Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Grama's Newest Baby

As of tomorrow morning, I am looking after the YD's little darling.  And here she is.

Meet Shamwari, Shammy for short, a golden doodle.  A large furry baby of a dog, with a wistful face and a need to be close to her mistress at all times.  The YD goes to the washroom?  Shammy is trying to peer under the door.  The YD goes off in her car?  Shammy has one eye and one ear out for the car until the YD comes back.
However, in the meantime, if she cannot have her mistress, Grama is next best.  She settles down on her favourite piece of the living room carpet (as shown) and keeps the other eye and ear on me.  If I get up, she watches to see where I go.  The tail is tucked between her legs, the eyes even more wistful than usual.
As soon as she hears the car, up she pops, the tail goes up, and she heads for the door.
Tomorrow the YD has to go into the city and get a lot of paperwork done.  She is going to spend the night at her sister's house.  Shammy is staying here. I hope I can be an adequate substitute for the Beloved for a day and a half.
Wish me luck.

4:30 pm.
There is a new game, chez G.  It seems to be a version of hide and seek.  Mary opens front door and wants Shammy to come in.  Shammy runs around the house and hides.  Mary closes front door.  Shammy comes up onto porch.  Mary opens door.  Shammy runs around house and hides.  Mary opens back door.  Shammy runs around ............ do dogs giggle?  Because if so, this one is giggling.
She is now in the house, courtesy of JG.  Still giggling.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Winter Fun

We have had just a bit of an ice storm here; not like the big one but involving a lot of hoar frost, followed by rain followed by snow followed by ominous cracks as tree branches gave way under the weight.  Today we had a bit of thaw and a lot beautiful.
JG and the YD, accompanied by dog, went out to clear downed trees off the road.

I took photos.

We are now told that the temperature will drop, and more snow is expected.  Ah, life in Eastern Ontario.
But it sure is beautiful.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

A Monday Mission Carol

It was the days of Christmas prep when sanity had fled,
The tree still leaned beside the porch, her husband sick in bed,
No icing made, no presents wrapped,
She mumbled on, while JG napped,
I'm not nearly done, Heavens!
Not nearly done!
Mary in extremis est.

A drive of half an hour to town to pick the turkey up,
And gather other foodstuffs in on which we need to sup.
The whipping cream, the aspic red,
The pickles, olives, special bread.
If this stuff isn't here, Chaos!
If stuff isn't here
Mary in canus' domus libet.

She needs to vacuum up the mud that's scattered in the hall,
She needs to wipe the kitchen floor, where many drips do fall.
There's beds to make, laundry to do,
The YD's coming, dog comes too.
Too much to do, Panic!
Too much to do.
Mary in flabellum est.

With apologies to Jean de Brebeuf

Friday, 11 December 2009

The Weather Report

Ahem? Hem, Hem, HEM? Excuse me! Weather gods? Ice Queen? You with the snowmaking machine up there? Would you please stop! STOP, already. We have almost 24" of snow on the ground. White Christmas is assured. It's okay. Enough! Please?

The upside of this sudden change from a grey, wet November to winter wonderland is that I now know that my new Ford has got what it takes. We drove to a Christmas party last night in almost whiteout conditions on the way there and enough snow on the hill through the village that they had barricades out and were directing traffic around the side roads. On the way home the road had only been ploughed half way along the county road and we had only a groove to follow through about 8" of new fall. By the time we got onto our own concession, we were down to one set of tracks and the last few hills were untouched. But the Ford purred right along, didn't slip, slide or refuse, even when we were scraping snow with the undercarriage. I am relieved, because I really trusted the Jeep's ability to let me shift to 4 high or 4 low and was most unsure about this automatic all-wheel drive. It works, though.

We have had two very grumpy wild turkeys sitting out on the feeding station all morning, doing a few desultory kicks through the snow and, it almost seemed, glaring at the house, waiting for us to put the corn out. As of now, the feeding station is recharged and I hope they will cheer up. We also had a most bemused deer wander through late yesterday afternoon and again this morning. I wonder if the local wildlife remembers from year to year that their grazing is all going to get covered by nasty cold white stuff or if it comes as a surprise each time. Once the snow is established and deep, the deer 'yard up', that is, gather in a sheltered location with browse, and wait out the winter as well as they can. This snowfall must be almost chest deep on the small ones, but it is light and fluffy still, so I figure they can push through it. Once there is a crust, that is much more difficult.

It is still snowing, hard. They are not listening to me up there.

