I’m Such A Snotty Princess

Hubby brought home a cold last week. As I mentioned several years ago, we generally don’t share viruses because I’m probably a Neanderthal, but this one seems to have targeted the weaker homo sapiens part of my genetic makeup.

Right now I’m at the stage where my throat and lungs are on fire but I’m not coughing yet. I’m still clinging to the idiot hope that maybe the Rhinovirus Fairy will pass me by instead of scooping out my brain and replacing it with snot.

But I think she (or ‘he’, to be fair) has already begun the process, because in the last few days I’ve developed a disturbing tendency to shuffle to a halt and stand staring into space for several seconds before saying, “Come on, brain, you can do this!” aloud. It seems to work – I usually remember what I was trying to do, but it tends to draw wary looks if I do it outside the privacy of my home.

Meanwhile, I’m sucking on zinc/echinacea/Vitamin C lozenges and drinking hot lime juice with honey. (I prefer lime instead of the traditional lemon because then I can pretend I’m drinking a hot margarita instead of a medicinal beverage.)  I don’t expect this to cure or in any way improve my cold, but at least it gives me something to do while I wait.

When I sat down to write this post I racked my virus-laden brain for something funny to say about the common cold, but you know what? I got nothin’. Colds suck. Or rather, blow. Great soggy snot-balls.

So instead, here are a few things that made me laugh this week:

My blogging buddy Carl D’Agostino’s cartoon: https://carldagostino.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/compulsive-behavior-by-carl-dagostino/

My nephew’s comment about men’s locker rooms: “Yep, no matter which way you turn, you’re gonna see something you really didn’t want to see.” That reminded us both of this comic from The Oatmeal and made us laugh uproariously. (Scroll down to the bottom of The Oatmeal’s page for the one about the locker room.)

Then there’s this picture sent to me by one of my readers, Sue W., because she saw it on Facebook and knew it would make me laugh. (The misspelling of ‘potato’ is neither hers nor mine.)

That’ll make you think twice about digging in the garden…

That’ll make you think twice about digging in the garden…

I’m hoping the person who wrote the caption meant ‘love this’ in the philosophical sense, not the physical. But probably only my mind would ever latch onto that critical distinction.

This Twitter message was laughable because it was such a lame attempt at marketing from somebody who clearly knows me… wait for it… NOT AT ALL:

Totally me. Not.

Totally me. Not.

Let me count the ways this made me laugh:

  • They clearly put so much time and effort into crafting their marketing message. Ten seconds with Google Translate might have helped.
  • It’s pink. Anybody who knows me (even slightly) knows that I’ve never in my life worn or even owned anything pink.
  • It has a princess crown on it. Is there anything about me that could in any way be construed as princess-like?
  • It has a cutesy heart on it. I’m totally gonna wear this with my biking leathers and flaming-skull helmet.
  • And hell yeah, I’m going to click on a random link sent by some spammer just because the T-shirt has my first name on it. Nice try, guys. But thanks for the laughs.

What made you chuckle this week? And/or what’s your favourite cold remedy?

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A Super Pickle Tickle

Last week I asked if anybody else was harbouring unusual mementos in their home. My blogging buddy Carrie Rubin stepped up to the plate (pun intended) with her Super Pickle, and kindly offered to let me use him in a blog post:

Super Pickle in all his glory.

Super Pickle in all his glory.

That reminded me of yet another oddball item in my house: a leering wooden zucchini.

Quite a bit more disturbing than Super Pickle.

Quite a bit more disturbing than Super Pickle.

Needless to say, the comic possibilities were endless for a woman of my twisted imagination. So many phallic vegetables, so few words allotted to a single blog post…

I considered writing a flash-fiction zucchini-on-pickle romance. After all, Super Pickle wears his rainbow tights with such pride and panache. But he’s so innocently goofy and endearing, I couldn’t bring myself to roll out any hide-the-pickle jokes.

