The puppy pool

Day 4, Writing 101 – Write about a loss

Well, for one thing, I’m not a person who hangs on to stuff. In fact, quite the opposite, I love to purge!!! However, there seems to be an item that I am having trouble parting with and that stuns even me.

My Great Dane, Piper, is six years old. I got her from the Sunshine Coast SPCA when I was living there in 2009.

IMG_20150216_213151 Piper 2015

I had the heartache of losing two dogs in 14 months – Scout was my heart, an ethereal black lab-border collie mix who touched many lives died suddenly at age nine and Ella, the husky-German shepherd with ice blue eyes that I adopted shortly after ended up with an incurable illness. I had to euthanize her after only having her for about a year. She was just two years old.

Scout  Scout eyes Scout

Ella  Ella Beach Model 021 Ella

Ella had many issues. She was a feral dog when I adopted her and I had to work relentlessly with her to overcome negative behaviours. Just shy of her death she started showing real progress and we were a bonded unit. By the time she died I was pretty exhausted. The day after I put Ella down, I headed to the SPCA to start volunteering as a dog walker. I’m one of those people who is lost without a dog around. The SPCA manager knew Ella’s story and said, “You need a happy-go-lucky dog. I’ll keep any eye out for you.”

Enter the Great Dane litter that was rescued from an abusive backyard breeder with their mama. They ended up in an amazing foster home on the Coast and I was introduced to “Pick Me,” named for her outgoing personality and who literally picked me.

What a joy! Piper was the easiest puppy I’ve ever come into contact with. She has a gentle, sweet nature and loves everyone and everything.  To this day she can melt my heart with a single look.

At the time the litter was old enough to be adopted out, I was fostering a senior dog who had been deteriorating in the shelter. The foster home hung on to Piper a little longer until we placed the old dog with a permanent family. That gave me lots of time to prepare for her arrival and as this was going to be my third dog as an adult, I had the situation totally figured out.

I bought a purple kiddie pool. You know, those ones you buy at the local Peavey Mart or Zellers for five or 10 bucks. It was round and I bought a dog bed that fit perfectly in it. I wanted to teach her to go to one place on command when I was at home and have her be somewhat cordoned off but not in a full kennel. The pool had high enough sides that even thought she had legs like a baby moose, it wasn’t easy for her to get in and out of and any pee accidents were contained by the plastic.

more piper 006_1  more piper 005_1

And then she started growing. I did say she is a Great Dane, right? And she grew and she grew and she grew and the pool ended up outside being used as a pool. She loves cooling off in it on hot days and fetching toys from it like someone bobbing for apples at Halloween. She barely fits in it. It take a fair bit of wiggling around to keep all of her long legs and tail within the walls of that fading purple pool. Often her arse is hanging off the edge and her front paws are up against the other side.

Piper in the pool 008 Then …

Random June 2013 007 Now …

The pool got a hole in it last summer. It still holds water, just a slow leak, but we live two blocks from the lake. We don’t really need an old, leaky pool and yet I can’t throw it out. I haul it to the gate and swear I’m taking it to the dumpster and somehow it ends up back in the yard.

If I had to guess, I suppose I can’t throw it out because Piper was such a source of joy, love and hope after so much loss and the pool represents that puppy who bumbled into my life (and two cats) and lifted my spirits.

more piper 049  more piper 050 Piper 3.5 mos

And every time she tries to curl up in it now that she is grown, it takes me back to those days of innocence and newness, which still makes me smile and can still lift my spirits after a rough day.

IMG_20150315_154635  IMG_20150118_133357

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Posted by on April 10, 2015 in PonderQs


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Music through my ages

Day 3, Writing 101 – Write about the three most important songs in your life

Oh nuts, three songs over the course of my whole life to date? That might be impossible to do. In fact, I spent about an hour considering the question and there’s no way on earth that I can narrow it down to three so I am going to talk about songs, albums or artists that made a mark on me instead.

