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



Jack’s Walk

©voyager, all rights reserved

Yesterday and friend and I went on a bus trip to see the Musical “Anastasia” at the Mirvish Theatre in Toronto, and it was spectacular. The sets themselves were sparse with projected background images that contained animated elements. I found that they gave enough info about place and time, yet didn’t take your attention away from the action on stage. The costumes were breathtaking, and there was lots of singing and dancing. The music itself was pleasing, and the story moved along at a good pace. The first half of the play took place in St. Petersburg in 1917 and was a glimpse into Anastasia’s life. The second act took place in Paris 10 years later with the only surviving Romanov, the Dowager Empress, looking for her lost granddaughter Anastasia. I won’t give too much away, because it is worth seeing if you have the chance, but I will say that the Russian Revolution was glossed over. The play is about the mystery of the surviving Anastasia, and the revolution that destroyed her family is noted quickly with gunfire and people fleeing, but it’s mostly kept as a background element.

It made for a fun day out, but it was overstimulating and disrupted my sleep, so today, I’m tired, kinda cranky and craving quiet. Jack wanted a bit of excitement, though, so I reluctantly got up and took him to the Frog Pond trail. We don’t go there often because there are tons of mosquitos, and it gets quite muddy, but things are frozen today, so it seemed safe. And it was perfect, quiet and peaceful for me and full of unusual, new smells for Jack.  That’s a big win-win for a tired, theatre-loving voyager who didn’t want to venture out at all today. It’s one of the many beneficial reasons why it’s good to have a dog… they make you get up and do things that are healthy and rejuvenating. Thanks, Jack. I feel better now.


Jack’s Walk

Here’s Jack to remind us that winter doesn’t last forever, even if it feels like it does. ©voyager, all rights reserved

Today you get just the photo of Jack, no story. That’s because I’m off on a bus trip to the big city of Toronto to see the play, Anastasia. I’m going with my friend Jane who took me to Russia in 2017. We toured the royal palaces when we were in St. Petersburg and saw many original dresses and suits from the period, so we’re both looking forward to seeing the sets and costumes. We also visited the graves of the Romanov family, and we’re both pretty curious to see how the story of the Russian Revolution and the execution of the entire Romanov family are handled in musical theatre. I  hope there aren’t too many dirges. Neither of us has seen the 20th Century Fox animated version of Anastasia, so we have no preconceived notions about what to expect.

I’ll let you know all about it tomorrow. In the meantime, Jack is home with his daddy, probably sitting in front of the fire and totally not contemplating political anarchy, revolution, nor the slaughter of an entire dynastic royal family.

The Russian Adventure Continues

When I took on the blog full-time in September of 2018, I let my series about visiting Russia in September of 2017 fall by the wayside. I was overwhelmed at the time, and it was more than I could handle. A lot has changed since then, and I’ve been meaning to get back to the series and finish what I started. There is still a lot of Russia left to see and I hope you’ll travel along the route with me to have a look at some of the incredible sights. Viking runs their Russian cruises in both directions. I think Jane and I were lucky to go from Moscow to St. Petersburg instead of the other direction because St. Petersburg is gorgeous. It’s much prettier than Moscow for some very good reasons that I’ll explain when we get there. If we’d gone in the other direction we might have found Moscow lacking. Today, I’m going to go backwards a bit and show you the map of our voyage. I’ll be posting a more detailed map with each segment that we traverse, but this is a good overview of where we’re going.

Our travel route from Moscow to St. Petersburg.

So far, we’ve left the Moscow Canal and are on our way to Uglich via the Volga River.

Detail map of our current leg of the journey.

Uglich is one of Russia’s Golden Ring cities. What is a Golden Ring City?

