South: The story of Shackleton's 1914-1917 Expedition – Review

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South (Illustrated): The Story of Shackleton’s Last Expedition by Ernest Shackleton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Recently my preference in books has settled on memoir and biography. In that genre, South a memoir of Shackleton’s 1914-1917 Antarctic expedition (first published in 1919) was a real find in my stash of unread Kindle books.

Sir Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922) was an Antarctic explorer who had gone on several expeditions before the one described in this book. He was a third mate in Robert F. Scott’s 1901-1903 Discovery Expedition and led another, the Nimrod Expedition, in 1907-1909. On that trip, he and his mates broke the then-record for getting nearest to the South Pole and climbed Mount Erebus, Antarctica’s most active volcano. On returning to England, he was knighted by King George VII, becoming Sir Ernest Shackleton.

His third expedition, the 1914-1917 one which South details, was ambitious. It involved two ships with a selected crew of 26 men on each. The ship Endurance carried Shackleton and his crew. They hoped to reach Antarctica via the Weddell Sea (approaching Antarctica from the east), and trek overland. Meanwhile the ship Aurora, approaching Antarctica from the South via the Ross Sea, was tasked with carrying and depositing supplies along the route that Shackleton and his men hoped to take.

The expedition’s trouble began when the Endurance became trapped by ice before reaching land. Active ice floes moved, ground, and pressed against the ship. Shackleton and his men, fearing the worst, prepared for the possibility of abandoning their floating home. One fateful day the Endurance was indeed crushed and badly damaged. Shackleton and the crew’s many weeks drifting on the ice was only the beginning of their misadventures.

Shackleton’s telling is rich with journal entries of his own and others. The story of the Aurora and its crew, almost as discouraging, follows the tale of the Endurance crew.

In this day of air travel and sophisticated communication, the isolated, helpless state of Shackleton and his men is almost unimaginable. Their character, stoicism, and resourcefulness, along with Sir Ernest’s inspirational leadership are things I found remarkable in this story.

On this expedition, Shackleton and his men encountered the beauty and brutality of nature. They were often near death and I wondered, did they ever get to a point where they were beyond themselves? Did they ever acknowledge God? Pray?

Several times in the book Shackleton does mention Providence (yes, capitalized). And this bit from the last leg of his journey on South Georgia Island to get help is very interesting:

“When I look back at those days I have no doubt that Providence guided us, not only across those snowfields, but across the storm-white sea that separated Elephant Island from our landing-place on South Georgia. I know that during that long and racking march of thirty-six hours over the unnamed mountains and glaciers of South Georgia it seemed to me often that we were four, not three. I said nothing to my companions on the point, but afterwards Worsley said to me, “Boss, I had a curious feeling on the march that there was another person with us.” Crean confessed to the same idea. One feels “the dearth of human words, the roughness of mortal speech” in trying to describe things intangible, but a record of our journeys would be incomplete without a reference to a subject very near to our hearts.”

— South: The Story of Shackleton’s 1914-1917 Expedition by Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton (Kindle Location 3220)

South is a riveting tale that will keep you reading long into the night. Highly recommended.

Note:
My Kindle edition of the book had a list of illustrations (mostly photographs) that weren’t included in the book. Should you happen to read such an edition, the illustrations are available and linked here: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/5199/5199-h/5199-h.htm .

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A daily practice

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Happy New Year – Sketch for January 1, 2020

It seems we were just wishing everyone a happy new year and here we are, already into double digits of January. How does time slip by so quickly?

I resolved that this year I’d do a better job of the blog—even posting a little something regularly, like once a week. Now that I’ve blown that resolution, it’s time to at least get started.

In my journey into art last year, one resolution I did keep was to do a sketchbook entry every day. With the exception of a couple of days in early January 2019, I kept that promise to myself. In the process I’m well on the way to filling up my second 110-page sketchbook.

I’ve continued on with that practice this year. I use a simple 5.5×8” hardcover sketchbook from Michaels. It’s made of 75 lb. paper (not even mixed media weight), not meant for watercolours, but I use them on it regularly and it holds up remarkably well with never a bleed-through (unless I rub the paper raw).

To decide what to draw, most days I’ve been following drawing prompts from Doodlewash. These challenge me to draw everyday common things as well as things I would never attempt without a prod. On other days I draw what calls to me.

Here are a few pages from 2020, along with some of the reference photos (all taken by me).


If art is calling to you, keeping a daily sketchbook or sketch journal is a great way to get started and daily practice is a sure way to get better.

Mini-conference on Storytelling

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Two weeks from today (November 2nd) has been marked on my calendar for weeks. It’s the day of our one-day writing conference: “Storytelling: Bringing the Past to Life.”

