Lessons learned in the bushes

Things I have learned while walking, and wildcrafting, in the woods:

horsetail    fringecup    broadleaf star    american vetch


  • Just because I happily discover a patch of stinging nettles unexpectedly, I shouldn’t pat them like I would  a friendly puppy.


  • When coming across oodles of fresh new Oregon Grape Root leaves don’t be so amazed at their softness that I squat down to rub them on my cheeks (facial). People walking past don’t understand. . .


  • When I am hunting for Greater Plantain all I’m going to find is the Lesser Plantain. Learn to not be so fussy.


  • Cleavers is a happy plant. It likes to reach out and grab in a sticky Velcro way when saying hello—totally unlike the hops plant. When that baby reaches out to say hello—it’s often a nasty and painful greeting. . .


  • Feeling sad to find out the wonderfully cheerful buttercup of childhood actually contains an acrid juice that will blister the skin.


  • Trying not to do a happy dance upon finding out that the lowly-but-life-enriching dandelion not only spreads by parachuting puff heads but also by travelling tap-root. . . Three cheers for the dandelion—not that I’d ever say that out loud. . .


  • The bracken fern, also known as the weedy fern, has rootstock that when boiled down taste kind of like rootbeer. . . I can only assume ‘kind of’ actually means ‘very poor pitiful like’. . . and that’s not something I’m about to try. Especially since memory can still taste Mom’s homemade rootbeer.


  • To not get into such a daze of delight over being surrounded by graceful gatherings of fringecups flowers, horsetails fronds and broadleaf starflowers that Man-Wonder has time to sneak away. . .



gypsy face  Maybe next time I go out wildcrafting I’ll hang a dozen quilted bags off my arms, wrap my head in a bohemian head scarf, hang on some dangly earrings and drape a colorful shawl across my shoulders. . . yeah—really get in the moment!





Whose that knocking at the door?

This blog is about death. About stepping through the door which lies between the energy layers.


death holding the door

Because death is a frequent door holder-opener here in our over-55 MHP and after counting the number who have died since we moved here nineteen months ago, it’s been on our minds to the point we’ve had to adjust our thinking.

It’s sad, it’s uncomfortable but it’s a fact of life. You live you die. And here, where the cluster of humanity is aged, there’s little getting away from it.

Usually, when someone becomes ill you assume they will get better. Here, you hold your breath because the human vehicles living here don’t have reverse.

We’ve come to see that the best time to live is right now, in each moment as it unfolds. To stop living in a past that no longer exists except within the endless chattering loops of brain matter. To stop projecting into a future that doesn’t exist yet—except in another coil of endless mental chattering. To let go of so many things.

In How To Wake Up author Toni Bernhard says, I become mindful of what I’m grasping at, no matter how petty it seems. I reflect on how everything I preoccupy myself with will dissolve at the moment of death—all my opinions that I consider to be so important, all my worries about the future, all the material stuff around me that I think of as mine. All that grasping. Gone. Gone. Gone.’

And, like Toni Bernhard also says, there is nothing nihilistic about those thoughts. They are life-affirming. We need to seriously consider what is important. Possessions? Money? Worries? Fears?

“At the moment of death, all that I’m grasping will be of no use.”

So, living in this MHP, where the departure gate is pretty damn close, is a good reminder to dump the crap and live.

Really . . . this life—is all you have.


What has flashed by my reading table lately?


An Excuse to Draw  index    Tommy Kane Sketches the World

Animals in Translation  Temple

Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior   by Temple Grandin


Sketch!   sketch  by  France Belleville-Van Stone   


Ghost in the Guacamole  guacamole jpg    by Sue Ann Jaffarian

Effortless Healing   healing jpg

9 Simple Ways to Sidestep Illness, Shed Excess Weight, and Help your Body Fix Itself     by Dr. Joseph Mercola


Death of a Nag   hamish  by M.C. Beaton 


Online I’ve been busy too:

http://www.sketchbookskool.com   – we signed up for the ‘Beginnings’ sessions. Loving it so far but then the first instructor is Danny Gregory —so what’s not to love? He makes making art so easy.

http://homemade-modern.com   – This clever fellow! Discovered his simple easy-to-make-without-power tools coffee maker and had to make one. I tried a stainless steel funnel first and while it worked well, the monkey mind wanted a glass funnel for filtering and what the monkey mind wants  . . . .Then I found a small glass drip bowl (only took making, and removing, one cup to realize a drip catcher would be a good thing) at the local dollar store which lessened the pain of purchasing the glass funnel from Amazon.ca (ouch when the shipping is added). I love, love, love this kinky little coffee maker!

IMG_1946 IMG_1947

http://www.theydrawandcook.com  – So there isn’t much I can say about this site. I mean come on! They draw and they cook. Does it get any better?

http://www.grammarly.com/blog/   – This is  a sweet spot for writers. Excellent unexpected articles on just about everything and they have this most helpful grammar-checking (bad grammar?) program.  Worth a snoop around.


And when I haven’t been doing any of the above, or writing, I’ve been enjoying a cuppa here  and watching the plants harden off for outside planting

IMG_1948          IMG_1949  and go over the plans for a bedroom wall mural after  watching the short video and reading the article The Mountain Mural  over at http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/


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     https://irenesroth.wordpress.com/ 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   https://writeknit.wordpress.com/author/writeknit/ 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     http://throughopenlens.com/author/throughopenlens/ 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     http://www.apartmenttherapy.com 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     https://askleo.com/ 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    http://koosjekoene.blogspot.ca Still crazy about her Draw Tip Tuesday videos.

1251863183437686362tag_svg_hi     http://www.needlenthread.com/ 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




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