Trailer Waiting

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My carriage awaits. It’s getting geared up for another trip to the States. Before leaving, it wants to be filled with everything I might possibly want for the next few weeks. Good food, practical clothes, emergency sewing kit, first aid kit, and survival kit. Mustn’t forget a journal, my laptop and the list of a thousand passwords, usernames, and skill-testing questions. I thought modern technology was supposed to make my life easier….

Montana, here we come. My camera is itching to get its fill of wonderful photos which I promise to share with you. Well, the scenery will be wonderful, if not my skill with the camera, but I’m sure the auto feature on the NIkon will make up for my lack of photographic expertise.

I may not be able to post anything for a few days, but as soon as I have a connection I’ll be sharing the trip with you.

Don’t forget to sign up to follow my other blog if you like anything to do with reading and writing. At http://annelisplace.wordpress.com you can find out who is publishing what. Find out some of the trying obstacles writers must overcome on the road to publication.

An Apple a Day

 

It’s time to pick the MacIntosh apples. I’m sorry now that I didn’t spray them with lime sulphur dormant spray last winter. They have the odd blemish here and there. But the damage is only skin deep and doesn’t affect the flavour of these sweet apples.

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I picked them carefully and put the apples into the bucket, but some of the riper ones fell to the ground. Before I could get to them, Emma rushed in to help.

“Here you go,” she said. “Oh wait! Let me just have a taste to see if it’s good enough for the bucket.” DSCN2287

“Yup! It’s pretty good. Guess there’s no point in leaving it half eaten. Best if I lean into the job!”

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“What are you looking at, Ruby?”

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“Getting down to the last bit. Takes a serious molar workout.”

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“Oh Lawdie, that was some good!”

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“Apple pieces falling out of my mouth. So what? I know…. I’m not supposed to chew with my mouth open, but who’s going to tell? Just Ruby over there. She’s being good, but I think she has some mischief in mind.”

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 “Sure do, Emma. While all the attention is on you – as usual – I’m hiding a hazelnut under my chin. I’ll crack it when no one is looking. So what if my teeth get cracked too. The hazelnuts are so good. They’re worth it.”

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“But you’re a growing child. You just go ahead and eat your apple a day, like a good little girl.”

Prince Charming

 At last, we had the perfect weather for picking mushrooms in this great watershed. All the hillsides around the lake should be loaded in treasure. Chanterelles like it damp, dim, and not too cold, and they like to grow where there are fir trees.

009Conditions were right. It should have been a great day, but until very recently, our weather has been extremely hot and dry, and it takes time for a mushroom to grow even after the first rains.

My friends and I found two or three button-size chanterelles each, after hours of scouring the woods. We sat by the lake to have our lunch and come up with as many reasons as possible to justify returning home without bags and bags of mushrooms.

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It’s great exercise.

So much fresh air.

It’s real life in the real world.

Beats working out in the gym.

Still, our feet were tired, and we were disillusioned and deflated at the thought of coming home empty-handed. Also we were dismayed to see how many of our old picking areas were now logging slash.

This is what we were after….

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But this is all we saw….

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Dry moss with not a mushroom in sight. Acres of dry moss.

We found huge pine cones…

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but no mushrooms…

We found the beginnings of a burl growing on a tree trunk...

but no mushrooms….

We decided to try one more area, close to the lake where there might be more moisture. To make it an easier walk, we set out across the clear cut area where the fireweed now grew tall. What we didn’t think about was that the logging company had left a mess of branches behind after taking the trees off the areas where we used to pick mushrooms. Apparently the logging companies are supposed to leave the limbs in place to decay naturally….sigh….

Picking our way through, we had to walk through places much worse than this one. Here are my friends trying not to trip in the slash. Up ahead and to the right you can see the fireweed that hides more of this kind of ankle-twisting mess.

031Tripping over the fallen branches, one of our team fell onto the bag that held her bear spray. She must have twisted the canister’s nozzle sideways and knocked off the safety guard. I was farther downhill from her when I heard, “Ouch!” and a hissing sound that didn’t want to stop. “Oh no-o-o-o-o!” she called, and I heard her crashing through the dried branches that lay crisscrossed on the ground.

When the canister was empty, the hissing faded, but my friends coughed so hard  that it sounded like pieces of lung must soon be spat out.

