Darlene Foster's Blog

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House on The Edge by Darlene Foster

The old house on the edge of the farm has been empty for many years. Some say it is haunted; others say it is cursed. The wooden door is locked. Keeping its stories inside.

***

When city folk Jim and Alice bought the farm, they fixed up the cabin for their hired help to live in. They placed an ad in the local paper seeking someone who enjoyed working with horses. Gladys, a strong, buxom, mature woman was the first person to respond. They proudly showed her the spotless house with the smell of fresh paint and the glow of polished linoleum. Gladys took the job and moved in the next day with her seven cats. They enjoyed the run of the farm. The cats were not too popular with Alice, however, when they jumped up on the picnic table and ate the cream cheese dip she had put out for her croquet party guests. Gladys was warned to keep the cats in the cabin. She was good with the animals but had her own ideas about how to do things. After several disagreements with Jim, she packed her meagre belongings and left a note tacked to the barn door with a forwarding address to send her last cheque.

It appeared Gladys was unfamiliar with the concept of a litter box. Alice scrubbed the floors thoroughly and left the doors and windows open for days to get rid of the acrid smell of cat pee. She believed she could still smell it years later.

The next ad included “No pets allowed”. A university student with a love of horses became the next resident. She was young and eager and did a good job. Her light could be seen on late into the night, studying. Occasionally a young man spent the night. Jim and Alice didn’t mind. Better than cats! One day she told them she was moving into town with her boyfriend.

The house was much easier to clean up this time although there was candle wax on the floor. Alice shuddered at the thought of candles burning in a wooden building.

Against Alice’s advice, Jim hired a writer with a bushy beard. She just didn’t trust men with bushy beards. He slept until noon every day and only did the very basics of the job. Days went by without fresh food and water for the animals. He was soon asked to leave. They took two truckloads of empty wine and liquor bottles to the recycling store. Alice didn’t say anything but had that “I told you so” look on her face.

Two women in cowboy hats, big belt buckles and fancy boots seemed interesting enough to be hired. Jo and Jean had been in the rodeo circuit for a time and knew a lot about horses. They had great stories to tell and would sit around the picnic table with Jim and Alice sharing a cup of tea and reminiscing. One day Jo approached the house in tears; Jean had left in the middle of the night. Jo said she didn’t know how she could go on without the love of her life. Alice had never seen anyone so upset. She made her a cup of tea and tried to calm her down. Two days later Alice had to call the paramedics when Jo attempted suicide. Alice and Jim hired someone to clean up the blood.

A couple in their forties showed up with the job posting in hand. The meek wife made no eye contact and let her husband do all the talking. He seemed capable. Jim liked him.

Alice had a funny feeling and said, “She looks like a battered wife.”

Jim said,” You watch too much Oprah.”

Things went well. The chores got done and the couple kept to themselves. Jim decided this was the best they had ever had. Perhaps Alice should admit she was wrong.

One peaceful, sunny day while washing the dishes, Alice looked out the kitchen window and thought she saw someone hiding behind the big apple tree. Sure enough, it was a man – with a gun. Alice tensed. There was another man behind the car shed who put a megaphone to his mouth.

“This is the police, come out with your hands raised and no one will get hurt.”

The husband emerged from behind the barn and ran toward his truck. Both police officers were on him in an instant. Alice never imagined she would witness an arrest in her backyard.

The police officers explained they had had an anonymous call to the farm. The husband was known to them and had two previous charges of assault. After they took him away, Alice knocked on the door to the cabin. When no one answered she opened the door and went inside. The wife sat on the couch sobbing, while holding her head and rocking back and forth. Alice offered to call an ambulance but the woman insisted she was all right and that her sister would be there soon to pick her up. Alice couldn’t stop shaking for days.

A cast of thousands paraded in and out of that old house over the years.

Eventually, Jim and Alice agreed to sell up and retire. Except for a few items left behind, the building has stood empty ever since.

***

A chipped bookcase leans against one wall holding up dusty paperbacks, left by someone who could not bear to throw out a book. A beaten-up trunk remains in a dark corner, one item too many to be allowed on the next journey. A moth-eaten blanket, an assortment of old newspapers and a cowboy belt wait in vain. A rusty wrought iron headboard covered in spider webs holds secrets of amorous nights and lonely days, extreme happiness and deep sorrow. A poster of Edward Munch’s “The Scream” hangs on a wall where it surveys the scene with wide-eyed wonder, and silently shrieks.

On windy, rainy nights, some say you can hear sobbing. Others say they hear a hideous laugh. Children say the house is haunted. But don’t children always say that?

This story is my entry in the https://nofacilities.com/thursday-doors-writing-challenge-2023/

There is still time to enter.

Copyright ©2023 darlenefoster.wordpress.com – All rights reserved.

I’ve been away from my blog for the last couple of weeks as I was busy entertaining a special visitor from Canada. My cousin and I had spoken of her coming for a visit for quite some time and I’m so glad it all worked out. As you know, I love showing folks around my corner of Spain. We took in some sites, chatted, ate, chatted, relaxed by the pool, reminisced, read and chatted some more. She loved the area and the relaxed lifestyle. Here are a few of the many pictures we took.

