It is a whirlwind in here



Dance, Dance, Wherever You May Be, And I’ll Lead You All


In my novel, There Was A Time, Oh Pilgrim, When The Stones Were Not So Smooth, Alison Alexandra, and her friend Amanda, go on a cruise – a freighter cruise. And they see many things. This happens before they even leave their home port.

**** **** **** **** ****

On the far side of the ship is the body of the part. Amanda and Alison Alexandra again rest their elbows on a mahogany railing and watch the activity of a large swath of the harbour. In the centre channel a tug boat hauling a scow piled with crushed automobiles is making its way to the inner reaches of the port, toward the railway terminal.

The tug is a dented and patch-painted vessel with the rumbles of a tired engine. The scow looks as if it has been in service for decades It is painted in haphazard colours of green that barely keep the rust in check.

“That looks like the end of the line carried by the end of the line destined for the end of the line,” says Amanda. “Yet they come in the other end of the port all shiny and new.”

“Maybe you just described life,” says Alison Alexandra.

“Oh – ewwww,” says Amanda.

“I agree,” says Alison Alexandra.

“Then let’s wave at Charon,” days Amanda. “Let us be hearty.”

They both lean over the mahogany rail and raise their hands high. Amanda leads them in vigour as she seems to reach for the sky with her enthusiastic wave. Alison Alexandra is tempted to put both of her hands in the air, but she refrains. She does not want to appear as if she is attempting to outdo her friend. As it is, matching Amanda is spectacle enough. They get the attention of the two crew in the wheelhouse of the tugboat. One leans from the door and waves back, while the other man behind the wheel gives a long blow on his horn.

What is unexpected, and apparently not visible to either crew in the wheelhouse, is the appearance of a figure stepping between the piles of crushed autos on the scow. Not only is it difficult to tell if it is a male or female because it is dressed in a long outer coat, but it is also hard to say if it is an adult or a child, as it is quite short. However, there is no doubt about the enthusiasm of the waving hand.

“Would that be a worker or a stowaway?” asks Amanda as she keeps waving.

“I wouldn’t think they would need any crew on the scow,” says Alison Alexandra. “What is there to do? And – anyway – look how they’re dressed.”

“A stowaway on a scow?”

“Looks like it.” Alison Alexandra wishes her military grade binoculars were not still packed away in her cabin. “Maybe they’re using the scow as a ferry from one part of the harbour to the other.”

“They’re not asking for help?”

“No.” Alison Alexandra has stopped waving. “They’re dancing.”

“Should we tell Ellerton?”

“Do you think we should?”

“No,” says Amanda. “Let them dance.”

The figure on the scow – man, woman or child – does a pirouette as the tugboat pulls away across the calm water of the harbour. The two crew members in the wheelhouse have returned to their duties.

“We can dance,” says Alison Alexandra.

“Together?” asks Amanda.

“Oh, yes – I think so.”

“Who leads?”

“Paper/scissors/rock.” Says Alison Alexandra.

Amanda flashes out two fingers as Alison Alexandra flashes out five.

“C’mon – hurry.”

“What will we do?” asks Alison Alexandra.

“Argentina Tango.”

Amanda takes Alison Alexandra’s right hand and extends it, while she places her right hand in the centre of Alison Alexandra’s back. Alison Alexandra rests her left hand on Alison Alexandra’s right shoulder.

“Do you think Ellerton has a guitar?” asks Alison Alexandra.

“Or a Supper Club Combo?” Amanda adjusts the distance between them.

“Oh, I would love a saxophone,” says Alison Alexandra.

As they take their first steps, the man/woman/child in its long coat stops their own dance. They approach the edge of the scow, but halt just behind the tier of squashed automobiles to keep out of the sight of the two crew in the wheelhouse. The tug is making its slow but steady workhorse course across the harbour, putting more and more distance between it and the ships tied to the dock.

Amanda prompts Alison Alexandra back beside the mahogany railing, but is unable to dance the growing gap between them and the scow. They come to a stop and lean over the railing when they realize the man/woman/child is cupping their hands around their mouth.

“Ole!” they hear, across the expanse of water. “Ole!”


Four Years Ago, Trump And Kafka Walked Into A Bar … Now We Know What Happened

{I wrote this after Donald Trump was elected President of The United States of America. This morning, I read the following from a post on Forex Factory: ” … it all has bypassed Rod Serling and now is in realm of Franz Kafka surrealism.”  Really – who can argue?} 

~ Frank. Welcome to your world.

