Stinging Nettle Green and Dead Plant Brown

Another week, a new bike seat for Man-Wonder and eight bags of stinging nettles later we are both happy campers.

Man-Wonder because of a cushy ride and me because once again, home smells of drying herbs.

Not only is my file-cabinet-turned-passive-solar-dehydrator bursting with drying, crackly leaves but the hobby room is draped in hanging clusters of prickly plants and there is a bag of blender-ized nettle ice cubes in the freezer to boost the value of my green tea lemonade.

Yes, life is good here in Seabreeze MHP!

thL0K3IDP4thL0K3IDP4thL0K3IDP4thL0K3IDP4thL0K3IDP4thL0K3IDP4thL0K3IDP4  Or it was.

Until we felt guilty about having fun while the neighbors were all but spit-polishing their abodes. And—mercy on my twitchy soul—Man-Wonder did something I never thought he’d do—he listened to me going on (and maybe on . . . ) about the virtues of vinegar and its 101 uses, like windows and floors inside; moss and grime outside.

“Like what’s growing on the roof tiles and on the skylights.” I mentioned hopefully.

“Yeah, yeah.” He agreed, but first, he was going to try the stuff out lower—like the edges of the driveway, the weeds in the gravel and the dandelions multiplying like rabbits in the lawn.

He filled his pump sprayer with vinegar, primed it to perfection until it sprayed like spittle from a preacher giving a sermon about sinners, then proceeded to spray the bejesus out of every weed, clump of moss and perky dandelion on our piece of mobile heaven.

He’s barely finished before he was yelling at me to come out and check it out. Seriously, the man was almost dancing as the weeds and dandelions wilted.

*Note* The sky was overcast during the spray. While we were inside having lunch, the sun burned the clouds away. AND much, much more. . .

Like every single spot where he sprayed, the sun + vinegar burned.

And he sprayed a lot of spots!  And every spot had about a foot of over-spray. . .

OMG! That evening, as we sat in our chairs, looking over the damage, I commented on how it “kinda looks like someone dropped a giraffe skin over the yard.”

He looked around, at the neighboring pristine lawns connecting to our sad, sad lawn and said, “Hey, If anyone asks, we’ll just say it camouflage and we’re hiding from the Mothership.”

Is it any wonder I call him Man-Wonder?


Bushes and bikes. . . and bears maybe.

Bike riding has been the thing lately and we just finished biking along a part of the TransCanada Trail. It turned out to be a fairly decent, abet long, woodsy ride and, thank heavens—flat one.

The scenery was freaking impressive—with the Cowichan River on one side and deep forests rising into mountains on the other. Cowichan River is one of those rivers which refuses to be the same for long. One moment it is boiling and spraying through narrow gorges only to disappear from view behind a cluster of thick cedars and then reappear in long and wide sweeping curves. Turn a corner and it is skinny-ing down into bubbling cauldrons of frothy water pushing over the edges of worn stone to dump itself into deep green pools with swirling edges.

And that’s only one side of the show along the trail!

As we travelled over wooden bridges, creek-water culverts and skidded our way through giant muck puddles we were also awed by the deep forest on the other side. The filtering of sunlight was surreal enough to feel like we were peddling through the darkened aisles in a museum. Gawking as staged backlighting tricked its way through moss-draped trees to reach and highlight life on the forest floor. I half expected to see stuffed animals staged; their glassy eyes peering back at us.

A much better scenario than the live ones I was silently keeping a close ear out for. After all, it is the time of year when bears are emerging, dozy, cranky and hungry.

Three long hours after starting out, we made it back to the truck. Legs wobbly, throats parched and Man-Wonder standing to peddle the last third of the way because of his old hard bike seat and even older tender skin!

I didn’t have the heart to tell him I was planning a return trip real soon.

You see, three times I heard the siren call, and saw three thick vibrant groves of fresh stinging nettles scattered just beyond the edges of the trail. And three times I mentally smacked myself for not throwing gloves, bags and secateurs into a backpack.

Oh, yeah, we are going back as soon as Man-Wonder heals up.