We walked on the beach near our home most mornings.

And enjoyed a refreshment at our favourite coffee bar.

Reading on my patio and playing with the dogs

And relaxing at the pool.

We took a day trip by bus to the beautiful city of Alicante

With streets lined with blooming jacaranda trees!

We popped in to see the Museu de Fogueres d’alacant, a collection of effigies that managed to escape the flames of Fogueres de Sant Juan Bonfires, where we were dwarfed by these huge figures.

Castillo de Santa Bárbara in the background.

And had lunch at the stunning harbour with the Santa Barbara Castle overlooking it. Since her mother was my dear Aunt Barbara, we called it her mom’s castle!

And we found some delicious gelato for dessert.

We took a drive to Cartagena where my Canada bag got noticed by tourists from Calgary.

And my cousin met a sailor on leave in this port city.

Then we took a train to the fascinating city of Valencia.

Valencia is such a pretty city with fabulous architecture.

It is the home of paella so of course we had to have some.

My guest even took the time to read my latest book. Some of the memories are hers as well.

We had so much fun. I’m so glad she came for a visit!

I’ll elaborate on some of our trips in the next few posts. This was just a taste.

Copyright ©2023 darlenefoster.wordpress.com – All rights reserved.

A thoughtful review of my collection of short stories from Sally Cronin.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Delighted to share my review for the latest release by Darlene Foster...a memoir….You Can Take The Girl From The Prairie: Stories about growing up on the Canadian prairies

About the book

A collection of short stories inspired by growing up on a prairie farm in the fifties and sixties. Some of the stories are humorous and others sad, but all heartfelt. Stories about family life, cowboy wisdom, immigrant grandmothers, an inspiring teacher, and the arrival of a new sibling are part of this collection of tales from another time and another place. Proof that you can take the girl from the prairie but you can’t take the prairie from the girl.

My review for the book May 20th 2023

Living history is so important to pass on to the next generations, and this delightful collection of stories set in the 1950s and 1960s, highlight not just the differences…

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Please pop over to Laura Best’s blog to read my interview with her where I talk about my latest book, You Can Take The Girl From the Prairie. Laura is a fellow Canadian author who has written some awesome books. We come from opposite sides of the country but have much in common.

Laura Best

Today, it is my extreme pleasure to welcome Darlene Foster to my blog. Darlene has graciously agreed to answer some of my questions about her newest book, fresh off the press. For those of you who are not familiar with Darlene or her work, here’s a bit about her.

Darlene Foster grew up on a farm/ranch in Alberta, Canada, where her love of reading inspired her to see the world and write stories. She is the author of the exciting Amanda Travels seriesfeaturing spunky Amanda Ross, a twelve-year-old girl who loves to travel. All ages enjoy following Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another in unique destinations.When not travelling, meeting interesting people, and collecting ideas for her books, Darlene enjoys spending time with her family and friends in Canada and at her house in Spain with her husband and entertaining rescue dogs, Dot and Lia.

  1. Could you tell us…

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Sally Cronin is featuring my recent book today on her blog. She’s also included a wonderful five-star review by Joan Hall. Sally’s blog is a smorgasbord of great information about books, writers, music, food, health and other interesting, facts, including some great jokes. Please check it out.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Delighted to share the news of the latest release by Darlene Foster...a memoir….You Can Take The Girl From The Prairie: Stories about growing up on the Canadian prairies

About the book

A collection of short stories inspired by growing up on a prairie farm in the fifties and sixties. Some of the stories are humorous and others sad, but all heartfelt. Stories about family life, cowboy wisdom, immigrant grandmothers, an inspiring teacher, and the arrival of a new sibling are part of this collection of tales from another time and another place. Proof that you can take the girl from the prairie but you can’t take the prairie from the girl.

One of the early reviews for the book

Joan H 5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Collection of Stories  Reviewed in the United States on May 2, 2023

Oh. My. Stars. I can’t say enough…

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Welcome to Thursday Doors! This is a weekly challenge for people who love doors and architecture to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos, drawings, or other images or stories from around the world. If you’d like to join us, simply create your own Thursday Doors post each (or any) week and then share a link to your post in the comments, anytime between 12:01 am Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time). The link to join is here.

I spent a week in Taos, New Mexico a few years ago and found many unique doors. I decided to share a few of them for Dan Antion’s Thursday Doors this week.

A wooden carved door found in an artist’s house.

A door in the Hotel La Fonda leading into the DH Lawrence painting display

A door to a cantina.

The front door to the San Francisco de Asis church

The door to a hall on the church grounds.

An interesting shaped door in Mable Dodge Luhan’s house.

A door to a building on the grounds of Mable Dodge Luhan’s property

I loved the blue doors of the Taos Pueblo

Some of these doors made it into Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind. New Mexico is a fascinating state and I’m so glad I was able to visit it.

