 3 children (of her own) and she started a daytime baby-sitting business or a ‘Day Care’ business, within her own home.
She (I’ll call her Vickie) is well-known in her area and has the support and regard of many young and now, not-so-young parents, for whom she has minded their children. I visited Vickie a couple of years earlier, in 2015, and experienced first-hand, the crises, escapades, devastations, molestations (by other kids!!) and hurt feelings of a typical day… for 3 days!! Wow–Armageddon has nothing on this!
It brought to mind the humorous situations that very young children often find themselves in, both inside the home and outside in the garden, especially, when it is not in their own homes! Vickie’s home was the blueprint for me to write a story, using her name of ‘The Drool Squad,’ referring to the infant gang she minded!
I saw the early morning start, the parents arriving at odd times, “Very bad traffic… ,” or “I have to be there early, and…!” and “Can you just do… etc?” and also, “… so I’ll be a bit later tonight, is that OK?” There were usually 5 or 6 of them! And so Vickie’s day began!
Perhaps many people think very little about what actually goes on in a private Daycare or even a state-run one! Here, my eyes were opened somewhat, regardless of the fact that I, myself, have acted as a Daycare sitter on more than one occasion, during the earlier part of my life! This home was pandemonium! Not because Vickie is incompetent, but because the little ones were so rambunctious and energetic! It made me tired just to watch and listen to them!
Once completed, I hope you might like to acquire the book and enjoy some very light, but humorous reading.
Here's an excerpt…
Di-di-di-ding… Di-di-di-ding… Di-di-di-ding… the alarm clock clamoured, for the third time, following previous 5-minute snooze interruptions, announcing the 06:00 end (now 06:15) of a very short night, which Vickie had tried to relax through. No such luck! Her own youngest, ‘Monkey,’ now almost 2 years old, was going through a bad bout of something or other, causing tears, intermittent sleep and disturbing brother, ‘Connicles’ and sister, ‘Muffit’s’ sleep!
Oh dear! Vickie tried to open her eyes and failed, as she put her feet to where the slippers should have been waiting… but weren’t! Where were they? When she finally managed to scrape away the sleep from her red-rimmed eyes, she saw that one slipper was almost under the bed and the other… seemed to be walking out of the bedroom, possibly attached to a toy or something! What on earth was going on?
‘Monkey’ had managed to climb out of San Quentin or better named Alcatraz, (his barred and high-security cot) and was determined to give Vickie a hard time. He wanted ALL her attention and be blowed if he was going to share it with 6 other mindless, drivelling, snivelling, miniature entities, to whom Vickie had to give her careful attention. He had commandeered her slipper and tried to have his foot stay in it, as he started downstairs! Fortunately, the stairs were carpeted and he did not hurt himself much, as he tripped and fell headlong down the staircase. The noise made by ‘Monkey’ as he screamed at the top of his lungs was 20 times as bad as the fall, itself, and the slipper had managed the whole staircase in one leap!
Vickie leapt off the bed and managed to stay horizontal OFF the ground, in her flight from her bedroom to the landing point of an unscheduled flight by ‘Monkey!’ Oh Boy! It was going to be one of THOSE days, was it? The only damage was to two things… a lump on his forehead and the pride of failing to manoeuvre down the stairs like a pro and behaving more like a sack of potatoes!
Expected to be published by year-end of 2018 or before.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
About 4 years ago, I was cooking a Spaghetti Bolognaise… a traditional dish of northern Italy, the recipe of which was given to us, back in 1955. We, that is my family, comprising Mum, Dad, David (younger brother) and self, had stopped for a night, close to Brescia, on our way to Piza and beyond, ultimately to Rome. (There were no autostradas, then!)
Dad wanted to have permission to pitch our tent in a farmer's field where we had pulled off the road. There was a farm, about 50 meters up the gravel lane from the road to the farm, which we all trouped up. Knocking on the door, produced a sudden grinding sound as the door opened rather quickly, and facing us was the visage of a middle-aged man! The light outside had completely vanished… this was Easter-time, round about April, if I remember correctly.
We asked the farmer if it was his land (where our tent was to be pitched), to which he replied that it was. He enquired as to how we would wash and ablute (you know… toilet, etc!) and it immediately caused his wife - a large and very friendly country woman, with a great big smile, ordering us to sit while she prepared a massive copper cauldron of meat sauce over a very large typical farmhouse fire, throwing out heat like a blast furnace!
We were given no time to resist, as neither would hear of us cooking our own food at this time of night. Of course, we didn't speak Italian, and they did not speak English, but we all spoke smatterings of German and French! They had 2 boys, who had been watching with smiles on their faces, and a little in awe, as they had never before seen or heard 'foreigners' in their home! My Mum and Dad were moderately relaxed, but still a little apprehensive, because we were far better off financially than they were.