Maybe even before he’s completely toughened up because I’ve been thinking about those snuffles and thrashes I thought I heard a couple of times and . . .

. . . Think about it—tender means slower on the bike and, well, it’d be easy for me to zip past him . . .

Survival of the fittest  fastest—right?


bear chase

Where I’ve been lately (when not reading, or in the bathroom painting).

1251863183437686362tag_svg_hi Her most recent article is on writing in the flow or, as Jan Fields, over at ICL, puts it—’Great piece on how becoming a writing professional begins with us’.

1251863183437686362tag_svg_hi Writes book reviews, is a writer and loves to knit the cutest things for hospital babies (and much more). Her book reviews usually puts me into a ‘Oooh, gotta’ read that one!’ state of mind.

1251863183437686362tag_svg_hi If you are into photography, Lukas Kondraciuk offers up a daily photo along with related photography info, as well as short fact blurb about the subject of the day. 1251863183437686362tag_svg_hi This site sends a daily list of DIY projects; things others have done; including a ‘here—sit back and ogle these photos’ break in your day.

1251863183437686362tag_svg_hi My go-to guy for all things computy. He has recently begun sending out videos that are easy to understand called  ‘What does .? . ?.  .mean?’ When it comes to computers I need the person teaching to talk real slow and not use big strange words. Leo does it! Yah Leo.

1251863183437686362tag_svg_hi Still crazy about her Draw Tip Tuesday videos.

1251863183437686362tag_svg_hi Her work amazes me. I wish I put forward her efforts on embroidery but, since I don’t, I’m enjoying hers. Lots of information offered up for those enmeshed in embroidery.


I’m not sitting in the bathroom painting pictures, I’m painting the bathroom. Just thought that needed clarifying. . .

To fish or to Paint—That is the Question.

Ahhhh!  !cid_AA7310DC-7EF0-4611-88DC-D4EAF0D59241Spring!

The air is full of happy cackles as bodies shuffle their feet away from the local bookstores, turning them, instead, toward blooming gardening shops and DIY stores.

Especially the DIY stores!

Isn’t it just too strange how the lovely pristine paint job from last year  is suddenly seen as having gray sanitarium undertones? Yuck and where’s the paint can?

Which brings to mind my number one Spring headache—Man-Wonder’s ability to recognize the misty-eyed decorator gaze I get while dithering between shades, hues and tones and that means I’m forced to keep one eye on him as my other eye roams because if he manages to

leaving roomslink out the back door, fishing rod in hand, I’m left either putting off my visit to the local DIY store or, grabbing up the wheelbarrow (it is only three blocks away). But it’s something I’ve been trying to not do. There really isn’t any need to add the label of ‘Mayor of Dorksville’ to my resume!

thI4JBIBM6Plus it’s a busy MHP. Imagine all the stop and drop-to-wave action while wearing a ‘no-I-haven’t-lost-it-yet’ and’ yes-my-husband-knows-what-I’m-doing’ smile. Yeah. No.

No, it’s better I get up in the middle of the night to stare at the walls and ponder the paint chips while Man-Wonder is still snoring his fool head off. I can always nap in between brush strokes. . .

Ahhhh, Spring!



Tale of the Two-Tone Toque

In a wooden basket, high on a shelf, reside a tumble of gloves, scarfs and toques. One of those toques is Man-Wonder’s favorite reminder of days gone long past—the hunting toque. One side is a charming don’t-shoot-me orange. Turn it inside out and you’ve got the dressed up going-to-town gray version with fashionable (?) orange band.

Randy's toque

The other day our truck was due for its pre-spring tune up. This means an early morning ten-minute drive to the shop followed by a chilly 45 minute bike ride back.

It’s a Man-Wonder job. He always insists he’s happy to do the ride alone.

I know the real reason—he knows what my reaction would be if, while trying to share a bumpy narrow country road, we meet one of those typical road-hogging, dink-ass, red-necking drivers he always complains about. He imagines me yelling obscenities and he pictures us having to pedal our asses trying to outrun a possible returning irate driver . . .

