Tag Archives: blogging

Having Words With Myself

Every now and then the playback needle in my brain skips a groove and ends up on a different track altogether.  (And if you don’t understand that reference, you’re probably too young to be reading my blog.)

When the needle skips, it’s as though I’m a foreigner looking at our language for the first time.  Words I’ve used for decades suddenly look weird and unfamiliar, and I feel compelled to discover their origin.  And if I stare at a word too long, no matter how familiar it is I’ll begin to question whether I’ve spelled it correctly – it looks wrong no matter how I rearrange the letters.

That happened to me earlier this week, and I’m hoping it’s only because the last couple of weeks have been immensely stressful:  It’s the usual craziness of releasing a book plus a spate of family illnesses and deaths, all in addition to the never-ending gong show that is our house construction.

At least, I’m hoping it’s only the stress that’s making my brain twist.  But even if my word-weirdness is the harbinger of some dire malady, at least I’m getting a chuckle out of the symptoms.

For instance:

The phrase “He’s holding his own” is meant to indicate that someone is holding up under pressure and not requiring the help of others.  But whenever I hear that expression my mind immediately demands, “Holding his own what?”  Which is quickly followed by, “I hope he washes his hands afterward.”

In the same vein, ‘He knows how to handle himself’ is also supposed to be an admiring comment, but you can probably guess where my brain goes with that.  (I wrote ‘he knows how to handle himself’ in Kiss And Say Good Spy; and I admit I was grinning when I did it.)  Whenever I hear or read that phrase I wonder whether it’s being used as a compliment or a filthy innuendo.

…And don’t even get me started about the word ‘innuendo’.  To me it sounds like The Godfather describing a kinky sex act:  “In-u-end-o!”

‘Feckless’ makes me giggle, too.  The online dictionary tells me it’s derived from the Scottish word ‘feck’, which means ‘effect’; therefore ‘feckless’ means ‘useless, incompetent, ineffective’.  I always think of ‘feck’ as an Irish expletive, so in my mind ‘feckless’ should mean ‘not giving a feck’.  E.g. “I’ve been doing this stupid job for so long I’m feckless about it.”  Or “If he fell off the face of the earth, I’d be feckless”.

‘Gormless’ is an intrinsically funny word.  Unlike the others, it doesn’t remind me of any other word (except maybe ‘worm’) but even if I’d never heard it before, I think I’d still identify it as an insult.  Like ‘flaccid’, ‘gormless’ is a word whose sound suits its meaning perfectly.

And speaking of the way words sound, I have to smother a smile when anybody says ‘Doing his/her duty’, too.  Unless the speaker enunciates very clearly, I hear ‘doing his/her doody’… which is another thing entirely.  (Please pass the toilet paper.)

What word or phrase never fails to make you snicker?

42 Comments

Filed under Humour, Writing

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.

Shit.

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

36 Comments

Filed under Humour, Life

Good Spies Finish First!

The votes are in, and the title for Book 12 will be “Kiss And Say Good Spy”!  I’m pumped because that was the title I’d originally chosen for it (before I second-guessed myself).  I would have been happy with any of the other titles, too, but it’s cool to see I was on the right wavelength from the start.

Many thanks to everyone who voted in the poll!  Even if you didn’t vote for “Kiss And Say Good Spy”, your vote was still important – it helps me understand people’s preferences better for future books.  And I’m looking forward to lots of future books – I love writing!

I’m lucky enough to enjoy all parts of it, including the hours and hours of editing (yes, I know I’m a freak).  I also amuse myself by setting mini-challenges for each book:  “Can I include (fill in oddball item) in this book somehow?”

In Book 10 I challenged myself to include “ballistic rutabagas”, which became the name of an alternative music band.  In Book 11 the challenge was alien porn (kindly suggested by @SomeRandomGuy); and I’m proud to say I found a way to work it into the story.  Tastefully, of course.  *snickers*

But Book 12’s challenge, inspired by @SueSlaght’s blog post Short-Beaked Echidna Australia’s Fast Tongue, was a little trickier:  Include a short-beaked echidna, also known as a spiny anteater.  (For those unaware of the short-beaked echidna’s claim to fame:  It has a long, amazingly fast tongue and a four-headed penis.)

