It is a whirlwind in here


December 2015

2015 in review/ Seen Around The World

Folk from 52 countries across the globe took a look this year – which  surprised me when I saw the stat. There are 196 countries in the world today (OK – Taiwan is kinda iffy), so I have 144 to go. My fingers aren’t nimble enough to make this a daily affair, but I’ll see what I can do.

2016 awaits.


The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,500 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 25 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Alison Alexandra (one time known as Hermione Kafka) Begins To Live


Alison Alexandra (one time known as Hermione Kafka) began her paged existence over a year ago. And then she rested for a year. And then she returned, if not exactly demanding, then more than pleased to have a new name.

She has acquired a whisky-drinking new friend and an accelerated interest in sailors. She meanders into the past, not at a whim but certainly at her pleasure. She has two military grade binoculars and looks out to sea with her new, whiskey-drinking friend. They both admire the sailors they see.

Alison Alexandra is about to embark on a relationship with The Mission To Seafarers. I say  she is about to embark, but she really has been doing so for years. She just decided to let the author know. She might even fly the flag of The Mission To Seafarers over her house upon the cliff looking out to the harbour and the sea, even though it might not actually be legal.

Alison Alexandra (one time known as Hermione Kafka) is having her progress described through tweets as the days and – one suspects – weeks pass. She finds this a tad rude but – it must be admitted – allows her author a broad degree of leeway.


Dale Estey @DaleEstey Dec 1

Alison Alexandra (once known as Hermione Kafka) does not know if she wants a second chapter, or a new short story.#writing #character

  Dale Estey @DaleEstey Dec 2

Alison Alexandra (once known as Hermione Kafka) ponders the beginning of a new day … over the centuries.#writing #character #storytelling

Dale Estey @DaleEstey Dec 4

Alison Alexandra (one time known as Hermione Kafka) has an unbidden naughty story to tell. Should she? #write #storytelling #sex

Dale Estey @DaleEstey Dec 4

Alison Alexandra (one time known as Hermione Kafka) decides to utter her unbidden naughty story. Why not? #write #storytelling #sex

Dale Estey @DaleEstey 1 day1 day ago

Alison Alexandra (known once as Hermione Kafka) is not the focus of her naughty tale, though its source.#write #storytelling #sex #character

Alison Alexandra (known once as Hermione Kafka) is innocent in her naughty way. There is but one truth. #write #story #truth #character

Dale Estey @DaleEstey 3 mins3 minutes ago

Alison Alexandra (once known as Hermione Kafka) is propositioned at a party. She ponders source and reply. #character #storytelling #writing

Alison Alexandra (once known as Hermione Kafka) enters a strange conversation with a stranger. Leading … where? #character #story #writing


A Boy And His Dog And A Bear // [Exit, pursued by a bear]


I suppose I’m too humble to class this as a Christmas miracle, for it is not up there with a Virgin Birth and all. But still, I do think God was in His heaven and all, in this instance (for me), was right with the world. 

One December I looked after a dog whilst her owners went out of town. Tibbit is a big, friendly dawg who likes inspecting piles of leaves. She has a long lead which her benevolent human allows to go as far as possible. She knows (better than her accompanying human) that there are treats at the end of each walk.

On Saturday I didn’t get Tibbit out until after dark. We skirted the university (where her masters work) and went up a street bordering the campus. We both liked the Christmas lights. Near the top of the street we met an inebriated gentleman warning us of a bear in the surrounding woods. “Flush him out,” said he, “And I’ll get my 3 aught 3.” “Get the rifle first,” I replied, and we went our respective ways. Now Tibbit and I doubted the veracity of the gentleman, so when we came to a trail through the woods, we took it. I will admit I did peer more intently into the gloom than usual, but one trail led to a larger trail which led back to the university. We advanced without incident.

