Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


The Calm

… before the storm.

The ducks all facing outward

Are waiting for their snack,

They find it in the shallows,

It makes their lips go smack.


The heron facing inward,

Has patience yet to spare,

He hopes to spear a morsel,

With no intent to share.


All take advantage of the last,

Relaxing stretch of peace,

They feel the system moving fast,

Soon comes the ugly beast.


Photo by Pat G.

The licorice scent of fennel wafts,

Along the last warm breeze,

A thousand seeds fly in the drafts,

To inundate with ease.

Ms. Barbara Beacham’s hollyhock,

Has found a home with me,

Although Ms. Beacham’s sent a shock,

And could no longer be.


Her lovely flowers bloom each year,

She sends her love that way,

I cherish her with thoughts so dear,

Much more than I can say.

A last sweet effort quickly made,

The berry patch is done,

No strawberries are left to raid,

Except for just this one.

And here it comes, the mighty beast,

So dark, this sunshine thief,

It brings much-needed rain at least,

To every plant’s relief.

It slaps the trees ferociously,

It whips the leaves around,

But they hang on tenaciously,

On hearing such a sound.

The wind is shivery at best,

Each leaf is hanging on,

They’re hoping to survive the test,

Until this breeze is gone.


Sea Lions

California sea lions used to visit Vancouver Island every spring and stay for the summer, following the salmon up the coast and back down to California. But in recent years many have set up residence on Vancouver Island. Why do all that traveling when the food supply is fairly constant here?

The Steller’s sea lion, named for the same man who studied the Steller’s jay, is another type of sea lion that visits our coast, usually farther north.

From these photos, I can’t tell which is which, or even whether there are both kinds of sea lions here. I do know that California sea lions, averaging about 220 lbs. (females) and about 700+ lbs. (males) are much smaller than the Steller’s sea lions which can weigh on average 580 lbs. (females) and almost 1200 lbs. (males). The males quite often weigh much more than that.

Their loud barking carries a long way across the water, as they sun themselves and socialize.

Not enough room on the raft? Make your own raft of bodies.


Sea lions don’t target humans who might be in the water with them, but they have been known to nip them when they get too close, and a nip with those huge teeth would not be funny.

Enemies of sea lions are mainly sharks and killer whales.

Picture by Pat G.

I’m surprised these sea lions seem so calm when the coastal ferry, Salish Orca, motors past, especially when it has pictures of the killers on its hull.

Here is a video taken by a friend. You can hear a couple of short sea lion barks (or coughs) near the end of the clip.

The sea lion couple were both rather large,

Bubba was nearly the size of a barge.

Grace, oh my darling, you’re getting so fat,

Can’t you lose weight and be sleek as a cat?


Bubba, my dear, it’s a way to keep warm,

And can’t you express yourself better, with charm?

Because after all, you are chubby, dear Bubba,

Don’t bother saying, it’s only your blubber.


Clumsy on land, Grace is propped on her flippers,

Slips in the water to eat several kippers,

Gliding around as her breakfast she nips,

Bubba’s in awe of her grace as she dips.


Twirls like a dancer in water ballet,

Bubba is speechless with nothing to say.

Slips in beside her, his flipper he waves,

Swims up to kiss her, this dancer he craves.


Let me protect you, my dear, you look pale, 

I’ll keep watch for trouble, a shark or a whale,

We’ll stay safe together, of you I’ll take care,

And fight off the enemy boldly, I swear.



Grace floats around looking up at the sky,

Bubba is wondering, lets out a sigh,

How did I not see the beauty at hand?

Grace, I’m your servant, your wish my command.




Forty Bloomin’ Years!

The white chrysanthemum is doing its faithful blooming again. It’s that time of the year. But this particular plant has a long history.  It used to belong to my mother. She died in March of 1982 at the age of 69. She had this very chrysanthemum hanging in a basket on her back veranda, and since chrysanthemums bloom in the fall, I can assume that she bought it some time in 1981 or earlier, at least 41 years ago.

My dad asked if I wanted to take the plant home because it would just die. He was no gardener. So the chrysanthemum came home with me in 1982. Every year since then, it has bloomed in the fall.  I think of my mother more often than just at chrysanthemum time, but when I glance at the flowers on my deck, I find there is some connection to her.

Last year I realized I’d been greedy about this plant and since it was crowded in the pot, I shared part of the plant with my sister. She now has some of this plant in her garden. I worried a little bit that by dividing the plant I might have killed it, but it came back as cheerily as ever this year.

I’d like to share some of my mother’s traits with you.

She loved her children.

She loved to laugh and tease in a kind way. And she loved puns.

She had a beautiful singing voice and loved music.

She could cook and bake great food without a recipe.

She taught us to keep ourselves and our house clean.

If one of us kids were in a nasty mood, she’d say, “Go find some place out of this room, and come back when you can smile.”

But if we had a problem that needed solving, she was always there to listen and most of all to give us a hug.

