Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cross-Canada tour

While I try to think of something more fascinating to write about than the antics of my cats, here are some photos from our cross-Canada drive (well, almost) in 2006. (In 2003 we did drove across Canada entirely, from Nova Scotia to British Columbia. In 2006 we only made it back as far as Quebec.) It's possible I have posted some of these before but I am too lazy to check.

The Trans-Canada Highway, through the Rocky Mountains in British Columbia.

A view from the highway in BC.

Alberta, but don't ask me which part!

Funky sign for the Ranchmen Motel, which I think was in Medicine Hat, Alberta. I hear it's a decent place to stay!

Round bales in the late afternoon in beautiful Saskatchewan (I am a huge fan of Saskatchewan.)

And a storm in the distance.

But with the storm, a rainbow!

Grain elevators and silos. Grain elevators are a dying breed in the prairie provinces.

...the gorgeous, gorgeous nothern shores of Lake Superior. I absolutely adore this part of Northern Ontario.

The oft-photographed giant Canada goose at Wawa, Ontario.

That's the end of the photos from the actual drive, but here are a few more provinces...

The iconic Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City.

Kejimikujik Seaside Adjunct in Nova Scotia. One of my absolute favourite spots in the province. Who knew the north Atlantic could look like the Caribbean?

And here's wee place on Conception Bay, in Newfoundland. Hubby went there but can't recall the name of the village.

Okay, so I left out pics of Manitoba, New Brunswick, PEI, and the north. But you get the idea.

And apropos to nothing, our last winter in Nova Scotia was very snowy. Here is my friend's Australian Cattle Dog making her way down the path cut into our driveway:

And the mound of snow next to the Mazda was our old station wagon:

I have snow on my mind because there's a winter storm watch on right now.

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I suppose sunrise and sunset photos can get a bit hackneyed, but I like them anyway! Right now I am illustrating a sunrise scene, so when I saw the sky this morning, I went outside in my pajamas to take a few reference photos. It started snowing Monday, with more yesterday, more coming today, and more coming Friday. But since it's late November now and not OCTOBER, I am fine with that. (Although I will be MORE fine with that after we get the snowtires on our cars on Friday!)

Sun rising over the granary.

Tristan trotting off into the sunrise.

Ta daaaaa!

Oh yes. It's white. It's snow.

Tristan is looking back at me because he wants me to get my butt inside and feed him breakfast. Never mind that I hadn't even had my cuppa tea yet...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Feline love seat

I promise that when I have finished my current illustration project, I will post about more than my cats and dogs!!

In the meantime, cuteness...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

My desk is infected with felines!

And my office is infected with pets. It's a tough life.

What Julius really wants is to get into the cat bed the kitten has taken over. She rules the house. I believe I've mentioned that. And I still haven't redecorated my office, so I still have the library book wallpaper border that drives me bonkers (short trip, I know.)

Spot the kitten!

And for a change, everyone is on the right bed. But this photo makes Sophie's butt look big, and it's not.

Can you spot the kitten in this shot? (The drawing is my second-lsat illustration for the kids' book I have been working on for an eternity. My friend Roger has graciously given me many of his own photos of the Sonoran desert to use as reference, hence the cacti on the computer screen.) Bonus points if you can guess what's in the old Dijon mustard crock to the right of drawing!

And as you can see...

Naomi is tense. Very tense. She really needs to learn to relax.

Gotcha Day

November 21st was Sophie and Tristan's GOTCHA DAY, i.e., the anniversary of the day we got them. They have now been with us for a whole year! It's hard to believe, as it seems like just yesterday that they arrived. Although there was a nasty windchill yesterday, I took them for their usual walk.

Sophie looks off into the distance at Tristan.

Tristan obediently sits for a photo.

Can you spot him running towards me?

The dogs kept whipping up the snow buntings. I love seeing these birds swooping over the fields. They fly in tight formation and it's very neat to watch. I hope to get better photos of them sometime soon. (Yesterday it was so cold I thought I was going to give my un-mittened hand frostbite, so I cut the photo session short.)

The dogs heading home. Maybe they were as cold as I was!

Late fall in the farm. We're supposed to get some snow on Monday.

Of course, the best part of yesterday was searching for the HOLY GRAIL:

"Where is it? I can smell it! Where is it?!"

Not to worry. They found and inhaled much WILD TURKEY POOP:

Drives me crazy! They act like it's hot buttered popcorn and I have to drag them away from it, but it's everywhere. We ran across over 50 wild turkeys in the field on our walk just the other day.

I'll be mentioning their exotic dietary habit to the vet next month when they dogs get their annual exams.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"Are you getting my good side?"

"Well? Are you? Oh wait, all my sides are good sides!"

And yet again...

...Tristan is booted off the dog bed. That small pillow is supposed to be for the kitten.

