Jack’s Walk

Who could say no to that face? ©voyager, all rights reserved

I awoke to the sound of ice pellets hitting my window this morning, telling me at once that it was colder than yesterday and still raining. I could feel the dampness in the house as I creaked and groaned my way out of bed and went to start the coffee, so next, I turned on the gas fireplace, hoping to dry the air out a bit and add a touch of cheer to the dull and dreary day. I opened the front door to bring in the newspaper and was met with a cold wind blowing freezing drizzle in my face. Thankfully, it didn’t seem to be sticking to things or turning to ice on the ground, and a quick check-in with the weather channel told me it was above zero, by 1°c.  Hey, I thought they said yesterday that it was going to get warmer over the next few days. 1°c is not warmer, and freezing drizzle, even if it doesn’t stick, is not better than rain. Just then, Jack crawled out of bed and came to ask for his breakfast. As I was getting it ready for him, I casually said that if he didn’t want to go for a walk today, that would be alright. Jack said he’d think about it and he did until 10:30 when he decided he wanted to go out. He could see his gaggle of teenagers up at the corner talking, and he was eager to go say hi. I wasn’t quite as eager to go out, but Jack gave me the face, and I knew he meant business,  so I layered up and out we went into the nasty, wet day. I don’t think Jack even noticed the weather, he was so anxious to go see his kids. About half-way up the block, he got his reward, when one of his favourite young women called out his name and started walking toward him. Jack wiggled and wagged his way up to her and they greeted each other like long-lost friends. Soon, Jack was surrounded by a half-dozen more young people, all saying his name and stroking him. Jack handed out kisses like they were Hallowe’en candy, and by the time we said goodbye to continue on our way, Jack was positively glowing with happiness, and the day didn’t seem nearly so nasty or dreary to me. Thanks, Bubba. I love the way you live in the moment.

Fuzzy and Fierce

From Avalus, two small creatures hard at work. One of them looks adorably fuzzy and cute, and the other one looks fierce and ferocious.

The Black Bee I found buzzing around in this bush, covered in pollen.

Black Bee ©Avalus, all rights reserved

Black Bee 2 ©Avalus, all rights reserved


On the same day, I found this wasp. She sports some terrifying mandibles!

Clawed Wasp ©Avalus, all rights reserved

Clawed wasp 2 ©Avalus, all rights reserved





Jack’s Walk

There’s still a bit of colour…if you look down. ©voyager, all rights reserved

It’s been raining here most of the day, and the landscape has gone back to looking like bleak autumn instead of the deep of winter.  There isn’t a speck of snow or ice left, and I’m grateful for that. It sure makes walking Jack less fraught with danger and not nearly so physically demanding. Jack has mixed feelings about the weather. Today, for the very first time, Jack didn’t want to go for a walk. We stepped out on the porch, Jack raised his head and looked slowly to the right, then to the left, and then he turned around and asked to go back into the house. Sheesh! 2 days ago he was swimming in the frigid water of the river, and today he lets a little rain put him off. He’s a water dog for Pete’s sake.  It’s even in his name. Officially, Jack is Wasserhund’s King Jackson Brown, and Wassserhund means ‘water dog’ in German. So my water dog didn’t want to go out in the rain.

I fixed that, though. I put Jack in the house and set out across the street to check the mailbox. I could see him watching me through the window as I made my way down our sidewalk, and then he started to howl, a loud, pitiful howl like the coyotes that we hear down east. I had no idea that he could even do that! I think he thought I was going on our walk without him. By the time I got back a minute or two later, Jack was eager to go out despite the rain, so we stepped out on the porch again, and this time Jack didn’t stop to take measure. He just went down the stairs with his tail wagging: Sehr gut,  meine wasserhund.

Happy Birthday, Caine

Robert, Desert Son OM kindly reminded us that today is Caine’s birthday. I am rubbish at dates, but I always prefer birthdays to death days, as they speak of life and quite often, of happy memories.

How to better celebrate Caine’s birthday than with a bird, so here’s a duck on a sea of gold. Happy Birthday, Caine!

©Giliell, all rights reserved


What do you mean “boundaries”???