If I was only writing about my freaky double-jointed zucchini I’d go for it without hesitation, because let’s face it: that deranged smile that could mean anything from an invitation for acts better left undescribed to an offer of cake made with his own pulverised progeny. (Mmm, and now I’m hungry for zucchini cake.)

In any case, I’d never tweak a pickle without knowing its background, so more research was required. I vaguely remember Super Pickle from decades ago, but I guess I was living under a rock in the 70s and 80s because I had to go and look him up on the internet to see what he was all about.

I did that with much trepidation, cringing at the thought of finding photos that might defile my virginal eyeballs when I searched for “super pickle”. Much to my disappointment surprise, everything came up absolutely clean. Either somebody has sneakily installed a content filter on my computer, or Super Pickle is beyond reproach.

And he’s still popular. I even came across a fan forum where people described their attachments to Super Pickle and their ongoing search for Super Pickle toys: http://www.inthe80s.com/toys/superpickle.shtml. Carrie, there’s a retail opportunity for you!

Anyway, in the end I discovered that Super Pickle had his beginnings as the star of a 1972 children’s pop-up book so, considering his G-rated origins, any off-colour references on my part would be totally inappropriate. Which, by an amazing coincidence, is the title of my last blog compilation; but still. Out of respect for Super Pickle, I’m going to defy the almost-irresistible compulsion to make a crack about pop-up pickles.

Instead, I’ll leave you with a pickle-related joke:

Chatting over the fence with her neighbour one day, a woman remarks on the tomatoes in his garden. “They’re so ripe already,” she marvels. “How do you always get the first red tomatoes on the block?”

He leans closer to whisper, “I have a secret. Every night after everybody else is in bed I sneak out to the garden wearing a trench coat and nothing else. I flash the tomatoes and they blush red! You should try it with your garden.”

Inspired, the woman follows his advice. A week later they’re chatting over the fence again and her neighbour inquires, “So how are your tomatoes?”

“Well, they’re still nothing special. But you should see the size of the cucumbers!”

See you in the produce department! (I’ll be the one eyeing the cucumbers and snickering.)

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It’s The Cat’s Ass!

Last year I mentioned that my home is a repository for creepy and disturbing items. But I also have a number of things that aren’t exactly creepy, but nevertheless indicate to the world that the inhabitants of this house are just not quite… normal.

For instance, there’s this:

Yes, that is a cat’s-ass fridge magnet.

Yes, that is a cat’s-ass fridge magnet.

There is, of course, a story behind (pun intended) this.

Our family has always loved cats. I had cats for a couple of decades; my step-mom has a cat; and after being feline-free for quite a while, my sister got an adorable little orange tabby christened Phoebe several years ago.

Phoebe is lovely, but, like all cats, she’s fond of mooning. Especially as a kitten she loved to get her butt right up in my brother-in-law’s face, much to his vociferous disapproval. So when I discovered a package of fridge magnets shaped like cats’ asses, I had to buy them for him as a gag gift for Christmas that year. He duly gagged when he opened them, there was much hilarity, and then I got distracted by cooking and visiting and thought no more about it.

Until everybody left and I discovered the Siamese ass, the rudest one of the bunch, stuck to my fridge.

I laughed (yes, I have to say it) my ass off.

The cat’s-ass magnet subsequently became a family joke, and at one point my then-teenage niece got creative with my one of my other fridge magnets:

 Is that modesty or lasciviousness?

Is that modesty or lasciviousness?

Anyway, years passed and I had pretty much stopped noticing the cat’s ass, until my nephew and his wife visited with their kids last Christmas. Aged seven and four, the kids investigated the house and then joined us in the kitchen. I was yakking with the adults and didn’t notice what was going on until a little voice spoke up.

“Excuse me.” (These kids are polite.) “What’s that?” A little finger points up at the fateful magnet. Two wide-eyed stares fix on my face.

“What do you think it is?”

Nothing but silence and round eyes. They know damn well what it is, but there’s no way they’re going to say it to a strange adult (and I’m as strange as they come).

