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January 2023 Muse

January 2023

January Writers Muse

Published by the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County

“There are perhaps no days of our childhood that we lived as fully, as the days we think we left behind without living at all: the days we spent with a favourite book.”

Proust: on contemplating why we read.

Editor's Note:

The Strathcona Writers Muse is a forum for members of the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County to publish their works.

Important Dates

Writers Circle Virtual Sharing Meeting online

Next date Jan 3, 2023

RSVP on the website and the link will be emailed to you prior to the meeting.

Next Board Meeting: Jan 10, 2023

Poets in the Park

Poets in the park meets the third Wednesday of every month online.

Reply to the link on the WFSC website

Next scheduled meeting Jan 18, 2023

Children's Creative Writing Workshop

Second Monday of each month

Next Meeting Jan 9, 2023

Reply to the link on our Website

This Month's Submissions


By John Wheeler

The four ladies met, on the circled date.

With cheer in their hearts, and none would be late.

Each had an apron, a rolling pin too.

Their minds set to task; they knew what was due.

Out came the flour, the main element.

A twenty-pound bag. The monies well spent!

With measuring cups, the ladies dug in

A glance at the clock. Was time to begin!

Into a large bowl, the flour was put.

“Watch what you’re doing! Don’t spill on my foot!”

Then they’d add sugar and other nice sweets,

and stir it all up, like they were athletes.

The oven was set. Three Hundred Fifty!

One degree over, would be too risky.

Into the oven, the raw mixture went.

Ten to twelve minutes was all the time spent.

When that batch was done, another went in.

The ladies were pros, their strength found within.

After four hours, they had quite the stash.

Six type of cookies and none in the trash.

And when they were done, off came the aprons.

They sat on the couch, their souls unshaken.

Christmas baking with a smile and a wink.

And out came the wine. It’s time for a drink!

Blue Santa

By Henry Martell

For years, on every Christmas, a friend of mine who made crests as a sideline would give me a crest picturing Santa Clause. It was the usual Santa, round and jolly with a bright red suit. The crest came with an eyelet so one could hang it on the tree. One year he gave me the usual crest but also another one. This one portrayed Santa wearing a blue suit instead of a red one.

“I don’t make many of these,” my friend said. “I usually save them for the old babas. They love them and are very special to them.”

Of course, that got me to thinking. What’s so special about the blue Santa? The legend of Santa Claus can be traced back hundreds of years to a monk named St. Nicholas. It is believed that Nicholas was born sometime around 280 A.D. in Patara, near Myra in modern-day Turkey. Much admired for his piety and kindness, St. Nicholas became the subject of many legends. It is said that he gave away all of his inherited wealth and traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick. One of the best known of the St. Nicholas stories is that he saved three poor sisters from being sold into slavery or prostitution by their father by providing them with a dowry so that they could be married. Over the course of many years, Nicholas’s popularity spread and he became known as the protector of children and sailors.

Over time, every country developed a Santa figure who endures to present day. My friend was of Ukrainian heritage so it made sense his blue Santa had connections to Ukraine. Ukraine’s Santa is closely linked to the Russian Santa and goes by the name Did Moroz (Father Frost) or Svyatyy Mykolay (Saint Nicholas). Ukraine has a special connection with St. Nicholas, and the figures of Saint Nicholas and Did Moroz are closely associated—when you visit Ukraine, you might notice how many churches are named after this saint associated with gift-giving. Some children might be given gifts on December 19, the Ukrainian St. Nicholas Day, while others receive their presents on Christmas Eve.

Most of the representations of Did Moroz show him in a blue robe, sometimes all blue and sometimes with blue trim. Very seldom is he in red and it seems the red is more of a North American phenomena. Perhaps this explains why the blue is memorable to the old babas who as young girls remembered a Santa dressed in blue.

I think there could be more to the story. There is another character who plays a part and the name of this character is Snegurochka. She was a young lady purported to be Ded Moroz’s granddaughter and would accompany him on his rounds as he gave gifts and spread good cheer. Her job was to carry the gifts like a Santa’s helper. Snegurochka is most often represented in, you guessed it, robes of blue, sometimes white with blue trim or all blue but never red. I would think a young girl growing up in Ukraine would be focused and inspired by the site of Snegurochka. She and her blue robes would imprint an indelible image in their heads for life, thus the importance of Blue Santa.