. . .so I stay home.

So, the morning of the tune up, he’s loading the bike when I step out to see him off. You know—the cheery ‘bye honey, be careful, I love you’ scene. And I am secretly and instantly glad I’m not riding with him because he’s wearing his god-awful hunting toque and, worse yet, it’s riding his head like some freaking knitted cone hat.

C’mon, I mean, why is it that as men age they started wearing their hats higher on the head?  Does it help to cool down an over-heated cranium? To fool others into thinking there’s more hair? Or is it to give the illusion that they aren’t getting shorter?


It’s all I can do to not say a word. I mean, it’s his favorite hat and the man is happy. Besides, the mechanic probably won’t notice, and coming home, his bike helmet should cover it, or at least squash it.

I smile, kiss him goodbye and don’t say a single mean thing and run back inside.

. . .Later, he asks me if I had noticed anything odd about his toque before he left.

It takes me a few moments to sift through the jumble of comments before I find one kind enough to offer.

“Well, it was riding a tad high.”

“Yeah.” He nods wisely. “I had to stop on the way home. The helmet wouldn’t stop wobbling. Turns out there was a pair of your gloves shoved in my toque.”


Another prime example of why I call him Man-Wonder. . .



Yoo Hoo, little worms. . .


Give me dirt. Lots of dirt. Deep lumpy clumps of dirt; hard dry glumps of peat moss; rich black heaps of manure and/or sea compost; bags bursting with vermiculite and/or perlite (and I do mean bursting) and a working hose, and I will happily make soil; And, then, give me the necessary ingredients and I will make fertilizer—food to feed the hungry. . .

Yep—it’s garden time again and this year I firmly told myself I was not going to garden without gloves. No. Nope. No way. Because nothing sucks the moisture out of hands like soil.


Yeah, I don’t listen to myself any better than anyone else does. .

But mostly, because, as any lover of the earth’s loam knows, the act of plunging fingers deep into soil, of gently coaxing tender curly masses of roots loose before bedding them into the soil is an act of pure satisfaction. It’s also a way of learning.  Temperature, moisture levels and general health of the soil all need bare fingers.

I get the connection and I understand why many people spend hours playing and creating in their gardens.

However, my gardening does come in spurts thanks to a couple of arthritic joints puffing themselves into cranky knots when they’ve had enough bending kneeling, twisting and squatting. At first, they just give me a few pokes along with a whispering of the word ‘enough’.  If I fail to heed those soft nudges, the pokes morph into barbwire fences around the joints.

Which means, after cajoling Man-Wonder into doing most of the heavy grunt work, I’m learning to spend more time chatting with the worms and giving the plants a serious heads up on what’s expected from them.

gardening 10

And, for the record, I want to say—there is nothing like watching a man work up a sweat—just for you!


To Quote a Quote. . .




During a cleanup of computer folders, I came across this quote from Jeff Foxworthy and  laughed well and hard since it seems that we are halfway there.

You know you’re a redneck if your home has wheels and your car doesn’t.

Then, because reading quotes is way more interesting that clearing out folders, I went off track and found a few (many) more and had a great old time.


The smaller the mind the greater the conceit ~ Aesop


When I works—I works hard, when I sits—I sits loose, and when I thinks—I falls asleep. ~ Anonymous


If only. Those must be the saddest words in the world ~ Mercedes Lackey


After the game, the King and the pawn go into the same box. ~ Italian proverb


Parents wonder why the streams are bitter when they themselves have poisoned the fountain ~ John Locke


Fiction is the truth inside the lie ~ Stephen King


The most complicated task today is finding a way to live a simple life ~ A. Nance


There is no cure for birth and death—so enjoy the interval  ~  George Santayana


Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out alive anyway. ~ Elbert Hubbard


My last quote is the one I have on my March calendar page and it brings a smile to my face every time I read it. It helps that the weather has been so springy too:

When I opened my window this morning, spring kissed me BANG right in the face. ~ Langston Hughes




Books on my ‘right now’ reading pile

The War on Art by Steven Pressfield

war on Art  It is described as nothing less than Sun-Tzu for the soul. (Sun Tzu was a Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher who lived in ancient China. He is traditionally credited as the author of The Art of War, an influential book on military strategy.

