Thursday, March 28, 2013

to the beach!

late afternoon stroll

the beach!!!

a man and his dog


My camera is feeling a bit neglected these days. When I picked it up to take these photos, I realized it had been 12 days since I'd last clicked its shutter. That's depressing. But I guess that's what happens when a four-legged companion now trots along beside on all my walks. A smart-but-still-learning pup who needs a bit of leash attention, especially as he's bit anxious in the presence of other dogs (understandable given his history). You can pretty much guarantee that if I stop to take a photo an off-leash dog will come racing up out of nowhere, often with an inattentive owner far behind. Quick shots with my phone have been all I can muster lately.

So it was nice to get out with both my boys the other evening, an opportunity for me to tag along with camera in hand while they explored the shore. Ty's first real trip to the beach with us, in fact, and he loved it. There were a few stretches of sand where he could race back and forth, and eagerly eye the hundreds of seagulls still feasting on herring eggs out in the strait. The weather has been beautiful for the most part this past week, and the coming long weekend looks promising indeed. Here's wishing you a fantastic weekend, and here's hoping I get out with my camera a little.


With flowers blooming all over town and temperatures creeping up, there's no denying it any longer - welcome spring! I'm doing a little clearout over in the shop - pop over for 25% off with the code SPRINGCLEAN.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

barbados: fauna

don't look up

Barbados Bullfinch

toad stacks

green heron

carib grackle



ghost crab

Barbados anole

Besides the amazing sea turtles, there were a lot of other animals in Barbados to admire. All kinds of birds, amphibians and more, just a few of which I've tried to capture here. Such an interesting variety of creatures quite different than my own west coast beasts. Although I had desperately hoped to spot a monkey or two, all these guys kept me well entertained. As always, please click on the images to see more info about each one in flickr.


The wind howled all night and the rain came down, down, down. Ty stared at me in disbelief this morning when I led him out just after 6 for a walk on dark, wet streets with the trees swaying around us. We only did the small loop though, just to clear him out and hopefully hold him till this afternoon. Poor boy, but tomorrow there'll be someone to play (or sleep!) with him all day.

Whether you're weathering a storm or seeing the evidence of bright spring days, here's a few links to check out today:
>>> I have a sad little shamrock hanging on in my kitchen window, but I'm thinking I should upgrade its living quarters.
>>> Is it sad I kind of wish one of my denim shirts would spring a hole so I could mend it as beautifully as this?
>>> These buttermilk berry muffins sound delicious, and I even have buttermilk on hand from making soda bread for St. Patty's. Definitely will be made this weekend.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

oh the noise, noise, noise!*


i feel pretty


wanna be startin' something

*Excuse my random Grinch reference, especially at this time of year, but it was appropriate considering the racket these big beasts can create. Just like last year, the beginning of March coincides with the spring herring run in the Strait. Countless fish appear in our waters to spawn, and their eggs cling to every bit of seaweed that washes ashore. And with all that herring and eggs comes a variety of other creatures big and small flocking to the east side of Vancouver Island to gorge on the calorie boon. While there are numerous places along the shore to spot the sea lions that come in to feed (including hearing them from my house), one of the best spots to see them haul out is down in Fanny Bay. And just like last year, I headed down to visit the big party.

On this sunny weekend day, I wasn't the only one - a steady of people came and went down the dock to stand on the float at the end and wonder at the raucous colony arguing over space on the pontoon floating just off shore. A constant chorus of "aaarr! aaarr! aaarr!" fills the air, so without even looking I know that most of these burly beast are California sea lions; a glance confirms this by noting the large sagittal crest on the foreheads of the big males. There are a few lighter, larger Stellers in the group, but they seem in the minority, at least for today. While eyes are instantly drawn to the sea lions hauled out on the pontoons and the edge of an aging Seaspan barge, there are plenty of swimmers in the water. Poking their heads out from under the barge stern. Swimming along the float edge in search of a space of their own to haul out. And a raft of creatures a little farther out, bobbing together as they nap with a flipper thrust toward the sky to soak up some sun and regulate their body temp. Even if I don't stay for long, it is always worth it to come spend a little time with these giant furry beasts.

But my own furry beast is waiting, albeit much smaller and less noisy. Thank you for all your kind comments about our new family member. He is fitting in quite well, despite the stress of adjusting to a new home, owners, and immediate neighbourhood (no big beach walks or new doggie friends just yet), all while finishing off a course of antibiotics and painkillers in his first few days with us. And as mentioned on fb last night, it seems I can be crafty even with a snoring pup's head resting in my lap!

Hope you're having a good week!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

my boy...