On Sunday I again walked Tibbit toward the university, though from a different direction. It was a crisp, clear day and she gambolled (as much as the leash allowed ) through the new fallen snow. Sunshine gleamed. This time we were on the other side of the campus, but our walk eventually led to a position about half a mile away from where we were the previous evening. We followed another trail into the woods and admired the sun through the fir trees. The path was wide and sloped. It came to turn some distance away which would lead us even closer to where we were the day before. At the top of the slope Tibbit stopped dead in her tracks. She stared and stared. She glanced briefly into the woods but mainly kept staring along the trail. I saw nothing nor heard anything (and I was intent upon both). Tibbit did not move and made not a sound. She just kept staring. After a solid two minutes of this I started to backtrack and she made no complaint.

You betcha she got her dog treats.



A Unicorn Greets Jesus On The Day Of His Birth


Annunciation – as the Hunt of the Unicorn by Erfurt St. Severi (1470-80)

Excerpt from the manuscript A Lost Gospel

“We are all replaceable.” Glarus shrugged her shoulders. “The world has yet to stop for any man or beast which has ceased to be.”

“Even the gods?”

“Gods become replaced by other gods, yet the world continues.” Glarus slowed her pace. “Changed, of course – but generally for the better.”

“Will Yeshua change the world?”

“If he has not become too much a man.”

Glarus entered a path and started along it to her house. The two women followed her closely, still full of questions.

“What was it like seeing Yeshua?” asked Bettine.

“It was an adventure.” Glarus stopped at her door. “And it was frightening.” She turned to Bettine. “I was younger than you, and had never left the mountain longer than four nights travel.”

“How much younger?”

“I had yet to bleed as a woman.” Glarus opened the door but did not enter. “I was surrounded by strangers, and really had no companion except the unicorn – the sire of these two.” She walked into the house, and the young women followed. “I was given a gift to carry – myrrh – and was treated well.” She took a pitcher of water, and poured some into a metal pot. “I was one of many in the group with the kings.”

Glarus hung the pot over the hearth, and placed a block of wood into the fire.

“I was treated differently because they had gone out of their way to fetch me. No one could speak my language.” Glarus noted the young women were still standing, and bade them onto the bench near the window. “Even with our different accent, Bettine, we have little trouble understanding each other.”

“I have no trouble at all.”

“Their tongues were completely foreign. The man who spoke to me seemed to know the words, but could not put them in proper order.” Glarus paused in memory. “He could say `house’ for instance, but then had to use hand gestures to show me what I was supposed to do about the `house’. Had either of us been particularly stupid, we might still be trying to get into a house.”

“It must have been difficult.” As Bettine spoke, she looked around the house.

“Not really.” Glarus laughed. “I found it more humorous than anything.” She peered into the water. “They were people of good will. I did not mind the hardship.”

“What was he like?”

“The man who could say `house’?” Glarus smiled and pointed her finger. “What are you thinking, Sirona? We did not speak those types of words.”

“Not him.” Bettine was impatient. “Men think so much of themselves, we don’t have to take the time. Sirona was asking about Yeshua. What happened when you finally saw him?”

“What happened is that I slipped in cow shit. I think his father laughed.”

“That’s what you remember?”

“No. That’s not all I remember about Yeshua.”

Glarus eased the lid from the pot, and threw in a handful of spice and dried flowers, plus some dried apple slices. She nudged a burning hunk of wood into place, and returned to her seat.

“The kings had some information, but the rest they had to figure out. They had surrounded themselves with astrologers, navigators and philosophers. They knew from the Jew’s Holy Book that the baby was to be born in Bet Lehem, and the Star helped lead them to that town. It was a virgin birth, and – ”

“Virgin?” Bettine and Sirona squealed the word together.

“Yes – virgin.” Glarus laughed. “So both of you watch out.”

“You make us doomed either way.” Bettine exaggerated a shiver.

“Then you don’t have to worry at all – never fret about the inevitable.” Glarus paused a moment in memory. “We didn’t need the Star the last couple of days, but it had given us comfort during a hard and uncomfortable trip. That last night we waited on the outskirts of the town, and went in after sunset.”

“Were you afraid?” Sirona leaned closer.

“No. Why would I be?”

“You were going to see god.” Bettine glanced at Sirona as she spoke.

“To see god is a joy – not a fear.”

