Authors #Ukraine #fiction #atozchallenge

I looked for the room I had stayed in years ago on the photo gallery of the oldest hotel in Odessa that was still standing.

“It hasn’t been destroyed yet,” I called out to my co-writer/ husband.

“What if we did a crazy thing and booked a room?” His eyes danced.

“Are you kidding?” I’m not sure if my face registered terror or interest probably a combination of both.

“You realize we are not reporters, right?”

“Yeah, I know but this is the story of a lifetime and what better way to test your theory.”

“We are writing about several old hotels that are less likely to be wiped off the map.”

I noticed he had already opened Travelocity. I wish I had never voiced my theory that there was a portal that may be located at a hotel in Ukraine. It was a romantic notion that people passed through a passageway at a hotel curiously named The Passage.

“We are Crazy!!!” I shouted.

“Come on get out your Ukrainian dictionary and some serviceable shoes and let’s go.” His finger was paused over the order button.

“I guess were going to a potential war zone.” I started writing down what I would need including a long list of medical supplies.

We told very few people about our plans. We told his brothers thinking they always had our backs. We told our sons because we thought …

“That’s a real dumb idea mom.” Our youngest contended. “Dad what are you thinking?

“There could be some serious stuff before too long.” Our oldest pounded his fist.

“Keep watch over things here. Call your grandmother every few weeks and your sisters. Everything will be fine…”


Odessa was cold in December so we took what we had in winter clothing.

“Your clothes are not warm enough for Dmitri’s.” My husband pointed to a winter coat in the window of a boutique beneath our hotel.

As I was stirring my tea, I let myself go for a moment of reflection. The Passage was unique and beautiful. Built in the 1890s, it had dozens of frieze type sculptures that had survived wars and uprisings. The name reflected an actual passage that was built into the structure. Lovely shops and cafes were on a cobbled passageway that had a peaked roof made of glass.

“I wonder who has looked over this balconies before us?”

“You know the Russians have turned off the heat before in Ukraine. I just don’t want you to freeze.” My husband pulled me off the balcony and out of my reverie.

“I really need some lined boots with a good sole.” I scrunched my forehead when I saw the price of the coat. “Okay, I’ll get the coat and those boots if they have my size.” Fortunately, they had boots in my size and the sales girl added a hat that would ward off serious cold.

“Gloves are also a necessary part of your wardrobe.” She waved a pair of fur lined gloves my direction. “They are soft and lovely.” I had wool gloves but realized she could use the commission.

“How are you preparing for the possibility???”

“My husband and I are sure that we are safe as we can be. What can an old city like Odessa offer to Russia?”

“I hope you are right. Please stay safe.” I said as she carefully wrapped my purchases in brown paper tied with twine.

“Brown paper burns well on a cold night.” She smiled.

Her comment caused me to buy a wool blanket as we walked back to our room.

Photo is entrance to the shops at the ground floor of the Passage Hotel Odessa Ukraine.

Thanks for stopping by Penned In Moondust by Moondustwriter for the A to Z Challenge. This (continuing) story was birthed at The Passage hotel in 2007 in Odessa Ukraine. I changed the time period to the present. I hope you feel the courage and tenacity of the Ukrainian people as this fiction unfolds.

Links in order:



The Basics

Clearly Crazy


E- Eavesdropping

F- Friends and Family

G- Grumbling Titka

Hiding in 1991

I – Intensity

J- My Journal

K- Keep Moving

L- Cold Air Lunch

M- Medical needs

N- What Next

O-Out of Sight


Q – Questions

R- The Russian

S- Shots and Sirens

T- Turned Back

U – Uri

X- Xanthic

Y- Yevhen

Z- Zelensky

Enjoy excellent writing and creativity for April with the A to Z Challenge

Also visit:


I Smell A Rat #newcago #horticulture #pandemic #flashfiction #reading


New Cago was not a very cultured metropolis before the epi & pan demic. Kids were shoving things up their noses or in their veins. It made sense that there was no room for something for the mind to synthesize.

Then the libraries were closed. So most people read their cereal box for entertainment. But Lily kept a lovely assortment of classical and tasteful books.

Her favorite subject was horticulture.

I could read it and be out like a light at the end of a shift.

But after she died, I started noticing her hand writing and circles in the margins.

Hard not to notice what she had been researching before the wild fire epidemic.

