Evil Seagull Lady

The other day I was down at the ocean (and I’m still thrilled that I can get there in fifteen minutes).  This is my favourite time of year to go to the beach – the days are crisp and the tourists are gone, so it’s only me and the waves and the seagulls.

And the Seagull Lady.

An elderly woman drove up and parked as I was walking down to the water’s edge, but I didn’t pay much attention – I was focused on getting to my favourite sandbar while the sun was turning the waves blue and silver.  I made a beeline for my special spot and stood there smiling, tuning out everything but the gentle hush of the waves and the cries of the seagulls.

Except… there seemed to be more seagull cries than usual.  And they weren’t the normal squawks that seagulls emit while they’re casually flying overhead deciding whether to shit on you.  These were more urgent squeals that were easy to translate:  “Feed me!  Feed me!  Feed me!”

I glanced over to see the Seagull Lady seated on a big driftwood log holding a bread bag and surrounded by gulls.  She tossed handful after handful of bread to the greedy crew, who gobbled it up and screamed for more.

I had several thoughts in quick succession:

  1. “Aw, that nice little old lady must love gulls.  That would make a great photo, with her sitting on that big log backlit by the sun and surrounded by birds.”
  2. “Jeez, I’m glad that’s not my house right next to the parking lot.  Now I know why there are always dozens of squawking gulls and a river of birdshit on their roof.  I bet the homeowners would love to smack that nice little old lady.”
  3. “I wonder if that nice little old lady knows that bread is unhealthy for gulls and she’s not really doing them any favours?”

That’s when my brain took a hard left (as it frequently does) and kickstarted my urge to create stories of mayhem and betrayal.

My next thought was this:

“What if that little old lady actually hates gulls?  What if she’s purposely feeding them bread in the full knowledge that it will make them malnourished and less able to fend for themselves?  OMG, what if that little old lady is actually a twisted psychopath who intentionally inflicts suffering on all living things?  That would make an awesome storyline!”

…And that’s what it’s like to live inside my head.

So the next time you see a woman at the beach gazing across the waves and smiling, don’t assume she’s all zen-and-happy-meditation.  She might be devising evil plots…

*

P.S. I’m travelling, so I’ll catch up with comments later in the day.  “Talk” to you then!  🙂

Book 14 update:  I hit the 50% mark this week, hooray!  This is where the plot gets complicated…

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Just A Nutjob

I have to confess:  I’m obsessed with nuts.  All sizes and shapes and colours; from soft to firm to rock-hard, and everything in between.  Such a glorious variety… mmmm!  And there’s nothing like that delicious crunch when I crush them between my teeth.

Guys, stop wincing – it’s nothing personal.

The other day I checked the grocery list and chuckled.  There were only three items on it:  Peanuts, walnuts, and pine nuts.

This was in addition to the dried-fruit-and-peanut mix that’s always in my car in case I need a snack while I’m on the road; the can of salted cashews in the snack drawer; the almonds and almond flour in the baking cupboard; and the big bowl of unshelled nuts that takes up residence on our counter every year as soon as fresh nuts become available.  (And you know I’m secretly snickering at “fresh nuts”.  There’s nothing better than cupping a nice big handful of… okay, I’ll stop now.)

And there’s always at least a gallon of peanut butter in the freezer in addition to the jar that’s currently in use; but I don’t actually include that in my nut count – peanut butter is a staple food that transcends nutdom.  (If only I could say the same about myself.)

If there’s peanut butter, there’s hope.  If there’s no peanut butter… *shudders at the thought*  I’m not even going to go there – it’s too traumatic to consider.  I’m sure most guys would agree that a nutless day is a bad day indeed.

Hubby is bemused by my love affair with peanut butter.  If we eat the same leftovers a few days in a row I get tired of them no matter now delicious they might be.  But peanut butter?  I eat it for breakfast every… single… day.  And I have for decades.  I just tell Hubby he should be glad that when I find something I truly love, my commitment problems magically disappear.  😉

I do realize that peanuts aren’t actually nuts at all – they’re legumes.  But I’m still nuts for them.  I know; sometimes I’m such a goober.