Just as I was congratulating myself on being farther away and not affected by this mishap at all, the invisible pepper cloud drifted downhill towards me. How did I know it was there? My lungs were on fire, I stumbled farther away from the pepper spray and coughed my way into the woods.

What a day! Our lungs were on fire, our lips and eyes burned, our throats ached from coughing. “Bear spray would definitely work if we needed it,” I barked out.

When we had recovered slightly, we moved into the woods for easier walking.

“Where is Prince Charming when you need him?” I thought.

Just then, the friend who had emptied her bear spray canister called, “Hey come look at this!”

And there he was! Our Prince Charming – a bit late to save us, but there, nevertheless.

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*** Don’t forget to check out my other blog, Anneli’s Place, if you are interested in anything related to reading and writing.

http://annelisplace.wordpress.com

A Plague of One?

Far from being a plague of locusts, one lonely grasshopper had the whole meal to himself. I was deadheading the phlox when I noticed this fellow hanging onto the flowers. He didn’t move in the slightest and after a while I thought he might be dead. I had a closer look and he wiggled an antenna to wave “hi” to me.

I ran for my camera and asked him to smile. He did, and he held very still while I played with my macro setting and tried to focus.

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Hard to see but he’s on there.

I wouldn’t want him landing on me or getting tangled in my hair, but just to look at, I don’t mind him.

??????????Actually, he’s kind of beautiful in design and patterns. Looks like he could do a number on the flowers though if he brought all his relatives.

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How do you feel about grasshoppers? Are they as scary to you as other insects might be?

A Stellar Steller’s Squabble

You know that fall is coming when the Steller’s jays show up to squabble over the hazelnuts dropping from the trees. These brightly coloured birds are a relative of the crow, which everyone in bloggerville knows I hate because they abduct and eat the children of  other birds. But at this time of year the jays are only here to rob me of the fruits of my labours,  so I tolerate their coarse squawking call and focus on their brilliant blue colouring. They do have a reputation of being nest robbers too, but they don’t show up in our area during that spring nesting time.

These sunflower seeds and hazelnuts have me drooling.

These sunflower seeds and hazelnuts have me drooling.

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Look out! Danger up above.

 

Don’t even try that trick on me. You just want that hazelnut for yourself.

Don’t even try that trick on me. You just want that hazelnut for yourself.

 

Well, it’s about time I got some of the good stuff. You’re so greedy all the time.

Well, it’s about time I got some of the good stuff. You’re so greedy all the time.

 

Go ahead then. Be that way. I'll take the leftovers, as usual.

Go ahead then. Be that way. I’ll take the leftovers, as usual.

 

Take it then. Just stop nagging me.

Take it then. Just stop nagging me.

Someone's coming! Quick! Hit 'em with the brick.

Someone’s coming! Quick! Hit ‘em with the brick.

Nice butt, by the way!

Nice butt, by the way!

 

Awww... you say the sweetest things.

Awww… you say the sweetest things.

Pools and Palms

I was invited to join friends on a holiday, but sadly couldn’t make it. Now they are taunting me with photos to make sure I don’t say “no” next time.

In a setting that makes me think of my novel Orion’s Gift (see cover image at the side), they played at being tourists for a week. My character, Sylvia, didn’t get quite as far south as Cabo, but the general landscape is very similar.

334But let’s leave Sylvia for now. She missed out on Cabo, just as I did.

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Ah … to be lying on one of those lounge chairs until it got too warm and then being forced to jump into one of many pools.

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The Hotel Riu provided all these opportunities for relaxation without the vacationers having to go far afield.

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Breakfast must have been hard to endure in this outdoor setting.

IMG_0001They had a bit of fun reading the sign. In spite of the mistakes, I bet the ice cream hit the spot.

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Looks like I missed a good time in the pools under the palms.

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Something Fishy

 

In coastal towns of Mexico, generally, the tourists swim and the locals fish.IMGP0029a

They make sure their nets are mended before they go out.

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Sometimes the catch is good, sometimes it’s meagre. Notice the white apron to keep the water, slime, and blood off the fisherman’s clothes? The second fellow gets by with a makeshift apron. Nothing wrong with a big garbage bag to use as an apron.

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In the early morning the fish is already for sale at the beach,

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and later at the fish market in town.

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The tourists can buy fish to take to their bungalows to cook, or they can go out to a beachside restaurant and order the catch of the day.

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It’s not terribly fancy, but it’s very tasty, especially when eaten beside the sea from whence it came.