Hey, everyone! Did I tell you I’m doing a podcast? Well, I AM, and it’s been a HOOT. Follow the link above to listen to Episode 3, which is a sordid tale of monsters, clashing cultures, and cannibalism. Go! Hurry!
We’ve been kayaking lots, and I’ve got to say, it’s a pretty fun sport. See that little island in the middle of the lake? Let’s have a picnic there! Can’t go any farther up this lake because the road ends? It doesn’t matter anymore! Suddenly, whole vast tracks of wilderness have opened up to us. We’re exploring coves and bays, discovering little streams and waterfalls and wildlife aplenty. Deer don’t really pay much attention to you when you glide towards them over the still waters. Super cool.
On our last three-hour trip, Little Z grew a little bored by the endless paddling, so I casually mentioned that the lake we were exploring was a hotbed of sasquatch activity. She sat up so quickly she almost tipped the kayak.
“Yep. Right here.”
She spent the rest of the trip with her eyes trained on the shore, searching the thickly-forested hills for any hint of simian movement. She now takes a GoPro (to catch anything odd she spots on film) and has wondered aloud what Bigfoot might sound like or smell like. What food would they be tempted by?
Could a mother be more proud?!?! I’ve suggested that these kayaks might be perfect for exploring Loch Ness, if we feel so inclined to look for other monsters…. but no one’s taken me up on the idea of taking the kayaks to Scotland. Yet.
The First Tidbit:
If you’re from the UK and you’re looking to stock up on werewolf books for your summer reading, I advise you to hustle hustle quickly now to Hic Dragones, where they are giving FREE UK shipping for all of their books, including my novel ‘The Tattooed Wolf‘. A reader once referred to ‘The Tattooed Wolf’ as (and I quote) “a fantastic gateway novel for people who are positively sure they don’t like werewolf-vampire-zombie books, but then discover to their surprise that they do”. I’m assuming that’s a good thing? I don’t know. But someone else said it was ‘perfect summer reading’, so that’s a little clearer.
The Second Tidbit:
I’ve decided to learn German, which is going really well, if all I need to do is tell people that I’m eating bread and that man is drinking water. I know I shouldn’t be so impatient, but I wish language programs would use phrases that have a bit more substance. I mean, if I need to tell the taxi driver to race to the hospital as fast as possible, or explain to a doctor that my abdomen is experiencing stabbing pains, I’m right out of luck. But at least I’ll be able to assure the confused bystanders as I perish on the sidewalk in agony that the boys are all children and this is my favourite hat.
The Third Tidbit:
Remember how I reviewed one of Kienna Coffee’s blends a few weeks ago? Well, I picked up a box of their Highland Grogg blend because honestly, it was pink and covered in Scottish icons, and Oh! My! This coffee tastes like the torrid love affair between a blue-painted Pictish warrior and a drunken pirate captain, their sweaty bodies slammed up against the wall in the alley beside a pub at the docks. I mean, it’s really good! But STRONG! It fears nothing!
Kienna Coffee comes in these little tea-bag-ish pods, but I’ve been ripping them open and pouring the contents directly into my French Press, and it makes a cup of delicious joe that’s so fierce, you can bloody well feel the hair bursting out of your chest follicles. I’ve actually started cutting the coffee grounds with Kicking Horse coffee because it lends a little respite from the punch to the jaw that straight-up Highland Grogg delivers.
I’m sorry, I really suck at this reviewing gig. I don’t think you’re supposed to review your own blends of coffees, but I am. Two parts Highland Grogg to one part Kicking Horse creates a smooth, delicious, rum-soaked beverage that is both soothing and invigorating. Four beans for this one, my friends, four sweet sweet beans. I can only imagine how transcendent a cup of 100% Grogg with a splash of real rum would be.
To the good folks at Kienna, I say, “‘s math a rinn thu!”*
The Last Tidbit:
Whenever I visited a Mountain Equipment Co-Op, I used to feel uncomfortable. I felt like the athletic climbers and lanky cyclists were judging my pudgy butt, and I was unworthy of shopping in such an ACTIVE store. Like their eyes were saying, “Get thee back to thy couch, you tub of slug lard!”** But last weekend, I suddenly found my sport… I’ve found my tribe. Break out the water-proof bags and neoprene gloves and aerodynamically shaped paddles, my friends, for I am a kayaker! I love exploring the ocean and rivers, and I can’t wait for summer to arrive. I live on a island pockmarked with lakes, and I plan to paddle every single last one of them.
On that note, I’m leaving you with an image of last night’s adventure. Einfach wunderbar!
*Which, I hope, is actually Scots Gaelic for ‘well done!’ and not just a finger spasm on the keyboard.
**Not that anyone has ever said this to me, they’ve been nothing but pleasant to me. ACTIVELY pleasant. ATHLETICALLY pleasant.
Due to a nasty stomach flu, I haven’t been drinking any coffee, so there hasn’t been anything java-related to share with you. Give me a day or two, and I’ll be back to normal, I’m sure. In the meantime, here’s a little story to share – a Mesoamerican myth with an astronomical theme…
Long ago, at the beginning of all things, when yet no sun had shone and no dawn had broken, the gods assembled at Teotihuacán to debate who would become the sun.
