We live almost an hour away from the nearest city, so when we can’t find what we need in the local small-town stores, we order from Amazon. Their delivery service is usually fast, cheap, and trouble-free.

Until last week.

I was expecting a package containing a watch band, a walking foot for my sewing machine (Andrew, I’m blaming that purchase on you), and a pair of bypass pruners. The package was scheduled to be delivered on Friday, and it arrived right on time.

But when I opened it… no pruners. No watch band or sewing gadgets. Nope; instead I’d gotten a 4-pack of men’s underwear. Black.

My brain short-circuited. I double-checked the address label. Picked up the undie-pack and turned it over a couple of times; because maybe if I looked at it from a different angle, it might turn into the things I’d actually ordered. (It didn’t.)

Then I thought, “Could this be a gag gift from a fan?”

It’s not as far-fetched as you might think. I love hearing from my readers, and every now and then I get a letter containing a tongue-in-cheek reference to John Kane’s famously well-packed black underwear. (Hmm, given the subject matter, maybe ‘tongue-in-cheek’ isn’t the most appropriate expression here.) Anyhow, the point is that occasionally I discuss men’s underwear with random strangers; which theoretically could lead to *ahem* unusual gifts.

But I checked the order status, and it showed that the delivery was indeed ‘my’ parcel.

So I called ’Zon and they quickly resolved the issue, with a few giggles on both sides. My original items were re-shipped, and the agent assured me that I didn’t have to return the underwear.

You might be thinking, “Score for Hubby: Four free pairs of undies!” But no; the undie size (you know I wanted to say ‘package size’) is XS: Extra-small. Hubby is not.

So I guess I’ll donate the ’Zonderwear to the local homeless shelter. I can see it now: A middle-aged woman sidles in and hands over a single pack of extra-small men’s underwear. Sounds like the start of a joke… or a novel. Hmmm, there’s a thought…

Any surprises in your world this week?

Book 18 update: I’m on Chapter 3, and Aydan has just had some comfortable assumptions shattered.

And… the series book trailer is finished, woohoo! See below:

Snow Warning

I grew up in Manitoba, where twelve-foot snowbanks and frigid temperatures were considered nothing more than a worthy challenge. But here on Vancouver Island, businesses shut down and chaos reigns if a few snowflakes flutter down.

Last week my physiotherapy appointment was cancelled because of a few inches of snow. I was on the verge of complaining about the wimpiness of Island dwellers, but I suddenly recalled the sheer joy of those long-ago ‘snow days’ when I was a kid and school was cancelled.  My momentary pique vanished in a grin as I imagined full-grown adults peeking out their windows, happy-dancing and crowing, “Snow day!”

A ‘snow day’ in Manitoba in 1966.

I’ve complained about snow before and I probably will again; but the truth is, I kinda like the white stuff (now that I live in a place where it doesn’t stay around for six months at a time). Snow is pretty and sparkly; and it lights up our gloomy West Coast winters.

There are obvious disadvantages, of course.  Snow is cold, slippery, and dangerous to drivers, walkers, and shovellers; but today I’m here to warn you about its lesser-known and much more insidious downside: 

Snow is fattening!

You’d think fluffy frozen water would be calorie-free.  In fact, when you factor in the extra effort of clearing it and navigating through it, it should be a stellar weight-loss tool.

But not for me. Because when it’s snowing outside, I bake.  And when there are freshly-baked goodies, I eat.  And the longer the snow lasts, the more I bake and eat.

Yesterday my kitchen was gloriously perfumed by fresh cinnamon buns.  A couple of days ago there was a decadent chocolate cake.  Before that, peanut butter caramel squares.  And baklava.  And lemon pie.  That’s not even counting all the goodies stashed in our freezer ‘just in case’. And we’ve only had a week of snow.

I noted a few years ago that it’s dangerous to wear stretch pants on road trips. But it’s much worse than that: I’ve been schlepping around in stretch pants all winter, and I’ve just realized my comfy pants have been conspiring with the snow, too. Now I’m afraid to try on my jeans — I’m not sure I want to know what’s been going on behind my back(side).

Get out the forklift; I might need a boost up these stairs…

Book 18 progress: I’m partway through Chapter 1, and Aydan is finding out how hard Stemp’s job really was. But most of my recent time has been spent producing a book trailer for the series — and I’ve just finished it, woohoo! Watch for it in my next post and on my Facebook page!

