Regal Eagle at the Deli

Sometimes when I drive by this tree at the side of the estuary, it is loaded with bald eagles, decorating it like so many Christmas tree ornaments.

Today there was only one eagle — an immature one at that. The rest were busy foraging below the tree  and up the river mouth at the Regal Eagle Deli. The last putrefied chum salmon lie like wet paper towels on the banks, exposed by the dropping tide.

Perhaps this one had eaten his fill and couldn’t stomach one more mouthful of rotten fish.

“Oh rats!” he says. “Another bird watcher.”

“I’ll give her my Exorcist pose – body facing one way, head looking the other. That’ll confuse her so she won’t know which is front or back.”



“Now, where was I? Oh yeah … urp … trying to digest that disgusting fermenting fish.”

Regal eagle looks for food, 

Fish again? Not in the mood.

Chilly air, he shivers high

In the tree so he can spy

Rotten fish washed up below.

Better eat in case of snow.

Leaner times around the bend,

Need to eat or life could end.

Though he’d like fish still alive

Choosy eagles don’t survive.

Marlie has Arrived

Adventure, drama, love, lust. You’ll find all this in my latest novel, Marlie, set in the Queen Charlotte Islands, or Haida Gwaii, as they are now called.

Unlucky in love, Marlie flees a bad relationship. She accepts a teaching job in the remote Queen Charlotte Islands. The beauty of the islands and the rugged challenge of northern living enthrall her. A good-looking artist has his eye on her. The perfect gentleman. Or is he? And what about that handsome fisherman? Is he just a bit too real for her with his hunting and fishing? Just as Marlie hopes that her life has made a turn for the better, disaster strikes. She is shocked to see her life spiraling downwards yet again. How could she have made such an error in judgement—an error that sets more bad luck in motion?

Not willing to lose control, Marlie takes a deep breath and sets out to get her life back on track. But can she do it alone?

Set in the remote islands of coastal British Columbia, Marlie is a heartfelt romance of love and loss and love again.

Experience the fears and joys of northern island living and delight in a second chance at true love.

You can put Marlie on your Kindle by clicking this link:

Paperback version is now available on amazon as well.

For those with e-readers other than Kindle you may find the version you need at smashwords.com

Book cover:

Painting by Jan Brown

Design by Anita B. Carroll

Large Flakes?

Looking out the window this afternoon, I saw huge snowflakes. Or were they leaves? But they were floating so easily, like snow. More and more flakes came down, and yet, not enough to say, “It’s snowing,” and besides, it was just a tad too warm. Something didn’t feel right. I went to investigate.

I picked up some of the “snowflakes” and saw that they were feathers. They kept falling from the sky. I thought of the German folk tale about Frau Holle who shakes the featherbeds (goosedown duvets, in our modern western world) in the sky and makes it snow.

I traced the path of the feathers to their origin and strained my eyes to study the top reaches of a fir tree. For a few minutes I saw nothing, but at last I made the culprit nervous.

A huge eagle took off from the tree with its dinner in its talons.

I knew from the feathers that the eagle’s meal was a duck. The harsh reality of  life and death in the animal food chain always leaves me with mixed feelings. Both are beautiful birds, but why does one have to eat the other? Couldn’t they just eat pancakes instead?

 

 

Retreat – Stepping Back

In mid-October I took a step back – a retreat from the usual day-to-day living – to a beautiful location on Quadra Island, a short ferry ride from Campbell River on Vancouver Island. The occasion was the semi-annual quilting retreat for the local quilting guild.

Four days of sewing and camaraderie, in which we had no cooking or cleaning to do. Just sew and go for a walk now and then between rain showers.

The buildings are old, but the natural scenery is older and for the most part, unchanged. It was a very quiet and beautiful spot.

The quilters each bring their sewing machines and fabrics, and all their tools and supplies needed to complete their planned projects. I had several unfinished projects, and by the end of the four days, I felt I had accomplished a lot.

One of the things I did was to take the ill-fitting squares I had made a couple of years ago and try to use them in some other way. The quilt I had intended them for was not working out but I had already done so much work on the tiny red and white squares, and on the appliqued birds and flowers.

I decided on place mats and pieced them together in whatever way the squares would fit, patching places that were odd sizes.

