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Survivors Share a Brotherhood

Posted by Val Fox on April 22, 2014 at 2:10 AM Comments comments (1)

Today's post features a brief, yet poignant story of an encounter between two men in a store. Many thanks to writer Rick Turton from the writer's group Writers, Poets and Deviants (WPaD.) for sharing this heart-warming story. Those who are meant to read it will find it.


Turton writes:

The other day I was sitting in Costco waiting for my family to arrive. I saw an older gentleman wearing a black baseball cap that had embroidered on it, "World War 11, Korea and Viet Nam Veteran.

"Being a Viet Nam Vet myself, I struck up a conversation with him. Wow! I said. That's a pretty impressive hat!"

He replies (with no small amount of pride) "I signed on in Oakland in 1943 as a Marine. I was at Guadalcanal, The Phillipines and finally in occupied Japan. I spent 18 months in Korea and did two tours of Viet Nam. I was a Drill Sergeant at Perris Island. Finally got out after 30 years."

We played the Where-were-you-stationed game for a while and he said, "You know, the Marines are a close-knit group. You'll run across your friends several times during your time in. I made some life-long friends in World War 11 that I met in Korea too. Buried most of them in Viet Nam though.

"Spent a lot of time trying to figure out why I survived. Finally got the answer when I found out my wife of 30 years had cancer. My job was to take care of her. She died last spring."

With that thousand-yard stare he paused, eyes welling up a bit, remembering.

"Like everything else," he said, "I saw it through to the end."

                         Survivors : The Letter "S"



tags: honour our veterans; veterans served overseas; one soldier's reason to live; survivors of war; inspiration from two veterans; three-war veteran shares how he survived; Viet Nam Vet tells of an encounter worth writing about;                                        

Mares Pamper & Protect

Posted by Val Fox on April 18, 2014 at 6:30 PM Comments comments (0)


  Mom patiently protects her precious foal, born April 18, 2014


I peered into the pasture and watched this new foal play and pirouette in circles, practicing how to prance. Baby was also born April 18, 2014.

                                         The Letter "P"

tags: spring colts; new life; this morning's surprise; new foals;


Nicholas Winton's Secret

Posted by Val Fox on April 17, 2014 at 4:00 PM Comments comments (0)

The film, Nicky's Story is a 2013 Czech documentary directed by Matej Minac that recounts a story that began in 1938 Czechoslovakia.

The following quotes from the film tell their own story - one of savagery and loss, of courage and humility. The man was Sir Nicholas Winton. The children from Prague were put on a train, never to see their families again.

You could feel the danger getting closer and closer.

                  What made a 29-year-old Englishman do such a thing?


                     Photo Credit: oliver bloom photos via Compfight cc


               I was moved to at least try to save the children.

Winton was a London stockbroker, single and with the means to enjoy a comfortable life. When a friend cancelled their ski trip, Nicholas (Nicky) joined him in Prague, Czechoslovakia. He felt the tension, saw the fear in people's eyes as German soldiers made their presence known. In some neighborhoods people were being separated with jewish people among the first to be loaded onto large trucks.

A woman came to see Nicky at his hotel room when she learned he was British. She implored him to help her get her child out of the country before something terrible happened. Nicky felt compelled to help her, and as word spread, young Nicholas Winton became inundated by worried parents asking for help in getting their children out. He would try.

Nicky wrote letters to anyone who would listen, even presidents and kings. No one wanted to risk conflict with Hitler so only one country agreed to help. England. He started a list of every child in need and refused to give up even when fronted by beaurocracy. He had to figure out how to get the children out of Czechoslovakia; how to expedite the process of getting them into England; he needed to find the money to make this plan a reality, and he needed to find families that would care for the children until the crisis ended.

"We'll have to let them go."                 "We can't come with you."

All along the platform there were mothers clinging to their crying children, promising they would be together soon, knowing the kind of danger they were in. Hands tore apart when the train jerked then picked up speed. It was a long journey. They did not understand the sacrifice their parents made as the tanks rolled into Prague behind them and Hitler shouted out to the crowd.

They did not know their lives would be forever changed by a stranger's act of kindness. One man sent out a ripple that no one could have predicted. He is now 104 years old.

                     "I was three years old. Nobody came."

      "I was left sitting there."                  "You shall be loved."

