Goodbye summer, hello fall.

imagesMB6PPO62 has arrived with its days of color and nights of cool. It’s giving us scattered days of rain showers after months of dry, dry and more dry. Vegetation is coming back for one last fling of energy and color.

It’s a time of cooling down and reflection.

Yesterday, while sitting on the sun porch, feeling a teasing warm breeze floating past made me put my pages down, lean back and drift on memories of summer. Hot days melting together, just like when we were young and our summers felt endless.


This past summer felt like it was on slow dial. The heat settling over us like jelly, slowing our steps and minds. Looong summer days, filled with hot, dusty air, full-of-life neighborhood noises (which is good in a ‘over 55’ park), barking dogs, lawnmowers, people stopping to talk, barbeques burning food.

Days, where, in the late afternoon the small grassy hillside out back called and I couldn’t help but sprawl on the grass and watch clouds drifting by (and remembering to twitch now and then so any one looking out of a windows knew I was still alive).

Some early evenings I’d be joined by my friend from next door and we’d sit on the lawn, chatting about everything and nothing until it was too dark to see the other’s face.

Or waking every morning to throw open the doors and windows. Such a joy even if I did whine now and then, (okay regularly) about the hot, hot, hot midday temps.  Even though this summer was a smoldering heat wave of change for us here on the west coast, it became jammed full of pleasant memories which will get us through the looong short days of winter.

But, before the grayness of winter drops over us, autumn is here, begging to be savored.


On another note—here’s a site I’m still having fun with —




Speaking of gymnastics. . .

Getting older is an unfunny funny thing when it’s happening to you. Kneeling is a prime sample of this.

When you’re younger, it’s down and up with a spring. Middle age is down and up and maybe not so springy; and definitely less quiet. Old age is a whole new experience—it’s more of a cranky slow train of communication between body parts.

Let’s say you’ve just finished painting a bottom cupboard and want to stand up. So your brain tells your knees to hop to it.

. . . The Knees yelp, “Are you shitting us?”

Your brain tries commando, knowing Knees have been a bit whiny lately. “Rise dammit.”

Knees yell back to Toes, “A little help here amigos.”

Toes, sounding apologetic, kick back with, “Sorry Knobs but we’re busy helping Arches. The poor buggers are cramping up with us bent like we are.”

Knees squirm and call up to Brain, “Hey, Command Center, Knees here. It’s a no go unless Arms stop hanging like hypnotized chimpanzees and help. Maybe mouth could give a shout-out for help.”

Brain gives a sigh. “C’mon everybody, let’s try working this out like a team. One for all, all for one, right?”

“Yeah—well tell that to Thighs. A little pushing action from them babies would have us straightened right out. But do they bother to tighten up? No, they just hang there putting more pressure on us. It’s not fair.”

“Yeah,” Thighs jiggle in disgust, “we’d help you two overgrown knuckles  but it’s all we can do to keep these pillowy pads in motion. We’re as overworked as you two.”

Knees snort in derision. “Like roll us in jelly—we wouldn’t mind your cushy positions in this life!”

Brain breaks in with, “BODY! You’re behaving like children. All this sniping and complaining isn’t helping. Let’s try working together. Arms—reach out and grab the counter. Toes—curl back and pull that kneepad in under Arches. Knees—get ready to straighten out. Toes are going to push, thighs are going to lift upwards ,and arms are going to pull everyone forward. Everyone ready now? Okay, on the count of three. . . one . . .WAIT. . . what?”`

Brain is silent for a second. It comes back to tell the others,  “Mouth wants to help by grunting. Kind of like cheerleading for the team. So—okay gang, we’re going for uplift now — one, two, three . . . good. Good! Annnd . . .  we’re up and mobile again. Excellent job everyone! And see, no crane needed.


.  . .Arms, you can let go of the counter and, uh, Mouth—is that heavy breathing really necessary?”




Marching right into. . . well, something.

September is the month of changes; Adventures and learning curves, even for those well beyond school age. September is when the old farts club’s newsletter arrives brimming with pages of new classes to sign up for.


