Tales from Otter Lake IV

Herewith be Part I,   Part II,   Part III

These tales are sad. It was a sadness that was part of the truth the forest around us. So much is written about the beauty and grandeur of the woods, but there’s so little that reflects the great losses the trees suffer, which I suppose is why these stories came to me.


Her name was Kerpy and she started life many long years ago as a tiny threadling, a mere wisp of lichen, attached to the topmost twig of the tallest pine tree in the little glade. Of course, back then her tree wasn’t the tallest. As it grew, so did she. When her tree reached it’s prime and really was the tallest in the glade, she was as plump and green as a lichen could get.

Many seasons passed and she and her tree shared many stories and laughed with the chittering squirrels that came up every summer to harvest the pine cones.

One fine blustery day, the wind brought news of a plague coming across the mountains and up the valleys from the south. Her tree prepared as best it could, and Kerpy sent as much energy and thoughts as she could spare through her branch to help in the fight.

Perhaps her efforts helped, because it seemed like the plague passed through the valley, leaving the glade, and her tree, untouched. Then one day she noticed one of the low branches, so long that it almost brushed the ground, had lost its needles. They were scattered across the forest floor, all dry and empty of life.

She twisted around and saw that other branches low down were looking ill as well.

She sent her thoughts to the tree and asked what was happening. The tree sadly swayed in the breeze, and in her heart, she knew.

At first she ranted and raged at the tree, telling it to fight, to push the invaders from its body, to stem the flow of its lifeblood from the wounds the beetles left behind. It was battling the invader the best it knew how, so she hung from her branch and sent more energy, but one day, a bright summers day, she felt her tree succumb.

Her grief tore at her, but what could she do? She was only one piece of lichen at the top of a dying tree.

Winter came and Kerpy closed her mind and her senses. Perhaps the cold would kill the invader.

Winter passed and the next summer too, a cool one, and she wondered if her tree might be one of the lucky few to survive.

The plague was halfway up the trunk when that first branch to lose its needles, the lowest one, cracked and fell away.


Lichens live for a very long time, and Kerpy knew she’d survive a fall from her tree and then spread her threadings across the ground until they reached another tree, but it didn’t seem right somehow, to leave her friend. So she stayed with her tree as the plague beetles rose up, up its trunk, sucking the life out of it.

Kerpy and her tree had long conversations that lasted for months at a time. They told each other stories of old things, and green growing things, and rocks and rain, and snow. Her tree was glad of the company, but there came a time when it withdrew, and faded away.

She was alone.

Death crept along the topmost branch, her branch, but it wasn’t going to get her, not yet.

She wafted back and forth in the breeze, loosening her anchor to the branch.

A beetle crept closer, its nasty clacking mandibles snipping at the dead bark seeking a soft spot to burrow in and lay its eggs.

Kerpy broke free and floated down to the branch below her. It too was dead, but she hung there, pirouetting in the wind, Celebrating the long, long life of her tree.

From branch to branch she went, around and around, closer to the ground with each branch, remembering every moment of her life, of her tree’s life.

She danced and she laughed, and put every bit of her spirit into her stories. The wind blew her about and carried her stories away to the other trees and animals and plants of the forest.

It took her many long weeks to finally reach the lowest branch on the tree. She was tired and withered, but she was satisfied.

It was time to fall.

The wind gently shook her free, for she was fragile and dried out. It dropped her to the forest floor among the rustling needles that had fallen from her tree. She snuggled down into them and sent out tiny tendrils of her essence into the soft cool earth.

The last thing she felt as she surrendered her Self to the Cycle of Life was a giant crash that shook the whole glade.

Her tree had fallen.

Kerpy's last branch

Kerpy’s last branch

October is ‘Powered By Indie’ at Amazon

Thanks to The Passive Voice, which is an indie writer site very well worth checking out, I discovered that Amazon is showcasing a whole bunch of indie books in all sorts of categories for the month of October.

