Category Archives: Cartoons

…oh.

We have houseguests this week, so it’s a shorter post today.  Here’s a little cartoon that occurred to me moments after I cursed the aphids for ganging up on my baby fruit trees last week.

I guess the aphids don’t have a corner on that kind of ‘stupidity’…

 

And, in other news…

I’m doing a short public presentation in mid-July.  There are so many artists and writers and other creative types here on Vancouver Island, I thought it would be nice to offer my writing and publishing experience, for what it’s worth.

I’m not sure whether it’ll be a help, an inspiration, or merely a shudder-worthy cautionary tale; but I hope we’ll all have some chuckles in the process.  I hope to see you there!

Publishing and writing presentation by bestselling e-book author Diane Henders

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Unnatural Nature

So, tell me again how “It never snows on Vancouver Island”

Just to punish me for my smugness in telling my prairie friends that my spring bulbs were already up, it snowed again last weekend.  About eight inches.  It wasn’t quite what I’d been imagining when I’d heard other women brag, “I got eight inches last night.”

But I’m not going to complain too much about the unnatural weather.  It really is almost spring here – I saw some varied thrushes poking around in the yard last week and I’m hoping they have the inside scoop. I keep telling myself the snow probably won’t stay long; and it’s actually very pretty.

Not only that but it’s warm(ish) outside, so walking through the winter wonderland is a joy.  I snapped some photos that couldn’t capture all the beautiful sparkles, but I tried:

Hoarfrost on top of snow: It looks like sparkly polar bear fur.

 

More hoarfrost

 

Snow hanging off our pagewire fence in delicate scallops

 

Snow-laden cedar

I also enjoy the snow because it reveals the tracks of all the little critters that we don’t get to see very often during daylight hours.  I’ve only seen a rabbit once, but the snow reveals that there are several around… or else one very active one.  There’s also a rat or a very large mouse; or possibly an extremely well-hung squirrel:

I’m guessing “rat”.

But as I was strolling through the woods reading the tales of the footprints, I came upon a trail where a rabbit had crossed the road… and was apparently surprised by the ditch embankment:

Watch that last step – it’s a doozy.

Standing there looking at the skidmark, I started to laugh as this popped into my mind:

Rare And Majestic Nature Scenes

Happy winter!

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Shower Growlers And Barking Spiders

Depictions of the literary Muse always show some dreamy ethereal woman draped in a classical Greek robe, with brilliant ideas swirling like rainbows around her perfectly coiffed head.

Ha.  I wish.  Here’s the conversation I had with my Muse this week:

Me, strolling up to the Muse’s door on Monday:  *knock, knock*  Hey, there…

Muse:  What’s the matter with you?  Can’t you read the “Do Not Disturb” sign?  Get lost!

Me:  Oops.  It’s just that, well, I usually write my blog drafts today, and…

Muse:  Scram!

Me:  Okay, sorry.  Um… maybe tomorrow…?

Muse:  Yeah, whatever.

Me, shuffling bashfully up to the muse’s door on Tuesday:  *knock, knock*  Hi.  Um…

Muse:  You again?  Whaddaya want?

Me:  Um… a blog post…?

Muse:  You gotta be shitting me!  Didn’t I just bust my ass for you all morning on Book 13?

Me:  Well, yeah; and I was really happy with your ideas.  I appreciate it… but… you know I do a blog post once a week…

Muse:  Oh, for…  Okay, FINE!  Check out the Urban Dictionary for “shower growler”:  “When you’re showering you press your butt against the wall and fart, making a rumbling growl and vibrating the walls of the shower.”*

(*Note:  This was not even the Muse’s own idea – my friend Chris emailed it to me last week.)

Me:  Come on, I need more than that.

Muse, glowering dangerously:  Oh yeah?

Me, finding a backbone at last and glowering in return:  Yeah!

Muse, emitting a martyred sigh:  Fine.  Write a whole post about farts.  How about a page of euphemisms?  I got a million of ‘em!  Blow the butt trumpet, strangle the stank monkey, play the colonic calliope, roast your Jockeys…”

Me, snickering in spite of myself:  Well… I dunno…

Muse:  …Do the one-cheek sneak; drop a barking spider; hit 7.4 on the Rectum scale; a turd honking for the right of way…

Me, stifling giggles:  Stop!  I’ve been trying to behave lately.