Lil, this is bizarre- the night after you died circles started to appear in red.

One of her notes, ” good if given early but a little too much and they won’t wake up – ever.”

Another had lines through it and question marks. “I know this should work but I’m not seeing the results…” and another comment “why is this only working on a few people????”

And another one that rose the hairs on my back it read more like a sci-fi. “Subject should have demonstrated signs of immunity. I inoculated myself at the same time. If my research is correct, he will start to exhibit…”

“Oh Lil.   OH LIL!!!” I took my head and my hands wondering again if her research was the cause of her death.

“Death” some days it sounded so peaceful.

“Sam. Sam.” I heard a pounding on the steel grate of the door.

“Yeah coming. Hey Peely.” Here was the one good kid in the neighborhood.

“This is for you.”The errand boy that we were both so fond of handed me a box. Our eyes looked at each other then at the brown square.

I opened the box. It was that hat with rounded corners. “I’ve been looking at this for months.” The card underneath was in her handwriting.

“Peel, ya know what I hate most about this town?”

“Yeah Sam, I know. It’s so damned lonely.”

“and unpredictable.” My head felt like a pinball machine with the silver ball hitting every bumper and bell possible.

I looked in the envelope flap and saw the four names with the same prefix: R-A-T.

And that’s where we will start at cleaning up this mess Lil.’


Okay you caught me chasing a pandemic. I’m blogging about elderly issues, but sometimes I get sidetracked.

Reading is important for the elderly. One 90 year old (with Alzheimers) is reading one of his many favorites: a biography about Einstein. The only thing I can understand is the title and the pictures.

Keeping the mind engaged through reading and even the visuals in books is important. We can create new pathways even in an old brain.


How do you keep your mind active???



I’m revamping a Noir crime series I wrote in 2013. The story centered around crime in a metropolis called New Cago but the main antagonist was a deadly disease ( pandemic) lurking in dark corners. If you like Noir and you have time to read come back for more in the days to come. The stories do stand alone so they can be read in any order.

An Old Dilemma part 1

An Old Dilemma part 2

Whats the worst that can happen

Someone Needs to Survive

Exercise #atozchallenge #elderly

“Good morning, Miss E it’s time to get up.”

“I think I’ll stay in bed.”

“Okay then we will have our bath in bed today.”

“Oh I dont want to do that. I better get up.”

“What if I let you stay in bed a little longer. I will give your your meds in bed.”

“That sounds like a very good idea. Thank you for understanding.”

By the time Ms E got up she was ready to seize the day. Slowly…


Exercise is important for the elderly. We have to understand even if these people were athletes that the movements are going to be slower or less vigorous. Don’t get me wrong there are some amazing people who do marathons at 80. They are the exception to the rule, however.

Exercise for Ms E is: getting up out of bed, transferring (a few steps) to a wheelchair, wheeling herself to her chair and with assistance getting up and into her chair. She gets up every two hours. We also do a series of small hand movements – to remind her Parkinson’s muscles what they do. She moisturizes her face and her arms each day. Everyday we do chair exercises. For now she is able to do those exercises but as she gets weaker I will do those exercises passively. The passive exercises may not use much energy but it prevents constriction – this is where the bone actually seems frozen in one position.

Exercise for Mr R is different. At 90 he is still walking 1 mile twice a day. We used to go for longer hikes; now we do several “turns” around the neighborhood. We also do 30 minutes of leg and arm exercises. I use bands that the PT gave him as well as a ball and a fabric frisbee. Mr R slowed down after having a stroke. It’s because of his athleticism, good diet,and great family support that he recovered so quickly.

Bands (which have different amounts of tension) are great for exercising arms and legs. I dont like using weights because of stability. If my patient drops a 3 pound weight on his foot he could break a toe or several bones in his foot.

Make it fun. Mr R was competitive so he loves when I make it a competition. We keep score of the number of time he kicks the soft ball into the goal. We measure the distance we can throw the frisbee. Though Mr R has Alzheimer’s, his body remembers the activities; once we start our exercises (in the same order each day) his body reminds his mind of the routine.

Most of my elderly women are reluctant to do exercise. My back strengthening exercises where we stand as straight as we can then is not a competition. We are princesses standing as tall as we can. We are ballerinas stretching our legs and arms gracefully.

Each patient is an individual. We need to keep him or her moving at her speed for as long as possible.