As I perused the pages I imagined myself trying out for all kinds of new challenges  but I wore myself out reading the descriptions and in the end, signed up, for a fourth time, in the ‘Tai Chi for Beginners’ class and only one new one—Fitness Level 1. And that one was for two reasons only—it had been a hot lazy summer, and the course was labeled as a class of gentle stretches to increase flexibility along with proper breathing and relaxation techniques to energize.



Bald-faced lying old farts!

Gentle stretches my ass! Remember the medicine ball in high school? Divide that in four and you’ve got what they use as balance balls. Sure, if you’re lying on the floor and it’s resting between your feet.

And those cute-colored, stretchy ropes I was told I’d need from the equipment closet. No one mentioned they were color coded for easy, medium and popeye-arms. Guess which one I grabbed?

Then there was the instructor arrived—trim build, white hair and, wow—no moobies. I admit I was impressed with his body but his footwear puzzled me. He wasn’t wearing rubbery-gym shoes. He was wearing big, brown, round-toed hiking style boots. I didn’t get it until he cranked up the music and yelled, “MARCH!”

Those puppies were floor thumpers. We’re talking lift those knees and slap them shoes to the ground boots. March to the front, then march back again. Stomp those feet to one side then stomp to the other. Side to side — left-right, left-right, left-left, right-right, left-left-left, right-right-right.

You know how shock empties the mind? By the time I remembered which foot was left, everyone was right. By the time I flapped out two, they were on three, or back to one. OMG!

Then the nasty instructor starts telling us to turn our feet and legs this way and that way while we’re still doing the side humps. Crap on a Crayola—let’s just say my legs turned in directions they weren’t meant to, even when they were flexible.

Yeah, it was a tough class but, luckily, I had this nice European woman who leaned close after spotting the fear in my eyes.

“Don’t worry” she said, “look how well I’m doing. A year and a half ago I was just like you.”

Oh, yeah, that was encouraging! And, at the end of all those ‘gentle’ exercises, did I feel I’d learned anything?

That I hate exercising? No, I already knew that. I learned that, even if you think you’re heading into a lay-on-the-floor-gently-stretching-apendages-here-and-there class, don’t wear flip-flops.


Because, during certain exercises those tight elastic ropes will slip out from under flip-flops and whatever body part is closest is gonna’ get whacked. And, when that happens, if you have to swear – be aware that Murphy’s Law will stop the music a split second before.


I have until next Monday to decide if I want to go back.

. . Hmmmmmm

Good read: Soul Shifts

soul shifts - Copy

Dr. Wayne Dyer (bless his recently departed soul) describes this book as ‘a brilliant, authoritative, practical guide to higher awareness. Every page brims with highly specific suggestions for shifting to a more enlightened way of being. To waking up our consciousness, to get to know, deeply know the vibrating energy field that makes us who we are.’

‘’No shit Sherlock.” I say to that.

I have been reading Soul Shifts by Dr. Barbara DeAngelis for over a month now. It is one of those books—read a paragraph, maybe a page or two. Might even manage a whole chapter before the mind yells, ‘S.T.O.P. It’s chew time.’ Things must be mulled over, processed, digested thoroughly before proceeding.

I don’t know how many times I’ve had to stop reading because all that’s twirling through my gray matter are the words, Holy shitting Christ (sorry to offend but that’s how the gray goop talks). It’s like Dr. DeAngelis has peered into my soul then yanked out a less-than-sparkly hunk of it and tossed it up onto a page for discussion.

We are vibrational beings. Science has shown this to be true. We are cosmic energy vibrating in a certain pattern that makes up what each of us consider to be “us”. We must transform at the vibrational level if we want to transform “us”. Dr. DeAngelis says deep inside of us is everything we could ever need. She talks about how a tree needs to spread its roots deep so it can grow tall. So do we she says. We need to have a deep soul connection to our consciousness. This book helps us build ourselves strong and steady from the inside out.

This is one hell of a book and I know, without a doubt, as soon as I come to the end of it, I’ll be starting it again. It’s like getting an exciting big gift box. When you open it you find a dozen little boxes inside, each one wrapped around a tiny treasure. And, because each one is so precious, the very minute you’ve gushed over the last one, you’re back to the first one, then the next and . . .