“And was he a baby?” Sirona giggled. “A baby god.”

“It was a time for the paying of taxes to Caesar, and Bet Lehem was crowded with people.” Glarus examined the fire for a moment. “The inns and resting places were fully occupied. We finally found Yeshua and his parents in a barn, beside one of the inns. He was settled with the animals, and sleeping in the hay.”

“But this was a god.”


“But – ” Bettine sounded perplexed. “He should have been in a temple – or a palace. Not surrounded by animals.”

“There are more barns than palaces.” Glarus nudged the wood in the fire with a poker. “And more animals than priests. God is god of the world – not some carved gold in a temple.”

“But god can have whatever he wants.”

“Yes.” Glarus leaned forward and touched the young woman. “So remember what he chose.”

“What was god like?” Sirona was impatient, and pulled on Glarus’ skirt.

“God was the baby of a woman. A baby such as any of us could have.” Glarus looked at them closely. “You must not forget that. This god is as much man as god.” She stood suddenly and leaned toward the fireplace. “He was asleep when we entered. Even his mother was dozing as she held him.”

“What was she like?” Sirona didn’t realize one question interrupted another.

“Her name was Mary.” Glarus removed the pot from the open flame, and placed it upon a squat stone jutting into the hearth. “She smiled as her head nodded – she seemed quite peaceful. She was attractive, but not what one would call beautiful. She didn’t look much older than me.” Glarus looked mildly surprised. “She could still be alive, for that matter. She certainly seemed healthy enough.”

“Did she talk to you?” Sirona leaned forward, the heat of the fire against her face.

“She spoke to the ones who knew her tongue.” Glarus looked down at the women. “But no – not to me.” She suddenly smiled. “I saw her glancing at me a few times, as her husband talked to the others. And she took a liking to the unicorn – as did the baby.”

“Did she – ”

“What I felt most was her bewilderment.” Glarus didn’t realize she had interrupted Bettine. “She must have wondered why rich and powerful people were crowding into a barn to see her son. Giving birth for the first time was enough to get used to.”

“Especially if you had never been with a man.” Sirona grinned at Bettine when she said this.

“Yes.” Glarus laughed. “Being with a man is one of the easier parts.” She looked closely at them. “Not that you two are ready.”

“I feel ready.” Sirona again looked at Bettine.

“I don’t deny your woman’s time has more than come.” Glarus   stirred the pot as she spoke. “And you both turn heads, I dare say. But your duty must keep you unentered some years yet.”

“How long did you wait?” Bettine asked the question hesitantly.

“Wait for what?” teased Glarus.

“Wait to get … entered.” Bettine blushed at her question, but was obviously interested. “Were you much older than us?”

“It doesn’t have to be the same for you.” Glarus became serious. “When you know enough, and feel it’s time to start passing on your powers to – ”

“And there’s a man good enough.” Sirona shouted the words.

“That, too.” Glarus laughed. “Though God knows, there are always men about wanting your attention.”

“But when did it happen to you?” Bettine was insistent.

“As I said, it’s different for different people.” Glarus looked directly at the girl. “It would have been ten winters past your age when it happened to me.”

“Isn’t that late?”

“I didn’t know enough.” Glarus saw the look on Bettine’s face and smiled. “I don’t mean about that. And yes, I’d already wanted the feel of a man on top of me.” Glarus paused and stared into the fire. “I didn’t know enough about myself, or about the gods – or about the unicorn. I wanted to know the movements behind what we call life.”

“Did you learn these things?”

“No.” Glarus looked at them again. “I learned there was no one answer, no matter how long I waited.” She spread her hands. “So I stopped waiting.” She was quiet again. “I eventually found I was not going to be like this Mary – with or without a man in me. I can not have children, so I went out and chose the best.”

“Much like god chose Mary,” suggested Bettine.

The women were silent for awhile. Glarus stirred the pot, and tasted the liquid in the ladle. Bettine looked curiously around the house, while Sirona stared thoughtfully at her mother. She was hearing things she had never heard before.

“When did the baby wake up?” Bettine’s question broke into the silence.

“We hadn’t been there long.” Glarus began moving about the room, gathering some mugs together, along with food and utensils. “I think I was the first to notice. I just followed the lead of the unicorn, which already was walking toward him.”

“Did he touch the unicorn?”

“Yes.” Glarus took a loaf of bread from a cupboard, and removed some wedges of cheese from a pottery jar. “It was obvious Mary had never seen such a creature. I don’t think she was afraid, but she was hesitant to let the unicorn get too close to the baby.” Glarus ladled the hot drink into the mugs. “However, Yeshua reached out with his tiny hands, and tried to touch the ivory horn.”

“Did he touch you?” Bettine sipped the drink, and found the fruit tasted as if it were off the tree.

“Mary let me hold him, as she and Joseph prepared some of their food for the kings.” Glarus passed the platter of bread and cheese to the young women. “Food less grand than this. But still, the best of what they had.”

“You held god in your hands?” Sirona marvelled at the secrets she had never heard.

“Yes. While the others ate.”

“What was it like?”

“Damp.” Glarus looked at them both and laughed. “He was a warm and wet little baby, open-mouthed and smiling one moment, squeezing up his eyes in frustration the next. I still had the smell of myrrh on me, and he pushed his face into my breast, making contented baby noises. To the others, it looked as if he were trying to get fed. Joseph said something which made the others laugh.” Glarus chuckled as she took a bite of cheese. “When I finally heard what it was, I smiled too, even though I was embarrassed.”

“What did he say?” Sirona and Bettine asked the question together.

“Well. It’s no secret I’m big up here.” Glarus placed an arm across her chest. “I’ve had too much attention from too many men to let me forget.” Glarus cut more slices from the loaf of bread. “Joseph had said, that if the baby became too used to me, they’d have to use one of the cows after I left.”

“What did you say?” Sirona shared a glance with Bettine.

“It wasn’t my place to say anything. Anyway, I could tell he wasn’t trying to be offensive – or attentive. He was a poor man surrounded by rich and powerful strangers, and he was trying to be accepted.”

“Did Mary say anything?”

“Mary did not push out her garment, even if she was full of milk. After the laughter had stopped, I dared glance at her. She gave a shy smile and shrugged her shoulders.”

“If you hadn’t gone the way you did.” Bettine dipped her mug back into the flavoured drink. “Without following the star and the kings – would you have known Yeshua was a god?”

“No.” Glarus sipped from her mug, then placed it on the table. “But the circumstances were not natural.” Glarus hesitated before cutting more cheese. “The unicorn would not have been present, and I would not have seen them share time.”

“What did he do?”

“The unicorn?”


“Both.” Sirona was excited. “When they were together.”

“They looked at each other with recognition.”

“But – ” Sirona coughed over her drink. “They had never seen each other before.”

“They saw more than just the bodies they possess.” Glarus placed her hands side-by-side on the table, almost touching. “When Mary realized the unicorn would do no harm, she held the baby this close to him. Yeshua reached a grasping little fist toward the ivory horn.” Glarus smiled at the two women. “You know how the unicorns avoid a stranger’s touch.”

“Yes.” They both again spoke in unison, and laughed.

“He bent his head carefully toward Mary, and let the tiny fingers rub against his horn. Yeshua’s eyes went wide as he sniffed him all over. The unicorn pawed in the dirt and the straw, and as much as his face is capable of smiling, I’d swear that he did.

“He didn’t even mind when Mary began to scratch him behind the ears. He moved his head so she could stroke the base of his horn, which he loves most of all.”

“I didn’t know of that place for years.” Bettine absently rubbed her fingers across the table. “I hesitated a long time before I even touched the horn. It can be so cold.”

“They don’t encourage contact,” agreed Sirona.

“Perhaps I was jealous. He encouraged Mary and the baby to do things for which I had waited years.” Glarus looked into the fire a long time. “He showed complete trust amid the strangers and the tumult. Usually, just the smell of humans and other animals make him disappear. This time, he ceased being wary, and concentrated fully on that little baby.”

