Tell A Story

I can’t remember exactly where and when I came across the idea that great photographers tell a story with every image they share. I think it was a blog post or email from Canadian photographer David du Chemin. The concept sat in the back of my brain for a while before I made the obvious connection to the adage “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Yes, I’m slow sometimes. πŸ˜‰

When I take observational photos for iNaturalist and National Lake Blitz, the images convey everything I want to communicate about that moment in time and place; in these instances, the camera settings and framing are all about the quality and details of the observation.

But for other photographs, I almost always write something to go with pictures I share, whether on FB, Relive, this blog or for annual photobooks. It’s because I enjoy writing. Plus why would I want to do away with the writing that encourages others to deepen their connection with Nature, start gardening or cultivate a sense of adventure?

The five photograph limit is the compelling creative constraint at the heart of the Photo Blogging Challenge. The culling process is also a curating process. The end result for May 2023? This microfiction collection…

1. Success at Last πŸ™‚

What do you do when someone close to you develops gluten intolerance? You switch to buying gluten free bread, bagels and crackers. You modify the meals you cook to eliminate gluten. And you learn – sometimes the hard way – that gluten hides in all kinds of places. Then the household breathes a collective sigh of relief as symptoms ease.

Except then they don’t. And after a bunch of trying lab tests and other dietary changes, a slow wave of realization breaks…almost everything that’s gluten free is made with sunflower oil…and that childhood sunflower allergy you’d hoped the person had outgrown? They haven’t!!

Time to pack along the reading glasses for more careful scrutiny of nutritional labels at the grocery store. There’s one kind of frozen GF bagel made with canola oil sold at Safeway. And one brand of GF brioche buns made with canola oil sold at Superstore. Plus one brand of GF sourdough bread made with olive oil sold at Blush Lane Organics – for $13 a loaf!!!

Next tactic = home made GF sourdough. I borrowed a gluten free recipe book from the local library, written by someone with 4 GF recipe books to her name and awesome reviews. She describes nurturing sourdough starter as a straightforward process. That’s encouraging.

Off to the grocery store to purchase teff flour, sorghum flour, white rice flour, brown rice flour, potato starch, potato flour, pectin, xanthan gum and tapioca flour (all GF). Come home with sorghum flour, white rice flour, pectin and xanthan gum after shopping at three different stores. Order online and wait 10 days for the other ingredients to arrive.

Woohoo! Everything’s here, so it’s time to start the starter. After seven days of carefully tending the jar of blended flours and water – at the same time every day – nothing! The 23 year old with the gluten intolerance chimes in that maybe it’s because the house is too cold.

Take two. Address the temperature suggestion by placing the starter jar in the Instapot set to the yogurt setting. For seven days straight, every time Mr. GeoK walks through the kitchen he says something about the stink – and let me tell you, teff flour does NOT smell good. BUT, there’s some bubbling action, so I move on to the “mother starter” step in the recipe book. Nope, another failure.

I march to the library and shove the book into the return shoot. Back home, I sit in front of my computer and Google “gluten free sourdough starter.” Aha! Here’s a blog post with a 4.8 star recipe. Happily, the nurturing phase requires only three ingredients – rice flour, buckwheat flour and water. Even better, by day 7 there are lots of bubbles and the mixture has a pleasant sweet/sour scent, kind of like ripe apples.

On to the critical “mother starter” phase. Continuing success! So time for the real test. Can I produce a decent loaf of GF sourdough bread? Answer:

It didn’t rise quite as much as I hoped. But the 23 year old thought it was good. And our visiting 26 year old and his partner also praised the result, offering the following critique: excellent crust and texture, likely to rise higher as the “mother starter” matures, and remember to adjust for high altitude baking. Generous praise, coming from a couple of foodies! πŸ™‚

2. Timber!

Determined to maximize the electricity produced by our soon-to-be-installed solar array, Mr GeoK approached our neighbour (let’s call him Mel) with a proposal: “If you agree to take down your big spruce tree that’s going to cast shade on some of our solar panels every morning, we’ll pay for the tree removal and a replacement (smaller, deciduous) tree.”

Mel: “No, I like this spruce tree. There’s nothing wrong with it.” End of conversation. No problem.

Two days later. I’m out puttering in the yard. Mel’s wife (let’s call her Cathy) is puttering in her yard, and we’re chatting.

Cathy: “I hate this spruce tree. Nothing grows under it. It sheds all these needles and cones that I have to clean up. And it’s too close to the house.”

Me: “Hmmm. That’s interesting. When Mr GeoK offered to pay the bill if you guys would agree to take down the tree, Mel said ‘No’.”

Cathy: “Mel? What Mel? My Mel?”

Me: “Your Mel.”

Silence for a minute, then she moves on to other conversation topics.

Four hours later, Mr. GeoK’s phone rings. It’s Mel: “Yeah, we’re taking down the tree.”

