Jack’s Walk

©voyager, all rights reserved

Jack has had a very lazy day today. He usually gets up with me in the morning around 8 or 8:30 and has his breakfast while I make coffee. This morning, Jack didn’t get out of bed until 11:30. I awoke with him asleep and snoring under the blankets and curled into my knees. I tried to wake him up, but he wasn’t having any of it. Poke, poke, poke…” Jack, it’s time to get up… Jack,… Bubba.” Nope, that didn’t work. So I upped the ante a bit. “Jack, it’s time for breakfast.” Poke, poke, poke.

“Is Jack a hungry boy?” Still nothing! So now I’m trapped, and I’ve realized that I need to pee, so I straighten my legs and push. Jack didn’t like that at all and he pushed back, digging in his hind feet and arching his back. Did I ever mention that one of Jack’s nicknames is Mr. Heavy Bum? Well, this morning, he used all of that bum against me, and he actually gained ground! Now I’m annoyed and I really, really have to pee, so I scootch up and around him which isn’t an easy thing to do first thing in the morning, but I make it out and to the bathroom on time (yeah!)  On my way to the kitchen, I look back to see Jack stretched out to the size of a Great Dane and snoring again, which makes me feel tender, so I pull the blankets up around him, and go make the coffee, expecting the boy to wander into the kitchen in a few minutes. Nope, it got to be 9 o’clock, then 10 o’clock and finally at 11, I scooped out his kibble and called his name. Still, no Bubba, who I might add, has not peed since 10 last night. That’s 13 hours without a pee. He’s obviously got a better bladder than I do. So I went to rouse him again and this time he sluggishly stretched and oozed off the bed. When his wobbly legs hit the floor, he trod to his food bowl and sleepily bowed his head and inhaled his breakfast. Then he lay down beside his station and his head hit the floor with a bit of a thunk. Sheesh, Bubba, were you out partying while I was asleep? I hitched him up and took him out, figuring he must have to pee by now and he did – right away. On my rose bush. Well, Damn. Anyway, It was a beautiful day outside, and Jack soon picked up and asked to go for a real walk, which we did in the sunshine, under the blue sky, while the snow melted around us. After a few minutes, I commented on Jack’s lazy morning, and he told me that he couldn’t sleep well around Angus and that he’s been extra tired since he got home. I feel the same way, Bubba. I feel the same way.

Jack’s Walk


©voyager, all rights reserved

There really is no place like home. It’s familiar and comfortable and a place where you can relax. It’s the place where you can take off your bra, put on your pink bunny pyjamas and lie in bed all day eating ice cream and watching movies with the sound off and the closed captioning on. Which is precisely what I did on Saturday.

I was totally exhausted from the 2 weeks of constant conversation and also a tiny bit battered. I took a hard fall in Montreal while loading the car, and my left hip took the worst of it. 7 car hours later, the whole left side of my ass was throbbing and magnificently bruised, but I was home. (Thanks for another good drive Mr. Groovy) That was Friday and Saturday morning I awoke to triple gravity, lots of aching, a bit of throbbing and a burning desire for cherry ice cream. So once I managed to get out of bed and get in motion, Jack and I slowly took our morning perambulation around the block, and while I was in gear, I went to get a few necessities. You know, milk, juice, bread, eggs and Chapman’s Deluxe Black Cherry Ice Cream. The rest of the day is a bit hazy, but I’m sure there was a bit of feeling sorry for myself. Sunday morning was much the same, but I did manage to get a few chores done, and today the extra gravity is letting up, and there’s only a teacup’s worth of aching. So, to celebrate, I took Jack out to our wee forest for a walk in the freshly fallen snow. It was a beautiful day with a touch of blue in the sky, and the woods were quiet and tranquil, without a trace of wind to disturb the blanketed snow. Jack and I took our time, but we made it all the way around, and by the time we got back to the car, both of us were feeling closer to normal. These woods are home for us, too, and just like Dorothy said, “There’s no place like home.”

Jack’s Walk

This tree is getting a good workout. ©voyager, all rights reserved

The big news around here today is the sudden closing of one of the largest snow removal contractor’s in the Pointe-Claire area. Snow is big business in this part of the world, and most households contract snow removal for their driveways, and they pay by the season and not by the number of visits.  After a significant snowfall, anyone without a garage moves their car to the side of the street (which side is determined by date) and then the contractors come with their big, tractor-sized, enclosed and comfortable snow blowers. The city itself has most streets plowed quickly, (Montreal does snow removal well) making the whole process quite manageable.