I had originally thought I might use an echidna as a villain’s pet, à la Ernst Blofeld in the James Bond classic “You Only Live Twice”.  That idea was shot down when I researched echidnas and discovered that they don’t make good pets because picking them up causes them intense stress and can injure them.

But my research also revealed that there are exceptions to that rule.  F’rinstance, there’s at least one short-beaked echidna that enjoys being picked up… in fact, he enjoys it a little too much.  He had to be retired from his career at a zoo because he kept getting a giant erection every time he was handled.

You can imagine where my mind went with that:  a villain’s pet that pops an enormous boner at inopportune moments.  I so, so wanted to write that!

But I didn’t.

See, I have a modicum of… well, I hesitate to go as far as to say ‘good taste’, so let’s just stick with ‘restraint’.

I did, however, manage to work the echidna into the story.  Challenge = Met!

So if you’re burning to know how a short-beaked echidna fits into a spy thriller:  The release date for “Kiss And Say Good Spy” is August 1, and preorders will be going live by the end of this week for the e-book versions (paperbacks will be released later).  If you’ve signed up for my New Book Notification list, you’ll get an email with links to the preorders as soon as they’re available.  I’ll also announce them on the Books page and my Facebook author page.

And…

I’m a little late with this since Canada’s 150th birthday was July 1, but one of my readers (Ethel: thank you) sent me this link and I thought everyone else might get a kick out of it, too.  It’s a music video created a few years ago by our favourite Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield, and his brother Dave:

Welcome to Canada, eh?  🙂

Now… off to ponder Book 13’s challenge…

23 Comments

Filed under Writing

Off The Wall(s)

Well, we’re moving again:  Out of our current rental (our term expires Friday) and into our friends’ place to housesit for a couple of weeks while they’re on vacation.  We’re really hoping our place will be ready by the time they return.  (Not that they’ll kick us out when they get back, but we’d really like to be in our own house!)

So… yesterday afternoon I was sitting in the mostly-empty-but-still-disorganized rental, trying to come up with a blog post in fifteen minutes or less while the phone rang frequently with house-related questions.  My mind was in red alert mode:  “AWOOGA-AWOOGA!  NEXT CRISIS INCOMING AT TWO O’CLOCK!  DECISION-MAKING CAPACITY CRITICALLY LOW!  TOTAL SYSTEM FAILURE IN THREE… TWO…

I took a deep breath or ten and thought, “It’s okay, I’ll just quickly write something off the wall…”

That’s when my overstressed brain got nitpicky:  “No, idiot, you meant ‘off the cuff’; as in ‘informal, without preparation’, not ‘off the wall’; as in ‘eccentric, unexpected, unconventional’!  How do you expect to write an intelligible blog post if you can’t even form a coherent thought?”

It was an excellent question; and one with a very simple answer:  I can’t.

So I’m going with ‘off the cuff’ and ‘bouncing off the walls’, as in ‘nervous, confused, hyper’.  That, I can do.

Here are a few events from this week’s jumble:

  • One of my favourite aunts died this week at age 82, of complications from diabetes and heart disease.  Even though distance prevented me from seeing her as often as I would have liked, her passing still leaves a hole in my life.
  • The herring spawned in the strait outside our rental a few weeks ago and we’ve been enjoying all the action from front-row seats:  the water turned milky jade-green (yes, the entire ocean – that’s a LOT of herring milt); scores of fishing boats rushed back and forth; thousands of seagulls swooped in; followed by thousands of ducks; followed by hundreds of seals and sea lions frolicking and barking only a few yards offshore.  What a show!
  • It’s almost spring:  After the longest, coldest, snowiest winter on record (which must have been scheduled just for us newcomers), the snow is gone, the grass is green, and the rhododendrons and cherry trees are beginning to bloom.  And I saw this cute little guy on one of my walks:

He was moving very slowly – it’s still pretty chilly for salamanders.

