Thursday, January 30, 2014


 Yesterday was a good day to sit on the grass. Yes, I said sit. Unbelievable afternoon. Some of the female purple finches are sooo tame. This one always toddles around my boots .She takes seeds from me. Friendly. Tame. Mrs. Purple Finch I call her. I asked a good friend about identifying here. She is happy. Stuffed with seeds. They all seem happy.
 I watch them for a  while, and they hop over the deer poop jelly beans , that I'm scooping up, to throw on the garden beds. Not afraid of me. Likes to flutter onto my garden boots and peep. Amazing. Does wonders  for the January blahs.
 In the distance  Mt. Washington is covered in snow. Not as much as previous years. But in the morning shines pink in the sunrise.  Like a huge snow cone.
 There is ice overnight. Frost. It melts on the tree branches. Makes droplets appear like diamonds, reflecting  in the light.Rest of the continent is in a deep freeze. Snow storms. Not here. Like a wall has been put up between us and the rest of the land. Like we're in some sort of bubble.
 And on the Japanese Maple , seed pods gather drops of rain. We haven't had a lot of rain this year. In fact, usually we are so much rain that it's impossible to get out, and the rain can be biting and cold. Wednesday it was so mild, I could sweep the garage, wash two cars, and wash windows. And sit on the grass with Mrs. Finch.
 And watch the Towhees guard the seeds on the railing. They seem to love those seeds and have declared ownership of the fence.  Brazen little things with their long tails.
 In the fog the juncos  perch on  bare branches, and the twitter and twitter like they are possessed with some knowledge  that spring may be here. I think they may be right.
 I know it is almost spring, because Smokey has decided to camp out on the step in the morning. He has the best vantage point in the place. Be careful, Smokey, there may be winter yet.....
 He can see the Mrs. Purple Finch. He can watch her stuff her face with seeds. See her flutter and bounce along the grass. But he doesn't seem to mind. ALmost like she is entertainment while he lies in the sun. The sun that makes us all think it is May.
                    But Cordelia licks her lips in anticipation. She also just views the scene, satisfied for now, since her humans up the hill have already given her breakfast. Mrs. Purple Finch will have to wait.And at the start of the next day, two brothers gather to say hello, and wish each other better luck in the birding dept..............

Monday, January 27, 2014


 Time to bottle some wine. It's ready early this year.  Pungent potion from the fall. Named after cats. Of course.  Funny thing is, we only open a bottle if there is company, or to give  away as gifts. So the cellar is full to grape  capacity.
 Not my thing, really, to make wine.  But didn't know what to do with all the grapes. Hundreds of grapes.  The racoons couldn't possibly eat them all. The birds just ignore them.....and go hunt worms and seeds. Grapes that are a tad sour-sweet. Not really for eating, these grapes. I tried grape jelly, grape preserves, grape juice. Way too much work. Kitchen smelled like a brewery.
 The entire process of making the wine takes a few months. First you dump the grapes into the squeezer , which turns it into juice ( I'm sure there is a technical term for it), then it is bottled into huge Carboys to sit and ferment with yeast and sugar. It bubbles away for a few months....
 And you're left with a clear liquid that takes an awful lot like fancy grape juice, with a kick. The scent is quite something. I was told we have to tase it. Taste something I will not ever drink. Okay. I'm game. Dutifully, I  stuck my finger in the  offered glass,  just to see.......(The look I was given by  the people in the next bottling station told me that you shouldn't stick your fingers in the wine.)
 Bleh. I guess it is supposed to taste like that. Bleh. Everyone else tasting, waxed poetic about the grapes,the bouquet, it's unusual fragrant properties............( okay, I'll go along with that)
 The part I like best  is making up  names for the labels. This season it is "Cordelia's White" and "Spencer's Smokey White". Play on words of course. Next time will use Bunny's  name. She might like that.On the way home, we stop at Cordelia's house and Spencer and Smokey's house. Dropping off bottles is incredibly fun.
                    And maybe this summer, Cordelia and her friends will sit on the fence again, sleeping under the grapes in the heat of the day. And the ritual will start again. Squishing grapes. Tasting ( bleh). Then giving it away. Best part. And wait for it. Next batch: "Bunny's Breakfast Blend" will make it's appearance. Or maybe "Bunny's Beverage", or .................will have to come up with a catchy name. Any suggestions? " Bunny's something something". Feel free to send ideas ( I'll save a  bottle for you).......

