Soup Stock, and Coco

We always recycle, reuse, repurpose everything that we can here on Widder Island. We also create lovely piles of compost from our garden and kitchen waste. Everything organic, except meat, goes into the compost bins, and is covered in a layer of leaves, grass clippings, that sort of thing, then left to its own devices. We don’t turn it or add anything special. We rotate through three bins and when one is full we empty it on a compost pile to age some more, then it goes onto the gardens … to grow things that contribute their little bit to the on-going cycle.

Recently I started recycling our veggie scraps …

Anything that isn’t actually moldy or rotten

Anything that isn’t actually moldy or rotten

… and freeze them until we got a full bag …

Large-size freezer bag

Large-size freezer bag

… and then boil ‘em up for a few hours …

Bubble, bubble, veggie trouble

Bubble, bubble, veggie trouble

… I usually reduce 4 liters of liquid down to one liter of concentrated stock, then once it’s cool …

Ice-cube sized, for your cooking convenience

Ice-cube sized, for your cooking convenience

-oOo-

And now, about Coco, the Community Cat  …

Don’t worry she’s still alive

Don’t worry she’s still alive

Her person is a little old lady who has found she can’t keep up with the maintenance of her house and has moved into an apartment in town, taking Coco with her.

We miss her terribly

We miss her terribly

We do know, however, that when the time is right another cat will present herself to us, and we’ll be staff-persons again.

Coco, the Community Cat  … lived across the way with her primary staff-person, but acquired a collection of subsidiary residences along our end of our little road, whom she regularly visited for BBQ’s and cuddles and naps.

 

Mrs Widds has a new toy

It goes with this …

I am a Superheroine Helmet. I have built-in sunglasses, built-in headphones, dual-positional visor with hinged chin-guard, streamlined air vents ... and I might even do windows, if you ask nicely

I am a Superheroine Helmet. I have built-in sunglasses, built-in headphones, dual-positional visor with hinged chin-guard, streamlined air vents … and I might even do windows, if you ask nicely

I was planning on taking some pictures of her zooming up and down our road on her new toy, with her bright yellow helmet on, but alas, it is spring here in the Lower Mainland, and it is raining.

On second thought ... nope, don’t do windows

On second thought … nope, don’t do windows

Mrs Widds, like Coco the Community cat, does not go out in the rain.

Do not disturb ... unless it stops raining ... and I don’t do windows either, under any circumstances

Do not disturb … unless it stops raining … and I don’t do windows either, under any circumstances

24 Little Hours

What a difference a day makes.

After losing two major branches to the Ice-storm we decided our Winter Tree needed some TLC so we made a bit of a garden around her base with some logs from the tree across the way that had a severe prune, (also from the ice-storm) some newspaper to inhibit the grass and bucketloads of our nicely nutritious compost.

A garden of one’s own – a bit of snow still on the ground but Spring was looking like it was just around the corner

A garden of one’s own – a bit of snow still on the ground but Spring was looking like it was just around the corner

Then, this happened …

Nothing serious, just a little bit more snow, amirite?

Nothing serious, just a little bit more snow, amirite?

As it got dark, the snow began to get serious, and seriouser …

What manner of mysterious creature is playing underneath my branches?

What manner of mysterious creature is playing underneath my branches?

It was some rare and seldom photographed, (mostly because they’re invisible) SNOW DRAGONS …

Heh, heh, heh ... you can’t see us

Heh, heh, heh … you can’t see us

They frolicked and gamboled in the snow underneath the Winter Tree until Mama Racoon …. erm, I mean Mama SNOW DRAGON called them in for supper.

You still can’t see us! Hee, hee, hee

You still can’t see us! Hee, hee, hee

Off they hopped into the night …

Look! Mama left the porch light on for us

Look! Mama left the porch light on for us

… leaving the Winter Tree to chuckle to herself at the wonderful mess they made of her nice smooth snow skirts.

So much wonderful excitement! But now, I think I’ll go back to sleep and wait for Spring to REALLY arrive

So much wonderful excitement! But now, I think I’ll go back to sleep and wait for Spring to REALLY arrive

The next day the path-clearing crew started removing 40 centimeters of snow from the walkway.

Mrs Widds – full steam ahead!

Mrs Widds – full steam ahead!

Coco the Community Cat arrived disgruntled that the path had not been properly cleared before she, and her very long tummy fur, had to plow through it in order to get cuddles.

I’m not freaked out. It’s just wet, and cold, and lumpy. OK, I’m freaked out ... a little bit

I’m not freaked out. It’s just wet, and cold, and lumpy. OK, I’m freaked out … a little bit

Mirabeau leapt to the rescue with warm towels and soon Coco was relaxing in one of her most favourite places  …

Mirabeau: “I’ll leave you alone to recover, shall I?” Coco: “ Well, perhaps you could stay for a little while longer?”

