Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Honkin’ Good Time

Skies are still a bit hazy from the wildfire smoke, but somehow the geese have found their way to the estuary. Many of these birds will move on further south, but many will stay for the winter, putting up with wind and rain, and possibly a day or two of snow. The farmers’ fields will provide food for them with leftover cobs of corn and grain seeds that have missed being harvested. In case of severe frost or snow, the geese have the estuary to find food as the salt water doesn’t freeze.

The arrival of the geese always tells me that summer is ending and the northern latitudes are cooling off already, driving the birds south.

For now, life is still comfortable for them and they chat and preen and enjoy the warm days and nights. Some stretch their wings while others preen their back and neck feathers. A few are resting, some are dabbling at the water’s edge, and the farthest one has his neck stretched up tall and alert. It’s like kiddies’ day at the beach.

Just before leaving, I snapped one more quick picture. When I got home I noticed that one of the geese was flying past the camera just by the tree on the left. Or was it? I zoomed in for a closer look.  You can see it on the next photo.

Here, below, is the flying goose at the end of a skinny branch.  It’s all dressed in leaves. Sure had me fooled.

Mrs. Goose is on the loose,

Chattering, she’s quite obtuse.

“There’s a party at the beach,

And I hear it’s out of reach.

Nobody will bother us,

We can honk and spit and cuss,

Holler loudly as we wish

And the place is one big dish.

Food aplenty ‘cross the way

in the fields  where corncobs may

Still be lying on the ground,

Seeds are scattered all around.

People stop and look at us

But they’re harmless, make no fuss.

It’s just heaven being here

Even though the winter’s near.”

“Honkin’ right,” the gander said.

“Still some pleasant days ahead.”

“Watch your language, Gander Dear,

Bloggers won’t approve, I fear.”

Gander stretches out his wings,

Rolls his eyes and up he springs.

Goosey scurries, much impressed,

Goes to give her mouth a rest.

 

 

 

A Not-so-boring Boring Beetle

Many years ago I saw one of these beetles in my yard and later wondered if it was one of those terrible Asian longhorned beetles that destroy our forests. Should I have killed it and saved our forests?

Most likely our forests were not in danger, and I’m glad I didn’t kill the poor bug. Yes, it bores into wood and lays its eggs there so its progeny will also bore into the wood, but it prefers dead wood. By eating the dead wood, it is actually doing more good than harm.

Today, I found this poor little guy already dead on the walk beside my house. I picked it up with my bare hands in spite of the horror I have of touching bugs. If it had wiggled, I would have been in trouble. But no, it didn’t move. I wanted to take its picture so I could identify it for sure.

I apologized to it for placing it in such an undignified pose, but I wanted to be sure, in case I needed to confirm its I.D. by its underside.  If you click to make the photo below bigger, you can see that it has fuzzy mitts on its front legs and tufts of “fur” on its antennae.

Here is what I found out.

It is a banded alder beetle, often confused with the Asian longhorn beetle, a
damaging exotic pest.

I found more information at this site:

https://entomology.oregonstate.edu/sites/agscid7/files/entomology/Banded_Alder%20Borer_13.pdf

They said:

The easiest way to distinguish these two species is  to look at the segment directly behind the head. On the Asian longhorn beetle the area is entirely shiny black while on the BAB the area is white with a single, large black spot that occupies 60% or more of the segment.

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On the photo above you can see that black circle on its head, a sure sign that it is a banded alder borer, and not the dreaded Asian longhorn beetle.

Poppies Pop Up

The purple poppy from the last poppy post has cousins that have variations in colour and markings.

The common red field poppy also has cousins of many variations. This one (below) has extra petals that give it a fluffier look.

A pale friend peeps out from the undergrowth, surrounded by buds of its red relatives.

A pale pink friend looks to be a cross between the white and red.

One of my favourite oddballs is this fluffy white one.

The Oriental poppy below was given to me by my neighbour and friend, Alice, many years before she died too young. I treasure this plant. It is a perennial, and unlike other kinds of poppies, will come up from its roots in the spring. I have divided it to grow in several parts of the yard. I think of my friend every time I see these poppies. Even when the first leaves pop out of the ground in the spring, I greet her with, “Hello, Alice.”

Here is a close up of one of Alice’s poppies.

My garden is a mess of poppies and a few other flowers. I just don’t have the heart to pull them out to make room for extra vegetables. They’re very spoiled and are allowed to grow wherever they want.

