A Winner!

This card is copyrighted to Andy McKay and sold at Trader Joe’s. I’ve printed his caption under the picture. I could SO relate to this scenario.

After vacuuming the living room, he waited for his medal.

But just so I don’t come across as too mean and snarky, I must add that the Captain provided his family with the fixings for a fine dinner tonight, even cooking the halibut, trout, and salmon himself while I made up the rest of the dinner.

So maybe he really does deserve a medal.


What is it with camo-gear? Isn’t it for disguise?

Every once in a while I see children (and sometimes adults) wearing camouflage clothing around town and I have to wonder what they’re hiding from?

Animals have natural camouflage, traits that have evolved  over thousands of years . I can understand that. Man copied the idea and used it during WWl. Okay, if we must have war, camo is smart.

To be properly camouflaged you have to try to blend in with the colours around you. Sand coloured khaki for the desert, dark blue or gray on rocky terrain. But by far the most popular style of camo-clothing is the kind with splotches of olive green, brown, and beige.

In the Viet Nam war, camo-gear was everywhere and has been popular ever since. But has the marketing gone a bit too far? In many cases I have to wonder, what is the purpose of wearing or using camo-gear?

For civilians, there seems to be little reason to wear camouflage.

Two sensible exceptions come to mind:

1)      hikers, who may want to hide so they can see more animals while out on a nature walk, and

2)      hunters, trying to hide from animals they are stalking.

But, for both hikers and hunters, the use of camo-gear can backfire.

Relatives of a lost hiker may report to Search and Rescue that their loved one was last seen wearing camo-clothing. Please search for a large cluster of leaves that isn’t one.

Hunters in camo have the same problem, but they have one advantage. With their excellent disguise, they may be mistaken for a game animal, so for safety, they often sport blaze orange sleeves on their camo-shirt or a bright orange brim on their camo-cap. Now they can be spotted easily if they get lost and at the same time, avoid being shot.


But wait! Am I missing something here? What was the point of wearing the camo-clothing in the first place?

Now we come to the rest of the camo-gear. We have all kinds of accessories in camouflage colours: backpack, flashlight, knife, shotgun case, shotgun stock, even the barrel in some cases.

Imagine the scenario: The hunter sets down his gear to take a break, to retie the laces of his camo-boots, or camo-runners, or to have a drink from that camo-flask of water he can’t find just now. He set it down here somewhere….

He checks his camo-watch, decides it’s getting late. He sets his shotgun down on the ground for safety while he climbs carefully over the barbed wire fence. He’ll just hunt this one last field and call it a day. Once on the other side, he adjusts his camo-pack and reaches for his gun. But where is it? Quick! There’s a bunch of pheasants getting up out of the tall grass. Where’s the damn gun? Too late, he finds it perfectly hidden, right in front of his eyes.

Tired out, he comes home at last after tromping incognito through miles of fields. He strips down to his underwear and crawls into bed for a quick late-afternoon nap. What’s this? Camo-underwear? Is he hoping his wife won’t find him in the bed and kick him out to have a shower first?

Help Arrives


Early yesterday morning, the skies were clear with a hint of spring in the fresh air. Our neighbours’ willow tree was welcoming a change of seasons. I had taken the dogs out into the yard. As I stood, enjoying the stillness, I realized it wasn’t still at all. Two sea lions called to each other, perhaps to claim their territory among the schools of herring  off the nearby beach. I love the deep sound of their barking, “OW! OW! OW!” I smiled to think that they were back to visit for a while. I know the herring fishermen don’t smile to see or hear them, but …

Before I could stop smiling, I heard, for the first time this year, a Eurasian collared dove calling from a stand of trees nearby.

Yes, spring is coming! Then a robin called its urgent pipping song, and a rufus-sided towhee added his two cents’ worth, asking, “ME? … ME?”

Later in the morning it was time to clean up the yard for the fourth time, after yet another windstorm. As I raked, I came across a circle of tufts of fur lying on the grass in the same place as the feathers of an eaten seabird lay a few months before. Both were under a tall fir –  the favourite tree stand for birds of prey, especially eagles and owls. These birds sit quietly and watch for their dinner to pass by underneath.

Ruby sees the rabbit fur and is most likely thinking about what probably happened here.

Will you look at that? No way he survived that much hair loss.

Ruby is shocked. She ponders the implications of losing a rabbit at this time of year.

Will there be an Easter? Who will paint the eggs and hide them?

But just as the sun was sending its last warm rays to light the underside of the clouds, I looked towards the hedge and saw ….

Reinforcements! He stands bravely under the killing tree and announces to the world:

Easter will go ahead as planned. And you owls, listen up. You can NEVER kill us all. Where there are two rabbits, there will soon be two thousand.

“Now if you’ll excuse me,” he says, “it’s less than a month until Easter and I have some serious work to do.”

Impromptu Soup

Even with the snow and frost we’ve had, the kale in my garden seems to have come through it all unscathed. Several times I’ve used the leaves to make soup and I find that I really like it a lot.

I brought this bunch in from the garden just today, and happened to pass by some parsley and rosemary on my way.

