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Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Gracious Holiday by Margot Justes


Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday, it is a day to give thanks for our many blessings. It is a gathering of family and friends and most of us adhere to old established traditions. Breakfast with family, setting the table, stuffing the turkey, enjoying the wafting smell coming from the kitchen as the turkey is basted; all those memories to appreciate and treasure.
It is a gracious holiday, with none of the chaos of the holiday shopping frenzy, where people will do anything to get that  super deal; people have actually been killed for a sale item during the so called 'black Friday.  There is not a single material possession that is worth someone's life, at least to me.

The traditional 'black Friday' now starts Thanksgiving Thursday, and earlier every year. I know the retailers want to make the most of the holiday season, they must make a profit during a very short period of time. I understand the economic process of retail survival. But is that profit margin enough to disrupt the actual day of Thanksgiving for their employees? Have we lost track of what this holiday is all about?
I will not be going shopping on Thursday or Friday. I will spend that time with my family and friends giving thanks for what I have; a terrific family and life-long friends.

How do you plan on spending your holiday?
Cheers,
Margot Justes
www.mjustes.com
A Hotel in Paris
Hearts & Daggers
Hot Crimes, Cool Chicks
and coming soon A Hotel in Bath

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Forgotten Civil War by Margot Justes


The non-fiction look at South Africa in the early 80's is painstakingly slow, but I'm working on it. The working title Memories of a Country Long Ago brought back another memory, this one belongs to my father and also takes place in Africa.

There are very few memories for me of the time he spent in Biafra in the late sixties and early seventies. He was a very private man and never shared much of his life with others, and that included his daughter.
His decision to sell his practice and head to Nigeria and the Biafra conflict was made on the spur of the moment, one day I was getting ready to head to Paris to study-and I use the term loosely-the next day my father announced he was going to Lagos for an extended stay. There were no conversations, no further plans, just an edict that he was going.

Doctors were needed, there weren't many available and the conflict was brutal.  This was a time when we didn't  really hear much about what was going on in other parts of the world. We didn't live in a global society as we do today, but it was indeed brutal.
I've recently started doing some research about that conflict, civil war, whatever you want to call it. In about two and half years, a million or so people died as a result. The Republic of Biafra seceded from Nigeria because of cultural, economic and religious differences.  In many cases much has not changed, sad to say we still fight over the same things.

This was about the time that Doctors Without Borders came into being, but I don't even know if he went through that organization or another one. All I know is that he went there to help set up a hospital, I want to learn more about his time there.  
He was a remarkable man, and it would nice to share some of his life with my daughters, but I'm starting from scratch and so far have not made much progress.

If anyone can point me in the right direction, it would be greatly appreciated.
Cheers,
Margot Justes
www.mjustes.com
A Hotel in Paris
Hearts & Daggers
Hot Crimes, Cool Chicks
and coming soon A Hotel in Bath

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Day at Sea by Margot Justes


As the time nears for my cruise, I check daily to see if the prices change to my benefit. So far, it's going in the other direction.  However, it reminds me why at this stage in my life why I really love cruising.
Surrounded by water on all sides, the giant ship glides along the waves, the water lapping steadily as the ship moves forward. Mesmerizing. Relaxing. Blissful. All cares are swept away.

If the first day of the cruise is spent at sea, is a perfect time to relax and take that deep cleansing breath, as your cares glide away . The early morning is best, before the multitudes wake. That first cup of coffee and that first gaze at the ocean.  There is nothing better than the gentle breeze and sometimes not so gentle, and that fresh waft of the ocean air. Fresh and invigorating.
The coffee itch is always satisfied. I'm addicted to the brew, and fortunately it's served piping hot early every morning. It's not the best coffee by far, but considering how many people are on board and that it's continuously flowing, the ambiance makes it more than palatable. By the way, good coffee is available later in the day for an extra charge.

If your wishes tend toward walking there is a path high up above everything else, where it's just you, water and the sky. Early in the early morning twilight is just perfection. That is not a bad way to begin a vacation.
The delightful part of being at sea, is that you can do as much or as little as you want. There are plenty of planned activities, from belly dancing, belly flops and I'm sure other belly things, there is ballroom dancing, and...well, you get the drift. You can be as busy or as relaxed as you like. It's all up to you.  

The staff always on hand to bring fresh coffee, milk, whatever you need; they are continuously working. By the end of the first day, the steward will know your name, what you like, if you want coffee delivered to your cabin, and at what time. It's all part of the training to make each guest feel at home and welcome. You know what, it works.
The elevators have a plaque on the floor, changed daily to make sure you know the days of the week; a gentle reminder that you're on vacation.

Cheers,
Margot Justes
www.mjustes.com
A Hotel in Paris
Hearts & Daggers
Hot Crimes, Cool Chicks
and coming soon A Hotel in Bath