  • Our housesitting gig comes with a friendly roommate:  Blue the cat.  After only one day he hasn’t quite forgiven us for not being ‘his people’, but it seems his affection can be bought with a can of Fancy Feast.

Blue the cat is a little blue without his ‘people’. (Actually he’s a LOT Blue – he weighs 22 pounds.)

  • Apparently my brand new 2017 Ford Escape had a leak from the factory-installed roof rack, so the body panels and spare tire liner have been marinating in stagnant water for the past six months.  The whole thing smells like stinky socks when I turn on the heat, but I’m on my third trip to the dealer and it should be fixed soon.
  • Work is proceeding on our house:  We now have electricity, a working septic system, half a heating system, and most of a water supply.  The walls of the garage/workshop/addition are all framed and the roof trusses are arriving today.  It’s happening!  It’s really happening!  🙂

Aaaaand that’s the wrap-up for this week, folks.  What’s new with you?

35 Comments

Filed under Life

Fail!

Well, it’s taken nearly 35 years; but I think I’m finally ready to laugh about my interior design days.

The handwriting was on the wall right from the start: I wanted to take engineering, but my mom suggested interior design instead, “So that when you get married you can make a nice home for your husband and family”.

So this country-bumpkin kid moved to the Big City (Winnipeg, Manitoba – a veritable mecca of highbrow sophistication) and attempted to obtain a degree in interior design.

It didn’t go well.

Let’s just say I was at a bit of a disadvantage, since I’d never even heard of Architectural Digest (or any design magazine) and I’d never been inside any professionally designed home or office.  Far from it:

Our house on the farm started out as a 16’ x 20’ shed that my dad bought for $450 in 1957.  He and Mom gradually enlarged it into a comfortable and modern home, but they didn’t have a lot of budget for extras (like indoor plumbing, which we got around 1970).  The “interior design features” consisted of sparkles in the sprayed-on ceiling texture and a long strip of finished plywood that concealed the fluorescent lighting tubes in the living room.  (That lighting valance was the pinnacle of discerning taste.  We always referred to it in capital letters:  “The Valance”.)

So.

Imagine, if you will, our first interior design assignment at the University of Manitoba:  “Design your dream bathroom”.

For me, a “dream bathroom” was any bathroom with a flush toilet.  A “fantasy bathroom” would be one in which the shower pressure stayed constant instead of diminishing to a trickle before blasting out with enough force to peel the skin off your body when the pressure pump kicked in.

So I picked out some nice brown tile that looked as though it wouldn’t cost too much, and drew up a bathroom with… *gasp*  an infrared heat lamp in the ceiling!  It was the most decadent thing I could imagine.  And my bathroom had a separate shower stall in addition to a standard 30” x 60” bathtub.  What luxury!  The brown tile seemed like a practical choice, so I used it on the floor, ceiling, and all the walls.  My coloured drawing elevations looked like giant chocolate bars (or some other brown substance).

The interior design department had a sadistic tradition of displaying all the finished projects on the studio walls so we could learn from each other’s work.  In addition, particularly good and/or bad projects were held up by the professor for discussion at the front of the class.

My bathroom didn’t make the ‘particularly bad’ list (though I did make the shit list on a couple of other occasions, to be confessed in future posts).

But the ‘particularly good’ bathroom that was held up as an example?  Mind = blown!

It had acres of creamy tile accented with green and purple, and a giant sunken tub surrounded by pillars.  There was probably a toilet in there, too, but I don’t remember it.  I was too stunned by the grandeur of the tub.  I couldn’t conceive of such an extravagance of money and space.

I think I got a ‘C’ on that project, which I’m pretty sure was given out of pity.  But there was much worse to come…

…Stay tuned for Fail! Part Deux (or is that ‘Duh’?)

43 Comments

Filed under Humour, Life

Puddles!

We have puddles! *does happy dance*

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’re undoubtedly studying that first sentence and trying to figure out where to find the double entendre.  That’s a valid and downright laudable reaction.  If you find one, I hope you’ll share it – I do love a good double entendre!  But that wasn’t actually my intention (for a change).