~ DT, I’ve been living it all my life.

~ I’ve taken some pages out of your books, Frank.

~ I did try to get them burned.

~ You didn’t try too hard.

~ Well – no.

~ You know – neither did I.

~ I know. They all ran to your tune.

~ They did.

~ You were the Pied Piper of Havoc.

~  Worked like a charm, Frank.

~ Yes, DT – yes, it did.

~ They thought I was a bug.

~ Yes.

~ But I turned them into bugs.

~That you did, DT. And turned them against each other.

~ Yes.

~ And stood back, and watched.

~ Pretty well.

~ To the victor goes the spoils.

~ I was astounded – believe me.

~ And they keep making the same mistakes.

~ I know, Frank.  I’d laugh if it wasn’t so funny.

~ The one-eyed man is King in the land of the Blind.

~ Yes, Frank – yes. But you know what?

~  What?

~ I’ve got great vision in both eyes.

A Reminder Of When I Think God Laughed With Me


This incident happened over a year ago, when I was hand-writing (as I do) my current manuscript. Now, I am putting it (too slowly) into the computer, so the world can welcome it with open arms. It still gives me a chuckle, and perhaps God is also laughing up His sleeve.


So, it’s like this.
Alison Alexandra is going to meet her mentor for the first time in ten years. Her mentor, Bellissima Isabella, is the couturier who started, and managed, Alison Alexandra’s modelling career when she was a teen.   They are going to meet in front of the Gucci Museum in Florence.

Alison Alexandra assumes they are going to go in and look around but, oh no. Belissima Isabella has nothing but disdain for any other couturier.
I knew that when entering the Gucci Museum was going to be suggested, Belissima Isabella was going to decline, saying it was full of “Gorgeous Gucci Garbage”.

But, what was missing, was an oath of derision, which she might say a few more times as she struts across my stage in There Was A Time, Oh Pilgrim, When the Stones Were Not So Smooth.  

So, I am right at the moment of writing the oath, not a thing in mind, and she comes out with “Emanuel God Cunt”. A philosophic twist. I can live with it.

I finish my writing, come down to the computer, look at odds and ends, one of which is Linkedin. There is a request from a chap for me to add him to my Linkedin Network.  His first name is Emanuel.  

Might I suppose God is chuckling along with me?


Remembering The Battle Of Ortona For Remembrance Day


My father, Byron Caleb Estey, served in the Canadian Army for the entirety of the Second World War. He was 31 when he signed up, and was a decade or more older than most of the soldiers he served with. At the end of the war, he was offered an instant promotion from Corporal to Sergeant Major.

He declined. He had had enough.

He was with the 90th Anti-Tank Battery. He was the member of the crew who calculated the coordinates to aim the gun and destroy targets. He did this up through Sicily and Italy, except for those times when he grabbed his rifle to shoot at soldiers shooting at him.

I imagine I could write pages repeating the anecdotes he told – and maybe some day I will. He didn’t talk all that much about the war, and when he did, I’d guess 80% of his stories were humorous. The other 20% were not.

I regret not discussing his war experiences more with him, but he did not encourage it. I once asked how close he got to the German soldiers. He said, close enough to kill them.

He hated Germans and Japanese all of his life. I understand that this is not the way of most soldiers. They mellow. They come to understand that soldiers on the other side were doing a job, just as they were. My father was not one of these. Those 20% of his stories explained his attitude to me.

He fought in – arguably – the most horrific and bloodiest battle in the war, the Battle of Ortona over Christmas week of 1943. He marched over piles of bodies, and crawled over piles of bodies. Such were the details he would tell. He didn’t speak of his feelings, or use words like “horror”.

On Remembrance Day he would march in the community parade. He rarely lingered for a meal or beer or camaraderie at The Legion. He did not seem affected by the memorial event, and did not talk any more or less about his experiences just because it was 11 November.

Because his tales were more funny than not, I’ll close on what might have been his last funny story.

At his death, the Royal Canadian Legion wanted to conduct a small ceremony at the funeral parlour. They requested that his medals be pinned to his chest. But, the medals could not be found. This was odd, because they were important to him, and he always wore them for the Remembrance Day parade.

It is excessive to say that the whole house was searched – but not by much. Drawers, shelves, boxes, closets, clothes, were repeatedly searched. Nothing. The Last Post was played over a Veteran with no medals.