Try it—it might have your brain potty-talking too!


Just how big was the one that got away?

We decided to drive up island and have a coffee in the sleepy, quiet community of Cumberland—about an hour’s drive from home. We hadn’t been there for some time and wondered if much had changed. We arrive the same weekend as their ATMOSPHERE festival.

A slight difference. . .

facial only

Talk about unique —just looking at the huge Italian circus tent in the middle of the festival grounds had my insides bubbling with excitement. Music ebbed and flowed and the air felt electric with energy. It was one of the wildest eclectic group of individuals I’ve seen—let’s just say native wowed hippy-chic who danced with spandex-lovers while medieval tangoed with Egyptian-aspy garbed as grunge-techno leapt about everywhere while healers did what they do best and cooks filled everyone’s bellies.

Expecting a quiet village and finding this exploding party was a tad mindboggling.  A little bit of deep forest between us and the revelers felt like a good thing so we headed to the far edge of town and the shores of Comox Lake to have our our coffee and lunch.

After deciding to give more of the festival a pass we headed home via the old island highway which meanders along the shoreline so we could make a quick stop at Nile Creek. Basically, it’s a  short dirt lane between the highway and the fishing beach where Nile Creek empties into the ocean and is well-known for the arrival of the pinks this time of year.

We found a parking spot halfway down the lane, left side. Man-wonder headed down to where the fishermen were lined up along the shore. I chose to stay behind sketching, not realizing the angle of the sun hitting our windshield was creating a blind spot to anyone looking at our truck. I have to assume that the fisherman, arriving back at his vehicle, parked two ahead of us, on the other side of the lane, didn’t realize it either. The man did a fast scan up and down the lane and then stripped off his chest waders, his shorts and everything else between him and his almighty best.

Talk about a fine specimen! And hoooo-boy, did he ever make my day. . .

And, I wonder, as he drove past, seeing me for the first time, did he catch the ear-to-ear grin on my face?

And, nooooo, I didn’t even think of picking up my pen until it was too late. . .

Pssssst. . . . wanna’ buy a cheap recipe binder?

Okay, one final comment on soap making. After using a small bar for a week I recently read how one can test a batch to see if it’s ready. All you need are PH strips, shaved soap, hot water and a reading of between 8 and 10 on the strip. My bars are at 7. . .




Meanwhile, because I enjoy reading the Cook’s Illustrated magazine, I was thrilled to learn they had a cookbook  so I requested a copy from the library.  .

cooks illustratedHoly Crap on a crayon—talk about a behemoth of a book! I should have read the fine print at the bottom of the cover —where it said 2,000 recipes from 20 years. . .

Opening this cookbook is like walking into an oversized big box store without a list and standing there staring at what must be twenty-five aisles and each one is a mile long.

Where to start??

But, once you get the mojo moving, you realize there are sooo many things you didn’t know existed until you saw them. And, because the child in us is never far away, every recipe in the book is like a bag of candy.

The thing with recipes is I tend to collect them. Sometimes when I’m hungry reading recipes is as good as eating. Sometimes, when it’s time to cook a meal, and I haven’t a freaking clue what to cook, I hunt recipes, and sometimes I come across a recipe that is so off-the-wall I simply have to save it. Doesn’t matter if I have to hike into deep woods to kill something, or gather buried roots—when I’m in a ‘mood’ I believe I might just do that.

In other words — I gather recipes to my bosom like a shiny new baby.

And, that’s why the over-grown king-sized binder holding my recipes recently threw its locking rings wide open like a cowboy leaping on a horse and dumped the roughly six trillion plastic sleeves (each containing at least four recipes) across our slippery ceramic tiled floor. As I watched the ocean of pages sliding in all directions like greased bananas I knew it was time to get ruthless with them. Time to cull the beast!  But first—that beautiful cook book had to go back to the library. I have to go cold turkey. NO. MORE. RECIPES. At least until the binder beast is under control.

So, hey — if you see the Cooks Illustrated book please give it a cuddle for me. And, whatever you do, don’t try to pick it up by yourself . . .

Feeling the ‘ick’ factor

Okay, I confess, I’ve been testing the soap made a week ago.

