Critters vs. Me

So, it finally happened:  The local critters have ganged up on me.

Last week I had rolled our garbage carts out to the curb and retreated to the house to wash my hands and grab my morning cup of tea to enjoy on our front porch.  About fifteen minutes later, I heard the distinctive sound of a garbage cart being rolled over asphalt. And we don’t have neighbours who live close enough to interfere with our garbage carts.

I craned my neck.  Sure enough, a big black bear was batting our kitchen waste cart around, about a hundred yards away.

I jumped up and yelled, “HEY BEAR!  GET LOST!”

The bear glanced up and a thought-bubble appeared above its head:  “Why is that annoying little creature disturbing my breakfast-to-be?

Since my primary goal is to not die of my own stupidity, I didn’t press the point in person.  Instead I got into my car and drove to the front gate, where I bravely honked the horn from behind our 8-foot deer fence.  The bear ambled off into the forest, and after a respectful pause I scooted out to retrieve our garbage cart (fortunately bear-proof) and replace it at the curb.  But I’m pretty sure the bear was the master of that situation.

The next marauding critters were robins.  The cheap plastic mesh we used to protect our strawberries two years ago has rotted away, so we’re constructing a new permanent enclosure with chicken wire.  But we’re behind schedule, so the ripening berries are unprotected.  I’ll say no more; and simply refer you to my post from two years ago:  It’s an exact repeat.

I wasn’t surprised by the behaviour of the bear and the birds, but the crowning insult of my week was being bested by a bunny.

After discovering that some of our newly-emerged beans and sunflowers had been nipped off by bunny teeth, I deployed a rabbit fence around the garden.  I was short on time so I shoved the posts into the ground by hand and strung a two-foot-high barrier of chicken wire between them.  It was wimpy, but I figured it was strong enough to stop a not-too-determined rabbit.

And it was.  No more rabbit problems.

But the bunnies got the last laugh:  A couple of days ago I was striding across the garden with my attention elsewhere and my gaze fixed on the horizon.  Moments later I was doing a graceful slow-motion faceplant when the damn-near-invisible rabbit fence tackled me around the knees.

On the bright side, I was lucky my makeshift posts weren’t solidly rooted. I easily broke my fall with my hands in the soft earth, and the only injury was to my dignity. Plus, I made an important discovery at the same time.

Science tells us that rabbits don’t vocalize, except for a truly horrifying scream when they’re attacked.  Well, science is wrong.

’Cause I distinctly heard a rabbit laughing.

Anybody else have run-ins with rabbits? Or do things like that only happen to me?

Book News: Book 16 is available in paperback now! If you’re interested, purchasing links are available on my Books page. And Book 17 is swirling around in my brain. No formal plotting yet, but it’s slowly taking shape. Stay tuned…

More Juggling (But Not With Fish)

September is shaping up to be a crazy month!  (Lucky I’m crazy enough to deal with it.)  I’m still picking piles of fruit and veggies from the garden, and we’re busily socking it away to enjoy throughout the winter.  The considerable overflow goes to our friends and neighbours as well as the Food Bank.

We might have been just a teeny bit over-enthusiastic when we were planting the garden, but… look at all this glorious food!

(Click on photos to enlarge.)

A single picking of tomatoes. (I pick a couple of times a week.)


Ten gallons of chopped carrots all ready for the freezer.


50 pints of pickles, 22 pints of jam, 7 pints of salsa, 28 pints of beans (another 20 pounds frozen), 24 pints of tomatoes and lots to go, and still a bit of space left for the rest of the beets and tomatoes and pickled hot peppers. YUM!


But our autumn isn’t only about food.  The flowers are still gorgeous, too, and the bees and other wildlife are hard at work stocking their own pantries:

This little black bear has been feasting on the wild cherries only a few hundred feet from our house. Don’t be fooled by his casual pose — he’s actually about 30 feet up a tree. (He’s a little blurry because Hubby took this shot using a LONG zoom — we have a healthy respect even for small bears!)


This little guy has been hard at work snipping off pine cones and stashing them away.


I’m not sure whether it was my camera or the tiny white spider (near the centre of the flower) that chased this bee off the zinnia. Either way, he’s buzzing off.


