Third Anniversary of Wordsfromanneli

Three years ago (on April 12) when I began my blog, this was my first post. I have also copied it to my other blog http://annelisplace.wordpress.com just this one time. Normally I use the other one only for writing, but I think the story qualifies for both this time.

A Whale of a Tale

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Feeling sorry for myself, I slumped on an upturned white plastic pail at the back of the salmon troller. Here, I could easily hang my head over the side and wretch if necessary—and it often was. The sky was gray, the sea was gray, the boat was gray and everything, absolutely everything, was in motion. I was wishing my life away, wishing it was any time in the future. Anytime without this dreadful seasickness. Who knew it could be such misery?

Captain Gary, lounged in the wheelhouse, sipping coffee as he steered. He seemed quite at ease with the tossing of the boat. A bit of a break from work.  No need to check the gear. For the time being, it was too rough for fishing. The way we were pitching around, the lures we trolled were most likely doing a spastic underwater dance. Any salmon fooled into taking a bite would have the bait jerked right out of his mouth. I imagined the shiny spoons playing keep-away with the fish.

Anyone who has ever been seasick knows, except for sheer pain, there’s not much that feels worse than nausea. Dying would have felt good if it meant an end to this wretchedness. Is it coincidence that “nausea” begins like “nautical” and ends with “sea”? I wallowed in my misery.

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And then… a few hundred meters off our port side, a humpback whale jumped completely out of the ocean, turned on its side, and smacked down sending great splashes of water high into the air. I yelled for Gary and stammered excitedly, pointing at the place where the whale had been. He stared at the gray water for a few seconds, said, “That’s nice,” and went back in the wheelhouse.

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Photo courtesy of Ken Thorne

He had barely settled his butt into the captain’s chair when the whale leaped out again. I screamed for Gary, “Quick! Come and look!” He ran out of the wheelhouse and looked — too late — at the spot.

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Photo courtesy of Ken Thorne

“It only jumped out two-thirds of the way before splashing down,” I said, by way of consoling him. Back in the wheelhouse, he hadn’t even had time to sit down when I shrieked for him to come see the humpback who had jumped up for a third time.

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Photo courtesy of Ken Thorne

What are the chances? This time it only came out about halfway. I guess he was getting tired. Gary, also, came out of the wheelhouse only halfway before dismissing me with a wave of his hand. I guess he was getting tired too. I felt bad that Gary had missed the show, but for me, it was the highlight of the season. For a few magical moments, I had forgotten all about turning myself inside out with dry heaves.

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Photo courtesy of Ken Johnston

Goodbye!

Photo courtesy of Ken Johnston

The humpback seems to be waving to me. “Goodbye!”

***

Note: The photos by Ken Thorne were taken in one of the Pacific Inlets, not out on the open waters, but I wanted to include them to show how humpbacks jump out of the water. Besides, I was too seasick and surprised to take photos of the real humpback in this story.

 

Olympia – the State Capitol

***Note:

1. the Capitol Building (capitol with an “o”)

2. the capital city of the state (capital with an”a”)

The Capitol Building for the state of Washington is in Olympia. I would love to have taken a photo of it on a sunny day to make it look its best, but during the two weeks I was in the State of Washington,  I think it rained for 13 of the 14 days. I’m sure this is not the usual weather and it has probably been sunny and warm ever since I left.

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To one side of the building is a tree that is much bigger than all the rest. It’s a shame that it was not yet in leaf. It must be spectacular in the summer. That’s a four-storey building behind it, and even allowing for perspective, it gives you an idea of the great size of the tree.

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Across the street is the Court House for those who choose not to follow the laws laid down in the Capitol Building. It looks cold and austere, almost like a prison.

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Down the hill from the legislative buildings we have a view of the dredged estuary of the DesChutes River and beyond it the gateway to the Pacific. These waters are sheltered by many islands and fingers of land that stand between Olympia and the open Pacific. I think  the fog was coating the camera lens when I took these photos, but the fuzziness of the photos helps to give the impression of the kind of day it was. The hood of my jacket was up more than down.

 

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 A few flowering plum or cherry trees (sorry I can’t remember which) added a touch of cheer to the otherwise dull day. I almost didn’t use this photo because the old-fashioned lamp post was right in the middle of the photo, seemingly cutting it in half, but then when I looked more closely I realized, it does cut the scene in half. To the left is spring and cheerful nature, and to the right are the gray concrete, asphalt, and metal of man-made things.

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To the side of the Capitol stands The Winged Victory Monument of Olympia, a statue of World War I soldiers with Nike, the Greek Goddess of Victory.