And now I can’t get the song “Goober Peas” out of my head.

Any other nut nuts out there?

Book 14 update:  I made it to the end of Chapter 21, and circled back to tune up some details in earlier chapters.  It’s fun to weave in all the little loose ends!

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Keep Calm And Carry On

You know how you get organized at the beginning of each week so you can sail through the upcoming days happy and relaxed because everything is under control?

I hope I’m not the only one laughing helplessly right now.

What’s even funnier is that sometimes I actually delude myself into thinking I truly do have everything under control.  That’s when Fate lets out a derisive laugh and upends my plans with unexpected detours, unavoidable delays, and unmet expectations.

I just try to keep calm and carry on. (And sometimes I lie awake stewing for hours in the middle of the night because everybody knows that helps…)

Anyhow, it’s been one of those weeks.  Nothing bad has happened; but every time I’ve tried to get my shit together, it’s ended up hitting the fan.  So since putting together a coherent post is beyond my ability at the moment, here are the highlights of my week in pictures:

Remember how several months ago I was chuckling about the eccentricities of the locals when I saw a woman leading a goat across the Canadian Tire parking lot?  Well, that’s not the only oddball animal on the loose around here.  Last week I was driving through the middle of nowhere when I saw this:

Two peacocks, just hanging out in the middle of the woods. Go figure.

I’m used to seeing deer by the dozens around here, but peacocks were a new sight for me.  And speaking of deer, these cuties were taking their ease right in the middle of town:

Mom and babies weren’t worried even when I walked up about fifteen feet away.

The rest of Canada is already getting snow (yes, Calgary, I’m looking at you with heartfelt sympathy for yesterday’s sixteen inches – blech!), so we’re starting to feel the pressure to get some last-minute gardening done around here.  I’m making slow progress on our landscaping:

Only a few more tons of rock to move. To give you a sense of scale, the post at the far right is almost 5′ tall.

But around here autumn is just starting, and with gorgeous colours like these, I might reconsider my vendetta against the fall season.  Almost.  Kinda.  Maybe…

This golden gorgeousness is a katsura tree, which smells deliciously (and unbelievably) like caramel in the autumn. The beautiful bark behind it is a giant Douglas fir.

How was your week?

Book 14 update:  I managed to squeak into Chapter 20 this week despite the craziness.  Fingers crossed for a more productive upcoming week…

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Butt Of A Soak… Erm, ‘Joke’

Sometimes the mo(i)st unwelcome surprises in life sneak up from behind.

In arid Calgary where we used to live, rain is infrequent and everything dries fast afterward, so it’s difficult to inadvertently sit on something that will drench your drawers.  But here on Vancouver Island, it rains more, it rains longer, and everything stays wet even though it looks dry.

So when we moved out here, I adjusted my habits accordingly:  I always check outdoor surfaces before sitting down.  But (and it’s a wet butt) the West Coast has sneaky ways to soak my skivvies despite my precautions.

F’rinstance, there’s the rogue wave that caught me unawares while I was crouched in the shallows checking out the contents of a tide pool.  One minute I’m warm and dry and utterly absorbed in watching the little aquatic critters; and the next minute I get butt-slapped by icy ocean water.  (And immediately after that, I squelched rapidly back to my car hoping nobody would notice that I’d apparently peed my pants.)

But I learned that lesson fast; and after nearly two years out here, I was starting to feel pretty complacent about my ability to identify situations that might dampen my derrière.

That mossy log that feels dry to the touch?  Nope.  It’s dry on the surface, but moss holds water like a sponge.  It’s just waiting to humidify my haunches.

That chair placed welcomingly on the deck in the early-morning sunshine?  Nope again.  It’s covered by a thick but virtually invisible layer of dew.

