Wednesday, July 25, 2018

My Favorite Summer Vacation by A.M.Westerling

Well, this may be rather lame but my favorite summer vacation is to stay home and enjoy my garden. I live in Calgary and the summer months are beautiful here, why would I go anywhere else? It makes more sense to go somewhere warm when there’s snow on the ground and a brisk northerly wind! Luckily, my boys have left home and my husband and I no longer have to fit vacation time around their school schedule.

So this blog post is short and sweet and mostly pictures from my yard – enjoy! 

Last year we discovered Canna lilies and enjoyed the blooms so much that this year we put in a pot of only those. Same goes for the fern - I bought one last year for the first time and thought the foliage provided a nice contrast to all the flowers.

We spend a lot of time on our back patio:

I park on the front street and have to walk through the hosta garden to get to the back door. The secret to being a successful gardener is to find the plants that like the space you have. I tried one hosta a number of years ago and every year since keep adding more. I bought the little farmer guy because his overalls match the colour of our house! 

I love garden ornaments and have to restrain myself from buying too many. The bunny is one of my favorites and every year it goes in a different spot. The wrought iron duck is actually a tea light holder and I've jammed it in the pot to keep the squirrels at bay.

More from the back, that's our garden house where I keep my pots, etc., and also where I overwinter my geraniums.

We have more than one patio, we like to sit here later in the afternoon when the sun is shining into the back yard.

From that patio, you look back towards the garden house. The dahlias beneath the window are a few years old as I lift the tubers every fall.

This year I tried something new - I planted a small cedar for the pot beside the front door. I hope that by watering it, I can keep it over winter.

Somewhere in the petunias are three geraniums and three dusty millers. The petunias took over! 

These are Banff junipers. They're native to the area and they've pretty much grown all the way down the rock retaining walls. 

Lobelia are some of my favorite flowers. This is the flower box beneath my kitchen window.

Another one of my favorite ornaments - a gnome in a grass skirt! More lobelia and fibrous begonias, another flower which does well in our yard.

I could keep going on but I think you get the idea - I love summer in Calgary! 

And is there anything better than reading outside? Check out the Canadian Historical Brides Collection HERE.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Travelers' Tales

They live in a vanishing Eden, their spirits close to the land and the animals upon which they rely. Captured by another tribe, a new tribe- kwet'ı̨ı̨̀  - (Stone House People/Whites)--two teens are placed in a residential school patently designed to "kill the Indian inside," by taking away their language and belittling their culture. Yaotl and Sascho arrive as sweethearts; in order to survive as whole beings, they absolutely must escape. 

Storytelling, at least to this writer, is a kind of trance journey on which I hope to take my reader. The way may go through beauty or horror, boredom and sometimes horror.

Yaotl and  Sascho were born among the Tlicho, a perople for whom long on-foot journeys were a way of life. The early 1950's in the subarctic, where the story begins, is a land where many 1st nation's People live more or less as their ancestors have for 10,000 years, following the seasonal migration of caribou. 

Fly Away Snow goose is a captivity-and-escape story--the mirror image of the ones I read long ago where white children are carried off by "Indians."   Yaotl and Sascho suffer a variety  of trials that could all be filed under the 21st Century definition of "abuse" while being schooled in European norms at a Catholic run residential school. 
In the spring, like the Snow Geese, they yearn to travel North and Sascho, whose confinement is not as harsh as Yaotl's, finds an ally who will help them escape, riding the Mackenzie river northwest. Their courage and endurance and their  childhood education,living off the land, will be all that stand between them and death as they start the long journey which they hope will return them to their families.  


I went camping last week but am now sitting here, typing away while feeling exceedingly grungy because I have not yet had a bath. The house in which I sit has a cat-hair-on-the-floor problem of a high magnitude. As I type, the felines are yelling at me because they are mad that I went away.  Willeford has given me his welcome home bite, just to remind me who is the boss around here.

In my camp experience, I  did not sleep on the ground or among the leaves. I did not wear the same clothes until they fell into rags, like Yaotl and Sascho--although I sort of felt like that by the end of the muggiest days. It made me realize once again how pampered we are, but, oh, Lord! How I love the comfort of  my own bed, in a room where the potty is just a few easy steps down the carpeted hall--instead of over roots and mud and rocks. At 2 a.m. it might as well be in the next county!