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Apparently I missed the best show, a tour of the inside of the buildings. I’m sure it would have been fantastic, but I was too busy pulling my hood up against the drizzle and hurrying back to the car trying to prevent my camera lens from getting too spattered with raindrops.

Three Treats

Here is a fabulous deal for anyone with an e-reader. For the next month, until May 15th, just in time for Easter and Mother’s Day, my e-books will be on sale for only $1.00. Do you like reading the kind of book where you come away feeling like you’ve learned something new? I know I do. The setting and background in each of my books are very different from the usual.

1. The Wind Weeps takes place on the West Coast of British Columbia and takes you up the coast from Vancouver Island, to the mainland, and north to the Queen Charlotte Islands and back. But it’s not a travel book. The characters live and work on the coast and this is where their story evolves. While I have you in the grip of romantic suspense, you will inadvertently be finding out about life on the coast, at times, on a fish boat and at times in a remote cabin. Ah … a romantic remote cabin. How wonderful! But only if you’re with the right person. For $1.00 you can can enjoy chewing your nails to find out what happens next.

The Wind Weeps

2. If you’ve ever been to the Mexican state of Baja, you’ll enjoy revisiting the trip as the events in Orion’s Gift unfold in that setting. This one is not a travel book either, but you’ll feel as if you’re right there, with my main characters, Kevin and Sylvia. They each are looking for an escape to the unhappy situations they have left behind. The sparks fly and we think they might have found real love at last, but what they don’t know is that their spurned spouses are hunting them down. Discover Baja, a setting that is like a double-edged sword with its natural beauty and its raw harsh elements. Please take the time to see a recent review of Orion’s Gift at Luanne’s Writer Site. 

Orion's Gift

3. Now for something completely different again, we go to Europe in the days before, during, and after WWII. It is not a war story, but a story of a young woman who lived through it, hoping to find the man of her dreams. Timing and circumstances are rarely in her favour, but her love for her children carries her through harder times than she could ever have imagined. Love triangles always end in heartbreak for someone. You’ll laugh and you’ll cry when you read about Julia, but you’ll end up loving her, too.

Front Cover OnlyYou can buy all three of these books for a grand total of $3.00.

Go to Anneli’s Author Page to see all three books for Kindle.

If you have an e-reader other than Kindle, you can buy the books at smashwords.com. Click on the book you want to buy at the regular price and then type in the coupon code to get the bargain price of 99 cents.

Here are the links and codes for each book:

The Wind Weeps Coupon Code NF43D

Orion’s Gift  Coupon Code UQ49E

Julia’s Violinist Coupon Code JH64Z

Prickly Personalities

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The north central states of the USA, such as Montana and the Dakotas, are farming country and often considered destinations for bird hunters. People come from all around to visit these seemingly desolate farmlands in the fall. Bird hunters bring their dogs. Usually they bring a pair of pliers too.

If you spend much time in these states with a bird dog in tow, one of these days you are bound to run into a cute little animal that is hated by nearly everyone.

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Excitedly, I told a farming friend one day, “We saw a porcupine this morning!”

“Did ya shoot it?” was the immediate response.

I had never seen a porcupine before, and I thought it was so cute. I just wanted to pick it up and cuddle it. I could easily have caught it. It wasn’t very fast. But I knew better. They don’t like to be cuddled. They have rather prickly personalities, and even pricklier fur.

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The quills in their coat are so sharp they easily stick in a person’s (or animal’s) skin. The points have fine barbs on them that make pulling the quills out quite a nuisance; hence the pliers. And no, we don’t shoot porcupines, but I scooped these quills from a dead one we found.

In the interior of British Columbia, where cougars are plentiful, the young adult cats who are newly on their own, often have a hard time catching their prey. They are still learning hunting tactics and finding out about the world around them.

I heard of one cougar who had to be shot after it lingered near town too often, trying to pick off house cats or little dogs. Upon examining the cougar, it was found that the poor animal was near starvation. Apparently it had tried to bite a porcupine and got a mouthful of quills on the inside of its mouth. It hadn’t been able to eat for a very long time for the pain of all the needles in its tongue and the roof of its mouth. Many quills had even penetrated the skin on the cougar’s chest and had broken off between the skin and the muscle, festering there probably for weeks.

A friend told me that his Labrador retriever had been quilled by a porcupine.

“I bet he never went near another one after that,” I said.

“Aw, no!” the dog’s owner said. “He was so stupid that the next time he saw a porcupine, it made him so mad that he attacked it and got another dose of quills in his face. You’d think he’d learn, but he just goes wild now when he sees them. Dumb dog!”

