Jack’s Walk

Jack is making doggie snow angels. ©voyager, all rights reserved

We had a total of about 15cm of snow overnight, and Jack couldn’t be happier. One of his very most favourite things to do is to lay down in the snow and roll around. He starts with his head, digging in his nose and then sweeping it back and forth. Once his head and whiskers are sufficiently rubbed cold, he wiggles his body around, making sure to get full contact with his belly and boy bits, which will be bright red by the time he comes back inside. I don’t understand the appeal of this behaviour, but it makes my Bubba happy, and that’s good enough for me.

HappyJack! ©voyager, all rights reserved

I, on the other hand, am not that happy about the snow. It’s beautiful, but it’s heavy wet snow.  The kind of snow that packs well and makes a good hard snowball. It’s also the kind of snow that’s heavy to shovel, which is how I spent the morning. Jack and Angus kept me company, but they weren’t much help. It took about an hour to clear the sidewalk and patio, and by the time I was finished, the muscles in my back and shoulders were complaining. They still are, and boy Howdy am I stiff and tired. I doubt that I’ll be able to stay awake until midnight, so I expect I’ll greet the New Year in my sleep. That’s fine with me. I’m not a party kind of person at the best of times, and tonight my bed is where I want to be. Gosh, I must be getting old.

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I would like to take a moment to send my best wishes to our readers in Australia. The news we get from your country is frightening, and you’ve been on my mind. I hope you’re all safe.

 

 

Tree Tuesday

Photo courtesy of Sharris, from Atlas Obscura

Say hello to Canada’s knottiest tree. This massive cedar tree has a giant burl growing out of its lower trunk and lives in a grove that was discovered in 2009 and has been protected from logging since 2012.

This lush grove near Port Renfrew is filled with large western red cedars and Douglas firs. Many trees seem to be growing out of each other, with knots and burls as if there was a struggle to break free of their bark.
The highlight of the grove is Canada’s gnarliest tree, a massive cedar with a giant burl growing out of its lower trunk. This whimsical giant stands tall, overseeing the cathedral grove.

There are walking paths into the grove and visitors are welcome, but the paths can be slippery and difficult to navigate. There are more photos at the Atlas Obscura link below as well as a small map.

 

via Atlas Obscura

Shades and Reflections

I took my camera with me on our Sunday walk and upon looking at the pictures I decided that they together shaped a perfect theme for an end of year post.

Because looking at a whole year can never be one thing. Unless you’re a rock. I guess then you’re thinking in centuries or something.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

There were so many good things this year. I love my job, despite its high stress levels and I really hope that I can stay in this area. And I won’t say that I don’t care about the money. Having some financial backup really takes a lot off your shoulders, despite all the unexpected expenses we had this year. We had a wonderful holiday and despite the fact that #1 is deep within puberty and of course we’re having conflicts it’s also some precious time that won’t return.

I have so many wonderful friends, some very close to me, some across the globe and I’m greatfull for all of you.

©Giliell, all rights reserved The lake has started to freeze over in the part under the trees where all the debris accumulates, leading to interesting pictures.

But 2019 also had different layers. My body introduced me to whole new levels of pain. I thought I knew pain. After all I gave birth twice, broke some bones and had an infected wisdom tooth, but as it turned out, I only knew pain, not Pain. If you ever thought that “passing out from pain” was a trope found in books and bad movies: believe me, it’s not.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Politically, the world seems to be getting darker. Fascism is more and more normalised, the coup in Bolivia has critically endangered native rights and right wing parties in Europe are gaining more and more influence. But there is also some light, with progressive movements, especially around environmentalism.

