Meet Honnette, a story of love and survival….

Slice of Life Challenge #Day 27

I hope this story will encourage everyone to realise that even though the odds seem stacked against us, it is possible to overcome!


Let me introduce you to Honnette from Burundi. This darling little girl was born almost a year ago on March 29th. Her twin did not survive and she was brought to the clinic where our daughter Ruth was working as a volunteer midwife for just over a year. When she arrived she was about a month old and her prognosis was not good.

She weighed 1.25 kg (that’s less than 3 pounds) and her heart rate was very low for a baby. Her mum was trying to breastfeed her but couldn’t produce enough milk.

So she was given a nasogastric tube and fed with formula every two hours round the clock, with mum continuing to breastfeed her as well. She also had an infection and was being given antibiotics. Many people were praying for her, but no one was sure whether she would survive.


My daughter caring for teeny tiny Honnette.


It was touch and go for a while but slowly she started to gain weight.


The local nurses also learnt how to give nasogastric feeds and the clinic was able to locate a better type of formula designed for premature babies.


Her mum was allowed to take her home after six weeks at the clinic when her weight had stabilised at 2 kg (4 and a half pounds).


The family was supplied with formula by the clinic and continued to breastfeed her as much as she was able. She brought her back to the clinic for regular checkups and Ruth and other staff made occasional home visits.

Just check out those liquid eyes and that smile! Despite her minute frame, this girl sure knows how to fight!


She is still very small for her age but is healthy and thriving and about to celebrate her first birthday.

Happy birthday sweet Honnette!


It’s so true that love can overcome, again and again…!





My heart aches a little more today…

Slice of Life Challenge #Day 27

I don’t have a lot to say today, as I’ve left my slice again until too late in the day (resolution tomorrow, write early, not just before bed).

There’s a dog outside right now in the new stillness of the night (no more cars or trucks) and it’s barking in a whiny non-stop pleading sort of way that pretty much expresses my frustrated feeling. It’s also unbelievably grating as it won’t STOP!!

So my slice today is about the intense sadness I felt in my heart this morning, when I saw a procession of people, mostly men, walking along the road past our house and across the bridge with sacks or bags on their back. They are day labourers, who no longer have any work because of the lockdown and have been given a window of time to return to their home villages by the authorities. There is no public transport so they have to walk all the way. Some of their villages may only be a few miles away, but it was sad to see them go.

What is going to happen to them, how will they and their families get through this?


We’ve heard that millions of workers in the major cities are in similar situations and are also going back to their villages, some of which may be hundreds of miles away, on foot. They came to the cities in search of employment and now it’s all dried up. They may be taking infection with them, but they’re certainly not taking hope or anything positive in this unfolding scenario.


What does the future hold for these men and women? My heart aches for them…


“It’s all in the kneading!”

PS. Circumstances also meant that the photo app on my laptop decided to foreclose on me last night and none of my photos would open or download. I felt that I needed them for this particular slice, but I was feeling too tired to do anything about it after several failed attempts, so went to bed.

Thankfully I’m on a different timeline from the US, so knew I’d have another opportunity early today (which is still yesterday for the majority of slicers!)

(ASIDE) This morning I googled a solution and it worked…! I have to say time and again I have thanked Google for solutions, even though people say not to make it your go to…. but in times like this, its ability to throw out possibilities, factual or not, never ceases to amaze me….!

Slice of Life Challenge #Day25

Circumstances mean we can’t get into the capital which is where we buy our bread every three weeks or so. The local bread is very soft and quite sweet and doesn’t taste like bread should. And who even knows, if it’s being baked anyway for the next 21 days?

I have some packet yeast and a few weeks back (nothing to do with the current situation) I decided to make a loaf. I have to say my attempts were a bit minimal even though the bread still tasted pretty good.

So yesterday (today when I originally wrote this) I got my husband to help with the kneading part. His hands are much stronger and more practically efficient than mine, so I thought it would help the end product!

Oh my goodness, it made all the difference! That ball of dough just rose and rose the first time around and then when it was shaped into a loaf it again doubled in size.

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After the second rising and ready for the oven!