Ten days later, Mr. GeoKs’ found a reputable company to take down our spruce tree and the neighbour’s. Mel insisted on paying their share. We’ll pay for a new tree for their yard, as soon as they’ve decided what they want (something flowering and not too tall). We’re going to get 5% more output from the solar array. And we’re still good friends with Mel and Cathy.

3. Ornithologists

Have you ever liked a board game so much that it’s the only one you play? For months on end? That’s us and Wingspan. Once a week, every week since Christmas, three of us sit down for a rematch. The 23 year-old usually wins. Mr GeoK and I each win just often enough that we think we’re getting better at game strategy.

This month, the entire game dynamic changed, with the temporary addition of two more players. Our 26 year-old and his partner play at least weekly, too. So there was no need to bring anyone up to speed on game play. It was full on competition between five dining room chair ornithologists – who can attract and nurture just the right combination of birds to win?

Well, it wasn’t me. In fact, over the span of four games I managed to earn my lowest score ever. Which means I also have the honour of knowing I earned the lowest-ever score in the family! And it wasn’t Mr GeoK. Of note, however, he did earn his highest ever feather point total in a game.

Our visitors each won a game. And our 23 year-old earned top score twice, including the highest ever score in the family. In one game, the winner doubled the score of the last place finisher (118 – 59). In another, there was only a 16 point spread between first (113) and last (97). Several new personal “bests” were earned. We played birds we’d never played before. And round end goals we’d never seen before. There was cooperative play. And cutthroat play. Most of all, it was family time. It made my heart sing.

4. Road Ride

A few months back, our 26 year old announced he and his partner were coming for a “working” visit, but were willing to take one vacation day for a compelling experience. “Great! You and A can rent e-bikes and ride the Bow Valley Parkway while it’s closed to vehicles,” I immediately responded. Little did I know they’d want the parental units to come along as guides.

Which is how Mr GeoK and I found ourselves mounting our pedal-powered bikes for a 50 km ride with the two younger ones on e-bikes. It went better than I’d hoped, with plenty of photo stops and a couple of rest breaks.

Just before the steepest hill, I suggested C & A ride on ahead to Johnston Canyon, to lock up their bikes and hike the “can’t miss” catwalk trail in Banff National Park. They enjoyed beautiful waterfalls while Mr GeoK and I switchbacked and panted our way up the steep climb.

For the return trip, I handed over my bear spray and said, “Don’t worry about us. Ride on ahead so you don’t fret about returning the rental bikes on time.”

So they did! And Mr GeoK and I enjoyed our slower-paced, pedal-powered ride back to Banff, where we had our bikes loaded on the bike rack just as C & A walked up after returning the bikes.

It was the ideal mix of all together vs couples time, and the perfect blend of pedal power and e-bikes. For a video recap of our adventure, check out Mr GeoKs’ Relive.

5. You’ve Got To Be Kidding Me!?

Yay! And thank you! There’s no better gift than a new Lego set for Mother’s Day (or any day, for that matter). I grinned like the Cheshire cat when I saw the box for set 31208 Hokusai: The Great Wave.

I carefully opened one end of the box. Hmm, that’s kind of strange. There’s a loose brick in here. And the inner box is way smaller than the outer box.

I opened the inner box. WTF?!?

rock, Lego and Megablocks

My gift turned out to be a “rock in a box” plus a dozen or so Lego bricks and a few dozen of the dreaded Mega Bloks! The online retailer where Mr GeoK bought the set fell victim to a purchase/return scammer. Happy ending for me, as they sent a replacement set. But sad, too, that even one person thinks this is an okay thing to do.


This post is for the monthly Photo Blogging Challenge. Please head over to host PJ’s blog to enjoy story telling by other participants. And while you’re at it, please consider joining in. Where Will You Go is the theme for June 2023. All you need are 5 photos. The amount of accompanying text is entirely up to you.


  1. InstaSnap is the only other PBC post that I’ve published containing ONLY phone camera photographs.
  2. Did you notice the Easter egg in the microfiction titles?

4 thoughts on “Tell A Story

  1. Looks like you had a full month. I can’t believe the LEGO scammer. Unbelievable the nerve some people have!!!

    It’s good to have neighbors like Mel and Cathy. So many people fight over trees and other structures in the yard, some even end up not speaking to each other anymore.

    Going gluten free requires so much research, planning and sourcing. Gold stars for you! β™₯

    Since you guys are into birds you may wonder what kind of bird you might be? A friend of mine blogged about it and included the personality test:

    PS Here’s my score:
    Peacock (30%)
    Owl (25%)
    Eagle (25%)
    Dove (20%)

  2. cmiked

    Such a great post. I think I said it before, but I love the idea of a roadway shut down to bikes only for a period. What a treat!

  3. Wow! Five mini stories for the price of one! I enjoyed each one of them. I can imagine trying to switch to all gluten free would be very challenging. It’s like trying to cut out sugar….it’s in everything. Entrepreneur insists on taking down our dead trees….which means I get to help haul the limbs! Nice selection of topics. πŸ’œ

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