So the other day I found a plastic Adirondack chair out in the sun on a fine afternoon.  It hadn’t rained for a day, but I swiped my hand across the seat just to be certain.  Dry.

I sank into the chair, stretching out my legs and admiring the sweeping mountain view over a vivid green golf course.  Birds sang and fluffy clouds drifted by in the blue sky.  Ahhhh.  Heaven.

I eased back to take advantage of the perfect reclining angle and discovered (butt-first, of course) that plastic Adirondack chairs retain a pool of rainwater in a deep groove right where the back meets the seat.  In this case, my seat.

So there I was, on my way to a birthday party in jeans with a big and highly-visible wet spot on the ass.  With, of course, no time to go home and change.

So the Wet Coast won again; but now I’ve figured out all its tricks – my butt won’t be its joke again!

(I hope…)

Book 14 update:  I made it to the middle of Chapter 19 this week against all odds (it was a very busy week).  Hoping for some quality writing time this week!

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The Vultures Are Circling

So, remember how I waxed lyrical about the beauty and majesty of eagles soaring overhead?  Well, it seems I was mistaken.  There are actually eagles along the coast, but here at our place it turns out that those majestic soarers are, um… turkey vultures.

“The turkey vultures soaring majestically overhead” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Granted, they’re almost as big as an eagle, with a nearly-six-foot wingspan.  But my binoculars reveal the truth:  Turkey vultures are constructed like some particularly tasteless cosmic joke.  From the shoulders down they’re beautiful, with powerful wings frosted white on the undersides… but nature grafted on the ugliest excuse for a head and neck I’ve ever seen.

It’s not too noticeable when they’re soaring, which is probably why they do it so often.  But when they’re perched in a tree, it looks as though somebody did a really bad Photoshop merge between an eagle and an inflamed penis.

There’s the eagle’s body and beak, but in between there’s this scrawny angry-red fleshy thing.  Whenever I peer at a turkey vulture through binoculars, I worry that I’m going to get arrested for voyeurism.

I’m pretty sure the turkey vulture is a victim of evolution’s practical joke; but I can’t help thinking that the cosmic comedians have been taking a dig at me, too.

First of all there’s the unsettling realization that eight large carrion-eaters have been circling our property for weeks, apparently waiting for me to keel over in the garden and achieve the optimum degree of putrefaction to become their dinner.

But the main thing that bothers me is that all this time I’ve been admiring what I thought was a noble scion of the sky, and it turns out I’ve only been ogling a dickhead.

There’s probably a lesson in there somewhere…

Book 14 update:  I’m on Chapter 18 and rollin’!  Things are getting complicated for Aydan…

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Cheesy Sasquatch Fries

* Note:  The first part of this post may require a front porch, a rocker, and a cane to wave at the young whippersnappers.  The second part may require anti-psychotic meds.

Hubby and I were sitting at the table the other day, talking about cheese.  (Yes, I realize that “Let me tell you about the cheese I ate the other day” is the conversational gambit most likely to make listeners lapse into a coma.  I hope you’ll bear with me.)

I bit into a tasteless piece of rubbery orange-ness and announced, “You know, this so-called ‘old’ cheddar is what we used to call ‘mild’.  It’s really sad that there’s a whole generation out there who thinks this is actually ‘old cheddar’.”

“Huh,” Hubby replied.  “Never mind; there’s a whole generation out there who thinks that the orange plastic stuff on their fast-food burgers is cheese.”

Not to outdone by crotchety complaints, I upped the ante.  “And most kids don’t even know that their french fries are made from potatoes.”

Then (as it frequently does in our house) the conversation veered sharply off-course and scuttled down the nearest rabbit hole.

“They probably think french fries grow on trees,” Hubby grumped, then brightened as inspiration hit.  “Groves of french-fry trees… but they’re all hidden behind government-controlled park areas so nobody has ever seen one.”