Christmas Rescue

By Mandy Eve-Barnett

Ashley wished her co-workers a great Christmas and walked to her car, already filled with gifts and her luggage. After brushing away the snow that had fallen steadily all afternoon, she brushed off her thick coat and gloves then turned the car toward the road. It normally took her nearly two hours to reach her parents’ home, but with the blizzard now in full swing, it might take longer. Away from the streetlights and buildings of the town, she slowed down to peer through the windshield and driving snow. The occasional set of headlights made the falling snow a white sheet in front of her. She gripped the steering wheel even tighter, tension in her shoulders and neck. A large brown object appeared through the white curtain of snow. Ashley turned the steering wheel a little too fast in her reaction to avoid whatever it was and that was the beginning of her ordeal. The car slid one way then the other on the icy surface. Ashley’s gloved hands gripped the steering wheel desperately trying to correct the vehicle’s haphazard movements. Without a clear view out of the windshield due to the blizzard, she could only hope she was still on the road. The car juddered and bumped then plunged downward front first and stopped. The Christmas gifts tumbled onto the floor from the back seat.

“No, please, no. This can’t be happening.” Putting the vehicle into reverse, she pushed the accelerator. The tires spun and whined throwing plumes of snow into the air. The car stayed put, no movement whatsoever. Picking up her cell phone she began pushing numbers and held it up to her ear. Nothing, no sound. She looked at the device. No bars, no signal.

“I’m stuck, what do I do now?” Ashley put the car into park and undid her seatbelt. Clambering into the backseat, pushing the few gifts aside, she found a shovel and pulled the door lever to open it, it would not budge. After trying the other three doors she sat with a thud on the passenger seat and screamed in frustration. “I can’t even get out! So much for Mum insisting on an emergency kit full of blankets, a first aid kit and a whole bunch of other stuff. This shovel is useless.” Looking at her cell phone again, she held it up to the roof, still nothing. Climbing up to the back of the car, she held it as high as she could. One bar. Pushing her feet into the back ofthe rear seat she pressed the digital numbered display again. The device crackled; she heard a faint ‘Hello’. Shouting, Ashley put her mouth to the microphone. “Dad, I’m off the road in ditch please come.” The panicked answer crackled back. “Ashley? Where, which road?” Her mind froze, which road was she on exactly?

“The rural township road towards Camdon, I think. Rear of car sticking up, lights on.” A deep tone replied. “I’ll call…” The connection died. Ashley looked at the phone, no bar, no service. “Now, I wait and hope. Dad will find me, he will.”

The gas gauge showed quarter full. “That’s plenty, Dad will be here soon. I should have filled up, like Mum said. Damn.” Something thudded against the car, she looked up and saw a large moose pass the window. “You’re the reason I’m in this predicament. You know that?” The animal turned to face her, as if it heard her. Then plodded away, unhindered by the depth of snow. She yelled at the animal. “Yeah, rub it in, I’m stuck, you’re not.” A shiver coursed down her body, she turned up the heater. “Maybe I can use that blanket now?” Twisting around, she pulled at the thick plush material and pulled it around herself. Straining to hear vehicles, she was disheartened. “Dad, will be here in a minute.” The car spluttered. Alarmed she looked at the gas gauge, the warning light was flickering. “I had enough gas, what’s going on?” The engine died and the heater stopped. “No! Please no.” Turning the ignition key it only gave a click, click sound. Panicked she clambered back to the rear and held up her cell phone. No bars. Nothing.

“Find me, Dad, please find me.” The car’s interior began to cool down, her teeth chattered. Getting into the backseat, she cocooned herself into the blanket. Her breath clouded in the air, her body shivered, and her mind slowed. Ice formed making crazed patterns on the glass windows, silence shrouded the vehicle. Ashley’s eyes closed.

She was woken by a thudding noise and the car shuddering side to side. “Dad, is that you? You found me; I knew you would.” No reply came. “He’s probably in his car, towing me back to the road.” She tilted her head, wait, I can’t hear an engine. What is moving the car?”

Using her covered forearm, she wiped at the ice crystals on the nearest window. Brown fur was squeezed up against the glass. “What are you doing, moose? Get away.” Another thud and she looked to the other side of the car to see more brown fur on that side. “What’s going on, moose get away from here?” The car shuddered and moved. Ashley screamed. “Don’t push me into the ditch further, please. My Dad will never find me. Get away!” Her screams were ignored, the vehicle see-sawed on its axel. Then it thudded on something hard and the car was level.

“How is that possible, what happened?” A soft brown muzzle squashed up against the side window, the animal’s breath clouded and gave it a ghostly look, nodded and then disappeared. The car began moving forward, Ashley peered out squinting at a heavy clouded grey sky and everything covered in a blanket of white. Ahead she saw a faint dual track of darker asphalt through ice and snow. Looking back two moose were pushing the car.

