Boundbytheword Blog

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He’s lurking out there… March 30, 2011

He’s menacing. Vicious. Ruthless. We crossed paths today. It scared the living bejesus out of me.

The old saying goes, be careful what you wish for. Last week I posted complaints about the porcupine that was feasting on my trees. It was a no brainer – get rid of the porcupine, or watch the trees mutilated from the feeding frenzy. Trapping him ourselves was the only solution. Equipped with its quills as a defense, the porcupine has no real predators in the wild. Well actually, it has one.

Enter the fisher.

Photo: Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) in Kemptville

These creatures absolutely terrify me. In the same family as wolverines, the fisher is known for its speed, stealth and ferociousness. Think Hugh Jackman in X-Men as a twenty-pound fanged psychotic weasel.

Besides being fast, the fisher is swift in the trees thanks to razor-sharp claws. Reportedly, they can take down a porcupine. When the quilled critter takes to the trees, the fisher follows it, then overtakes it by attacking the quill-free spot on its body — the face. I have to stop here for a moment. Isn’t this what horror movies are made of? Attacks the face? *shiver*

The icing on the cake is that the fisher reacts aggressively when startled. But how exactly do you startle a fisher?

How about coming upon one while walking your dog, let’s say? Yes, that would seem about right. If you picture it like a movie (which I often live my life doing) you can see the woman walking her dog on a long country road on a sunny morning and coming upon a fisher, startling it, and getting attacked in the face as her loveable but cowardly golden retriever runs home.

That’s how I would picture it, and how indeed I did picture it, as I watched a huge fisher race across the road this morning no less than thirty feet in front of me.
After I peed my pants a little, and finally started breathing again, I thanked heaven above, my lucky stars and the sisters of fate for having my dog engrossed in a hump of grass (or maybe poo) on the side of the road as the fisher took flight. Close call though, as Maalik is never one to give up on a game of chase, and the day may have had a whole different ending than me blogging about our almost catastrophe. (although as a writer, I always appreciate new material)

Of course I found myself a massive stick before we had to cross the path the fisher had taken, and hacked out giant violent coughs as I walked in an attempt to sound ferocious myself. Maalik sniffed the area like the canine unit at a drug lord’s close-out sale, but I didn’t have to ask him twice to get a move on.

So now that I may not have to worry about a porky population, I have evidence of a new beast in town that nightmares are made of. Being that the vicious fisher has few predators (of which includes the bobcat and mountain lion – seriously?) I respectfully ask that powers that be, to send back the coyotes to take care of my fisher problem.

At least I can hear a pack of them coming, and have half a chance of escaping up a tree into safety. As we say here in the boonies – you don’t have to outrun a coyote, you just have to outrun the person you’re with.


So much for spring… March 28, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Noelle Bickle / Abby Brooks @ 2:08 PM

We tapped our trees last weekend, though we were a full two weeks later than last year. The sun just hadn’t come out up north, and there was no action in the trees. In case you don’t know, the trees actually start to drip sap out of little cracks in the branches or breaks in the trunk. You can see it, and you can feel it. You can even catch it on your tongue. Some days you can stand under an old maple and feel like it’s a light rain dripping down. Except it’s sweet, and slightly sticky.

This year though, it’s still so cold (-9 today!) that the sap had 3 great days of running and then froze in the buckets. Each day I hope the sun will shine down, warm the veins of the tree and start producing. But today is not that day. Nor is tomorrow or the next day apparently with the forecast calling for below zero temperatures all week. OY!

As a backyard sugarer, it means I’m stuck at the starting gate. As a writer, this little holdup means I have no distractions, no excuses and I should be getting chapters upon chapters written. Funny how that doesn’t seem to be happening.

I love Canada for the wonderful seasons she gives us. I enjoy the soft rain producing buds of new growth in the spring, the full of green with multitudes of flowers all summer, the vibrant colours of our trees in autumn, and the crisp winters with beautiful snow that provides my kids and my dog with countless hours of fun. I would however, like to request a little more even division of the seasons.