Today, when Jack and I were out for our walk we saw quite a few people shovelling their drives and most of them were grumbling about Bo Pelouse going out of business. It isn’t certain that any of Pelouse’s customers will get a refund and most of the other contractors don’t have the infrastructure to take on new clients at this point in the season. According to the morning news, one other major snow contractor picked up over 2,000 new customers in 24 hours. Thankfully, my mother-in-law uses a different company, who arrived late yesterday to blow out our driveway. My aching back was overjoyed to see them.

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.


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.



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

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

Jack making a run for it at a 401 rest area. ©voyager, all rights reserved

Bonjour, ça va?

Jack and I have relocated to Pointe-Claire, Quebec, which is on the west island of Montreal. We’ll be spending two weeks here, visiting my mother-in-law, who will be 94 on the third of January. She’s a pistol, Mum is. She still does everything she did at 50, including baking (store-bought cookies just aren’t as good), shopping, driving, cooking, laundry, ironing (even underpants because they fit better in the drawer when pressed!) and keeping a tidy split level home with stairs everywhere. She has a full turkey dinner planned for Christmas Day, including a home-made raspberry pie.

We had a good drive. The roads were clear and traffic was much lighter than we expected, even going through Toronto. Jack slept most of the way, but the Mr. and I are feeling a bit road-worn after the 8-hour trek to get here. We’ve been making this drive for nearly 30 years, but the older I get, the longer it seems. Now, I think I’ll have one of those homemade cookies and wait for the feeling of still driving to stop.

So many new smells and so little time. ©voyager, all rights reserved

Jack’s Walk

It’s a miracle. Jack is walking on water. He’s Jesus-Jack.

It’s been wintering here since early morning, even though winter doesn’t officially begin until Sunday (Dec. 22/19). We’ve had brisk north-westerly winds bringing in snow squalls and Lord Thunderin’ Jesus, but it’s been bitter. With the wind chill factored in the temp was -19°c when Jack and I were out for our walk this morning, and at times the wind was driving snow into our faces and visibility dropped to just a few metres. Brrr!

I shouldn’t complain, though, Harsh weather is harder on Jack than me. Today, I put on 2 pairs of socks, and then my boots, but poor Bubba has only a layer of vaseline for boots, and I don’t think it gives much protection from the cold. Jack also doesn’t have a long, cozy down-filled parka, nor a tuque, nor gloves, yet he never complains about the cold.  He’s very stoic, our Jack.  Me? I like to complain about the cold. It’s part of my culture and the opening line to most conversations. It’s something that we Canadians do. We comment on the weather, both good and bad, and storm days like today allow us a bit of drama with the talk as we stamp our feet to shake off the snow and rub our hands together or blow on them or stick them into our armpits for warmth.

If only we could share the cold, I’d send a good bit of ours down to Australia, where they’re dealing with sweltering heat. Since I can’t do that, I’ll share a frosty photo of Jack and send our good wishes that our Australian readers stay cool.

Jack’s Walk

A mysterious woodpecker. ©voyager, all rights reserved

Frog Pond trail is used by a lot of people walking dogs, but it’s actually owned by our local school board. In addition to the pond and mixed forest pathways, there’s a small building on the property that can be used by visiting classes. In the spring and the fall, Jack and I often run into groups of grade-schoolers out for a nature walk. The kids are always boisterous, loud and full of energy and Jack delights in them. He wiggles and waggles and makes little happy, huffing noises that entertain the kids in return.  It’s an active, well-used trail, and there are no signs anywhere to identify it as belonging to our school system

Then, today, Jack and I stumble across this laminated woodpecker held in place by a push pin next to a series of holes that were obviously made by a woodpecker. We found 3 or 4 more of the laminated woodpeckers with holes along the trail, causing me to spend much of our walk imagining the class that placed them there. In my minds-eye, I see a group of youngsters aged 7 -8 with their teacher and a few volunteer parents traipsing down the trail. There is a general happy chatter then an excited voice calls out,

” I found one, Mrs. Smith. I found one!”

And so, Mrs. Smith comes to the child, taking a laminated woodpecker out of her school bag and reaching into her pocket for a push-pin, and she takes the child to the holey stump, and together they pin the cheerful redhead into place. Or not.

We’ll never know just how those woodpeckers go to be there, and so any and all stories are possible. Maybe it was Bigfoot or Aliens or magic gnomes and hobbits.

Well, I did say possible, not probable.