The wife (and we still think to this day, that she might have been Italian) dished up a mound of spaghetti onto each plate, then smothered it with the Bolognaise sauce, finally capping the heap with grated Parmesan cheese. I looked at it - I had never heard of it before, never mind having seen it. before! I was ready to decline and go hungry! Mum was devastated that I could even think of doing so and let me know in a voice that would frozen a Polar Bear in it's tracks! So, I gingerly took a small mouthful… then another… and another, and I was asked if I would like some more, which I did! It was delicious!
In fact, Mum asked if she might have the recipe and was immediately given every scrap of ingredients and instructions to leave it for the second day, if possible. Since then, it has become my signature dish, along with Spaghetti Bologna… a similar dish, but premixed and more dry than the Bolognaise. I added a few extra ingredients to my version, and I prefer to call mine Spaghetti Chilinaise! But that is how my recipe book was born, adding a few pages of my own history starting a few minutes before I was born!
An excerpt from the opening of my cook book…
A taste of Italy (slightly modified)!
1a. Spaghetti ‘Chillanese’ for 6 Generous Servings:
Iss-a Bolognese-a Sauce-a, but-a made MY-a way, with-a Chilli powder and-a Cayenne-a Pepper-a Powder and-a lot-tsa Paprika powder and Coleman's mustard powder!
Ideally, the sauce needs 2 days to mature and make it better… to taste great! But not that long to actually prepare! There are so many different recipes for this dish, that the original Italians who came up with the dish, must have turned many times in their respective graves in sheer frustration of what is now presented under the guise of ‘Bolognese.’ Notice that there are very few tomato bits… just tomato purée!
My recipe is from Italy, in the northern part of Italy close to Brescia, toward the west a few klicks away from Lake Garda. We had been camping and coming south from Germany, over the St. Gotthard Pass, in Switzerland (that’s when there were 41 hairpin-bends, with cars blowing their tops steaming away on the side of the road… and some even had to go up in reverse for part of the way! No exaggeration! I am talking of 1955, not long after the war… WWII). Our car was an 859 cc. air-cooled 1954 Volkswagen beetle–export model for Sweden–a fantastic, 4-speed synchromesh transmission (most cars did not have that until well into the ‘60s!) and a 'hydraulic with cable' clutch! Rear floor passenger heating, as well as 6 other floor vents for warm air emission to feet, a valve radio, radial arm traffic indicators… Dad drove more than 380,000 km in that car, selling it in UK, buying another VW Beetle with a ‘big’ 1200 cc engine! I digress, sorry!
We stayed the night in a farmhouse, after having asked if we could pitch our tent on their land. The farmer’s wife would have none of it… we were hauled into a massive farmhouse building with an entire upper floor occupying only half of the building! Steps went up from the main part of the house along the outer wall, arriving on a sort of balcony, from which all the bedrooms branched. The toilet… go to the outhouse or use the traditional china bed-pot! Ornate, to boot! The bathroom was downstairs… water prepared on the massive cast iron stove that radiated heat throughout the building.
The farmer’s wife absolutely refused any payment whatsoever, making sure we gorged ourselves on their humble meal. Boy! It was definitely fit for royalty! She gave us the recipe, thrilled, of course, that we would take such an interest in her efforts and results. The recipe is basically unchanged here, with only the liberal addition of Paprika Powder, with a touch of Curry, Chilli & Cayenne powder, too! This particular method is a northern Italian recipe, but I shall also include a second, southern-central recipe for a dish of the same name that has been influenced from Sicily… Spaghetti alla Bologna (shown above). First, my modified farmhouse recipe from 1955…
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
1993… I was fast becoming disenchanted with Canada and Canadians in general, with respect to the politicians, governments and many businessmen, as well as my personal family situation, that caused me to question myself as to why I was still living there… So, I made a number of decisions…
I wrote this book in 1997, dealing with the last 6 months in Canada and the first 24 months (approx) in Moscow, Russia…
The title of the book was chosen as the book title, because of the song that my wife (now) wrote to me after our first meeting during April 1994, during my first 3-week visit to Moscow.
I live in Russia, of my own choice, having made some decisions that many of my former friends regarded as foolish, selfish, crazy, unkind, stupid, silly and a host of other words. It is my belief that most would have wanted to do a similar thing, though not necessarily with Russia in mind, if they had found themselves in a similar predicament to the one I was in. Every person has their own priorities, desires, wants and needs, and will make decisions that change their lives, dramatically. My choices were made during a very deep low in my life, but not without consideration for others, in spite of the fact, that many saw me as described above.
I witnessed my marriage crumbling over a long period of time, and it was not all my first wife’s fault–but then, none of us are perfect, are we? I experienced the greed of my business partner destroy my business and defame my reputation. I endured a country becoming more and more socialistic, without any apparent care for free enterprise or interest in individuals, who were attempting to survive for the benefit of the country. I watched a civil service become a cancer on the fabric of the society and a string of politicians, who, by and large, seemed far more interested in their own agendas, than any of those set by the people, whom they were supposed to represent.