This book takes the reader on a trip through the hows, whys, and ways of the evil genius called Resistance that lives within us and he shows us how to beat it. It’s an easy, interesting read and intriguing layout of a battle plan for defeating this enemy. Great read and it does give the reader’s brain interesting nuggets to think on.


The Secrets of People Who Never Get Sick by Gene Stone

0761165819 Here we’re shown twenty-five different remedies from people who swear by each method. Did I believe everything in it? No. But there are sections I want to know more about. Topics include:people living in Blue Zones, people who eat dirt, swear by chicken soup, have daily encounters with H202(hydrogen peroxide), who run, who do yoga, them that detox by various methods, and a ton more. A book worth reading.


Book Art Studio Handbook by Stacie Dolin and Amy Lapidow

1592538185  Like to make your own books? Every so often I give it a try because the idea of creating something to create in is an urge too big to ignore. This book shows you how to set up a studio with good descriptions of each tool needed (lots of pictures). It shows you how to make some necessary (good step by step and picture instruction). It takes you through planning a book (materials) with chapters on different style of books, albums, and containers for books. It’s a picture book for those interested in book-making methods and definitely a few steps beyond creating books from cereal boxes (which are fun to do too!).  If I had to use one word for this book, it would be yummy. But then that’s not a proper book word so I won’t. . .


Art Before Breakfast by Danny Gregory

1452135479 I love this guy! When he writes a book, his voice is all over it—you read and it’s as if Danny is over your shoulder talking out loud to you. He makes art so simple, so joyful it’s impossible not to just do it. I credit this artist, along with Cathy Johnson, Brenda Swenson, (okay, we can’t forget Kooje Koene and her  ‘quickie’ art lessons on YouTube), and Liz Steele with pushing my art to a more comfortable level inside my head and on the paper.

Listen, in my opinion—anything Danny produces is worth reading or watching.


Secret Garden by Johanna Basford

1780671067  Like to draw? Like to doodle? Like to Zentangle? This ‘coloring book’ is bursting with images and ideas. When it’s doodling time, this is one of my mainstays to pull close. And, it’s not just for drawing. I’ve found some of the pictures excellent for transfer to fabric to embroider. It’s a shelf have-to-have for me.


Vintage Trailer Style by Lisa Mora

1446304523  I’ve probably mentioned this one before but, somehow, it always seems to take itself off the shelf and insert itself into my ‘at the moment reading’ pile. Love, love, love this book! The travel trailers in this book are joyful and from page one you feel the burn to hit the open road. I mean – from trailers for girly girls to an airstream called Mimsy’s Trailer Trash Tattoo Studio—from Gypsy romance to the Wild West—what’s not to love about this book?

Excuse me—I have to get a napkin for the drool. . .


Buddhism plain and simple by Steve Hagin

buddhism plain and simpleI think the title says it all. I have had a burning curiosity about Buddhism for a long time but always shied away because, well, for one, I couldn’t see myself in an orange wrap, with a fuzzy head and meditating twenty-five hours a day (okay truth—I LIKE the fuzzy head part). Thank God for this book is all I can say.

I’m reading it in slo-mo because it’s a pondering book chockfull of AHA moments.


SKULLS by Simon Winchester   (subtitle—An Exploration of Alan Dudley’s Curious Collection)

0999730444  Now here’s a Picture Book!  Over 300 different pictures of animal skulls with information about each skull, plus a listing of what kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and behavior they belong to. Turning the pages it hit me — suddenly I could see where so much of our local, and stunningly beautiful Native Art originates from. I think this could be a valuable book for many artists in many different fields.


