Ho – Ho – Hold it! It seems that Christmas is in full gear. My neighbours put these decorations up the day after Halloween, making them the first house on the block to decorate, but now many other homes are all dolled-up, too. I have to admit that the wreaths and bows and lights are pleasant, especially at night when I’m walking Jack in the dark. I like Christmas decorations. They’re cheerful on a cold, dark winter’s night
I have wonderful memories of Christmases as a child, especially related to decorating. Every year, Dad would put his axe in the car, and we’d drive to a Christmas tree farm where I would get to choose the tree and Dad would chop it down. Then we’d tie it t the top of the car (always a Volkswagon Beetle – because they were German and reliable as hell) and then of coming home and helping my mother to decorate the tree and the house. Mom was a bit of a perfectionist about things, but we would listen to Christmas carols and drink hot chocolate and she would tell me exactly what to put where and how. Some decorations had stories that mom would tell year after year. The Santa on skis that came with my grandparents from Germany. Blown glass birds with feathery tails also from Germany, sent by an Aunt I never met. My favourite was always the colourful embroidered cat that mom was given to commemorate the year I was born. We had a ceramic Christmas tree made by one of Mom’s friends just for her. Mom wanted extra snow on it and Aunt Dorothy made it so. Mostly, mom would take over, leaving me free to sing and play and look through the Sears and Eaton catalogues and refine my wish list. By the end of the day, the house would be transformed into a magical wonderland. Once the house was all dollied up, then mom would begin the Christmas baking. She made dozens of cookies, many pans of squares, rum balls, cherry tarts, loaves of bread and all sorts of other pretty and delicious treats to give as gifts and share with guests during the holiday season. My dad was a mason, and we always had a lot of lodge brothers visit over the holiday season.
Now, I feel much differently about Christmas. The over-commercialisation annoys me and the push to spend and overspend on silly gifts. This year the big box stores had all sorts of Christmas paraphernalia in before Halloween, which I found in the way and annoying. I don’t have children, and neither do most of my friends, so a few years ago, I said no to Christmas gifts. All my friends will get a donation to the charity of their choice, and that’s what I get in return. It’s win-win. I avoid the crowded stores and trying to figure out what to get the people on my list, all of whom complain about clutter, and a few charities get a small boost. It’s a great way to make a secular Christmas meaningful. Try to do a bit of decorating, too, though. The dog walkers will thank you.
Jack is a very social dog, and he likes to stop and talk to people when we’re out strolling around the neighbourhood. He has his own fan club of high school students who call out his name and run to see him as we advance up the street. It’s the reason we take our neighbourhood walk at 12:30. Jack loves the adoration. After the high school, we usually see Nick out on his porch having a smoke. Then we often meet Leo, who is Jack’s best friend, and his person Kevin.
Today, we met no one. Not a single teenager was standing on the corner, smoking or vaping. Jack didn’t want to go on. He kept dawdling, looking longingly toward the front door of the school Hoping, that someone would come out to say hi. But, no one did. Poor Bubba.
Nick wasn’t out smoking, either. Nor was Leo out in the yard. Bubba dawdled at their houses, too, to no avail.
He was a bit mopey when we got home, so I played a few rounds of Let’s Chase Pig-Pig, which is a ridiculous game that involves a rubber pig that honks like an angry goose. It’s totally silly, and it wasn’t long before Jack was his usual cheerful self. Tomorrow morning I’ll arrange a play date with Leo. And in the afternoon we’ll visit Bambi and Bailey, 2 small white Lhasa apso, miniature poodle crosses who live with one of my friends. Jack needs a social life and I guess it’s down to me to take care of that.
Note to self: Winter fun requires more planning and less serendipity.
I have something special to share with you regarding Jack. He’s learned a new trick, and you’ll never guess what it is. First, though, let me tell you a story. Jack lived most of his life with an alpha female chocolate lab named Lucy as an older sister. Lucy was 4 when we brought Jack home, and she never got over the shock of it. She didn’t like to share our attention or affection, and if she heard Jack getting some love, she always came and intruded. Over time I learned to be quiet when giving Jack love-me-ups to spare him the indignity of being pushed aside. I did my best to keep things equal, but Lucy always wanted to be best and first. She was a fierce lady lab – 65 pounds of attitude and swagger. Lou had her right knee replaced when she was six and the left one almost exactly a year later, both times without complaint or self-pity. She was angry that we forced inactivity on her. She was ready to run again after a few days post-op and it was a struggle to keep her quiet for 6 weeks. So our Lucy was a lot for Jack to contend with, which brings me back to Jack’s new trick.