She made us pitch in to help with chores. I learned a lot about cooking from being her helper in the kitchen. I can still hear her telling me not to leave the wooden spoon in the pot or pan. “Don’t cook the wooden spoon,” she’d say.

She was kind to animals. We always had pets – dogs, cats, turtles, tropical fish, gerbils – and they had a good life in our house.

She was a “nurse” without official training, taking care of all our aches, pains, and illnesses, as well as those of our pets. When our cat had trouble closing its jaw, I watched as my mother reached way back into the cat’s mouth, and pulled a fish backbone  (a vertebra – like a tiny spool of thread) off the cat’s back tooth where it had become stuck. The moment the cat felt that the bone was removed, she licked my mother’s hand to say thank you over and over.

She encouraged me about school. Every single day, as I left for school, she told me, “Listen to the teacher and be good.”

About my schoolwork she told me, “Every day when you do your work, turn the page and look at yesterday’s work. Then start today’s work and try to do it better than yesterday’s.”

I never saw her lie down for a nap. There was always work to do. Sometimes at night if the bedroom light was on as I tip-toed past on my way to the bathroom, I would see her reading in bed, and as often as not, her eyes would be closed.  She’d had a full day.

She didn’t have a long life, but she sure packed a lot into the life she had, and she made the world a better place when she was in it.

So I’m always happy to see that her chrysanthemum, the very same plant, still blooms for her and has done for forty years.





Too Many Branches

I took this picture from my back (second storey) deck to show how long the branches of the fir trees have become. They almost reach the house now. The philadelphus (mock orange), on the right, has also grown up high and dense.

tree trimming

Our friend offered to take down some of the big lower branches. I’ve blurred his face for his privacy. He did a great job of taking those huge limbs off, but see the photo below.  Dickie, the squirrel, was extremely upset.

He’s on top of the root of one of the fir trees, and we had to shoo him away so he wouldn’t get hurt.

Some of the branches that came down are pictured above, but a couple more huge ones joined them after I took this picture. Dickie came back to check on the progress and ended up hiding under the big ground-level canopy of branches.

Something crazy’s going on,

Men with noisy saws,

Gone, our quiet neighbourhood,

Must be some big cause.


One guy said, “They’re way too long,

Blocking out the light.”

Then the chain saw started up,

Gave me such a fright.


Horrible, the noise they made,

Chewing through the wood,

Branches crashing all around,

Near to where I stood.


Like flash I dashed away,

Running ’round the yard,

Now my skyway highway’s gone,

Travel will be hard.






Nut Job

If I’m not already a nut job, then after doing this nut job, I will be one.

I had thought there were no hazelnuts on the trees this year but I was wrong. They were a bit late to develop, but they were quite prolific. When I saw that the raccoons and the squirrels were harvesting them, day (squirrels) and night (raccoons), I thought I’d better get in on the action. Looks like a little black cocker is also wanting to get in on the action.

I let the nuts sit out in the sun to dry out for a couple of weeks, and then, as the nights grew cooler I had to do something with the nuts or watch them go moldy. It’s not cold enough to make a fire in the woodstove so hanging the nuts in burlap bags by the fire was not an option.

I decided to crack them and put the nutmeat in ziplocs and freeze them. This way I can take out what I need to use for baking through the winter.

I tried them out in a batch of banana/blueberry/hazelnut muffins. Turned out quite good.





With Canadian Thanksgiving coming up this weekend, I decided to read some background on the origins of this holiday and found that the information was a jumble of ideas and beliefs, historical evidence, and a lot of surmise. This holiday celebrated everything from a reunion of Martin Frobisher’s scattered windblown fleet in northern Canada in 1578 to Champlain’s feasts of thanksgiving for the harvest with the Mi’kmaqs and the French in 1606 (at which time the Mi’kmaqs introduced cranberries to the pioneers’ diet and helped prevent scurvy).

The  American influence brought the North American turkey, pumpkins, and squash to the Thanksgiving feast in the 1750s.

On January 31, 1957, the annual harvest time feast became an official holiday. In Canada it was to be held on the second Monday of October. An earlier November date was changed so it would not interfere with Remembrance Day on November 11.


Whatever the historical reasons for dates and for celebrating, it is commonly accepted that it is a time to give thanks for our many blessings.

These blessings may differ from one person to another, but the feeling of gratitude is the same.

Some traits to consider, one for each letter of Happy Thanksgiving:



















I hope you all have a million things to be thankful for this year. I know I do.


Snack Time

“Folks, I’ve been working really hard from first light to last, collecting hazelnuts and hiding them for later. I hope you won’t mind if I take time to have a snack. Gotta keep up my strength.”

“Watch me in this video. See how fast I twirl this hazelnut around so I can eat it evenly on all sides. Kind of the way Anneli eats an ice cream cone, except she can’t go as fast as I can. Also, she doesn’t use her teeth, but I need to use mine to cut away the nutshell when it gets in the way.

And by the way, Anneli says to say she’s sorry she fumbled the camera partway through. Doesn’t show me at my best, but she tries.”