No; this post is in celebration of spring.  It’s my favourite time of year – crocuses and tulips and daffodils peek out, the grass turns green, the birds come home, it snows two feet… you know; the usual stuff.

Back in arid Calgary, spring puddles are fleeting – the snow seems to evaporate instead of melting.  But here on the coast we have good old-fashioned puddles that bring back delightful childhood memories.

I grew up on a prairie farm where the terrain was dead-flat for miles.  That and our heavy clay/gumbo soil made it prime puddle territory.  Venice had nothing on us.  I remember riding the school bus along our country road and looking out at water as far as the eye could see, neatly divided into a one-mile grid by the raised road allowances that were the highest point on the prairies (and only a foot or two higher than the water level).

Every kid had a pair of rubber boots:  the taller the boots, the better.  Puddle-wading was both art and science.  We learned about refraction early – the place you thought you were stepping wasn’t always where your foot ended up.  The penalty for that was a boot full of icy water, which didn’t dampen our enthusiasm at all.  It was a sport to see how far we could wade into a puddle before we filled our boots.

We also had a small inflatable dinghy that we could row across our puddles (we had serious puddles on the farm).  And there were always ditches full of water that required all sorts of digging in the mud to produce complex drainage trenches and dams.

Sometimes it turned cold enough to freeze the puddles hard.  That was prime ice-skating:  glassy-smooth, with grass and fallen leaves locked below the surface as if cast in crystal.  But it was always tricky to determine whether the ice was strong enough to bear our weight… which brings to mind another favourite sound:  a slow ominous creak followed by the buzzing crack of ice failing, usually accompanied by squeals and splashing.

I still love going out in the early morning when temperatures are below freezing.  Overnight some of the puddle-water seeps into the ground, leaving a white fragile ice shell floating over empty air.  There’s nothing like the sharp hollow sound it makes when stepped on – it’s almost as addictive as popping bubble wrap!

At 52 years old, you’d think I’d have developed enough dignity to leave the puddles alone; but nope.  Not even close.  I’m still incapable of walking by a shell of ice without breaking it, and last week I went out and bought myself a pair of tall rubber boots that’ll make me the envy of every kid in town.

I’m going out to play in the puddles now… how about you?

P.S. Here on the coast I’ve discovered a ‘new-to-me’ type of spring ice: long silky filaments that form as water is pushed up out of sodden soil into freezing temperatures. How cool is that? (Literally.) ;-)

P.S. Here on the coast I’ve discovered a ‘new-to-me’ type of spring ice: long silky filaments that form as water is pushed up out of sodden soil into freezing temperatures. How cool is that? (Literally.) 😉

 

24 Comments

Filed under Commentary, Life

A Few From The Funny-Files

With the stress of our move and house-building, my time has been short and my funny-levels have been critically low lately.  Thank goodness for my friends, who make sure I get my daily giggle quota.

Here are a few of the goodies they’ve passed on to me:

How could you NOT notice something like this during the design meetings?!?

How could you NOT notice something like this during the design meetings?!?

 

“Thou beslubbering pox-marked bum-bailey!” Today’s insults are so unimaginative by comparison.

“Thou beslubbering pox-marked bum-bailey!” Today’s insults are so unimaginative by comparison.

 

Two heads are better than one…

Two heads are better than one…

A convenient little fridge and barbeque for our new place.

A convenient little fridge and barbeque for our new place.

This is why you don’t decorate your palm tree.

This is why you don’t decorate your palm tree.

And just in case my friends don’t send enough jokes to keep me entertained, I can always depend on the spammers to give me a chuckle.  Check out the sequence of subject lines in this screenshot from my junk email folder:

They came through in exactly this order.

They came through in exactly this order.

It was sheer coincidence that the spam topics lined up, but it’s even more fun when oddball items come from real people.  Here are the top search terms that have brought visitors to my blog in the last little while:

“Warfarin shit pants” – I couldn’t imagine how my blog ended up in the search results for this phrase, because I was pretty sure I’d never used the word “warfarin” in a blog post… but I was wrong.  Sure enough, I had:  https://blog.dianehenders.com/2012/08/08/heeere-mr-gopher/.  Much to my own surprise, though, I’ve never actually written a post containing the phrase “shit pants”.  (Until now.  If you’ve found this post because you searched for “shit pants”… welcome!)

