Saturday, January 28, 2017

Happy Chinese New Year!

Today marks the start of the Year of the Rooster on the Chinese Lunar Calendar.  Bob, a resident at RASTA sanctuary, thinks he should be their poster boy.  Here's some of my favourite shots of him:

Hear ye! Hear ye!
Gong hei fat choy!

Bob doing his Celebration Dance

"So, when is the year of the turkey?"
"I don't think there is one."

"Really?  Year of the Turkey?  No comparison!" 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Morrell Nature Sanctuary

My blog posts will continue to be few and far between - or at least short - for the next several weeks or months,   as even a few minutes on the computer exacerbates the torn deltoid muscle and/or torn rotator cuff and/or smushed joint (there's a five month wait for the ultrasound to determine the exact problem) in my injured right arm.  Living with constant pain is no fun; waking up in the middle of the night with the whole arm in agony from five minutes on the computer is even less fun.  However, this is as good a time as any to add to the blog some photos of hikes I did last fall - photos I edited and watermarked and posted on facebook back then, but never posted here.  I'll forgo commentary other than to tell you the location. 

This set was from a hike around the Morrell Nature Sanctuary in Nanaimo last October.  You'll find more information about the sanctuary on their website.

These were a few of my favourite photos from that beautiful fall day:

First glimpse of Morrell Lake

Grass Reflections
What would a nature sanctuary be without ducks?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen!

[Cue music:  ♪ ♪ ♪ Tra-la-la-la-la La-la-la-la Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen ♪ ♪ ♪]

Mitzi is sixteen years old today!  We decided to exchange letters on this momentous occasion:

I'll just dictate mine to mah scribe, please. 

My dearest Mitzi, 

When you came to me, four years ago, little did I know how quickly and completely you would steal my heart. My love for you just grows and grows, and there isn't a day goes by that you don't make me laugh.  In the past year, your health has actually improved both physically and mentally - I love that you connect with me more, invite me to play with you several times a day, chase me around the house with loud barks and little squeaks, and make your wishes - whether it be for a walk or some food or for company at bedtime - clearly known.

Play wiv me, Mama Jean!

You are more demanding, more sassy, more talkative, more active than ever before, with your tail always wagging, and how happy I am to be able to say that!  Our bond has deepened exponentially and I can't imagine life without you. Happy birthday, my beautiful, sweet, sassy Mitzi. I love having you in my life and in my heart.

Love, Mama Jean


Dear Mama Jean,

Today I is SIXTEEN!  Sweet sixteen is a term that fits me perfectly.  In human years that is 112, which is even older than you are.  My vision and hearing may not be as good as yours, and sometimes my brain gets muddled or my legs don't function as well as I'd like - but your brain also gets muddled and your legs (and arms!) don't function that great either.  We is a good match, don'tcha think?

Anyway, on the occasion of my sixteenth birthday, there are a few things I would like to say to you:

1.  Thank you for adopting me when my Mama Anita died.  That will be four years ago on Monday. At first, it was hard for me to feel comfortable with  those other dogs galloping around (and especially that Eddie who used to bowl me over), but now that I am an only dog, I am truly home.

2.  Thank you for unnerstanding that I am a PRINCESS (and have the sign to prove it!) and should be treated as such.  That means personal chef services, doorperson services each and every time that I even think I might want to go outside or come back in, treats on demand, frequent clean bedding, etc. Princesses hasta be treated royally.

Mah Auntie Mary gaves me this fer Christmas.
'Bout time someone acknowledged mah status around here!

Yeah, yeah, whatever.
B o r i n g !

3.  Speaking of treats, thank you for finally discovering that I love, Love, LOVE the cat's favourite treats - Temptations!  And thank you fer making sure I get my fair share.  And fer keeping the cat away from me while I eat them!

Oh Gawd Say It Isn't So!!!

4.  Thank you for my daily walks.  We may be slow and may not go far, but I love to sniff sniff sniff all the wonnerful smells out there.

Ahhhhhh, such good smells!

5.  Thank you for my frequent spa dates.  You know how I love my groomer and love to feel all clean and tidy.  Princesses have to look perfect, you know.

This waz last year's picture.
I wents to the spa today, but Mama Jean hazn't been able
 to get a good picture of me yet. 

And now that I have shown your readers just how sweet I am, I have a few birthday requests:

1.  I'd like a new orthopedic mattress please.  Mine is getting a little worn and thin.
2.  More Temptations.
3.  Do I hasta eat dog food?  Couldn't I just eat kitty treats and maybe some homecooked meats and steamed carrots?  Just don't try to add anything to that homecooked meat - I only like it plain. Or with carrots.  Keep the yucky potatoes and other veggies on yer own plate.
4.  More Temptations.
5.  Come to bed when I tell you to, not when YOU want to.  If I want to go to bed at 8 PM, then that is when I need you, my personal security guard, in the bedroom with me.  How else am I supposed to settle down for mah beauty rest?
6.  More Temptations.