Months later, when the house was being sold and possessions were being removed, his clothes were searched before being given away. In the side pocket of a jacket he never wore were the medals, all spiff and shiny.

He would have smiled at that.

Dale Estey

[Image] Ortoni 1943×357/151221_ce0h0_rci-m-burning_sn635.jpg

Trump And The USA Walk Into A Bar


~ So, Don – we come to a parting of the ways.

~ You were mine – all mine.

~ Well – no – not really.

~ You loved me – admit it.

~ Only love can break a heart, Don – my heart ain’t broken.

~ I made you great again.

~ That wasn’t necessary, Don.


~What can I say, Don – old hat.

~ As God is my witness!

~ A witness for the prosecution, Don.

~ I’ve left my mark.

~ Yes. So do dogs.

~ I’ll win in the courts.

~ Don – you won’t even win in the Supreme Court.

~ They’re mine – all mine.

~ You’ve got nothing to bargain with, Don.

~ The American people are a disgrace.

~ They’re redeeming themselves, Don.

~ What will they do without me?

~ Have a nice day, Don


Scalloped Potatoes   (There is garlic involved.)

This scalloped potatoes recipe appears in the ‘Potatoes’ recipe of Martha Stewart’s Cooking School. Get this side dish recipe at PBS Food.

Source: Scalloped Potatoes

A True As Death Ghost Story For Halloween Under The Full Moon


Halloween is a night for ghosts. Real ghost, also.

It is the night of Samhain, when the ancestors of the Celts walked the pathways between the living and the dead. The living were not so sure that the Dead might not want to take them back with them.

So, this is a true story for All Hallows’ Eve, although it did not happen on Halloween. 

Indeed, I have incorporated this ghost story into my current writing project, where many of the characvters seem destined to tell ghost stories to pass their time through the COVID pandemic. However, this fictional re-telling is not as kind.

But, in truth, I was visiting the Bay of Fundy island of Grand Manan. I had booked a room in a bed and breakfast and arrived mid-evening. I went elsewhere for a meal, but did meet the owners, and noted there were a couple of others staying there. I returned around eleven, chatted to the owners and one guest, then went up to bed.

The room was top of the stairs and across a landing. Comfortably rustic with a radio. The bed was fine and I was not long getting to sleep. In the dead of the dark (no streetlights here) I was awakened by the touch of hands on me. I was sleeping on my left side. One hand was over my groin and the other on my chest. There was also the weight of a body next to me and the pressure of an arm across my side. I was initially surprised and confused but not frightened.

Time probably stretched but it seems to me I lay like this for ten or fifteen seconds. Then, the very first coherent thought which came to me was that someone laying behind me could not have both arms over my body. There could not be two hands placed on the front of my body. I got out of bed very quickly and did indeed experience fear. I turned on the overhead light but saw nothing. I heard nothing. The temperature was not unusual. I was frightened and certainly uncomfortable, but I can’t say that that aura was present.

I went to the bathroom across the landing. The house was silent. I returned to the bedroom, thinking both of leaving the light on and turning on the radio. But then I thought that that was just giving into fear, and might encourage the fear instead of ease it, so I did neither. I did not seem to take very long to get to sleep. 

The next morning I went downstairs for breakfast. I heard the owner talking to two other guests as I approached the kitchen. Just as I entered she interrupted her conversation and turned to me. She said: “Let’s ask him. He’s the one sleeping in the haunted room.” 

I don’t know if they had been talking about ghosts or if something else had happened in the night. I relayed my experience and the owner then told the story of the house. As with many buildings on the island it had been a farm house, with the owners also fishing. It was a century or more old and left to a daughter. When she herself got old and could not look after it, her family forced her to leave, something she fought against. The present owners then bought the building and started taking in guests. However, whenever they attempted renovations, they were discouraged by having paint cans overturned, new wallpaper peeled from the wall, ladders moved, hammers and such hidden. 

The new owners’ daughter lived next door, and looked after the house when her parents went away (trips to Florida in the winter). She inevitably had to come over to the house and close doors, turn off lights, put furniture back in place. The old woman who was forced to leave had the reputation of being a mean and unpleasant person. I don’t know if she was taking a liking to me or not.


Druids Prepare As The Dead Approach For Sanhain/All Hallows / Halloween


The Celts  learned every celebration has its risks.

The Druids taught them this. The Druids are correct. Samhain is a festival of the harvest; the end of summer; the preparation for the winter to come. Samhain is a juncture. 

