Jack’s Walk

Jack, March 23, 2020 ©voyager, all rights reserved

Can I go back to bed now, Mummy? ©voyager, all rights reserved

All that white stuff behind Jack is snow. Which is what it did here yesterday. Thankfully, it was all gone by this morning, and no shovelling was required, which made for a pleasant change. Despite the snow and cold, it’s definitely spring, and not just because the calendar says so. I know it’s spring because Jack has started his annual shed. You can see it starting on his shoulders just below his collar. See how it’s clumping into tufts. Soon those tufts will turn blondish and then they’ll fall out along with a tsunami of single untufted hairs, all of which will need to be vacuumed up if I don’t brush them out first. Luckily, we have super-powered brushing tools (Thanks, Marcus), but even deploying them daily won’t keep up. The more you brush Jack, the more hair it loosens up, and the more brushing he needs. You can spend half an hour at a time brushing Bubba and get a grocery bag full of hair and think you’re all good, and then an hour later, you could do it all over again. I had hopes that it wouldn’t be as bad this year because he didn’t seem to put on as much hair as usual, but if today is any indication, my brushing arm, which is also my vacuuming arm, is still going to get a good workout over the next month or so. I’ve included Jack’s photos from the start of winter below the fold in case you want to make a comparison.

Jack, October 3, 2019 ©voyager, all rights reserved

Jack, October 3, 2019 ©voyager, all rights reserved

Jack’s Walk

See you in March. Photo by Janet B.

I’m leaving for Mexico tomorrow and won’t be back until the end of the month, so after today Jack’s Walk is on vacation until March 2. I’m going to a place called Jocotepec to help a friend pack up her house. She and her husband lived there for 12 years, but he died 2 years ago and Janet moved back home. She’s sold her house there and we’re going down to finish the paperwork and pack up the last of her things. It won’t be all work, though. We have a few interesting field trips planned, including an Iguana Park, a pyramid and a mud bath! We’ll also be going to Manzanillo for a few days because I’ve never seen the Pacific Ocean and we could both use a little beach time. I’ll share the photos when we get home, but you may get the odd Postcard From Mexico while I’m away. No promises, though. I’m ready for a break.

I can promise that The Art of Book Design will be here every day as usual and I thought that Jack’s absence would be a good time to put up the next part of my Russia series, so there will be 2 or 3 posts published about our stay in Uglich. Be sure to look for those. I’ll see you all in March.

Jack’s Walk


Prelude to a shake  ©voyager, all rights reserved

Jack isn’t happy today. I brought my suitcase upstairs to begin packing, and Jack knew something was up right away.

“Are we going to see Grandma in Montreal?” he asked.

“No, no, we’re not Jack,” I replied. I saw a shadow pass over his eyes but he sat quietly for a pause before he said,

“Are we going all the way to the east coast?”

“No, Jack,” I said. “Just mummy is going away this time. I’m going to Mexico with Aunt Janet.”

I know Jack doesn’t like it when I’m away, so I’ve been keeping the trip quiet. I didn’t want to spoil more days than necessary.  Typically, Jack is very zen, and he doesn’t often get emotional, but I heard a catch in his voice as he asked,

“How long will you be gone, mummy?”

“13 days, Bubba. We’re going to pack up Aunt Janet’s house because she’s sold it. And since we’ll be near to it, Aunt Janet and I are going to go to the beach, so I can see the Pacific Ocean. I’ve only seen it in pictures,” I said.

“13 days is a long time! And you’re going to the beach without me! I’ve never seen the Pacific Ocean either.” He was starting to sound a bit petulant.

“I know, it sucks, Bubba. I wish you could come with me, but you’d need to fly on an airplane, in a crate, away from Mummy, and I know you wouldn’t like that.” We’d had this same conversation when I went to Russia.

“I would be afraid of that….” then a longish pause and, “How far away is Mexico and the Pacific Ocean? Is it as far away as the east coast? Is the ocean as big as our ocean?”

“It’s a lot farther away, Jack. If we drove, it would take almost a week to get there.”

“A whole week. That’s really far away.”

“Yup, and it’s bigger than our ocean, which is the North Atlantic Ocean. A lot bigger. The Pacific is the biggest ocean on the entire planet. Here, let’s sit down with the Atlas, and I can show you. After that, I’ll show you pictures of where I’m going.”

And so we spent the rest of our afternoon looking at maps and pictures and talking about my trip. Eventually, I started packing, and Jack got quiet again. Finally, he said,

“I’m going to miss you mummy, and it isn’t fair for you to go to the beach without me, but… I hope you have a good time, and I hope you bring me home a nice present. Maybe something that smells like the beach. Also, Mummy, I don’t think you should take those shoes. You’re clumsy in those shoes. And you’ll trip if you wear the Palazzo pants. What else have you put in there?”

Sheesh, why do men always think they can comment on a woman’s clothing?”