If you’re a Vancouver area writer, you’ll want to give this a look. Here is the delectable lineup:

9:00 a.m. – “The Drama of Biblical Fiction” by David Kitz (president of The Word Guild).

10:00 a.m. “Writing the Play Tolkein” by Ron Reed (eminent playwright and founder of Pacific Theatre, Vancouver).

11:15 a.m. “Twentieth Century Historical Fiction and Memoir” by Rose Seiler Scott.

1:30 p.m. “How to Save Your Family History through Short Stories” by Jim Martens.

2:30 p.m. “Writing Historical Musicals” by Allen Desnoyers, composer of “Pier 21 – The Musical”

The day winds up with an evening performance of “Pier 21 – The Musical” (ticketed separately).

Location:

South Delta Baptist Church
1988 – 56th Street
Delta, BC

This conference is sponsored by The Word Guild’s Surrey and White Rock Chapters. More details and a registration form are available HERE.

Arty changes

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My artist corner where, on this day, my toothbrush supervises me drawing her portrait in my sketch journal.

It’s been quiet on this site lately (with just the Israel trip and a few book reviews) as I’ve been pursuing a new interest—in art. Art, as in learning to draw and paint, has used up most of my creative energy and writing has taken a back seat.

I’m at the point where I am ready to go public with this new, albeit still morphing, reality. As a result there will be changes here and in my other online haunts in the days ahead.

Some of the changes are already made, some are in process.

  1. I have imported poetry posts from Violet Nesdoly / Poems to this site. I did that to streamline my current online writing presence to one blog (and have the poems display cleanly on this site with no WordPress ads). I plan to delete the poetry blog shortly.
  2. All the writing pages are now sub-pages of “Writing.” You can get to them by hovering your mouse or track pad over the “Writing” button which activates a drop-down menu. They are also listed and linked on the “Writing” page.
  3. I have put up an “Art” page with its own sub-pages. Here I will display some of the current pieces I’m working on.
  4. POETRY BOOKS and the novel DESTINY’S HANDS are still available for purchase.
  • Info on purchasing poetry books is HERE.
  • Info on purchasing Destiny’s Hands is HERE.
  • BLANK NOTE CARDS with images from my paintings are available for purchase HERE.

Hidden Secrets (review)

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Hidden Secrets (A Green Dory Inn Mystery, #2)Hidden Secrets by Janet Sketchley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

With batches of fragrant muffins and mugs of herbal tea, served up in an idyllic seaside setting, Janet Sketchley lures us into discovering the deadly secrets of the Green Dory Inn. Hidden Secrets is Book 2 in the Green Dory Inn Mystery series.

Thoroughly modern, with cell phones and drones, there are also elements of old sea tales with rogue ships and rum-runners in this cozy mystery. The Christian faith of the two main characters, Landon and Anna, adds value and heft to this hard-to-put-down read.

The believably imperfect characters (many of whom we met in Unknown Enemy, Book One of the series) remind me of the characters in Jan Karon’s Father Tim books. But the main player here is a 24-year-old college student, Landon, whose secretive personal past adds complications to the fast-moving plot. Sketchley has included a character list at the beginning of the book to help us keep straight the cast of characters and their relationships to each other. Though it works nicely as a standalone, reading Book One of the series would help you feel like you’re reconnecting with these folks.

Sketchley’s descriptive, yet tight writing and savvy plot combined to make me wish the book was longer. I thoroughly enjoyed it and am happy to hear that Sketchley is beginning work on Book 3.

I received Hidden Secrets as a gift from the author for the purpose of writing a review.

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As the Ink Flows (review)

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As the Ink Flows: Devotions to Inspire Christian WritersAs the Ink Flows: Devotions to Inspire Christian Writers by Glenda Dekkema

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Though books of devotions abound, As the Ink Flows is a unique collection of ninety meditations written by five Canadian writers for writers—and speakers too.

Section divisions (The Craft; Inspiration; Know Yourself; Well-Being; Personalities; and Faithfulness) demonstrate how wide-ranging and thorough this book is.

Devotions are short. A quoted scripture verse, two to five paragraphs on the day’s theme, followed by a one-line prayer completes on one page. Each is followed by a “Let the Ink Flow” page which consists of a thought or idea on which to reflect and a writing prompt. Space on these pages makes writing directly in the book possible (if it’s a hard copy).

I found these devotions by turn encouraging, probing, affirming, illuminating, and challenging. What a useful guide for worship, gratitude, prayer, meditation, and future direction for writers or speakers at any point in their career, from “should I give this a try?” to “been there, done that.” Highly recommended for Christian speakers and writers of any genre.

I received this book as a gift (ebook edition) from the publisher in exchange for a review.