Thank you again fer lovin' me.  I like to make you laugh when we play chase around the house and I play bow to you.  You are a very fortunate human to have me in your life.  We is a good pair.

Luv, Princess Mitzi, 
Age: Sweet Sixteen. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Deja View

It's been a long while since I walked the loop around my town and down along the sea walk.  Mitzi's not a fan of the seawalk - she didn't mind it when she had good vision and good hearing, but as her senses become more impaired, encountering large dogs and grabby hands on a boardwalk over the water is not her idea of fun.  But the seawalk was always a favourite walk for most of my dogs, and especially for my early risers like Oliver and Shiloh who enjoyed our alone-time watching the sun rise over the bay.  Mitzi's idea of early rising is getting up before noon.  No sunrises for that girl!

Shiloh's sunrise
(Not likely to ever be seen by lazybones Mitzi)

Today, as I'm still not able to return to hiking or swimming, and am badly in need of exercise, my friend Sally and I decided to do the loop - the long cold snap finally broke, the ice in town has gone (though not on forest trails), and the sun was trying to make an appearance.  I can't raise my right arm to my face to use the camera, but I took it along away and shot from the hip - or a convenient rail or post.  So..... not the best shots, but as I've not posted any of our bay for a while, I figured you wouldn't mind having a sense of deja vu view!

View from Crofton Beach, looking towards the mill and Shoal Islands

We spent some time watching the ducks enjoying the milder weather

Anchored sailboats, with Salt Spring Island behind.

Another sailboat at anchor, with cargo ship in background.
The mountains beyond are the North Shore mountains of the mainland.

And, lastly, the familiar view near the start of the sea walk -
old posts and broken wharf from days gone by. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Waitin' fer Spring

Hi, Mitzi here!  It's been a long cold winter on the island - long and cold fer this piece of west coast paradise, anyways.  I'z had to wear my red sweater, and sometimes even my big thick winter coat, every day.  Spring can't come soon enough!  It's been around freezin fer weeks now, and even though we hasn't had much snow, the frost is cold on mah paws and it doesn't melt even during the day.

Mama Jean gots a bag of spring bulbs from her friend Liz fer Christmas.  I dunno, there's sumthing I really likes about them.  I think it might be the colour:

I helped Mama Jean plant them on New Year's Eve.  She fed them some bone meal.  Dat made me laugh - DOGS like bones, not flowers!  Silly Mama Jean.  Still, it's a good thing she planted them when she did, cuz now she has a mangled wing she wouldn't be able to plant them very easily.  And I sure do want to see those spring flowers popping up through the ground, because that will mean the ground won't be frozed any more.  Mama Jean says they need 8-10 weeks in the cold dark dirt, so we might not see any flowers for a while.  At least they've gots bones to snack on unnerneath all that dirt. I think she should have given the dogwood tree some bone meal too.  DOGwood - BONE meal.  Get it?  I mades a joke!

These are mah flowers in mah pots.  I helped, so I gets to share them. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Fan Tan Alley

On New Year's Day, I drove down to Victoria to meet with my brother and his partner for lunch - they were spending a few days in British Columbia's capital city.  Both the weather and the traffic conditions were mild, so the drive down took less time than usual and I quickly found a parking spot near the restaurant where we were to meet.  With time on my hands, I wandered around Victoria's Chinatown, and soon found one of the most picturesque and historic alleys in Canada - Fan Tan Alley.  

Fan Tan Alley was once the home of opium dens and gambling dens - the gambling dens being called Fan Tan Guan, from which the alley gets its name.  Today, it houses an eclectic mix of little shops, galleries and studios.  

If it looks familiar to those who have never visited Victoria, perhaps you may recall a certain chase scene in Bird on a Wire (starring Goldie Hawn and Mel Gibson), in which the handlebars of the bike practically grazed either side of the brick walls.  At its narrowest, the alley is only 1.2 meters wide. 

Red brick reaching sky high, bold trim for doors and windows, sunlight streaming in through the narrow opening at the far end.  I love brick - always have - and I love cheerful colours, so I couldn't get enough of photographing this space. You might say I clicked away to my heart's content. 

Add a cat to the mix, and I am in animal-loving photographer's heaven.  