On the way to camp there were some trials and tribulations. (Nothing of course when compared with any challenge my characters faced.) Today's trials are of a particular kind and are often automotive. We no longer paddle a canoe or walk to our destinations. We zoom along on Interstates at 65 mph (or more!) until a sea of red tail lights appears causing us to brake like mad. Then, it's stop and go for the next hour, advancing what seems to be a mere car length at a time until the road work or the traffic accident which caused the slow down appears on one side of the road or the other.

There was a traffic delay on the way to camp, an inevitable part of driving. The worst part was that I actually had to come face-to-face with the broiling July weather while the car sat on the  shimmering pavement. Windows down, the sun drummed on the roof of my old a/c-less VDub,  Boy, was it HOT! Diesel fumes were--fortunately--blown off a breeze, so I strategized my movements, a pilot fish beside a whale, in order to take full advantage of some long-haul behemoth's shadow.     

~~Juliet Waldron

See all my historical novels at the links below:

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Rialto Beach by Katherine Pym



 One of the most astonishing vacations I’ve been on is the Washington Peninsula. A large expanse, it encompasses an area with a mountain range, rain forests, lakes and landmarks along the Pacific.

Dead trees on edge of rain forest leading to Rialto Beach
At Rialto Beach not far from LaPush is dramatic and beautiful, but something happened there. A whole line of trees are white, dead, as if swamped by ocean water.

Washington coast on a sunny day

Rialto beach area on a Cloudy Day, which is most days.

Rialto Beach
Whatever happened to the trees had to have been fairly recent, for they still stand like lone sentinels guarding the land.

The beach is filled with pebbles to rounded rocks, and very difficult to walk on for any length of time. Rock hunters comb the sand for orbicular jasper and agates.


Driftwood on the beaches of Washington
Huge driftwood litters the beach, which you can climb onto and sunbathe rather than the pebbled beach. Islands dot the shallows. It is really magnificent. 

For more, unusual reading, try Miri's Song, a story of Joshua & Magdala, a love story

Buy Here

Many thanks to my memories, pictures, & Wikicommons, Public Domain

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Vacation to Historic Saint John

Last year, in need of research for my Canadian Brides novel, my husband and I drove to New Brunswick. The French border guard lady fussed at my husband for following the car in front of us too closely when we entered from Maine. I laughed; we were already in trouble.

We headed east then south into the city of Saint John where most of my story is set. Situated on the Bay of Fundy, Saint John is a beautiful mix of modern and Victorian buildings. Unfortunately, the eighteenth century buildings were destroyed in a fire in 1877. Since my novel is set in 1784-85, that would have been a boon for my research.
View down Princess St. to Saint John's harbor

We visited the New Brunswick Museum and spoke to a woman who was interested in my upcoming novel. She gave me her card. When we returned home, we couldn't find it. Never did.
I did mail them the pamphlets I designed for On a Story Primeval Shore.

We went to visit one of the oldest remaining houses in the city, Loyalist House built in 1817. Their website said they were open. The door was locked. We tried again later, still locked. A lovely young waitress (more on this later) told us they'd been closed for refurbishing for a year. No one knew when they'd reopen. A sign on the door might have helped.
Loyalist House

I did get to meet Joan Hall Hovey, a suspense author in my publisher's stable of talented authors. After a tasty lunch, she graciously showed us her vintage town house with its beautiful Victorian grate. A very nice lady.

On the sunniest day, we drove up the hill to the site of Fort Howe, also important in my novel. The fort was built during the American Revolution to stop rebel marauders from harassing the communities in the area. Only a blockhouse remains of the fort.
Author at Fort Howe's site, on the hill overlooking Saint John's harbor

Afterwards, we sat at a restaurant on the waterfront, had a glass of wine, and talked with the waitress, a college girl, who told us about Loyalist House. A man danced in the lane in front of the restaurant. I wish we had a picture. He was quite the character. The waitress said he was harmless and did this all the time. We greeted him when we left.

I enjoyed my visit to Saint John, and Joan, and hope to return someday, especially to see the inside of Loyalist House.

All pictures above were taken by my husband, George Parkinson. (Gotta give the guy credit)

My Canadian Brides novel, On a Stormy Primeval Shore, called a "Fabulous Historical" by Night Owl Reviews, is available in E-book and paperback:  Amazon and All Markets

For more information on me and my books, please visit my website:
Diane Scott Lewis grew up in California, traveled the world with the navy, edited for magazines and an on-line publisher. She lives with her husband in Pennsylvania.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Various Vacations I Have Had by Joan Donaldson-Yarmey

