if I could but creep
on fence and stalk, spinning webs
you’d watch out for me
creeper by Angie Quantrell
Welcome, cat-faced spider. Eat all you want. But please, keep your webs from my face.
Badger’s Perfect Garden
Written by Marsha Diane Arnold
Illustrated by Ramona Kaulitzki
Sleeping Bear Press, 2019
Welcome Badger’s Perfect Garden!
I read a blog post about this new picture book and checked my library for a copy. They didn’t have one yet, so I requested the addition. Here it is! I love being the first one to check out a new book.
Hint: If you see a book you want to borrow from your library but they don’t have it, most libraries have a way to suggest new titles. Spread the word. This really helps authors.
I love the imaginative setting of Badger’s Perfect Garden. I know I’m not the only one who remembers being a small child and creating tiny worlds of my own, places where animals talked and anything I dreamed up happened?
Badger’s Perfect Garden seems to be an extension of my early childhood tiny worlds. I love Badger and his plans to plant the perfect garden. He’s been carefully saving seeds and has made plans to prep the soil and plant the seeds just so. Badger has great friends who help him with his gardening adventure. And then they wait. But a summer storm wreaks chaos on Badger’s dream garden. I love the rest of the story, but you’ll have to read it to find out. 🙂
I am Badger, with my perfect garden plans every spring. I’m not beyond experimenting to see what happens. I hoard seeds and plot where they would best grow. But every year, by the end of summer, my brilliant plans have exploded with choatic growth of every which sort. But still, I plot, plan, and dream. Just like Badger.
What I love about Badger’s Perfect Garden:
*Badger and his type A personality feel just like me. 🙂
*The friends and friendships in Badger’s Perfect Garden are wonderful. Badger’s friends live with him through his plans, disappointment, and story resolution. Who wouldn’t want friends who would be right beside us all the way? And help with the hard work of gardening?
*The setting is one of my favorites, imaginative and nature-based.
*The plans and what really happens encourages readers to go with the flow. Some things we just can’t control. Let go and enjoy.
*The writing is simple, easy to understand, and tell the story in the best way.
*The illustrations are colorful and just perfect for this picture book.
You can find Marsha Diane Arnold on Twitter @MarshaDArnold
I hope you’ll buy a copy of Badger’s Perfect Garden or check it out at the library. Great read!
Last January I was elated to learn I had been granted a special writing residency and retreat at Holly House and Hypatia-in-the-Woods. What a great way to begin a new year!
Located outside of Shelton, Washington, not far from Olympia, Holly House would be overlooking Hammersly Inlet if it weren’t totally surrounded by a mixed forest of deciduous and coniferous trees. The setting is absolutely gorgeous. Cool, green, shaded, quiet, peaceful. Did I say peaceful? And all mine for the week.
After shopping for enough food to last 3 months, as if grocery stores did not exist 5-7 miles away, I arrived before lunch on my appointed Sunday. Outside appearances did not prepare me for the spacious and beautiful inside environment. Incidentally, Holly House is very close to the small house size my honey and I want to build for ourselves.
I’ll let the pictures do the talking. I had everything I needed for a creative, imaginative, stress-free week. Loft bedroom, large bathroom, living room, dining area, kitchen, and even a deck with the most perfect table and chairs.
I was so blessed to visit and stay at Holly House. The neighbors (a couple and their huge dog) were fantastically helpful and reassuring. After all, I was in the middle of the woods in the middle of nowhere. And I heard there had been evidence of a bear. My imagination supplied the rest of the excitement.
The Hypatia-in-the-Woods board was wonderful. I enjoyed a potluck one evening, getting to meet most of the members. I was met by Carolyn at Holly House. She brought me some snacks and gave me a working tour of the cabin. Every single thing I could have wanted or desired was provided. Or all I had to do was ask. Thank you to all who gave me the opportunity and welcomed me to Holly House.
I’m so thankful for my writing residency. Thank you, Holly House, Hypatia-in-the-Woods, neighbors, and the Hypatia board. Thank you!
If you ever have an opportunity to go on a writing retreat or residency, do it! Worth every second.
Last week I had the privilege of enjoying a writing residency/retreat at Holly House through Hypatia-in-the-Woods. I really worked my days, writing, planning, editing, sorting, exploring, eating, and drinking tea. This list was interspersed with moments of complete quiet when I just stared out into the green forest or wandered to the deck or windows to locate who was chasing and chattering. The entire week was lovely and I feel my writing benefited from being at Holly House. (So did my soul and stress level, but more on this in a later post.)