The result was four place mats and one table center, good enough for my own table for everyday meals.

It felt good to use up the unfinished project pieces and I was happy with the results. Now all they need is a meal to be served on them.


Ivy Comes Home

After a visit to Vancouver Island, my sister-in-law’s dog, Ivy, is back home in Washington State. It was a long trip.

Ivy Comes Home

 

A week away to visit friends

Was lots of fun, but soon it ends.

It’s time to make the long trip back,

She gladly would have helped to pack.

She’s missed the safety of her home,

And from her mistress, she’ll not roam.

Afraid of being left behind,

Our Ivy isn’t hard to find.

She’s in the car seat, set to go.

“Please take me home. I’ve missed it so.

And when I’m snug at home in bed,

A blanket warm, up to my head,

There’s no place else I’d rather be,

Than in this bed as Queen Ivy.”

Here she is checking out the kitchen, still tangled up in a warm pair of pants that just came out of the dryer.

“Did you call me for breakfast?”

Sounds of Autumn

The sun warms my back, the wind cools my hair.

I photograph leaves that soon won’t be there.

Shushing and rustling cottonwood leaves,

Some cling to life in the stiffening breeze.

Others have flown, for the chilly night air

Has sent them a warning. “Oh trees, do beware.

The harsh days are coming; it’s time to prepare.

Your fluttering whispering dresses of gold

Must leave you alone now to suffer the cold.

But fear not, for soon you will warm up again.

New dresses will grow in the coming spring’s rain.”

 

DSCN2633

The video clip is of ten seconds in Montana. The wind is rumbling a bit in the microphone and the Captain is calling Ruby with his whistle, but the main thing I love about the clip is the sound of the wind in the leaves. It’s best if you make it full screen and you can almost feel as if you are there under the trees. Be sure to turn on the sound. That’s what it’s all about.

 

 

 

Get in Line

The commercial salmon troller (not to be mistaken for a trawler) is shown here in early June, all tiddled up, ready to leave for the summer fishing season in the Queen Charlotte Islands (now called Haida Gwaii). But now that the season has ended, the boat is a bit tired and ready for some TLC. Like every summer, it has taken a beating, pounding into the waves in bad weather. Rigging, fishing lines, gear,  equipment, and even other boats have rubbed on its hull.

The question friends and acquaintances most often ask after it’s all over, is “How was your season?”

The main thing is to survive the elements, stay safe from the many hazards that can befall a fisherman. Beyond that, it’s a case of trying to be in the right place at the right time and hook some salmon that happen to be swimming by.

Commercial fishermen work hard to supply us with fish to eat. Turns out though, that we humans have to get in line. No, I don’t mean the line in the grocery store. I mean get in line behind the more aggressive predators. Here’s how it comes to be that way.

This year, the Captain tells me, it has been an exercise in frustration. Yes, there were good days, but there were extra obstacles besides the ongoing bad weather. The blue shark below is one example. Often they are quick to take advantage of the salmon’s inability to escape the hook. This one was unlucky and bit the lure himself.

Sometimes the Captain might hook a salmon and before he can get it into the boat, a shark has helped himself to a meal.  Here is what’s left of the fish after the shark has taken a bite. I’ve blurred out the deckhand’s face for the sake of his anonymity.

And then there are the pyrosomes, a new phenomenon in northern waters this year. They are not really a jellyfish although they could easily be mistaken for them. They are really small creatures (zooids)  held together in a colony by a gelatinous substance. If they break apart, they just multiply and grow again. Soon we could be overrun … er .. overswum?? with them.

The deckhand holds the hoochie (a lure meant to simulate a squid), which has the hook hidden inside its rubbery, synthetic tentacles. Some pyrosomes are snagged on the steel cable and slide down to where the monofilament line is attached, while others are snagged on the monofilament line itself and slide down to the flasher or the hoochie beyond it.   A hook that is covered with pyrosomes won’t attract a fish, so the lines have to be cleaned off constantly.And then we have the same old deadly predators, the sea lions, who often follow a boat, lazily waiting for a salmon to be caught so they can snatch it off the line for their own easy meal.

With a lot of stress and frustration, the fisherman does his best to catch enough fish to sell to the buyers who will supply the stores to feed humans. Looks like we have  to get in line behind these more aggressive feeders and take what they leave us.