As you read this post I will be on a bus tour from Rome to London, the second bus tour of my sixty-six day long visit to Europe. How did this vacation come about? Well, it started three years ago when my dragon boat team, Angels Abreast from Nanaimo, B.C., found out that the next Breast Cancer Survivor International Dragon Boat Festival was going to be held in Florence, Italy. Although we voted to attend the festival, eventually it was decided not to go as a team. Since I had already begun planning my trip, I put out feelers to other breast cancer survivor teams who wanted to attend but didn’t have enough paddlers to fill a boat. I was picked up by Sunshine Dragons Abreast, a team from the Sunshine Coast.
     My husband originally planned on going with me and we discussed other countries we wanted to see, but he had to back out because of his health. By this time I had decided that since I was already in Europe, I might as well visit as many countries as I could. I didn’t want to travel alone so I asked the members of Sunshine Dragons if anyone was interested in travelling with me. One woman, Ev, agreed. I also spoke with a fellow employee, Heather, and she and her sister, Beverly, hopped on board but couldn’t join us until the beginning of the Rome to London tour on July 9.
     The festival was from July 5 to 9 so I began looking at tours and cruises before and after those dates. Ev and I picked a 16 day Spain, Portugal, and Morocco bus tour beginning June 15. Then we decided to spend three days in Milan before going to Florence. At the end of the festival there we headed to Rome.
     After this bus tour through Italy, Switzerland, and France, and ending in London, Ev is leaving to do a tour of Denmark, while Heather, Beverly and I plan on spending eighteen days backpacking and riding trains to Brussels, Luxembourg, Cologne, and Amsterdam, and then fly to Copenhagen. We will meet Ev in that city to take an eleven day cruise of the Baltic Sea. One of the highlights of that will be a two day visit to St. Petersburg, Russia.
     I wish the planning had gone as smoothly as it sounds, but that is how attending a five day international breast cancer survivor dragon boat festival in Florence morphed into a sixty-six day visit to Europe. And this isn’t the first time that has happened to me.
     In 2007, an international festival was held in Coloundra, Queensland, Australia. Angels Abreast attended the five days festival. Afterwards, the team split up, some going to New Zealand, some touring the interior and some, my group, spent three weeks sightseeing along the eastern coast ending in Sydney to see the Opera House, climb the Harbour Bridge, and go out to the Great Barrier Reef. Then we spend a week in Fiji.
     I missed the festival in Peterborough, Ontario, but in 2014, the festival was held in Sarasota, Florida. Rather than fly there with the team, do a little touring and fly home, I decided I wanted to see some of the country between the Pacific Ocean, where I live, and the Atlantic Ocean. So my husband and I bought a motorhome and spent four weeks sightseeing on our way to Sarasota and five weeks sightseeing on our way home.
     I could go on about all the other trips I have taken, like the nine week my husband and I took in our motorhome across Canada in 2017 to celebrate our country’s 150th birthday, but that can wait for another post.
     My novel, Romancing the Klondike, is set in the Yukon, a place I have travelled to twice and hope to visit again in the next couple of years.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

July is the Month for Vacations by Victoria Chatham

Our topic this month is vacations and where do we go or would suggest going. When I lived in England I was about a two-hour drive away from the coast. When I moved to land-locked Alberta, I missed the ocean like crazy. My go-to vacation spot back then was Spain, mostly the Costa Brava and not the more usual Costa del Sol or Costa del Mar. I spent the first week relaxing and sunning myself on the beach and the second week finding places to visit.

Times change. After coming to Canada, vacations were trips home to the UK to visit my family although I usually find somewhere else to go or revisit favorite spots. Walking along the canal side in my hometown of Stroud, Gloucestershire, is always a delight. In Canada, I began camping – the first time since I was a Girl Guide – but camping with a difference. No more suspect army surplus bell tents, but more compact and well-designed campers and trailers.

I’ll be camping again this summer with my friend in her fifth-wheel, this time a tour of parts of British Columbia that I’ve never seen before. I haven’t been on a beach since 2002 when I visited Victoria, Vancouver Island. There’s something about sun, sea, and surf that completely mesmerizes me. Next January we are heading to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for a month. I’ve never been to Mexico before and and am really looking forward to enjoying sitting on a beach and gazing at the Pacific Ocean. However, I doubt that I will sit gazing for long as my friend has a few ideas of where to go and what to do. Zip line, anyone?

I'm not sure that I'd suggest a vacation destination to anyone. What I look for and enjoy is going to be very different from what someone else may want to experience. But wherever you go and whatever you do, have fun. Going anywhere can make a difference in your life because, according to the Roman philosopher, Seneca, 'travel and change of place impart new vigour to the mind'.  

Victoria Chatham