Friday 25 February 2011

Animythical Tales by Sarah Totton (Book Review)

From the back cover:

“In this elegant volume, award-winning author Sarah Totton takes her readers on speculative journeys of the heart and mind that will both challenge and engage you. Within these tales, readers will learn the meaning of darkness and pain and fear. Yet they will also learn about love and happiness and laughter. Sarah Totton explores the full kaleidoscope of the human heart and peels is back, one layer at a time. She offers her readers a full palette of emotions and stories to sift through, never settling, never holding back, and never flinching. Whether she is writing about the loss of innocence through dark revelations, the point to which a human mind can be stretched before succumbing the magic of faerie, or something a s preposterous as cloud-fishing in a work with pink yaks, the stores in Animythical Tales are always told with an eye toward revealing something important about the human condition. If you have ever yearned to fall into fabulous adventures in unforgettable worlds, Animythical Tales is the collection for you.”

This book begins with an impressive introduction by Forrest Aguirre. Ms Totton has an eloquent writing style to take the reader on magical journeys of fantasy laced with horror elements in an everyday setting. The majority of the stories are sea based, and all of them reveal a nice attention to detail.

A Fish Story

First appeared in Realms of Fantasy Magazine, October 2006.
Reprinted in Fantasy: the Best of the Year: 2007.

About a young woman who desires a man not interested in her.

The Man with the Seahorse Head

Published in Commonwealth Short Stories CD 2007-2008.
Regional Winner for Canada & the Caribbean of the
Commonwealth Short Story Competition

A man raising his children with care before setting them free into the sea.

Flatrock Sunners

Appeared in Black Static #12

Missing the companionship of his father, a teenage boy reminisces about their times together and his father’s explanation about the Flatrock Sunners: a group of ghosts.

Pelly Medley

A scientist counting seabirds on an island acquires a mysterious box from a souvenir shop that reacquaints him with his childhood friends.

Bluecoat Jack

Published in TEXT: UR-The New Book of Masks, 2007.
Honourbale Mention, Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror, 2008

A warped tale of using peoples’ memories for artistic purposes.

A Sip from the Cup of Enlightenment

To be published in Polyphony 7

This was a lovely fantasy with dark elements of a teacher at a school whose divinity was based on the sayings of oracles about prophets and dragons. He discovers a skeleton with red hands in a closed off portion of the school, and discovers the consequences after stealing one of the bones.

Choke Point

First published in Fantasy Magazine, December 2009

A wonderful tension packed story with a nice twist at the end. A scientist researcher prepares to move into the city for his love, Rebecca. There are excellent descriptive details of background combined with a naturalist’s viewpoint.

The Bone Fisher’s Apprentice

First published in Writers of the Future, Volume XXIi.
Honourable Mention, Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror, 2007.

The apprentice was discovered as a foundling by the Bone Fisher, a spinner of dreams. Yearning to discover her connection to humans, she meets a beach scavenger, Bellan, and teaches him one of the Bone Fisher’s secrets.

A Little Tea and Personal Magnetism

In a hilarious parody, an aspiring writer, George Y. Whynot, demonstrates his lion taming skills.

The Teasewater Five

Published in The Nine Muses, 2005.
Honourable Mention, Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, 2006.

After having a stillborn birth, an artistic woman, create a series of perfect miniature figurines: animals, a bird and a boy. Her equally talented brother animates them including the ability to speak by infusing a bit of his soul. This with a very creepy ending.

The review copy was provided by Sarah Totton. Ms Totton is a licensed veterinarian in Ontario, a former wildlife biologist, and recently earned her doctorate in epidemiology.

Book format: paperback, 124 pages
Publisher: Fantastic Books
Author website: Sarah Totton
Available: March 2010

Tuesday 22 February 2011

Hiking Trails - Bow Glacier Falls

[1] Highway 93N - Icefields Parkway headed south to Bow Lake and Crowfoot Glacier on Mt. Crowfoot, 3050m (10,007 ft).

This hike is located in Banff National Park just off the Icefields Parkway. Please consider there is the possibility of rapid weather changes and take rain gear along as sudden showers are likely in and around the many icefields present in this area.

Distance: 4.6km one way, takes about 2 hours for one way
Elevation Gain: 155m
Trailhead: 36km north of the Lake Louise Junction on the Icefields Parkway. Turn off at the Num-Ti-Jah Lodge Access Road on the west side of the highway. The trailhead kiosk is 400m down this access road.

[2] Num-Ti-Jah means ‘pine marten’.

The mountain behind the lodge is Mount Jimmy Simpson 2966m (9730 ft) named after an early well respected outfitter who arrived from England in 1896, built the Lodge Num-Ti-Jah for his patrons. Jimmy Simpson died in 1972 at the age of 95. Simpson commented about the area: "There is absolutely nothing in the city to give us the same feeling as the great, mysterious things of nature even though they be stone and ice. It is only among them that we feel the utter helplessness and insignificance of ourselves."*


For those interested in staying at the Num-Ti-Jah Lodge I have provided the link. Though a bit pricey I think a full package with breakfast, packed lunch and dinner would be the ticket for a glorious stay of a night or two.



The pointed bump to the right of Bow Glacier is Portal Peak, 2911m (9550 ft) was named by Charles s. Thompson in 1916. This is in the direction the hike destination to Bow Glacier Falls.

The trail follows the northern edge of Bow Lake.


There are several bridges that cross streams.


At the lake outlet there are gravel bars and a plain with the falls visible in the distance.


[9] Gravel bars

At the end of the plain are a set of stairs needed to reach the falls. There are about 65 steps to the top, set in an irregular fashion.



As the hiker ascends the stairs various views of the Bow River gorge can be seen.


It is near here, before the top of the stairs are reached , where a branch off trail to the left goes to the Bow Hut (run by the Alpine Club of Canada. or those considering this route there is a daunting bridge of a large limestone boulder that crosses the gorge.

Above the stairs the trail reaches a crest on a glacial moraine where there is a 45 minute hike to the falls.


The falls originate from a fair sized lake below Bow Glacier which is unseen from below lying in a basin below the toe of the receding glacier.



Bow Glacier Falls are the headwater of the Bow River.

View from bottom of bow glacier falls.

[17]- View from sitting near base of Bow Glacier Falls looking down to Bow Lake.

For those intrepid hikers who happened to carry along proper equipment and ropes a scramble up the rocks to the glacial lake at the toe of the Bow Glacier will reveal an awesome sight.


[19] Bow Glacier with view of the sharp spire of St. Nicholas Peak, 2970m (9750 ft) located on the eastern edge of the Wapta Icefield.

Photo Credits: [1]-Alaskan Dude CC=flickr, [2]-cblee CC=nc-sa-flickr, [3]-surfma CC=nc-flickr, [4][12]-richd777 CC=nc-sa-flickr, [5]-wikimedia commons, [6]-retropc CC=nc-sa-flickr, [7][9]-Gouldy99 CC=nc-nd-flickr, [8]-bolinhanyc CC=nc-flickr, [10][11][14]-BinoCanada CC=nc-sa-flickr, [13]-felix63 CC=nc-nd-flickr, [15]-miss a CC=nc-sa-flickr, [16][17]-lyzadanger CC=nc-sa-flickr, [18][19]-Stefatty CC=nc-sa-flickr.

Sources: *

Wednesday 9 February 2011

Neighbourhood Fauna

Nearby to where I live there is a creek catering to wild ducks and other creatures. Summer or winter there are various groups of wild ducks, mostly mallards, though there have been some unusually coloured ones: various shades of black and white, and brown and white with or without white breasts and white underneath.

[1 –Male Pintail - brown or black body with long black tail feathers]

The only species I could find in my bird book were the Northern Pintail, whom fly south for the winter.

[2 –Female Pintail - has a slightly shorter tail and grayish bill]

There was a late group of young ducks hatched in the summer and I wonder how they are faring the winter. Perhaps they will return this spring so I can get a photo or two of them. There was one in particular that caught my attention whenever I crossed the bridge to do errands.

[3 -Mallard on ice - click to enlarge]

The mallards are braver to withstand the cold and have lingered so far, sometimes the only indication of their being present are the webbed shaped footprints left in the snow on the creek. It was strange to see them paddling in melted water atop ice waiting for the next donation of bread crumbs or slices.

[4 -Mallard drake and hen - click to enlarge]

Source: A Field Guide to the Birds of North America (2006) by Michael Vanner, p.54-55.

Photo Credits: [1]-Brendan Btally CC=flickr, [2]-Alan_Vernon CC=flickr, [3]-Grant MacDonald CC=nc-flickr, [4]-wolfpix CC=nd-flickr.