Muse:  You?  Behave?!?  As if.  How about this:  “Shit a brick and fart a crowbar”.  Or hey; how about some definitions?  Like “Fartabout”:  Walking away from everybody to ease out a fart so nobody notices.  It’s like a walkabout, only you’re farting…

Me:  There’s already a word for walking around and spreading the stink.  It’s called ‘cropdusting’.

Muse, huffily:  Well, fine, you obviously don’t need me, then. *slams the door in my face*

Me:  Wait, I didn’t mean it that way! *knock, knock*  C’mon, open up!  I need you, really I do.

Muse:  Get lost!

Me:  *sigh*

So there you have it.  I would have prepared a literary masterpiece for today, but my Muse had a bad case of brain flatulence.

Everybody else gets the classy chick with rainbows and perfect hair.  I get this:

Diane’s Muse

So how was your week?

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Okay, I Admit It…

Hi, my name is Diane and I’m a bookaholic.

My addiction has serious effects on my daily life.  I always need to have a book within reach, and I get anxious if my To-Be-Read pile dwindles to fewer than ten books.

Oh, I pretend to be “only a social reader”.  I pretend I could put down that book once I’ve started it.  Sometimes I even succeed; but then all I can think of is getting back to the book.  I lie awake in bed, staring at the ceiling and fighting the book’s siren call.  Sometimes I manage to fall asleep.  More often I slip out of bed and finish reading in the dark and secret hours of the night.

Whenever I finish a book, I feel a lessening of the need… but only until I glimpse the next book.  Then the urge is stronger than ever.

I fight it, to no avail.

“Only one per day,” I promise myself.  “That’s normal, right?  That’s only social reading… okay, two books.  Two per day, that’s still okay.  I can do a full day’s work, have an early supper, and if I start reading by six I can be in bed by eleven.  Midnight at the latest.”

But then I find a series.

Soon I’m reading three or four books a day, immersed in the guilty pleasure.  Meals go uncooked; laundry undone.  I forget important appointments and have to find excuses for why I didn’t show up at my accountant’s or dentist’s or doctor’s office.

I feel ashamed.  Other people can lay down their books.  Some people only read a few pages before bed and then stop.  Why can’t I do that?

Because I’m a bookaholic, that’s why.  An addict.

And no, I don’t want a 12-step program, thank you very much.  Just back away and let me read, and nobody will get hurt.

The other day I finished a book and went to look for Hubby in the workshop, but he was nowhere to be found.  I checked the garage, too.  Nada.

I’d seen him leave, so I wandered around outside for a while but I still couldn’t find him.  When I went back into the house, there he was.

“When did you sneak in?” I demanded.  “I was looking for you outside.”

He gave me an ‘are-you-nuts?’ look.  “I walked right by you twenty minutes ago.  I couldn’t have been more than six feet away.  You were reading.”

“Oh.”

He laughed.  “We need to rig up a cattle prod connected to a timer, to launch you out of that chair when it’s time to stop reading.”

“No,” I disagreed, with perhaps a hint of menace.  “That’d only piss me off.”

“Okay, how about an electric-shock cushion hooked up to one of those alarm clocks that comes on gradually?  It would start with a little tingle and then build up until you noticed it.”

“Um, no.  I’ve had that TENS electrical treatment for physiotherapy.  If you turn it up gradually you get used to it.  I’d just end up getting slowly electrocuted.”

“No problem; we’ll use a current-limiter.”  Hubby grinned.  “This could work.”

But I’m not convinced…

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Whew! …I Think…

house-is-sold-cartoon

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January 18, 2017 · 8:57 AM

Disgusting Butt Mounds

So tell me:  When you read the title of this post, what was your mental image?

Okay, maybe that isn’t a fair question.  After all, if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, I’d be shocked if you didn’t immediately leap to an off-colour interpretation just because you know me too well.