                 "The poorer they were, the kinder they were."

"The last letter from my father came in 1942. He said they were packing up to go somewhere."

 "We heard about the work camps and hoped our families were okay."

                "Then the letters stopped."

                                "We had to keep living to overcome the past."

"When you're young you take everything, including survival, for granted."

"                                       "We're the same."

                                 The letter "N."  Sir Nicholas Winton

Thanks for stopping by and spending a few minutes today. If you'd like to learn more about this remarkable story, the following links will help. 

You can find the video, "Nicky's Story" on Netflix, or you can rent or purchase it from Amazon.



tags: the holocaust; death camps; Hitler invades; Nazi Germany; Kindertransport; inspiring story; the man who saved Jewish children from Prague; a 50-year secret; survivors reunited; Winton knighted by HRH Queen Elisabeth;  


Meadowlark Melodies Return

Posted by Val Fox on April 17, 2014 at 2:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Each year the Western Meadowlarks return to this part of Alberta to find mates and nest. Their sweet melodies blend with the April sun as Spring warms the earth. New life once again joins the meadowlarks in a cacophany of sound.

                                               Creative Commons

Three years ago as I listened to the meadowlarks (members of the blackbird family) announce their arrival I noticed that they do not sound all the same; rather, each has it's own distinct call along with other assorted soft, cackling noises.

I focused on one specific song and eventually discovered the male meadowlark sitting on a fence post. I recorded him before he settled for the evening. He has returned to our fields each year, defending a territory with song. I've watched him pick through the grass with his long, pointed beak, then freeze-and-duck when sensing one of our dogs. Back feathers blend into the surrounding grass, hiding his bright yellow chest.

Western Meadowlarks (Sturnella neglecta) nest on the prairie ground, out in the open. They feed on insects, berries and seeds. Their nests can be difficult to find when covered with a woven grass roof. Females lay up to seven eggs, incubate them for two weeks and the young are ready to fly at about six weeks later.

Western Meadowlarks leave the Southern Alberta prairie near the end of August, returning to wintering grounds that extend almost down to Mexico.

For now, I'll treasure each song and it's promise of new life. The Circle will continue for another year and it's joy more complete with the songs of the Western Meadowlark.

Bloggers from around the globe are participating in the April 2014 A-to-Z Challenge; posts follow the letters of the English Alphabet each day in April except Sundays. The following link will provide readers with more information.

Thanks for stopping by! My next post will feature the letter "N."

Tags: prairie birds; birds of North America; Southern Alberta prairie; grassland birds; prairie wildlife 

Gifts of Inspiration

Posted by Val Fox on April 11, 2014 at 1:05 AM Comments comments (0)

The following short video brings you the gift of music and inspiration as we continue our journey through the April 2014 A-to-Z Challenge. This post features the letter "I" for Inspiration, and it's 6-minute message will leave you with a smile. Thanks for coming, and welcome to this site's newest members.



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tags: Life Vest Inside video; showing kindness to others; passing it forward; helping one another; making a difference in someone's day; it only takes a minute; show you care; 

Practice Gratitude Today

Posted by Val Fox on April 9, 2014 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (0)


Today I am reminded that practicing an attitude of gratitude reduces stress, invites more love into our lives and can change a challenging day into one of thoughtful purpose.

Our family lost a sister in January, another sister in February (both sudden) and in March we learned a third sister was moved into palliative care due to advanced cancer.

I heard the following words at a 1981 convention in Seattle. I never forgot them and hope you enjoy their comfort as much as I have over the years.
Gratitude really makes a difference.

                          The World is Mine

Today upon a bus, I saw a girl with golden hair.
I envied her, she seemed so gay, and wished I was so fair.
When suddenly she rose to leave, I saw her hobble down the isle.
She had one leg and wore a crutch,
and as she passed, a smile.

Oh God, forgive me when I whine.
I have two legs, the world is mine.

I stopped to buy some candy. The lad who sold it had such charm.
I talked with him, he seemed so glad.
If I were late, it'd do no harm.
And as I left he said to me, "I thank you. You've been so kind.
It's nice to talk with folks like you. You see," he said, "I'm blind."

Oh God, forgive me when I whine.
I have two eyes, the world is mine.