“That’s it!” I exclaimed.  “The government is in league with the forestry companies.  That’s why the logging companies have such tight controls on their land.  All those security measures and radio check-ins and restricted roads… I mean, seriously, how many logs do they really haul out?  We’ve seen maybe two or three trucks carrying logs in the year since we’ve been here.  They’re actually just hiding all the french-fry trees.”

“And those two logging trucks we saw are only decoys!” Hubby rejoined, getting into the spirit.  “It’s the same two trucks with the same logs, just driving back and forth.  The real money is in the french fries they’re shipping out in unmarked reefer trucks.  And…”

He considered for a moment, then laid down his most compelling argument yet:  “You know that guy who petitioned the Supreme Court to have sasquatches declared an endangered species?  He was onto something, because guess who’s picking the french fries?”  *imaginary drumroll*  “It’s the sasquatches!  They have a treaty with the government that gives them the sole contract to harvest from the secret french-fry trees in exchange for living in seclusion and having no contact with the rest of the world!”

So there you have it:  We’ve figured out the mystery of why some french fries bear no resemblance to an actual potato; and we’ve also explained why all official sources categorically deny the existence of sasquatches.  Are we brilliant, or what?

(Don’t answer that…)

Now their secret is out!

Book 14 update: I made it to Chapter 17 this week and I’m chugging along.  Aydan gets a nice surprise for a change!

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It’s A Fine Line…

I’ve mentioned on several occasions that fashion is not exactly… okay, fine; just not… my thing.  But every now and then I get a niggling feeling that maybe I should try a little harder.

It usually happens on a day when I’ve been immersed in some project, and I discover that I urgently need a tool/part/ doohickey to finish the job.  So I zip to town, forgetting that I’m wearing my old clothes.  They were clean at the beginning of the day, but halfway through my project they’re decorated with dirt/sawdust/engine grease/paint/all of the above.  My hair is in a braid that started out tidy in the morning, but by now I’m wearing a halo of frizzy tendrils and the braid itself looks as though it went through a spin-washer and then got rolled in twigs (or other bits of work-related detritus).

That’s when I see her:  My nemesis.

Her hair colour, skintone, height, weight, age, and fashion style vary, but she always has one instantly recognizable characteristic:  She’s perfectly put together.

Her hair might be sleek or artfully tousled, but she clearly just stepped out of the salon.  Her makeup is flawless; her nails are polished; her clothing is pristine, fashionable, and well-fitting; her shoes are the stuff of dreams; and her jewellery accents her outfit.

We do not make eye contact.

I suffer a moment of hopelessly envious inadequacy, and then hurry off to buy my much-needed doohickey.  By the time I get home I’ve forgotten the whole episode, which sets me up to repeat it over and over.

All this occurred to me the other day when I found myself resenting the amount of time I spend on personal hygiene.  It was a worrisome thought, because five minutes with the nail clipper a couple of times a month constitutes my “manicure”, and my “beauty regime” consists of showering, slapping on some deodorant and a combination moisturizer/sunscreen, and letting my hair air-dry.  A bit of lip balm, and I’m good to go.

That’s when I started to wonder:  Where do you draw the line between “carefree and natural” and “a lazy slob”?

I realize that my nemesis would probably consider herself a lazy slob if she went out in public with a chip in her nail polish; but that’s not a helpful evaluation tool when the closest my nails have come to polish in the past three decades has been a splattering of blue house paint that wouldn’t come off for a week.

Notwithstanding my occasional sartorial slip-ups, I do usually make an effort to change my clothes before I leave home; and I figure as long as there’s no visible dirt and people can’t smell me coming, I’m doing okay.

Or maybe I’m just a lazy slob.  It’s a fine line…

Book 14 update:  I made it to Chapter 16 this week, woohoo!  I love it when I hit “the zone” and the words just flow.  🙂

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Pickles, Peeves, And Daniel Craig

It’s been one of those weeks.  I’ve been trying to fit ten days of work into seven, and my brain has rebelled.  I knew I was in trouble a couple of nights ago when I dreamed of Daniel Craig.