I decided to bring my toys. Rubber stamps, ink pads, papers, tools. I set a goal of creativity one different card each night and make 6 -8 of each design. This plan turned out beautifully. The different type of creativity allowed my brain to wander and my fingers to work away from the keyboard. Lovely! And we all know how much I enjoy making rubber stamped cards. 🙂
Here they are, 7 designs, 50 cards total.
If you ever get the opportunity to go on a writing residency or retreat, go! It’s with every second.
green feathers, boas,
cushion path, moor silver threads
hide eight-eyed hunters
green boas by Angie Quantrell
I’m going to to miss these lovelies, but not the walking into and through spider webs. But it was worth every minute spent trying to remove clinging strands to see such verdant green life.
shadow self, shooting pictures
me? it’s what I do
self-portrait by Angie Quantrell
Photo taken at Potlatch State Park, Hood Canal, Washington State.
Thanks to Hypatia-in-the-Woods for the opportunity to be me.
Millions of thanks to my cousin, Melissa, for taking me to Canada with her! We had such a wonderful cousin time, exploring, giggling, eating, and shopping. So much fun and tons of memories (and calories). Don’t forget your passport!
Here are some of the fun things we did.
1. Ride the Victoria Clipper. Besides getting us to Victoria in 2 hours 45 minutes, it was a fun way to travel. Parking at the Bell Street parking garage was only $10 a day with a pass from the Clipper. And only a block from the dock. Do check in online as soon as possible. We were in boarding group 1, and it only made life easier.
2. Splurge for a nice hotel. Melissa chose the Hotel Grand Pacific, literally one block from the Clipper dock. It was so easy to wheel our luggage across the street and down the block. Check in was a breeze. Do check. They had our room ready early, though I can’t promise that all the time. The room was fabulous and we had a combined view of the city and the harbor. Comes complete with pool, hot tub, restaurants, high tea, and very friendly and knowledgeable concierges. You can’t lose with this hotel.
3. Schedule High Tea. Do it! Sure, it’s another splurge, but where (in my neighborhood) can I get fancy high tea? Uh…nowhwere. We researched a bit and settled on High Tea at our hotel, Hotel Grand Pacific. So much food, plenty of tea, oodles of sugar, ample time, short walk, wonderful company. Instructions included wearing proper shoes (no flip flops or beach wear items), so we planned ahead and brought summer dresses and dressy sandals. We both ate most of our tea foods, and swapped items we didn’t finish. Or left them on the tier. Not saying who. But I do enjoy a good smoked salmon. And tuna. Our server was kind enough to pack what was left in a container for later snacks.
4. Ride city bus #75 to Butchart Gardens. Originally, we planned and booked a day-long tour which featured many popular destinations. Due to low registrations (I think we were on the only two), it was cancelled. We hemmed and hawed and eventually overhead someone saying, “Take the bus.” Excellent suggestion. $5 Canadian for an all day bus pass. Worth the entire fiver. Saved tons of money by going to Butchart on our own. And saw some great sites along the way. Skipped the parking lot fiasco. Butchart Gardens. Two words. DO IT. Gorgeous. We had lunch at The Blue Poppy Restaurant.
5. Wander. From the bus windows, we saw the drug store we needed, plus many other fun places to explore. Touristy shopping is right on Government street, filled with all such souvenir treats one could want. It was pretty easy pickings to find surprises to take home with us.
6. Murchie’s. Visit both sides of this landmark. Coffee, tea, breakfast, lunch, snacks. We hit Murchie’s for breakfast one morning and I was enchanted to have my hot tea come in a pot! If you do this, check for tea strength. I think there were 4 (FOUR!) teabags in my pot. A bit strong, so I pulled some out. The bran muffin was excellent. We then walked right next door to the shopping portion of Murchie’s where we sniffed teas, handled tea items, and purchased loose leaf tea and gifts. Bagged and loose leaf teas are available, as well as tins, tea cups and pots, tea paraphernalia, and assorted whatnots. Knowledgeable tea staff are on hand to help with purchases and tea choices. Sadly, they no longer sell spices.