Let’s see what 2020 brings and let’s work together to make it a better year, each one of us however we can.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

 

Jack’s Walk

©voyager, all rights reserved

I hope the weather is good in your part of the world, but here in Montreal, we’re having big weather. Big as in an ice storm that has just morphed into a snowstorm in the last hour or so. I awoke at 3 this morning to the sound of ice ticking the windows and was greeted by windows fully covered in ice. Outside the world was slick and slippery, and by 9 o’clock just getting Jack out for his morning pee was an adventure in balance, which is not always good for me even on normal days. We managed to get the job done without either of us falling, though, which we celebrated with toast. Not a toast, just plain toast and jam which Jack is always happy to share. I decided it was too slippery to go for a walk so we’ve been cloistered indoors all day and feeling restless. Finally, about an hour ago, the sleet turned to snow which oddly made it easier to walk because it provides a bit of traction. It’s snowing hard, though, and soon it will be deep, so I took advantage of the small window of time before we’re deluged to take Jack out. It was actually a pleasant walk, too. The snow muffled the sound of traffic and we took a slow stroll around the neighbourhood, stopping to say Bonjour to a few neighbours and comment on the weather. By the time we got home, both Jack and I were wet and covered in snow, but we were feeling much less restless.

Montreal knows bad weather. It happens often here because of its location on an island in the St. Lawrence River. Maybe tomorrow I’ll tell you the story of the Ice Storm of 1998, which left huge areas without power for as much as two weeks. We were here for that and it was a doozy. This morning we were a bit worried that it could happen again, but the switch to snow is a good sign and totally normal and manageable. By morning we will likely have about 20cm of snow, which is a bit harder to walk in, but it will be good exercise for us both, as long as we remember that there’s a layer of ice underneath all the white stuff and to tread with a  bit of care.

©voyager, all rights reserved

A Memory Braid for Caine

From Avalus,

I do have something to share, but it requires a bit of a back story. In June 2018 (has it really been that long?), Caine posted about hair braiding styles. (https://freethoughtblogs.com/affinity/2018/06/14/sure-macrame-your-hair-why-not/) 

I commented that I have a friend who likes to play with my hair, and I would post pictures of her handiwork.
Sadly, due to several sicknesses, we did not get together until earlier this week again for her birthday. And of course, she did something cool with my hair, which I now want to share.

I do feel very sad that I could not make good on my promise for Caine.

Have a good holiday season, stay safe and Fuck Cancer!

©Avalus, all rights reserved

©Avalus, all rights reserved

Sweet Dreams: A Tummy Sunday

At our house we divided the Christmas days up between the families. In Germany “the big day” is Christmas Eve. That’s when the kids get their presents and the tree is lit (at least back in the days when you still used real candles) and the first years as a family we tried to do right by everybody. Back then my grandparents were still alive and I wanted to spend time with them, but “of course” you couldn’t say “we’ll visit Giliell’s family on Christmas Eve but not you”. The result was lots of unhappiness. My in laws would make very sad eyes at us for leaving early* and my family would complain about us being late. The kids would get so many presents in a short amount of time that they ended up exhausted and crying and unhappy. And then of course they wanted to negotiate about the two other days (in Germany you have two Christmas Days) as well…

At some point we decided to tell them all to gently fuck themselves and set down some rules and if you are ever in such a situation, especially with young kids. On Christmas Eve NOBODY leaves the house or enters the house. We spend the evening together, just the four of us. We have hot stone/raclette for dinner, which is really quick and easy to prepare and then the kids get their presents (and us as well).

The 25th is the day when Mr’s family meets. Out of the 5 siblings 3 of them take turns to host the whole party, although we have taken over from my  in laws since they’ re not getting younger and we have more space (and it is less exhausting and more rewarding to do it myself than to listen to my mum in law’s complaints. Sorry if I’m sounding uncharitable towards her. I really love her, there’s just some areas where she’s as exhausting as a toddler). Since that family is already in charge of cooking for about 20 people, the guests bring cake and dessert, which is actually the point of this post.

The 26th we visit my parents and since it’s the time of miracles, for the last few years my sister’s husband has been showing up as well.