The snapdragons are still putting on a show.


One of our newest rhododendrons, Medusa, is a bit confused as to whether it’s spring or fall, but she’s beautiful anyway!


We’ll have a couple more rounds of houseguests this month, so maintaining my writing schedule for Book 15 will be a juggling act.  (Fortunately not with fish.)  To salvage some time I’ll dial back my blogging schedule to every second week for the month of September, so my next post will be September 18.

How’s your September shaping up?  Are you harvesting any goodies from your garden?

Book 15 update:  I’m bombing along on Chapter 4!  Hellhound would normally be voted “Most Likely To Get Arrested While On Vacation”, but Aydan’s the one who’s ended up in handcuffs…

Googling Bear Naked

It’s been a tough week and my idea bank was running low, so I consulted a ‘writing prompts’ site for some inspiration.  One suggestion caught my interest:  Check your site stats to find your three most popular posts, and write about the connection between them.

I checked my stats… and burst out laughing.

Excluding the pages of my official website, here are the blog posts that draw the most visitors, in order of popularity:

We’re All Free! And Naked!

Confessions of a Vegas Swinger

We’re All Naked

Gee, I wonder… what’s the connection here?  Let me think for a nanosecond…

When I went back and re-read those posts, the best part (as usual) was my readers’ comments.  Who knew that my blog would be the #1 Google result if you search ‘naked machete-wielding motorcyclist with fanny pack’?  Searches for ‘naked beer-drinking martial artists on motorcycles’ and ‘polar bear sex club’ also return my blog at #1.

I’m famous!  Or maybe ‘notorious’ would be a better word, but let’s not split hairs.  All this despite the fact that I’ve never been naked on a motorcycle, and my only knowledge of polar bears comes from viewing them from a safe distance at Churchill, Manitoba.

Black bears, on the other hand, are far more familiar than I’d prefer.

You know the saying, “Art imitates life”?  Well, my art imitated life; and now my life has turned around to imitate my art:

In Book 11, I wrote about a bunch of wackos who protect their secret compound in the woods by feeding bears to keep them near the stockade.  That was based on the true story of some folks here in BC who did the same thing to guard a marijuana plantation.

Yesterday I discovered that I now live in a compound patrolled by my very own bear.

I’m less than thrilled.

We just had an 8’ pagewire fence installed around our yard to keep deer out of the garden.  Our crew put up most of the fence, and then ran dogs through the woods to make sure no deer were inside the area before they closed everything up.  They finished Monday around suppertime.

Only a couple of hours later I was walking around the house when I heard a distinctive “Uuuhhhh.  Uuuhhhhhh…” and the sound of heavy footsteps crashing through the forest not far away.

A bear.


I didn’t glimpse it, so I don’t know for certain that it was inside our fence, but it sure as hell sounded close.

Needless to say I’ll be cautious around here until the bear decides to leave and pulls down part of the fence to do it.  After we repair the fence we’ll probably be okay, since there’s nothing inside to tempt a bear to return… except maybe a naked motorcycle-riding machete-wielding martial artist wearing a fanny pack.

But that only seems to appeal to random Google-searchers; and since it’s hard to operate a keyboard with paws and 2” claws, the bear will never even know about the internet star on the other side of that inconvenient fence.

I think we’ll both be happier that way.

Have you searched anything interesting on Google lately?

P.S. Preorders are available for Book 12:  Kiss And Say Good Spy!  Click here for links to online retailers

The Terrifying ‘Bearrot’

My mind goes strange places when I’m half-awake (or half-asleep, depending on whether you’re a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty type of person). So it didn’t really surprise me when halfway through my shower, my brain announced, “Parrots! We should write a post about parrots!”

Me (grumbling into my washcloth): “What’s this ‘we’ shit? I don’t know anything about parrots. Where the hell did that random thought come from?”

Brain: “Come on, it’ll be fun! You could write about the World Parrot Refuge on Vancouver Island.”