I ran out of patience and the twice-daily looky-sees weren’t cutting it so I snuck down one of the smaller squares. Yeah, Man-Wonder has been on my case about it but I don’t care because, even at one week old, the soap is nice. It’s creamy and soft to the hands—which was all I was willing to risk for the first day or so.

Just in case. . .And, when no fingers burnt up or fell off, I charged in and washed my all-overs. Nice. Nice enough to begin researching out the next batch.

But, until the soap-curing shelf space is available, I’ve been concocting other types of soap—like foaming hand soap—which is so OMG-osh easy I was finished before I’d barely  started.

Then I remembered the comments posted over last week’s blog by writeknit about how she liked her lemon-scented bars of soap for her kitchen and that led me to thinking about dish soap. In the end I followed a lemon-cinnamon scented liquid dish soap recipe and again—easy-peasy. And at first, I was impressed with the sudsing it produced.

That lasted about two minutes – roughly how long the suds lasted.

Without suds I was hands deep in foggy water and staring down at the many, many bits of mealtime flotsam and jetsam twirling amongst the silverware and plates. I admit I was rating the ‘ick’ factor fairly high. Until I thought about it. I mean, I was staring at what has always been there, only I hadn’t seen it before. Now, without suds, I was able to judge when to change the water, or if it needed changing. Nothing was hidden under a pillow of white suds.

It’s kind of like slapping on a thick layer of makeup to hide the wrinkles; or turning underwear inside out for another day—it doesn’t work; it’s not healthy; and the only person it fools it the one doing it.

So what did I learn this week? Suds, wrinkles in ridges and non-reversible reversed underwear. . .all filed under ick label.

. . . Another day, another learning curve. . .


Cleaning up


We are running out of soap.

And even though I have been buying hand soap and creams locally from Sharlene, a creative genius, at  the urge to make my own bars of soap has been growing so I decided to give it a try again. I did learn about making soap years ago at a local herb farm but decided it was too much work until recently when I figured out that I didn’t have to make 40 bar batches.

But, let’s not call me slow okay.

Still, there was the burning issue of working with lye and since I tend to rush in and clumse (new word) about, the thought was unnerving me. I decided to ease myself into it and started out by making a hand lotion. Orange-scented jojoba oil lotion to be precise.

Oh my! It goes on like silk and soaks into the skin like magic. The orange scent is  yah-okay. I would prefer something with more oomph. Something more exotic. Maybe a deep lusty scent to bring out the beast in dear old Man-Wonder.

*Snort*. . . . okay, maybe just beef up the pussycat in him. (Good thing he never reads these blogs.)

Anyway, Man-Wonder, more to shut me up than anything, made  a delightful soap mold for me from an old pine shelf unit he was dismantling.

IMG_2106  Hinged the sides for easy removal.


Then I gave it a one-sided paint job and, using my super skills at sewing, whipped up two elastic straps (first photo) to hold the sides and lid tight during those first 24 hours.


Still, I was hesitating about making the soap, even with Man-Wonder now giving me the stinkeye until I spent more time (to the point of burning eyeballs) online watching videos and reading articles on how-to before I screwed up the courage to make a small batch.

It turned out surprisingly well during the saponification stage (look Ma – no lye burns or exploding volcanoes). It poured into the mold nicely. And even though it killed me to do so, I covered it up, tucked a small quilt around it and left it be for twenty-four hours to solid up. Then, with great delight because it was looking so normal, I cut into bars.


Which are now sitting on a shelf in our closet curing for the next four-six (oh hell, let’s say five) weeks.

Mind you—I am keeping the step-stool in the closet so I can climb up to smile down at them and I gotta’ say—this waiting period is going to be tough. Waiting isn’t one of my strong points.


Like, not uncovering the soap during those first crucial twenty-four hours.

Yeah. No. I peeked.

For shame I know, but, in my own defense—it was just a super-sonic, one-eyed peek before snapping the quilt back around the soap box. And it didn’t hurt the process one bit. . . . I hope.

Want to make soap? Here’s a few juicy sites to check out:

Wasp-y behavior?


