Monday, July 30, 2018

Cat in a Box

Just over a year ago, Allie was diagnosed with Stage 3 kidney failure, meaning she had about 15-25% kidney function left.  Life expectancy at that point was anything from a couple of months to three years.  She is on two kinds of kidney support medications, plus Restoralax to keep things moving along, but as loss of appetite is a big problem in kidney-failure cats, she gets to eat whatever canned cat foods she wants (usually the crappy ones, but sometimes that ones that are $4 for a little tiny can!). 

So far, she seems to be doing okay, for an eighteen years old cat with crummy kidneys.  She's very skinny and somewhat arthritic, she can no longer jump more than about 15 inches, and she often stumbles and loses her balance, but she can still pack a mean punch when a certain dog gets in her face, she knows how to swat my tablet or mouse out of my hand when she wants lap time, and she's great at waking me up no later than 5:30 every morning with her yowling "Get up, I want food! NOW!"

The other day a friend emailed me to ask how Allie was doing.   I glanced down to see that the box said it all:

Wednesday, July 25, 2018


What you lookin' at?  She's working on a post
- but it's hot here and she's lazy! 

(I was trying to get a photo of an elusive otter playing in the ocean. I clicked just as the otter dove and this eagle popped into the frame! The angle of his head/body and his expression made me laugh when I saw it on the computer!)

Sunday, July 22, 2018

A Walk in the Woods

At least once a week, my friend Pat and I take the dogs for an adventure - a trip to a beach or a park.  In summer, we choose places that provide a break from the heat, and we head out early.  Last week we headed to Hemer Provincial Park, south of Nanaimo, which is one of our favourite places.

The day wasn't oppressively hot, thanks to a few fluffy clouds and a light breeze,  but even if it had been warmer, the lush green forest provides a refreshing oasis of tranquility in a too-crazy world.

We started up the centre trail, alongside a large swamp where we have often seen swans and many varieties of ducks.  There were few waterfowl on it this time, though a kingfisher revealed its presence with its unique rattle call as he darted from tree to tree.  He moved too quickly to capture with the lens, though the swamp alone made for lovely images.

The newly formed bulrushes, or cattails as they are often called,  stood tall among the reeds and grasses, waiting until fall to pop their skins and release the fluffy seed head that will blow across the swamp.

This is what those cattails will look like in a couple more months! 

Hidden along the edge of the swamp, or in the swamp (in the case of water lilies) or at the side of the trail, were various flowers, adding splashes of colour to the green of of the forest:

And while it may be butterflies that Ponce Denis Ecouchard Lebrun called 'flying flowers', this lovely dragonfly - in unusual shades of grey, black, white and opaque rather than our more common but beautiful blue - could easily fit the metaphor.

About two thirds of the way along the centre trail, we took a cross trail to the right, one that links to the most westerly of the longer trails, enjoying the easy duff trail amid the trees and blanket of swordferns.

A stop for treats is a mandatory part of any walk with the dogs:

After heading up the perimeter trail for a bit, we hit another cross trail to take us back to the middle and then the lake trails, and headed back alongside Holden Lake.

As I've mentioned in previous posts,  Lexi, one of the poms, doesn't like walking, so we try to choose really easy terrain where Pat can use a stroller.  There's nothing wrong with Lexi (at least, not that we know) and she is not quite four years old, but she just isn't into walks.  Still, all dogs need mental stimulation as well as physical exercise, and at least on these outings she gets to experience new sights and smells and sounds.  The lakeside trail, however, is a bit less than 'smooth' due to tree roots that reach out for a drink of lake water:

Princess Lexi thinks it is all quite amusing, and her bright eyes and happy face tell us the extra work is all worthwhile:

I'm worth it! 

Maggie and I take a few short little trails through the brush to the water, where Maggie checks for ducks or maybe just looks at her reflection or poses for a picture:

Whozat in the water, Mama?

A picnic on a lakeside bench, a walk across a short bridge, a short walk up a hill and down, and we're back to the parking lot after our walk in the woods.  Thanks for joining us!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Flying Flowers and Tethered Butterflies

The butterfly is a flying flower,
The flower a tethered butterfly.
                   Ponce Denis Ecouchard Lebrun
     French poet, 1729-1807

I can't remember when I first heard the quote that begins this post, but it came echoing back to me as I sorted through the photos I took of butterflies in my back yard a week or so ago.  Capturing in a photograph the beautiful butterflies as they flitted fleetingly among equally beautiful flowers was a challenge, and in many photos it was difficult to see what was flower and what was butterfly.

Just for fun, let's play a game!  You've probably heard of Where's Waldo, where you look at a detailed drawing of a crowd or scene and try to locate the funny little guy named Waldo among all the stripes and circles and colours and the like.  So..... let's play "Where's Waldo" Ponce Denis Ecouchard Lebrun's way - with flowers and butterflies!

Imagine each photo as a 3x3 grid, with the resulting blocks numbered like this:

In this example, the butterfly is fairly easily seen in block number 5.

For each of the five photos that follow, in what numbered block do you see the butterfly? When you've looked at all five, scroll down a little ways past the last photo to check your answers!

Photo one

Photo 2

Photo three
Photo 4 - a bit more challenging!

Photo 5 - there's two in here! 