I can’t help cracking (sorry) a smile. “It’s a cat bum.”

Squeals of delight. “A bum! It’s a cat bum!” Giggle-giggle-giggle!

But after they left I stopped paying attention to the magnet again, except to glance at it occasionally and grin at the memories.

Until last night.

Phone rings. It’s my sister. Laughing her ass off.

Her: “Guess what I just got! 3D cat butts!”

Me: “Wha…?”

Her:3D cat butts!

And she sent me a picture:

cat butts 3

Yes. Yes, those are 3D cat butts.

 

Apparently a co-worker had found this package of fridge magnets and bought them for her, without even knowing the family folklore.

And so another round of tradition begins. Some families treasure special china or heirloom jewellery. We bond over cat asses.

Any oddball heirlooms or traditions in your family?

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I Love My Job!

I’m always alert for research opportunities, and this week I was rewarded beyond my wildest dreams.

As you may know, I’m redoing my book covers. I’ve hired a professional photographer to do the main images but I’m filling in the backgrounds myself, so I needed a tractor/trailer unit for Book 8: SPY NOW, PAY LATER.  John R., one of the true Knights of the Road who’s been trucking for 48 years, generously agreed to let me photograph his truck.

Little did I know what was about to happen…

John and me

 

When we arrived at the depot, John offered to move the truck to where I could get a good shot. Then he asked if I wanted to get in the cab while he moved it.

Well, hell, yeah! I clambered eagerly into the passenger seat and peppered him with questions about the gauges and the engine and the air brakes and the jake-brake (engine retarder brake) and everything else, while he patiently explained it all.

I’ve always loved the roar and snort of the big diesels and the bone-rattling growl of the jake-brake, but I’ve never had a chance to get up-close-and-personal with them. Perched in the passenger seat grinning from ear to ear, I basked in the auditory delight while he drove across the yard.

I had finished my pictures and was turning away when John asked, “Do you want to go for a ride?”

Do I? Are you kidding? I was up into that passenger seat so fast I don’t think my feet even touched the steps.

When we reached the Trans-Canada Highway he turned left, which surprised me. I thought it would have been easier to turn right instead of crossing the median with the big rig, but whatever. I was in my glory, and John even indulged me by using the jake a couple of times even though it was completely unnecessary (we were out in the middle of nowhere so it wasn’t prohibited).

At the next small town he turned around to head back, but after crossing the median again to get us on the right side of the highway, he pulled over onto the shoulder and stopped.

Then he said, “Now you’re going to drive us back.” (John has trained lots of drivers for their Class 1 license so this wasn’t as reckless as it might sound, but I’m convinced he has nerves of steel nonetheless.)

After a moment of paralyzed disbelief, I jumped at the chance. My heart pounded so hard I thought I might have a heart attack and I’m pretty sure John’s steering wheel still bears the imprints of my white-knuckled grip, but I drove an 18-wheeler! How cool is that?!?

My short but thrilling trucking career (note the wild hair – we had the windows open so I could enjoy the sound of the engine).

My short but thrilling trucking career (wild hair and all – we had the windows open so I could enjoy the sound of the engine).

I certainly didn’t perform any great feats of driving skill – John shifted the gears from the passenger’s seat because I couldn’t figure out the split-shift and keep my eyes on the road at the same time. But I kept it between the lines and I made the two turns off the highway and onto the yard without dropping the trailer into the ditch, so I’m going to call it a success overall. And it was a giant thrill!

Have I mentioned lately that I love being a fiction writer?

I really, really do!

Many thanks to John for my big adventure, and to his wife Nellie for documenting it with photos!

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Beetle Chips And Other Stories

I was probably too young to remember when my mother admonished me not to eat bugs, but I’m sure she must have. I really would have preferred to follow her advice.

I realize there are some parts of the world where bugs are, if not delicacies, at least a dietary staple. Even here in Canada I’ve seen cricket lollipops and chocolate-covered grasshoppers, but I’ve never tried them. Hell, I grew up on the prairies. Once you’ve smelled the stomach-churning scent of grasshopper guts slowly barbequing on a hot engine and seen a 12” worm squeeze out of a cricket’s butt, you’re pretty much over the idea of eating grasshoppers and crickets.

Which makes the accidental ingestion of bugs that much more revolting to me. I’ve never experienced the clichéd ‘bite into an apple and find half a worm’, thank goodness. But I’ve come perilously close to devouring a couple of giant shiny black beetles.

Okay, they weren’t exactly ‘giant’ – they were probably only about an inch long. But still. That’s pretty-damn-big when we’re talking about bugs in food.

Once I was absently munching chips while reading. I don’t know what made me look into the bag at precisely the right instant, but there it was: a big black beetle lying belly-up and tastily coated in sour-cream-and-onion powder. My next mouthful would’ve had a very odd taste indeed.

Then I remembered I’d taken that bag of chips on a camping trip the week before, and apparently I’d picked up a hitchhiker. At least he died happy, surrounded by more food than he could ever eat. But I carefully avoided thinking about what he might have left behind on the chips.

Another time I was startled by exactly the same type of black beetle scuttling out of a peach pit as I cut the peach open. Fortunately I hadn’t bitten into the peach, or I’d have gotten a squirmy mouthful.

And I’m an authority on squirmy mouthfuls, after the time I drank from a garden hose and ended up with a large spider crawling across my tongue. That cured me of drinking from the garden hose without letting it run for a while first.

I’m sure I’ve eaten my fair share of carrot maggots – they’re exactly the same colour as carrots, and I’d eaten quite a few carrots before I realized what was causing those itty-bitty tunnels. And I’ve definitely had my fill of gnats or whatever those bugs are that hover in giant clouds over the road. If you’re on a bike or even walking fast, there’s just no way to avoid them short of suicidal evasive action.

All this was brought to my mind a few weeks ago when I bolted awake in the middle of the night. As I’ve mentioned before, it doesn’t take much to make me do that, but this time it wasn’t a false alarm. Something was definitely wrong.

Then I realized there was a funny taste in my mouth. And there had been a lot of fruit flies around…

Anybody else got bug stories? Have you ever intentionally eaten bugs?

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Random Thoughts From A Fried Brain

I’ve been completely immersed in changing over all my domains to a new hosting provider this week.  It was an immensely complicated and time-consuming affair, fraught with stress over recreating four websites and about 50 email accounts without losing any connections or having any website downtime.  Somewhat to my own surprise I emerged victorious yesterday, and I still even have most of my hair.  Enough to hide the places where I yanked chunks out, anyway.

Unfortunately, I don’t have enough remaining brainpower to create any kind of intelligible blog post.  So instead of failing in the attempt, I’m going to offer a few random thoughts from this week and tack a cartoon on the end.

Here goes:

  • The only thing that differentiates me from a garden-variety nutjob is the fact that instead of following orders from the voices in my head, I write them down and call them fiction.
  • You know how in the movies the tough guys always say, “Awright, you wanna do this the easy way or the hard way?” Does anybody ever say, “Ooh, ooh, let’s do it the hard way!”
  • Ever notice how, with computers, the “easy way” is indistinguishable from the “hard way”? And if you cynically attempt a harder way because you already know the easy way is a disaster… well, that way lies madness.
  • Computers contain advanced sensors capable of determining the exact amount of stress hormones in your system. When a preset level is attained, the computer will automatically crash. If your stress levels continue to escalate, it will develop a catastrophic problem that requires a minimum of a full day’s pissing around to fix.
  • The above also applies to smartphones.
  • Regardless of the amount of work to be done, the work always expands to fill the time available… plus an hour.
  • The fastest way to get attentive customer service is to tell them to cancel your account.
  • Two lies don’t make a truth, but three or more lies make a sales brochure.

And I’ll leave you with this:

being a novelist final

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Automotive Heaven Can Wait

Last week I was in automotive heaven… and it turned out to be more of a pain in the butt than I’d anticipated.

Rick and Sandy (of Hand Crafted Images) and I were doing the photographs for Book 2’s updated cover.  Car buffs may recall that Aydan drooled over an Audi R8 in THE SPY IS CAST, and wonder of wonders, I got up-close-and-personal with a real R8 this week thanks to the generosity of Doug S. and the staff at Glenmore Audi.

As with most undertakings that involve me, there was inappropriate laughter.

The dealership is a pristine building featuring bright white ceilings and sleek grey floors.  Other cars were scattered throughout the showroom, but two Quattros crouched protectively beside the R8, their feral headlight configurations watching us like predatory beasts.

Yes, I was slightly intimidated.

At first we trod reverently around the R8, not approaching it too closely so our heated and unsteady breathing wouldn’t fog its gleaming paint.

We were completely freaked out at the thought of being close enough to damage an automobile that costs more than twice what I paid for my first house.  We checked and re-checked the tripods that held the backdrop, cringing at visions of the metal poles toppling onto the car.

At last we had the backdrops in place and the moment of truth arrived:  It was time to unlock the car.

Then I would strip down to my ignominious outfit of stiletto heels and gym shorts (because I didn’t want to wear a skirt and accidentally emulate the Basic Instinct leg-crossing scene) and… yes… I would actually sit in the driver’s seat.

That’s where the giggles started.  In the first place, a woman wearing makeup, gym shorts, and stiletto heels just looks ridiculous.

Also, this woman wearing stiletto heels looks slightly ridiculous anyway.  The R8 tops out at four feet.  In heels, I’m 6’-2”.  I towered over the car (and everybody else in the dealership).

The next issue was that the stilettos give me a 38” inseam.  Try stuffing those long legs into a car while holding your breath in case a lethal heel scratches something that costs more than your entire car.  But I managed.

In short order, the next issue surfaced.  The R8’s seats are set in quite far from the exterior body panels.  If I sat in the driver’s seat, my legs barely made it out of the car.  To get the shot we wanted, I’d have to perch on the rocker panel.

For the record, the R8’s rocker panels are not designed to comfortably accommodate a human ass.  (Nor a human posterior, for that matter.)

It got worse.  On the original cover, the model’s lips are parted.  It looks as though she’s pronouncing the letter ‘D’, and it’s supposed to look pouty or sensuous or something.

My pout looked more like ‘Duh’.  I stared vacantly into space, slack-lipped and clutching a cardboard cutout of a Glock.  I only managed a few minutes of that before dissolving into helpless laughter.  Thank you, Sandy and Rick, for your infinite patience!

But at last we packed up the equipment and vacated the premises with relief, leaving the fabulous car unscathed.  (Which was more than I could say for my aching ass.)

It was only afterward I realized that my butt was the only part of me that ever touched the car.  I never even put my hands on the steering wheel.

I guess I’m just not cut out for automotive heaven.

* * *

P.S.  Unedited proofs are always good for a chuckle.  Note my alter-ego in the reflection beside me:

My inner werewolf sneaks out when I least expect it…

My inner werewolf sneaks out when I least expect it…

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Dental Daftness

So I went to the dentist this week…

Wait, don’t run away!  If you get the willies just thinking about dental procedures, I promise I’m not going to describe any scary stuff.  But I did manage to look foolish and give myself the giggles.

You’d think the scope for embarrassment would be relatively limited at a dentist’s office.  You walk in, sit down, let them do whatever needs to be done, pay, and leave.  Short of performing a spectacular pratfall on the way to the chair (and I didn’t), it’s a pretty predictable experience.

Going to the dentist isn’t a big deal for me.  My teeth are good, and my dentist is excellent and super-nice to boot.  But it turned out that my favourite dental hygienist had moved away so I was assigned a new one.