There is a saying, "If you cannot stand the heat, then get out of the kitchen."
I could not stand the heat of what Canada had become (in my opinion) and what many of the people had become. I have always tried to do my best, at whatever I have done, worked or played, but the flavour of greed has overtaken a once, good country, causing me to make a series of choices that have shaped the last three years of my life. I think that they are good choices and I have been very happy with the results. Oh, there is a multitude of things that I would like very much to improve, in my life, but they are just material things.
The people of this country (Russia) are warmer, as people, than their western counterparts tend to be, in spite of the mafia, crooks, murderers and so on, which are not much different from those in the west… they do it more openly, here, that's all! Sure, there are problems! This is a new country. Perhaps, I will not be able to live here, after the next two or three years! Who knows? I will keep trying to do my best and to succeed at what I would like to do. There are, perhaps, many of you, who would like to visit this country or work here for a limited time. This book just might offer you a glimpse of what could lay ahead. There have been many mists shrouding this immense land- mass, with respect to almost all aspects of the country, from politics, work, play, social fabric, mentality, philosophy, industry and on… I have been able to blow a couple of them aside and catch a glimpse of what is really here! I like Russia. I think Russia likes me. I know that many Russian people have shown me incredible warmth, considering that most do not know me all that well. I have been taken in, by my present wife’s family and relatives and have been honoured by them, to the point of embarrassment, but I do not think that any of their feelings are superficial!
I am far more prominent, in Russia, than I think I would ever have been, in Canada–that is because I am a foreigner, not because I am ‘great’–and there are only a few of us in the country, at the moment. The numbers increase on a daily basis. It is also very possible, that after three or four more years, all foreigners will be booted out, once more. Russian politicians have an uncanny ability to do exactly the opposite to that which most of the rest of the world expects. They do not trust themselves, let alone outsiders, and they have good reason to mistrust… look at their history and themselves!
I have written this book for a number of reasons, the main one is to provide some information for anyone in the west, or anywhere else, for that matter, of what life is like, here. What conditions are like and how the struggle is being dealt with, to emerge from communism, into the free world, and how it is affecting the every-day person.
I hope you enjoy what you read here and that it expands your thinking and attitudes towards Russia. I have used sarcasm, wit, exaggeration and emotion, in an attempt to encourage you to sample this country of 140 million souls. What is written here is the truth, as far as it affected me, my wife, my life and the others with whom I came into contact. If it seems that I criticize too much… tough! Most people cannot take criticism well, anyway! I like it here and I earn a living here… the country benefits. Therefore, I am happy!
Thanks for joining me for the last three years… happy reading!
Oh, by the way, some of the names have been changed to protect my life and my family from the guilty, but what I have written really took place!
Bruce D. R. Grant
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The Permanent Occupants!
Valodia had warned me about burglars, robbers, thieves, brigands, pirates, mafia, ghosts and anything else that moves in the night. What he did not warn me about, were... intruders! The brown ones!
I re-opened the door and walked into the flat, closing and locking the three or four locks, fitted, at various locations, down the edge of the door frame, finishing with the chain. I flicked on the light switch and headed towards the kitchen, whose light had been, earlier, extinguished. The switch was located in the tiny hallway, for both the kitchen and the bathroom, positioned immediately before entrance to the kitchen. I cannot say that light flooded the room, but a 40 watt bulb sheds more than just a dull glow, bringing to me a panorama of brown countertops, somehow moving, for about five seconds! I am not exaggerating! I reckon there must have been hundreds of cockroaches, feeding on... I dunno, possible last month’s crumbs or something. The startling thing was that they could clear the decks so quickly! There were only a couple of places that I could see, where they could escape to. And they did!
I searched, but, could not see any further evidence of cockroaches. I was tired, and now very wary about where they might show up. I was concerned that the bed, in which I was to sleep, was not going to be clean. Perhaps, there were bed-bugs, lice or mites which would visit me on nocturnal scavenger hunts, for a taste of sweet blood. I was not happy, but, made the most of it. I decided not to unpack my bags... for one reason, there were no empty cupboards or drawers into which my things would fit. My case was a large one and I am usually fairly neat, when living out of a suitcase. After all, I have done it many times, while on-the-road selling, over the years.
I inspected the bed, pulled back the cover and gave it a thorough going-over. No, nothing showed its head! It even smelled clean. I was a little more happy. The only smell that I could discern was dust—not really dirt—even though the place had not had a proper cleaning, for a long time! I believe that it was mainly due to the fact, that the flat was often vacant, for months at a time. It had more of its own smell than that of the occupants—human or multi-legged! My next thoughts were of the bathroom and my need to wash myself. The idea of tackling that room, at that time of night, overrode my desire to be clean! I undressed and gingerly laid on the bed. The temperature in the flat was very comfortable—somewhere in the twenty-two to twenty-four degree mark. If it was too hot, I could always open the windows—which I did.