Scroll down to check your answers:

1.  Block 6
2.  Block 3
3.  Block 5
4.  Block 1
5.  Blocks 4 and 9

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Silly Maggie

Hey mom! Marie's checking the blog again!
Ya better post something new!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Swallowtail Distraction

I stepped outside the back door earlier today to head for the farm market, only to discover a dozen or more swallowtails (and a couple of hummingbirds) flitting all over my garden. I tried to get more than one in a shot, but that was a challenge - though with the diverse colours of  flowers in the garden, it gave me lots of fodder for a "Where's Waldo" blog post later!  I did eventually get to the market, albeit an hour or two later than anticipated.  Nature - and swallowtails - are a great distraction. 

Here's one of my favourite solo shots, on one of two butterfly bushes in my yard:

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Tales of Houdini and Mooch

The other day, Maggie and I went back to Parksville with Pat and the poms.  Two unexpected stories emerged from the photos.  The first story I'll call "Houdini", the second one "Mooch".


It was a beautiful day, perfect for a beach walk.  We headed out to the water, all dogs on leash.  Maggie and Cosmo raced ahead and happily pranced into the water.  Lexi was complaining bitterly because Pat didn't bring the stroller.  She does NOT think princesses should walk.

Pat's attention was focused on Maggie, who was happily barking up a storm.  She wanted to make sure everyone in Parksville and beyond knew just much she loves The Beach.


My attention was on Cosmo, as I attempted to get some action shots of him running into the sea.  But look closer at this photo - much closer. (You'll need to be looking at this on a real computer, not on one of those itty-bitty smartphone things).  Do you see a problem?

Here, I'll help you.  Do you see it now? In the background?

Lexi, aka Houdini, has just slipped her harness! 

And then....

She looks at it......

She checks it out again .....

And at that point, she took off like a bat out of h*ll, straight back to the car and the road!  THAT part I don't have on film, because it was then we realized what was going on.  I grabbed Cosmo's leash from Pat, and Pat took off like an even battier bat out of h*ll after Lexi.   I don't think either of us have ever been so scared - Lexi was racing away at top speed and paying no attention to Pat's calls.

Fortunately, a kind woman and child managed to divert Lexi's attention just before she reached the edge of the sand, giving Pat time to catch up to her,  and all was well that ended well.  Mags had both her martingale collar and her harness on, so with a bit of ingenuity and using Maggie's martingale collar as a cinch around Lexi's harness , we jury-rigged a double-clip, non-slip, you-won't-escape-this-Ms-Houdini harness for the troublemaker. 

Needless to say, Pat went shopping for a better harness the next day.


Maggie likes food.  No doubt about it.  Oh, there are some things she won't thank you for - like fruits and veggies, or anything with peanut butter (what dog doesn't like peanut butter, for gosh sakes???). But most other things, she is quite happy to help you consume.

At home, she doesn't get fed from the table.  After a meal, I do take the plate to the mat in the kitchen where she is only too happy to be the pre-wash cycle before it goes in the dishwasher.  But on an outing like a hike or a day at the beach?  Well, that's a different matter.  I will share a little of my lunch with her if she sits politely and quietly.  Apparently, though, some people are oblivious to big, pleading eyes:

Auntie Pat, is that a POTATO CHIP in your hand? 

For ME? I'm being so Po-lite! 


See if I ever talk to you again, Auntie Pat! 

Oh, wait, there's more?
I love you, Auntie Pat.   

The End. 

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Hey, mom!


Hehehehe!  Sometimes I crack myself up! 

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Happy Birthday, Canada!

In keeping with tradition, here is my eighth annual Canada Day post, a tribute to my beloved country using some of my favourite photos from the past twelve months. Enjoy! 

Oh Canada, my Canada,
A year has passed since your last birthday,
And much has changed in the world, not all for the better.

And yet I find peace and tranquility in your embrace:
Your trees, they shelter me,

Your birds, they sing to me,

Your rivers and lakes refresh me,

Your oceans fill me with delight

Your mountains, with awe:

Your beauty astounds me.

And even when things are chaotic

And barriers stand in our way 

We try to build bridges, not walls,

And to find light at the end of the tunnel,

We study the problem,

And consult one another.

We stand together,

And try to walk side by side .

Sometimes we go out on a limb,

Or stick our neck out 

Or even cry loudly so all can hear our voice.

Our challenges can be many 

But even if we feel threatened,
And our size on the world stage is small,

We must remember that even tiny drops of dew will nourish a plant,

And one small lily pad can soon multiply to cover a whole pond.

Together, we are strong,

And we can spread our wings and soar.

Oh Canada, we shall watch over you

and stand up for what we believe.

And no matter what befalls us,
We can still find beauty in an old mill town ,

We can find comfort with friends,

We can find things to smile about. 

We are a nation of four seasons,

And many cultures,

Of incredible beauty, 

A nation of workers,

and walkers,

and I hope that our nation's children will grow up to love you, Canada, as much as I do:

We are not perfect.
Our history is riddled with misdeeds and
though we are learning to reconcile,
We still need to act with more  compassion,

To do a better job of caring for the homeless and the hungry,

The sad and the weary,

Those struggling and those who need safe harbour.

And while some might think us reserved or shy,

We are resourceful,



And kind,

And with those attributes, we can build community.

Oh Canada,

From sunrise 

To sunset, 

And all through the night,

We stand on guard for thee.

This is my Canada, 
And for all its faults,
I still believe...

I still believe...

I still believe...

I will always believe...

It is the best place on earth.

Happy Canada Day