A trick I am learning with Parkinson’s is every motion counts no matter how small and how long it takes. No matter our condition using our muscles using energy. My theory is pent up energy creates frustration. More on this for the letter “P”


Happy Monday to each of you especially April A to Zers.

What are doing for exercise during this Co-Vid quarantine? Any exercises that have worked for you with elderly friends/family?

Care Givers #atozchallenge #elderly


She brought a fragrant rose every day. I always wanted to change Chelsie’s name to Joy.

She reminded me of a fountain that was always bubbling over with joy. She always knocked on the door at 9:55 in the morning. Mr. C would go off to do his errands. Chelsie and I would do what we called “Ms C’s Spa Treatment.”

Chelsie would sing with her beautiful voice and then a story.

“Well ladies my girl Fatima had me all in stitches. She had wanted to make homemade bread for dinner. That bread broke my knife. Well girl I think what we have is a homemade brick. No use crying cuz this bread will make a fine door stop.”

It was always like that with Ms C, Chelsie and I laughing until we were bent over on tears.

“I can’t wait for tomorrow morning.” Ms C would say as I put her to bed for the night. (“neither can I.”)


I cannot say enough about those who give their time to care for an elderly family member or friend. Many give up their jobs to be the primary caregiver. It can be a strain but so vital for the senior who needs conversation, assistance, hope.

Others hire caregivers to provide several hours to 24/7 care.

The care giving industry is blossoming / bulging at the seams.


Caregivers are essential for those who choose to stay at home and those in facilities where the nursing/cna ratio can be as high as 50 patients to 1 nurse/cna team (my first job in the 70s the ratio was 8:1)


Many caregivers are in their 60s and some in their 70s. They are excellent at caring for the elderly but are considered “elderly” themselves.

*** Co-Vid-19 is a major concern for the elderly especially 70-80 year olds. There are many caregivers who are also in the “at risk group” but they are continuing to provide home care. Hats off to these remarkable people!

Where would we be without caregivers like Chelsie???

Please remember to be sensitive to those (caregivers, nurses, physicians, aux staff) who are providing care for the patients especially the elderly population. They are putting themselves at risk each day while trying to keep their  at risk clients unexposed.

Thanks for coming by today.

Have you ever been a caregiver to a family member?

Alheimers and old butcher knives #short Story #atozchallenge

“Daddy was the main caregiver for mama who has had Alzheimer’s for several years. She never knows who I am when I visit. At home she always had a pattern: She would look out the window, get a plate and arrange some cookies,  sit on a chair and wait. She would do that three times. She then went to her room, turned on the light, took off her robe, crawled into bed and shut off the light. Daddy would shut the door and call “goodnight” through the door.”

“What was she waiting for?”

“I don’t know, but she never ate the cookies. I figured they were for someone else.”


The upscale Alzheimer’s ward was nice. That way children don’t feel guilty when they never visit.

She carried herself with such grace and was so polite.

“Would you like a cookie?” She held out a decorative plate.

“Yes, please. What was he like?” I asked her as I took a stale cookie from the plate.

“He’s a lady’s man. I knew that when we married. I thought he would settle down, he never did. He’s  better than Millie’s man though. Mama always told us ‘now girls the two best ways to keep your men in-line are with a sprinkle of that white stuff in sweet home baked cookies or the butcher knife that we keep sharp for the chickens’ necks.

“Hmm. uuuu”  I wrapped the remainder of the cookie in my napkin. I tried not to choke on the cookie in my throat.

“We knew no one would suspect two old gals.” Her smile was sincere as she fingered her strand of pearls.

“Did you ever want to use the butcher knife on your husband?” I was thinking as we talked that her mind seemed fairly clear.

“Certainly not! Millie had rat poison that she saved from daddy’s shed. She said rats came in all types and sizes.”

“Did you ever umm use it?”


Thanks for stopping by – you’ll have to come back tomorrow to read the finish of this flash fiction story for the letter B







Welcome to the A to Z Challenge where writers spend the month writing.

I presently work in Hospice and have a love for elderly people (I’m quickly becoming one)

Alzheimers is a hard diagnosis and as it’s constantly changing; its alot like Covid-19.

On the letter “D” I will discuss Dementia which presents in many ways like Alzheimers.

I have found with Alzheimers that a patient can have a little less stress with a few things in place:

Routine – offers stability when an Alzheimer patient feels like the floor has come out from underneath him. Getting up at the same time, eating at the same time helps the body and mind work together.