Music was a big part of our family life when I was growing up. Mom played piano. Dad played the organ, double bass, and trumpet. They had matching ukuleles. My big brother first played piano and switched to guitar. I started on piano but switched to organ, which I stayed with into my early 20s. I sang in choirs, played alto recorder in a club and in the orph xylophone club during elementary school.  I added trumpet and French horn in my teens.

My parents had a robust collection of record albums and a top-notch sound system to play them on. My brother had a collection of albums too. By the time I was old enough and interested in pop music, cassettes played in ghetto blasters and walkmans were the modern choice. Good thing too because as the youngest in the household, I never got to pick what we listened to.

I had only two records – April Wine, Nature of the Beast, I think, which my brother bought me for my birthday or Christmas because HE wanted it. I think I played it once before it migrated to his bedroom. The next album he got me was one that I asked for – The Who’s Greatest Hits 1983.

Our house was filled with country music mostly, and then heavy metal when my brother took over the turn table after school and before our parents got home.

We watched variety shows that included acts like the Irish Rovers, John Denver, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, Gatlin Brothers and Oakridge Boys. My dad would often sing along as loudly as the group on-screen and he would find a harmony if he didn’t know the words and hum it out. I liked that; he could anticipate where a melody was headed and continue to be a part of the song even though he didn’t actually know it.

Going back further, my dad was an inspirational whistler, I suppose, in part because of his years as a trumpet lead in a renowned marching band. I mean, he could hit notes that most people can’t sing and he could string runs effortlessly. I loved it. He taught me to whistle when I was very young. I’m going to guess that I was five or six.

One summer we went down through the north-western USA on a camping holiday sometime around 1976 to 1978 I think. I remember that we went to a mall, likely to stock up on groceries and other necessities. There was a gazebo set up in the middle of the mall with a speaker system and I was allowed to sit there while my folks did errands.  A man stood in the gazebo with a microphone and whistled songs including a Roger Whittaker tune, New World in the Morning. I was obsessed.  I could have sat there all day.  But my favourite tune by him is… Durham Town.

Again, my dad would sing his heart out to that tune. I liked that, hearing him sing.

I rebelled hard against the country genre when I hit my teens.  Like almost had a gag reflex to it until I was close to 30 and living in southern Alberta. (When in southern, rural Alberta… do as they do! Life is definitely more fun that way.)

Anyway, I fell in love with acts like The Cure, Tears for Fears, A-Ha, Cindy Lauper, Boy George, Duran Duran, Michael Jackson, Men Without Hats, Crowded House, Midnight Oil, Depeche Mode and others.

I loved music from the 1960s and my friends and I really dug into that era’s culture as much as we could (this was before Internet so not sure how we dug into it but we tried) and then…

I heard Where the Streets Have No Name (1987) by U2. I’d found my musical advocate. I was 15. Every other band on the planet could fall away so far as I cared. I’ve written about my affection for the music and the band before so I won’t wax on here again.

In my late teens and 20s, I got into folk roots. I started spending more and more time in the wilderness and away from pop culture. As long as someone had an acoustic guitar and everyone could sing along, we had the best campfire parties. Often this involved singing songs from the 1960s and 70s or turning rock songs folksie by how we performed them.

I started to discover Canadian acts and develop an appreciation for how various sub-cultures within Canada express themselves through music. I especially liked Celtic beat bands and female artists like Spirit of the West, Blue Rodeo, Sarah McLachlan, Great Big Sea, Jann Arden, Loreena Mckennitt …

Golly I could go on and on. Today… Mumford and Sons, FUN, Imagine Dragons, Brandi Carlile, OneRepublic, Jon and Roy, Coldplay… and always, always, U2 (the tour starts in a month WHOOPeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!)

Three songs? Are you kidding? Who came up with that writing challenge?

I’d like to think I have a most eclectic music collection today.  I have a bit of everything from world beats to rock ‘n roll, alternative to bluegrass and powwow to opera. I even have some (previously vomit-inducing) country tunes on my play list, although honestly, I’m still a bit shy to admit that. Feels like I caved in on my original teen rebellion but who doesn’t love Johnny Reid!