“Swinger confessions” – Yep, guilty as charged:  https://blog.dianehenders.com/2014/03/05/confessions-of-a-vegas-swinger/

“Werewolf porn” – Uh-huh, you know it:  https://blog.dianehenders.com/2015/07/15/werewolf-porn-star/.

“My cats ass looks like it is rotting” – No.  Just no.  I absolutely, definitely didn’t post anything on this topic.  “Cat’s ass”, yes:  https://blog.dianehenders.com/2015/05/06/its-the-cats-ass/.  “Pox-riddled rat’s ass”, yes:  https://blog.dianehenders.com/2016/04/27/how-to-be-a-slacker/.  But “rotting cat’s ass”, no.  Even I wouldn’t go there.

“My barbie doll came alive at night” – Rather surprisingly… yes, I actually did speculate about Barbie dolls coming alive at night:  https://blog.dianehenders.com/2011/11/30/barbie-celebrity-affairs-and-altering-reality/.

“Great big turds” – This one’s a twofer because it mentions turds and Barbie dolls in the same post.  (And seriously, how many bloggers can make that claim?)  https://blog.dianehenders.com/2012/02/22/it-was-a-dark-and-stormy-night/.

“Diane farts” – Um, yeah.  If you search my blog for the word ‘fart’, you’ll find 24 posts.  This tag cloud for my blog shows where my brain spends most of its time:

Good to see I have my priorities straight.

Good to see I have my priorities straight.

“Plumber snaked the toilet, husband” – Okay, I really want to have written a blog post about this, because I just can’t help visualizing the plumber ‘snaking’ the husband in some X-rated love triangle.  But even though I’ve written about plumbers, snakes, toilets, and husbands, I’ve never managed to cram them together in the same post.  Now I have a goal…

But despite all these worthy contenders, the one I found funniest was this spam comment:  “I find this website very informative and focused on topic”.

‘Informative’, maybe… if you’re looking for dirty limericks or evil sock imps.  But ‘focused on topic’?  Well, I’ll just let another of my search engine referrals address that:  “I wet my knickers I was laughing so hard”.

Yep, you said it!

 

38 Comments

Filed under Humour, Life, Writing

Diagnosis: Writer

So many of my readers are also writers!

Nelson is serializing his book on his blog,

Jono just posted a sneaky two-part story,

Carrie Rubin has two medical thrillers published and is working on a third,

Nancy Roman blogs, writes for Huffington Post, and has written a novel,

Andrew will soon be releasing a collection of poems,

…And I know @SomeRandomGuy is over 600,000 words into the draft of his epic sci-fi fantasy, and others have mentioned works in progress or in planning.

So I thought now might be a good time for a diagnosis.  Are you or someone you know struggling with writer-itis?  Use this handy checklist to find out:

 

Symptoms:  Uttering random words at inappropriate times; unexplained giggling, crying, and/or scowling.

Differential Diagnosis:  Writer, Tourette Syndrome, or psychosis.

Tests:  Observe the subject’s behaviour after the outburst.

Diagnosis: 

If the subject scurries off to write immediately after the outburst, they’re a writer.

If the subject acts as though nothing untoward has happened, they might have Tourette’s… or they’re a writer in the throes of plotting.

If the subject carries on an animated conversation with invisible companions, it might be psychosis… or they’re a writer planning dialogue.

 

Symptoms:  Unhealthy attachment to word processing programs

Differential Diagnosis:  Writer or computer geek

Tests:  Observe the content of the document.

Diagnosis: 

If you’re still reading and completely riveted after ten pages, they’re a writer.

If your eyes glaze over after the first line and your brain explodes after the first page, they might be a computer geek… or a writer.

