Down the Rabbit Hole with the Butcher of the Somme

In a chance conversation, I referred to General Haig as “The Butcher of the Somme” and mentioned his supposed disdain for machine guns. [Haig was the Commander in Chief of the British forces in France during the WWI Battle of the Somme in July 1916.]

I decided I’d do a little research to justify my words (or not). I ended up going down an uglier rabbit hole than I’d intended. Occupational hazard for authors.

The Butcher of the Somme, showing off some bling and two curtain sashes. [Wikimedia ]
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An Argument with Mrs. S.

You might think this is a post about one of my books. Yes and no. It’s also about an argument with Mrs. S. concerning tombstone inscriptions; who Canada’s best authors are; and whether that should include Canadian poets and songwriters.

Let’s start with my book, Naarlen. It’s my fifth novel and the black sheep of them all. Most readers hate the book. It’s only redeeming feature is that a small number of determined readers love it. Fanatically. I would say “cult” but I think you need more than nine for a cult.

This was supposed to be a photo of a black sheep, but the image archivist has been bolshie because of a small misunderstanding. So: swans in place of sheep, photo credit to Anthony at

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Improving Great Art. One Cat at a Time.

I ran a series of social media posts about Grisou the Cat. In each post I inserted him into some well known work of art – usually a painting – to show the artist how it should be done right. Then I challenged viewers for the best caption, to win international bragging rights. While there were great captions, the judges ignored MY captions. Quelle frustration! So by popular demand from the adoring millions (rounded up to the nearest millions) this post is dedicated to MY captions. At last! Take that, stupid judges!

God: More bloodied angel wing feathers in the garden? This has to stop.

[Hi-res version and more artist info at]

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Building a Garage Kayak Hoist

A Nobel Venture

And no, I didn’t misspell that.

A few weeks back Pascale and her friend, Alison, decided they would each buy a kayak. They drove up to Nobel, Ontario to try out different models, thanks to the good folk at White Squall Paddling Centre. Husbands Gary and self tagged along to provide company and to look decorative while the women tried out kayaks.

After on-the water tests, Alison chose a green beauty – a Delta 12 – and Pascale chose a shiny red Delta 12.10.

I didn’t want to store the kayak in the garden over winter because:

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Stalking the Pelican

Hermitry isn’t what it used to be. I used to think the ideal occupation for a hermit would be either astronomy or lighthouse keeping.

The “Sombrero” galaxy, M104.
Credits: NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) –

Lighthouses are no longer an option. The few that remain, are automated, and run for years with barely any human intervention.

You might think astronomy is still a viable hermit option: you trek up to some icy mountaintop observatory and sit all night with your telescope scanning the skies, every night, for weeks on end.

Not any more.

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