The strangest thing has begun to happen just lately. I have started waking up to music only to discover that there is no music playing in the room. It happened two mornings ago. I was roused to Nate Ruess singing Nothing Without Love. I opened my eyes as the music faded away.  Now that’s a gift, isn’t it?!

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Posted by on April 10, 2015 in PonderQs


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The Duffer

Writing 101, Day Two: A Room with a View‏ – choose a place to which you’d like to be transported if you could — and tell us the backstory.

I am content, lulled by the gentle bobbing and rolling from side to side; the rhythmic surge forward that is followed by coasting. I am not a passenger but part of this space. It is an extension of my body.

Meditative sounds envelope me – the knock of wood against the wall as constant as a metronome set real slow, sing your favourite 80s ballad to it kind of slow; the swirl of water rushing by and the light dancing of water droplets against the sides occasionally find their way in and prickle as they melt against my skin.

This is my half day to rest. I am cocooned in a sanctuary that, in the shadows created by its contours, is as soothing as cool ice on my sun-drenched skin, but sizzling hot to touch if I reach up and lay my hand on the edges that are flat to reflect the sun’s rays.

I have to maneuver myself into position like an acrobat – relax my muscles into the small space, fold my bones over the ribs and grommets, get comfortable with the grit and tiny stones that dig into my skin, tuck my legs into fetal angles and lay my arms across my face to blot out of the blinding sunlight.

I half close my eyes so that I can still see the blue sky and my friend’s back in a graying t-shirt that just shows her backbone pushing against the cotton. “Cotton kills,” on cold, wet days, but this day it offers a smidgen of reprieve from the power of the golden orb above us.

I breathe in deeply the smell of canvas and leather that has already travelled more kilometres upon the backs and boats of other adventurers than I could even dream of experiencing. There is a musty odour where the Duluth pack lays in a hidden puddle of water, mud and twigs that the sun cannot dry up. I move the back of my hand, stained silver, to rest against my parched lips and inhale the smell of my own skin tattooed by the hull of my vessel. It imprints on my soul.

I do not sleep. I am not awake. The Duffer, lying in quiet repose and wishing that the moment will never end. I am living the life I felt meant to lead with eight other girls who are as independent, fierce and inspiring as I hope I am. We are a young, strong and self-sufficient team. We laugh often. We create songs and sing about everything we do. We sleep in one tent with our nine heads interlocked in the middle.

By day, we paddle and portage three aluminum canoes through the connected waterways of this great country, living for each moment and never leaving regret in the water we push behind us with our paddles. Six weeks of bliss. I find sisters for life and my career path is determined.

Shady Lake 2013 024

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Posted by on April 7, 2015 in PonderQs


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Stream of Consciousness “Writing 101” Begins

Today is the first day of a highly-anticipated writing clinic that I am going to participate in through WordPress. I say highly-anticipated because I saw the tweet for “Writing 101” about a week ago and signed up right away. I’m looking forward to some prompts to get my creative brain moving again rather than simply journaling about life, the universe and everything. So be prepared because it’s sure to be experimental and potentially terrible but maybe I’ll surprise myself with a gem or two that I’ll want to build upon after the clinic is complete. Today’s first challenge is to simply write for 20 mins and then publish the goop that pours out of my brain.

So I worked hard and lost a pile of weight that I kept off for two years only to begin to slowly put it back on in the last say, six weeks. Suddenly the pants felt uncomfortable. Okay, 8 lbs is not

OH wait! Please interrupt this stream of consciousness exercise because I have CNN on in the background and there was a group singing the anthem. Doesn’t matter whose anthem it is, if there’s one playing I think it’s respectful to stop what I’m doing and take it in. So I turned from the laptop to the TV and had a good laugh. The Easter Bunny is visiting the White House and he’s trying to stand back and out of the way behind Michelle Obama and it ended up just looking like the First Lady was wearing gigantic rabbit ears.

OK … so back to me, me, me haha

8 lbs is not terrifying but you have to decide at some pound that enough is enough and get back to living right. I’d injured myself about a month ago and then gotten a terrible cold and flu so was doing some serious couch surfing and junk food eating. AMAZING how easy it is to pack pounds on but how hard you have to work to get it off again. UG!