Me (still cranky): “There was nothing funny about the refuge. It’s a cool place and it’s great that they take in unwanted parrots, but I spent the whole visit wishing I’d brought an umbrella to fend off the birdshit, and that creepy little bald cockatiel kept landing on my shoulder and cuddling up like I was his long-lost Mommy. Besides, I don’t trust any bird that’s capable of biting my finger off.”

Brain: “Oh, get over it. Parrots are amazing! They come in spectacular colours, they’re smart, they can live as long as humans, they can talk-”

Me: “Yeah, great. So now we’ve got a crafty old bird that lures you over with a display of pretty feathers and a cutesy ‘Polly want a cracker’, and then it bites your finger off!

Brain: “Aw, come on. You can find something funny about parrots. How about Monty Python’s ‘Dead Parrot’ sketch?”

Me: “Well, there’s that…”  (returning to the debate): “But that’s the only funny thing about parrots. Forget parrots. Maybe I could blog about my bear belt; make a few jokes about how dorky I look striding around the garden with that strapped to me.”

The bear belt: Everything I need to frighten a bear through sheer dorkage.

The bear belt: Everything I need to frighten a bear through sheer dorkage.

Brain: *martyred sigh* You’ve written about bears. Over and over. Everybody’s tired of bears. And they already know you look like a dork on a regular basis. Parrots, I tell you. You need to write about parrots!”

Me: “Piss off. Parrots are scary. Those blank soulless eyes…”

Brain: “Huh. Like bears aren’t scary? But you still manage to joke about them.”

Me (weakening): “Well, yeah, but…”

Brain (sensing imminent triumph): “Bears are terrifying! Parrots are much funnier.”

Me: “True, bears are terrifying…” *tries diversionary tactic* “Hey, you know what’s the only thing that could possibly make bears scarier?”

Brain (distracted): “Huh? Bullshit. Nothing could make bears scarier.”

Me: “Oh, hellz yeah! What if…” *pauses dramatically* “…you crossed a bear with a parrot?”

Brain: *stunned silence*

Me: “Imagine it! A bear that can not only chase you and eat you on the ground; it can also fly. Swooping down on silent wings with claws and teeth bared…”

Brain: “A bearrot. The most terrifying animal to stalk the earth…”

Me: *snickering* “…and you’d really want an umbrella…”

This is what happens when I blog while not completely awake.

This is what happens when I blog while not completely awake.

It’s Gonna Be A Long Winter

Well, it’s that time of year again. The time when we question our sanity in living where we do.

Saturday was nice and sunny with temperatures in the high teens (that’s low 70s for you Fahrenheit folks), and Hubby took the motorcycle out for one last ride. Sunday we had six inches of snow and last night the temperature was -27 with the wind chill.

We knew winter was coming. We’re not shocked.  But the longer we live here, the more we start talking about other places we could live.  The problem is that other than the cold and snow, we can’t think of a better place.

Well, okay; the cold and snow and the fact that there are large animals here that would like to eat us. Grizzly bears and cougars and such.  They’re not really an issue in the city, but when we’re out at our garden in the country, they’re a threat.

Hubby and I considered and discarded a few options.

Tropical beaches have a special allure when our world is cold and white, but then there are the problems of jellyfish and sharks and undertows and red tide and hurricanes and tsunamis, which are probably of negligible concern to the people who actually live there, but they seem pretty scary to us.

And most places with warm tropical beaches also have giant bugs. And the giant bugs often occupy houses where we might want to live.  This is an issue for at least one of us.

I grew up in a farmhouse that was infested by big black crickets all summer long, and crickets eat everything. Including your underwear in the laundry bin.  I had crotchless panties at an age where I couldn’t imagine why anybody would want them.  So my bug tolerance is slightly higher than Hubby’s, but I still have no desire to cohabitate with bugs.  Ever.  Again.

Then there’s the whole snake issue. Here in Canada even our venomous snakes are polite.  We only have four kinds, and they’d all prefer to avoid humans if possible.  They keep to themselves in a few small geographic areas, and even if you manage to find one and convince it to bite you, you probably won’t die.

