Friday, December 22, 2006

Well... maybe hike isn't quite the right word. It was more like a slithering scramble down a waterfall - the many banyan tree roots came in handy! Posted by Picasa
That white blur in the background - that's me throwing myself into the practice pool at the Kipu Ranch on Kauai - this was just a warmup for the really big drop into the small lake we hiked to later in the day. Posted by Picasa
That little person falling out of the very big tree is NOT me! (though I did climb up the cliffs and use the big long rope - ooooh - talk about big wedgies and a good sinus flush!). I also swam over to the waterfall and indulged in a vigorous waterfall massage - who needs the ship's spa when Mother Nature offers the same service for free! Posted by Picasa
Dani on Kauai... cruise ship is around the corner and behind her... Posted by Picasa
Internet connections have been a little spotty - and Dani keeps taking over my laptop just when I think I might make a few blog-like notes... Check out her Tokyo musings blog for an idea of what we've been up to (photos yet to come...)

What I've been up to is pretty well everything one can squeeze into a single vacation in a sunny, tropical paradise - swimming in the ocean, boogie boarding (yeeehaw!!!!!!), snorkelling (amazing fish, coral, and sea turtles), biking, hiking, zip-lining, throwing myself off fifty foot ropes into deep pools, swimming to waterfalls, dancing every night, feasting, sightseeing, collapsing exhausted into bed - you know, your basic relaxing holiday (not!). Tomorrow Dani and I are heading to the other side of Maui for surfing lessons... I am soooo glad we have a week in Honolulu to recover from this week of cruising and non-stop fun!

For those elsewhere in the world who may be shovelling snow or stuck in airports or scurrying around doing last minute Christmas shopping - Aloha! And a very Merry Christmas to all! Posted by Picasa

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Dani, Dad, and Pete at the Hau Tree Lanai... Posted by Picasa
I'll retropost my 'doesn't everyone climb around on a hay barn roof before dawn the morning of departure?' tale of woe later... But just wanted to check in from Waikiki while I have a good internet connection.

By far the biggest and best adventure so far (and we've only been here a few hours) was Pete's surprise of two tickets to last night's Billy Joel concert in Honolulu. While Pete is a seasoned concert goer, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I've rocked out with a whole bunch of other people. There was the April Wine concert in Edmonton in about 1979... then the Stevie Wonder concert in Vancouver in 1986 (Pete took me to that one, too... I remember it well - I was way preggers with Dani and she kicked and protested for the entire concert... or, maybe she was dancing...). I had to wait until she was old enough to attend the Sarah Maclaughlin concert with me in 2005 (tickets were a birthday present from Peter) before I saw my next show... And then, last night! About eight years early (according to the previously established pattern) - Billy Joel! I must say he was fabulous - a little less hair, a little more tummy - but excellent energy and still in fine voice. The crowd (a... ummm... mature group - I was one of the younger audience members!) was polite and relatively sedate until one of the roadies (a guy called Chainsaw) did a rousing rendition of "Highway to Hell" (not a tune I was expecting to hear!). All those baby boomers suddenly remembered their rocky roots and leapt to their feet, punching fists into the air, and wailing out the refrain! Way cool, man. Pete has kindly posted some photos snapped last night over here...

The pineapple in the photo was consumed at breakfast yesterday at the Hau Tree Lanai restaurant. Yummy! Simply the best pineapple (sweet, juicy, fresh!) I've ever tasted. It didn't hurt that said sumptuous treat was consumed while gazing out over the beach...

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C'est moi - on the 21st floor balcony of our room at the Marriott - overlooking Waikiki Beach. Posted by Picasa
That would be me having breakfast with Billy Joel (well, inside his concert t-shirt and holding the program...) Posted by Picasa

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Thanks to a patron saint (who, I suspect, wishes to remain anonymous, but wow - every author should be so lucky as to have one...) I am now the proud owner of a new Imac - this after the old dual G5, inherited from Dani when she left the country, died... Sooo... I have been transferring images from my ancient PC, my external back-up hard drive, and my laptop ... including this one taken on a whale watching trip...

I also stumbled across some photos of the Alaska cruise that Dani and I enjoyed so much a couple of years ago....

I'm thinking that the next cruise photos I post will be a little different! This time next week I shall be on board a Norweigan Cruise Lines ship in Hawaii - probably without my winter parka!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Well, the snow was purdy and all, but not without its victims.

Alas, poor Mikey, despite mega-doses of antibiotics, cozy quilts, and a heating pad did not recover from his bout of pneumonia. Poor old Mikey is now buried in a quiet place in the forest where he had recently been able to root about (quite an accomplishment for a pig who, only five months ago, couldn't walk due to his weight issues). Though his diet had been quite successful, Mikey was still a hefty creature, which is how I found myself in a ludicrous predicament yesterday morning.

After having recovered from my exhausting five days (could it only have been five days????) babysitting Bodicea Farm (which, due to the blizzard, actually meant commuting back and forth on icy roads to tend to my horses here and the 25 horses or so, over there....) I decided to move Mikey's body from his shed over to the chosen burial place. Moving him, I thought, would make it a little easier on Bert who was scheduled to arrive later in the day with his backhoe to do the deed.