Go here to check it out … Powered by Indie

So, I checked it out and decided to do a little digging. I opened up the Romance category, which is a genre I only have a vague familiarity with, but much to my surprise, the majority of the cover art features beefcake, all by himself. (scroll down past the ‘featured’ sections to the actual listings and you’ll see what I mean)

Well, colour me gobsmacked, I thought to myself. One would think there’d be a female form divine somewhere in the picture, but no.

I then checked out the standard Romance category and it appears there’s a whole bunch of covers with NO bodies, beefcake-y or otherwise on the covers, and loads more with just a woman (I assume the female half of the ‘romance’) with her back to the fourth wall, or at best looking coyly over her shoulder at us. Odd, I thought to myself.

Have any Romance readers noticed this as well?

P.S. I could only find it at Amazon (dot) com

Inquiring Minds wish to know

Inquiring Minds wish to know

Free SF/F eBooks Today and Tomorrow (1st and 2nd Oct) Only

Go HERE, now!

… or Badass, the Maine Coon will get you

It's mah name. You gotta problem with that?

It’s mah name. You gotta problem with that?

Pic by Robert Sijka … go check out s’more … resistance is futile … there are kittens …

Once In My Lifetime

Today I am fifty-eight years old! The only time in my lifetime I’ll be the same age as my birth year, 1958. (well, not the one thousand, nine hundred, bit) Which I think is a remarkably wonderful and curious thing.

In lieu of cake, which I can't eat until at least Monday

In lieu of cake, which I can’t eat until at least Monday

Yesterday I underwent the next step in my tooth implant adventure which I posted about in May with the ‘oh-so-very-understated-title of ‘I had a hole drilled in my skull the other day’.  This time it was only a small, relatively speaking, procedure, to screw in the pin that will secure the thingy that the new tooth will be built around. But still there was the local anesthetic, and the blood, and the stitching, and the sore jaw to endure. All of which means that today I’m celebrating my birth day with analgesics and a hot water bottle plastered to the side of my face.

Mrs Widds, who is doing her bi-monthly retreat, (full, and dark, of the Moon) left a beautiful hand made card on my desk for me to find this morning.

As Fifty-Eighth Birth Days go, this one’s not too bad.

What my teefs will look like ... heh, heh, heh

What my teefs will look like … heh, heh, heh

Tales from Otter Lake III

Here are the first and second tales.

There were days when the temperature topped 33 degrees, even underneath the mottled shade of the towering pines around our campsite.

We indulged in siestas or fell into a sloth-like torpor and moved as little as possible. Once the sun set (and the skeeters came out to play – I swear there’s a skeeter waiting for me on Mars!) below the high ridge, there were still several hours of light in which to frolic and gambol. Or at least go for long leisurely walks along the tree shaded trails.

I walked between the old, old, trees and entered a world that’s only nebulously connected to this physical reality. (that sensation of being someplace ‘else’ when you’re walking quietly through a forest)

I delved down below the forest floor carpeted with generations of pine needles, old cones, and sloughed bark. Down to the caverns beneath the world where the roots of the trees tap into the Spirit of the Land. Where they intertwine and tell each other their stories.

Their conversations were sad, but tinged with the wisdom of the bones of the earth.

The beetles were killing them, they said, slow and sure. Some were wild with fear and spent all their energy whipping their branches about in dismay and had nothing left to confront the enemy with.

Some slept so deep they barely had time to get their sap flowing before their doom rose up through trunk and branch and needle.

“But what will you do?” I cried, my heart breaking as I witnessed their stories, one after another, after another. “The damage is so great, and there is so little time.”

A venerable grande dame ‘tsk’ed’ at me for my haste. “We,” she said, gesturing through the caverns to where the deep roots withered away. “Cannot win this battle. Here in our valley we strive to hold back the tide so that others, elsewhere, will survive. It is an acceptable end to our story.”


Dendroctonus Ponderosae. aka The Mountain Pine Beetle

Dendroctonus Ponderosae. aka The Mountain Pine Beetle

The pine beetle is one of many species able to exploit this new world around us.