Not like some of the warmer climes where you can take your choice between being fatally bitten or fatally squished by a mind-boggling variety of reptiles. I’ve heard Hawaii doesn’t have snakes, but then again, they’ve got volcanoes and lava flows.  One way or another, something’s gonna sneak up and swallow you when you least expect it.

And if you go really far afield, there’s a whole ‘nother set of man-eating critters licking their chops. Oh, with tropical diseases thrown in as a bonus.

Having exhausted our discussion of alternate places to live, our kitchen table conversation swerved to this:

Hubby: Wouldn’t it be nice to just put all the big predators on an island somewhere so we wouldn’t have to worry about them?  I wonder who’d win in a fight between a grizzly bear and a lion?

Me: Cage match!  I’d put my money on the grizzly.

Hubby: How about a grizzly bear and a polar bear?  Polar bears are bigger than grizzlies.

Me: Yeah, but polar bears only hunt wussy stuff like seals and humans.  No claws or teeth or anything.  Grizzlies are mean mo-fos.  They kill other bears.

Hubby: Hm.  Yeah.  How about…

*discussion continues*

Yep, only three cold days and already cabin fever is setting in. It’s gonna be a long winter.

Please help us out: Where’s the ideal place to live?

How Do You Like My New Piercing?

A couple of days ago I exercised such iron self-control you’d be amazed. Despite tremendous temptation, I acted like a normal well-mannered adult, which we all know is a wholly unnatural state for me.

When you exert that much pressure, the shit’s gotta leak out somewhere. So since I prevented myself from blurting offensive and/or potentially incriminating comments in front of two people on Monday, I now find myself writing them here for all to see.  Go figure.

Here’s what happened:

Hubby and I were shopping for outdoor equipment: Bear spray and bear bangers, and we each wanted a new camping knife. (And I didn’t even think of making a joke about banging bears until now. Aren’t you proud of me?)

If you’re not familiar with these products, bear bangers make a sound like a gunshot to frighten away a bear, and bear spray is hot pepper spray you carry in case of a bear attack.  Theoretically, you spray it in the bear’s face and the horrible burning sensation makes him run away, or at least distracts him so you can escape.  In actual fact, it probably just pisses him off and gives him a taste for jalapeno human, but I digress.

In Canada you have to provide identification to buy bear spray.  It’s been so long since we bought any, we didn’t realize they now track the canisters and record their serial number along with your ID. When the clerk explained that, I almost said, “Jeez, we’d better use our old canisters when we commit our next crime.” The sentence was fully formed in my brain and halfway out my mouth before I stifled myself.

It’s never a good idea to make that kind of joke in front of someone who’s recording your name to give to the police.

Restraining that comment wasn’t exactly a selfless act, but my other tongue-biting episode took place solely because I’m nice. And polite. And modest. Prudish, even. (Okay, also full of shit.)

Anyway, I wanted a new knife. I have a lovely old Mora blade I’ve used for years, but it doesn’t have a finger guard and its wooden handle gets dangerously slippery when it’s wet. (No, I’m not going to say anything about wrapping my fingers around wet slippery wood, either. See? Restraint.)

I was looking for a half-serrated Ka-Bar type, but the regular sporting-goods stores only seemed to carry five-inch blades in that style. My Mora is six, and that’s what I wanted. So I approached the guy behind the counter and explained my problem.

I admit I was inwardly snickering about walking up to a guy and demanding more inches, but I managed to squelch my inner adolescent and I didn’t even crack a smile.

But it nearly killed me when he whipped out a measuring tape and started measuring the blades even though I’d already told him they were only five inches. It was all I could do not to say, “I’m a woman. Trust me, I know the difference between five and six inches.”

That was rapidly followed by the need to tell him, “It doesn’t matter how many ways you measure it, it’s still not big enough”, along with the almost irresistible urge to hold my fingers a couple of inches apart and say, “You’re a guy. Of course you think this is six inches.”

But I didn’t say any of those things. Steam came out my ears and my brain threatened to implode under the pressure, but I bit my tongue. Hard.

How do you like my new tongue piercing? I’m thinking a silver stud would be attractive…

A Grizzly Attempt At Humour

I made a scary discovery this past weekend.