Mirabeau: “I’ll leave you alone to recover, shall I?”
Coco: “ Well, perhaps you could stay for a little while longer?”

-oOo-

Coco the Community Cat’s Appreciation Party

When Coco’s main-person decided to visit her rellies (Aussie slang for ‘relatives’) in Australia and England for a month, she left Coco in the tender care of all her staff-persons along our end of the street.

Coco’s main-person returned a week ago, (the rellies having been thoroughly visited) and invited all the staff-persons over for wee bit of a ‘do’ on Saturday night as a way of saying thanks.

Music was danced to, nibbles were consumed, drinks were imbibed, (our esteemed hostess makes a mean blueberry martini) and holiday memorabilia shared around to be ‘ooh’ed and ahh’ed over.

A good time was had by all.

There are four main housholds involved, three of which, we discovered last night, Coco has managed to convince to feed her the choicest morsels from their tables, because, of course, she would waste away to a mere shadow of her former self it they didn’t. Perish of the starvations, even!

Mrs Widds and I, heeding Coco’s main-person’s request not to feed her, have valiantly refused to succumb to the blue-eyed bandit’s blandishments.

Which is why I felt a certain sort of moral superiority when listening to the horror stories from those who had fallen from grace:

“As soon as she hears me turn the BBQ on, she’s right there waiting for her share.” … and,  “we tap on our window to let her know we’re home.”

It appears that our specialty, cuddles and a quiet safe place to nap, is enough to keep our place on Coco’s daily dance card secure for a long time to come.

-oOo-

Mirabeau, our house mouse, who wears her heart on ... the outside, has formed an empathic bond with Coco, the Community Cat

Mirabeau, our house mouse, who wears her heart on … the outside, has formed an empathic bond with Coco, the Community Cat

-oOo-

“May I offer you a restorative cup of tea? I hear from the humans that it’s the best cure for ‘the day after’, whatever that means.”

“Erm …”  (burps delicately) “Par’n me … perhaps not at the moment.”

“Le sigh.”

Birds and Bums

These days the sun sets at around 5pm here on Widder Island, and after an intense day of writing, on novels and blog posts and assorted commentings around the interwebz, my brain was in sore need of fresh air.

The rain had temporarily stopped bucketing down so I bundled up and headed out for a brisk walk along the lane to the other side of Widder Lake, taking a brolly, just in case.

The end of the road is also a turn-around, so them’s wot are lost have the means to do an about-face without resorting to a 17-point turn. As I walked through the scraggly trees and leaf-denuded bushes between the road and the path nearer the water I could see a single car parked to one side of the turn-around. They seemed to be minding their own business so I minded mine and turned my attention to the assorted flocks of ducks, geese, and swans, swooping in from across the mountain and down onto the lake. (I assume these are late leaving for parts south or are really, really keen to head back north for the summer)

One flock, geese, I think, but the mist and the gloaming made it hard to see anything too clearly, caught my eye as they came over the ridge and started their descent … then with equal grace swirled around and rose back into the sky.

Around and around, they spiraled the length of the lake, widdershins-wise, dipping low, and then, almost without any effort at all, drifting back up again.

There were no predators around. The bald eagle clan who live on the other side of the lake were salmon fishing along the river a few kilometers away, and all the human farmers who considered the flocks ‘pests’ were snug inside their houses. This flock looked like they just wanted to soar for a while before settling down for the night.

As I watched them I wondered if they did it for the pure enjoyment of flight. Not in an anthropomorphized kind of a way, but within their own avian concepts of joy.

Eventually the rain started again. I popped my umbrella and began to wend my way home.

I did a quick scan of my surroundings, as one does when one is alone with the wild things, including a fleeting glance at the turn-around where, you might remember, a car, apparently minding its business had parked. Lo and behold, there, next to the car, shining through the darkening mist and rain I saw a perfectly naked peach-shaped bum.

I quickly redirected my fleeting glance back on the path in front of me and ambled home whilst ruminating on how the birds and the bum complimented each other in a delightfully irreverent, and dare I say, cheeky, way.

I suspect that whoever was in the car decided to take advantage of the dark and nip out for a bit of a pee. I hoped she didn’t see me. It’s nerve-wracking enough to risk one’s naked bum in the open, in the dark, to empty one’s bladder, but being observed doing so, is another matter entirely.

-oOo-

Coco the Community Cat dropped in this afternoon. She and Mirabeau oversaw my writerly endeavours with an appropriate amount of interest.

Mirabeau – “Do you think she suspects?”
Coco – “None of them suspect. Relax. All is at it should be.”