I don’t know whether I was adjusting to his unfamiliar technique or just having a particularly brain-dead day, but the way I carried on you’d think I’d never had my teeth cleaned before.

First there was the obligatory round of small talk with his fingers jammed in my mouth.  I’m pretty sure both restaurant waitstaff and dental hygienists attend secret training courses so they can pinpoint the exact moment their mark’s client’s mouth is stuffed as full as possible.  Then it becomes a sporting event to ask a question and watch, completely straight-faced, while the mark client struggles to respond intelligibly.

This guy was good.  He didn’t even crack a smile while I mumbled stuff even I couldn’t decipher.  Then he started the cleaning, with its usual routine of rinse-and-suction.

And I damn near drowned myself.

I drooled, sputtered, and almost sucked the side of my own face off with the suction tube.  My bib was soaked, and fortunately he’d given me a tissue because I tipped my head a little too far and water ran out the corner of my mouth and into my right ear.  Then I coughed up a gout of water that sprinkled my goggles and dampened the back of my collar before I could catch the waterfall with my tissue.

That made me giggle and try to say, “Geez, I didn’t think I needed another shower today”, but since I still had a small amount of water plus a couple of his fingers in my mouth, it came out as rhythmic gurgling and eruptions that made me look as though I was trying to emulate the fountains at Bellagio.  (Though I’m pretty sure my version of fountain choreography will never succeed as a tourist attraction.)

But if there was a video camera hidden in the ceiling and if I’m right about the secret sporting society, my hygienist will be taking a bow at their awards dinner this year.

Well played, my friend.  Well played.

* * *

P.S. Any time I think of dentists, I have a giggle at the old joke about the guy who’s at the dentist.  The dentist gets out the drill and the guy reaches over, grabs the dentist by the balls, and says, “We wouldn’t want to hurt each other, would we, Doc?”

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I Fear The Eagle

I don’t know why, but the Internal Revenue Service strikes fear into my heart.  It’s weird.  I mean, hell, I’m Canadian.  I have a justifiable wariness toward the Canada Revenue Agency, but the IRS shouldn’t even be on my radar, right?

Wrong.

Maybe it’s because of my innate problem with authority figures.  Maybe it’s just from watching too much U.S. television during my misspent youth, or maybe it’s the fact that the eagle in their logo issues a subliminal promise to cheerfully rip out my entrails and snack on them.  For whatever reason, the IRS scares me worse than the CRA.

This wouldn’t be a problem if, like most Canadians, I never had to deal with the IRS.  But when I published my books, I began to receive royalties from none other than the U. S. of A.  Which meant I had to creep out of my comfort zone and confront The Eagle.

Navigating the government forms didn’t bother me – after years of dealing with legal contracts and business documents, the red tape felt comfortingly familiar.  But then, completed forms in hand, I had to actually phone the dreaded IRS.

Knees knocking, mouth dry, I dialled with a trembling hand.

When the agent answered I nearly hung up in a funk.  Unlike CRA agents who answer with their first names, IRS agents identify themselves with intimidating formality as ‘Ms./Mr. LastNameOnly’, and then they spew out a big scary-sounding number.

When I managed to summon my voice and explain what I needed, Miss Weebles turned out to be efficient, friendly, and helpful despite her long scary number.  My questions were answered, my account was quickly set up, and I hung up thinking, “It can’t be that easy.”

But apparently it was.  Several years passed without incident and I gradually overcame the fear that the IRS was lurking around the corner waiting to swoop down and gut me.

Then last week I had a terrifying thought:  I’ve never filed a US tax return.  I don’t owe anything since I pay income tax on my royalties to the Canadian government, but here in Canada you still have to file a return every year even if you don’t owe anything.  What if the IRS required that, too?

Ohmigod.  The IRS was finally going to get me.

Cue up the telephone scene again, with me looking even more scared than before.

I got a male agent this time, which somehow seemed more ominous.  Mr. Hartman snapped out his name and his long scary number and I nearly fainted before managing to stammer out my question.

