About Joyce Holmes

Joyce Holmes lives with her husband and two small dogs in the beautiful Okanagan region of British Columbia, Canada. The greatest of pleasures can be found in the simplest of things. Playing with puppies, reading, and spending time with family, especially the grandkids. Joyce enjoys photography and blogging about her travels, and when she’s not planning her next adventure, she’s off enjoying life’s simple pleasures.

The Full Moons of 2021

Even before the pandemic hit, my life was pretty isolated, so when Covid put restrictions on the world, I really had to search for purpose. Of necessity, I began giving myself fun projects and goals to be achieved. One of these goals in 2021 was to look at the night sky more often, and to document all the full moons.

Around 10:00 every night I take my little dogs out for their final potty break, and that gives me the perfect opportunity to look skyward. Often all I see are clouds, so I feel blessed when the skies are clear, with stars and maybe even the moon twinkling above.

I’ve always revelled in the full moon, and have often photographed it over the years, even when my various mickey-mouse cameras could capture nothing more than a blurry little light in the sky. I now have a camera with an excellent long lens, capable of taking lovely close-ups. These are a couple of shots from 2019.

March’s Super Worm Moon

A crescent moon in April

Unfortunately, our skies were socked in for the first full moon of the year on January 28th, as is typical here in the winter. The skies broke slightly the next evening, and even though the shots weren’t fabulous, I managed to capture January’s Wolf Moon one day late.

February 27th was such a high-drama night. The owls were hooting, neighbourhood dogs were howling, and the Full Snow Moon was dancing a tango with the clouds.

Having learned my lesson from January and February’s cloudy skies, I snapped this picture of March’s Worm Moon, on the 26th, two days before it turned full.

The full moon played peekaboo with the clouds all evening on March 28th, but I caught a quick glimpse. It also happened to be the first Supermoon of the year.

Because of where it’s situated in the sky in relation to my surroundings, it’s much harder to find a crescent moon. I lucked out in April, with this beauty in the clear skies.

There was another Supermoon in April. This was the Super Pink Moon on the 25th, two days before full.

And the next evening.

It lived up to its Full Supermoon status, shining brilliantly and gigantically on the 27th.

I considered myself lucky to spot this nice, bright crescent moon mid-May.

I thought the clouds had hidden May 26th’s Super Flower Blood Moon (also called a Perigee Supermoon because it’s the closest and brightest moon of 2021), but very late that night, I was awakened by its brightness and took these pictures through my bedroom window while I marvelled at its brilliance.

The Super Strawberry Moon on June 24th put on a showy display.

In June and July, my province experienced extreme heat, followed by devastating wild fires. The Full Buck Moon on July 24th appeared red in the smoky skies.

August’s Blue Sturgeon Moon on the 21st, with Jupiter shining above it.

Cloudy on the 22nd, the night it was full.

And a day past full, on the 23rd.

Sometimes I like to capture the moon looking odd shaped, like this one mid-September.

September 20th’s Full Corn Harvest Moon was gorgeous.

I love scenic shots like this cloudy Full Hunter’s Moon on October 20th. I watched for the longest time as clouds scudded swiftly by, making for an appropriately spooky sky.

I was on a walk with my grandkids when this almost-full moon popped up over the ridge, mid-November. It was pretty amazing.

The skies were clear, and November 19th’s Half-Blood Beaver Moon was so pretty, although my photos didn’t do it justice. This full moon is also known as a micro-moon, because it looks smaller, way up high in the sky.

As it got closer to the final full moon of the year, I started getting paranoid. I’d managed, within a day, to witness every full moon of the year, and plenty of other phases too. I even waved as the space station zipped by one night! Super exciting!! But what if I got scooped on the last full moon? December is notoriously cloudy here, and I really felt the pressure. So I nervously started scanning the sky days ahead of time.

When I saw the moon wearing a sparkly Christmas aura on December 15th, I counted myself fortunate.

Hubby came in from outside the next afternoon and suggested I go look at the moon above the ridges, so I grabbed my camera and captured this sparkly little treasure.

Very early in the morning of December 17th, Hubby spotted this bright moon, and kindly took photos to show me.

The skies were clouded over all day on the 18th, so I was amazed when I went out with my dogs that evening and saw the Full Cold Christmas Baby Moon shining up above, with nary a cloud in sight. Also known as an Apogee Micro-moon, it’s the furthest and dimmest moon of 2021. I, however, didn’t find it dim, at all. Tiny, for sure, but it had lots of sparkle, and I was so happy to see it.