Here’s the thing—Man-Wonder and I were sitting in our chairs out back, enjoying the evening and admiring the three garden beds busting with plants and humming with bees and small wasps when a neighbor comes around the corner of his mobile holding a yellow glass container high and almost prancing with glee.

“Look at this.” He holds out his wasp catching jar. It’s heaped with dead bodies. “Killing ’em like crazy.” He says. “Never seen them so bad.”

Man-Wonder and I looked at each other in surprise. We’ve seen yellow jackets in the flowers but they’d left us alone. And visa-versa. But, here’s this nice guy, living twenty feet away, telling us there’s a problem.

The very next day we hauled out our seldom used glass wasp-catching bottles.


Suddenly there was a zinging, buzzing party of wasps fighting each other to get inside the jars hung off the back-end of the sun porch. And these weren’t the little garden variety either. These were big honking black wasps. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see them arrive on Harleys!

For two days we snuck out before dawn to clean away the dead and rebottle for the live and firmly shut the porch’s back door since they were prone to zip inside, buzzing loud enough to give us nightmares, and getting in our faces with their, ‘This is a holdup, where’s the sugar?’ attitudes.

Escaping to our wee piece of heaven out back was no longer an option either. It seemed like we’d pissed off their little cousins—by feeding the big bullies. This led to more annoyed wasps in our faces. So, we retreated inside. And there we sat, fans to sweaty faces, while we watched the horror show outside the window.

By the third day the wasps had figured out how to escape from the inescapable trap and like idiots we rushed off to the hardware store for something better.

The new one lasted one day before they were whistling in and staggering out, OD’d to the gills.  So we tried adding a drop of oil to the sugar-water. Worked like magic.

They disappeared!

Not another single black wasp has shown up since. Not only that—out back the yellow jackets have stopped annoying us and gone back to the garden beds. We’re back to splitting our time between the sun porch and the back gardens, lesson learned.

Only . . . while, I haven’t said anything—I’m not entirely sure what the lesson was.

  • Leave nature alone?
  • Don’t muck with the big black wasps because it annoys their little striped cousins?
  • Just because the neighbor does something—doesn’t mean we have to.
  • Sugar kills?

That old ill wind

We’ve been most lucky here on the west coast of Canada; especially Vancouver Island. The wind doth blow most ill winds away and bringeth the rain so we islanders are naturally fresher and have fewer cobwebs in our heads.

Okay, so maybe that’s a bit la-la landish—but I like it so I wrote it.

This week, those winds have failed us because of a high pressure ridge that’s been hanging around since May. Dry, dry days breaking out into a batch of wildfires. And, for the first time in a long time the smoke has not been blowing away.

When I woke Monday morning I had no idea of what was coming. It was still dark and the night air was pleasingly cool. The urge for a paddle had me cajoling Man-Wonder into action and within thirty minutes we were slipping the canoe into the refreshing cold water  of the harbor.

We paddled around the harbor’s edge, sliding between openings in the barnacle covered rocks and wove through the sleeping boats at anchor before heading toward the strait side of the smaller of the two islands fronting our harbor. Pretty brave of us considering we aren’t skilled paddlers and the waters beyond the islands can get darn choppy darn fast.

Hoo Hoo—another big-little adventure for these mobile home dwellers!

A big part of the adventure came when we realized, halfway around the island dawn wasn’t happening. It was like Day wasn’t planning on showing up! Sure, the night sky was lightening but only slightly and instead of the usual pale pink and blue, we were drifting under burnt orange and gray.


Freaky enough that it had our total focus and  we failed to notice the rollers coming at us from the first ferry heading past. We ended up taking them sideways instead of head on.

So, truth time here—we are pussy-pants about rough water. In fact I’m not sure who panics bigger.) Even worse yet—Man-Wonder suffers from motion sickness? Yep, my big tall hunky west-coaster is a regurgitator.

Trust me when I say, I know think we have the ‘paying attention’ part well memorized . . .

However, I’m still glad we did it, it was an experience and also because waking up Tuesday morning was kind of like waking up with your face hanging over a cold, damp, fire pit.

Today it’s a pale gray sky with holes where the sun is poking through.

Life is good and the clouds are moving.

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