A passerby told me the cat lives there, but as the store was not yet open, and a gate to what appeared to be an inner courtyard was also closed and locked, kitty spend his or her time staring hopefully at the door knob, waiting for it to turn. 

As I'm currently sidelined from both driving and photography with an arm/shoulder injury (but gradually getting back my ability to work at the computer for short periods of time), I decided to play about with my photo editing program a bit, using some of the more dramatic options to digitally alter one photo to give it many different looks.  Here's the original, followed by three of several variations of the same photo. 

Fan Tan Alley - original

"Curves" effect

HDR effect

Edge Sketch effect

Fan Tan Alley - not to be missed, if you are ever in Victoria, British Columbia. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

First hike of year

Monday was the first hike of the year, and it was a beautiful day for it. We did the easy side of the Holland Creek Trail until it became too icy, and then we went to the Hermit trails in Chemainus, where the paths were free of snow and ice.
Unfotunately, I managed to fall on the only ice we saw, and have injured my right upper arm.  And yes, I'm right handed, and the arm is currently useless. So I'm typing this with one finger of my left hand to let you know I won't be able to blog for a while. Or email, or do facebook. Could be a couple of weeks, could be a couple of months - extent and exact nature of damage still not determined.
So this one photo will have to last you for a while - from along the trail shortly before I fell.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017

As I puttered around the house yesterday, putting away Christmas decorations and saying goodbye to yet another year, I listened to the radio as commentator after commentator remarked how glad they are to see the end of 2016, listing all the sadness that the year had brought -  deaths of stars, deaths from fentanyl, deaths from war and terrorism.  I find myself asking "Was this year really any worse than others, or was it just made to seem worse through the advances of social media?" I am so tired of depressing news.

Sigh.  I turned off the radio and put on some CDs - gentle music to soothe, lyrical music I can sing with, rousing music to lift the spirits.

For me, 2016 was a good year.  Oh sure, my body feels ten years older with ten times the aches and pains, especially since tearing my meniscus this summer.  And I worry about money as costs keep rising. And I could have done without both the washer AND the printer needing repairs right at Christmastime.   And I often miss the family and friends of Christmases past.

But all-in-all, it was a good year.  On December 31, 2015, I wrote that I hoped my 2016 would include "more time with animals, more hikes, more photography, more time with family and friends."

And it did.

I spent lots of time with animals.  Lots and lots of time with lots and lots of animals - here's just a few of them:

Farm animals at RASTA and Hearts on Noses

The Little Dog Walking Group
(and Chrissy!)

And still more dogs
of friends and family

And more animals - wild and domestic

And more and more and more

I hiked so many places I hadn't hiked before!  Cabot Bay Trail and Dodd Narrows, Buttertubs Marsh, Morrell Nature Preserve, East Sooke Park, Hemer Park and several other ones in the Cedar-Yellowpoint area, Stoney Hill Regional Park, Heart Lake and Stocking Lake, and so many others:

And I took photographs galore.

My daughter and son-in-law came for a visit, my oldest nephew and family came for a visit, my sister-in-law and I went for a vacation at Saratoga Beach, and I visited friends and family on the mainland.  For someone with as small a family as I have, that's really pretty awesome!

It was a good year.  For me.

And now, as we usher in 2017, I do what I always do at this time of year.  I get an urge to declutter and organize.  Although I declutter all year round (I keep a box in the bedroom into which I put stuff I don't need, and when it is full - off to the thrift store it goes), there is always more to be done - old files to be cleaned out, knick knacks to be reconsidered, closets to be divested of the clothes that are too uncomfortable, too stained, or two small to make it to centre stage. Many items get held, put in the box, pulled out, held again, as my resolve to minimize fluctuates back and forth on the wings of nostalgia.

But if these are the most difficult decisions I have to make, then I am fortunate - for so many have to make decisions about whether to flee their war-torn country or stay, whether to spend their last few quarters on some real food or check out the dumpster once again, whether to go for that risky or unpleasant medical procedure or take a chance that they will survive.

If dealing with a sore back or bum knee or wonky hip is the most discomfort I have to deal with, then I am fortunate - for so many are dealing with far worse ailments, far more pain, far greater disability.

If missing my daughter who now lives far away is the greatest sorrow I feel, then I am fortunate.  For so many are watching their children struggle with illnesses that may one day take their lives - children with cancer, children with rare diseases, children with terrible injuries from accidents.  What those parents would give to have a healthy child again.

If tightening the belt and adjusting the budget is the most difficult financial challenge I have to face, then I am fortunate - for so many have no income, no home, no budget to manage.

As we travel into the new year, may your decisions be easy ones, your joys be many, your hardships be few, your loved ones be well.

What adventures will 2017 bring?