And my goal’s accomplished – an entire year’s worth of full moons. None of those photos would win a best-picture blue ribbon, but I’m pleased to have them. And even more pleased that I took the time to look up into the night sky.

Wishing everyone a safe, healthy, and happy New Year!

Bella’s Third Anniversary!

Three years ago, Bella joined our family, and we’re so pleased with the sweet girl she’s growing up to be. She was the most adorable puppy.

She went through an awkward adolescent stage before she grew into her ears and got her lovely long hair.

Now, she’s a beautiful little dog, who has finally filled out a bit, weighing a hefty (not really) six and a half pounds.

We hadn’t planned to get a second dog, but soon realized Georgie needed a playmate. While the girls aren’t cuddle pals, they’re very close friends, and have great fun together.

Our neighbours have a new dog, a very big, very cute puppy named Milo. Georgie loves him. Bella, not so much. She’s getting slightly more relaxed, but all too often, she loses it on him. Fingers crossed for continued improvement.

Bella barks way more than Georgie, but Georgie yips and whines more, to vocalize what she wants. Bella just stares at me, and I’m supposed to guess whether she wants outside, something to eat, to sit on my lap…

Bella turned three in April. She stills suffers from some anxiety and impulse control issues, but she’s improving. She’s my sweet little shadow, rarely far from my side. And she loves pats and ear rubs. As she’s matured, she’s getting (a little) easier to take photos of. These were on her 3rd birthday.

I also got several like this, but in her defence, she’s not often unleashed in the front yard, with so many distractions.

Georgie’s a stoic little poser, so as long as Bella cooperates, I can count on Georgie to be looking at me.

The struggle to clip Bella’s nails is real. She wails like I’m murdering her, usually before I even start clipping. The other day I got out the clippers and turned around to find both girls like this.

Georgie isn’t even scared of having her nails done, but she joined Bella in solidarity. When I asked them what was up, they both laid down and ignored me. (They never voluntarily lie in the same bed together.)

Bella’s not as fond of walking in the neighbourhood as she is to going on a nature trail. And amazingly enough, while on-leash, she’s completely quiet. No matter how many people, dogs, cats, squirrels or birds we come across, she doesn’t make a peep. My much quieter Georgie, on the other hand, barks at every large dog she sees, to let them know how brave she is.

Whether it’s urban or rural, Bella’s quick to stop at any patch of shade. This tends to get tedious; although, I might do the same if I had to wear her fur coat.

Whenever we visit our beautiful local parks, I try to capture the moment with the girls. Kalamoir Park

Scenic Canyon

Shannon Lake

Gellatly Bay

Three years have gone by quickly, and our funny, quirky little Bella continues to enrich our lives in so many ways.

Year Three With Little Miss Georgie Girl

A part of me can’t believe it’s been three years today since Georgie came to live with us. I remember the thrill of that day so clearly.

Georgie turned three in January, and she’s matured into a well-behaved, smart little dog with a playful, mischievous side. When she’s happy, she wags her entire backside instead of just her tail.

Her tiny jaw had to work hard to chow down her special birthday treat.

She loves her walks, and is excited to see me put on shoes, thinking that means she might get to go somewhere.

She’ll even go into the closet and tug on her leash.

My photos of the dogs posing together are improving. Georgie is always cooperative, if stoic, while Bella is marginally better at sitting still.

Posing is serious business.

Georgie has grown a bit aloof this past year. She’s very affectionate, but only on her terms. Playing, patting, and kisses (hers, not mine) are good, but snuggles are a no-no. It’s almost comical how she’ll push with her paw to avoid a hug. And most disappointing for me, she prefers napping in her various beds, rather than cuddling on my lap the way she used to.

Blankets make comfy nests, too.

She’ll even pick a pillow over a lap.

Funny enough, she insists on sitting on my lap in the car. As much as I love having her on my lap, I prefer they’re both strapped safely in the backseat.

Georgie had quite a romance with the old dog next door, and sadly he’s gone now, so she’s trying to court the new puppy. While Bella will always be her bestie, I think they’ll become good friends with this gentle giant.

Three years have gone quickly, and every day I’m thankful for the company of my little girls. They offer entertainment, companionship, and purpose that would be so lacking without them.

Christmas 2020

My sister shared this poem on Facebook the other day, and I thought it was so appropriate and well done. I’m very thankful that the author’s name has been brought to my attention, so I can give her the much-deserved credit. Kudos to Shawna Hickling for being so creative at a difficult time.