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Israel Trip – Days 10-12 (Jerusalem Encounter & Home)

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Jerusalem Encounter

On Wednesday and Thursday, June 19 & 20, we took in the morning and evening sessions of the Jerusalem Encounter Conference. Having seen the Israel of the past, this conference was our window into the Israel of the present. It featured worship by Aaron Shust and Miqedem band, presentations from members of the Fellowship of Israel-Related Ministries  (FIRM), and speakers form various places in Israel and abroad.

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Miqedem Band leading worship at the Jerusalem Encounter. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

My eyes were opened to the many Messianic Jewish organizations at work in Israel. A few I became aware of: Be’ad Chaim – Israel Pro-Life Association; Jerusalem Institute of Justice which assists Jewish people fearing discrimination due to their faith; Maoz Israel – a Tel-Aviv Messianic Jewish organization; Streams in the Desert – an organization that helps struggling families in the Negev area; and Medallion – an organization that produces and publishes Christian literature for children.

Display of Medallion, the company that produces children’s books. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

The conference took place at the King of Kings Church Pavilion in Jerusalem. After one of the sessions, we took the elevator to the top floor where the church has a Prayer Tower. The receptionist went out on the balcony with us and pointed out sites and buildings, telling us how they were prayer reminders for the various aspects of Israeli life. The views from the top of the Prayer Tower were incredible!

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Scene from the top of the Prayer Tower, King of Kings Church, Jerusalem. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Another panoramic view from the top of the Prayer Tower, King of Kings Church, Jerusalem. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Scene from the top of the Prayer Tower, King of Kings Church, Jerusalem. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Another view from the top of the Prayer Tower, King of Kings Church, Jerusalem. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Views of Jerusalem from the top of the Prayer Tower, King of Kings Church, Jerusalem. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

My husband and I went on a few other unguided walks in the city. One afternoon we wandered through the Mahaneh Yehuda Market. Some of the stalls that caught my eye.

Stalls that caught my eye at the Mahaneh Yehuda Market. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

We also enjoyed our seven-day stay at the Prima Kings Hotel in Jerusalem.

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Sunrise from our 5th floor window of the Prima Kings Hotel, Jerusalem. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

On one of the lower floors was the hotel’s very own chapel or synagogue with lovely stained glass windows, depicting eight Jewish feasts.

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Stained glass window depicting the feasts of Passover and Sukkot. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Stained glass windows depicting the Jewish feasts of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and the New Year. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Stained glass windows depicting Shabbat (Sabbath) and Shavuot (the giving of the Ten Commandments). (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Stained glass window depicting the Jewish feasts of Hannukah and Purim. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

(Note: I think I have these feast depictions right, but I can’t read Hebrew, so if I’m wrong, please let me know in comments and I’ll correct them).

Meals were terrific—generous and tasty. The breakfast buffets including hot food like eggs and potatoes, a variety of breads and cheeses, vegetable salad, falafel, hulvah, dry cereal like granola with a whole section of add-ins (raisins, nuts, etc.) yogurt, fruit and of course coffee and juice. The dinner buffets were similar only with meat and fish entrees and even more salads and of course a tempting board of sweet desserts.

Breakfast dishes were beautiful with square plates, large bowls, and matching mugs of heavy pottery in a striped grey and a turquoise pattern. (I’d love a set of these!)

Breakfast dishes at the Prima Kings Hotel, Jerusalem. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Home – Friday, June 21

The day of our departure was at hand. We boarded our bus at the hotel in Jerusalem at 7:45 a.m. for Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv.

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Leaving Tel Aviv – June 21, 12:25 p.m. (Tel Aviv time)

Our Air Canada flight left Tel Aviv at 12:25 pm. (Tel Aviv time) June 21st. We landed in Toronto 4:30 p.m. Toronto time, then left Toronto at 6:00 p.m., arriving in Vancouver at 8:00 p.m. Vancouver time (which was, by our internal clocks still on Israel time, 6:00 a.m. June 22nd).

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Circling Toronto – 4:10 p.m. June 21, 2019. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly

What a wonderful trip! It has given me a new understanding of Bible geography. When, a few days after getting home, I read in my Bible how the risen Jesus while in Jerusalem told His disciples to meet Him in Galilee (Matthew 28:10), I realized they had a long walk ahead of them.

It has brought to life the stories of Jesus. He could have been pushed to His death just outside of Nazareth. His question to the disciples at Caesarea Philippi – “Who do you say that I am?” becomes particularly significant, asked as it was, in the setting of a pagan temple. The disciples noting the grandeur of the temple and praising its large stones is not surprising. The fact that the sight of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives made Jesus weep (as He thought of its destiny) now makes sense.

I also have a better sense of modern Israel, as I hear about it in the news, and remember the many organizations that are working, especially in the Messianic Christian community to help it become established and grow. This trip will help me be more faithful and knowledgeable as I obey the mandate to Pray for the peace of this beautiful and significant land and city (Psalm 122:6).