These days a conversation blew up in my Twitter feed, started by what seemed to me a pretty thread about asking for help and emotional labour:

“I want to chat briefly about this text that I received from a friend last week:

“Do you have the emotional/mental capacity for me to vent about something medical/weight-related for a few minutes””

Sounds pretty harmless, right? She talks about friends respecting their friend’s capacity, how amazing she thought it was for her friend to check in with her whether she could handle such a conversation right now, and after being asked for one, she provided a template for declining:

“Hey! I’m so glad you reached out. I’m actually at capacity / helping someone else who’s in crisis / dealing with some personal stuff right now, and I don’t think I can hold appropriate space for you. Could we connect (later date or time) instead / Do you have someone else to reach out to?”

From some of the reactions on my carefully curated Twitter feed you’d think she’d proposed skinning live kittens. People accused her of being a shitty friend (because saying “that’s tough” is easy and all that is needed) to being so deep in capitalist thinking that she wants to make personal interactions transactional and I just thought “WTF”???

Because nowhere does she mention wanting something in return. Nowhere does she decline helping her friends in general. She’s probably a very good listener who is compassionate, providing her friends with emotional support, or otherwise that particular friend would probably not ask her for her time.

What struck me was how nasty the conversation turned and how entitled people felt to other’s emotional space. Because boy do I know what it means to be emotionally exhausted. I talk a lot about my job, and most of the time I take it with humour. I have good emotional hygiene, which is something that I had to build with time, and I have a loving family that can provide ME with emotional support. And still sometimes I’ll leave school feeling raw and overwhelmed. When you have to have long conversations about abuse. When you hear that a girl the same age as your daughter was raped. If you came to me to vent with something perfectly legitimate but less severe than that, I might blow and take it out on you. You don’t want me to call you a crybaby who needs to get a grip. Not because that’s what I think, but because it would be self -defense against you needing something I just cannot afford to spend. I would be a bad friend to you, but you’d also be a bad friend to me.

If you came with something equally serious, I might simply break down. Again, none of us would be helped by this. I have the suspicion that the people demanding 24/7 emotional availability from their friends don’t care about their side of the interaction. Maybe they have less stressful jobs. maybe they have a greater mental capacity. Or maybe they are usually the venting side, not the being vented at side. And maybe they just never thought about this. In that case: please do so now. Do reach out. You’re not a burden to your friends, but please don’t forget that right now, they may not be able to give you what you need.

How Many ‘ologies’ do you Know


I often listen to podcasts when I walk Jack, and I’ve found a new one that I think you’d really like, too. It’s called ‘Ologies’ and the host Ali Ward is an Emmy award-winning science journalist. She’s worked on such shows as ‘Brainchild’ (Netflix), ‘How to Build Everything’ (Science Channel) and ‘In The Wild’ with co-host Adam Savage of Mythbusters.
Alie Ward is a charming and humorous host, and every week, she interviews a scientist from a different ‘Ology’ or specialty area, and questions them on what their field is all about. She approaches each subject with a genuine sense of curiosity and wonder. What you hear as the end product is a bunch of scientists who are passionate about their work telling stories and talking about what they love. Each interview ends with a lightning round of questions sent in by her patrons. One of her mottos is, “Never be afraid to ask a smart person a stupid question.” Or a smart one, either – Alie, herself, has a science background and prepares well for each interview, so the conversations are compelling and intelligent with a pleasant touch of humour. As an interviewer, she allows each guest space and time to tell their best stories in that passionate way of nerds.

‘ Ologies’ is Alie’s own brainchild, something that she thought about doing for many years before finally putting it together. There are currently over a hundred ‘Ologies’ available and Alie intends to keep going. She also makes a donation on each show to the charity of the Ologists choice and then features the charity on her website.  I’ve been binging on it for about 2 weeks, and I’m hooked. Give it a listen. This is the website for the show, and you should be able to find it via most podcast players.

Jack’s Walk

The Imp House? ©voyager, all rights reserved

Jack and I happened upon this assortment of oddities just off the path, down by the river. We found a small hubcap, a bicycle tire and a little house together in a group. The house looks like a birdhouse set upon the ground and not in a tree. Jack tells me it’s a house for Imps and wanted to leave quickly.

“Why so nervous, Jack?” I asked him.

“That’s an Imp house, mommy. We need to get out of here.”

“Why… I’d like to meet an Imp.”

“No, you wouldn’t mommy. The Imps aren’t nice. They like to play tricks. Nasty tricks”

“How do you know these things, Jack.”

” I Pay attention to what goes on. You don’t see or hear much, mommy. I know it’s because you’re only a human, and your senses are dull.”

“My senses are not dull, Jack. I have excellent hearing, and my eyesight is fine with my glasses on.”