 

It’s a Bitch Getting Old

Ruby was a sweet looking puppy, but her behaviour was wild during her puppy days. She grew out of her monster stage and turned into a wonderful dog.

Ruby had her 11th birthday in February this year. She’s a bit gray around the muzzle, and now sports bushy white eyebrows. Like many dogs her age, she was packing around several fatty lumps on her body. One of them was getting uncomfortably large and pressing on her throat. It was time to do something about it.

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We have great confidence in our veterinarian and admire the way he cares for our pets. He removed the worst of Ruby’s lumps, taking special care with the one that was near her carotid artery.

Since two of the lumps are near her shoulders, wearing a cone would not stop her from scratching at the itchy stitches, so a T-shirt was recommended. The trouble was to find something small enough. With some creative cutting and knot-tying, I managed to fashion a covering for Ruby.

Most of the time, it works, but this morning when I was wanting to take her outside, she didn’t move from her doggie bed. I had a closer look and saw that she had straight-jacketed herself in trying to get out of the shirt.

She hadn’t hurt herself. The material is very soft. But at least she wasn’t able to scratch herself.

She is healing well and I’m sure she’s glad to be rid of those lumps. I’m sure she’ll also be glad to get rid of her “hospital” nightgown.

Guest Blogger: Anneli Purchase and Her Latest Book “Marlie”

My friend Marlie would love to show you some of the photos of the Queen Charlotte Islands (Haida Gwaii) where she taught at the elementary school. You might think teaching isn’t a very outdoorsy job but her new friends take her out and about to see the islands. She learns that in beauty lies danger.

Luanne Castle's Writer Site

My name is Marlie Mitchell. That’s me on the cover of Anneli’s book.


Anneli’s friend Jan Brown painted my portrait. She made my hair a bit wilder than it really is, but I do have trouble keeping it tamed. Jan certainly got my eyes right. One shows the hurt I’ve felt, and the other shows my determination to pick myself up and be strong.

You see, I had great plans to teach young children and build a happy life with a husband and maybe a couple of kids of my own. Hah! That dream went down the toilet almost before I got started. Everything in my life seemed to go wrong.

I was the perfect candidate for an escape to a remote teaching post in the Queen Charlotte Islands, now called Haida Gwaii, off the coast of northern British Columbia.

Many of my students lived in poor homes in Haida…

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The Superpower of Attitude

For those of you who don’t know about my second blog site, dedicated to writers, writing, books, and reading, I invite you to visit annelisplace.wordpress.com and click to follow it if you like what you see.

Anneli's Place

I’d like to introduce my guest, Diana Wallace Peach, author of several novels and now author of her first children’s book. Diana has a wonderful attitude towards life, which I’m happy to let her share with you.

Welcome Diana.

My daughter wasn’t a morning person as a three-year-old. Instead of simply picking out her clothes for the next morning, she’d wear her outfit to bed. Anything to avoid the ordeal of dressing in the morning. Mornings were miserable and teary, and they set the tone for a miserable, teary day.

One morning we sat on her bed, and I suggested that we use her superpowers to change her day. Well, that intrigued her. So together we said the magic words. “I’m going to have a great day.” We said it over and over again, louder and louder, and guess what? She had a great day. Was her routine different than…

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Beach Fishing, Anyone?

I would feel safe enough fishing from a little skiff. I wouldn’t mind the mystic, misty fog that will burn off later in the day.

But going ashore to fish from the beach has given me pause. All sorts of dangers lurk there, right next to those horse clams that squirt water through their siphons like a mini fire brigade.

Remember them, squirting water into the air? Well, just look what is going on behind their backs.What if I’d been standing on the beach fishing, and it turned out to be the bruin’s favourite fishing spot? I think I’d stay in the skiff, thank you.

But worse yet, what if you heard wolves howling the night before, you go to the beach to fish in the morning and a friend calls over to tell you he just saw a wolf running away. You go to explore, and find that wolves have taken down a good-sized deer.

A pack of wolves would tear at the hide, pulling it right off the hind quarters to get at the meat under it. I apologize to the squeamish readers, but this is real life and death–the kind of thing we Disney fans deny ever happens, when in fact it is going on all the time. It must go on. Wolves have to eat too. But you’ll excuse me if I’m not overly in love with wolves or want to transplant them to every part of the country.

Next time I’ll post something sweet and not too real. I know that for many of you this is hard to look at. I didn’t like it myself, but it’s real, it’s true, and it’s happening out there in the real world.

No, I wasn’t there that day, but the Captain was. He took these pictures.