As they all know, junctures lead to sundry places. There is both the leaving, and the coming. A time of disquiet. A time of danger for those unprepared.

It holds the magic and the power of midnight.

Midnight is a powerful time because it is the juncture of two days.

Midnight of Samhain thus holds double the power. It can not be avoided. It must be met with all the power mortal man can muster. It must not be met alone.

On the Eve of Samhain, the border between Life and the OtherWorld is breached. A door swings invitingly open, but it is not inviting those who live. It is inviting  those who have died. The Dead who still miss their lives. The long Dead who still are curious. The distant Dead who get a whiff of fresh air, and have their memories stirred.

So the Dead approach.

The Dead approach. The living must prepare to meet them, just as they prepare for the vicissitudes of winter. The same threatened cold holds sway over both. The living assemble the treats and threats that will assuage the longings of the Dead.

Because the living have a healthy fear of death, they equally wish to avoid the Dead. The Dead can prove to be envious, and attempt to relieve the living of their lives. Lanterns from the earth are hollowed out of turnips. Their light will guide the dead to safer places (safer for the living). Candles will shine through carved faces. Some faces are friendly and welcoming. Some are ugly and fierce, to give aggressive Dead a pause.

There will also be treats to entice the Dead – apples and pastries and savouries and some roasted game fresh from the bonfires. There will be ale and other spirits to keep the Spirits at bay. The living will wear costumes and masks to disguise themselves from those Dead who might wish their company to be more permanent.

They will remove the masks if the Spirits are friendly.

They will dance and sing and raise a right ruckus to entertain the Dead.

The boneyard is on the outskirts of town. 

Revellers approach with noise and caution.

A bonfire is set.

The moon hangs from the trees.

The gated fence stands closed and latched.

The living pause and watch. And listen.

Is it the wind, or do the hinges scrape the stone?


A Haunted House Of Ghosts Ripe For Halloween


Samhain/Halloween is the night of Death and Ghosts. Ghosts to fear and ghosts to help along their way to the Otherworld. But not all ghosts are troubled and fearful. There is nothing wrong with being dead if one is content.

This excerpt is from my non-spooky novel, where a man goes looking for a new place to live. He comes across many houses on his quest. Many.

Based – as they say – on a real incident.

From: He Lives In The City/He Drives To The Country

  It had been a house of dreams, it was now a house of ghosts.

   Ghosts tranquil and benign peered through the dusty upper windows, stood in wait behind the boarded doors. The dreams of long ago, which had tumbled down the stairs, and frolicked through the rooms, were now memories in the minds of ghosts.     

   The ghosts were themselves memories, destined to further fade with each new birth. But there would be no births in this house, as it slid inexorably toward decay. The lackluster brown shingles would be more smudged, the remaining panes of old glass would break, the floors would warp and collapse, the unkept roof would succumb to the years of harsh weather. 

     Even the `No Trespass’ sign was barely legible. Then where would the ghosts go?

     Blaine left his car and walked toward the house. 

     If he had eyes to see, who would be there to greet him?  Would children’s dreams, fair-haired and boisterous, burst through the front door and surround him in games of tag and laughter?  Would he get caught by their enthusiasm (would he become a child himself), and race behind the trees, burrow into the hay, hide between the bins of potato and turnip, intent not to be `it’. 

     Or would he meet the ghosts, quiet and tentative at the top of the steps, moving slowly with their uncertain smiles. Would they greet him with a wave, invite him into their warm-smelling kitchens, offer him fresh tea, and squares right out of the pan?  Would he sit in the stream of fall sunlight flowing across the well-oiled floor, and talk about childhood?

     Blaine walked part way up the drive before he stopped.

     He knew what lay beyond the boarded windows, and the sagging door upon its rusty hinges. Wallpaper would be water-stained, and curling off the plaster walls. There would be lumps of refuse in the corners of the rooms, with one inevitable rusty bedframe lying on its side. There would be gaps in the ceiling, where beams of sunlight shimmered through motes of dust. There would be holes in the baseboards, where earnest rodents made comfortable homes.

     There would be musty smells offering a hint of long-ago meals, and something gone bad in the pantry. There would be one upper window (at the back) which still had a tattered lace  curtain, half obscuring what had once been totally private. At night he would hear bats.

     It was not this house he had come to see, of course. Of course, not this derelict house, which he knew could never be restored, and which was so beyond help even death slept while visiting.


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