Kneading is an incredibly therapeutic process, just the methodical pushing down, folding out and quarter turns, as the dough starts to elasticise and fill with air, thanks to you and the yeast, it’s truly thrilling! I know most commercial baking can’t do it like this any more, but I wonder if small business bakers still feel the delight and are more relaxed than most? I hope it never becomes mechanical to them…!


Fresh out of the oven, it’s a winner (probably more than double my own pathetic attempts!)

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It’s not only therapeutic but tastes delicious…Now we just have to ration it unless I can source some more yeast in the next few weeks!

{Thanks to our daughter for the title quote which she made in her response to my WhatsApp photo of the loaf on our family WhatsApp group} Family is so precious right now!


Today I choose to remember…..

Slice of Life Challenge #Day 24

Today I realise we are here for the foreseeable future, no way out, all flights cancelled as well as public transport and a virtual lockdown nationwide.

I will choose to remember the rays of sunshine peeping over the hill’s horizon and opening up our smiley flowers.

I will choose to watch the little bees buzzing slowly and with great concentration, sipping nectar from the centre of those opened petals.

I will choose to remember the sweet twittering refrain of the birds early this morning and again this evening, because it is so much quieter than usual. When I look up they are bustling in a small cloud of fluttering wings around the treetops.

I will choose to remember our small resident squirrel scuttering quick, slow, quick, quick, slow across the road, up our neighbour’s steps and then flowing effortlessly up into a tree in the school grounds. I’ve never seen him so out in the open for so long before.

I will choose to remember we have a dog and a cat here who are always available for petting, stroking, cuddles and conversations.

I will choose to remember my students’ sweet faces and their laughter spinning out across the playground and hope I get to see them again before too long.



We are blessed!





Is this children’s book worth doing anything with?

Slice of Life Challenge #Day 23

Advice needed please!!!

I wrote this book about thirteen years ago for our first grandson who is about to turn fifteen. I based it on my teaching knowledge up to that point and the kind of stories that I liked to read to my children when they were small and on the cat I owned at the time, a sweet ginger male named Sass.

If it wasn’t for that word I refuse to mention in my slices any more, I wouldn’t have had the time to be scrolling through my hard drive for a particular photo and memory. In the process I came across these scans I made while putting my story together…I’ve no idea if the original book has survived three boys and several house moves (might have to check with my son and daughter-in-law on that one….)

I’m going to upload the cover and a few of the pages and I would love to know if anyone thinks it could be worth doing something with…. and how would I go about that? I thought who better to ask than a whole audience of writing teachers, many of whom have published their own books?! Don’t worry, if you think it’s rubbish, I can handle it!

I hope you enjoy a little taste anyway!


The front cover



These are the opening two pages, now I’ll skip a couple….



These are a couple of pages taken out of sequence from the next seven pages, so all in all, it’s not a very long book.


And here is my main character, Sass, aka Curvy Cat! I had to leave him with someone else when we moved. He became best friends with their dog and cat and then I lost touch. I doubt that he’s around any longer, but he had a good life!

Love to know what you think??


Did you know that cheetahs purr?

Slice of Life Challenge #Day 22

What a memory gift this slice is, brought to mind by someone recently mentioning something to do with cheetahs! Suddenly I recalled my one and only encounter with these gorgeous creatures that wasn’t in a book or photo or on a TV screen.

A few years ago one of our daughters was working in South Africa and we went to visit her, along with our other two daughters. Of course wild life abounds in Africa, but a highlight for me was the chance to go to a sanctuary for cheetahs and other smaller wild cats. The sanctuary keeps some fairly tame animals in large separate enclosures. This helps to raise funds for their care and the money is also used to release others back into the wild.

We could get up close to the cheetahs and they were undoubtedly the star attraction. There were three, including two brothers that were very used to being handled. Our guide had hand reared them himself and provided many interesting details. He also advised us how to approach and touch them if we wanted to.


I discovered that a cheetah purrs and the sound it makes is like a small truck! It was almost surreal being able to stroke these elegant and incredibly sinuous creatures. The way they move and walk just hints at the surreal speed and strength pulsating beneath their skin.


Their movements were lithe and effortless as they strolled around their enclosure and interacted with their small group of admirers. I have always marvelled at the symmetry of their markings.