“And Yeshua?” Sirona stared at her mother. “What did he do?”

“The baby turned his head, and stared at me.” Glarus again hesitated. “It was then I knew that I was looking into eyes which had seen the OtherWorld.”



Twitter And Kafka And #InternationalTeaDay




However it happened, in my grazing of the state of the world yesterday, the fact that it was International Tea Day escaped my notice. Mind you, if I tracked down the number of causes tacked onto yesterday, I would probably come up with a lot. Who knows what and whom I have ignored?

Still, remnants on Twitter tell me it was indeed #InternationalTeaDay. I just happen to have an entry from my novel about Kafka devoted to tea. Well steeped.


07 February 1917

I imagine if I wanted to fully know about tea, it would take me years. The various kinds, how they are picked and dried. The various blends, and their numerous properties. The effects they are supposed to have on the body. Purgers and restorers. And how tea is shipped, the ways it must be stored. The proper preparation for the cup – the implements used. The procedures just to pour. I imagine there are people who devote their lives to this subject as do I to my writing. Who revel in this knowledge, as I do over words. Sometimes, I think there could be nothing more comfortable and comforting, than to be F. Kafka, Tea Merchant. My father would be ecstatic.



“Hey, Buddy, Can You Spare Five Bucks?”


I like walking along the harbour, and do it often. I enjoy any harbour, large or small. I’ll happily spend an hour or two in the working, fishing ports along the coast. I can do the same in Halifax, the second largest port in the world.

So, it may be my lot to meet strange folk. Or, perhaps, I just attract them. But it does seem that the more offbeat gravitate to the harbour. Maybe we all like the water.

During the tourist season there are a lot of people along the boardwalk, and thus a good place for folk looking for a handout. Particularly when the cruise ships are in. But, in December, not so much. So I was surprised to meet a fellow obviously on the lookout for some money. It is quite possible no more than a couple of people would pass within an hour.

I might have avoided him but, he was stationed across from an odd ship I wanted to have a look at. An odd ship to me, at any rate. It turned out it was The BEVERLY MI, and ocean-going tug of impressive size. I have a great fondness for tug boats, but usually see those working the harbour. So, to see the tugboat, I had to pass the fellow.

He was slender though fit, and healthy looking. Beard and long hair. Rough but warm clothes. He has a duffel bag that was open. He took out an envelope.

“Have ya got five dollars?”

His speech was slow, and deliberate, and oiled with alcohol.

“I’m getting rid of the signs.”


“Ha Ha.” He pointed vaguely around. “I’m trying to get rid of the signs.”

There was no undue accumulation of signs in the area. One ‘No Entry’ to a private dock, and one indicating a Garbage/Recycle Bin.

“Here’s this.” He held up the envelope and laughed again.”I’m giving out a sign to get rid of signs.” He found this very funny.

“I’d like to go down and look at the boat.”

“Yeh. Sure.” He fumbled with the duffel bag. “Ha. Sure. I’ll go stand over there.” He pointed to some benches.

I did walk along the dock and took a good look at the tug boat. A big thing, powerful and solid. A crewman stood near the cabin and nodded. I waved and retraced my steps.

The fellow was beside the bench, as he said he would be. But he made no motion, nor any attempt to approach me. I’m guessing he was content. I went upon my way.



The Time It Takes To Read A Book



I am wary of gimmicks that the internet allows and – indeed – encourages. And maybe I am a bit wary of this one but, I gotta say, it interests me.And when I went to look, it offers more than just the come on.

“How Long To Read This .com” is just as advertised.Put in the title of a book, and you will be told how long it should take you to read it. There is even a timer you can set as you read a sample.  You are told how long it takes you to read the sample, and then extrapolates how long it will take you to read the book.

One of the nicer aspects of this site is, when you put in a book title, a number of different issues of the book appear. You can click on the image of the issue most appealing and get information about it.

Two of my favourite books (which I re-read) are Thomas Mann’s “The Magic Mountain” and  James Joyce’s “Ulysses”.