Our garden is out in the wilderness so we’re always wary of bears, particularly in early spring when they’re hungry and grumpy and in late fall when they’re foraging for enough food to last them through hibernation. This has led to me regularly jettisoning my dignity as described here:

But it’s mid-summer, so I’ve been starting to relax a bit. I figured by now the bears would have moved on to higher ground, and it would be too early for them to be coming down around our place searching for winter provisions.

How wrong I was. I had just finished strolling happily through the woods to my garden when one of our neighbours came by and stopped to chat. “Be careful,” says he. “Fish and Wildlife says there are seven grizzly bears in our area right now.”



Needless to say, my trip back through the woods was accompanied by a wildly swivelling head, a sweaty hand on my canister of bear spray, and embarrassingly high-pitched off-key singing.

That might have been pretty funny to a casual onlooker, but it’s old news to anybody who’s read my blog for a while. None of you expect me to exhibit any kind of dignity or decorum anyway, so when I started to plan this blog post I thought, “Let’s see, what can I say about grizzly bears that’s new and funny?”

Y’know what? I got nothing. Nothing is funny about grizzly bears. Grizzly bears scare the shit out of me. If I ever met one in the woods, and I sincerely hope I don’t, I’d probably kak my drawers on the spot.

Nature may abhor a vacuum (though I’ve never understood Mother Nature’s objection to cleaning tools), but my nature abhors any situation in which I can’t find some humour. So my renegade brain immediately leaped to the challenge of making grizzly bears funny. Maybe a grizzly bear in silly clothes?

Eh, maybe not. There’s something about all those claws and teeth that just takes the giggles right out of it.

But then I thought, “Maybe I’ve got it all wrong. After all, grizzly bears must have their problems like everybody else, right?”

And this happened:



*After I drew this I realized it may be another Canadianism, so I decided to provide a bit of explanation for anyone who’s not from around here. ‘Does a black bear shit in the woods?’ is a rhetorical question that translates to ‘Hell, yes!’ Example: 

Friend: “Do you want to go for a beer?”  Me: “Does a black bear shit in the woods?”

So what do you think? Grizzlies: Tragic heroes of their own lives, trapped in fur suits and destined to be forever misunderstood? Or big-ass scary mo-fos with no sense of humour whatsoever?

I’m leaning toward the latter…

* * *

The deadline is almost here for draw winners to contact me.  Lee-Ann, if you’re out there, please email me before Friday or I’ll have to draw a different winner for the Spy Now, Pay Later signed paperback.  Thanks!

‘Scuse My Bear Behind

Gardening season has been exciting this year.  I had a feeling my impromptu pole dance in the spring would lead to a stellar career, and I was right.  This week found me head-down-ass-up in a tunnel of pea vines, belting out Broadway tunes at the top of my lungs.

A number of factors converged to produce this one-of-a-kind entertainment extravaganza.  In the first place, I didn’t plan my garden well.  In spring when there was nothing but tilled soil, it looked as though there was all the room in the world between rows.

There wasn’t.  The peas overran their trellises and joined hands in fellowship above the (now obviously inadequate) space between the rows.

Fine.  It’s awkward to pick peas, but lush growth is the kind of garden “problem” I can happily accept.

The second factor is that our garden is out in the middle of nowhere, only a couple of miles from a vast forestry reserve.

Last week I was out there when a cloud of dust and loud rattling announced the approach of a vehicle.  Moments later a truck appeared, towing a large cylinder on a trailer.  In block letters on the cylinder were the words ‘BEAR TRAP – KEEP BACK 10M”.

Last year a grizzly killed two horses on the farm north of us.  And I thought, “This can’t be good.”

The truck paused at our corner before continuing west.  That road dead-ends only a couple of miles past our place.

This really wasn’t good.

So when I went out again a couple of days ago, I was cautious.  The path to our garden winds through heavy spruce and aspen forest, and after I parked my car in our campsite clearing, I let out a few shouts of greeting:  “Hello, Mr. Bear!  I’m going to the garden now!  Yep, down this path!  Through the woods!  Scary human being here!  Time for you to move on!”

I strapped on my canisters of bear spray and stood debating whether it would be less embarrassing if the neighbours caught me loudly talking to myself in the woods, or singing really badly.  Singing won by a small margin.