So let’s keep this scientific and unbiased.  I’ll rephrase the question:  What would you have envisioned if you’d seen that title on the page of a serious and established online newspaper?

At this point you may be shaking your head and saying, “Get a grip.  It’s just another one of your twisted misreads.”

You’d be completely justified in thinking that, but no; this time I had read the headline correctly.  In its entirety, it read: “Will Timmins council get rid of downtown’s disgusting butt mounds?

I read it once; then again.  Triple-checked to be sure I wasn’t misreading it.

Stared at it, wondering, “What the hell can they possibly be talking about?”

And then my brain exploded with speculations and vile mental images:

Speculation 1:  Maybe the denizens of downtown Timmins have frequent and/or intentional wardrobe malfunctions that expose their disgusting butt mounds, and everybody’s sick of seeing them.  (I visualize the follow-up headline: “Timmins eyes buttcrack bylaw”.)

wardrobe malfunction

Speculation 2:  Perhaps people are reacting to one of those ill-conceived investments in Downtown Art that leaves everybody questioning the sanity of both the city council and the artist.  (New headline:  “Timmins makes cracks about butt-ugly sculpture”.)

kiss this

Speculation 3:  Or maybe the Butt Mounds are some sort of natural landscape feature that the citizens of Timmins find offensive and their city council is coming under pressure to raze the eyesore.  (New headline:  “Environmentalists implore: ‘Timmins, support your Butt Mounds!’”)

butt mounds

Sad to say, I wasn’t even close with any of my speculations.  Nope, they were talking about mounds of cigarette butts in the outdoor smoking areas:  https://www.sudbury.com/around-the-north/will-timmins-council-get-rid-of-downtowns-disgusting-butt-mounds-328274

Well, shit.  Talk about anticlimactic.  But at least it gave me a giggle or three.

What’s funny in your world this week?

* * *

New discussion at the Virtual Backyard Book Club:  Two Guys, One Girl – What Do You Think?  Click here to have your say!

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A Sticky Situation

Adhesives hate me.  No matter how they’re ‘guaranteed to stick’, I’ll somehow create a situation in which they won’t.  Or they’ll stick exactly long enough to lull me into believing they’re set, and then fall apart.  Or worse, they’ll create an unbreakable bond at the wrong moment, in the wrong place, and with the most unpleasant consequences possible.

Take Crazy Glue, for example.  “Glues Anything!” they shout.  “Super Strong!  Bonds in Seconds!”

Maybe that’s true for everybody else, but not for me.  They don’t call it Crazy Glue because it’s crazy-strong; they call it that because it’s guaranteed to make me crazy in short order.

I carefully peruse the instructions.  Prepare all the surfaces as directed.  Apply the glue, hold the pieces together…

And hold.

And hold…

Five minutes later, I’m still holding the damn thing and it’s still not stuck.

Apply more glue.  Repeat the process.

Nope.

Then, after the third attempt, it finally sticks… long enough for me to breathe a sigh of relief and gently, carefully, place it on my workbench to cure.

Then it falls apart.

If I’m smart, that’s when I quit.  But I’m not good at admitting failure.

So I try one more time.  By now glue is oozing out of the joint and it sets up like stone, creating great gobs that are far more durable than the original material.  So there’s no way to clean it off without damaging the item (farther) beyond repair.

I don’t have any better luck with other products.

Shoe Goo is supposed to be ideal for repairing boots or shoes (unless you’re trying to repair hiking boots that have been waterproofed with mink oil).  Tuck Tape will stick to vapour barrier without fail (unless you’re outside in sub-zero temperatures trying to rig up a plastic shelter to keep the snow off your grapevines).

A few days ago I tackled a simple project:  mount a 2’x3’ poster on a painted wall.  I asked Hubby for some of the sticky poster-putty he’d used (successfully, I might add) only last week.

Putty in hand, I eyed the poster.  It wasn’t thick or heavy, but it had a glossy finish.  Already I sensed impending doom.  But I squished it onto the wall, hoping for the best.

By the time I got to the fourth corner, the first one was already peeling off.