7. Eat at 10 Acres. They have 3 restaurants with farm to table foods. They grow most of the items they use to prepare meals. We first visited 10 Acres Commons Bistro. I loved my fresh salad and French onion soup. The drink I had included a (ONE) fennel seed, which had accidentally transferred over during the herb harvest process. It was so tasty. We would definitely visit this bistro again. A different evening, we timed our visit to 10 Acres Commons for happy hour when some foods would be on special. Delighted to have an outside table with a lovely view. My bunless burger and salad were exceptionally delish and Melissa’s fish and chips looked super tasty. Just a warning. And I thought it funny. My usual take when I ask for no bun, lettuce wrap instead, is that I am saving you money and buns. Their take is sure, we’ll leave off the bun, but charge you extra for the lettuce wrap. LOL. My happy hour price was eaten up by my lettuce wrap and bacon. Oh well, it was so yummy, I didn’t care.
8. Stop and smell the roses. Or lavender, geraniums, dahlias…Victoria is a beautiful city. We traveled north in August, and flowers were on abundant display. Bees and bumbles adorned nearly every flower bed we saw.
If you wander near The Empress, facing the Empress from the harbor, follow the path along the left of the far left entrance. You will find the home of Roger the marmot and his accompanying bee hives. Though native to the area before land development, marmots do not usually live within city borders. Somehow, be it RV, big truck, or baggage, Roger found his was to this tiny hidden corner of rock walls, trees, and flowers. Four attempts have been made to capture him, but he is wily and wants to stay where he wants to stay. We didn’t see him in person, but what a fun character! The Empress has turned his garden into a wildlife bee and marmot sanctuary. Go see it.
9. Rogers’ Chocolates. If you love chocolates, you will want to enjoy some treats. We only stopped once for an after dinner truffle. Mine was pretty tasty. But they don’t give correct change (true elsewhere). I asked why I didn’t get any pennies back for my change. I was kind of grumpy about it. I love my pennies. But she said they didn’t have any. Then as I wandered on, I vaguely recalled Canada doing away with pennies. Yep. That was true. No more Canadian pennies. The Rexall cashier explained in detail. I don’t know who benefits most. The government does surely, as it costed about $1.40-1.50 to make $1 worth of pennies. Do shop keepers? Customers? No idea. But don’t expect exact change OR pennies.
10. Walk the harbor sidewalk. Sit and rest, watch the people, watch the boats and air traffic. Even sitting still, there is so much to see. Victoria is beautiful and popular.
We need to plan another trip. There was so much we did not see. Castles, distilleries, China town, pickle boat rides, museums, Parliament buildings . . . So many more restaurants and malls and exciting things to see.
Have you been to Victoria? What was your favorite thing to see, do, or eat?
land meets sea, blue green
burgeoning life; stilted legs
walks both, scurries on
stilted legs by Angie Quantrell
Photo taken at Potlatch State Park, near Shelton and Potlatch, Washington
Opportunity provided by Hypatia-in-the-Woods, Holly House
red crest, heavy head
hop, skittle, scrape, taste, chitter;
pileated woodpeckers by Angie Quantrell
I feel like I struck gold! Or black and red, the colors on my 2 feathered guests.
I almost didn’t see them, as they were very quiet. I went out the Holly House front door to my car and spotted huge black birds, one on a dead stump, clawing to grasp and dig in, the other on the ground scooping bits of snack with a sideways tilt of the head.
As soon as red-crested heads popped into view, I knew exactly what they were. And they were huge! Due to my constant perusal of A Guide to Field Identification, BIRDS of North America book, in particular the page on woodpeckers and flickers, I recognized them. But only when I saw them in person did I realize the immense size compared to the flickers and scrub jays I usually identify. The guide says their length is 15-inches. Fascinating.
According to the guide book, pileated woodpeckers are “uncommon and local; a wary bird of extensive deciduous or mixed forests” (p. 180). I feel like I won the lottery. Here there were two uncommon and wary woodpeckers gently hopping along the driveway, chittering quietly to each other, sort of like chickens chat as they go about their day.
I watched them until they hopped beyond the bend of the driveway. They didn’t take off while I observed, and didn’t seem too bothered by me. They seemed a bit gangly in movement, young, perhaps teens? Not sure if they were mated or siblings, but I was thrilled to listen and watch.
I love that Holly House has a copy of my favorite bird book. Their book is in much better shape. The pages are stuck in the proper place. What a special opportunity! Smack dab in the middle of a mixed forest, plenty of deciduous and coniferous trees and stumps for all to enjoy. Says the resident who learned the black bear is back and loves to scrub at trunks for bugs and wander behind my cabin on his dusk forays. Yikes! I would like to see him (or her) but only from my car or cottage window.