Hello? Winter? You’ve had your turn! Anytime now, spring…you can do it. I have faith in you.

And I could use a little help with the excuses here…

Sap frozen right in the tap

Blocks of ice from the much for making syrup!


No Squatters Allowed! March 25, 2011

This year, we were excited to haul out the buckets and spiels and tap those trees, and got things underway last Saturday. Little did we know that over the winter we’d housed some unwelcome guests. The squatters made a fine mess of things too, which squatters will often do.


The tell-tale signs being the bark-less limbs high up on our trees and the multitudes of shavings all over the ground. What I thought was leftover leaves from the fall turned out to be crumbs from the rodent banquets.

The obvious problem I have with the damn pests, is that in probability my curious dog or my huntress of a cat could end up with a face full of quills. The fact that porcupines weigh between 10-30 pounds and can have up to 30,000 quills on its evil little body leads me to believe my 9 pound cat might not like the introduction.

It isn’t just the chance of a pet encounter making me uneasy. This unwelcome vermin is ripping (or gnawing) the skin right off the limbs of my beautiful trees. That kind of damage will kill a younger tree. The more mature trees might not die from the assault, but those pointy little claws and teeth rip through the bark, and expose the tree; which makes even the mightiest one vulnerable to disease.

extent of damage on one of our maples

So although last Saturday was spent getting ready for the sugar season, this Saturday will involve a run down to the local hardware store to buy a live trap, in hopes of catching and then relocating our trespasser. In spite of my hatred of this little beast for the harm he’s inflicting on my land, I didn’t ask my husband to bring home a few extra bullets to do the job. Just because I don’t have the stomach to “off” the thing though doesn’t mean I have intentions of letting it stick around, so I hope it enjoys a road trip.

I’ve had a mantra for years – don’t mess with me, my kids, or my chocolate. Of course when my pets came along they were added to the list, and it seems my mama bear mentality extends to anything that lives on my property, or provides me with something sugary.

Porcupine intruders – time to pack your bags – it’s game time. Wish me luck in my hunting.


Blah…Blah…Blah March 22, 2011

Confession time. For weeks now I haven’t been writing. What do I mean by writing? I mean working on my second novel, Life as a Teenage Mutant. I’ve been applying for grants, and putting together course outlines, and editing two other writer’s fabulous novels, but my own novel has been left stranded.

I won’t let Abby – Mutant’s protagonist – speak to me or bring her to life on the page. No giving her a chance to count, a turn to shine. I’ve been keeping her silent, shoving her down a little further, making her just small enough that she won’t stamp her feet and demand to be heard. It’s not that I don’t want to listen, but I’ve distracted myself with other things that I make matter more.

Mutant is gritty, and this story is taking me to a place more vulnerable than I’ve been in a while, so I’m avoiding getting in the mud with her, getting my hands dirty. I’ve been too busy doing things for other people, or sitting on my ass in protest.

What do I mean by ass? I mean this never-seems-to-be-shrinking, too old for my age, swinging low sweet chariot that keeps me in the chair, but still not writing what I should be. Oddly, I’ve also been avoiding the sunshine on my face and the stretch in my legs that will feed my body and my mind with what it craves. I guess my February blues dragged into March.

I finally got my butt outside yesterday and did my regular hour walk with Maalik. Since we’ve been doing cheater walks for two weeks, the effort just to get out there was taxing. More of an effort though was doing it again today. Funny how when you get away from doing something, no matter how good it is for you, it’s hard as hell to start up again. UGH.

I’m not great with consistency; I just resist any type of routine. But I started the week hopeful – pounded the pavement to fuel my body, and I wrote several new chapters to fuel my mind. Here’s hoping it sticks.

How about you, dear readers and other writers? Have you leap into action with spring fever yet, or are you still feeling the ho-hums of winter blahs?


Coming to terms with it… March 18, 2011

It finally happened. I aged.