 

Symptoms:  Separation anxiety when leaving a computer; obsession with backups; paralyzing fear of data loss

Diagnosis:  Writer, computer geek, or conspiracy theorist

Tests:  Confiscate the subject’s data and destroy it before the subject’s eyes.

Diagnosis:

If the subject bursts into uncontrollable weeping and/or guzzles alcohol until they throw up and/or pass out, they’re a writer.  Or they were; before you destroyed the only copy of their life’s work and with it, their will to live.

If the subject curses you in Klingon and produces three redundant backups, they’re a computer geek… or a sci-fi writer.

If the subject sidles away with a furtive expression and disappears only to resurface several weeks later with a new name, identical data, and a blog decrying the censorship of the establishment and the oppression of free thinkers, they’re a conspiracy theorist… or a writer.

 

Symptoms:  Forgetfulness; changes in behaviour; social withdrawal

Differential Diagnosis:  Writer, dementia, or drug addiction

Tests:  Restrict the subject to a controlled environment for 24 hours, then provide a laptop loaded with a word-processing program.  Retest at two-month intervals.

Diagnosis:  If the subject breaks into a cold sweat and suffers tremors, nausea, vomiting, hallucinations, and/or seizures, it might be a drug addiction… or they’re a writer.

If the symptoms resolve instantly when a laptop is provided, they’re a writer.

There’s really no way to differentiate writers from dementia patients in a single test.  Writers will forget to eat, sleep, and bathe; will walk away from stoves leaving the elements on high; will drop the keys in the sugar bowl; will wander away from home and get lost even in familiar neighbourhoods; and may even fail to recognize close friends and family.  Retesting is the only way to know for sure:  At some point, writers will likely resume more or less normal behaviour (at least until they start their next manuscript).

 

Symptoms:  Immobility and non-responsiveness when addressed

Differential Diagnosis:  Writer, deafness, or death

Tests:  Obtain a lightweight object at least six inches longer than the subject’s reach.  Gently prod the subject.

Differential Diagnosis:

If the subject startles, yells, and/or flails, they’re either a writer in deep concentration or deaf.

If the subject now responds when addressed (and particularly if they respond with creative expletives), they’re a writer.

If the subject still doesn’t respond when addressed, they might be deaf.  Or a deaf writer.  Or a writer in extra-deep concentration.

If the subject falls over and lies motionless, call the coroner… but the subject might still be a writer in extra-extra deep concentration.  Make sure the medical examiner checks for a pulse before starting the autopsy.

 

If you were reading this hoping you’d find a cure, well… sorry about that.  There isn’t one; there are only short remissions between manuscripts.  But the disease itself is so much fun, who’d want a cure anyway?

Do you have writer-itis?

* * *

P.S. I’m poking fun at myself and my fellow writers, but I don’t mean to trivialize the social and emotional consequences of dementia, Tourette Syndrome, mental illness, hearing impairment, or addiction.  To gain awareness and understanding of these conditions:

Tourette Syndrome

Alzheimer’s and dementia

Mental health

Hearing impairment

Addiction

54 Comments

Filed under Humour, Life, Writing

Submariners And Sea Monsters, Oh My!

Moving to a new place always comes with a learning curve, so this week I thought I’d share some of the discoveries I’ve made since we arrived here on Vancouver Island.

For example, I’ve recently learned the correct Navy pronunciation for ‘submariner’.  I always thought it was ‘sub-ma-REEN-er’, but a true Navy man pronounces it ‘sub-MARE-in-er’.  (Coincidentally, I also learned some Navy slang for a gay man:  ‘diesel-driven turnip’.  Don’t look at me like that; I don’t have a clue how that expression came to be.  But it made me laugh.)

Speaking of the Navy, I haven’t met a ringer for Aydan’s Uncle Roger yet (in the Never Say Spy series, he was the favourite uncle who taught Aydan her best cusswords); but the other day a Hellhound lookalike roared past me on his Harley with his guitar strapped to his back; and I actually got to meet a real-life Dave Shore:

Paul was one of the truckers who delivered our shipping containers, and watching him finesse an 80’ tractor-trailer into our tiny driveway off our narrow road was education and entertainment combined.  I just stood there with my jaw dangling while he eased those big tires perilously close to the ditch, sometimes hovering a couple of trailer wheels over empty space.  Then he used a brilliant technique to squeeze into the driveway:  he locked up the trailer brakes while he continued to reverse the tractor, pivoting the 53’ trailer neatly around the 90-degree corner and into our yard.  Wow!