“Silly, mommy! You never see the Pixies and fairies or even the elves and the trolls!  Humans scare the little folk, so they stay away from the paths and hide in the forest.”

“Well then, how could I see them if they hide from me?” and then I added, “Silly, Jack!”

“Mommy, let’s get out of here. I’ll tell you about the little folk later. I don’t like the Imps!”

“How do you know about the imps, Jack?”

“Mostly from the Fairies and the Elves, but I met a few Imps last spring. Remember when I got stuck in the mud on the other side of the river?”

“Oh yeah, Jack, I remember. I almost got stuck in the mud myself, trying to get you out. We were both a mess.”

“Well, that was the imps fault. They promised me a cookie if I went to visit their camp. And when the mud got too deep for me to go farther, they sat there watching me…and then you…and laughing. That’s what they do. They sit around all day eating mushrooms and getting silly, and then they play tricks on the other little folk. And the bigger folk when they come by.” Jack was getting visibly antsy, looking over his shoulder and shifting his weight from one foot to the other.

“How do you know this house belongs to Imps?” I asked, ” Maybe we should look inside to see what’s there.”

“NO, mommy. They’ll poke you in the eye or bite your nose. I can smell the Imps. Please, let’s go.”

“The house is right on the pathway, Jack. ” I thought you said the Little Folk stay away from humans, so why would they live here?” I said, getting down on my knees for a closer inspection.

“Silly, mommy. The Imps aren’t afraid of humans. They’re fast, and they have camouflage, and they like to steal from humans and play tricks on you. That’s why the bicycle tire and hubcap are here. They stole them from people. This house looks like a trap to me, mommy. Please, let’s go.”

“Alright, Jack, let’s go,” I said, standing up and brushing the dirt off of my pants. And so we left the river and made our way home with my curiosity left unsated. Camouflaged Imps? Pixies and Faeries? Elves and trolls??? I know Jack is typically taciturn, but it seems he knows a lot more about the forest than I do. I hope I can convince him to tell me more since it seems my human senses are a bit dull after all.



Making Marmelade

Avalus has been making jams and jellies and he’s sent us some photos from the project.

This late summer I set about using the old orchards and hedges around my home. To make marmelades and gelée, to be exact. Here are some things I found while picking fruit

Tasty blackberries! Oddly enough, in German these are called Brombeeren which translates literally to bromine berrys. But the name does not have anything to do with bromine, it goes back to the old high german word brāmberi which means thorny bush and is the root for the word english bramble.

Brombeeren ©Avalus, all rights reserved

Then there was this beautiful golden beetle, enjoying the sun and an apple at the same time. It did not mind me picking up fallen apples around it.

golden beetle ©Avalus, all rights reserved

golden beetle 2 ©Avalus, all rights reserved

This hedgehog on the other hand did very much mind my company.

Igel ©Avalus, all rights reserved

In the end, I made many glasses of yummi sweet stuff with different flavours. Testers favourites were apple-coffee and apple-meade*, apple-cinnamon was deemed too Christmassy for September. Pestering every one I knew for empty glasses really paid off here as I gave most of these full glasses to friends.

gelly good time ©Avalus, all rights reserved


*I made meade two years ago and still have some left. Pretty strong taste and not too sweet, but I drink only very little.

Thanks for sharing, Avalus.

Jack’s Walk

©voyager, all rights reserved

It’s been about 4°c all day, and most of the ice has melted from the sidewalks, making it safe for Jack and me to go for walks around the neighbourhood again. This is excellent news, and we will walk around our area tonight, but today, I wanted to give Jack a treat, so I took him to the river. We haven’t been there in a while, and Jack was asking for a bit of adventure. It was a bit muddy in areas, but the path itself was clear and easy to walk. As expected, Jack went into the river. I told him it was cold, but he laughed and dashed in any way. He didn’t stay in long, though, and only went in once. I’m not surprised – Jack still hasn’t grown his undercoat and the only insulation he has is the extra bit of fat he’s carrying. He got a good towelling off when we got back to the car and actually stood still for it today. Usually, he’s all wiggles and wanders, but today he even let me clean his feet without complaint. I think he liked the warmth of the rubbing. He was quiet all the way home, and once we got inside, Jack climbed into his bed and asked for a blanket. He’s been crawling under blankets a lot lately – something that he’d never do when he was young. I think my baby boy is growing older, and it worries me a bit. Maybe, though, he just needs to grow a bit of hair. I like that idea much better.