Later while walking down the street
I saw a child with eyes of blue.
He stood and watched the others play.
It seemed he did not know what to do.
I stopped a moment and then I said,
"Why don't you join the others, dear?"
He looked ahead without a word. And then I knew
he could not hear.

Oh God, forgive me when I whine.
I have two ears, the world is mine.

With feet to take me where I'd go,
With eyes to see the sunset's glow,
With ears to hear what I would know

Oh God, forgive me when I whine,
I'm blessed indeed, the world is mine.

                      -Red Foley

Today's post featured the letter "G" as we continued with the April 2014 A-Z Challenge where bloggers from around the globe post each day and feature something related to a letter from the English alphabet. The link below provides more information on this annual blog hop; it's not too late to join us. There are 2181 participants so far!

You can expect another post later today that will feature the letter "F." Thanks for visiting and have a great day, friends.

tags: gratitude; when we experience hard times; loss of loved ones; sorrow; coping with tragedy 

Expectations Increase Disappointment

Posted by Val Fox on April 6, 2014 at 4:30 PM Comments comments (1)

Today's post features the letter "E" for Expectations. I heard it said once that our peace of mind is in direct response to our expectations of others. I have found this to be true in my life. Expectations of others can disappoint, frustrate and be a setup for resentment. Letting go of expectations of outcomes can free us and others to be real, reducing the pressure to perform a certain way.

The following quotes are thought-provoking views about our Expectations. Enjoy.




Thanks for visiting today, friends. Tomorrow's post will feature the letter "F" as we continue the April A to Z Challenge.  If you'd like to learn more about this blog hop just click on the link below to learn more.

Have a great day!

tags: 12 step recovery; ending disappointment in others; practicing acceptance; freedom from anger; increase your enjoyment of life;

Reclusive and Mysterious Species

Posted by Val Fox on April 1, 2014 at 6:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Welcome to the April 2014 A to Z blog hop where bloggers gain exposure, followers and new connections. Participants will feature a short post each day in April (except Sundays) with a topic that somehow relates to the letters in the English alphabet.  Today's post features the letter A and one of Earth's most reclusive inhabitants.

The Annamite Striped Rabbit was discovered in 1995 in the northern and central Annamite mountains on the Vietnam/Laos border.


Very little is known about this ground-hugging herbivore that lives in the tropical rainforest, hiding by day, feasting by night. What distinguishes it from other rabbit species are seven dark stripes and the short ears and legs.

Since research is scarce, we don't yet know much about its breeding habits, range or how it communicates. But there is one thing we can see clearly: the main threats to this small creature are hunters and their dogs. We can also assume it is threatened with loss of habitat due to agriculture and logging.

There has only been a single, live Annamite Striped Rabbit ever photographed in its natural habitat. Since the night photo is not clear, I've included the above illustration that most closely shows off this little guy's best features.

There are no current plans by either governments to conserve or protect this reclusive inhabitant of our Earth.

If you'd like to join us for the A to Z challenge, click on the following link and get on the list. We will visit as many sites as possible during April so sign up and jump in. At last count there were 1622 participants and the list was growing by the day.

I'll return tomorrow to feature the letter B and more of our Earth's inhabitants. Thanks for visiting!


tags: rare species; threatened species; recently discovered species; reclusive mammals

Inspiration Is Everywhere

Posted by Val Fox on February 24, 2014 at 4:50 PM Comments comments (0)


There are thousands of sites on the internet that offer inspiration in a variety of forms such as: the arts; sciences and research; people in action and how-to articles. History offers up thousands of heroes and survivors, villains and saints. Here are three of Earth's inhabitants; each has a story that inspires hope in humanity. They inspire me to to share my good fortune with others, and I'm sure they will inspire you.

Twenty-year-old Shane Burkaw has spinal muscular atrophy, a degenerative disease that will gradually destroy his ability to move, to talk, to even breath. He knows he will die and has expressed his fear.



In spite of the looming threat to his life, Shane still has the wisdom of a man much older. He reminds us that no matter our circumstances, we all have control over our thoughts and our dreams. Shane Burkaw says he's learning to "accept realities as they come." What a privilege it is to listen to him speak.  These two links will provide more information and videos of this remarkable individual.