Summer is Done, and I am Done with Summer!

Oh my stars! It’s dusty in here!

Hi there … yeah I know, I haven’t been around for a while. Blame it on the Summer from Hades! … I am.

I am so thankful that today is the Autumn Equinox.

Seriously, this is what my year has been … 3 months of snow, 3 months of rain, 3 months of searing temperatures and no rain. Throw in assorted migraines, wildfire smoke, (which went away then came back, just to make sure we weren’t missing it) 9 months of continually battling with bronchitis, (not quite. I’m sure there were one or two days where I felt marginally OK) and I’m ready to see the back end of 2017!

I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to feel healthy.

2016 may’ve been the year of dead famous people, but 2017 is well on its way to be the Queen of WTF-uckery for this decade.

-o0o-

You ever notice the odd things you do when you’re under-the-weather?

Near the beginning of the year I treated myself to a box set of the Harry Potter books, and read them from cover to cover to cover, etc during my winter bout with the dastardly ‘chitis.

When the 30° temperatures and smoke turned up, ‘chitis used it as a perfect excuse to smack me around some more, and there I was, reaching for Harry Potter yet again, like comfort food.

I’m still in convalescent mode and I have good days, and not-so-good days where I give up trying and just stay in bed.

And here he is again, The Boy Who lived!

I’m on chapter 23 of The Half-Blood Prince, (book 6, of 7, for those who aren’t HP aficionados) so I suspect I’ll be my usual Widder-self in short order.

-o0o-

Another reason to celebrate the end of Summer is that Coco, the Community Cat has made a comeback. The very day the weather turned toward sanity, there she was a-knocking on the front door, announcing that it was cuddle season again.

Who are we to deny her cuddles?

(Coco the Community Cat is a lovely lass who lives across the way and visits (except in the heat of Summer) all the people in our lane who are bereft of feline company. She comes, she cuddles, (and sheds) and ambles off home when she’s all cuddled up 🙂 ) 

Communiqué from Coco, the Community Cat

I is being watching the snow go from this …

Snowing again

… to this

One last snow-shower

… to this …

That’s just sad

… Now, is mah job …

… to watch the rain fall

 

***

For the newcomers to my blog, (Welcome!) Coco the Community cat adopted us after Widdercat died a few year ago. Actually Coco wanted to adopt us the minute we moved in but Widdercat would have none of it. Two fluffy Grande Dames going at it hammer-and-tongs, fur a-flying, all hissy and spitty, is a sight to behold, but not to be repeated, so Coco was hugged and cuddled when we went for walks, but studiously ignored when we were at home.

After Widdercat , we decided our lives were too transient (and dealing with the home owners association politics as lowly renters too futile) to give another cat a forever home. (we intend to have gazillions of them when we next move to our forever home. It’s been Mrs Widds and my experience that our cat companions have always found us at the right time)

In the absence of fur-fights Coco decided that, as absurd as our decision was, she would respect it and invited herself into our lives for cuddles, pats, and ‘now let me out’ visits.

We’re not the only cat-orphans she’s adopted. The four houses at our end of the driveway are all blessed by her Most High Fluffyness.

So, my finest Winter, to date, (3 months of snow on the ground) is now done and we are back to our usual Spring, Autumn, and Winter, rainforest-y climate – rain.

Tales from Otter Lake I

You might’ve noticed I’ve been a bit ‘missing in action’ this summer.

Assorted crappy health-ish things, combined with a couple of major self-publishing and Spirituality training summits managed to keep me otherwise occupied.

And then … Mrs Widds and I had our (what has now become annual) camping trip in our RV. This year we decided to scale down things a tad. (After our 2015 peregrination across the entire country, anything less could be seen as ‘scaled down’ –  If you want to read of our adventures, scoot over there to the right and check out the ‘2015 Road Trip’ category)

A lake with a view

A lake with a view

Otter Lake is set in a beautiful valley in the North (Canadian) Cascades about 35 minutes north of Princeton, here in British Columbia. Up in the hills the land is quite arid, but once you drive down into the valley, via one of those backroads that’s also used by logging trucks, a whole different landscape emerges. (try driving one of those winding mountain logging roads with an 8 meter (25’) trailer behind, and meeting a fully loaded logging truck coming the other way … on the narrowest part of the goat track. Nerves of steel, that’s us!!!)

Lots of room on this part of the road

Lots of room on this part of the road

 

I was reversing the trailer into the site and Mrs Widds was directing, when another camp-ee said to Mrs Widds as they passed by, “It’s a true test of a marriage,” to which Mrs Widds firmly agreed. We didn’t get any more than a bit scritchy with each other, but it was late in the afternoon and we were both tired, so only to be expected.

