Friday, January 30, 2015

Sasha, take a hike!

Sasha lives with my friend Liz.  They've been featured in a few of my past posts, but I'm trying to get them to hike with me more often. A couple of weeks ago, they accompanied Eddie and me up Mount Richards (Escarpment Way hike), and today we went out to Swallowfield.   So, when I tell Sasha to 'take a hike', here's what she has to say:

Take a hike?

Let's go up the trail
from Escarpment Way!

Oh boy!
A big puddle for me to play in!

The humans like this stand of trees -
The trees of many colours.

Hey! Is my mom giving
Eddie a treat?

That can't be fair!

I better get in on the action.

Not much of a view
on a foggy day!

Let's take another hike -
to Swallowfield estuary.

Auntie Jean likes this rustic fence
way out on the estuary.

We met a crazy young lab
named Cocoa.
Cocoa likes water.
And sticks.

Cocoa will even
bob for sticks!

I knew Cocoa's human
had treats in his pocket.
I have a very good sniffer!

It's kinda pretty out here,
and very peaceful.

The Chemainus River and
lots of little streams
make their way to the ocean here.

It's spring on our island.
My mom is watching some robins.

See?  Robin Redbreast!

Think I'll have a dip.

Aack - water in mah ear!


I hope Auntie Jean tells us
to 'take a hike'
more often. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A dog, a human, some fog and some sun

On our morning walk Monday, Shiloh and I headed to the beach in fog.  As we headed back, I happened to turn around from the far end of the seawalk and look back at the beach. This is what I saw, as sun streamed through fog and illuminated another beachwalking pair:

A dog, a human, some fog and some sun
(c) Jean Ballard 2014

Monday, January 26, 2015

Hiking, hiking, hiking, hiking.....

Looking across a foggy valley
from Mount Richards

Good intentions go by the wayside when there's hiking to be done!  Since I last posted any hiking pictures (January 11th), I've been on six more hikes, as well as my various daily walks about town and beach. And with amazing sunrises,  ghostly fog pictures, happy dogs, and spring blossoms ("Why yes, eastern readers who are preparing for the worst snow storm of the century, I did say spring blossoms,"  she says with a gloat in the voice and a gleam in the eye), that equals at least fifty pictures a day to be sorted, edited, selected, and posted.  Okay, I didn't get to the posting.  And some days I don't get to the editing or selecting, other than 3 or 4 for facebook.  Because by the time I have walked the beach with Shiloh,  hiked with Eddie, walked the town or the beach with Mitzi, and walked one last time with Shiloh - well, I'm just too tired to sit at a computer.  And before you know it, the task seems too monumental to even begin - kinda like when you ignore the crap piling up in the garage or basement until it just seems like toooo big a job to tackle. Computer photo files are like that.

And  I am quite sure you don't want all the photos of all the hikes all on one post.  So, just like any task that has become too big to handle in one go, I'd best chip away at it.  Here's a couple of hikes from week before last, both to Mount Richards from Escarpment Way. The first was with my friends Pat and Cosmo.  Cosmo is a very busy little boy:

Any trolls under this bridge?

Any badgers in this burrow?

Wheeee!  I loves water!

Just a minute while I taste-test this bramble!

Cosmo is pretty fearless, getting into anything and everything - but not so fearless when it came to this recently cut tree, a product of trail clearing some of the windfall from the winter.  He barked and growled and braced his feet and stuck out his neck and barked and growled some more:

Scary, scary, scary monster!  
Until finally, Pat picked him up and showed him the monster up close:

Oh.  It's just a tree.  Silly me. 
And gallantly he travelled on, ready to protect us from any other monsters who might cross our path.

Little Devil Dog! 
At the top, we said hello to "Bonnie's stump", where the ashes of our friends Bonnie and Bob, and their many wolfhounds and a couple of cats, are spread.

Even the winter rains couldn't wash away all the ashes.

High up the mountain side, we spy a tree laden with red berries -
a holly tree, I think, though beyond the camera's range -

and the Oregon grape is bright red too. 

There's new growth on the evergreens.

At the top, it's treat time!

Me too, please, Auntie Pat!
And then it's time to head home - but not before one more splash in the water:

Yay water!

The next day, I headed back up the same route, but with Liz and Sasha.....

Oh, wait, I'm being interrupted here -

You STILL on the computer, mom?
We're H U N G R Y !!!
Well, I'll save that hike for another down, five to go.  Make that six - tomorrow, I'm off hiking again.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Happy 14th Birthday, Mitzi!

Happy, happy birthday to my very special little bichon frise with the very big personality.

It's mah BIRTHDAY!
Send treats!

Mitzi is 14 today, though she has only lived with me for two years - two years this Friday, the day her Mama Anita (my cousin) died and I became her Mama Jean. And I have never, ever regretted having agreed to be her second mom - she brings me joy, makes me laugh, and over the past year has really come out of her shell and become the dog Anita described to me - independent yet vocal, making sure I know when she wants out, when she wants dinner, when Eddie is bugging her. And she usually enjoys her daily walk - unless it is raining really hard, or unless I try to take her too far in which case she parks her butt and says "NO WAY".   But most days, she leads the way and has very definite ideas about the route we should take and the speed we should travel - which is at a pretty fast clip.

La la la la la
Keep up with me, mom!

For someone who never thought herself much of a little dog person, Mitzi sure taught me just how wrong-headed that thought was!  Mitzi, I hope you have many more birthdays with me. Love ya lots.

Okay, now can we deep-six the hat?

Thank you, Mama Jean.
Are you going to get my treats now?

Thursday, January 15, 2015


I was going to blog about two more hikes with two more friends today, but those photos still await editing. Instead, I must share these shots from this morning.  The dogs wake me up no later than 6 AM, go out in the yard to do their business, pester me relentlessly for their breakfast which they inhale enthusiastically, for back outside one more time, and by 6:30 AM are usually sound asleep again. Little b*ggers.   Meanwhile, I know there's no point me going back to bed - once I'm up, I'm up.  So around 7:15 this morning, showered, dressed, bed made, second cup of coffee in hand, I open the living room blinds to see this:

I could only imagine what that sunrise would look like on the bay, and I knew it wouldn't last long enough to rouse Shiloh and let her s l o w l y  wander down to the beach on our customary morning walk, her sniffing each and every blade of grass as we go.  So, letting sleeping dogs lie, I grabbed my cameras, slipped out of the house, and high-tailed it the block-and-a-bit to the water.  Was it worth it?  You be the judge:

As the sun slipped behind Maple Mountain on the south side of the bay, and the day lightened leaving the water its customary grey-blue, I returned home - in time to watch it emerge again through thick fog just around a hump in the mountain, lighting up the Indian Bean tree across the street, and painting watercolour fog scenes for one last photoshoot.

Fifteen minutes later, heavy cloud cover moved in and blocked out the sun, the rain started to drizzle, and the rest of the day was grey and dreary and wet.  But the colours of early morning stayed fresh in my memory. And the dogs never knew what they'd missed.