Jack’s Walk

No, Mommy, I will not look at you. ©voyager, all rights reserved

It’s always challenging to get decent photos of Jack when we’re on a walk. To begin with, he usually walks ahead of me, which is better than behind me because I can see what he’s doing, but it means I get a lot of bum photos. Secondly, Jack doesn’t like to pose, so if I stop and make a point of taking his picture, he gets restless and wanders away before I can focus, or he resents that I won’t let him walk away, and he refuses to look at me. I can usually snap one or two photos before he gets too irritable, but today Jack simply wouldn’t let me get a nice picture of him, no way, no how.  Here he is this morning, studiously surveying a tree growing in the distance, which is obviously more compelling than me. It didn’t help that I’d given Jack the last cookie in my pocket about 10 minutes before this and he knew it. I called him as sweetly as I could, “Hey Bubba. Look at me. Bubba… Bubbs. Over here, look at me, Jack. Look at me. Jack… Bubba… Bubbs. I’ll stop at Tim’s on the way home (which is Canadian for coffee and donuts), I’ll share an old-fashioned plain with you.” Nope, Jack wasn’t having any of it today. Apparently, the promise of a donut is not a good enticement, especially if you don’t have a milk bone handy to back it up. So, no smiling Jack today. But, if you look closely on Jack’s side, just above his Rt. hip, you can see Lenny the Lump. Lenny is the brother to Larry the Lump, who was removed from Jack’s armpit several years ago, and Lenny’s starting to get big. This is the first time I’ve been able to see him in a photo, but unlike the armpit, he has plenty of room to grow on Jack’s side and will probably never have to be removed. Labs are prone to getting fatty cysts, and Jack has a few other smaller ones on his chest and neck, but they aren’t large enough yet to warrant a name. Lenny is now about the size of an orange and is still growing, but the only time it bothers Jack is when the vet or I palpate it, and that’s only because he thinks it’s weird that we’re squeezing him there. I understand that; I’d think it was weird if someone cupped their hand and squeezed me in that spot, too. The vet did try to explain it once to Jack, but he heard the word “fatty” and thought the Dr. was telling him to lose weight again and stopped listening. Yep, I understand that too, Jack.

Jack’s Walk

©voyager, all rights reserved

The weather has turned cold again and the mud has firmed up into ridges that catch the edge of your boots. This morning on our walk I tripped a few times but managed to avoid falling, a feat few of my friends will believe, but I swear is true. It was all a bit jarring, though, and I did come home with a few aches in unusual places.

After our walk, I went for an x-ray of my spine that involved a few “problematic” positions and by the time I got home again, I was in pain and feeling the strain of extra gravity. The pain is better now that I’m supine and resting, but the gravity isn’t easing. I suspect it’s related to the storm that’s moving in tonight. They’re calling for a mix of freezing rain and snow to start around midnight and end around 7 a.m.,  just in time for everyone’s morning commute. I hope it’s mostly snow. Some of our trees are in early bud and a load of ice on their branches right now could be disastrous.

Jack’s Walk

Jack waiting for a treat ©voyager, all rights reserved

Jack and I went to our wee forest for a walk today, and we were surprised to find it was covered with snow. Yesterday was a melting day in town, and most of our snow again vanished into the soggy ground or ran in rivulets down the sewers, but Trillium Woods was still wearing its blanket of snowy white. The snow was soft and wet, and you could see that some melting had taken place, but not the amount that we experienced in the city just a few miles away.

We did notice a lot of tiny footprints all over the forest, and Jack told me that the animals had been helping the little folk gather up sticks and stones and bits of plant debris to shore up their tunnels. Jack went to a few of the entrances to their world but said everyone has finally gone back to sleep. I asked if they were safe, and he said yes, that he could smell damp, but not too much mould and no open water. At the last entrance he checked (somewhere around Big Bob Oak), Jack said he heard Tom Ticktock snoring then he laughed and trotted away. I called after him and he hesitated for a moment before flicking his tail at me and continuing on. I think that’s a bit rude, don’t you?

Jack’s Walk

©voyager, all rights reserved (click for full size)

Jack is not a duck, nor is he Jesus, but he was walking on water today. Jack loves water. He loves the big water of the North Atlantic and the little water of ponds and puddles near home.  It seems he’s even attracted to water when it’s in its solid state. On our way around the trail this morning, Jack insisted on walking on the pond.

“Don’t worry, Mummy. The ice is strong, and I’ll pay attention to it. There are heaps of interesting smells here.”

It did look solid enough, but I thought I should test it, so I slowly made my way out to Jack, bouncing on the balls of my feet and making the occasional stomp. The ice was surprisingly robust at the edges of the pond, and it was also full of divots and craters. I have no idea what causes water to freeze in this manner, but it was interesting. It felt a bit like being on the surface of the moon. I mentioned this to Jack, and soon we were playing Star Trek Away Mission and laughing like little kids. It was a good day.


Questionable Beauty of a Snowless Winter – Part 3

Last frozen patterns that I took pictures of. The second one looks almost like snow – it was over 2 cm thick fluff that built on the white surface of an old boiler that I still did not get to take off to recycling.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full

Jack’s Walk

In the space of a week, we’ve gone from this,

Flooding at Pittock Lake ©voyager, all rights reserved

to this,

 It’s winter again, and Jack approves ©voyager, all rights reserved

to this.

Oh No, green grass. Winter is melting again, and Jack does not approve/ ©voyager, all rights reserved

Today marks the third time in January that winter has come and gone. It’s expected to rain all weekend, and the creeks and rivers are already running high and fast. They’ve issued flood warnings. In January. In Canada.