We happened to have some elk short ribs in the freezer,  and I’ve found that these make a wonderful addition to the soup, both as stock and bits of meat.  You could use beef or any other meat too, but you may have to cut off some of the fat. Chicken drumsticks make a great soup too. Once they have simmered for a while, the meat falls off the bones and can be cut into pieces small enough to fit onto a soup spoon.

To make the soup, I sautee onions, garlic, and whatever else I am in the mood for. I’ve added chopped ginger root when I wanted something with a bit of zip. I can’t tell you what I use for herbs and spices because it’s different each time. If I want an interesting taste, I might put in some cardamom, cumin, and coriander seeds, or I might just do the herbs de provence kind of flavouring (Simon and Garfunkel soup – parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme). Or if I feel adventurous I’ll dabble with both.

The kale is washed and chopped quite finely before adding to the onion mixture. Let it cook a bit so it’s wilted and mixed well with the onions.

Usually I sprinkle a bit of flour into the sauteed kale, onions, and spices, and then stir to coat the onions and kale so there won’t be any lumps when I add the liquid.

I use the stock from simmering the ribs. Stir it around and check for flavouring. Add what you feel is missing. Notice I haven’t mentioned salt or pepper? Sometimes I’ve used a dash of steak spice and although it adds a wonderful flavour, it has plenty of salt. I’ve ruined a dinner once before I learned that. So I always wait until the end to add salt if needed. Same with pepper. Taste it first before you add salt or pepper!

Don’t forget to add the chopped up meat to the soup.

Finally, before serving I like to add a half cup or so of cream (half and half, or coffee cream – whatever you call it), or you can add a couple of tablespoons of sour cream to give it more zip.

I didn’t tell you how much of anything to put in the soup, because it’s one that you make up as you go along. Do whatever you feel like doing. It can’t fail to please on a wintery day.


Eat or be Eaten

A few days ago when the snow came down hard and heavy, I felt sorry for the birds, as I always do when the weather makes their lives hard to bear. But I had forgotten that not only do some birds — the weak, the injured, and the unlucky — have a hard enough time finding food, but they have to beware of becoming food for other birds.

The forested patches near our house are home to many bald eagles. Because the ocean is nearby, it is ideal for them, especially now as herring time draws near.  But until the herring fishery begins, the eagles take advantage of the suffering of other bird species. They are especially fond of snatching seabirds from the water or the beaches.

Out in my backyard, under one of the firs that the eagles love to use as their dining room, I found, discarded, a wing that had been stripped of all meat. My guess is that it was from a loon, as these seem to be one of the eagle’s favourites. I have found several loon carcasses under the dining tree in the past. For the photo, I have put a pop can beside the wing to show the relative size.

In the animal world it still goes that you must “Eat or be eaten.”

The Helpers

After the (hopefully) last snowfall, the Captain uses the wood splitter to split the firewood into sizes that would more easily fit into the woodstove. The “helpers,” Emma and Ruby, do their best to be useful.

Ruby packs pieces of firewood to various places in the yard, while Emma checks the place over for mice and rats.

Something has been here under this old pile of lumber. Emma gets right into her work of flushing out the “something.”

The dirt flies everywhere, but a lot of it sticks to Emma’s once shiny coat.

Whatever had been there, must have moved. Emma tries the other side to block off its escape route.

Finally, the Captain calls, “Okay, that’s enough. Look at you. So dirty!”

They find a chunk of wood and help with the firewood job again.

While the Captain rests in a nearby lawn chair, he takes off his gloves.

Two sets of dog ears perk up (as much as floppy spaniel ears can perk up).

“The gloves are off” has a different meaning for these guys. They are alert and eager to retrieve any gloves that may soon be flying around the yard.

“Here I come! Look at me!” says Emma.

“Do it again, Dad!”

Hard Times

The ferry route from Quadra Island to Vancouver Island can get quite sloppy during tide change. No problem for the ferry, but I sure wouldn’t have wanted to be out there in a small boat.

Heading home from the quilting retreat, I was surprised to see more and more snow, the farther south I got.

When I arrived in Comox, the field near the estuary was covered in snow … and geese. I counted about 230 geese in this field. I pulled over and quickly snapped a few pictures without even getting out of the truck. Sorry they are blurry. When taking pictures, “Hurry makes blurry.”

I noticed as I drove away, that there were a few trumpeter swans  with the Canada geese, but the photo doesn’t show them, as they were at the far end of the flock. But there were several other geese among the Canadas, too.

Do you see the white blobs in the front of the photo?

Five snow geese were foraging for food along with the Canada geese. They didn’t seem to mind each other. All were concentrating on digging under the snow for grass roots. Their usual dinner plate, the grain field, was mostly covered with snow, and they needed to find something to keep up their strength in this cold weather.

This photo is especially blurry but it shows how desperately the geese are foraging, searching under the snow to get at the grass and roots for any nourishment they can find. Only the goose in the front of the photo is not feeding at the moment, but she probably had to stop to warm up her bill after having it in the icy ground for so long. Hard times for the animals.