I don’t know how rock stars manage to sing while jumping around on stage.  Granted, I have a crap voice, but I thought I was in pretty good shape.  Singing nervously and strolling through the woods to give the bear an opportunity to get out of the way, I was pathetically out of breath by the time I got to the garden.  Which made me sound even worse than usual.

The 8-foot deer fence around the garden won’t repel a determined bear, but it should prevent him from accidentally wandering through, so I went inside and promptly shut the hell up because even I couldn’t stand my singing by then.

That is, until my neighbour drove over to warn me they’d caught one grizzly a mile west of us, were fairly certain a second was still at large, and there had been a number of black bears in the area, too.


I abandoned all pretense of dignity.

And this happened:

bear behind

I’m not proud of my performance, but I didn’t see a bear, either.  If there was one in the vicinity, he was probably too incapacitated by laughter to maul me anyway.

Anybody else have a bear tale?

Rorschach Poster Child

I’ve mentioned several times that I tend to misread text.  I’ve speculated that it may be some latent form of dyslexia, or maybe just a combination of carelessness and a twisted mind.  After the picture I just saw on Facebook, though, I’m leaning toward the probability of a terminally twisted mind.

When I first saw it I thought, “That is a seriously weird picture.  It looks like a little bald alien being throttled from behind by a gorilla”.  Even after staring at it for several seconds, I still couldn’t figure out what it was supposed to be.

At this point, I’ll offer my sincere apologies to the photographer and to whoever posted and/or enjoyed this on the internet, because it was actually a soft-focus silhouette of a mother kissing her child.  Or chewing its throat out; it was hard to be certain.  It was accompanied by a touching text on motherhood, so I presume it’s the former.

Anyway, that’s when I realized there’s a tiny possibility that my mind might be wired just a leetle differently than everybody else’s.

So I did what any self-respecting geek would do:  quantify.  I went looking for Rorschach inkblots on the internet.

And guess what I found?

A troll riding a chopped Harley.

Here he is, with his big ugly feet propped up on the highway pegs, his leather handlebar fringe flying in the breeze:

rorschach harley

According to Wikipedia, this is a “nonstandard” response.  Most people interpret it as a bear-skin rug or some other sort of animal hide.  But it’s definitely a biker troll to me.

This one looks like two of Santa’s elves high-fiving over their recent foot amputation:

rorschach elves

Though when I looked at it again, I could see two bears dancing upside-down on their forepaws while balancing a traffic hazard cone on each of their butts, squishing pomegranates with one paw.

When I read the first part of the wiki on that one, I thought I might be coming a little closer to the norm; it does actually mention references to blood.

But then they diverged into discussions of sexual overtones and though I pride myself on my dirty mind, that reference sailed right by me.  It’s either dancing bears or elves, and neither of those makes my socks roll up and down.

The rest of the inkblot images are little more ambiguous, and apparently the final one gives most people trouble:

rorschach garden

According to the wiki, “people who find it difficult to deal with many concurrent stimuli may not particularly like this otherwise pleasant card”.

Well, I can’t multi-task worth shit.  I can’t even work on the computer and listen to music at the same time.  I get intensely stressed when I’m in a situation where two people are talking to me simultaneously.  Ergo, this card should bother me.

My immediate reaction: “I love it!  It’s a happy little undersea garden with coral and seahorses and fish and blue crab-like critters, all tucked underneath the Eiffel tower.”

Go figure.

So I have to know:  What do you see in these photos?  (I won’t ask if you think I’m abnormal.  I already know the answer to that.)

P.S. I just discovered that WordPress has been displaying ads here on my blog.  I didn’t even realize it was happening because logged-in users don’t see them.  Please accept my apologies – I loathe the thought that you’ve been ad-spammed on my blog!  I just hurried off to pay the pound of flesh that will prevent WordPress from doing that again. 

I don’t know what they might have showed you, but I definitely DO NOT endorse any product or service they’ve advertised here.  I’m very sorry if it appeared that I did. 

Grrr! *stomps off to read the fine print more thoroughly*