Diet – A good diet is essential and good fats (for the brain) need to be part of each day. With a generation that is used to non-fat everything this can be a challenge.

Exercise – taking safety into consideration exercise is key. Walking each day and doing some eye hand coordination exercises (make them fun) keep the mind and body in tune.

Safety – A patient can forget they are no longer an avid hiker or runner. Falls are an aged person’s worst nightmare. Identify risks before a fall can happen.

Activity – You patient will still enjoy activities that were once part of everyday life. One patient reads his book about Einstein everyday. He is more engaged in the pictures than the content but that book is an old friend.

Signs – you may laugh at this one but it worked. My male patient kept forgetting where the bathrooms in his house were. He would go in a corner of the garage or in the yard but he always could find the restroom at the store or a park. I put up a restroom sign with a picture of a man and an arrow pointing to his bathroom. it worked.


Most people have a family member or friend that has Alheimers. What have you seen that makes it easier to “live” with?




Traffic #children #atozchallenge #Uganda



From the Iron Donkey I watch

a normal afternoon in Gulu

two boys

four eyes


people, animals, motorcycles

*iron donkeys, cars and trucks




The Iron Donkey is a guest house where we stay in Gulu. The iron donkey is also what Westerners consider a bicycle.




A to Z and Back Again #atozchallenge

A-to-Z Reflection [2015] - Lg

As so many, I am writing a succinct reflection on the 2015 A to Z Challenge.

Each year I have a different focus: this year’s primary focus was to high- light several friends who (I think) are gifted writers. I also wanted to share about a poetry book (A Song for Liberia) that will be published this summer with all the proceeds going to children orphaned by Ebola.

cover closer

Each year,  I want to  support Arlee Bird who had the vision for the A to Z Challenge and is a fantastic human being.

I like meeting fantastic writers and this year was no exception.

My final observation is that those who gained from the A to Z Challenge were those who took the time to make not only thoughtful posts but took the time to visit and COMMENT on fellow A to Zer’s blogs. Afterall the Blogging community of writers thrives because people support each other.

I have met many fantastic people over the years and this year I am grateful again for some friendships (or is that blogships) that will continue.

2015 A to Z Challenge is a wrap!

Embrace Emotion #atozchallenge #poetry #photography

barbed letter E

 unscrew the light bulb

cram my feelings til they blaze

 can’t tell until I’m limp

you  are truly crazed

clamp down the wire cutters

frenzied barbed wire  dance 

 wrap careless about my heart

are you looking for your chance?

turn the car’s ignition

let fumes suck away the air

I died so  long ago

no one ever cared



Emotive language is a form of common poetry in which language is at its most condensed and significant form. This is a common way that writers use to convince readers by appealing to their emotions and using a language that shows sympathy in some way.

“Anxiety is the hand maiden of creativity”

T.S. Eliot

“Any poet, if he is to survive beyond his 25th year, must alter; he must seek new literary influences; he will have different emotions to express.”



How have you altered your writing over the years??? Or is it time for a change?


A2Z-BADGE-000 [2014]



Alive with Poetry and the letter “A” #atozchallenge #poetry #photography

letter a

a light a stir

little could we manage to muster

winds pink, breezy and blustered

being under spring’s spell

we flurried and fell

into a whirling white well


 ” Poetry’s task is to reconcile us to the world — not to accept it at face value or to assent to things that are wrong, but to reconcile one in a larger sense, to return us in love, the province of the imagination, to the scope of our mortal lives.” Meena Alexander

alliteration: th is a poetic device using repetition of an initial consonant sound, as in “a peck of pickled peppers.” (Poets.Org)

Do you agree that poetry has the power to reconcile, albeit restore us to life?????


Today starts day #1 with the April A to Z Challenge. It looks like this year promises to have opportunities like a twitter chat on Thursdays. Looking for inspiration, new followers??? Check out A to Z

My focus this year is pretty relaxed as I have been disabled in both wrists. I enjoyed looking to nature (primarily) and photography (secondary) for letters for each day accompanied by a simple poem, a famous quote and a tidbit about poetic form, device etc.

Some A to Zers that I am enjoying following:

AJ’s Hooligans @AtoZChallenge
Back Porchervations

A2Z-BADGE-000 [2014]