I’m Not Stoned (Much)

Many thanks to everyone who’s dropped me a line to see why I haven’t posted lately — I appreciate your support and concern! The last couple of months have been… interesting. I’ve been struggling with dizziness and nausea that really take the fun out of computer work, so I’ve been snarfing anti-nausea pills, anti-vertigo pills, and Tylenol for the headaches. I thought being stoned would be a lot more fun — I must be doing it wrong. 😉

In an attempt to mimic normal brain function (or as normal as I ever get), I’ve taken to jotting cryptic reminders to myself. They make sense at the time; but a day later, they only make me question my mental competence. For instance:

Run cold for tea!

Our household water comes from a well, so once a year we add chlorine bleach to the system to make sure nothing’s growing in the water lines on the “safe” side of our UV sterilizer. After we purge the lines, the hot water always smells like a public swimming pool for a few days. No big deal if you’re showering in it, but making tea? BLECH!

Normally I’d only gulp one mouthful that tasted like the dregs of a well-used hot tub, and then I’d remember ever afterward to only run cold water into the kettle. But apparently not when I’m on drugs. Hence the note.


Appointment at (fill in the blank)!

You’d think this would be a fairly useful and self-explanatory note. It wasn’t.

Whenever I’m making an appointment, I enter the date and time in my calendar and then read it back to the receptionist. I did that, so I’m not quite sure how wires got crossed. But my physiotherapist’s office also sends an automated email reminder; so I knew I’d be fine even if I forgot to look at my calendar.

The morning of the appointment I checked my calendar: Appointment at 11:20 AM. Fine.

An hour before the appointment, I double-checked the email reminder. Appointment at 11:00 AM. Yikes, I had to leave right away! As I hurried out the door, I wondered vaguely why I was having so much trouble keeping the appointment time in my head; but whatever.

Halfway there, my car threw a ‘Low Tire Pressure’ warning. I pulled over to check the tires, worrying that it would make me late. But as I got back in the car, my phone chimed: Half an hour to my appointment. Even with the delay, I was going to be 20 minutes early! I gave my head a shake, thinking I must be a lot more stoned than I felt. (And clearly I was, because normally at that point I would have figured out that something was fishy.)

But no; I finished my leisurely drive, then sat waiting in the car until my appointment time.

Yep, you guessed it: I had arrived on time for my 11:00 appointment; but I wasted it all, waiting in the parking lot until 11:20.


The good news is I’m finally feeling a bit better. I’ve been reducing the drugs, and my brain is working fine again. Which reminds me… Note to self: Remember to worzel the fimblegurb!

Book 18 progress: Intensive keyboarding still isn’t my friend, but I had lots of time to think while lying down with my eyes closed. Plotting is complete(ish) and this week I’ll start putting words on the page!

The Shortbread Grinch

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you made it through the holiday season unscathed and un-stranded by crazy weather.

I’m still recovering from the lingering side-effects of my COVID booster (or something; who knows), so we spent a quiet December. Good food, good medical care, and visits with family left me feeling immensely grateful.


As you’ve no doubt come to expect, I didn’t make it through the season without a generous measure of foolishness. Case in point: The Christmas shortbread.

Every year I do some baking to give as gifts:  Goodies like gingersnaps and snickerdoodles, along with a confection from my childhood dubbed ‘Cherry Flips’ (a maraschino cherry wrapped in almond shortbread, dunked in cherry frosting, and dusted with coconut)… and shortbread.

Tasty though it is, plain shortbread looks bland and unappetizing. So I usually decorate it with red and green cherries in wreath shapes to make it look a bit more festive.  But this year I really wasn’t feeling very well (and to be honest, I was a bit stoned on anti-nausea pills). So I decided to take a simpler approach with red and green coloured sugar.  I experimented with a few different patterns, and decided on one reminiscent of evergreen swags with a red accent:

Festive, yes?

I painstakingly applied the sugar to each cookie and baked the lot of them.  Then, as I was tucking the finished shortbread into gift packages, a terrible thought occurred to me. To describe it in proper Seussian style, it was a terrible, horrible, awful idea:

“These cookies look like a Grinch butt with hemorrhoids.”

Once that mental image is lodged in your brain, you can never un-see it.  (Sorry about that.)

I didn’t know what to do.  On one hand, surely nobody else in the world would think of that… would they?  But on the other hand, I felt vaguely guilty handing out baked goods with diseased butts on them.

In the end I gave away the goodies as planned, secure in the knowledge that my friends and family are much nicer and more refined than I.  Even if they thought the decorations were questionable, they’re far too polite to comment.