Award-winning Lydia Cacho Ribeiro is a Mexican journalist and human rights activist. Described by some as "Mexico's most famous investigative journalist and women's rights advocate,"


                             Source: Wikipedia

Cacho's reporting focuses on violence and sexual abuse of women and children. She once exposed a pedophelia ring involving high-profile businessman.  A recorded conversation that emerged implied that a plot was planned to beat and sexually assault her in retaliation for her stories. You can learn more about this courageous writer at:

Tom Wyncoop, a pizza shop owner in Pennsylvania is one man that puts good intention into action.


                                Courtesy of:

When the weather gets bad he will deliver essential provisions and medications to housebound individuals that include those with respiratory difficulties. Thanks, Tom, for making a difference and inspiring others to give back.  Reader can read more of Billy Hallowell's story about Tom Wyncoop at:

Each day millions of people choose to make a difference to some of Earth's other inhabitants. Future posts will feature more of these inspiring individuals. Let's allow their works and efforts to push us out of ourselves and closer to the rest of the world.

The following writer understood that each connection affects the next; we are all part of the circle.


                                       John Muir: Pinterest

      "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to                                        everything else in the universe."

 - John Muir, Founder of the Sierra Club and protecter of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

'Till next time, stay safe, friends. Thanks to those who have recently joined this site and to those who continue to visit. I look forward to your stories, your comments and your contact.

Tags: Inspiration people; volunteer; caring for others; reaching out; stories that inspire; other kinds of warriors; find joy in giving; acceptance 



Priorities and Procrastination

Posted by Val Fox on January 17, 2014 at 12:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Happy New Year, everyone.  I hope you all had a safe New Year.

I was reminded of an important lesson on January 1st , about taking our loved ones for granted; about demonstrating our love with actions, not just good intentions.  I learned a lesson about procrastination and priorities.

My sister-in-law, Helen, died on January 1st.  She'd just returned from lunch and sat down to relax.  That's where they found her.


I'd been planning to go see her during Christmas but I let other things sidetrack me.  In fact,  many times during the past year I'd been planning to spend time with her.  She only lived 15 minutes away.  But, I let other things distract me.

Maybe this weekend, I'd tell myself.  The weekend would arrive when suddenly, weeding the potato patch and getting that hose out to water the horses would demand my attention.


And don't forget the dirty dishes that need to be washed and - oh yeah, I'd better put those clothes in the dryer.  I forgot about that.  Is that my phone?  Where the heck is my phone? Gee, I do this all the time.  Leave my phone somewhere and then I can't find it.

Okay, where was I.  Umm... gee this floor is dirty.  The dogs track in a lot of dirt, not to mention those kids wearing their boots right into the kitchen, then into the carpeted living room.  Wow, that's a really good song.  I wonder who sings it.  

Now, what was I doing.  Gee those plants look dry.  I'd better water them. Look out, Sofie-girl.  I need to get the water pitcher.  I'd better make a list.  I should go into town later and pick up some groceries  We need milk, fruit, bread for lunches and toilet paper.  The snow is melting today.  Need to open some windows. Wow, look at the bison running around in circles.  Where's my camera. 

I'll go tomorrow.

But, what if tomorrow doesn't come?

Dr. Helen Many Fingers

When she was younger, Helen  was given the responsibility of the Miisaamahkoyinimaan (Long Time Medicine) Bundle.  She'd been an artist and a gifted seamstress.  When her children were grown she returned to school and became a teacher, then counselor for First Nations students.  For many years Helen attended every convocation, cheering on the Native graduates, even from her wheel chair.

Helen received an honorary Doctorate degree, the Order of Canada, and the Jubilee Medallion.  She served as Tribal Counselor, and was the Elder Patron of the Kainai Chieftainship.  Her deep faith sustained her.  Her gentle, loving nature shined upon all who got close to her.


Love is not meant to be hoarded or kept close like a good card hand.  Share it.  Reach out. Don't wait.  Time is short.  This lesson reminded me to reach out to those I love now, not later.  Helen inspired me to do everything in loving spirit, with hard work and determination. Her children and grandchildren looked up to her for loving guidance and example.

It is taught by the Blackfoot people not to cry for long, for to do so keeps the spirit of the deceased bound to this earth; rather, honour the person and let them pass on, keeping the stories and lessons alive for others.

Thank you, Helen.  Peace Be With You.  Here is a photo of our beautiful Rocky Mountains to the west.  Sorry for the power line. 