The Golden Ring of Russia (Russian: Золото́е кольцо́ Росси́и) is a vast area in which old Russian cities are located in a ring-like arrangement and a well-known theme-route. The cities are located northeast of Moscow and were the north-eastern part of the ancient Rus’.[1] The Golden Ring of Russia formerly comprised the region known as Zalesye. The idea of the route and the term were created in 1967 by Soviet historian and essayist Yuri Bychkov, who published in the newspaper Sovetskaya Kultura in November–December 1967 a series of essays on the cities under the heading “Golden Ring”.[2] Bychkov was one of the founders of the All-Russian Society for the Protection of Monuments of History and Culture (Vserossiiskoe obshchestvo okhrany pamiatnikov istorii i kul’tury; VOOPIK).[3]
These ancient towns, which also played a significant role in the formation of the Russian Orthodox Church, preserve the memory of the most important and significant events in Russian history. The towns have been called “open-air museums” and feature unique monuments of Russian architecture of the 12th–18th centuries, including kremlins, monasteries, cathedrals, and churches. These towns are among the most picturesque in Russia and prominently feature Russia’s onion domes. – Wikipedia

Why “Ring?” According to the ship’s Viking Daily paper, the Muscovites were obsessed with Rings and when Soviet tourist bosses were looking for new attractions that were accessible from Moscow they drew a loop beginning and ending in Moscow, and called it the Golden Ring.

Ueglich is the first of the Golden Ring cities that we’ll be visiting, and when next we meet on the Viking river ship Ingvar we’ll take a walking tour around the place. In the meantime, if you’d like to reacquaint yourself with the tour to date here is the link to the previous post – Sailing into Uglich. I’ve gone back and added links to each previous post so that you can find your way back to the beginning.


Jack’s Walk

©voyager, all rights reserved

The past 4 days have been warm around here (6 – 8°c) and rainy. I don’t mind the unseasonable warming, but I do dislike the rain. It sets off my fibromyalgia and doubles the gravity for me. So, I’ve been wishing for the rain to stop. Well, I got my wish this morning when I opened the drapes to see that it was snowing. Great. No rain, but cold again and still precipitating. And the frozen, flakey version of rain needs to be shovelled. This isn’t exactly what I had in mind. Thankfully, the snow didn’t amount to much this morning, because Jack and I were out of the house at 7:30 for an appointment at the vet.

Jack had bloodwork taken back in the spring as part of his senior dog’s annual check-up, and one of his kidney values was a bit elevated. Not by much, but enough that a recheck was warranted. Jack needed to fast for this blood test, so after 8 pm last night, Jack was not allowed any food or treats. You can probably tell by looking at Jack that he carries a few extra pounds. Some of that poundage comes from the bedtime cookie or three that he has at night. Well, last night, no cookies, and it didn’t matter how many times I explained to him the reason why, he kept asking. And asking. And asking. When I finally turned out my light, Jack let loose a small whimper and heaved himself down with a thudding sigh. Yes, Bubba, I know. Now go to sleep, and in the morning you can have a cookie with your breakfast. I didn’t tell him that we’d be going out before breakfast. It seemed best.

So this morning, I wake Jack up at 6:30, and he didn’t want to get up. Good. It allowed me to get ready and have a coffee without any begging. When I was all set to go, I opened the front door and shook Jack’s leash, which brought him stumbling out to the kitchen where he stopped in front of his food bowl and then he looked up at me, asking for food before a walk. “Mommy,” he says, “I can’t go poop if I don’t put any new food in to push it through.” Not going out for poop Bubba, not yet. We’re going to see the nice woman who listens to your heart and gives you liver treats. He’s generally obedient, so he came with me, but he was still looking back at his food bowl as we exited the house. Then, as we were standing on the porch, it occurred to Jack that the nice woman who gives him liver treats also gives him needles in his bum, and he hesitated. I tell him he won’t be getting a needle in the bum, which is true. He’ll be getting the needle in his arm, but I’m a bad parent who just wants to get going so I don’t tell him that. The vet’s office is close by, and it’s all over quickly, and we’re soon on our way home. The first thing Jack did when we got in the door was to go stand in front of his food bowl again, and this time he gave me a hard look that said, “Food. Now.” You betcha, Bubba, but here have a cookie first. He smiled for the first time since supper last night, and I knew all was forgiven. Not forgotten, but forgiven.

The best news is that the vet called about an hour ago to tell me that Jack’s bloodwork has normalized, and all is well.  He’s in excellent condition for a nearly 12-year-old puppy. Good Boy, Bubba.

Tree Tuesday

Earlier this year VBFF sent in a chainsaw sculpture from a nearby city tour she’d taken. Today, VBFF has sent us a couple of other chainsaw made sculptures from the same visit.  Most of the statues were carved in place around the community, hoping to draw shoppers to the area and promote tourism. Here’s the link to the Tree Trunk Tour in London, Ontario, if you’d like to know more about the sculptures and how they’re made.

©VBFF, all rights reserved

©VBFF, all rights reserved

Jack’s Walk

Sad little Minion and his faithful dog friend, ©voyager, all rights reserved

Can we talk about Christmas decorations?

I like seeing the houses in my neighbourhood all dolled up for the holidays. I find it cheerful, especially on gloomy days like today when Jack and I are dealing with bad weather (5°c with heavy rain.) Some decorations, though, are better than others, and I might be an old grump for complaining about this, but I don’t like inflatable lawn balloons. Most of them are powered by pumps and require hydro to run, and so most people who have them only run them in the evening, which seems smart and thrifty. The trouble is that these balloon decorations turn into limp puddles of plastic that look like shit when they’re not operating, which is most of the time. I think they look sad and messy.

I don’t do a lot of decorating, but I do did have a set of LED lights built into the railings when we rebuilt the porch 2 years ago. They were connected to a wi-fi controller inside the house and were operated by an app on my phone and tablet. I say were, not are because 2 nights ago someone disconnected them from the controller and tore them off one side of my porch. They’re no good to anyone without the controller, so it’s just vandalism, and it will be expensive to repair. It isn’t the first time we’ve had things stolen from our front yard. We live near a high school, and kids will be kids. Usually, we put the nice stuff in the fenced back yard, but I never suspected they would tear apart the housing and steal a built-in LED light strip that is of no use to someone else. Our guard dog (Jack) is older now and sleeps hard. I think it’s time to invest in a home camera system and a nice big sign that says, “Smile. You’re on Camera.”

I try to live in a state of gratitude and maintain a cheerful disposition. Some days it’s more complicated than others.

This Santa isn’t connected to hydro. I think he just needs a good blow and then insert the plug to keep the air in. No daily pumping required. Good Santa.

Ripples for Caine- Water is Life

I have something very special from Nightjar for this Monday morning.

We had a rainy November, in fact I can’t remember a month in the recent past when it rained so much. The rain completely flooded the fields behind our house and again, I can’t remember when this last happened. I’m told by older people that this is what November used to be like and how the fields used to look like this time of the year. Makes sense. Before “normal” and “drought” became synonymous. Today we had a bit of sun and I had to go for a walk with my camera. While taking these photos all I could think of was Caine, for reasons I don’t think I have to explain. Hopefully the photos speak for themselves. Came back home with tears in my eyes and had to share this with you all. Water is Life. ♥

Your photos are beautiful, and they also make me think about Caine. She enjoyed photographing water in its many forms. I know she would love these pictures. Thank you so much for sharing them, Nightjar.

©Nightjar,all rights reserved

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Jack’s Walk

A new friend for Jack? ©voyager, all rights reserved

When we walk around our neighbourhood during the day, Jack and I have a regular route. We walk up to the high school, then down toward the park and then loop around back to the far end of our own street and then it’s a straight line to home again. This route is Jack’s choice because it gives him the best chance of getting a few love pats along the way. The walk takes us past his teenaged fan club and the home of his best dog friend, Leo. It also allows me to avoid problems because I know where all the other dogs live along the route. Most dogs are friendly and get along well with Jack, but there are one or two exceptions. There’s a Jack Russell at the end of our block who strains at his leash snarling and barking at Jack madly. We only know him as “Shut-up you bastard,” but I’m sure he has another name. I’d stop to ask except he won’t stop barking long enough to speak to his person, a frail elderly man who likes to holler. There’s also Izzy, a pug, who wants to challenge Jack. Jack picked him up once and spat him out again, without injury I should add, but it only made Izzy more determined to get Jack. So now, we always cross the street to avoid him. Izzy has a great person named Linda who Jack and I both like, but she understands that Izzy has issues and always controls him from her side of the street. Recently, though, neighbours a few blocks down have gotten a new dog, and it barks at us every day no matter what time we go by. It’s always at the window, I imagine because his people work and he is watching for them. The new dog not only barks, but he jumps around a lot, occasionally banging into the window. Jack says he wants to be friends and tells me that we should knock on their door one evening to meet him when his people are at home. I think we should wait until spring, when the new dog is more settled and we can meet casually outdoors. I tell Jack that not everyone wants a voyager at their door with an 85-pound hairy goofball, asking if their dog can come out to play. Jack says he can’t understand why, and furrow’s his brow at me. Sheesh, alright, Bubba! Maybe I’ll go alone to take them a few Christmas cookies and check the situation out. If they’re agreeable, perhaps I’ll take Jack for a playdate. I think the new dog does look like a fun sort of fellow, just look at that smile, and its barking and antics do seem more playful than aggressive. Who knows, maybe Leo has some competition for the title of Jack’s Best Friend?

Fungi Friday

Avalus has been photographing some delicate mushrooms for us.

Mushrooms. With the end of October, Mainz remembered it was once woodland and mushrooms popped up everywhere.

Mushroomates ©Avalus, all rights reserved

©Avalus, all rights reserved

©Avalus, all rights reserved

©Avalus, all rights reserved

©Avalus, all rights reserved

Mushroom’s end ©Avalus, all rights reserved



Jack’s Walk

Bubba’s growing hair like a buffalo.

Today, Jack and I encountered a new danger with the ice. Instead of worrying about falling on the ice, today, we were worried about the ice falling on us. It’s a bit above zero today, and all the ice on the trees is starting to melt and let go. Throughout our entire walk, we heard the ice cracking overhead and saw pieces of ice fall around us. Twice I was hit in the head with small pieces, and by the time we got home, I was getting nervous that a more substantial chunk might get me. Even Jack was getting a bit antsy, which surprised me. Typically, Jack is calm about things falling around him. Once, in the kitchen, I dropped a large pot full of cold water and carrots right beside him. It made a colossal clatter, and water and carrot pieces flew around Jack like a cartoon explosion. It was theatrically spectacular, and it made me jump, but  Jack didn’t flinch. Nope, instead, he waited a second or two and then started to eat the carrots closest to him. He said he was helping me clean-up. So a few bits of ice falling are nothing compared to that. Perhaps he’s just used to things falling in the kitchen. It often happens, although not usually on the scale of dropping an entire pot, but Jack knows that the kitchen is a place where things unexpectedly fall. Things falling outdoors is unusual and kinda strange, and mummy doesn’t like it. Even though my leash handling doesn’t change, Jack can feel all my shit through the leash, and I vice versa. It’s part of how we talk to each other. So, I knew Bubba was feeling a bit on edge. At about the halfway point of our walk around the neighbourhood, we sped up as much as the ice beneath our feet would allow. And we were both grateful when we spied our own home ahead of us. We made it safely, although our own birch tree dropped a cascade of ice beside us on our way past it. This made me extra grateful because I was worried that this graceful, slender tree would lose branches with the ice, and it hasn’t. So far.

All in all, it’s good to be home. Jack wants to make cookies, and it does seem like a good day to bake. You’ll know to find us in the place where good things drop unexpectedly.