But fine. I know what to do. I also know I’m 42 with some chronic aches and pains, not a 22-year-old Tigger; bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, bounce, anymore. So I’m also trying to trust the process and challenge myself realistically so as not to injure and set myself back further.

Abs … planks …legs … and I was pleased to discover that I hadn’t lost much strength just gained a wee layer of padding. I had begun power walking 5 km a day the week before with the girls (dogs) and another 2-3 at a moderate pace with my old guy (also dog). This alone still causes me wracking coughing attacks. Damn, that cold was nasty!

Another trick to keep me on track is that I write on my calendar each day what physical activities I’ve done. I started it in the winter to keep track of how much exercise the dogs were getting to make sure I was meeting their needs while making sure that I still got out skiing with friends. And I can actually trace their naughty behaviour to stretches of time when they didn’t get walked or didn’t get long enough walks. (Could have been frigid cold weather or skiing and errands in town adding up to a few days in a row keeping them in the back yard to play rather than travelling). The husky seems to start to fall apart if she misses more than two days. Who could blame her! Even if I don’t go for a long walk, I still walk to and from work every day morning, noon and evening and I go to work and interact with people and challenge my brain. Dogs sit at home pondering … ?? what ?? how tasty the cats could be?? ACK!

I also cut back on treats in a big way and set myself up in the fridge for success rather than temptation and failure but don’t deny myself either.

So that was the last couple of weeks and two days ago I added another layer. I started the Couch to 5-Km running program and this time am going to do it with someone so that should help with motivation and dedication. Now, she is only 26 – bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, bounce – so her recovery time will likely be shorter but she’s not competitive about this sort of thing and she likes the dogs too so I figure it should be fun even if we have to slow the program down a bit and take longer to reach the goal. Or she kicks my ass and leaves me in the dust but, then I’ll just make her take the husky. HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I still want to write children’s books. I will keep that in the back of my mind as I continue on with this writing process over the next while. And I still have to figure out how to enter this mysterious place called The Commons so I can see what other intrepid writers are up to.

Good luck to us all! FUN FUN FUN!!!

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Posted by on April 6, 2015 in PonderQs


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Friendship, Vikings and U2

This is another post about Ireland. I’ve been waiting for photos in order to write it. It is about the third and final week that I spent hanging out around Dublin.

There are people whose character can be explained, I think, by the ease with which others find themselves in comfortable relation to them whether it’s a first meeting or a reunion after many years apart.

1 Reunited 2014-09-30 Reunion 2014, Dublin

Allan and I met while working at YM/YWCA Camp Stephens summer camp in Lake of the Woods, Ontario in the early 1990s. I liked him straight away. He was quick to laugh uninhibitedly, had a sharp wit that to me always signals a highly intelligent mind, and he was a showman worthy of a stage and script that were greater than the dining hall and skits we performed there for hundreds of children each summer.

That is not to say he was just some shallow ball of hilarity 24 hours a day. I observed him to be levelled by a heavy dose of seriousness that seemed grounded in issues of social justice but that could also be triggered by poor manners and general disrespect. He was a particular guy and wasn’t shy about where he stood on things.

Allan created inclusiveness for those who were (and often still are) considered outside the “norm” without fanfare. I never got the sense he was making a point. He very simply could see a place for everyone in the world and enjoyed the company of people for who they were and what they offered in their own right.

He taught me a few things about life and opened my eyes to new ideas.

The first big moment I remember is that a school group of high school students who had intellectual disabilities came to camp for a week one spring. Allan was co-ordinating their activities and I got to go along to help stern a canoe one day. I was nervous. Nervous about how to communicate with people who acted very differently than others their age and who couldn’t always communicate easily. Nervous about what their abilities would be in the canoe or if they could swim or if they would “freak out” and how I should handle that if it happened. Allan acted as if the excursion was absolutely no different than any other outing with teenagers. That made me nervous in the beginning to. Was he being naive?

We went to a marsh and paddled around exploring the habitat and wildlife. I remember the two girls in my boat were giggling and talking about boys they fancied and dances and fashion just like my friends and I had at their age. They were so funny and fun to be with and I loved my time with them. It dawned on me that their wants and needs were absolutely no different than anyone else and that the successes they would achieve in life were as worthy of celebration as anyone’s. That experience actually led me to a career for several years working with people, from infants to senior citizens, who had mental and / or physical disabilities and / or mental illness.

I remember another day at camp when a boy of about 12 or 13 was being quite belligerent and bullyish with others. Allan happened by and as a senior staff member, stepped in to correct the boy’s behaviour. The kid didn’t back down but instead upped his acting out by calling Allan a “fag.”

Outrage would be an understatement to describe Allan’s reaction. My god but that kid got a tongue lashing! I would only come to understand years later the personal implications of that offensive language for Allan, but in that exact moment, what I took away from the experience was just how powerful words are. Language can be used like weaponry and words have the ability to injure, isolate, shame, demonize and condemn. I was impressed by Allan’s refusal to let the boy get away with his bullying and realized that as long as any of us stays quiet when hurtful language is used, we are as equally guilty of wounding others.

One winter, Allan was living in an apartment building on a street that some poll had declared as the murder capital of Canada while I was apparently living in a house at the accident capital corner of Canada, both in the city of Winnipeg. We lived not far from one another and after visiting him, Allan would always walk me to the bus stop and wait to see me off. Ever the gentleman!

The only thing though, at that time, Allan was a tall, willowy drink of water with very long, sleek, blonde hair and good fashion sense. I was into baggy, worn out, blue jeans and oversized plaid shirts with a crew cut. It occurred to me that maybe it should have been me walking him home. In the dark of night, if an attacker was choosing a victim by silhouette, I’m not sure that I was the one most in danger …

Ahhh gender roles vs reality vs external expression through fashion vs plain decency and being a good friend. There’s just so much rolled up into all of those things. I could pick that one apart for the next 10 hours! Or I could just go with my instinct which is, as a survivor of sexual assault, it meant the world to me that he cared enough to see me safely onto the bus.

So those are just three stories. I could go on, but fast-forward. Allan ended up in England. We hadn’t seen one another since 1994 but had kept in sporadic contact through email over the years. When I booked my plane ticket to Dublin, I asked if he would be interested in meeting for a visit.

So it was on a rainy evening (the FIRST real rain I’d had in Ireland in my two plus weeks there!) that I walked into the foyer of the Ibis hotel and saw him sitting at a table.

It was surreal. I knew it was him. He hasn’t changed except that he’s gotten significantly more buff and chiseled over the years and cut his hair short, but very obviously it was him. And yet I was hesitant. I didn’t want to run up and give the wrong guy a giant bear hug. So we had a funny moment of just looking at each other before believing our eyes. Then we headed up to the room we were sharing and had another laugh.

As young adults at summer camp, it was no big deal for several of us to pile into one cabin on weekends off with our sleeping bags. Completely innocent stuff, like a pile of puppies who crave the warmth and company of others. So we both assumed we were going to do the same thing in Dublin in 2014 but never really discussed it. Once in the room it was like, “Is this okay?!” Well, of course it was. And that is a bit what I mean with my opening statement to this blog. I think you know a person’s character based on how at ease you are with them whether you’ve just met or it’s been 20 years since you laid eyes on one another.

And you know what the best part of the visit was? I don’t think we spent more than two minutes reminiscing about summer camp days. We had so much to talk about in the here and now, about our current lives and hopes and dreams, and about the sights and sounds around us in Dublin. It felt like we were picking up as if 20 years hadn’t passed between being together.

The only thing I am sad about is that I ended up feeling very out of sorts the day we departed for home – England and Canada – and I was a bit distant and distracted. It hit me hard that you just never know when you’ll see a person again when there’s that big of a geographical distance between you. I know that the same is true when you say good-bye to your next door neighbour. Anything can happen any time, but there’s something about there being a country and ocean in the way and being in our 40s now that made me really think, will I ever see him again? I was too discombobulated to be able to articulate that. I try not to dwell in that place because we had such fun and hanging with Allan for those few days was special. It’s an experience that I’ll hold close to my heart for ever.

The dumb thing I did was that I never had a camera on me. I didn’t have my smart phone with me and I was loathe to look too much like a tourist in Dublin so I didn’t carry my camera. That meant that Allan took all of the photos on his phone. Both of us are apparently slightly technologically challenged and busy with life so it has taken us six months to find the time and figure out how to share the photos that he took.

So here is some of the fun we had in Dublin. We did NOT hang out in pubs at night.We played Jenga in the hotel room! Oh yes we did.

16 JENGA!!!! 17 JENGA!!!!!ARG!!!!!


We most definitely went to Murphy’s for ice-cream because I’d had it in Dingle, there are only three stores in the whole of Ireland and it’s awesome tasty.

12 Murphy's Icecream 2014-10-02


For sure we went to a museum all about the Vikings and their time in Duiblinn “Black Pool,” where we wrote our names using runes and laughed til we cried over an exhibit showing how moss can be used for toilet paper. A mannequin male sitting on the shitter was groaning with great gusto as sounds of farting emanated from speakers. Allan recorded it and used it to greet me with the next morning. Like he was stalking me while I slept, just waiting for me to show signs of waking and then PFFFFTHTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!!!! “OHHHHHH!” “AHHHHHHH” PSFTHTTTTTT!!!!! is what I opened my eyes to followed by Allan bursting into gales of laughter.

7 Allan in runes 2014-10-02 5 Shannon in runes 2014-10-02


He took lovely artistic images and made me look kind of cool as we explored the architecture of different buildings in the city.

11 Viking landing of Duvlin 2014-10-02 8 Tower Shannon 2014-10-02


We each had a specific place we were interested in visiting in Dublin. Allan told me some of the history of Oscar Wilde including his imprisonment for being gay. As if somehow who Oscar loved and how he identified was criminal or dangerous. We spent some time imbibing in a pub that just happened to have a Wilde quote framed behind Allan’s head.

29 Oscar Wilde statue in park Dublin 2014-10-03 33 Allan and Wilde Quote in Dublin pub 2014-10-03


OF COURSE we went to view the Book of Kells, which I found extraordinary. To get that close to such an aged document of such beauty, intricate design and deep thought was quite moving. I am a writer and I love words so I guess it makes sense that it made me feel suddenly connected to the past and history in a way that felt incredibly tangible. It was the closest I think I’ll get to time travelling (something I’ve dreampt of being able to do since I was a kid).

We creeped ourselves out by ducking out of the soggy rain and into a building chalk full of taxidermied animals from around the world. The dust mite load in that place made my skin crawl. BUT, nothing’s funnier than when your friend is trying to frame you in a photo and says, “Just move a bit this way, and step forward, anddddddd … My, what a big rack you have!”

I’m a sucker for a pun and the extinct giant red deer.

3 Trinity College 2014-10-02 31 My, what a big rack you have 2014-10-03


But let’s be serious about the real reason I ever went to Ireland, and thank you Allan for indulging me. I’ve been dreaming since 1987 of seeing Windmill Lane Studios where U2 recorded much of their music. I’ve read about and seen photos of where people sign their names and leave their artwork on the studio walls and laneway.

But when it came time to add my two cents, I had no words to write, funny enough. “Thank you” felt cheesy and couldn’t encompass all that I feel about their music or how the band shaped my youth and affirmed many of the deep thoughts I was having about how the world works as I entered adulthood. So I just signed my Zoo handle for the friends I’ve made along the way; people who I know share that same depth of gratitude and affection for U2 and their music.

20 Windmill Lane wall 2014-10-03 23 Shannon at U2's Windmill Lane Studios 2014-10-0327 Shannon at Windmill Lane 2014-10-03


We finished off eating at a restaurant that Allan had dined in the first time he visited Dublin.

34 Last night out 2014-10-03

And so much more, but that’s what we have photos of.

Until next time, dear friend. Let’s not wait another 20 years.

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Posted by on March 27, 2015 in PonderQs


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A winter wildlife bonanza

Last week was a nature bonanza around here! It started with the northern lights.