We got our trailer into our site with a minimum of fuss however, bought firewood from our most magnificent campground hosts, Betty and Jim, boiled the kettle and watched the local residents, a pair of squirrels and their spouses, or offspring, gather pinecones for the coming winter.

Breakfast of champions

Breakfast of champions

 

One day I was walking back from the pit toilet (the cleanest, best smelling one, this side of the Rockies, thanks to Betty) when I spied Mrs Widds acting rather furtive behind the truck. She mouthed something to me and pointed over the hood.

Not getting any closer ...

Not getting any closer …

... Maybe a little bit closer

… Maybe a little bit closer

Betty and Jim had mentioned there was a brown bear who used the campground as its highway from its foraging grounds to the lake for its afternoon ablutions. I didn’t expect to see one this close. Bruin was busy stripping berries from the bushes on the side of the road, and occasionally glancing at us to make sure we stayed put, then it ambled through a few empty campsites and trundled down to the lake.

Even in the midst of the heat and the pine-beetle devastation life continued unabated.

Mother Nature never wastes a pattern

Mother Nature never wastes a pattern

Itty bitty wild strawberry – we think

Itty bitty wild strawberry – we think

Different species got along rather well

BFF's

BFF’s

 

We had some trouble with the trailer battery, so a big shout-out to Ernie in Tulameen for helping us out.

South along the lake with Tulameen in the distance

South along the lake with Tulameen in the distance

We’re getting the hang of this RV camping thing, but I doubt my cellphone camera is going to be up to the task for much longer.

Of course, when we got home who should turn up on our doorstep, get in our faces, demand cuddles, and then head to the nearest bed for a nap?

Coco, the Community Cat!

Coco, the Community Cat!

Moar New Toys

Late last year my hearing aids turned up their toes, wandered out to the back paddock and shot themselves … thereby rendering me one of those annoying people who are constantly saying, “Eh?” when in civilised company.

Deceased hearing aids in their casket – awaiting a proper burial

Deceased hearing aids in their casket – awaiting a proper burial

It was time to bring in the new guns. The good news is that my hearing loss has remained stable for the last five years, and the wonder that is the Technology Age will enable me to go from a clunky hand held control device to an app that acts like a recording studio sound desk.

I’ll be wired for sound, baby!!!

This is neither my skin tone or hair colour, but it kinda is my style :)

This is neither my skin tone or hair colour, but it kinda is my style 🙂

The catch is that I have to upgrade my phone to a brand and generation that would allow the app to function … iPhone 5, here I come.

***

And …

My desktop computer tower is getting a bit long in the tooth and the internal dvd player is all jammed up so we treated ourselves to a new external dvd player.

The best thing about it is the instruction sheet.

The money quote: ‘Do not put the machines on the vulnerable to squeeze place ...’ actually makes sense!

The money quote: ‘Do not put the machines on the vulnerable to squeeze place …’ actually makes sense!

***

Coco the Community Cat paid us a visit on Christmas day. The Widderkins family were in abundance and we weren’t sure how she’d cope. (P.S. – She got all the pats and cuddles a fluffy cat could want – and then some)

Srsly? You think I’d run away from mere humans?

Srsly? You think I’d run away from mere humans?

Feeling Snarly

Snipperty-snickerty-snarkerty-snap

Snipperty-snickerty-snarkerty-snap

I’m finally getting into my writing rhythm of four hours a day that I promised myself I would aspire to this year. I break it up into 30 minute bite-sized bits by setting a timer to go off every half hour so I can stand up, stretch my arthriticals, ablute, eat, do chores, (take pics of Coco the community cat) that sort of thing.

The universe I created for my latest novel morphed into a story gobbling creature that’s absorbed several other story concepts. I’m not complaining. In fact it’s rather astounding how they all slipped into the established framework. I now have a timeline that extends into hundreds, if not thousands of years. Go big or go home, I say! … *gulp*

This is a good thing. What’s not so good is that I’m so immersed in my wordy worlds, re-entry to this mortal coil is … let’s just call it, an interesting exercise.

When the timer goes off, it’s usually just at the moment I’m typing faster than the speed of light in the throes of decadent inspiration … Snarl – the lip curling kind.

I stomp off and do whatever it is that I planned to do and then sigh dramatically as I wait for the kettle to boil for a cup of tea.

That’s not the really interesting part though. I know most writers experience variations on this theme, but what happens when it’s time to sit back down at the keyboard again is what causes me to, eventually, laugh at myself.

My procrastinating self really resents having its procrastinations interrupted by this horrible work ethic it’s certain I’ve picked up from some den of scum and villainy, and I get snarly.

I believe this is the definition of a no-win situation!

Now, for some Coco pics …

No

No

Nope

Nope