Porcupines are not mean animals. They can’t run fast, or bite, or scratch (too much). Their only defence is their body armour, their coat of quills. They simply want to be left alone to eat the leaves, twigs, and bark they love. Unfortunately that means that many trees are damaged and will die from being debarked. This makes them unpopular with the farmers who plant the trees as a windbreak.

These little animals don’t go out of their way to harm anyone, but they do have an excellent system of self-defence. Any person or animal who tries to handle a porcupine carelessly will receive a painful lesson they won’t soon forget (except in the case of the lab I mentioned above).

***

Don’t forget to check out my other blog once in a while: http://annelisplace.wordpress.com

Hedge Your Best

It’s now or never. Just in, the new  hedging cedars are going like hotcakes in the stores and nurseries. We needed a new hedge. The old fir hedge was on its last legs and we could see them. That was one of the biggest problems – that we could see their legs. The lower branches were weak or gone and on many trees, only the top ones greened out. We could not only see the trees’ legs, but the legs of all the people walking past. Our privacy was disappearing fast.

With the purchase of forty-five cedar trees, the removal of the old fir hedge could begin. We hired a friend to help and the first efforts seem funny in hindsight. The winch on the front of the friend’s truck turned around but the cable on it stayed as it was instead of winding up to pull out the tree trunks. Maybe if the cable on this new “Made in China” winch had been attached to the winch itself, there would have been some torque on it. With no provision for attaching the cable, the poor fellow now has a brand new winch to return.

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Plan B was a good one though. The friend’s son had a little bobcat and that made short work of the firs.

007The fun was just beginning. A big mess had to be cleared up before the new hedge could go in.

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Meanwhile you may be wondering if I helped or just stood around taking pictures for my next blog post. I did my bit by going to buy the rooting compound, bone meal, and several truckloads of composted soil to add to the extremely sandy soil on our property.

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 And now for the new trees – western red cedars. The weight of each of these potted trees was cause for many a groan.

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Once the trees were in the ground and the valiant hedge planters had moved along, the robins wasted no time getting at the freshly uprooted worms and grubs…

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while the work continued….

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 I am now very happy with my new hedge. At first I wondered if the fellows would come through for me. If not, I could always have a wood fence built. I had hedged my bets, and they had hedged their best.

 

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PS  Don’t forget to visit my other blog that is dedicated to writers, books, and writing. http://annelisplace.wordpress.com

New Stomping Grounds

032After two weeks of packing boxes and unpacking them again at my sister-in-law’s new place, we took a break to explore her “new stomping grounds.” The trail leading to the beach was a good two-mile walk through ungroomed forest (my favourite kind). This area, near Lacey, just north of Olympia, Washington, gets a LOT of rain in the winter and spring, as you can see by the moss on the trees.

The Hawks Prairie Trail is named after one of the local pioneers (pictured at the bottom of the information sign) and the area around it is preserved in as natural a state as possible.

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Ivy is finding a lot of traces of scents left behind by other visitors.

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The first glimpses of the ocean tugged at me as I hadn’t seen my beloved seashore for a couple of weeks.

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I could see the old wharf that, apparently, was once a busy loading and unloading place.

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Now to get down to it….  An iron structure had been built to make it easier to descend to beach level.

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I was impressed, but Ivy was not. She stopped in her tracks and would not budge.

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Then I saw why. The gaps in the stairs were too big for her tiny feet.

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Luckily, Ivy is tiny enough that she’s easily picked up, so she wasn’t deprived of her romp on the beach.

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Paddin’ Around Lake Padden

Moving a household is hard work, so after helping my sister-in-law pack boxes all day…001I was happy to follow her suggestion to go for a walk in one of her favourite places, Lake Padden, in the south part of Bellingham, Washington.

021aThe walk goes all the way around the lake, for a distance of 2.8 miles.

014On the way around the lake, we came across this cute little fellow who entertained us by showing us how he ate a cone of some sort. He turned it around and around, chewing, shaking it, spitting out parts he didn’t like, and savouring the rest.

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We continued to the other side of the lake and marveled at how nature works to regenerate growth. From a fallen cedar, many young cedars had sprouted, like so many children standing in a line. The decaying cedar would provide nutrients to get all these young ones started.

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Another large tree had fallen closer to the path and someone brought a power saw to carve out his creative idea. I was tempted to sit down to try out the unique benches but they were probably a bit damp and, even more probably, I would find it hard to get up again and continue the walk. After packing boxes all day it would have been easier to stay on the bench and have a snooze than to go on.

036aMy sister-in-law will miss her old stomping grounds, but I’m sure she’ll find new paths to walk at her new home.