T’was 2 weeks before Christmas, and all through the town,

People wore masks, that covered their frown.

The frown had begun way back in the Spring,

When a global pandemic changed everything.

They called it corona, but unlike the beer,

It didn’t bring good times, it didn’t bring cheer.

Airplanes were grounded, travel was banned.

Borders were closed across air, sea and land.

As the world entered lockdown to flatten the curve,

The economy halted, and folks lost their nerve.

From March to July we rode the first wave,

People stayed home, they tried to behave.

When summer emerged the lock down was lifted.

But away from caution, many folks drifted.

Now it’s December and cases are spiking,

Wave two has arrived, much to our disliking.

It’s true that this year has had sadness a plenty,

We’ll never forget the year 2020.

And just ‘round the corner – the holiday season,

But why be merry? Is there even one reason?

To decorate the house and put up the tree,

Who will see it, no one but me.

But outside my window the snow gently falls,

And I think to myself, let’s deck the halls!

So, I gather the ribbon, the garland and bows,

As I play those old carols, my happiness grows.

Christmas is not cancelled, and neither is hope.

If we lean on each other, I know we can cope.

Copyright-Shawna Hickling
By: Shawna Hickling, Calgary, AB, Canada
November 19, 2020

Merry Christmas, everyone! And all the best in 2021. I just know it will be a better year!

A Much Needed Getaway!

In this time of coronavirus, Hubby and I have been sticking close to home, but we recently took a roadtrip, and it felt so good to get away. Coming from an area with infection rates of less than .09%, there was little risk of us spreading the virus, and as we always do, we followed BCCDC protocol while away to keep us safe.

I was more concerned about how the dogs would travel. Bella, in particular, has developed some anxiety in the car, even on short trips, and she wants to climb onto my shoulder to pant in my face. Not a great scenario for either of us. So, rather than have them on my lap, we devised a tether with their leashes, and strapped them into the backseat. They both immediately turned their backs on us and pouted.

Even after they got tired of sitting, they refused to look our way.

Georgie eventually started begging to sit up front with me.

When I ignored her, she climbed as close as possible to really lay on the guilt.

And I caved.

Amazingly, Bella, my hyperactive, anxiety-prone pup, relaxed on the backseat, and snoozed for most of the trip.

Georgie’s recently discovered looking out the car window, and she kept a close eye on Hubby as he pumped gas upon our arrival in Calgary.

Georgie and Bella adore the pillows on my son’s couch, and they took advantage of snoozing on them whenever they could.

I even spotted them snuggled together once when there was only one pillow available.

One afternoon, we took a nostalgic journey through my old neighbourhood. I grew up in a modest community called Southview. Our home was newly built when we moved there, but that was many years ago.

It astounded me, as we walked my childhood streets, how small everything looked (except the trees), how short and narrow the streets were. And what happened to the steep hill my house was on? The elevation is now barely negligible.

And around the corner, surely that street went straight down when I was little, terrified to ride my trike on it. Ah, the shifting perspectives of a child with tiny legs versus a grown adult.

The neighbourhood is still unpretentious, but I was happy to see how well-maintained the aging homes and yards were. After a couple of hours roaming around, talking Hubby’s ear off about happy memories, we drove across town to my old high school.

My graduation ceremony was held in the beautiful St. Mary’s Cathedral.

St. Mary’s High has had a facelift or two, but basically it’s still the same brick building I attended.

The view from the students’ entrance has changed a lot. Only the Calgary Tower is familiar.

As a teenager, I’d spent many happy hours on the CN bridge next to the school and along the Elbow River that flows behind it. The old bridge has been transformed into a lovely walking path.

I stood for the longest time on that bridge, looking down at the river, immersing myself in memories. Even the few not-so-good ones were fun to remember. I had an emotional lump in my throat when I walked away.

We drove through downtown, and I pointed out various businesses and landmarks still there after all this time. I would’ve loved to stroll along Stephen’s Avenue pedestrian mall, another place with fond memories, but because of Covid it felt too crowded for my comfort, so I simply gazed longingly as we drove by.

We spent a lovely evening exploring Nose Hill.

Hubby was surprised to find a hill high enough to have a view of downtown.

On the way back, we stopped at the Buffalo Rubbing Stone historic site. This large chunk of quartzite, known as an ‘erratic’, was deposited there by a glacier over 18,000 years ago. And, yes, buffalo really did rub against it.