Unlike me.

So if you received Grinch-Ass shortbread from me this year, I sincerely apologize.  I promise it won’t happen again. (But my inner twelve-year-old will snicker about it forever more.)

Did anyone else have food-related ‘oopses’ over the holidays?

Book 18 progress: Sadly, none. I was feeling too crappy to work; and I still have to gulp anti-nausea tablets if I’m going to look at computer screen for more than a few minutes at a time. Hoping to report more progress (and less nausea) soon!

Vampire Teeth

I realize Halloween is long over and Christmas is only a couple of weeks away. It’s hardly the traditional time to bring up vampirism, but this is something I just have to ask: What the hell is wrong with my teeth?!?

They look normal to me. I’ve never glanced in the mirror and recoiled at the sight of giant gleaming fangs springing from my gums. Yet sometimes my teeth leap out like feral animals and bite the mouth that feeds them.

And once they’ve gotten that first taste of tender mouth-meat, they attack over and over. Several times a day, for days on end; and no part of my mouth is safe. The inside of my cheek; my lower lip; even under my tongue right next to that piece of tissue that attaches my tongue to the bottom of my mouth. How can I possibly bite myself there? I can’t even close my teeth on that part of my tongue if I deliberately try!

(Digression: Apparently that connecting piece of tissue under our tongues is called the ‘lingual frenulum’. In my case, it’s more like a lingual frenemy.)

Anyway, after a week or so the biting spree ends; and everything goes back to normal. But a few months later, my choppers once again develop an inexplicable hunger for human flesh.

I’m pretty sure my teeth aren’t shifting around in my mouth every few months, nor is my jaw realigning. So the only explanation I can imagine is latent vampirism. Something must happen that impels my fangs to extend, and suddenly I’ve got brand-new tongue piercings.

If only I could figure out what awakens the fangs. It can’t be bloodlust caused by goodies like rare steak — I can’t remember the last time we had steak. Nor can it be the phases of the moon: Vampires aren’t affected by the moon. That’s only werewolves…


I just realized my problem isn’t vampirism after all. I’m actually a werewolf. Now that I think of it, there’s even a photo to prove it.

Dang. Looks like my tongue is doomed.

Book 18 update: I’ve been under the weather since my latest COVID booster, so no writing progress this week. I’m hoping to be back in action soon!

The Whole Fan-damly

It seems like only a few years ago I had to show ID to prove I was old enough to buy liquor. Now, suddenly, I have to show ID to prove I’m too young to qualify for a Senior’s Discount.

I miss being young. I miss the absolute conviction that I’m smarter than any old fuddy-duddy, that I can do anything, and the world is my oyster. The world might have been my oyster at one time; but the older oysters get, the more they stink. And now that I’m an old fuddy-duddy myself, the more I ‘know’, the less certain I am about any of it.

But most of all, I miss the certainty that my body will do what I expect. It used to be a well-tuned machine: All the parts worked smoothly together to get the job done. These days, I feel like a beleaguered single mom trying to parent a much-too-large family. Every day is an endless round of Me The Mom cheerfully saying, “Let’s do (some previously enjoyed activity).” But instead of enthusiastic cooperation, I get, “NO, NO, NO!!! I don’t wanna! You can’t make me!”

Giving in to the tantrum, I soothe, “It’s okay, we’ll do something else instead.”

That makes another body part act out: “NO! She ALWAYS gets her way! I want attention, too! Me, me, me!!!”

The cranky toddlers’ names are Lower Back and the Thumb twins. On any given day, they may throw a screaming tantrum for no apparent reason; or they might smoothly perform a task I never thought they’d manage.

The Knee twins are mostly well-behaved, but sometimes they can be whiners.

Upper Back is a moody tween given to dramatic declarations that (so far, fortunately) haven’t amounted to anything.

Neck is a surly teenager who greets every task with complaints and martyred sighs, but gets the job done in the end.

And the short-circuiting nerve system that makes my legs and feet feel as though I’m wearing electrified tights? Yep, Leg Nerves are the couch-surfing twenty-somethings who won’t follow the house rules, but refuse to get a job and move the hell out.

All that domestic dysfunction is exacerbated (or maybe that should be ‘exasperated’) by the dumb-as-a-box-of-rocks family pet: The Ghost of Youth Past. It’s constantly bouncing around in the background, slobbering eagerly and panting, “Yeah, yeah, let’s do it! It’ll be SO MUCH FUN, come on, LET’S DO IT!”