Talking to him was like gabbing with my fictional Dave:  He’s got 700,000 kilometres on his current rig, which is the third his current employer has issued him.  As he explained, “I keep miling them out.”  (Translation:  Driving so many miles that the truck has to be replaced, usually at 1,000,000 km.)  He’d rather sleep in his truck than in a hotel, and when asked about his retirement plans in a few years, he admitted, “I’m going to get an RV and drive around visiting my kids.  I just like to drive.”  It’s very cool to know there are real-life ‘Daves’ out there!

Marine life has been another novelty for me; some of it beautiful and fascinating…

Starfish come in an amazing variety of shapes and colours from white to orange/red to blue/purple, and they have the ability to go from soft to rigid in mere seconds if you touch them. (Guys, did you get that?)

Starfish come in an amazing variety of shapes and colours from white to orange/red to blue/purple, and they have the ability to go from soft to rigid in mere seconds if you touch them. (Guys, did you get that?)

…and some of it quite horrifying:

I have no idea what creature wore this head before I found it bobbing gently in the surf. It was nearly ten inches across and it looked like some hideous sea monster, although although it's probably a mundane fish to a true West-Coaster. But I’m going with ‘sea monster’.

I have no idea what creature wore this head before I found it bobbing gently in the surf. It was nearly ten inches across and it looked like some hideous sea monster, although it’s probably a mundane fish to a true West-Coaster. But I’m going with ‘sea monster’.

I’ve seen misty sunrises:

.

.

Serene moonrises:

.

.

Dramatic nighttime cloudscapes:

cloudy-moon

.

Rainbows after a storm:

rainbow-wave

.

And harbour seals playing.  (I was too far away so they only look like black blobs splashing around, but you get the idea): 

…And we’ve only been here a month.  I can hardly wait to see the strange and wonderful things the Island has left to show us!

But here’s the best photo yet:  They broke ground for our house on Monday!  Hooray!  (Speaking of finesse and expertise, Sam the excavator operator is an artist.  His touch with that bucket is so delicate and precise you forget that he’s moving literally tons of earth at mind-boggling speed.  Apparently he began operating a small excavator when he was 8 years old.)

It might not be as scenic as the rest of the photos, but this one makes me very happy!

It might not be as scenic as the rest of the photos, but this one makes me very happy!

What’s new in your world this week?  And… does anybody know what that sea-monster-critter actually is?  (Or, more accurately, ‘was’?)

50 Comments

Filed under Life, Writing

Island Happy

This is just a short post since I’m having computer and internet problems, but I just wanted to check in and say… We made it to Vancouver Island, and we’re thrilled to finally be here!

There were some tense moments (okay, some tense hours), but after weeks of “everything that can go wrong will go wrong”, we finally got here despite Murphy’s best efforts.

One thing:  Driving the Coquihalla (Highway Thru Hell) in winter is off our Bucket List – we don’t need to do that EVER AGAIN!

Despite the fact that it “never snows” out here, we had four inches of the white stuff on Boxing Day, but at least it’s warm(ish) and the snow is mostly gone where we are.  The Island is putting on quite a show for us – we’ve seen everything from a peaceful happy Island:

island-happy

…to a cranky Island the very next day (yes, those are snowflakes fluttering down in the foreground):

But it’s all beautiful – I have to keep reminding myself that we don’t actually have to leave!

If the computer gods smile on me, I’ll be back to my regular programming next week, but in the meantime I’ll wish everyone a very happy New Year.  “Talk” to you again soon!

P.S. I’m on Pacific Standard Time now, so my posts will be showing up in your feeds an hour later.  It’s “Island Time”! 🙂

28 Comments

Filed under Life