But back to dessert. I made a Pavlova. I’ve been wanting to make one since forever and thought that this was the perfect occasion:

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Uhm, sorry for the crap image. I’ll do better. But the Pavlova was amazing: I sprinkled roasted pine nuts on the meringue before baking and prepared butter caramel baked apples with raisins and spices a few days in advance. On the 25th I prepared pomegranate seeds only transported the dry meringue “cakes” as well as the fruit and unwhipped cream to my uncle and aunt in law’s place where I whipped the cream and assembled everything there. I even added edible gold leaves.

I looked like a Christmas Dessert is supposed to look: lavish and opulent. It tasted like heaven. The sharpness of the Pomegranate balanced the sweetness of the meringue and the whipped cream was just right. If you’re ever asked to bring a spectacular dessert i can only recommend a Pavlova as you can adapt it to the occasion and don’t need to worry about transporting a fully assembled cake.

 

*My mum in law is one of those people whose only way to get what she wants is by making others feel bad. Sad comments along the lines of “I would really love if somebody …., but nobody cares enough…”

The Art of Book Design: Children of Winter

Maud Humphrey, Artist with verses by Edith M. Thomas. New York, F. A. Stokes & brother, 1888.

Is it me, or is that cover totally creepy? I think it’s meant to be a 3D example of one of the book’s sweet, cherub-like little girls, but the idea obviously went sideways at some point and never recovered. The child on that cover has dead, cold, unfeeling eyes and looks downright demonic to me. What’s she hiding with that arm behind her back, and why does she appear to be stroking a mustache? She also has an odd, plastic lustre that doesn’t do a thing for her complexion, but it does increase the creep content of her countenance.

I’ve put the book’s three full-colour plates below the fold. They’re charming in that Victorian way, but I do find their over-sized eyes a tad off-puttingly weird. Nothing like the little Demon Queen on the cover, though. She Shines!

[Read more…]

Jack’s Walk

Won’t someone please give me a treat. ©voyager, all rights reserved

Jack and I have hardly left the house today. We had freezing rain overnight, and the world is very slippery. First thing this morning, I took Jack out to the backyard for a morning pee and the poor boy fell twice on the patio before getting to the grassy area. He limped into the house and has been lightly favouring his right leg all day. I decided not to risk further injury by taking Jack out for a walk, and I went out carefully alone, to get ice melt for the patio and front walkway. Jack didn’t even ask to come with me. We’ve been out to the backyard a few times since then, and Jack has learned to hug the patio close to the house until you reach the garden, then across the dirt to the grass and back again. The other dog here, Angus, springs across the patio like a leaping deer, and if one leg slips, he can correct for it without falling. Angus is also only 7 years old. Jack is almost 12. Bubba didn’t; mind the forced inactivity too much. He found a comfortable chair and spend the day in it watching the news and looking for sympathy from all who walk past him. He’ll be fine. The limp is gone, just the indignity of it remains, and Jack will suck that dry soon. That’s OK. I fell last night and have a few bruises, myself, so I understand. My bruises are all on my ass, though, so I prefer to stand, not sit, which is good because Jack is sitting in my chair. Oh, the dangers of ice for the elderly. It’s due to get warmer here tonight, with continued rain. As long as it doesn’t freeze, I don’t mind. Wet doesn’t hurt.

Jack’s Walk

©voyager, all rights reserved 

That black dog with Jack is my brother-in-law’s dog, Angus. He should have been named Satan because he is full of the devil. He teases Jack with toys and then runs away and refuses to share. He barks loud and long at every shadow, and when he wants your attention, he whines until it feels like my ears are bleeding. He’s also restless and prone to patrolling. Angus is mostly Australian Shepherd and true to his breed, he likes to herd. Since we have no sheep for the boy to watch over, he herds the people around him instead. He’s happiest when we’re all together in a knot, and he can control our perimeter.

Angus also herds his toys, placing them together on the seat of a chair with careful deliberation. That’s sort of cute. And he dances when you scratch his bum. That’s kinda cute, too. So are the wet, sloppy kisses he gives me every time I bend over. Alright, I admit it, he’s adorable, but I’m sure glad I only have to live with him for 2 weeks a year.