But, like most moms, my grumbling about the Body family is tongue-in-cheek. I’m (literally) quite attached to the whole fractious gang. At least everybody is still speaking to each other despite their squabbling; and the days when they all choose to work together are precious indeed.

Now, if only I could get Mouth to stop gobbling up all the leftover Halloween candy…

Book 18 update: Book 17 has been unleashed on the world, hooray! I’m finishing up its post-release tasks, and I’m hard at work plotting Book 18. I’ve already written part of the first chapter, so stay tuned for progress reports!


The other day my friend Swamp Butt mentioned that one of her co-workers had guessed her age at nearly twenty years younger than she actually is.

“Must be nice,” said I. “Nobody has ever said anything like that to me.”

But Swamp Butt was blessed with superb genes passed down from her father, who lived to be 102; and she has always looked younger than she is. So I shrugged it off.

Only a few days later, I changed into my goin’-to-town clothes (which are only distinguishable from my around-home clothes by the fact that they don’t feature holes and/or paint and/or automotive grease stains). I glanced in the mirror before I left the house and thought, “Huh. I look pretty good for my age.” Buoyed by that thought, I drove to town with a smile.

While I was standing in line at one of the stores, I noticed it was Seniors Day: 15% off. *shrug* Whatever. Didn’t apply to me.

When it was my turn, the cashier scanned and totalled my items, and then asked, “Do you qualify for the senior’s discount?”

That took the wind out of my sails.

“Sadly, no,” I said, summoning my most youthful smile.

“Are you sure?” she asked.

Pop. That was the sound of my bubble bursting.

“Really, really sure,” I assured her. “I’m only 58.”

Then I did a mental head-smack. Shit, if I was going to get kicked in the ego anyway, I should have at least lied about my age and snagged the discount. Apparently I’m only getting old, not wise.

Fortunately, I’m blessed with a huge capacity for denial and and very little concern for what others think of my appearance. After I got over the momentary ‘ouch’, I found the whole exchange pretty funny, and I’m still chuckling about it. (Albeit somewhat ruefully.)

And I still like what I see when I look in the mirror. It’s nothing to do with my face — it’s what’s behind my eyes that counts. 🙂

Anybody else have a face that doesn’t fit their (mental) age?

Book 17 update: Woohoo! LIVE AND LET SPY will be released on October 28/22, and it’s now available for pre-order at all retailers. Pre-order links are on my Books page, and I’ll be sending them out to my mailing list soon!

Rubber Chicken

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with rubber chicken for most of my adult life. (And after re-reading that sentence, I’d like to clarify that ‘rubber chicken’ is not a euphemism for anything unmentionable. Just sayin’.)

It all started (as so many things do) with my friend Swamp Butt. I can’t remember the circumstances exactly, but I had refused to partake in some activity… wait; hang on. It might have been laser hair removal.

Whatever it was, I declined; and she called me a chicken. I probably flung back an equally mature reply, and that was the end of it. Until the next gift-giving occasion, when she handed me a beautifully-wrapped parcel containing this:

It’s squishy silicone, which makes it revoltingly floppy.

Of course, we laughed our asses off. My niece was young then, and every time she visited, she also laughed at the rubbery chicken.

Fast-forward a decade or so. My niece went to Japan as an exchange student. When she returned, she brought me this:

It’s horrifying. It looks like a traumatized poultry sex doll.

Of course, we laughed our asses off all over again.

Not long after that, I was introduced to another version of rubber chicken that never, ever invoked laughter: The dreaded ‘networking dinner meeting’. Chicken was almost always served because it accommodates most dietary needs. Unfortunately, chicken meat does not hold up well to the kind of lengthy warming that occurs with catered meals. Eating rubbery chicken while crammed into uncomfortable business clothes and making strained small talk was as close as I care to come to hell.

Thankfully, the days of networking meetings are well in my past. The shudder-inducing memories have begun to fade… which is why I was surprised last week when I dreamed about eating rubber chicken again.

I woke up chewing on this:

I’ve just started wearing a mouth guard to keep me from grinding my teeth at night. So far it’s not going very well.

The flavour and texture of the mouth guard are remarkably similar to those long-ago chicken meals. Fortunately, I didn’t manage to actually bite off a piece and swallow it.

Anybody else have a love/hate relationship with rubber chickens?

Book 17 update: My first beta reader has finished, hooray! I’ll make revisions, then pass it to my next beta reader. Stay tuned for a cover reveal and release date, to be announced in my next post!