Not off the glossy poster.  That would have made sense.  No, the putty was peeling off the painted wall, where it should have stuck.

I tried again.

Failed.

Fine.

Got out the masking tape and taped the poster to the door instead.  Done deal.

I’d walked a whole ten paces away when a derisive whisper reached my ears:  the sound of a poster slithering to the floor.

The masking tape had let go of the door.  It bonded permanently to the poster, though, so of course it wrecked the edges when I tried to peel it off.

But wait! I will wrest triumph from the jaws of defeat!

I’m gonna wash down my door and walls, bottle the result, and sell it to politicians in a fancy canister labelled “Spray-On Weasel Grease – Inconvenient Promises Will Never Stick To You!”

And then I’m gonna NAIL that goddamn poster to the wall.

I anticipate this:

nailed cartoon small

Note:  I’ll be doing website updates over the next several days, so expect some changes around here!  I hope it’ll all be fine, but I never quite know what’s going to happen until I press that final button. If the site looks odd or doesn’t seem to be working properly, please comment below or email me.  Thanks in advance for your patience and assistance!

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My Life’s A Thriller

The weeks leading up to a new release are always stressful for me – so much to do!  So little time!  And after spending the last five years immersed in writing, I’ve developed a few habits that spill over into my ‘real’ life (such as it is).  For example, the habit of building as much tension as possible into even the smallest events.

Sometimes I get a little too caught up in my work…

caught up in my work

And, in other thrilling news:

First:  Is that a turtle in your pants, or are you just happy to see me?  http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/ont-man-fined-for-smuggling-nearly-40-live-turtles-in-his-pants-1.2792723

I suspect it wasn’t much of a thrill for the turtles, but, as my blogging buddy Beth Younker points out, if one of them had been a snapping turtle it might have been an exciting time for both smuggler and border guards alike.  Sadly, no snapping turtles were included, but the article does have a rather questionable reference to ‘red-eared sliders’.  Sounds like a euphemism to me…

And this:  http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/wynne-photo-op-goes-wrong-1.3470752. ‘Cause seriously, how often do you get to see a premier posing with a giant pink phallic object?  I doubt if it did much for her, but the media got a cheap thrill from it… and the rest of us laughed our asses off!

Any thrills in your life this week?

Pre-orders are available for Book 11: The Spies That Bind!  So far Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and Apple are up, but I’m still waiting on Kobo (as usual).  As soon as they’re all available, I’ll send out an email to everyone on the New Book Notification list.  I’ll also send a second email on March 18 when the book is released. 

If you’d like to sign up for new release notifications, just click here.  (If you already signed up for a previous book, you’re still on the list unless you unsubscribed or changed your email address.)

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It’s A Dilemma…

Sometimes I struggle with a bit of a dilemma. I’m not good at interpreting the subtleties of social interactions, so I’m never quite sure whether people are genuinely glad to see me or just being polite. It doesn’t help that I live in Canada, where we’re polite to even idiots and assholes. I never know which of those I am.

That makes reconnecting with long-lost acquaintances an iffy proposition. Any time I send out a friend request or a ‘let’s keep in touch’ note, I’m reminded of the old saying: “The ones you hope you’ll never hear from again are the ones who never lose your number.”

I was thinking of that the other day while I was writing the letter to go in our Christmas cards. Normal people probably don’t worry about stuff like this, but ever since I became a writer I’ve been cautious about mentioning my career. I never know how people will react.

When I was an interior designer (*shudders*) or a draftsperson or a computer geek, people outside my profession usually responded one of two ways when I told them what I did for a living: They either nodded and changed the subject to something that actually interested them, or they pounced on me and tried to get free services.

But when I say I’m a fiction writer, the reactions are alarmingly varied. I still get “Ho-hum; well, how about that weather we’re having?” That’s okay.

The ‘pounce’ reaction translates to “Hey, I have a great idea for a novel! I’ll give you a ten-second snapshot of my idea, and you can spend the next six solid months sweating blood while you plan it, write it, edit it, proof it, and publish it; and then we can share the profits 50/50!”

Um… no.