One might think the moment came to me when my first-born (and all around wonderful human being) celebrated her twenty-fifth birthday. Yup, I birthed a tiny being a quarter of a century ago. One might think that would make me feel old, but it didn’t. Of course it might have helped that, during our girl’s night out in celebration of her big day, I had people gush over the fact that we looked more like sisters and less like a mother-daughter duo. It’s a compliment that I can’t help but adore. It might help too, that she is completely fabulous, so I can overlook the fact that her growing up makes me older too. For purely selfish reasons, I’m really okay with this one.

One might think it was the spring cleaning, where I decided to toss several old favourite clothing items because I thought I might look silly still wearing teen fashions. That sat with me fine, because of course I replaced it with new grown up things to wear. That didn’t push me over either.

It was my new glasses that did the trick. Or should I say, my new bifocals! WTF??

I went into the appointment asserting that although reading medicine bottles was getting a little tricky, I was in no uncertain terms, resisting bifocals. The doctor was empathic, and told me he’d check it out, but assured me I was probably right – I wasn’t old enough for bifocals.

Except when he did the little bitty word test, and I told him the one option was a million times better than the other, he just made a little uh-hun, turned on the light, and smiled at me with condolences. I had said it myself. A MILLION TIMES BETTER. Until I realized what my own words had meant, and then I backpedalled, saying it was a little better, but not a lot different. Who needs to read the recommended dosage anyway?

The choice was mine he’d said, but in terms of the test results I was ready for bifocals, even if the fibre of my youth wasn’t. It hit me then.

I grew up – damn! When did that happen? I hesitate to say I got old, because it makes me want to cry a little, or at least moan and groan, and hunch over a wee bit.

I revolted against the news, and reverted back a few years (or decades) and treated myself to a bag of sugary penny candy (which now costs a dime each – help me lord), and a new Hello Kitty t-shirt that I’m sure my youngest daughter will take ownership of, as soon as I come off the ledge.

Anyone up for a game of snakes and ladders?


Screwing with young minds since 1937… March 16, 2011

“I may be bad, but I’m perfectly good at it
Sex in the air, I don’t care, I love the smell of it
Sticks and stones may break my bones
But chains and whips excite me…”

This is what played on the radio today while I made lunch for my daughter. I’d never really listened to the words of Rihanna’s song that closely. Needless to say they were crystal clear when they rang from my eight-year-old daughter’s mouth as I stood grilling up a cheese sandwich. It’s a catchy tune.

Good god. I now have a better appreciation of when I was twelve years old and my father was dismayed as I bellowed out AC/DC’s “Big Balls”. What the heck chance do you have when you have this kind of pop culture shaping your kids?

Gone are the days of Sleeping Beauty and Snow White in our house, and it kind of snuck up on me. Now I have to manoeuvre through mine fields of radio idols singing about S&M, sending the message that treating me bad, is oh so good.

I want to go back to decisions about braids or pigtails. I want to have simple discussions, like how in order to be a real princess you must have royal blood or marry a real prince, and they live very far away. That was easier. That also seemed like less of a reality than my daughter growing up and encountering boys that grew up listening to those same songs, shaping the men they’ve become.

Maybe I’m naive. After all, the messages from the princesses aren’t “I am woman hear me roar”. They might not have been into bondage, but what they said between the lines isn’t a great way to shape a young mind either. Take a listen, and let me know which is sending my daughter into therapy one day… Rihanna or Snow White?


What if God was one of us… March 11, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Noelle Bickle / Abby Brooks @ 9:04 AM
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In a world filled with war and crisis, joy and celebration, do we really need a blow-by-blow account of Charlie Sheen’s mental decline? The man has problems, there’s no doubt, but I’m just not sure why North America is mesmerized by watching his train wreck.

I’ll admit – I watched an interview he had with one of the major television networks and was shocked by his erratic, insane behaviour and his undeniable god complex. But more than shocked or captivated, I was simply sad. Not just that he had gone off the deep end, but that so many of us had jumped in alongside him, eagerly watching him barely treading there.

Now, I turn the tv channel if his name comes up, and even changed my morning radio station, because each morning for the last two weeks I woke to a morning entertainment update on Sheen’s latest antics or crazy statements about Tiger blood or superior brain capacity. I can’t listen anymore. Addiction denial and mental health issues are poor entertainment and I for one won’t take part in the voyeurism of it again.

