Sun Princess

It’s that time of the year when I dress with care before going outside, making sure every square inch of skin is covered by long pants, long sleeves, gloves, hat…

No, I’m not bundling up for sub-zero temperatures; I’m just taking my wimpy skin outside on a sunny day.  I swear I put on more clothes in the summer than I do in the winter.

I’ve always been an ‘outside’ person. If fate was kind, I’d have been blessed with a leathery hide that tanned effortlessly. Instead, I have fairy-princess skin with a little mushroom DNA thrown in:  sickly white, delicate as tissue paper, and just as flammable.

After ten unprotected minutes in the sun I turn a nice shade of parboiled pink. Half an hour and my skin is angry red. If I spend any longer in the sun, it becomes clear why there are legends about vampires combusting in daylight.

I wear an SPF that would allow normal people to bask comfortably on the sunny side of Mercury, but my princess-skin is picky about sunscreen, too. Most sunscreens give me chemical burns, and applying zinc oxide is like rubbing my face with finely-ground glass.

After many trials and errors I’ve found sunscreens my skin can tolerate, and I wear them every day. I’m grateful for them, because I still need their protection even though I wear a hat.  But…

I hate them.

I hate the way they feel on my skin. I hate the way dirt and dust sticks to them. I hate the glowing white trails that show up when titanium dioxide slithers down to collect in my wrinkles. I hate the way avobenzone stains my clothes orange in our iron-rich water, and I especially hate that avobenzone is carcinogenic.  (Yeah, why don’t I just put a cancer-causing substance on my skin… to prevent skin cancer?  WTF?!?)

I especially hate the taste of sunscreen.  I know I’m not supposed to eat it, but I have to apply it right around my lips or risk a sunburn that looks like Bozo the Clown.  Then all it takes is one ill-advised swipe of my tongue to catch the juice from my morning orange, and I’m making a face like a horse with peanut butter stuck to the roof of its mouth.  At least my mother would be pleased to know that I’m finally learning to use a napkin.

Still, I don’t want skin cancer so I keep wearing my icky sunscreen and sweating profusely in my long sleeves, long pants, and hat.  I may or may not live longer, but it’ll certainly feel like it.

But the joy of gardening makes it all worthwhile!  Here’s what’s new in the garden this week (click on the photos to see larger versions):

I’m still rockin’ the garden. Only a few hundred tons of rock and soil to go…


The colours and scents are glorious!


The big fuzzy bumblebees are out now, and the anemones are heavenly-blue.


The lupin leaves are amazing on a misty day.


Our earliest rhododendron is just starting to bloom. This is Snow Lady – still tiny, but putting on a show!

28 thoughts on “Sun Princess

  1. I feel for you with the sunscreen issue….you do have your hands full with all of the garden work….but well worth it….love working with plants, gardens, etc…just spent all morning clearing out vines that had to of been planted by early man here in So Cal….your setting is beautiful…enjoy the beauty of nature all around your place and just keep slathering the tasty stuff on….:)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Diane, beautifully written and funny. Your account of your tribulations with your skin makes me grateful for my darker (albeit slightly greenish) skin tone. Like you, I like to spend time out in the garden, and I also hike and ski. I probably should slather on the sunscreen more often than I do.

    I live on Vancouver Island too.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jude! How nice to “meet” a neighbour! 🙂 Sunscreen is a giant pain, but at least Vancouver Island’s sun is a little less aggressive than Calgary’s (where I spent 30 years). At that elevation, sunscreen was an absolute necessity. At least here at sea level I can push the limits a little more!


  3. I love your garden photos, particularly right now as it is snowing lightly even as I type. I can’t complain too much as the winter was not that bad this year. And it’s supposed to turn to rain later. The bee photo is my favourite. Could possibly be a painting in the making?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oooh, yes! Spoken like a true artist. I never even thought of painting the bee in the flower, but you’re right, he’d make a great painting.

      Sorry about your snow – that’s gross. Fingers crossed that it turns into rain!


  4. Beautiful flowers! And oh my! That bee looks like he’s snuggled into that anemone as far as he can! I love the blue!
    I was naturally a very dark brunette before I went all silver, but still have prissy skin. I get lovely hives from the sun, so I also do long sleeves. I do feel your pain.
    Loved 14. The end was incredibly satisfying and I even managed to write a review this time. Thank you for continuing to write!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for writing a review – that means a lot to me. I’m so glad you loved Book 14! 🙂

      And here I’ve been envying brunettes thinking they had it made. I guess the sun really isn’t a friend to many people.

      I’m getting a huge kick out of watching the bees – the one in the blue anemone was busy, but there are others that just seem to be clinging to the flowers (or tucked inside them) and snoozing. I don’t know whether they’re exhausted and taking a rest, or whether it’s some other kind of ‘bee-haviour’ that I don’t understand. They’re fun to watch!