Picturesque and uncrowded, the miles of paths around Calgary’s storm ponds are perfect for a stroll.

A week of nice weather and quality family time sped by, and all too soon we had to say goodbye and head home. Bella relaxed and settled in immediately.

Georgie, not so much. I felt bad, but made her stay back there.

The farmers had been busy haying.

Glorious fall colours were in full display.

Farmland segued into magnificent Rocky Mountains.

A little bridge at a rest stop in the Rogers Pass caught my eye, so we detoured to check it out. It’s a model of the numerous wildlife crossing structures along Alberta and BC’s TransCanada Highway.

Incredible mountain scenery surrounded us.

This massive raven came up to say hello. Or more likely begging for food.

Never one to turn down a photo-op, I had the girls pose for me. They’re getting much better at staying put.

When we left, Hubby didn’t strap the dogs, thinking Georgie might be happier. Wrong.

Over and over, she’d jump into the front seat, finally becoming so stressed, I had to cuddle her in a blanket to soothe her.

More majestic mountain views.

The colourful Kicking Horse River.

Between Golden and Revelstoke is the scenic summit of the Rogers Pass.

It has an assortment of informative plaques and memorabilia.

A memorial bell.

An old howitzer used for avalanche control.

Three Valley Lake, just west of Revelstoke, was particularly scenic that day.

This is Canada’s Thanksgiving weekend, and I’m so thankful we were able to safely get away to see our family and meet our new granddaughter. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Interesting History of Common Sayings

I didn’t compile these facts, and I don’t know who did, or if they’re even all actual facts, but they seem like logical explanations. Have a read, and judge for yourselves.

They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot & then once a day it was taken & sold to the tannery. If you had to do this to survive you were “piss poor.”

But worse than that were the really poor folk who couldn’t even afford to buy a pot; they “didn’t have a pot to piss in” & were the lowest of the low.

The next time you are washing your hands & complain because the water temperature isn’t just how you like it, think about how things used to be. Here are some facts about the 1500’s.

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good by June. Since they were starting to smell, however, brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women, and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it . . . hence the saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the Bath water!”

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof, resulting in the idiom, “It’s raining cats and dogs.”

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed, therefore, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That’s how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt, leading folks to coin the phrase “dirt poor.”

The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way, subsequently creating a “thresh hold.”

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire.. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while, and thus the rhyme, “Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old.”

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, “bring home the bacon.” They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and “chew the fat.”

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the “upper crust.”

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial.. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up, creating the custom of holding a wake.

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive, so they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift.) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be, saved by the bell or was considered a dead ringer.

And that’s the truth. Now, whoever said History was boring?

What Happened to Common Sense?

I’m going to go on a little rant, because if I keep my mouth shut any longer, my head might explode. I try to be a positive person, and I always want to see the best in everyone, but the stupidity of some people lately is more than I can stomach. I’m not a fan of calling people names, and ‘stupid’ might not always apply, although a lack of IQ is certainly in play in some instances. With others, maybe it’s political brainwashing, naivety, being uninformed, or believing what suits your own agenda.

I’m so tired of hearing the criticisms of how our medical scientists, both here in Canada and with the CDC in the States, have handled the coronavirus pandemic. This is a new virus, folks, never seen before. Naturally, advice is going to evolve over time as knowledge and understanding is expanded. Thank goodness we have well-educated, intelligent people working tirelessly to come up with answers, and as they learn more, the direction they take will change. This is progress, not waffling. That’s only common sense, which seems to be lacking lately.

For all the ‘brave warriors’ out there who’ve decided not to change their daily habits because of an ‘overblown reaction to the flu’, guess what? You’re not brave, and you’re not heroes. You’re selfish. Yes, there might be a small portion of the population who are a bit too paranoid, who take unnecessary precautions, but they aren’t hurting anyone. Their actions only impact their own lives. But the selfish ones, who refuse to curtail their activities, can have huge negative impacts, by spreading the virus to the more vulnerable. And some of these ‘warriors’ are now dead, as well. I guess their decisions didn’t work out very well for them, after all.

Then there’s people saying, “We’ve shut down our hospitals and ruined our economy for what? Nothing happened.” Uh, duh. Maybe nothing happened exactly because of the measures taken. Although, I highly doubt the families and friends of the over 330,000 people who’ve died as a result of the virus, or the millions who have been deathly ill, would say nothing has happened. Please, give your heads a shake, and stop staring at your own bellybutton.