And everything was fine.  Miss Weebles had done a bang-up job, everything was in order, and I don’t need to file US tax returns.  Mr. Hartman was pleasant and friendly.  He even joked a bit and was kind enough to ask about my books.

I hung up the phone with a feeling of unreality.  Has my fear been completely unwarranted all these years?  Or is the IRS just lulling me into a false sense of security before they unleash The Eagle?

Or am I just a paranoid freak?  (Never mind; don’t answer that.)

* * *

P.S. The new cover art is ready for Book 1!  At first glance it looks the same, which is what I wanted… but it’s all in the details. Now it’s a middle-aged woman, the gun is actually a Glock (though not the correct Glock 26 because it’s prohibited in Canada), and I own the images.  No more stock photos, woohoo!  It’s a slow process, but I hope the cover art will be updated for all the books within the next couple of months.  Here’s the new Never Say Spy cover:

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Where’s Diane?

I’m on vacation!  Can you guess where?

crown isle gc

The perfume of hyacinths floating on cool misty air was absolutely sublime!

raindrop tree

Even the raindrops are beautiful!

dinner

Don’t worry, I haven’t turned into an oenophile – I had my beer for an appetizer. Counterclockwise from top: Painted Turtle Sauvignon Blanc from Oliver BC, Salt Spring Island mussels provençale, pan-fried Fanny Bay oysters, Greek salad. Yum!

shells

I’m usually not much of a shell-picker, but I’ve never seen a moon snail shell in such good condition. This one’s nearly four inches in diameter.

ice cream

Caught in the act, ice cream cone in hand. But you wouldn’t expect any less, would you?

Ready to guess?  If you said “the west coast”, you’re right!  The first two photos were taken at the Crown Isle golf course clubhouse in Comox, BC.  The food is from Deez Bar and Grill in Qualicum Beach, BC, and that’s me on the shore of the Salish Sea, ice cream in hand.

We’re on Vancouver Island for the week, soaking up some humidity and smelling the flowers while it snows in Calgary.

Our hotel is right on the shore, and from our window we’ve already seen harbour seals, a sea otter, bald eagles, common loons (the avian variety, though we’ve seen a few of the human sort, too), and thousands of surf scoters, black scoters, white-winged scoters, greater scaups, harlequin ducks, and of course, seagulls.  Herring roe is lying in drifts along the shore, and the washed-up seaweed looks as though it’s been encrusted in yellow pearls.  (Fortunately it’s not smelly.)  I’m envying the stand-up paddleboarders and kayakers, but I’ll save that adventure for another trip.

We have lots of day trips planned, but we always have to go to one of my favourite places in the world:  Cathedral Grove.  This little pocket of old-growth forest is right off the Alberni Highway (#4), an enchanting few acres of giant trees that are hundreds of years old.  No matter how often I go there, I still stand in awe.

cedar

Just in case you thought I was using a bit more artistic license than usual when I described hiding inside a cedar tree in Book 10 (oops; correction:  Book 9.  I’ve got Book 10 on the brain!)… there’s room to hide an entire baseball team in here!

big tree

Here we are in front of the tree that BC Parks has designated the biggest, though there are several others close to this size. Notice the “small” tree lying behind us – it’s actually the top of a fallen giant, only about 5’ in diameter at that point.

big tree sign

Kinda puts it all in perspective, doesn’t it? This sign was placed around 1992, so that means the big guy is coming up on his 900th birthday.

Yesterday we made it to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre and the World Parrot Refuge, and still on our to-do list are trips to Englishman River Falls, some wineries, and any other interesting side trips that catch our eyes in passing.

And best of all, the weather has been perfect so far.  As the joke goes, “Weather is here; wish you were beautiful”.

Hope you’re having a good week – we are! :-)

* * *

P.S. We’re out and about this morning, but I’ll be back to reply to comments later tonight or tomorrow morning.  “Talk” to you then!

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