It’s the third type of reaction that makes me reticent about dropping the ‘writer’ bombshell: Their eyes dilate and they break out in a fine dew of perspiration while they back away in squeamish embarrassment as though they’d just caught me smiling and humming with my hand down my pants.

Or worse, their eyes dilate and they start sweating, but they’re coming at me as if they’re hoping I’ll start smiling and humming with my hand down my pants. Then they whisper, “Do you write porn?”

It’s a fair question; it’s just that sweaty wide-eyed people with no sense of personal space really creep me out…

Anyhow, back to the Christmas cards. This year I decided to reconnect with my Grade 12 English teacher. He was a very cool guy back in 1982, and I’ve always wondered how things turned out for him. I also owe him a debt of gratitude for convincing me that English class wasn’t a dead loss, and for having the courage to share his love for poetry with a bunch of hormone-ridden country-bumpkin teenagers.

So I sent him a card, and when he graciously responded I wrote him an email thanking him for laying the groundwork for my writing career.  It should’ve been a pleasant, stress-free interaction, right?

But all the while, I was visualizing this:

everything I know

(That wasn’t how he reacted… Or maybe he was just too polite to show it…  You see my dilemma?)

P.S. Thanks, Mr. C. You’re still a very cool guy!

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A Mashup Of (Mostly) Food

(Don’t worry, it’s safe to read this.  I promise it’s not about gross squished food.)

I’m a little scattered this week. Between my usual writing schedule, my cover updates (only one more to go, woohoo!), the production of the Never Say Spy audiobook (up to Chapter 39 and sounding great), and the busy round of Christmas cards and baking and extra social activities, my brain just doesn’t seem to want to disgorge any sort of organized blog post.

So what the hell, why fight it? Here’s a mashup up of some goodies that have caught my eye and tweaked my sense of humour lately:

You may recall that I mentioned OBSL in a post a few years ago. At the time, I created that acronym to describe my hypothetical Optimum Beer Saturation Level: That perfect point of intoxication at which I become a deadly 8-ball player. When I wrote that post I assumed that I was (as usual) full of shit.

Little did I know that greater minds than mine were busily proving me right. In fact, a recent study shows that there is an OBSL, and it occurs where your blood-alcohol level is 0.075. Unfortunately for my hypothesis, they weren’t testing for 8-ball skill; instead they were focusing on the OBSL as it relates to creativity.  And shortly after science delivered its verdict, some brilliant marketers capitalized on it. Voilà! The Problem Solver: A beer that comes with a creativity scale on the side. Dang, I could’ve used some of that stuff when I started writing this post…

And speaking of happy discoveries involving my favourite foods, science has come through yet again with a discovery that turns peanut butter into… wait for it… diamonds! Apparently it’s messy, but it works. (It was also just a publicity stunt.  It seems peanut butter isn’t an optimum diamond-producing substance.  Go figure.)

Unfortunately, though, the news from food scientists isn’t all good. The latest studies indicate that comfort foods can actually be depressing. Bummer.  Now I need to go and eat a bowl of ice cream.

Moving on from science to silliness (though still food-related), here are a few fortune cookie predictions I could have done without:

“You learn from your mistakes. You will learn a lot today.” – Great, just great.

“Your true love will show himself to you under the moonlight.” – Uh… okay, so my true love is a deranged flasher.  Will there be criminal charges or jail time associated with this?

“You have an unusual equipment for success; use it properly.” –  I guess if I was a guy, I’d know exactly what to do with my unusual equipment, but under the circumstances I’m just not sure how to interpret this.

“Wisdom is on her way to you.” – This one might be intended to encourage, but for me it bears an uncomfortable resemblance to the cartoon about the guy reading a fortune that says ‘Big things are coming your way’ just as a grand piano drops from the sky above him. Wisdom sounds like a good thing in theory, but it seems to me that the phrasing is a little ominous.

I’ll leave you with a cartoon that sums up my attitude when things get as hectic as they are now.  And hey, it’s food-related, too!

* * *

P.S. Here’s Book 8’s new cover, with many thanks to John R. for arranging my great truck-driving adventure and letting me photograph his truck:

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