Have you made a guess yet? There’s a clue in the story. For most of Jack’s life, I was quiet when giving him affection, but Lucy’s been gone for over 2 years now, and at some point, I started making affectionate noises with him. Silly noises like hum,hum,hum and har-bar-bar with the occasional argle-bargle and hubba-bub bub thrown in for variety. Well, about 6 weeks ago, Jack started making noises back at me, and for all the world, it sounds like he’s purring. His chest vibrates, and he makes these throat noises that flow out of his upside-down open maw (he’s on his back and wiggling when this happens) in waves with the steady rhythm of a cat’s purr. It’s quite remarkable and very endearing, and it seems to be a persistent new behaviour. I think I may know why. I’ve been considering getting a cat. Our last cat died about the same time Lucy did, and I miss having a feline personality around the house. It seems that Jack has been reading my mind and is trying to convince me that “we don’t need a cat, Silly Mommy.” Jack can do anything a cat can do, even purr it seems.
Avalus has sent us a small puzzle. Can you find the lizard? It took me a while, but it’s there. Click the photo for full-size.
Eidechse: First task is to find the lizard (and ignore my feet, they are there for size). This cute little lizard was very curious indeed.
Well, winter has landed with a cargo load of wet, heavy snow. We have about 15 cm already, and there’s still lots more to come. The sky is full of oppressive grey snow clouds in all directions, and the forecast says it’s going to persist for a few more days. It’s a constant fine snow that doesn’t look serious at all, but it’s sticky, and it clumps, and it requires shovelling – which Jack and I did this morning, to the consternation of my back and shoulder muscles. Usually, I’m more fit at this time of year, but I did altogether too much sitting over the summer and not enough hiking or gardening. Just a few inactive months and my muscles have atrophied to jello. Well, there’s only one thing to do – suck it up and take the pain of putting them to work again, The snow will force my hand at that. So will towelling off Mr. Wigglebum, which is labour intensive, but amusing. So, bring it on winter. I’ll take the pain. Ha, I’ll be ready for gardening season. I have a good attitude and a cheerful Jackson Brown. That’s enough to get me through the season of gloom.
Note to Self: Use it or lose it is sadly true.
Doubling as a rare “Friday Feathers”
Some last glimpses of sunlight remained…
The mushrooms made a brave attempt.
Then the setting sun was reflected by clouds and the light became dramatic
And the mist began to rise…
Say goodbye to the swan for now, I’m sure we’ll meet again.
We’ve been having steady fine snow since early this morning and by mid-afternoon, there was about 8 cm of the stuff on the ground. That seems like more than enough to me, but the weather gods are in a giving mood and apparently, it’s going to snow for the rest of the week. That’s right, 5 days in a row of snow. In November. It isn’t even winter yet, and I’m already fed up with the weather.
Jack’s feelings are quite different, though. Jack doesn’t mind getting cold and he thinks that snow is fun. He begged me to play outside with him all morning, so I finally took him to our little forest where he frolicked off-leash for about an hour. He kept laughing and telling me that his toes were tingling as he hopped off and on the path, leaving big, sloppy paw prints facing in all directions. He used his face like a shovel the whole way round. When I asked him why he did that he told me that snow smells are layered and it’s helpful to know what’s at the bottom.
“Oh,” I said, “but you must inhale snow when you’re sniffing like that.”
He was quiet for a beat or two and finally said” Snorting snow is fun, mommy. You should try it, the smells get smellier. And deeper.”
“Snorting snow, Jack. No thanks, I like my nose to stay warm and dry.”
“You have a bad attitude, mommy. You need to try new things. Maybe if you did, you wouldn’t hate winter as much.”
The boy has a point. It’s going to be a long winter and attitude is important. I’ll waste a lot of todays waiting for a warmer tomorrow. Even so, I still don’t think breathing in wet snow will help, Bubba. “How about you do the snorting for both of us.”
“I always do, mommy,” he said bounding off with a laugh. “we’d never know anything if we counted on your pitiful nose for information.”
Then local pond had some pokestops added, making it a much more attractive destination for an afternoon walk (don’t judge). the fact that the woods are currently 90% mud further increased the attractiveness of the pond and its plastered walks. And it was nice taking the camera to something “new”. Sadly most of the sun was already gone because even sunshine apparently discriminates against working women.
That fountain goes off once an hour. occasionally it shoots a bird out of the sky (or at least thoroughly confuses it).
Swans are known to mate for life. Unfortunately, this swan’s partner didn’t know that and took off about three weeks ago.
Part two will follow tomorrow, when we find out if the swan swam over the lake (swim, swan, swim!).