Turns out Mikey weighed a LOT more than I thought. I'm not a very big person but take foolish pride in my relatively hearty muscles and broad streak of independence... Undeterred by being unable to shift him when I gave a tentative test tug on his back legs, I looped a lead rope around his back feet, threw the other end over my shoulder and heave-hoed wih head down and every one of those muscles straining. He slid about six inches, which I took as a good sign. I only had to move him about 75 feet out of his shed, through his pen, and over to the foot of a suitable tree...

Approximately 144 hearty tugs later, I had covered 73 of the 75 feet, was dripping with sweat, and staggering sideways between pulls. Wheezing and coughing, I spread out a big bed sheet/funeral shroud in front of Mikey, weighed down the front edge with two concrete blocks, and prepared to heave ho a couple of final times to slide him onto the sheet (so I could wrap him in it before the funeral). To get the pig onto the sheet I had to heave and lift at the same time and this, I knew, would require an extra vigorous pull... I wrapped the lead rope around my forearm, worked my shoulder under same, and gave one almighty pull and heard a hideous noise in my lower right back muscle - something akin to what I imagine denim would sound like if you tore it underwater. This noise was followed by about a second of stunned silence and then a wave of excruciating pain as the muscle spasmed... I dropped like I'd been shot, right onto the funeral shroud - at which point the muscles on the opposite side of my back went into spasm... I screeched some not very nice words, and then experienced a bizarre ripple effect as all the lateral muscles across my stomach and ribcage all spasmed leaving me gasping as I tried to draw a breath into my much-reduced-in-size ribcage.

At which point a series of thoughts pushed into my mind like, "If a fallen Nikki cries out in the forest, who will hear?" and "I guess I'd better call 911."

But then, I imagined how the 911 call might go.

"Oh hi - I need an ambulance."
"Where are you located?"
"On a funeral shroud. In the forest. Beside the dead pig."

Good grief. I'd never live a call like that down!

So I opted instead for the deep breathing, conscious muscle-relaxing, there's no point in panicking method of crisis management... Which was really disconcerting with this corpse beside me. I managed to wiggle the sheet out from under me and flip it over the body... which took much longer than it should have, but eventually Mikey was respectfully covered. And, some time after that, I was able to roll myself over to my knees and ease myself to my feet. Amazingly, I was able to walk all the way up the hill to the house and then, even more amazingly, found some Robaxacet tablets. Downed a couple of those (foolishly, this remedy was taken on an empty stomach so I was soon dizzily staggering around the house, bumping into walls...). At that point, did the only sensible thing and went back to bed, allowing the meds to work their magic.

Very, very sore today, but reasonably functional. And, no, Mikey is not still lying under the trees, covered in a bed sheet. Bert arrived later in the afternoon with his backhoe and very efficiently dug the grave, placed Mikey therein, and was extremely kind about the whole episode, not laughing too hard when I told him about my antics earlier in the day.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

This is what we usually associate with winters on Vancouver Island - grey skies, lots of rain (especially this year - we've broken the all time precipitation total for November...), and the occasional rainbow. Posted by Picasa
This was our first hint that things were about to go terribly wrong - snow flurries on Sunday morning, right as I was about to head off to Vancouver for a meeting later that afternoon... Posted by Picasa
When it started to stick... I decided to take my big truck (1-ton, 4X4, dually... lotsa' power!) Posted by Picasa
Arrived home well after midnight in full blizzard conditions - cars off the road everywhere, major ferry delays, roads closed... and no power at home! Posted by Picasa
All our pampass grass had snapped, the bamboo was flattened, tons of tree branches (and a few trees) snapped off and scattered around.... and still it snowed! The temperatures plunged well below zero.... Posted by Picasa
By the next morning, the snow was well over my boots, the horses' water was frozen solid (so I began the winter schlepp with lots of hot water), and the slush on the roads had frozen into solid ice. Posted by Picasa
The patio furniture... looking most peculiar! Posted by Picasa
The sun fountain down at the pond... Posted by Picasa
One of our lovely aspen trees... two of them survived, one snapped... Posted by Picasa
A very confused Tony asking, "Why is my water lumpy?" I put his blanket on right after this photo was taken... Posted by Picasa
The sticky snow stuck to everything, even my fences! Posted by Picasa
Emma in her new Shedrow blanket, bravely drinking from the spring.... This soon froze solid. Posted by Picasa
There's an old pigeon shed in there somewhere! Posted by Picasa
Well, you probably get the idea! The power came back on about 18 hours later... but we only just got our phones and Internet back! (it's now late on Wednesday...) There are still plenty of people without power... It is FINALLY starting to warm up, but as I type this, it is snowing/sleeting again and there is another heavy snowfall warning in effect. The radio is promising that it will continue to warm up overnight and that rain will start... I cannot believe that I am actually hoping for rain to wash away this terrible mess! Yikes! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

  I haven't been doing much blogging at the moment as I'm working at hyperspeed to finish up the changes to the Racetrack manuscript (received lots of comments from the editor, Ann Featherstone on Sunday night, which goes to show I am not the only one who works ridiculous hours!) Part of what I'm doing is filling in a few photo gaps (tricky, actually, as the Mac computer where the photos are all stored died on Friday... but that's the subject of another blog entry entirely...). I do have some duplicate photos on this laptop, including this one of a cheeky foal photographed stealing my notebook at Windfields Farm in Ontario. Posted by Picasa