Allison's Book Bag

Saturday Snapshot invites bloggers to share photos. When browsing the Salmonid Interpretation Center, where we annually purchase souvenirs for friends, we realized that Andy hadn’t actually seen the center or its salmon ladder. So, we squeezed in a visit.

The salmon ladder allows salmon bypass the dam to they can swim up the Exploits River to spawn. The salmon are drawn to the salmon ladder naturally because they are wired to swim against the current.

While most of the salmon ladder at the Salmonid Interpretation Center is covered by metal grating, right next to the center there’s an uncovered holding area. Here, visitors can watch the salmon leap into the holding area. Andy and I spent a lot of time here trying to get photos of “flying” salmon.

Visitors can also go to the lower level of the interpretation area to get an underwater view of the holding area through large windows. It was easier to get photos of the salmon here.

Originally the Exploits had few Atlantic Salmon because of the large waterfalls in Bishop’s Falls and at the Grand Falls. Thanks in part to the salmon ladder, a returning run of 1,500 in the late 1970s has grown to 35,000 adult fish today. We’ve never before been so fascinated by fish!


My Muse Monday is a fun meme where writers can meet other like-minded writers and share what they’ve been working on and how the week has gone for them. Mostly, I’ll post a monthly summary of my local writing group’s meetings. Occasionally, I’ll update you on my own writing progress.

A year ago, I made the decision to focus on writing for animal welfare, and shared here that I had no idea what the end result would be. “There will be articles. There will be stories. There might even be publications. But, I don’t know anything else. All I know is that I’ve stopped being focused on an end goal; instead for the next year at least I plan to enjoy the journey itself.”

This past spring, two concrete developments happened. First, the animal welfare group I blog for asked me to take on the role of Media Chair. Duties will include submitting a monthly article to our local newspaper’s pet section, fund-raiser details to media event calendars, and setting up television spots to promote fund-raisers. Other initiatives I’ve taken on as part of being their blogger is creating a table of contents for our blog and finding guest bloggers.

Second, I enrolled in a journalism course called Feature Writing in the Digital Age. Assignments will require me to:

    • Exercise 1: Write a rough outline of a feature article on a topic of your choice.
    • Exercise 2: Imagine you’re a celebrity reporter. Write two paragraphs introducing You, the hot new star.
    • Exercise 1: Brainstorm three different ideas. Generate at least two different angles for each.
    • Exercise 2: Using one of your angles as the topic, suggest an appropriate feature form.
    • Exercise 1: Write two different ledes based on one of the angles you developed in Lesson Two. Which one do you like better? Why?
    • Exercise 2: Write two similar ledes, in a different voice. Imagine you’re covering the same topic for two very different magazines.
    • Exercise 1: Develop a query for a how-to article.
    • Exercise 2: Write a 600-word how-to article on a topic of your choice.
    • Exercise 1: Select an interesting person to interview.
    • Exercise 2: Write a 600-word profile of a person or business.
    • Exercise 1: Choose an incident from your life and write a 600-1,000 word essay based on your experience.
    • Exercise 2: Write a 600-word op-ed on a timely issue. Include statistics or facts to support your opinion.

In addition to being online, a perk is there aren’t any set deadlines other than I need to complete the course in a year.

I have set two more goals for this fall. First, visit a local shelter and write creative profiles of homeless pets I meet. A calendar date called Dogust inspired this idea. See Universal Birthday for Shelter Dogs for more details. Second, become a pet-sitter as a way to gain more experience and education with animals. I’ll keep you posted!


Saturday Snapshot invites bloggers to share photos. For our most recent vacation, my husband and I visited various birding sites in Newfoundland. I shared photos from Cape St. Mary’s and from Witless Bat, both seabird ecological reserves. This week’s post will feature Elliston.

Just off the Bonavista Penlsula, Elliston is dubbed Root Capital of the World. The small fishing community is also known as a tourism destination for many other many wonders including a sealers memorial and puffins. The last is the main reason we visited.

The late hour in which Andy and I arrived at Elliston inspired our first adventure. The only restaurant in town was closed. We faced the choice of a snack shop in a park or driving to the next town. We choose the snack shop, only to find the lady closing up when we arrived. She reopened just so we could have hot food. That’s Newfoundland hospitality!

The next day, we partook in additional adventures. First up were the puffins. At first, there didn’t seem to be any. By waiting long enough, however, we discovered that the puffins had disappeared into the water to eat. Eventually, we got to to see ones.