That might sound like the quintessential female fantasy; but it wasn’t… because of the pickles.  Yes, I dreamed that Daniel Craig was plying me with a plethora of pickled cucumbers.

Freud would nod sagely and point out the phallic significance.  Normally I’d snicker and agree; but the truth is that I’ve been inundated with cucumbers lately, to the point where I’m even dreaming about them.  The garden is going crazy, and every second day I lug in a basket of strawberries, a basket of cucumbers, a basket of tomatoes, and a basket of corn.  And now the beans have found their second wind, too (no pun intended).

Don’t get me wrong; I’m thrilled that our garden is doing so well.  But I’m also a teensy bit overwhelmed, which means the chances of me writing a coherent blog post this week are somewhere between ‘Nil’ and ‘Not a chance in hell’.

So instead, here are a couple of random thoughts that flitted through my mind this week:

I love food, cooking, and eating; but some days the futility of it nearly brings me to my knees.  I spend SO MUCH TIME (and money and energy) acquiring food, preparing it, eating it, and cleaning up afterward… and four or five hours later I do it all again.  And again.  Repeat the next day, and the next, ad infinitum.  And it all ends up in the toilet anyway.  Wouldn’t you think we’d have found a better solution by now?

And one of my pet peeves:  Stinky soap in public washrooms.  Seriously, Dairy Queen, Wendy’s, and MacDonald’s:  Can’t you buy hand soap that doesn’t reek like some unholy combination of burnt transmission fluid, old gym socks, and rotting flowers?  You post big signs reminding everyone to wash their hands, and then you provide hand soap that nobody wants anywhere near their skin.

But… kudos to the PetroCanada at the corner of 17th Street and Cliffe Avenue in Courtenay, BC – their soap smells nice.  And BIG props to the Flying J truck stop on Portage Avenue in Headingly, MB for providing GoJo mechanic’s hand cleaner in the women’s washroom – hooray!

Despite my pickles and peeves, I’ve had some wins this week, too:

Our bookshelves are finally finished, woohoo! It’s been nearly two years since I last saw my beloved books. Thanks for all your hard work, Hubby!

The tomatoes have been FABULOUS. That’s one sammich-worthy slice! (This is the heritage variety ‘Brandywine’ – definitely the flavour winner this year.)

Book 14 update:  It was a busy week, but I still managed to get to Chapter 13.  Poor Kane is discovering that fatherhood can be a dirty job…

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Zucchini Wars

I was driving home a few days ago when I saw it lying sad and alone by the side of the road, gazing up at passersby like an abandoned puppy begging for a home:  a giant zucchini.

I didn’t stop.

One of the charming features of Vancouver Island is the honour-system market stands.  Lots of little farms offer eggs or produce at the end of their lane; and you can pull over, pick up what you want, and leave money according to the prices on their sign.  Free items are left out there with no payment requested or required.

So there was this giant zucchini beside the road.  Colossal:  A couple of feet long and about eight inches in diameter.  I’m guessing its growers spotted it making a play for world domination, recoiled in horror, and extracted the threat from their garden to carry it as far away from their property as they could manage.

Or who knows?  Maybe the zucchini didn’t even belong to that farm.  Maybe it had been dumped there by someone eager to be rid of it; or maybe it was intentionally deposited there as a subtle threat from some enemy.  Instead of a horse’s head in your bed, you get a mega-zucchini at the end of your lane.

Or maybe it got there under its own power.  Judging by the activity in my garden, it’s entirely possible that one mutant monster became sentient and was searching for the ideal spot to disgorge its seeds and begin a zucchini-terrorist cell intent on taking over every square inch of arable land.

Yes, actually, I am hip-deep in zucchini right now; why do you ask?