I’m told about Mann: “You read 95 words in 23 seconds and your average speed is 248 words per minute. It will take you 12 hours and 37 minutes to complete this book.

I’m told about Joyce: “You read 67 words in 20 seconds and your average speed is 201 words per minute. It will take you 15 hours and 13 minutes to complete this book.”

Kafka’s Metamorphosis, on the other hand: “You read 62 words in 19 seconds and your average speed is 196 words per minute. It will take you 0 hours and 57 minutes to complete this book.”

I know you are also shown where you can buy each book on Amazon, but, I can live with that.




About Us


How Long to Read is a book search engine that helps you find out how long it will take to read books and provide reading time data that is tailored to you. With our simple WPM (words per minute) test you can find out how long it will take you to read almost anything, and also use our search engine to find books that will fit the time you have to read. How Long to Read has been featured in, Yahoo! News, and other well known websites and blogs.

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Telemarketer Tells Lies About My Computer


I’ll update this as I share it again.

With the ability to screen calls, I wonder that telemarketers still exist, let alone the scammers. But they do. I seem to be fortunate in that I don’t get many of these things. Obvious phone numbers, 888 and such, I ignore. But when there is the benefit of the doubt, and I can use a break, I answer.

So – yesterday – buddy with a thick accent immediately told me that Microsoft was monitoring my computer and that there was trouble and that I had better follow some instructions to fix it. Logic must go out the window for anyone to fall for this stuff. This is a popular scam and I’ve read about it enough. I immediately said: “You don’t have the power to monitor my computer.” But – and I think literally – I did not have the complete word “power” out of my mouth before buddy with a thick accent disconnected.

So – there it ended. I guess he didn’t have the time to play around like the guy in my original post.



I have a degree of sympathy for telemarketers. I spent a couple of months training to work in a call centre.  I was mainly to deal with customer complaints. It was the least offensive such job I could find. It is true that with every answer I was supposed to get the customer to “upgrade” their services. But, in truth, I could just not remember all the stages I was supposed to go through, or keep track of all the various information tabs on my screen. I did not make it through ‘training’.

My modicum of sympathy, and not being totally sure when I first answered that it was a marketing call, made me embark on the following conversation. No, it is not verbatim (I didn’t record it for quality control). And it is condensed. I admit a certain fascination of just experiencing it kept me on the line. To anyone else without a writer’s perversion, do as I say and don’t do as I do. Hang up.

Telemarketer: “Hello.”

Me: “Hello.”

[long pause]

T: “Hello there.”

M: “Hello.” [another long pause] “Hello. How can I help you?”

T: “Help me?”

M: “Yes. What do you want?”

T: “Are you the Lord?”

M: “The Lord?”

T: “That you can help me.”

M: “Good Lord. What do you want?”

T: “I have the Lord. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.”

M: “You make your Lord annoyed.”

T: “Ha ha ha ha ha lo lo lo lo lo lo moo moo moo.”

M: “You’re speechless.”

T: Moo moo moo moo maa maa maa.”

M: “You sound drunk.”

T: “I’ll put my dick on your ass.”

M: “What?”

T: “And show it to your wife.”

M: “It would give her a laugh.”

T: “And I’ll do your dog.”

M: “That’s fine. My dog bites.”

T: “Your wife will have a big smile.”

M: “What about my dog?”

T: “Lick a dick.”

[At this point I begin to feel I am as bad as him. I stop]

T: “Here is dick. Moo moo moo moo. Hello. Where’s the wife?”


T: “Hello Hello. Got my dick out.”

[Silence – though I still wonder where this might go. Then he starts talking to a voice I can’t hear]

T: “Sorry, Sir.”

T: “It’s a real call.”

T: “The number is …[my correct phone number]

T: “He is [the wrong name]

T: “I am calling [the correct city].”

T: “He lives at [the wrong address].”

T: “It is in [the correct country]“.

T: “I understand, Sir.”

T: “It is time.”

T: “No, Sir. You don’t have trouble.”

T: “Yes, Sir. I can do that.”

T: “I’ll phone back in fifteen minutes.”

[There are no further phone calls.]




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