Morning walk with Ty

I'm terribly behind with posting. I still have lots of photos from our trip I'd like to share. There's been a fair bit of exploring around here too. And - whoa - even a little crafting here and there. But in the last couple days somebody new has entered our lives and is snuggling his way to a fair bit of my attention.

Meet Ty.

AK and I have wanted a dog for a long time. For years we have lived in places where that wasn't possible, but last fall when we moved into this house that was part of the appeal - we could finally have a pup of our own. We weren't in a rush though, wanting to find the right fit for us. And last week things came together and that fit is Ty.

He's a rescue dog that had a bit of a rough start in life - if you look closely at the photo you can probably see he's still bearing some physical evidence of his trials. They will all heal in time.  He's now about 1.5 - two years old, and doesn't have as much training as one might hope for that age. But, he's a fast learner, and already a near-star at many tasks. He's generally pretty mellow, and did I mention he's all about the snuggles? We just got back from our morning walk and he's currently tucked up against me, fast asleep. I'm still learning how to balance life with him in it (not to mention a camera in one hand and leash in the other), but we'll figure it out. Tomorrow is the first big trial, with both us humans going to work all day, although I plan to come home at lunch. Once he gets settled though, and figures out this is his forever home, I think we're going to make a real good team. As long as we can agree that wildlife are for watching, not chasing... ;)

Monday, March 04, 2013

between the downpours...

stand out from the crowd


odd man out?

sunshine of the sea


whelk love


Each time I passed the the kitchen window in my wanders through the house, what I already knew was confirmed by a quick glance at the puddle where the driveway meets the street: it was raining. Not just a few drops here and there, but a steady drumbeat keeping the muddy pool topped up. From the couch I can see it coming down like a sheet. Argh.

And then suddenly, after the rain seems at its heaviest, there is a lull. I go to the window to make sure, and the driveway puddle is curiously still. I wait, poking my head out the door and pacing back and forth. It seems to be holding, at least for the next few minutes, and I decide to take my chances. Layered up with a gore-tex topper and my trusty bean boots, I grab my camera bag and head straight for the beach. This pause in the rain has coincided nicely with the low tide, and the shore stretches out before me under a grey sky. The driftwood over small rocks at the high tide line moves into larger boulders covered in barnacles and slime, and finally sand spreads out just at the waterline. I amble between the rocky pools and sand, looking for critters and things left behind. Every once in awhile I pause to scan the horizon and the hillside, noting a few eagles perched high in the trees and the sheets of rain still moving out across the water. A sprinkling of drops finds me every now and again, but a real downpour holds off, for the moment.

I have spotted a starfish or two clutching a rock, waiting for the water to return, but then suddenly I'm out on a larger expanse of sand and they're everywhere. Piled together in large clumps, the ochre stars have decided space is overrated and are waiting out the low tide with a crowd of friends. The whelks are everywhere too, and seem to be embracing spring already, having laid little eggs that now cling to rocks and abandoned clam shells. Occasionally there is a bright orange whelk, a sunspot shining bright in this grey day, grey landscape. I look but so far there are no signs of herring eggs washing ashore, clinging to every bit of seaweed. No signs of sea lions feasting on the eggs and herring off shore either. Soon, perhaps within a few a days. The fishing great blue heron will have none of me today, flying off when I am still far away.

When I can deny the call of 'real life' no longer, I amble back to the truck along the high tide line. On my way home I stop to pick the first batch of stinging nettles for the season. As I make my way down the dirt path I wryly watch a young couple, the woman's belly swelling, head out to the beach with a photographer for a maternity shoot, just a little needles of hail start coming down. I tuck my head down and pick a dinner's worth of the tender but prickly shoots, then get back to the truck before I'm fully soaked. The grey days are still here, but if you look closely around the edges, in the tiny greens that are poking up through the muddy earth, spring is on its way. But it takes a lot of rain to get there.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

long time coming...

long time coming

long time coming

I started these socks for AK last April, and they've been abandoned many times in favour of the lure of new and shiny (okay, rarely shiny - which is too bad, come to think of it) projects. But finally this past week I managed to finish them up. Squishy cables in buttery soft Malabrigo, I hope they will keep his toes warm as we finish off the winter - and for many winters to come! I do love a handknit sock, but I must admit all those tiny stitches can be spirit-killing sometimes. Thankfully, the end result is usually worth it. Are you knitting anything these days?


The rain was heavy today, but it finally let up just enough this afternoon to head out for a walk, in good timing with the low tide. I wandered the sand and rocks, watched spouts of seawater shoot high when i stepped beside clam holes, marvelled at massive clusters of ochre stars, and stalked a great blue heron. on my way home I stopped for my first stinging nettle harvest of the year, just as hail set in. A fresh bagful of spring greens accompanied me home, and I'm thinking a quiche is in order. Please come back tomorrow for some photos.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend.