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.

Jack’s Walk

Jack wouldn’t look at me for this photo. He was too embarrassed.

Despite the silly photo, Jack and I would like to talk about something serious today, and that is why it’s a bad idea to give an animal as a gift at Christmas. It seems like such a fun thing to give a puppy or kitten at Christmas, but it’s a terrible time of year to bring a new animal into your home, so Jack and I would like to share this list from Paws for Hope with some excellent reasons to not get a puppy or a kitten at Christmastime.

The holidays are a busy time of year. We are often coming and going, more often than usual, from our homes to festive celebrations, shopping etc. When bringing a new pet into your home it is important for them to have your attention so that you and your new family member can create a trustworthy bond. This can be a very stressful time for pets, and an extra busy household that is full of excitement can make the transition process very difficult. If you are adopting a young animal the training required can be very time consuming and some animals require lots of exercise. Training should start immediately, not after the holidays are over. Most of us don’t have a spare moment during the holiday season, making if very difficult to find the time to train. The best way to alleviate the stress and fear a pet may have coming into your home is be home as often as you can, keep a consistent schedule and maintain a calm environment.

Gifting someone a pet for a present is just a bad idea. Choosing the right pet is a very personal decision and not one to be made by someone other than the new adoptive parent/family. Picking the right pet personality to suit you/your families is something for you and only you to do. Pets are not products, they are living creatures, like us, and they should NEVER be sold in a retail setting and purchased as presents. Even if adopting from a local shelter or rescue, gifting a pet gives the wrong impression, especially to children, that this new pet is a toy. You want your children to understand the responsibilities of caring for an animal and for your new pet to not end up being ignored after the novelty wears off.
Hold off bringing a pet home from a shelter and head on down to your best friend’s chocolatier and by them a box instead! Or give them a gift certificate for a pet adoption after the holidays are over.

Deciding to expand your family to include a pet is also committing to taking on the financial responsibility that comes along with them, much of which is unforeseen. This may not be fully thought through if you decide on a whim to adopt during the holidays as you are swept up in the magical time of year and decide to help a pet in need and bring home an animal from your local shelter. Purchasing or adopting an animal is a costly decision, from food, litter, regular and emergency veterinary care (like when your Pitbull Lucy gets pneumonia from eating goose poop!). And let’s not forget the pets who will require walkers, daycare and will need somewhere like a boarding kennel or pet sitter when you take your annual vacation or frequent business trips. Please fully consider all of the responsibilities that go along with having a pet any time of the year.

I’d like to add winter weather to the list, which makes it a difficult time to house train a puppy or a rescue dog.


From Paws for Hope Animal Welfare, B.C.


Jack’s Walk

©voyager, all rights reserved

Sorry guys, but my noggin is a bit sludged up at the moment, and messages across my brain synapses are travelling by dog-paddled canoe instead of by a flaming arrow. I’m fine,  just tired and still coming down from the play on Wednesday. I’m having a spot of trouble putting sentences together. so I’m going to stop trying.  Before I go, though, I thought I’d leave you with one of my favourite quotes by the inimitable John Steinbeck.  Travels with Charley is the story of Steinbeck’s crossing of America in a custom-made camper set on the bed of a pick-up truck. His traveling companion Charley is his dog, a standard poodle.

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”

                    ― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America