To me they are a lot more regal than the traditional king of the beasts!


A caracal catching his dinner in mid air.


They have spectacular jumping ability and amazing ears, but they are not so visitor friendly!


The servals were also fairly approachable and about the size of a large cat. They spend a lot of time up in trees.

It was an afternoon of unforgettable moments, spent up close and personal with one of my favourite animals and some of its relatives.


Does anything matter in the same way now..?

Slice of Life Challenge #Day 21

Last night when I cut the top of my thumb quite deeply while I was slicing some vegetables, it didn’t seem to have the same impact as other times. I quickly ran it under cold water, applied pressure, bound it tightly with a hanky (probably not meant to use those any more, but I still do and it was handy right then!) and then lifted it above my head (following my daughter’s nursing advice for cut fingers).

It had started to bleed quite profusely and was hurting for a while, but then it stopped almost immediately and the pain went. I regarded it with some puzzlement. Normally I would be rejoicing that all my know how tricks had worked and that a silly mistake was going to be okay and would heal.


This is definitely not the usual thumbs up emoji signal!

Now all I can think about is that I want to get out of here in two weeks time and back for our daughter’s wedding. All the country’s airports are closed to international flights for a week from 22nd March. Will they reopen after that?


Some delightful pages …!

Slice of Life Challenge #Day 20

As requested (by someone!) a few delightful pages written at home by some of our students that I had the pleasure of reading through and correcting today….


This was one of my favourites today, especially the birds twittering and the rooster cock-a-del-del-du-ing! She’s succeeded in putting her verbs in the past tense too! Impressive!

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From a younger student so the tenses are a bit hit and miss. Such a sweet thought to give the flower to her mum….


Enjoyed the imagination here and the picture of a ‘bottle of fishes’.


Let’s finish off on a story with a strong moral code! The writer is telling us about a chicken with white feathers that she found on her way home and wanted to keep, but mum explained the consequences to her!



Did I do it right?

Slice of Life Challenge #Day 19

A puzzled look, a definite sense of uncertainty…Their routine has been challenged and these young kids seem a bit bemused. They pull their shabby, dog-eared notebooks out of their backpacks (usually with a broken zip that’s stuck halfway) and hand over their homework with a bit of a question mark in their expressions. This is not our normal class room procedure.

Yesterday I gave two different story prompts according to class level, for them to take home.

For the two younger classes who have done only a little free writing practice, I wrote on the board, ‘On my way home I found a ……’ and explained that they needed to think of something they might find along the way and make up a little story around that.

One hand immediately shot up, “Do we need to bring what we find to school tomorrow?”

Okay, maybe I should have explained the sentence starter a little more carefully! I went over it again.

But this morning, most of them handed in their work with some kind of story. ‘On my way home I found a red shaped like a heart stone.’ ‘…a chicken with white feathers.’ .’..lots of coloured fish in the river…’ So today some students who did not go any further, need to tell me what they did with their object to complete the story. The others have a fresh prompt.

The other story starter was: ‘The boy jumped up and ran out of the door…’ For several of the older group, particularly the boys, he ran out to play a game of football (a favourite sport around here) and of course was on the winning team and scored all the goals. But one student had him tripping down the stairs and hurting his leg, so the moral delivered by his mother was to walk and not run everywhere. I distinctly hear a teacher’s voice in that tale (Walk, don’t run!)


I’m impressed overall as English is not their first language and they don’t speak it at all except at school. So I’m definitely looking forward to tomorrow’s stories!

In case you’re wondering why they are coming into school (just for an hour), it’s because our school was in the middle of doing tests, when schools were closed down on Tuesday and so we were given special permission to finish off the testing up until Friday. Testing works its own magic as an essential assessment in this country and we do only have 60 students overall.


Next week our teachers will be going around and visiting students in their homes to help them keep studying. It’s going to be interesting to see how that goes.


Spotted on a rooftop!

Slice of Life Challenge #Day 18


Between the breeze blown skirts and flapping sheets,

I glimpsed small figures, two pairs marching in time

To their own private beat, older sibling demonstrating

The rhythm with hands and high stepping knees,

Behind the recycled disposable nappies.

With the television silent and school closed,

I chanced upon this sweet rooftop moment.