Friday, August 8, 2014


Why has no one  wished me a Happy World Cat Day?
Sent presents?
Given me treats?

By Allie

Yes, you heard me.  It is World Cat Day.   You wouldn't know it around here though.  The person who used to write this blog seems to have disappeared from Blogland.  She's still around the house though - just moaning and groaning about the heat, taking long naps, growing weeds (no, not weed, you ninny - WEEDS - the stuff that chokes out the flowers and vegetables!).....oh, and walking the dumb dogs at some undogly time of the morning before the day gets too hot. 

Who in their right mind goes for a walk
at 6:00 AM?

As for me?  I like the heat.  I lazzzzze around in the sunbeams (when dumb human doesn't have the blinds closed so tightly that not a ray of sunshine can get in).  I eat. I sleep.  I play.  Eat. Sleep. Play.  Isn't there a book with a title like that?  By Elizabeth Catbert or something?


Anyway, in honor of World Cat Day, I'm writing the blog. Because lazy people and lazy dogs around here ain't gonna do it. You can bet it will be different on World Dog Day.  Which is coming up on August 26th.  What a lot of nonsense - every day is a dog's day. It's a dog's life.  In this dog eat dog world, you can be as sick as a dog or be meaner than a junkyard dog or be dog tired or be a dirty dog, and you can work like a dog (which, if the dogs around here are any example, means doin' nothing!) or drink the hair of the dog or look like the dog's breakfast, but at the end of the day, if you lie down with dogs you'll get up with fleas! So there!  And still they celebrate World Dog Day.  Go figure. 

Ohgawd,  what is the world coming to,
that dogs should need their very own day!
Every day is their day.  

So I'm gonna let the cat out of the bag (though I'd like to know what mean person stuffed him in there in the first place!) and make sure everyone of you knows this:  TODAY IS WORLD CAT DAY.   So grin like a Cheshire cat, and walk right up to that dog of yours (yes, I know you have one - or two or three or ten), look that silly fuzzface in the eye, make like the cat that ate the canary, and tell the dogs of the world that 


We rule, and don'tcha forget it!

And you can tell them that ALLIE SAYS SO!  If it is on the blog, it must be true!

Is she done yet?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Butterflies on my Butterfly Bush

I love when a plant does what the plant books promise!  Last year my friend Else gave me a little cutting from her butterfly bush - this year it is about ten feet tall and five feet wide - and attracting butterflies just as the plant books say!  I am thrilled as I usually see very few butterflies in my garden.  Yesterday there were five of these beautiful Swallowtails on the bush at the same time.

(c) Jean Ballard 2014

(c) Jean Ballard 2014

(c) Jean Ballard 2014

(c) Jean Ballard 2014

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Scenes from the Salish Sea

I am a land-based person.  As much as I love the ocean and its beaches, enjoy fishing in small picturesque lakes, like flying in small planes,  have tried para sailing, and even flown on a trapeze 30 feet above the ground (the things you learn about me on the blog, eh?), I am most at home on the land - hiking a mountain path, wandering along a rocky shore, strolling through a park, exploring roads less traveled.

I haven't always had my feet solidly on the ground!

Even though I have lived by the ocean these past five years, I have never seen the Cowichan area from a boat, with the exception of the occasional ferry ride to Salt Spring Island. Don't get me wrong - I enjoy being on the water - but the closest I've ever been to owning a boat was an 8' folding fiberglass boat with a small electric motor I used for fishing in small interior lakes and the occasional fun-filled photoshoot while camping with my sister and my friends.

O'Bear, Robear, Muffin and Teddy
do a little fishing from my boat.

So when my nephew (my late sister's eldest son) offered to take me out in his boat while on a visit to this area with his wife and daughter, I jumped at the opportunity.  This was no 8' Portabote with hard wooden seats and a tippy demeanor, this was a 47' Bayliner with multiple viewing points and all the comforts of home.

I wonder how many teddy bears
my sister and I could have piled
in a boat this size!

The trip wasn't completely without risk - my nephew had been having problems with the port engine and at one point had also lost the steering.  Repairs had been completed on nearby Salt Spring and then again at Genoa Bay, and this was to be a trial run before the family continued on their journey.   It was the perfect day for testing it out - clear and sunny, smooth seas, great company.  I grabbed my lifejacket and we were off.

My first photo of the trip was some bright yellow flowers growing high atop a piling at the wharf - ten or more feet above my head:

Flowers atop a post

We set sail from Genoa Bay in the early afternoon.  We emerged from the protection of the bay and headed north through the Sansum Narrows, past Stoneyhill and the marine-accessible Sansum Point Park with its signature Garry oak and arbutus trees, past Maple Bay, and into Stuart Channel heading towards Crofton.

The Captain

Gotta have a flag!

Heading out

A lone tree stands out on
the top of a very high, round hill.

The scenery was beautiful -  tree-covered hills, ocean washed cliffs, small cottages and large homes that seemed accessible only by boat or whose roadways must have been well hidden, twisting, and treacherous.

Where's my winning lottery ticket?
I want to live there!

There were huge homes that looked more like institutions or business centres and other properties that appeared to be private resorts though I couldn't think of any in that area:

Not my style of architecture
but I bet the view is gorgeous!

Private resort?  

Solar powered beacons warned boaters of rocky points, and hidden beaches and bays drew all types of sea crafts to the area.

I love the tiny hidden beaches.
I just may have to take up kayaking!

A boat slips into a very small cove

Love the Canadian chair
someone has placed here!


And small motor boats....

Motorized sailboats

And boats in full sail....

Boats towing dinghies, 

And boat scenes that
remind one of a painting.

A seiner provided a picturesque reminder of those who earn their living fishing these waterway and provide us with the amazing fresh, wild salmon and halibut for which the west coast is famous.  In this case, the crew appeared to be inspecting or fixing the nets and the mechanism with which they haul in the fish.

I was hoping we might make it as far as the Shoal Islands where the sea lions live, the ones I hear barking on my early morning walks on the sea walk.  But just as we drew within sight of Crofton, the instruments for the starboard engine - not the one that had just been repaired - started to indicate a problem and we knew it was time to head back.  I was able to get this shot of the mill - it looks so much bigger than it does from land!

We headed back to Genoa Bay, and arrived back in time for my nephew to have the starboard engine looked at in preparation for their departure next morning.  The afternoon sun was just beginning to cast its glow on the boathouses.

And while the boat was being secured to the dock, a seal popped up to entertain me:

I took a few more family photos, gave thanks and hugs all round, wished them well on their journey, and headed for my car.  The tide had come in now, and the top of the piling whose flowers had been so far above my head when we left, was now at eye level, affording me one more shot, one of my favourites of the day:

Flowers atop a pole
(c) Jean Ballard, 2014

An amazing day, a wonderful opportunity to make memories with a part of the family I see all too seldom, and a host of images to enjoy during cold or lonely winter months. I feel very blessed.