I’m not downplaying the impact this virus and the shutdown has had on the economy, or all the other negative spinoffs. My heart breaks for those struggling to pay their bills and feed their families, or who are lonely and isolated. 100%, the economy has to reopen, but ‘getting back to normal’ isn’t the answer. Everyone has made sacrifices in the past months, some much more than others, and slowly, painfully, we’re gaining ground on this disease. Let’s not lose all that ground now. I’m so thankful that our various Canadian governments are choosing to heed the advice of medical and scientific experts, rather than putting their political agendas ahead of what’s best for the country.

We must continue to wash our hands, stay home when sick, keep physical distances, and wear a mask when unable to physical distance. This isn’t forever, but it’s for now.

In the words of the esteemed Dr. Bonnie Henry, who I greatly appreciate as a steady, compassionate and intelligent health officer for British Columbia, “Be kind, be calm and stay safe.”

Some Georgie & Bella Photos To Brighten Our Day

It’s a sad time for the entire world with this horrendous pandemic situation. I really miss my family, so I’m thankful for the company of my dogs, Georgie and Bella. They’re entertaining little monkeys, and they brighten my life, every day.

Georgie’s becoming a pro at posing (as long as her eyes are open), but Bella’s a real challenge. Take these photos from last fall, for example. Georgie’s a breeze.

Bella, on the other hand…

If I call her name, she comes to me – every time.

Or she thinks I’m mad at her and puts her ears down.

Christmas photos didn’t go much better.

Bella’s looking, Georgie’s eyes are closed.

Bella gets bored and lays down.

Georgie decides to join her.

Success! Sort of.

Bella wasn’t impressed with our first snowfall.

Georgie likes to warm up after coming in from the cold.

Bella’s an inadvertent photobomber.

Playing with our granddaughter is always great fun.

Georgie celebrated her second birthday in January. She’s smart, listens well, and hates to get in trouble. Her deep chest makes her look portly, but she’s actually a perfect five pounds.

She didn’t really know what to do with her special birthday treat.

Bella offered to take care of it for her.

Sometimes Bella guards the treats and toys, so Georgie can’t have any.

One time I locked her in the room with me, so Georgie could have a chew in peace. Poor Bella felt so sorry for herself.

When Hubby put new edging on the basement stair, Georgie refused to cross it. It took her months to conquer this silly fear.

Bella turned two in April. She’s a touch on the high-strung side, but is also very sweet and affectionate. She’s my shadow in the house, and follows Georgie’s lead outside. She’s finally put a bit of weight on her skinny frame, and is now about five and a half pounds.

Her birthday treat disappeared fast.

Georgie loves being in the yard, especially now that she can lay in the sun. Her favourite spot is the back flowerbed.

Bella never stays still for long, but will briefly join Georgie before something distracts her.

We’re fortunate that we have lots of quiet places to walk during this pandemic lockdown. Georgie’s enthusiastic about walks, although she tuckers out quicker than Bella. Bella stubbornly balks quite a bit before deciding to happily and tirelessly have a good romp.

I look forward to the day we can once again safely venture out with the dogs to explore our beautiful province and beyond. Until then, I’ll enjoy my simple pleasures close to home.

Free Codes For Dare To Risk All Audiobooks

I’m excited to announce that my publisher has given me a link where you can download a free copy of my audiobook, Dare To Risk All.

If you don’t have an Audible account you can log into audible with your amazon username and password. Claim your copy at https://freeaudiobookcodes.com/book_details.php?BOOK_ID=3390.

If the codes available says zero, please check back. More will be made available.

If you enjoy the story, please consider leaving a review on Audible. Thanks, your thoughtfulness is much appreciated.


Tessa Caldwell’s carefully structured world is thrown into chaos when the handsome stranger she had an uncharacteristic fling with reappears in her life. Ben not only gets the promotion she thought was hers, but is also intent on resuming their physical relationship. Although Tessa’s rational mind insists on a professional association, both her heart and her traitorous body have other ideas. Can her sensible nature possibly win against such temptation?

Memories of the petite blonde with large, blue eyes have haunted Ben Dunham for months. When he transfers to her branch, he anticipates picking up where they left off. Reality doesn’t match memory when the cool and collected lady wants no part of him. If he intends to pursue Tessa, he has to earn her trust. The problem is, Ben carries a dark and dangerous secret. How does he get Tessa to trust him when he can’t trust himself?

Can a forever kind of girl and a for-the-moment kind of guy take a risk on love?