There has been snow falling since early Tuesday morning, almost without stopping. I have just come back from helping JG get the snow cab onto the tractor and am expecting any moment to hear the rumbling of the augur as he clears out the laneway. It is quite a sight when the snow is this fluffy to see it pouring out the chute of the snowblower. We have a homemade snow shelter on the tractor that covers three sides and if the wind is wrong, the plume also blows back and covers JG from time to time. Talk about the abominable snowman! Two blue eyes in a walking, steaming pile of snow. I am not allowed to laugh.

We're supposed to be going to a Christmas party again tonight in a town about a 40 minute drive in good weather. If this doesn't stop soon, we may be looking at twice that long and another return requiring punching through unplowed roads.

However, JG is somewhat chuffed because he can now play full out with his new toy. We have a small Kubota two seat utility vehicle that we use to get around in the bush, lug wood, whatever. It has four wheel drive and four fat tires, but it does not do well in snow. So, this fall JG bought it a set of winter tracks. He spent three long cold days taking off the tires and fitting the tracks on, with the result shown in the photo here. This morning he got it out and clomped along on the unploughed trails around the house. And, like the Ford, it chugged right through. Lovely.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Who Let the Dogs Out?

I have an on-line acquaintance whose kindergarten aged daughter has a mordant fear of dogs. As her mother describes it, it is a phobic fear and the poor kidlet panics whenever she is in the presence of a dog. She is too young to have this intensity of fear addressed by a psychologist and therefore her mother cannot take her anywhere that the child might encounter dogs closely. No jaunts in the park, no trips to the market, no place where people might bring their pets. Of course, she will grow up and reach a cognitive level where this fear can be addressed, but in the meantime her mother has a lot of problems. She tried to take Miss M to see the Olympic torch run, but people had their dogs there and she had to leave. When the 'Leave Your Dog at Home' site went up, the mother was afraid that the little girl would not be able to tolerate going to the Santa Claus parade.

In my mind, dogs don't get a lot out of Santa Claus and it would not spoil a treat for them if they were left at home. Miss M, on the other hand, is at a perfect Santa Parade age.

When my husband was a little boy he was horribly afraid of dogs. He remembers walking home from somewhere with his sister and hiding behind her because of a dog. He clearly remembers the terror. When he was old enough, his parents got a puppy and he learned to overcome his fear. But even as an adult he still feels very uncomfortable around strange large dogs.

When my daughter was a toddler, she too began to evince fear of dogs. We got a puppy and she bonded with him enough that she now does not remember the fear. I remember the hassle, oh yes, I do. I had a two and a half year old toddler, a year old baby and a puppy and not enough arms to cope with all three of them at once. I clearly recall having the two kids in a pull sleigh that winter and the dog on a leash and hitting a patch of ice as I walked. Sleigh went one way, dog the other and I did a perfect cartoon rendition of feet going faster and faster and going no where. Thud! Not to mention the time the little ones let him escape one spring evening a few years later and he became a father. But all of the trouble and mess was worthwhile to prevent my little girl developing serious dog phobia.

I know that for some people, their dogs are their companions and support. That if you live alone, a pet is a lifeline. I have a daughter who has a dog that she has named 'Friend' in Shona. She takes her dog a lot of places with her and loves her very dearly. It would probably never occur to her that her shy, sweet-faced, mostly well-behaved pet could evoke terror in a child just by running into the same park with her. But I remember her sister's terror and I have seen the evidence of a similar long-ago terror in my husband.

There was a big hassle about dogs running loose in parks reported on the radio not long ago. And a pet owner was interviewed saying that it was inhumane not to allow dogs to run sometimes. That dogs need to run and play. And I think she was right. But there are a fair number of kids out there, like Miss M and my husband, for whom the dog's freedom creates terror. And that's not humane either.

There's no easy answer to this one, for me. Do we have enough parks to split them so that some are for dogs and some for children? Even children who love dogs should not be playing on ground that dogs have shit on, however carefully the owner scooped the poop. In Barcelona, Spain, they have dog runs set aside -- children are not forbidden, but the dogs come first. In all my exploration of the place I did not find one play area for children where dogs were forbidden and as I was minding my three year old granddaughter, I was most persistently looking for children's play areas. I was in a big shopping mall in France some years ago where dogs were allowed and left deposits on the sidewalks, unchallenged. I question the priority setting, I really do.

Both children and dogs can be pestiferous little monsters and people like me, accompanied by neither, can be heartily sick of both. My rule would be to keep a leash on the whole whining, blundering lot of them, frankly. Kids need company manners. And dogs do not belong at a Santa Claus parade.