One of them, Tecuciztecatl, the god of worms and snails, stepped forward and said, “O gods, I shall be the one!”
Again the gods asked, “Who else?”
The ugliest and smallest of the gods, Nanahuatzin, then stepped forward to say, “O gods, I shall be the one!”
So the gods made a great hill where they would compete for the title. On top of the hill, the gods built a great fire and gathered around.
The gods said, “Take courage, O Tecuciztecatl, and cast yourself into the fire!”
Four times, he tried to cast himself into the flames, but the heat was too intense. So the gods turned to Nanahuatzin and cried, “Nanahuatzin! Be not be afraid!”
Emboldened, Nanahuatzin threw upon the fire and burned to ash. When Tecuciztecatl saw his rival do what he could not, he also jumped into the fire, ashamed.
Down swooped a great eagle from the sky and snatched them both up in his talons, carrying them skyward. As Nanahuatzin rose, he began to shine intensely, and his glorious rays of light filled the heavens. Tecuciztecatl followed behind him from exactly the same place in the east, but compared to the brave and brilliant sun, Tecuciztecatl was feeble and weak.
Laughing at him, one of the gods picked up a rabbit and threw it at him. The rabbit struck him in the face, and when you look at the moon today, you can still see the outline of a rabbit in the bruises on Tecuciztecatl’s cheek.
Have you ever heard of the Manpupuner rock formations? Me, neither! At least, not until today’s session of aimless web wandering, when what to my wondering eyes did appear but a photo of these strange and beautiful rocks.
Also called the Seven Strong Men, these bizarre, gigantic pillars jut out of a plateau in the Ural Mountains, each one between 30 and 42 meters high. They don’t look like they belong – strangely weathered by the elements, the rocks are anthropomorphic in shape, and look like a group of giants clustering together to shelter themselves from exposure.
According to both local legend and Wikipedia, the stones were a group of Samoyids giants advancing upon the Mansi people, intent on destroying them, but when the giants saw the distant sacred mountains, they froze in place.
Half a world away (but much closer to my house), is another transformed rock: Vancouver’s Siwash Rock. Also called Slhx̱i7lsh in Squamish, the rock is a basalt sea stack and sits at the shoreline of Stanley Park.
Legend says that, while swimming in the ocean to purify himself before the birth of his first child, a Squamish man named Skalsh crossed the path of a canoe filled with four deities. He refused to cease swimming and get out of their way, because it was only through swimming that he could maintain the purity and innocence of his unborn child. These supernatural beings had never been defied before; they were impressed that he would place himself in danger for the sake of his family. As they debated what to do with this impudent mortal, they heard the cry of a newborn babe on the shore – his wife had given birth. So, for being such an exemplary father, the quartet decided to reward the little family with freedom from death. They transformed the man into the pillar of basalt on the shore, and a short distance away, transformed the woman and child into two smaller boulders.
I love how, in both stories, the mortals have been transformed into stone through their strength of character and emotion. In the case of the giants, they were so overwhelmed by the beauty of the holy mountains that they ceased their rampage; with Skalsh, he was so committed to protecting his child’s future that he was willing to defy the gods. Both tales celebrate the eternal virtues of dedication, honour, and beauty, symbolized by the everlasting, unchanging face of stone.
I must say, I do love rocks. I especially love rocks that once were mortals. Hmmm…. I sense a short story coming on….
If you gaze over yonder to the righthand column, you’ll see an intrusive, garish crimson button that promises you the fluttering scintillations of a contest, which I invite you to enter, because only those who enter have the opportunity to win three… yes, that’s right, THREE… intriguing works of fiction from Hic Dragones, along with a sweet-n-stylin’ bag in which to carry them! Trust me when I say, these books and matching bag are highly portable. You could carry them anywhere, including (but not limited to):
- The beach
- The bus stop
- Family get-togethers
- Your cousin’s wedding
- The dentist’s office
- Or anywhere else where you require a book to pass the time.
As for the quality of literature within those lovely covers… well! The slam-dunk combo of ‘The Tattooed Wolf’, ‘Blood and Water’, and ‘Wolf-Girls’ will provide everything you need to delight your heart and titilate your soul through the hot, sultry summer months. Werewolves – check! Girl werewolves – check! Shape-shifters aplenty – check! The books are, quite frankly, AWESOME, and I am in no way biased in my opinion.
So go ahead, click the big red button, or click THESE WORDS RIGHT HERE, and enter the contest for the chance to be a winner*. Take that first step. Aim for that rabbit. Don’t let the big disembodied balding baby head behind you distract you. Carpe diem, my friend!
*Go on, give yourself a hug, you’re already a winner to me. 🙂
Hic Dragones has set up a book giveaway on Goodreads, where you can enter to win a copy of ‘The Tattooed Wolf’. If you love free books (and WHO DOESN’T?!?!), then pop on over there and enter to win!