  5. Oh my goodness you make me laugh. I’ve only said that 362 times prior but really…. ‘normal people to bask comfortably on the sunny side of Mercury’. I have complete narrative envy. I myself, as a lifeguard in the 70’s, where baby oil was the skin product of the day, have had enough sun exposure to light up the night sky these decades later. Like you I sweat in my long sleeves and pants in some hope that this sacrifice of personal spontaneous combustion will appeal to the anti skin cancer gods.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Having several red heads in my family I’ve seen the pain of sun exposure first hand so I can acknowledge that the struggle is real! Being a brunette I have it much easier, and I can appreciate that now. But when I was little I would’ve suffered anything to be a redhead like my mom and sister. I tried dying it red once and WHOA NELLY!! Horrifying. I don’t have the skin tone for red hair and I looked like a tomato was sitting on my neck. Lmao! So a brunette I am.
    Again the garden pics are beautiful! I love the picture of the lupin with the droplet of water. Fantastic shot. And the bees are obviously enjoying your hard work in the garden.
    If I didn’t mention it already 14 is FANTASTIC!! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Woohoo! I’m thrilled that you loved Book 14 — that makes my day! 😀 I can hardly wait to get started writing 15, but I need to spend a couple of weeks catching up on everything I neglected while I was in the final throes of New Book Release.

      My mom was a brunette, and I envied her ability to be out in the sun. I’ve always like having red hair so I don’t think I’d want to trade, but… man, it would be nice not to turn into a crispy critter in minutes!

      I loved the shot of the lupin, too! We’re supposed to have some rainy weather for the next few days, so I’m hoping to get some more good shots. It’s such a thrill to have a good camera again after years without one!


  7. Ouch, Diane. I have horrid skin, goes with the hair, but it is sun-resistant to a point… the sun eventually joins all the blotches together giving the impression of a tan, and it gives the added bonus of drying it out. I usually tan either in stripes or all down one side, so I can’t really win. The good thing is I’m not very green-fingered so I don’t need to be outside that much.
    Your garden’s looking lovely though… I’m impressed. 🌻

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Tom! When I was a kid I had the same kind of ‘tan’ — I just kept burning over and over again until I was one big freckle. It wasn’t the ideal solution, but it was the only one available at the time. 🙂


  8. I can’t stand sunscreen on my skin either – the greasy feel of even the lightest lotions makes me nearly crazy. Fortunately I’m not an outdoor person, but I feel for you.

    Man, that bee and anemone photo is AMAZING! You can almost hear the bee being deliriously happy! Your hard work in your gardens is certainly paying off. I love your use of the rocks to edge the beds.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I loved the bee photo, too! I had to buy a new camera to do the cover art for Book 14 and I’ve been going crazy with it ever since. (Okay, fine; I didn’t HAVE to buy the new camera, but the alternative was hiring a photographer for half the price of the camera. And I knew I was going to write more books and need more cover photography, so buying the camera was the economical choice. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.) 😉


  9. OMG I have garden envy! We are having a snow storm right now… yes snow ( April 3)! With all of the sunscreen we wear these days we are blocking our access to Vitamin D the natural way. Have your doctor check your Vitamin D levels.
    And so far loving book 14.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so glad you’re loving Book 14!

      You’re right about the Vitamin D thing. My doc brought it up about 10 years ago, and I’ve been taking supplements ever since. Maybe I’ve just been luckier than usual, but it seems to me that my immune system is stronger and I’ve been sick less since I started taking the supplements.

      A snowstorm?!? Bleah! What a crazy winter this has been. I hope your storm is short-lived and not too destructive.


  10. The garden looks lush.
    I have similar skin to you, if I’m lucky after weeks of catching a smidge of sun I may go a slightly less white colour.

    Currently in Spain a couple of rainstorms since I got here but mostly it’s been hot. I’ve killed my feet but what’s new, thank god for compeed my feet are covered in then lol, why is it shoes you know are comfortable kill your feet as soon as you wear them on holiday. Still I can still walk and have managed to surprise myself as to how I’ve managed so far it’s only Wednesday and I got here Saturday.

    Aydan and the gang are keeping me company started book 12 this morning and despite a day out I’m part way through chapter 12. So I imagine I will be reading book 14 at the weekend I’m looking forward to it, and also not at the same time coz that means I’ll have to wait for ages for the next one.

    Right I left Aydan wanting to crawl into bed after pretending to be a bear to retrieve her clothes, and just discovering she now has a breakfast meeting and needs clothes. I feel for her and can’t leave our girl in distress.

    Oh that reminds me does anyone else go from one book to another without a break or are people like my parents and have a break of at least the rest of the day between books

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sounds like you’re having a wonderful time — hooray for vacations! I absolutely go from one book to another without a break. I’ll read all day if I get the chance, and I can usually read three or four books in a day. In the old days before Kindle and discount-book sites like Bookbub, my reading budget was atrocious. It’s still a little scary, but at least now the expense is part of my job! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. That’s a perfect description of me going out in the sun. Last summer I managed to get a sunburn on my feet while kayaking. I was out maybe an hour and put sunscreen everywhere but the top of my feet.

    Let me tell how painful it is to put shoes on sun burnt feet – well, you likely already know that answer.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Don’t think of yourself as sickly white or pasty. You are more like alabaster! Being a person of non-color I tend to toast up pretty well, too. So well in fact that I have had several smallish chunks of my skin removed for basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma. Keep doing what you do for protection since a body condom isn’t really practical.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ‘A body condom’. Oh, my. The mental image of that is just… words fail me. Mostly because I’m laughing so hard!

      And ooh, I like ‘alabaster’! It sounds ever-so-classy. Now I feel the need to adopt a snooty accent and a haughty little finger-wave to go with my newly refined self-image. (But it won’t last more than a few seconds before I burst out laughing.) 😉


        • Someday your spring will come! I’ve been thrilled at the number of bees visiting the flowerbeds — on a little heather plant only about a foot across, there will be a dozen or more bees working away. The whole flowerbed is buzzing! I’m glad to give them a food source to tide them over until the wildflowers start blooming.


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