And, to end my list, are my at-this-moment favorites in the who-dun-its—Ellery Adams, Molly MacRae, Kate Carlisle and Laurie Cass

laurie cass kate carlisle indexLZ2P2FG0 indexEG7DRHCU bookmobile ellery adams index index0PAEHFHR

Hike; to trek. Walk; to amble. Brain—to differentiate

The words walk and hike—for some reason I’ve allowed those two words to co-habitat the same brain cell, like twins, for much of my confused life.

Well—no more!

We survived our colds and the winter monsoons but needed a walk real bad, so when the latest version of ‘Hikes around Vancouver Island’ showed up I grabbed it.  (Notice how I casually and idiotically grouped those two words into one sentence?)

However, I’m not a complete idiot—I only marked out the hiking trails closest to home and then ignored anything not labeled at the beginning as ‘easy’.

In the end, it was the hike with the suspension bridge and picnic-friendly lake that won out. Fun stuff to the clogged brain.

So, with book firmly in hand, we hit the trail. The first 100 meters was as lovely as it claimed. The suspension bridge was as nerve-tingling as expected. Part way over an awful thought passed through my mind like an ill wind—if the bridge was ever going to weaken – wouldn’t it be the parts dead center—where most people walk?

I shifted both feet out so I was walking side to side.

Did you know if you walk off-center on a suspension bridge it really, really sways? And the person not creating the swaying will squawk like a chicken and begin hustling toward the end. And, did you know, that moving faster causes more swaying?

Suddenly there were two squawking, hustling idiots on a swaying bridge. . .Yeah, too cool for words right?

Thank heavens the next 300 meters were easy-peasy—as the book promised. And, it’s too bad I, before we started, glossed right over the part that warned the following 100 meters were steeply uphill.

Lying buggers!

I swear it was closer to 1000  2000 meters and I felt like a monkey grabbing at branches as we hauled ass over slimy mucky rocks half-buried under gushing rivulets of water. I imagine our heart-pounding, sweat-dripping, wind-sucking gasps for air (okay, mostly mine) scared off any wildlife lurking in the bushes.

Methinks the authors need to state just who the ‘easy’ is directed at. Couldn’t be for us poor sods bulging with fatty baggage and left over cold left-overs.

But we made it!  And that’s when Man-Wonder barked. (I swear he did)  “Holy Crap Honey—recognise this lake?”

“Uh, no.” I said, my memory being equal to that of a squashed bug.

He pointed, “The big, flat rock? We hiked up here on our first date.”

“Nope. No way, even twenty years ago, would I have forgotten that hill. But, yeah, that rock is familiar. . . ”

“We came from the other direction. It was an easy hike in. Even for you.” And then like a goober, he smirked!

All I can say is he’s lucky I wasn’t packing pockets stuffed with bear scare, mace, and rocks like I was twenty years ago. . .


Book Review : Emails From India

Funny how things happen. I was at the library and picked this book up because India fascinates me (seems there is a large number of people in that group). I gave the book a quick study and decided not to bother with it, but for some reason the book wasn’t put back and it ended up in my check-out pile. I am so glad it did!

*On a side note—I’m beginning to see how the word ‘book’ and the word ‘pile’ always seem to run hand in hand with me. . .*


emails from india  Emails From India by Janis Harper

Many women, from around the world travel, often alone, to India, according to Janis. They have been doing so since the time of the British Raj. And they like to talk about it. She describes herself as an Indophile from sometime in her teenage years; yet it took her until close to reaching fifty before she finally made the trek.

And so, there is this book—Emails from twenty-seven different women about their experiences. Emails sent to friends or family and passed on from them to others because they were too delicious to not share, or they offered a loose travel guide of what not to do, where not to go, what to do and where to go.

Descriptions of young soldiers at airports with taped together AK-47s; beachy laneways in Candolim; a Muslim-rich ancient community called the Moplahs along the Kerala coast; a lush description of an Indian lover; narrow alleyways twisting left and right and ending at skinny staircases rich in aromas of sandalwood and rot, and so, so much more.

This is an incredible book to read if you have even the slightest curiosity about India. It is a book rich in the art of patience, of facing fears and diving into our endless wells of courage. It is a book of living life large.


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