“I’m dreaming, I’ll wake up in a minute. This isn’t real.”

Headlights shone ahead; Ashley cried with relief. “I’m saved.” The car stopped moving. She glanced back to see the two moose step into the ditch and disappear into the gloom. A vehicle stopped in front of her car. It’s red and blue lights flashing. Two men exited the patrol vehicle and came to the side window. The door opened, and a rush of colder air entered. Ashley gripped the blanket closer. “You found me, thank you.” One officer scratched his chin. “We’ve gone back and forth along this road at least three times, your car wasn’t on the road. How did it get up here? Your father reported you were in a ditch.” Ashley bit her lip. Do I tell them two moose pulled me out? Am I crazy? “Officer if I told you what happened you would never believe me.”

“You can try, but in the meantime, I’ll call a tow truck and get you into our vehicle to warm up. You look frozen.”

That night at home, huddled in front of a roaring fire with a mug of hot chocolate, wrapping paper littering the carpet and the Christmas tree sparkling, Ashley relayed her story to her wide-eyed parents and younger brother. “That’s not possible, Ashley, you were dreaming.”

“If I was dreaming how did the car get back onto the road? I tell you those moose pulled me out. I think me screaming at the first moose telling it whose fault it was I was in the ditch made it feel guilty and he got a friend to help.”

Her Mum embraced her and said. “Whatever happened it was a Christmas miracle. You are home safe and sound. And we are grateful.”

Mark My Words

By Guy Chambers



be patient

be patient

sitting here so silently

old cubby

should be coming down the chimney

he’ll never know what's going to hit him

it’s going to be a showdown

in the living room

mark my words

he’s not going to trick me this year

it’s a lost cause

this year Mr. Clause

I’m no rookie

my master didn’t forget

to get the trap set

a glass of milk

and a plate of cookies

so chewy

what’s that

that fell down from the chimney

in front of my lap

a treat

my favorite treat

oh boy

oh boy

it’s all mine

it’s all mine

I better take it to the corner

so that nitwit cat can’t get it

lucky ducky

it’s so tasty

yummy in the tummy

so delicious

oh so delicious


what has happen

the milk glass is empty

and gone are the cookies

I've been had

I’m so mad

how did this happen to me

get back down the this chimney

you not so sneaky

face me like real a man

Mr. jelly belly

I have a score to settle with you

you just wait

you just wait

mark my words

you’re not going to trick me next year

'If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time or the tools to write' - Stephen King

What Are You Reading?

The Muse wants to know what other writers are reading! Are you doing research for a story? Are you reading a great book that you want to tell others about? E-mail the editor and let us know about your book.

A WORLD OF CURIOSITIES (2022) by Louise Penny

Review by Lana O’Neill

How does the small town of Three Pines attract such large atrocities? Louise Penny does not hold back in her newest mystery, A WORLD OF CURIOSITIES. The title offers a small bit of respite from the serious nature of the crimes committed within. Layers of intrigue and misdirection surround a bad seed waiting for the moment to plant itself further into the brilliant mind of chief inspector, Armand Gamache. In a race against time, the reader will turn pages as fast as Gamache tracks a killer and hopefully prevent tragedy for the whole town of Three Pines.

Whistler's Night by H.M. Shander- Review by Mandy Eve-Barnett

A chance encounter on a mountain top - a past relationship, a misunderstanding and deeply buried emotions - all create a cute enjoyable easy read. A fun novella for sure.

Ready to Burn by Mandy Michelle Review by Mandy Eve-Barnett

A truly fiery story as the author takes you through a complex storyline with tension under currents, great character development and sexy firefighters! You will be sizzling at the end.

Saving Grace by Katie O'Connor Review by Mandy Eve Barnett

A great cozy romance but with a feisty heroine, whom I loved! Grace is her own woman, but with an empty heart for all but one. The one who 'got away' through her own fault. Katie O'Connor has written a super range of characters, set in a small town setting, where everyone knows your business. Hidden emotions and past choices keep the reader guessing as to the outcome

ESCAPE FROM GERMANY (2019) by Kurt F. Jensen

Review by Lana O’neil

The Provincial Archives of Alberta is a treasure trove for all things in our provinces past. This includes a recent publication by Ottawa author, Kurt F. Jensen about a true Canadian war hero who happened to hail from our capital city, Edmonton. Jensen goes into great detail about Danish born immigrant Pete Anderson, from his early days in the country of his birth to his start in Canada and eventual success as a businessman. However, it was the title that caught my eye. Anderson’s World War I experiences, eventual capture by the Germans and his daring escape makes for intriguing reading. Especially as we prepare to remember those who served and sacrificed so that we may enjoy freedom every day.