Valodia did not tell me about the pigeons! They wanted company, light and warmth! An open window, with curtains drawn back, provided an invitation, which they were not about to resist! Within seconds of opening my window, a number of them settled, very noisily, on my window-ledge, walking up and down and scuffling their feet on the thin covering of lead, which adorned every window-ledge in this block of flats. At least, pigeons all over the world speak the same language... Cooo! Cooo! I shooed them off, but it only worked for about a minute. The pesky things! They remained there most of the night, because I woke up a couple of times, to hear their sounds and conversations.
This book is aimed at young girls (more so than boys) between the ages of about eight to fourteen years. The moral is that beauty is not because of one's appearance, but because character is what makes a beautiful person regardless of appearance!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Here is an excerpt… Chapter One, Pages 4 and 5.
The day she was born, her mother, the queen, decided to call her Crystal, never thinking for one moment, that her daughter might be a human reject, in physical terms. Few people, if any, referred to her by name, as they thought that her name meant that she was beautiful, because crystal was always beautiful to behold! Not so with this poor girl.
Crystal never demanded anything of anyone, and contented herself with full acceptance of who she was, bearing her discomforts without complaint. In actual fact, Crystal was, perhaps, the only non-false person in the kingdom.
Crystal’s loneliness bore her through her formative years, giving her a quiet strength that prevented the solitude from damaging her mind and character. It was very unfortunate that the people with whom she actually came into contact, rarely attempted to speak with, except by informing her that her clothes were cleaned or her food was ready. There was no ready conversation with her, nor any desire to open a dialogue with her.
This happened to be the main reason why crystal didn't have conversations with anybody. Because of this reason, she remained in her room most of the time, amusing herself by having turns on looking wistfully out of the window at people, animals and birds carrying on with their own lives in the outside world.
What she did do was learn to read at a very early age, nearly 3 years old, with the help of a governess, who was fairly stern with her, but not ruthlessly so, ultimately, directing Crystal to become an accomplished reader to quite a high standard. She consumed books as though they were going out of style. She read the classics, adventure books, history books, even politically inspired reading, that gave her a glimpse of what seemed to motivate the people, of not just her realm, but of other states, countries and republics.
She had now reached the age of about eight and was, in fact, much more mature and years ahead of her so-called contemporaries… those other children of similar age, who had received the typical schooling of the state. But Crystal was not aware of that. She had never met any of them. She could see them from her windows and often wondered why she could not join them, but was advised of her ‘royal status’ precluding her from ‘the public’ gatherings.
How she wished that she could mix with other children, who all seemed to be laughing and playing with each other, running and jumping, skipping and dancing, in twos and threes and sometimes groups of many children. You see, the only people that she ever spoke to or with, apart from her parents (who did not speak to her very often), were the serving staff and the household servants, who had little choice, but, yet, were always ‘in the middle of doing something’ that they could not interrupt or would speak ‘in just a moment’ or ‘in a few minutes!’ Poor Crystal… she was never in demand to be in anyone’s company!
Crystal stayed in her rooms and barely went outside them, even to go to the main rooms, where her parents seemed to occupy the whole day, ‘doing this and that!’ She actually had to explore the palace, simply to be able to find her own way about, regardless of how well the servants and staff knew the numerous corridors and passage ways. She just did not know the layout or the plan of the palace!
The public knew very little of the princess, because hardly anyone knew anything about here! There was no gossip, as there had been, years earlier, shortly after she was born. There were the typical stories, very much embellished and exaggerated by numerous ignorant people, who without thinking about the poor little girl, expounded their own theories as to where she came from (because she was ugly); who had raised her since) as no-one wanted to have anything to do with her (perhaps it was a witch? Who knew?)
They had neither seen hide nor hair of the poor princess, in many-a-year, so the tales started again, and began to grow and became more sinister and dark, fulfilling the fantasies of the ‘beautiful people’ who inhabited the land, ruled by the King and Queen… but still no sign of the princess.
Each Spindle Stick and Ballast Bum story might be (but not necessarily so) connected to the next one, but are also stand-alone. There will be an Audio Book version for blind and other incapacitated people, as well as those who prefer audio instead of printed versions. A Glossary will be available for explanations of all complex words.
I record the audiobooks myself in my studio and give all the correct intonations for each scenario, in which the children are involved. Of course, I am always right, as I wrote the stories!!
The books will be on sale throughout the world in both print and ebook formats. It is possible that translations be made at a later date into each of the countries that my books are marketed, but that is not cast in stone.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~