A couple of other things. It's amazing how many hits you get if you search "butt crack" on my blog. How embarrassing. And don't ask me why I know this.


Second, I'm on a roll with photos! A photo I took of Sophie has been published in The Ultimate Dog Lover, a very nice book if I do say so myself (and I got paid for the photo!) In this month's Birds & Blooms magazine, they have published my photo of, and little blurb about, some wild turkeys in our yard back in Quebec. And in the latest Birds & Blooms Extra, they published my photo and story about a barred owl that ate our goldfish in BC!

But mostly, I want more comments on my Yoda/Gollum cat post...

Monday, November 17, 2008


Julius (who is NOT overweight, believe it or not. He just went to the vet, and yes, it's all fur! Alex is another story) is tolerating Naomi very nicely. I emphasize "tolerate"; this is not the love affair that exists between Captain Tripod and his young tortoiseshell lass!

Here, Yoda-cat explains the ways of the birdfeeder to Naomi:

"Cat you are. Tasty, the birds in the feeder are. Yessssss. Terrible and nasty, the cat-parents are. Yesssssss. They will let you out to murder and maim not. Feed you kibble and canned food, will they. Herh herh herh. It tastes not like bird or mouse. Yeesssssss."

"If lucky you are, find a mouse in the basement you will. Yesss! If lucky you are, come spring forget to put the screen back in the window, they will. Hmmmmm. Fly in, birds will. Herh herh herh. Catch them and snap their necks, you can. Tasty little suckers, they are. Yessss!"

After the lesson, all three cats indulged in a play session involving a grocery bag. Sorry about the laundry rack; it should have been in the closet! And time to throw in a little Lord of the Rings:

"Small cat in the bag, there is. Die it must. Annoying, it is. Herh herh herh. Yessss." says Yoda-cat.

"Stupid fat yoda-cat! We loves the small cat! We wants it! The Precioussss!" says Gollum-cat."Filthy Yoda-catses! They try to take the Precious away from Gollum cat and tries to hurts her! Yoda-cat is likes the bad, BAD Sméagol!

"We wants our Preciousss! Yoda-catses treats me nasty and mean, yessss! Precioussss! Preciousssss! Sméagol... NO... We! WE WANTS OUR PRECIOUSSSSSSS! We kills tricksy Yoda-cat withs our laser-beam eyes! We rescues the Preciousssss!" cries Gollum-cat.

"Shut up, you must. Freak, you are. Yes, hmmmm. Smack some sense into Precious, will I. Herh herh herh!" replies the ever-serene Yoda-cat, as he raises his Yoda-paw to strike.

Some days I seriously worry about myself.


I cheated on this. Thanks to the Yoda-speak Generator!
Gollum actor: I got my voice from a cat!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Cookies to die for (okay, perhaps not LITERALLY!)

(No photo, cuz they were eaten too quickly!)

A very nice university student made us a batch of these last Saturday (thank you Abby!), and they lasted until Tuesday, and even that required a lot of restraint. They may be my favourite cookies ever, but I am partial to Hershey's kisses to begin with. Our friend adds more flour than indicated, as they are quite crumbly.

How can anything with chocolate, pecans and a cup of butter NOT be heavenly?

Secret Kiss Cookies

Cookie dough is wrapped around chocolate candy kisses to make these kiss cookies. Scroll down to see more cookie recipes.


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1 bag chocolate kiss candies, unwrapped (7 ounces)
  • powdered sugar


Cream together butter, granulated sugar, and vanilla. Blend in flour and chopped pecans. Wrap one tablespoon of dough around each chocolate candy kiss. Bake at 350° for about 15 minutes, or until dough is set but not browned. Roll each cookie in powdered sugar while still warm.
Makes about 2 to 3 dozen cookies.

No, really, they love each other!

Alex and Naomi love each other...

No, really, they do!


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The cycle of violence

On a less cute note than kittens and such, I got some sad news yesterday. Gordon and I have volunteered twice as a "Big Couple" for the Big Brothers, Big Sisters organization. We had a little brother back east, and another in BC. Both boys were great people, very different from each other, but good kids who enhanced our lives. One of the saddest things for me about leaving Nova Scotia was leaving our little brother (I'll call him "LB" rather than divulge his name.) While we have kept in touch with our little brother from British Columbia, our other little brother, "LB", lost touch with us in the past couple of years, despite our efforts to keep up the communication. (I think part of that was just him becoming a teenager and turning more towards his friends and so on.) Still, I made a point of giving him all our new address info, should he ever decide to reach out (which we would welcome.) We've left that up to him.

Anyway, when we left NS, "LB" was 11 and very into skateboarding. Before we left, we bought him a new skateboard and gear, and encouraged him to pursue his passion. We were hopeful that if he had one thing he truly loved, maybe it would save him from getting into trouble. He lives in a bad, bad neighbourhood with a lot of negative influences. His father has essentially abandoned him, and his mother, while doing her best, has some serious issues of her own.