A girl friend and I went for a walk about 7:30 pm one evening as we haven’t seen one another in quite some time and needed a good catch-up. We walked and walked out of the town site and up onto the main park road where there are no street lights. The sun went down and we turned back for home. At some point she said, “Are those clouds?”

We stopped walking and both stared straight up at which point the formation exploded in spikes like fireworks. Northern lights!! Bright green. They continued to dance and swirl and at another point, created a long arcing S across the night sky. They were some of the most fabulous northern lights I’ve seen.

The next day after work, five of us women went to snowshoe a trail in the park but discovered the snow had melted so much that we could simply hike it. Beautiful day and three Canada geese just returned from a winter down south were hanging out on the ice along the edge of the river that is now running swiftly. As we grabbed our abandoned snowshoes and prepared to head home, I said to one of the gals, “I’m surprised we haven’t seen any eagles yet. They should be back about now.”

Well, queue the bald eagle. Not ten minutes later, I hollered, “THERE!!!!” and we all ducked to look up through the van windows to the sky where a bald eagle was flying towards us and over our heads towards the river from where we’d just come. So exciting!

That night, I woke up at about 3:50 am – still having bizarre dreams. This time I woke up in the middle of Steve Earl singing My Old Friend the Blues as if real music was playing only to realize it had been part of the dream that woke me.

Anyway, I decided to head outside for a quick look. The northern lights are never the same twice. That night, the entire sky was pulsing and popping in all directions. There were more green splotches of light than there was dark sky. It felt like being in a 1970s disco with the volume turned off on the music.

Move ahead to the next day when I packed up my three dogs and drove out to another area of the park where I know there is open water this early in the spring. It was late in the day, about 6 pm. I left the dogs in the car at the Narrows and quietly walked out on the shoreline with binoculars.

With the naked eye I could already see possibly the biggest bald eagle I’ve ever seen. From that distance of about 100 m across the water and ice, then up another 30 ft to the top of a large pine tree, there sat an eagle. I could make out it’s yellow beak and everything. I took a look through my binos and it was incredible. I bet the bird’s chest was as broad as my Great Dane’s. Its body was facing me but its head was turned looking out over the lake. Then suddenly it turned and looked right at me, which I fully admit was unnerving. I let go of the binos with my right hand, waved and said in a nervous voice, “Hiiiiiihahahaaaaaaaaaaaa.”

It eventually got antsy and launched out of the tree. It was such a large bird that I could hear the wings moving air like it was right beside me. Later on I saw it on the lake ice stealing some dead animal tissue from a couple of ravens and flying off with its prize while the ravens squawked over the left-overs.

I also spotted movement across the Narrows along the sandy shore. An otter was playing and digging and rolling around in the snow. When it finally noticed me it dove under the ice and after a few moments I could hear it swimming back and forth under the ice in front of me along the shoreline.

On the drive back home I slowed down near Mud Creek and watched a beaver working away, sitting on top of the ice. They never look that big in the water because I only ever see their heads and tails, but gosh, on shore they’re quite a hefty critter!

Then, every elk in the park seemed to be in town the next morning and there was that full moon, equinox, solar eclipse trifecta thingy going on (that we didn’t get to see here in Canada) so overall, the whole week was just hopping with natural wonders.

I love it.

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Posted by on March 24, 2015 in PonderQs


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Well, I’ve never seen the Ice Capades show but I figure that since half my life is lived in winter I can add “capades” to my experiences.


Well my night life just continues to evolve. Very exciting stuff – ha!

This week, in the wee hours of the morning, I woke up in the middle of a song from my current playlist only, there was no music playing in the room. It had been part of my dream and stayed with me as I opened my eyes.

I was a bit confused at first but I also quite enjoy the song so, it was a positive wake up in spite of the crazy hour.

Here’s the song. I woke up in the chorus right at the words, “Say it’s over. Say I’m dreaming …” and it just kept playing. WILD!!

Brandi Carlile – BEFORE IT BREAKS:

It’s not my favourite of her songs but still good.