As a writer, I become easily engulfed in the energy around me, and even a television program can tip the scales, and change the quality of my day and my work. So when I do get into the entertainment zone, I’m keeping my channel tuned to what brings me joy. Check out the link if you want to have gleeful moment in your day. (the link will take you to youtube to view the video).

One of my favourite episodes of Glee, where Finn turns to the face of Grilled Cheezus (Jesus) for guidance.


Thanks for the memories…not. March 3, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Noelle Bickle / Abby Brooks @ 9:15 AM
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

My high school reunion is scheduled for this coming summer, and I get the occasional nudge from an old school mate about marking the date on my calendar. I haven’t done it yet. Not even in pencil.

I don’t want to relive high school nostalgia. Don’t get me wrong, in the last few years I’ve had the odd girl’s night out with the old cougars and laughed till I almost cried. Although we may have the odd extra pound or wrinkle here or there, otherwise it was the same. The night was filled with giddy, silly, non-stop laughter. Just like old times, but with better food and conversation with a lot more honesty and openness. Amazing.

I also take great pleasure in grabbing a tea or a meal and sitting in deep conversation with someone who I’ve known since the Boy George days. There’s a certain intimacy you share with someone who saw you zip your skin-tight jeans up with a hanger, or held your head as you spewed. Reconnecting with someone who saw you at your worst, or knew your deepest, darkest teenage secrets is a gift. Also amazing.

The one reconnection I’ve been the most thrilled with is my old school chums (some of whom I haven’t seen in 30 years!) that have become loyal blog followers. How incredible is that? People who have no vested interest, share comments or emails, or even just keep popping online to read my blog and cheer me on. That is so motivating, and I am ever grateful for their willingness to encourage someone who they once knew long ago. Inspiring!

But that brings me back to wanting to attend the high school reunion. Blah, not so much.

Here’s the thing – there were bad moments and bad people in high school, and I don’t want to be faced with those mugs just because 25 years has lapsed by.

I’m not bitter. I’m not damaged (okay, well therapy has probably helped with that one), and I don’t want to play the victim here. I’m not even saying high school was a horrible place. I had it pretty good, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have my share of bad things happen that just got swept under the carpet.

For instance, when I was ten, I sprouted breasts. Although in time, they’ve proven to be a valuable source of nutrition, and a great marketing tool in the dating world, nobody wants boobs in grade four. But you deal with what you get, and I got boobs. No big deal, right?

Except, someone made it a big deal. One of the senior boys at my grade school took the time to call all his buddies around to circle me at the water fountain and comment that I had “bigger tits than the (grade) sixers.” Needless to say, it was a moment that stuck with me. I’d like to say that it was no big deal, that boys will be boys, and sticks and stones, and all that crap. But it did stick with me. At that moment I became acutely aware of my body, and it took me a long time to appreciate, instead of loathe, what I was born with.

Do I hold onto that? No, I’ll admit I quite like my “shops up top” now, and have no problem if males would like to admire me around a fountain. But the point is…do I really want to spend an evening in the same company as the person who did that to me so long ago? Do I want to introduce him to my husband and shake hands and smile like everything is all good? Hell, no.

I won’t even get into the cruelty that girls can exert on other girls, or about the chunk of self-worth that goes in the toilet when you make those crucial “I thought it was love” mistakes during those years.

I get it, we were all young. And there is forgiveness, after all. I can do that, but it doesn’t mean I want to spend time around people who made me feel bad about myself. I don’t need to prove anything, and I don’t want to waste my time on a social evening with people that don’t matter to me. But when you tell people that, you come off like an angry troll.

So the decision has been made, it’s a offical NO. Though, I am stuck with the dilemma of what to say when asked why I’m not going, without sounding bitter, damaged, unforgiving or emotionally unstable. Because I’m not any of those things, I just don’t want to be back in the hellish time capsule of Courtice Secondary School, 1986.

Any suggestions, dear readers? Give me your best comeback line…