Forests are being replanted with a variety of species the ill-thought out forestry practices of the past neglected in favor of the quick-growing soft-wood pine trees.

But hectares of blighted trees rend the heart, non-the-less.


The Saga is Done

I am now officially an ‘unpublished author’!

I posted a while back about renegotiating a new contract with the company that took over from Mortal Instinct’s original publisher, here, and here.

The contract was about as good as I could make it, so I sent it off to the publisher and waited for feedback … or an email saying they got it … or something …

I was busy with the re-write (Author Preferred Edition) so I didn’t pay too much attention to the fact that nothing was happening.

Six months later … You know how sometimes you just ‘know’ something? The other day I just ‘knew, this window the Universe had been holding open for me, had closed. I wasn’t going to wait any more, so I contacted them and said, ‘thanks, but no thanks’.

Emails were exchanged dotting the ‘T’s’ and crossing the ‘I’s’, and as soon as I have confirmation my book has been pulled from the distributors, I’ll be a free agent.

Unless I get an offer of a gazillion dollar contract I won’t be going with a traditional publisher again. It might be the bee’s knees for some people, but not for me.

So, what’s next? … edit the re-write, edit, and edit, etc, get some decent cover art, and then publish.

… and the serialised story I started here on my blog, ‘Identical’ is waiting in the winds, as is my ‘Lesbians in Spaaaace’ series … there’s also …

I’m going to go into my bedroom now and have a quiet little FREAK OUT!!!, and then get back to writing.

Tales from Otter Lake II

I firmly believe that any sort of camping, be it with a tarp and a blanket, a tent and a backpack, or an RV, you need at least three days on either end of the actual ‘holiday’ time.

It takes three days at the beginning:

To arrive and get set up.

Resolve the inevitable equipment failures.

Do some creative engineering to replace the (also inevitable) things left behind. I’m a firm believer in wire coat-hangers, duct tape, and pegs – if you can’t make do with those three items then whatever it is you’re trying to duplicate isn’t worth the effort, or you need to head into the nearest town and buy a new one.

And finally sit quietly (or exhausted) in front of the fire and breathe for at least an hour.

The three days at the end are for:

‘One last visits’ to the things/places you didn’t get to see/do.

Finding a way to get everything you bought with you back into the same receptacles you packed them in. Including mysterious items that magically appear out of nowhere, as well as the items you so valiantly tried to duplicate with your pegs and tape and wire.

And wind yourself up for the journey home and re-entering your life. Which at this point you’re either desperate to get back to, or wondering how far up into the mountains you can get before you run out of logging roads.

And then there are the stories.

I’m a night owl, (it’s when I do most of my best writing) but the nature of camping, at least for me is that I can’t sleep much past sunrise, or even earlier.

Otter Lake valley runs North/South, and is very narrow and deep, so it takes a while for the sun to appear over the mizzen-mast, let alone the yard-arm.

We were up early one morning waiting for the fire to mature enough to cook breakfast, sipping our tea, and watching the world around us come awake.

The forest is a mix of the usual suspects and lodge pole pines that have died or are dying from the pine-beetle infestation that has devastated swathes of woodlands, and millions of trees, both sides of the border.

A crow had taken up residence at the very tip of one such skeleton, and sat there, occasionally preening, cawing to others of its kind deeper into the forest, but mostly it seemed to be waiting for something.

Once the sun peeped over the high bluff above us, the crow flew away … and I wondered …

Crow has come to make Sure the Sun rises over the Mountains to the East For Sun is Capricious today And may decide to rise elsewhere Or not rise at all

Crow has come to make
Sure the Sun rises over the
Mountains to the East
For Sun is Capricious today
And may decide to rise elsewhere
Or not rise at all


Many thanks to the wonderful  Susieee Mac and her artwork ,for inspiring me to take my coloured pencils with me and play with them again, after far too long away.