On My Knees, Preying

The past week was unusually hot. I like summer, but 38°C/100°F is a little too warm for me. So I’ve been getting up at 6:00 AM to pick veggies and water the garden. It’s gorgeous outside at that time: The sun is just coming up, the air is cool and fresh, and the only sounds are the birds and the trickle of the creek.

Coincidentally, there was a recent news article about how the bear population is exploding on Vancouver Island. Bears are now regularly seen in residential areas where there’s no record of a bear being spotted in the past 40 years. So big hungry critters were in the back of my mind when I hauled myself out of bed a few days ago and opened all the windows.

I was sitting at the breakfast table when a blood-curdling cry froze me to my chair. It was close. Somewhere in our yard.

After a moment of breathless immobility, I relaxed. The ravens were flapping around as usual. They have a huge range of vocalizations, so I figured one of them must have gotten creative. I carried on with my breakfast.

But only for another minute or two, until the terrible cry came again, even louder. The ravens fled. And my primitive lizard-brain screamed, “COUGAR!”

A couple of years ago, a big cougar came right up on our neighbours’ deck; so we definitely have cougars in the area. I scurried over to the internet and looked up ‘cougar vocalizations’. Sure enough, cougars make a lot of different noises; and some of them sounded just like what I’d heard.

No way was I going to kneel out in the garden like prey when there was a big predator around. But where was it? I hurried from window to window, peering out. Nothing. Then I went through our attached garage to look north.

As I eased the door open and cautiously stuck my head out, a Great Blue Heron took off from our pond with an irritable squawk.

Yep, it turns out that cougar cries and close-range heron squawks sound remarkably similar.

So I did my garden duties after all, and my week turned out fine. I hope yours does, too — may all your scary cougars turn out to be harmless herons!

Book 17 update: The draft is FINISHED, woohoo! The title will be Live And Let Spy. I’m editing madly, and I hope to hand it off to my first beta reader next week. Stay tuned for cover art and a release date, coming soon!

Half-Naked Ant-ics

Well, Mom’s admonition to ‘always wear nice underwear, just in case’ has proved (once again) to be good advice.

I used to think it was just silly. Seriously, Mom: What could possibly make me strip off my clothes in public?

(The Fates let out an evil chuckle.)


There I was, out in our front yard on a sunny day, minding my own business. As usual, I was togged out in more clothes than most people wear on an Arctic expedition: Jeans, T-shirt with a long-sleeved shirt open over it, steel-toed work boots, knee pads, work gloves, sunglasses, a broad-brimmed hat, and enough sunscreen to kill a dozen coral reefs. (Note: We don’t have coral reefs in our front yard. No coral reefs were harmed in the making of this blog post.)

I was working on a rotten log, tearing handfuls of squishy wood into the rich mulch that our rhododendrons love. Trying to appease my cranky lumbar vertebrae, I sat on another fallen log.

Anybody who’s spent time around rotten logs can probably see what’s coming; but in my defense, I’ve done this loads of times all over our property and I’ve never had a problem before. But this time, I felt a painful little pinch. In… my armpit?!?

“Okay,” thought I. “Maybe it’s a bit of heat rash, or an errant hair follicle.” I scratched the spot and carried on.

But then there were more pinches. Armpit, shoulder. What the…?

You guessed it: There was an ant colony in my log seat. And a bunch of big black-and-red ants had climbed up the back of my jeans, under the loose long-sleeved shirt, and chowed down on the tender armpit exposed by my short-sleeved T-shirt.

Let’s just say I moved, um… briskly. I yanked off my overshirt, but by then the ants had found their way through my T-shirt arms and down inside my jeans.

So, yeah. I did an extremely graceless striptease in our front yard. The exhibition was made even more alluring by the fact that I couldn’t take off my jeans without first removing my bulky boots, which have long laces that require some effort to pull loose.

So there I was: Head down, ass up, hopping around and whacking at random parts of my half-naked body. The sun’s reflection off all that pasty skin could probably be seen from outer space. (And if that didn’t warn any passing aliens to avoid Earth, nothing will.)

But I guess it could have been worse. At least the neighbours can’t see into our yard, and no cars drove by. (As far as I know.) And I was actually wearing nice underwear, Mom.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who’s flung off my clothes in public…

Book 17 update: My optimistic plan to finish the draft last week was scuttled when I had a reaction to a prescription painkiller and ended up in Urgent Care for a day, then spent the week stoned brainless on heavy-duty antihistamines. Fingers crossed for this week…