Dan is also featuring The Thursday Doors Writing Challenge (TDWC). Visit this page – Pick a door that inspires you – Write something, anything – Post it to your blog – Leave a link to your post in a comment on the TDWC page. If you don’t feel like writing, visit the page and see the wonderful things that have been written. Should be fun!

Copyright ©2023 darlenefoster.wordpress.com – All rights reserved.

I am so glad I joined the cookbook challenge this year. The month of April featured The Moosewood Cookbook, any version. My choice was from a well-used copy of New Recipes from Moosewood Restaurant, one of my favourite cookbooks. Check out Bernadette’s site for some of the other recipes for April. There were so many great recipes featured this month. You won’t be disappointed.

For the challenge, I decided to bake Pineapple-Cornmeal Muffins as they are very popular in our house and always a hit with guests. A quick and easy recipe if you find out someone is popping over for tea at the last minute. And not overly sweet!

Pineapple-Cornmeal Muffins

1 cup whole wheat flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

¾ teaspoon salt

¾ cup yellow cornmeal

2 eggs

¼ cup vegetable oil or melted butter

½ cup drained, crushed pineapple

1 cup pineapple juice and/or milk

2 tablespoons raspberry jam or raspberry butter

Preheat oven to 425 F

Generously butter a 12-cup muffin tin

In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix the dry ingredients. In a smaller bowl lightly beat the eggs. Stir in the oil or butter, crushed pineapple, and pineapple juice and/or milk, and add to the dry ingredients all at once, stirring until just barely mixed. Spoon the batter into the muffin tin. Put about ½ teaspoon of jam on top of each muffin. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the muffin comes out clean.

Note: I often use mini muffin tins which make 24, and reduce the baking time by a few minutes. 

My 5-star review of this cookbook

I love, love this cookbook. There is not a boring recipe in it. Even my non-vegetarian guests enjoy the dishes I make from this cookbook. Recipes like Hungarian Stuffed Peppers, Buddha’s Jewels, Zucchini Feta Casserole, and West African Groundnut Stew. There is a great collection of pasta dishes, delightful salads and sauces as well as breads and desserts to die for. There is really something for everyone. To add to the enjoyment the cookbook has charming pictures of people enjoying a meal interspersed among the recipes. A cookbook to savour and a perfect gift for a bride or anyone who likes to cook and needs new ideas. 

Read more here:

At long last, I’ve published a book of creative nonfiction short stories based on growing up on the Canadian prairies. This is a collection of stories I’ve written over the years. Some have been included in other anthologies, some have won prizes, and some are fairly new. I thought it would be good to have them all in one book. This has been my first attempt at self-publishing. It has been a huge learning curve but I’ve had help from some of my wonderful blogging buddies. What a super supportive community this is.

The book is ready for pre-order on Amazon as an e-book https://www.amazon.com/You-Can-Take-Girl-Prairie-ebook/dp/B0C399MHZP/ and will be available soon in paperback. The publication date is set for May 1st.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0C2S7MHWK?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860
https://www.amazon.com/You-Can-Take-Girl-Prairie-ebook/dp/B0C399MHZP/

If you happen to read this book, I would appreciate a short review.

Thanks to everyone who helped make this happen!

Copyright ©2023 darlenefoster.wordpress.com – All rights reserved.

Such wonderful news to wake up to! Thanks so much, Jennie Fitzkee for making this happen. Having my books in libraries is a huge dream come true.

A Teacher's Reflections

Thursday is my Read-Aloud day at the Groton Public Library.  When I arrived, the head children’s librarian was beside herself.

“Jennie!  Jennie!  The Amanda books are here!”

And then she showed me all the books.  Wow!  Nine books.

Of course we had to have our picture taken with all the books.


Thank you to the Groton Public Library for carrying the Amanda books.  Thank you, Darlene Foster, for authoring such an exciting series of books for children.  Adventure is always a big draw for children’s books; yet when history, geography, friendship, and conflict are included…well, it doesn’t get better than that.  Nancy Drew, move over!

Jennie

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I am joining Dan Antion over at https://nofacilities.com/ where he runs a series called Thursday Doors.

Welcome to Thursday Doors! This is a weekly challenge for people who love doors and architecture to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos, drawings, or other images or stories from around the world. If you’d like to join us, simply create your own Thursday Doors post each (or any) week and then share a link to your post in the comments below, anytime between 12:01 am Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern time).

My last post featured some pictures of my trip to the United Arab Emirates that inspired my first published book, Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask. I included a picture of a door, which made me think I should do a Thursday Doors post of some of the interesting doors I found on that trip. So here you are:

The door to the Museum of Ras Al Khaimah

An interesting door inside the museum walls

The door of a deserted house found in an abandoned village

The door of the oldest mosque in the UAE, from 1410!

Ancient stone huts found in the mountains

A colourful door on a walled residence in the desert.

A door to a courtyard

At the Sharjah Sook

Some of these doors found their way into the book!

Copyright ©2023 darlenefoster.wordpress.com – All rights reserved.

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© Darlene Foster and darlenefoster.wordpress.com, 2023. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Darlene Foster and darlenefoster.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.