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 coming home without bags and bags of mushrooms.


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….



But this is all we saw….


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

We found huge pine cones…


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.

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.

031At one point one of our team tripped and fell onto the bag that held her bear spray. She must have knocked the 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.


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

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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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


and later at the fish market in town.


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.


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


What a Ride!

My friend Gladys is an amazing woman. At age 74, she’s a fourteen-year cancer survivor. I believe she beat the cancer into submission (usually it goes into remission, but in Gladys’s case, she pounded it into SUBmission) with exercise and diet.

She skied and hiked and swam and biked, doing all sorts of exercise with extra gusto. Recently, she and her twelve-year-old grandson, Bradyn, undertook an extra-long bike ride from her home in Courtenay, on Vancouver Island, to Nanaimo, 101 kms. away.

Here they are at the start of their ride.


The trip took them seven hours, however riding time was five hours. Yes, they made quite a few stops. At noon, they stopped at Qualicum Beach (about halfway to Nanaimo), and enjoyed a hot dog and fries. They didn’t stop for long though, as Bradyn was anxious to carry on.

Unfortunately, in downtown Parksville, the next little town along the way, Bradyn was stung on the neck by a bee or wasp which almost caused them to abandon the trip. They sat in front of Boston Pizza for quite some time with a bag of ice-cubes, debating what to do.

Finally they agreed to try a few more kms which grew into a few more and a few more. When they got to the outskirts of Nanaimo, there was no holding Bradyn back. Gladys had a hard time keeping up to him, and I know she’s an expert biker.

Here they texted his mom and dad to pick them up near a main exit.

photo 1

Gladys says, “It’s interesting that I never encouraged Bradyn to do this trip with me. He brought it up a few weeks ago because I told the family I wanted to do this ride before summer ended.  His mom and dad made it possible to happen in between his hockey schedule.  Bradyn has never done long-distance riding before and other than a little trail riding, has not done much cycling. Kudos to his determination to make it happen!”

Bradyn’s comment when it was over?  “I want to do this again, Grandma!” What a trouper.

What did Bradyn do at the end of the ride?  Well, after sharing his story with whoever would listen, he went out and jumped on the trampoline with his brother.

And what did Grandma do?  She soaked in the tub and had a snooze while her daughter made a delicious supper.

My hat is off to Grandma Gladys and her grandson Bradyn. Congratulations to you both. Shining examples for the rest of us.

PS I invite you to visit my other blog

Salmon Sharing

Humans and animals live on this planet together and no one group has more right than the other to its resources. Some species “kill” plants for food, some hunt and kill other animals, some kill both, but that’s just natural. It’s the way it is. Fishing is just another form of hunting. Humans do it, and other animals do it. Seems there could be some competition at times.

Commercial fishermen hunt for fish to provide them for the general public’s consumption. Many people love to eat fish; few have the means to go out and get them. Someone has to do the deed.

At this anchorage on the west coast of the Queen Charlotte Islands (now renamed, but still the same place), killer whales show up to cruise the waters for salmon, one of their favourite foods.  It just happens to be what these trollers are also targeting. There’s enough fish for everyone, but the fishermen aren’t happy to see the killer whales because they terrify the salmon who then disappear from the area.

 009The sight of an orca fin is not happy news for a fisherman.


In spite of a certain fascination with the visitors,  the fishermen really don’t want these guys to be hanging around their trolling gear in the morning.


Not only one hungry mouth to feed! Where there is one orca, there are bound to be more.012



But the next morning, it seems there are still enough salmon for all to share.014