The Basics #Ukraine #fiction #atozchallenge

We had met Dmitri a year earlier when we were at the same guest house on Lake Victoria, Uganda. He built wells in several northern villages and we taught there. We knew his work kept people healthy.

“If you visit Ukraine, you must come to our out of the way house.” He said with his deep accent.

We had kept in touch over the past year talking about friends in common and our families.

“This is no military practice.” He had emailed us.

Dmitri and his wife Nikita were excellent hosts. We had a rousing snowball fight with the entire family after dinner.

“Tomorrow, you must see what is just over the ridge.” We bundled up early and got in his truck.

“No that is not merely exercises,” My ex-army husband noted. “They look serious.”

Our mood was sober as we drove back to their home.

“This land has belonged to my family for a long time. I can’t imagine those tanks turning all our land into mud.”

“Maybe it won’t come to that,” Nikita wrung her hands.

“No matter I have decided. You will take our children to Mariople where my mama is with her sister.”

“Dema and Sasha are welcome to come all the way to Odessa if you would prefer.” I said thoughtfully.

“No, Mariople will be very safe.”

“Then we will take them. What about you?” My husband was concerned.

“We will stay until we feel it necessary to go.” The couple said in unison.

That night the car was packed with the basics: clothes and bedding for the children.

“Please remind my mother to shop for some basic needs like bread and cheese.” Dmitre said soberly.

The next morning, we were on our way. We said goodbye to the town of Horlivka wondering what her fate would be.

The children were in good spirits and chatted the whole way about their holiday with their babushka and titka. We failed to notice the vehicle that had followed us from Dmitri’s.

The roads were surprisingly empty and we made good travel time to Mariople. The last time I had been in Ukraine I had stayed not far from Mariople on the Azov Sea. The Azov Sea was cold and inhospitable this visit.

It was wonderful to stop and enjoy an evening with Malika and Luda. Malika’s borscht and brown bread was world class.

“Thank you for a lovely stay,” my husband said as we stood at the door the next morning. Dema and Sasha threw their arms around my hairy faced husband.

“A moment please,” Malika motioned to me.

“Yes certainly.” I smiled.

“We hope it is not necessary but if…”

“If you are not safe, you must come directly to Odessa.” I said.

“That is all I needed to say.”

“Yes, I know.” We embraced in a goodbye.

This photo is taken in The Passageway of the 1890s hotel named The Passage in Odessa, Ukraine. photo attribution here

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.

Please join us each day for the A to Z challenge for the month of April

please visit these a to z blogs:

Alzheimers and Old Butcher Knives Part 2 #atozchallenge #elderly

“Millie came to visit…

The RAT never suspected. Never suspected a thing. Extra sugar can hide almost anything. The one thing my husband enjoyed was my home baked cookies.”

“Oh well. Thanks for your candor and for the cookie. I need to go now. Have a good day ma’am.”

I tried not to run off the unit as I spit into a hand-i-wipe what I could retrieve of the cookie.


“I was on a social call with your mother at the memory care unit.” I absently rubbed my hand through my cropped hair.

“How was mama today?”

“Uh, She was good. She gave me a cookie.”

“That’s nice. She changed her recipe; I stopped eating them.”

“Ahh well yes.” I felt my pulse and looked at my tongue in the mirror. ” Your mama mentioned Miss Millie. ”

“Aunt Millie… she and mama… were very close. They would always laugh about granmama’s favorite butcher knife. They said it was perfect for chickens. It hung in Millie’s kitchen.”

“Chickens??? Can you give me her contact information?”

“Millie’s? She’s in Raleigh.”

I sensed something stilted in her voice. Maybe she knew something.

“She’s in Mount Hope on Prospect… She’s been gone 7 years.”

I had started writing the address down. My eyes bugged out in surprise that my witness or suspect was dead. “How long?”

“7 years.”

“When did her husband die?”

“6 years ago from a heart attack.”

“Was she married before?”

” Umm, yes, but I don’t remember him. He ran off; no one ever saw him after that.”

I ripped the page out of my notepad. I realized people can say and think some mighty far fetched things.

Case Closed / Accidental Death was stamped on my report of a dead husband/ caregiver



Here’s a link to the first part of this post 


Today is day 2 of the A to Z challenge. The letter B

Most of my blogs will be info and anecdotes about the elderly.

I’d apply the letter B to elderly care this way:

Be kind

Be yourself

Be there for your family member

Be honest when you need a break.

Are you participating in the challenge?

What is your theme?

Any writing goals this year?

Butterfly #children #Atozchallenge


Alive with color

enamoured by this small creature

smile on her face


We use the puppets named Bethany (butterfly)  and Judah (Lion) to help teach our lessons. Puppets have an amazing ability to involve even shy children.

One of the first Acholi words I learned was La Fou Fou (Butter fly)



sharing with Napowrimo 2018 as well

The Bat Beat #Acoli #Uganda #atozchallenge

 side of dirt road

 man in bush away from heat

beat beat beat-beat

music stirs my ear

tapping rhythm of my feet

beat beat beat-beat

 white ants bait

“bats good to eat”

beat beat beat-beat

on the side of an orange road

plenty left to eat

beat beat beat-beat

Walking along a quiet road, we encounter children and a man beating a rhythm on a piece of wood. The Acholi man tells us that he is capturing bait for bats. The white ants are collected in handmade clay jars and are a bat delicacy.  I was entranced by the music made as this talented man went about his work.


Thanks to my friend John Pipes for the video (since mine won’t upload.)


You can enjoy many wonderful blog posts for the letter “B” by clicking here.



Bridging Beginnings – #atozchallenge #photography #napowrimo

large knot

In the beginning

there was a strong oak

his arms held many families

birds, squirrels liked him the most

he had a woodsy voice

that caught on the breeze

carried far

over fields and streams

a young  sapling

grew alongside

she was strong, willowy

and lithe

her voice was like springtime

all the year long

and the big oak

he loved her

sang her many a song

 they grew near together

were entwined arm and arm

he was her strength

she possessedwhatever 259 many charms

an ax came and struck him

hard on that day

his wood began to shudder

her arms began to sway

the ax man shook his head

he decided to cut the two

they had so grown together

nothing else

was he able to do

now he bears up a handrail

to a very important bridge

she holds his hands

as they in the forest did

our bridge

Also “B” is in thanks to the founder/ idea originator of the A to Z challenge Arlee Bird. Arlee is not only an excellent writer but an encourager of other writers. I know he delights in meeting people during the challenge and during the year. Check him out over at Tossing it Out.

a-to-z-letters-bPhotography L. Moon copyright 2013


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