Friday, January 24, 2014


 One of my favourite shots in the early morning. Right off the waterfront in Campbell River. Water like glass. Sky fog. Mist. Damp. Chill. Grey. Perfect winter weather. I love this.
This is at sunrise the moon still sharp in the sky.Snow on the mountains. Out in the frost. Not the snow like back east, but  we have the frost and fog that chills to the bone. It's beautiful. I  must remember to wear boots next time. Sandals  and frost and deer poop just do NOT mix.
                       This is the only bush that is flowering. Just can't remember its name, unfortunately. It flowers off and on all year. Gathers frost. But does not die. The deer like to rub their noses against the stalky branches.
 One of my favourite places in the early morning is at the marina. Don't often go there in the morning, but this week  we were toddling by. The fog, the mist, the grey. Discovery Passage blanketed in grey felt.
 And when we DO get a bit of sun, it melts frost on the branches. The water clings for a while and then disappears.  Just to refreeze the next morning. Then starts dripping again. Like a nose with allergies.

 At the marina once more. The light blue and grey. Foghorn sounding off the water.
        The frost clings to the last bits of summer last year.
 Then the sunrise hits the mountains, turning everything pink.
 The moon holds its own ........   
 And the curry plant stalks are frozen like sea anenomes.
 Mt. Washington shudders under new snow. And there's hot tea waiting to steam away the chill.

Thursday, January 23, 2014


(Spencer/ Smokey from the hill)
 I'm surrounded by cats. Felines. Gold ones. Grey ones. Poofy ones. Inside and Outside. Sometimes more outside than inside. Sometimes, the inside ones long to be outside.  And the outside ones are always trying to see what is inside.The outside ones have  homes. Happy they are. But they hang out here. They eat the birds, play with  Deer poop jelly beans, and leap in the air after bugs.
          They sleep on the driveway, right in front of the door. They snore. And twitch.
 They sleep in the flower stands. They swish at the dirt and yank out moss. Helpful. Even in winter.
(Cordelia from the hill)
 They sit on the Heads and polish their paws.
 They stare  into the empty treat bag. Hopeful there will be more.
 Then there are the inside ones. Tuckered from a day of cat nip .
                                  Helping. Always helping.
 Inside they have meetings. To discuss the outside ones.I think they look for them on a daily basis.
 Outdoors,they sit on the porch, just out of reach...............................
And roll in the dirt ............
 And look through the glass door, morning and night.........................
 While inside they never know dirt, or rain, or Deer poop jelly beans.
 But alllllllll the catnip they can handle.
 Outside they sit on the fence.
 Inside, they  have the regal pose down to perfection.
 And  ever so often, you catch a glimpse of the outdoor ones, peeking through  fence slats.
    Wondering when there will be a treat, or an ear scratch, or a photo op.........

Thursday, January 16, 2014


 It's here. Spring. Well, I think it's spring. No, this is not a photo of fine twigs, grass, or willow branches. Oddly enough, this is Smoke Bush fluff seeds ( kind of like the dandelion fluff  that is fun to play with in the fall)   dewdropped with rain . Ever so small. Microscopic until you take a macro lens to it. 
 I think it definitely feels more like October than January. The Forest, just down from our hill, is rolling in fog most days. Thick to light fog wafts about the rainforest. From early morning to noon.Or from noon to midnight.Depending....
 It's on days like these  Smokey tries to get into the garage to roll about on the concrete floor. It's warm and dry. He comes down the hill, with his brother, Spencer, to see birds .They keep thinking they can catch the all. They spend hours here. And on days like this , like to get into the garage to roll in the dead bugs and show how pretty they are.           
 And it's on days like this, that if you search for a bit you'll find Dragon'sblood. It's growing out of the rock wall in the terrace. Resembles small roses, but they are  mostly fingernail sized.Or fang sized, I should say...Dracula would approve.
  I was clearing out some deer poop, and nearly fell into the clematis. was very surprised to find it starting to show green nodules. Ever so tiny. Ever so microscopic.
 And back to my favourite find: Smoke Bush Fluff seeds.....everywhere. Small. Microscopic.
 Doused with rain.................
             Looking like twigs.........And yes, I was still able to find lots of deer poop to scoop. Seems to be a going thing at my place. Deer and Poop and Cats.A sure sign of spring. Cordelia came down for a visit. For her snack. She shows up when the others are not here. She doesn't like the deer poop , as you can see..................            
 And there are still so many pockets of Smoke Bush fluff to find..............looking like crystallized ginger. And me, stepping on pods of deer poop trying to get a good shot of them.....

 And it is still winter. In the mountains at least.While down here it is spring.  I think. After a long day of birding the cats head back to their homes.  They don't seem confused. They just like the birds. They just like to visit. I think it might be spring.