 Photos: © Val Fox

Tags: gratitude; loss of a loved one; southern Alberta photos; life lessons; remembering loved ones; honouring loved ones; bereavement; putting love into action; First Nations elders; Native role models

Inspiration Is Everywhere

Posted by Val Fox on November 29, 2013 at 10:35 PM Comments comments (0)

A recent online search for inspiration led me to some of earth's inhabitants worth mentioning. You may have already heard of them or read about them in the news.  They've each made a difference in the lives of others, and they each carry an important  message.  This blog is to acknowlege their courage and inspiration, and to say Thank You for making a difference. 


Mary Grace Henry 16, of Harrison, New York founded a not-for-profit foundation that helps fund the education of girls in Third World countries, through the sales of handmade hair accessories.  You can learn more about Reverse The Course at

Kriti Bharti is a 26-year-old child rights activist in India who has helped annul 150 child marriages, despite numerous death threats.  Kriti made international headlines when she helped 18-year-old Laxmi Sargara become the first woman in India to annul her child marriage, which has given courage to other child brides to challenge this practice.  You can read more about Kriti at


Chesley B. Sullenberger landed a passenger jet on the Hudson River in January 2009 after the plane hit a flock of birds and needed to make an emergency landing. This seasoned pilot saved 155 people and he made sure he was the last one off the plane. He wrote a book called Highest Duty: My Search For What Really Matters.  You can learn more at


Leymah Gbowee, a Nobel Peace Laureate brought Liberia's women together as they led a nation to peace.  As a young mother trapped in a nightmare of domestic abuse, she found the courage to turn her pain into action.  She wrote the book Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer And Sex Changed A Nation At War.  Her talk, The Power of Women drew tears and two standing ovations at the Sydney Opera House.

Coal was rescued as a pup in Kentucky following a drug raid and  was soon adopted into a new home.  This pit bull earned his Canine Good Citizen certification in 2009 and in 2010 he was certified as a therapy dog with Love On A Leash: Healing Paws Indianapolis Chapter. Coal and his handler participate in the program Welcome Home Dogs where Coal provides comfort to soldiers returning home from deployment.  Soldiers are unable to see their families until they complete a four-day demobilization process.  Coal is also a search and rescue dog with Indiana K9 Search and Recovery.   You can learn more at

In our ever-changing and often frightening world there are still champions shining their light.  Many carry loud messages for all to hear; others quietly yet faithfully do their part to help Earth and Its Inhabitants. Do you know a champion that makes a difference in the world?  Let us know!  We'd love to hear about them.

Thanks for visiting.  Have a safe weekend.


tags: heroes; inspirational people; animal heroes; causes; humanitarian; human rights; womens rights; good news; positive news        

Research Chimps Retire

Posted by Val Fox on May 4, 2013 at 6:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Biomedical research animals have helped scientists develop improved products, everything from medicines that save lives to the cosmetics and shampoos we are taught to think we need. They live in unnatural conditions, often caged their entire lives in a laboratory until their usefulness ends.

The fate of more than 400 medical-research chimpanzees owned or supported by the United States government is being decided.  Controversy exists between those who think the scientific value justifies the use of chimps for research, and those who believe we should find other methods of medical testing.

This subject was recently examined in a film called From Research To Rescue, which aired on CNN on April 22, and writer Andrew Westoll won the Charles Taylor Prize for Non-Fiction with his book, The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary.  Both sources educate and enlighten the public on the different sides to this emotional issue.

Take a look at the video below called Introduction to Chimp Haven.  You will see laboratory chimps in their new surroundings, free from cages and restraints.  Lucky for these guys, a better quality of life is being offered.  Sanctuaries for rescued animals need our support to pay for staff, medical bills, food and even better facilities.  There are legitimate rescue operations in both the U.S. and Canada.   Ask your veterinarian, ASPCA or you can start with the links below.  Thanks for watching.

Today's letter was R - for Research Chimps Retire.


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Tags:  animal rescue organizations; medical research using animals; cosmetic companies that experiment on animals; lab animals; 


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This is the personal website of writer Val Fox from Alberta, Canada: soon-to-be published author; freelance writer/editor; ghost writer; animal and child advocate; amateur photographer and avid camper.  Welcome!


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