Tag Archives: Photography

I See Creatures

I thought I’d share with you the pictures of a few of the many wonderful creatures we encountered under the sea last week.  This seahorse was barely ten centimetres tall.


This banded jawfish had a head no wider than a five cent coin.

Banded Jawfish

While these tritoniid nudibranchs living on a gorgonian sea fan were the size of rice grains.  The white strands are their eggs.



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Return to Reality

Blogging has been non-existent for the last two weeks because Mrs Thomson and I, joined by a few good friends, have been on our annual springtime scuba diving expedition to warmer climes.  I took the picture below a few days ago during the rise of a spectacular full moon over the Caribbean Sea.  If I ever write a murder mystery set in the tropics, I have my book cover!

It was, as usual, a splendid outing, with some of the best reef diving in the western hemisphere, great company, plentiful food and a lot of fun.  The only fly in the ointment is the local airline in the Caribbean failing to load one of our bags on the flight from our undisclosed paradise to the local hub from which we flew home yesterday.  Unfortunately it contained the most vital (and costly) components of my underwater photography rig.  I’ve been promised that it would be put on a flight back to Canada today, and so I wait with bated breath for a call from our airport to tell me I have a bag to pick up.  Failing that, I’ll no doubt be facing a protracted discussion with two airlines and a few insurance companies, followed by the process of reassembling a rig when some of the parts are no longer in production, something I hope to avoid.

I’ve received comments and corrections from my proofreader for the first third of Victory’s Bright Dawn so far, and it only being mid-April, I’m still confident it will be published by the end of the month.  Watch this space, or if you’ve subscribed to my email list, watch your inbox.

UPDATE April 16, 10:00 AM.  Just returned from the airport with the missing  bag that made a long trip by itself yesterday.  All is good.  The underwater photography will continue.

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And On Labour Day We Rested

As you know, I’ve been subjected to forced renovations in the last while and I’m finally making headway on the reconstruction. The most important and labour intensive chunk, insulating the ceiling, was finished yesterday. Tomorrow, I start on the walls, and that should go very quickly. With any luck, by this time next week, the entire area will be insulated, covered with the requisite vapour barrier and the seams taped down, and that means it’ll be ready for the colder weather that’s just around the corner. The rest of the reconstruction I can do at leisure over the next few months, over the next year if I want (and Mrs Thomson is willing to let me get lazy about it). With that big first step completed, and with Like Stars in Heaven (Siobhan Dunmoore Book 3) coming off a good first week since it appeared on the virtual shelves at Amazon, we decided to celebrate work by hiking on a nice little six kilometer trail off the city’s west end.

We saw the usual, of course: chickadees, jays, squirrels, etc. But what struck us was the chipmunk population explosion. I’d seen a few more than usual around the house of course, and one elected to burrow by the garage, but they were everywhere along the Jack Pine Trail, and not the least bit put out by humans. In fact, a few came close enough to pose for portraits.


I also had a staring contest with a blue jay, and I’m not talking about the kind that plays baseball.


The early September sunshine felt wonderful, though I’m already seeing changes in the quality of the light that hint at the approach of fall.  As well the morning fog is becoming ever more frequent, another sign that the season is on the decline.

Driving through the city, to get to the trail and then back home, I was reminded that I’d not been downtown in almost five months, after spending the better part of my working life there. I don’t miss the commute one single bit, especially when listening to the morning and afternoon traffic reports. I am indeed fortunate.  Yes, I’m still living the dream…

Howling Stars (Decker’s War Book 4) passed the three-quarters completion mark yesterday, so it’s looking good to land in my editor’s hands at the end of the month. As for Siobhan Dunmoore Book 4, I’m toying with some story ideas, but nothing definite has come to me yet, though I already know what the opening sequence is going to be (hint: it involves a lot of shooting!). By the way, if you haven’t yet downloaded a copy of Siobhan Dunmoore’s latest adventure, check out Chapters 1-4 or go to your Amazon store.

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The Hills Are Alive

With the sound of tiny flapping wings.  Lots of flapping wings.  Gatineau Park was obviously hosting a butterfly convention this weekend.  They seemed to be everywhere, such as here:


We also saw ladybugs getting frisky, in public!  Gasp!


The view, as usual, was splendid.  That’s the Ottawa River in the distance.


A lovely 7 kilometre hike to end the Canada Day long weekend was just the right thing for us.  Tomorrow, it’s back to the grind… at least for Mrs Thomson.  For me it’s back to revising Like Stars in Heaven.  I’m about three-quarters done as of right now, so it should land in my editor’s inbox this coming Tuesday.  Then, I need to get back to the renos I started a few weeks ago – while working on the first draft of Howling Stars of course.  I hope all my Canadian readers had a great Canada Day and to my American readers, have a great Fourth of July tomorrow.