Afer our move, we did keep in touch for a while, and even flew him out to BC for a week's visit, which we very much enjoyed. We took him to a few Vancouver skateboard shops while he was out with us, and had a pro skater dude talk to him. It was nice to see LB being a kid and enjoying himself.

But by the time LB turned 14 (the last time we spoke with him and his Mom), he had turned to drugs and was running around with a bad crowd and getting in trouble with the police. His Mom was throwing up her hands in despair, not knowing how to control him. We feared for LB and his future, but fervently hoped this was a phase he would pass through relatively unscathed. Underneath it all, LB's a very intelligent, funny kid, who is kind and gentle with younger kids and animals. We had a lot of fun together, and he used to call Gordon "Geezer" as an affectionate nickname. He is one of those kids whose life could have been so different, had he only had a safe place to grow up in, and a stable home environment. (But I haven't given up on him yet!) He has so much untapped potential.

But LB also has a lot of anger towards the world (not that I can blame him, given what he has been through.) He has a strong and dangerous desire to "belong." Despite the fact that he has what it takes to be a leader and an individualwho inspires others, he has instead become a follower who is desperate to be cool and fit in. And in some part, I think he has to do this to survive, given were he lives.

Still, the worst I expected was that he might end up with a criminal record if he didn't sort himself out before turning 17 (the age at which you are no longer a young offender in Canada, and are then treated as an adult in the courts.) What I didn't expect was what I found out yesterday: LB, who is now 16, was shot twice a few months back, late at night on a sports field. He came within a hair's breadth of bleeding to death out there in the dark. I wonder if, as a teenage boy who thinks himself invincible, he can even now appreciate how close he came dying?

Miraculously he survived, but likely only because of two quick-thinking policemen who knew what to do when they found him with a severed femoral artery (and another gunshot wound in the back.) One officer had recently returned from reservist duty in Afghanistan and knew how to treat an injury like that. These two officers have received awards for saving LB's life.

I am still piecing together details and have not yet spoken with LB or his Mom, but from the sounds of it, it seems like gangs are involved and likely drugs. LB was shot from behind and was apparenty unarmed.

He recently appeared in court because of youth charges related to another matter, and at that time was walking with a cane. I'm just glad he's walking; he could so easily have been paralyzed, not to mention killed.

So spare a thought for LB, if you will. Gordon and I hope that this whole incident will shake some sense into him, but who knows? While I'm sure a lot of people have written him off, (he is, after all, "known to police") when I think of LB, I think of his kind heart, his sense of humour, his gentle affection, and his quiet courage, which has helped him survive a thus-far very difficult childhood.

I remember him walking our dogs, playing with our cats, and his sadness when our old dog Chelsea died. I remember the fun he had tobogganing with us in winter, flying down the length of our sloped property right onto the beach below. I remember the little presents he gave us, the drawings he did for us, him making pancakes with Gordon,the three of us playing hide and seek. I remember his substitute teacher, who coincidentally was a friend of ours, telling us of how LB (who never really told us how he felt about us) would write glowingly about us for his school assignments. I remember the smile on his face when we took him to the skateboard park near our home in BC. All these little things give him hope that we had a positive effect on his life, and that it's not too late for him to turn things around. Right now, I'm just grateful he's alive. Later, I think I'll write him another letter and tell him what he means to us.

One kitten rules us all...

Birdwatching this morning.

Okay, it is clear now who is charge of the household: MISTRESS NAOMI!

Last night, Gordon and I were eating dinner in front of the boob tube after bringing Alex and Julius back from the vet (annual check-ups; all is well!) All of a sudden, Gordon squealed (in a manly way, of course) as Naomi scampered across the floor with the piece of chicken he had been about to put in his mouth. Futhermore, the FORK was still in the chicken Naomi was carrying! She just high-tailed it with chicken and fork, landed on the empty dog bed and tore into the meat, leaving a sauce stain on the bed cover (which I have since washed. Thanks for that extra chore, NAOMI!) Ubelievable. She's got nerve, as is further evidenced by the following photos taken this morning:

"Tra la la, look at me! Sandwiched between two huge dogs! The blonde one likes to growl at me, but I don't pay much attention. I guess that's why Mummy is always whisking me away from the big dumb dogs."

"Oh, a sleeping dog. I think I heard some proverb about letting sleeping dogs lie, but because I like to live on the edge, I will instead start gnawing on the sleeping dog's paw!" (Whereupon I removed her from Tristan's bed, before his patience ran out and he removed Naomi's head.)

To which Sophie says, "Please, please, put it back outside where you FOUND IT!!!"

And on a non-pet note, a drawing my friend's daughter left on my chalkboard:

I love kids's art. It's a caterpillar crawling up a flower.

All hail Naomi, Queen of the Universe!!!