Jack’s Walk


©voyager, all rights reserved

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.


Jack’s Walk

©voyager, all rights reserved

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.

Jack’s Walk

A sky full of snow ©voyager, all rights reserved

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.

Jack’s Walk

Shovel face ©voyager, all rights reserved

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.”

The Art of Book Design: The Sleeping Beauty Picture Book

Walter Crane. The Sleeping Beauty Picture Book, containing the Sleeping Beauty, The Baby’s Own Alphabet and Bluebeard. New York, Dodd, Mead and Co., 1911.

Sleeping Beauty is an old fairy tale that has had many incarnations. One of the best known, is this version by the prolific Children’s Book Illustrator, Walter Crane. Crane is an interesting artist who studied under William Morris, one of the founders and great artists of the Arts and Crafts movement. Crane is known for some fine art pieces, but his contributions to the nursery book arts are legendary, during its heyday at the end of the 1800’s and early 1900’s. This edition also has Bluebeard’s Story and Baby’s Own Alphabet. I’ve included all the plates for Sleeping Beauty, but only the first plates of the other 2 stories. The last plate of Sleeping Beauty is my favourite – I think she looks rather stunned to find herself so suddenly awake and rapidly married. If you’re interested you can see the entire book at the Internet Archive, where you can always read the whole book.

via: The Internet Archive [Read more…]

Jack’s Walk

The Armada Arrives ©voyager, all rights reserved

The swans stop by to say hello ©voyager, all rights reserved

Well, for once, the universe listened to me. Late yesterday we had a small dusting of snow that decided to stick around. It’s just enough to make things pretty, but not enough to need shovelling or make walking difficult. It’s perfect. I can see Jack at night again, and sure enough, it was easy to find his poop, even in the dark. It’s cold anyway, so there might as well be a bit of the white stuff around.
Jack and I decided to go to the park this morning, and it was reasonably quiet when we arrived, but we hadn’t been there long when we hear a loud, sustained honking overhead and looked up to see an entire Armada of geese flying in. A hundred or more birds were circling the pond. They finally landed in teams, and it took several minutes for them all to get down. Once they were all on the water, they continued to make noise for several more minutes, and boy howdy was it loud. It seemed to upset the swans who managed to get away from the crowd to come and say hi. Jack was quite rude and barked at them, but they didn’t care at all. The geese are permanent residents at our park – they don’t fly south because the living is comfortable here. The swans have an even easier winter ahead – they live in an indoor pond and have a keeper. Once the weather is warmer again in the spring, they’re driven back to the outdoor pond, happy, healthy and ready to have a new family.