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Here Be Dragons

Or at least dragonflies


And magic mushrooms


We’re lucky to live in a part of town where a 10 minute drive will take us to several nice woodland trails (which also accommodate cross country skiing in winter) and even though they’re close enough to the hustle and bustle for us to hear distant traffic, trains and plenty of airplanes overhead, it’s still enough for a good two hour hike in the forest, far from the concerns of everyday life and a world that, at times, seems to have gone insane.  All in all, it was a good way to spend part of a Sunday afternoon.  For Mrs Thomson, the hike brought a bit of peace before another week in the bowels of the demented bureaucracy and it gave me a few hours away from my current work, revising Like Stars in Heaven.  Progress on the latter has been good over the last three days and I intend to keep plowing ahead during the coming week.



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June is Bustin Out All Over

Yesterday, we did our weekly trek through nature, this time at the northern edge of Gatineau Park, and though the temperature was 31 degrees Celcius, it felt quite pleasant in the shade of the trees and under a light breeze.  Flowers everywhere, dragonflies buzzing, birds chirping and running through my mind was Rodgers and Hammerstein’s June is Bustin Out All Over from the musical Carousel.  We ended up walking for two hours, covering about 7 kilometres of woodland, open glades and over hill and dale, as it were.  Of course, the rest of the day was spent in lazy repose, our fifty-something bodies having given their all.  As a result, I didn’t quite reach my word count goal for the first draft of Howling Stars, but since I’d written over 5,300 words on Saturday, I forgave myself for only writing 1,100 words on Sunday.

Flowers as far as the eye can see:


And the remains of a tree:


But, it’s Monday and back to work.  Zack Decker’s latest adventure won’t write itself (sadly).

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A Walk in the Woods

Today, we had our first walk in the woods for 2016. Nothing too complicated, a simple 1.5hr hike in the Gatineau Park. It was also the first hike since the day when I decided to take early retirement and focus on writing. What a difference! I can still recall my state of mind late last summer, on this very same trail, when I knew that the next day would see me back in the bowels of the demented bureaucracy, fending off dragons and battling orcs. It was nice to simply enjoy nature today, without worrying about work. My commute tomorrow morning will be measured in meters and my boss will be looking back at me from the mirror when I brush my teeth.

I took this picture along the Lauriault Trail, just above the waterfall.  It was just cool enough to be comfortable on an otherwise sweltering day, and the bugs didn’t bother us too much.


Fatal Blade has been out for five days now and seems to be doing well. In another two months, Like Stars in Heaven will join it.  At the current rate of progress, I should have the manuscript in my editor’s hands by the end of June.  Perhaps I’ll be able to celebrate the one year anniversary of my decision to retire with the publication of the fourth Decker’s War adventure this coming November.


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Astronomy Picture of the Day

Whenever I need some inspiration while I’m writing, I visit this neat website:

Astronomy Picture of the Day

They have some really beautiful photos, many of which make you stare in awe at the majesty of the universe.  Check out the archives as well:

APOD Archives

In terms of progress on The Path of Duty: one more round of line editing and then it’s off to the proof-reader.  I’ve got vacations coming up in July, so I’ll be spending some of that time finalizing the novel for publication, between the various repairs on the property that I’ve successfully dodged up to now.  Getting in a round or two of golf as well would be nice.

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Beauty in Decay

With the weather quickly approaching summertime warmth during the day, Mrs Thomson and I decided to do our first woodland hike of the season today. We went back to our usual spring opener, a relatively flat 6 kilometre trail that wends its way through second growth forest, swamp and marshland. We weren’t the only ones feeling the need to shed the last of the unnaturally cold winter’s cobwebs from our brains, and the trail was well traveled, even if nature still looked a tad bare thanks to the late spring. Leaves are only beginning to emerge from their buds, while the ducks and geese aren’t as plentiful as they’ve usually been in early May. Comparing from year to year, nature is a few weeks behind. I hope that we’ll make up for the missed weeks of warmth with a later than usual onset of winter, but I doubt we’ll be so lucky.

With most of the greenery still coming from coniferous trees, the layers of decay in the undergrowth were particularly visible. One rotten tree trunk in particular caught my attention as it was proof that there was artistry and beauty even in putrefaction. It hadn’t caught my attention last year, probably because it was still mostly whole, and I know it won’t be there, or at least won’t be in that form next year.

Rotting tree trunk. Canon 5D Mark III; 70-300mm lens @ 75mm focal length; f/7.1, 1/250, ISO400

Rotting tree trunk.
Canon 5D Mark III; 70-300mm lens @ 75mm focal length; f/7.1, 1/250, ISO400

There is a trend in science-fiction to write stories about or set in decaying institutions, empires, republics and what have you. It’s not a new trend, but in recent years it has become more widespread and in your face, or at least so it seems to me. Whether it’s a reflection of the pessimism many feel for the future of our current civilization, that malaise that seems to permeate western societies, or simply a fad is up for question. But like as not, some stories set in a universe filled with rot can really grip the imagination, showing that even there, we can find beauty in decay.

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