It seems like unless I exhaust myself with skiing and dog walking these days, I have vivid dreams, wake up mid way through an intellectual debate or wake early and am not tired anymore even though I’ve only gotten three or four hours.

It’s bizarre yet strangely entertaining so I’ve decided not to worry about it. It must just be some phase of life.

Rookie Skiercapade

The other day I went skiing on a new trail. It feels so good to use every muscle in my body, work hard and feel strong. I’m getting better, slowly, on hills and turns without having to throw on the brakes so my confidence is growing.

The funny, rookie moment happened about half way through the 8 kilometres. I was zipping along and could see up ahead that some marsh cattails had been knocked into by another skier or maybe the groomer going by on his snowmobile. The pods had dropped pollen onto the track turning it a pale yellow but I didn’t think about it beyond noticing it.

I can now tell you that it acts like super glue. I was kick-skiing up until that point and getting faster and faster having fun and then WHAM-O! the skis came to a complete stop but my body kept going forward. I stretched wayyyyyy out over the tips of my skis and then ricocheted back. Somehow I didn’t fall over. It was very surprising and gave me a good laugh. And that’s how rookies learn. It’s not something I’ll make the mistake of doing again!


The wolves have been busy hunting this week and successfully too. When I skied on the weekend I came across a pile of deer hair. No blood but there’d obviously been one heck of a battle. Then, near the end of the day I walked True along the lake and when I looked down to see if anyone was using the ice fishing shack, I saw a deer carcass about 20 feet away from it. I figure it was the same animal who lost all the hair because its location was not far from the point on the ski trail I had been on earlier. All I could make out was the splotch of blood, rib cage and a pile of ravens cleaning up the scraps.

The next day I was walking Charlie way the other direction along the lake and a wolf was on the trail ahead of us and wasn’t budging even as I spoke loudly and told it to get going. I ended up turning and hauling poor Charlie through what was chest deep snow for him about 100 mtres up to the road.

Of course, he’d lost one boot in the snow. I went back with Piper later and was exhausted and soaked in sweat by the time I found it again in the powdery, deep snow. Of course, I missed it twice and only found it on my third sweep a whopping 5 feet from the road. Ug! As a reward for hanging out with me while I looked, I took Piper to another trail in the park for her walk

The next morning another deer was found killed directly across the street from the hotel restaurant. Apparently its body was still warm and the wolves could be seen down on the lake ice until mid afternoon hanging out, likely hoping they’d be able to return to their feast. Poor pack! They did all that hard work and lost their meal but it couldn’t be left so close to a business and people walking about.

Paradise Citycapade

It’s been cold this week. MInus 30 celsius and wind chills. I had to make a quick trip to town for a work errand and the car I used hadn’t been started since I don’t know when and no one had plugged it in. It groaned to life and took forever to warm up but the radio was queued up and the volume turned up.

“Take me down to the paradise city where the grass is green and the girls are pretty, oh-ohhhh won’t you please take me downnnnnnnnnnn” was pumping out of the speakers.

I tried desperately to find the tuner button to switch over to CBC but the sun was so bright (of course it was it was -30C!) that I couldn’t see a thing on the console. In the end, I surrendered and cranked the volume until the car panels were rattling.

That song is sure to follow me throughout my life and remind me of the time my big brother picked me up in his souped up Chevette that growled like a Camaro (so he said) and then proceeded to cruise along Pembina Highway in Winnipeg. First thing he made me do was roll down my window, he did the same on his side, headbanger hair blowing in the wind (my buzz cut holding firm) and then he cranked up Paradise City. I seem to recall teen girls on the sidewalk that he was trying to impress but by that point I’d slunk as low down as possible in the passenger seat so no one would see my The Cure-loving sorry ass in a souped up Chevette with a headbanger, as much as I loved him.


I made butternut squash, creamy coconut and curry soup. I botched it and had to freeze it then try to save it mid week because it was far too watery. I conferred with my soup maestro who told me to add some sweet potato or cook off the excess broth. I decided to do both and now it’s awesome and perfect for an icy cold week of Wintercapades.

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Posted by on February 28, 2015 in PonderQs

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