FROM THE ASHES (2019) by Jesse Thistle

Review by Lana O’Neill

The inner workings of your heart with be tested while reading this raw memoir by Jesse Thistle. A Metis-Cree, Thistle shares a heartbreaking journey so vivid that it’s hard to believe he’s recollecting, not only, as far back as three years old but also an adolescence and adulthood mired in alcoholism, drug abuse, violence and homelessness. He writes with a wholesome frankness which pulls the reader into his world and it is that same frankness that has the reader hoping, even willing for him to find the peace and happiness he deserved so long ago as a toddler. His voice is clear and full of knowing and with it, his rediscovered version of the value of a life he was born into.

IN THE DARK WE FORGET (2022) by Sandra SG Wong

Review by Lana O’Neill

Amnesia is an unwelcome antagonist in, Edmonton writer, Sandra SG Wong’s recent thriller In The Dark We Forget. Immediate tension and ongoing suspense create a page turner the moment the protagonist (no name dropping here) wakes up on the side of a highway. She spends the rest of the novel piecing together fragments that may or may not be relevant to events that unfold after every discovery. The first-person point of view and detailed descriptions heighten the sense of frustration, urgency and fear experienced by an amnesiac. Settings in British Columbia, Alberta and especially, Edmonton are a pleasant surprise because the familiar terrain provides a small advantage when wading through the quagmire of family dysfunction, social commentary and psychological gymnastics.

Publications available from our foundation. Anyone can purchase these works through our website at


We are excited to announce new publications through the Foundation.

A Creative Mind: Poetry Anthology III

The WFSC challenged its members to write a poem-a-day for 30 days and the poetry shared in this anthology are part of the results. Participants were allowed to submit up to five selections with others chosen at random to fill the book as needed. We think you’ll enjoy reading the as much as we did. We have selections from 14 poets offering 81 selections ranging in styles, voice, and direction, but all focused on the title / theme of the day

The winner's of the children's creative writing contest in 2020 and 2021 have been compiled into a book. It will be at a special price until September 30th. Link:

“Creative Writing Workshop Facilitators Kelsey Hoople and Mike Deregowski challenge you to participate in national poetry month.” As part of Poetry Month for April 2020, the challenge was to write to the overall theme - The Great Escape. A different title posted each day provided inspiration for writing a poem a day for thirty days. It was a challenge worth taking up as many of the participants could no longer meet in person due to COVID-19 measures, but they could support one another online! This collection of poetry includes submissions from qualifying WFSC members for 2020. Challenge yourself! Enjoy!

“Creative Writing Workshop Facilitators Kelsey Hoople and Mike Deregowski challenge you to participate in national poetry month.” As part of Poetry Month for April 2021, the challenge was to write to the overall theme - When Life Changes. A different title posted each day provided inspiration for writing a poem a day for thirty days. Amidst the COVID-19 challenge, getting creative was an outlet for our writing group, which enjoyed connecting online and being inspired. This collection of poetry includes submissions from qualifying WFSC members for 2021. Challenge yourself! Enjoy!

Available for purchase:

DWP WFSC's publication prior to the Writing Prompts book shares stories of Canadian writers.

We write from the heart about people who are important and things dear to us.

We write with a spirit that leads us to explore and explain.

We write. We are passionate.

We are Canadian.

Postcards from Canada proudly features the words of members from the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County in celebration of being Canadian – during this 150th year of Confederation. Share with us as we take you on a journey across Canada with our words, our images, our verse, our prose… Postcards from Canada - Wish you were here! Get your copy for $14.95 through the following:

Amazon POD:

Available for purchase:

Writers Foundation of Strathcona County 2021 - 2022 Board Members and contact information:

Joe McKnight President Bethany Horne Vice President Never Been Better - Editor Linda Pedley Treasurer Web Site Administration 780-445-0991 Mandy Barnett Secretary Writing Circle Host/ Writing Prompts/ Newsletter Editor Karen Probert Past President 780-464-6632 Beth Rowe Director Your Lifetime of Stories Coordinator 780-718-7253 Henry Martell Director Newsletter Coordinator Amanda O'Driscoll Director Instagram Coordinator Library Liaison

Copyright © *2023

Writers Foundation of Strathcona County All rights reserved.


Our mailing address is:

PO Box 57083 | Sherwood Park, Alberta | T8A 5L7

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