But I don’t mind.  I like fresh zucchini; and if I can’t eat it immediately I dehydrate it into chips that are compact and easy to store, and yummy all winter long in soups, stews, omelets, and even on homemade pizza.

As you read those words, I’m guessing that at least 50% of you are grimacing.  After extensive research involving alcoholic beverages with several sets of my friends, I have determined that all men (and some women) hate zucchini.

My dad hated zucchini.  My husband hates zucchini.  All my male friends hate zucchini; although actually, ‘hate’ is probably too strong a word.  “Meh” is more accurate.  After all, there’s nothing much to hate about it – as the guys tell me, “It doesn’t taste like anything, so why would you eat it?”

Well, okay, guys:  If you don’t want to eat it, how about racing it?  One of the small towns near us held zucchini races last weekend (the zucchini footage begins at 0:46 in the video).

’Cause why NOT take a huge malevolent vegetable intent on world domination, and give it wheels?  What could possibly go wrong?!?

Zucchini:  Love it or hate it?  Take my very scientific poll!  (You can choose as many answers as you want.)

Book 14 update:  Chapter 12 is well under way, and I’m chuckling while I write Daniel’s dialog – you can always depend on kids to say the things that adults won’t!

Zucchini Poll Update:  New answers now coming in!

Zucchini is:
– Take it or leave it. Choco zuke cake! Yum.
– What will replace cryptocurrency in 2045
– Local produce
– Part of the deep state
– Great battered and fried crispy
– Makes the best chocolate cake!

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Mom Was Right Again

So, you know how Mom used to tell us to wear nice underwear “just in case”?  Well, this week I found out she was right.

It’s a long story.

You may recall that last week I whined about our drought.  Since June we’ve been doing the summer equivalent of Rick Mercer’s “Seven Day Forecast”.

The forecast has been promising cooler weather in the mid 20s (Celsius) and a chance of showers… but always five to seven days in the future.  So on Friday I was shocked to discover that there was a 40% chance of showers predicted on Saturday!  Mere hours away!

I dragged out our giant tarp and wrestled it across the bottom and up the sides of our 10′ deep, 60′ long (dry) dugout.  All our downspouts are routed to the dugout and we have a lot of roof area, so I hoped that even a little sprinkle might yield a few gallons of captured water.

Imagine my delight when it POURED for half an hour on Saturday and I got three feet of water in my tarp – about 5,000 gallons, enough to water the garden for the rest of the summer!  Hooray!

Except…

The tarp leaked.  And we don’t have any 5,000-gallon storage vessels.

Soon there were only a few sad inches of unsalvageable muddy water lying in the folds of the tarp.  Mosquito eggs hatch fast, so I needed to drain my failed experiment and get it out of the dugout.

But a few inches of water in a 60′ long tarp still amounts to a couple of hundred pounds of water.  Add the couple of hundred pounds of silty gravel that had washed down into the tarp along with with the deluge.  Then add me, trying to shovel/scrape/drain all that so I could drag the filthy (and therefore extra-heavy) tarp up a wet, unstable, 10 foot high, 45 degree gravel slope.

After about an hour of hard labour, I clawed my way to the top looking like some primeval swamp creature:  caked with gritty mud, abraded by gravel, soaked to the skin, and so malodorous that even the mosquitoes lost interest and fled.

So your mother was right:  Always wear nice underwear.  Because you never know when you might end up doing a striptease1 in the back yard so your husband can hose you off2.

* * *

1 At least none of the neighbours live close enough to see my performance (I hope).  I’m going to consider that a qualified ‘win’.  The ‘mud, sweat, and mosquito bites’ theme probably won’t catch on at any strip clubs; but after 19 years of marriage I like to think Hubby’s expectations are realistic.

2 Just thought you’d want to know that ‘hose you off’ is not a kinky euphemism – Hubby was wielding the garden hose.  Honest.

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