Next, we hit tourist shops and other sites. By now, having seeing the cute and bright puffins in abundance, we were enamored with them. We brought several puffin-related souvenirs.

Root cellars are known for keeping food supplies at a low temperature and steady humidity. They keep food from freezing during the winter and keep food cool during the summer months to prevent spoilage. While interesting in their own right, root cellars couldn’t compete with the comical puffins. We returned a second time to see them, focusing mostly on taking shots of the puffins taking off, flying, or landing.


AwwwMondays-Puppy-AvatarWith our household of critters having expanded to include three cats and a dog, I thought it fitting to join a meme related to pets. After searching around, I came across Awww….. Mondays. The one rule is: “Post a picture that makes you say Awww…. and that’s it.” Every photo seemed to feature a pet and so the meme is a perfect.”

Earlier in the month, I shared how the Cat Trio greeted my husband and me upon returning from our annual vacation. Today it’s our solo dog’s turn to have his story told.

While Andy and I are in Canada, Barnaby gets to have his own vacation. Barnaby stays with the folks and their dog while we’re gone. Their dog used to get jealous. Now that his ability to see, hear, or smell have decreased, his tolerance of Barnaby seems to have increased.

From emails we received in July, Barnaby’s vacation seems to have gone well. He slept in their bed and he practiced tricks. His eating wasn’t great, but they spoiled him with chicken and other treats. Those make up for the healthy foods and yucky medications that we left for him.

When we get back in town, picking up our solo dog from Andy’s folks is our first priority. We pull into the driveway. We climb up the steps to the second level. We push aside the baby gate, installed to keep the dogs safe. And there Barnaby is!

His tail hesitantly wags. After all this time, is it really us? When certain, he greets us with a slew of slobbery kisses. We pick up what’s left of supplies and hen we’re out the door. Barnaby glances between the folks and us. Are we really taking him? I pick him up and carry him to the car. Andy starts the engine. Barnaby snuggles into my lap, but then sits up. Is our normal life about to resume?

An evening at home lies ahead. For Barnaby there are also some concerns ahead. Earlier in the year, his gall bladder had gotten diagnosed as being full of sludge. Our vet prescribed some medication. Just before our vacation, a bubble appeared in Barnaby’s gall bladder. Our vet prescribed some antibiotics. And so the week after we get back, we take Barnaby to the vet. The bubble is gone and the sludge hasn’t gotten worse. But the sludge hasn’t gone away either. So now we’re trying a motility drug.

Barnaby is so quiet and our faithful shadow. Except when playing with Andy or with the cats. Then he runs and barks and has a good time. We’re praying that he gets many healthy years ahead.

Saturday Snapshot invites bloggers to share photos. For our most recent vacation, my husband and I visited various birding sites in Newfoundland. So far, I’ve shared photos from Cape St. Mary’s, one of seven seabird ecological reserves protected by provincial legislation. This week’s post will feature Witless Bay. Comprised of four small islands, this reserve is home to millions of seabirds that come to shore in the summer to nest and raise their young.

Whales supposedly swim in the area too, especially humpback and minkes. We didn’t see many whales, but we did see a large variety of birds. Newfoundland Tourism advises that the reserve is best seen from a tour boat. This is how Andy, my sister, and I spent one of our mornings together on the Avalon Peninsula.

Not far into our tour, we saw puffin on the water. Then just as when we visited Cape St. Mary’s, when we reached the four islands, we saw cliffs blanketed with birds as far as the eye could see. They provided us with a great viewing pleasure.

Of course, once again, picking what to focus on proved a challenge. Moreover, because of being on a boat, managing to take clear photos was also a task. I tried to capture shots of each type of bird, especially of ones in flight.

For anyone who has the opportunity, we highly recommend the O’Briens boat tour, which leaves from Bay Bulls. From the moment the boat launched, we enjoyed the experience. Our guide had a light personality and made everyone feel at ease. He’s also a member of the Irish Descendants and sometimes led passengers in stirring songs. And when the boat tour ended, we ate traditional Newfoundland cuisine at The Sailor’s Gallery Restaurant, where reservations can be made and souvenirs bought.

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Summer Months

I'm taking the summer off from reviewing to just read for pleasure. Check back in September for news and reviews!



Cat Writers’ Association
Artists Helping Animals

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