Monday, January 19, 2015

Happy 14th Birthday, Mitzi!

Happy, happy birthday to my very special little bichon frise with the very big personality.

It's mah BIRTHDAY!
Send treats!

Mitzi is 14 today, though she has only lived with me for two years - two years this Friday, the day her Mama Anita (my cousin) died and I became her Mama Jean. And I have never, ever regretted having agreed to be her second mom - she brings me joy, makes me laugh, and over the past year has really come out of her shell and become the dog Anita described to me - independent yet vocal, making sure I know when she wants out, when she wants dinner, when Eddie is bugging her. And she usually enjoys her daily walk - unless it is raining really hard, or unless I try to take her too far in which case she parks her butt and says "NO WAY".   But most days, she leads the way and has very definite ideas about the route we should take and the speed we should travel - which is at a pretty fast clip.

La la la la la
Keep up with me, mom!

For someone who never thought herself much of a little dog person, Mitzi sure taught me just how wrong-headed that thought was!  Mitzi, I hope you have many more birthdays with me. Love ya lots.

Okay, now can we deep-six the hat?

Thank you, Mama Jean.
Are you going to get my treats now?

Thursday, January 15, 2015


I was going to blog about two more hikes with two more friends today, but those photos still await editing. Instead, I must share these shots from this morning.  The dogs wake me up no later than 6 AM, go out in the yard to do their business, pester me relentlessly for their breakfast which they inhale enthusiastically, for back outside one more time, and by 6:30 AM are usually sound asleep again. Little b*ggers.   Meanwhile, I know there's no point me going back to bed - once I'm up, I'm up.  So around 7:15 this morning, showered, dressed, bed made, second cup of coffee in hand, I open the living room blinds to see this:

I could only imagine what that sunrise would look like on the bay, and I knew it wouldn't last long enough to rouse Shiloh and let her s l o w l y  wander down to the beach on our customary morning walk, her sniffing each and every blade of grass as we go.  So, letting sleeping dogs lie, I grabbed my cameras, slipped out of the house, and high-tailed it the block-and-a-bit to the water.  Was it worth it?  You be the judge:

As the sun slipped behind Maple Mountain on the south side of the bay, and the day lightened leaving the water its customary grey-blue, I returned home - in time to watch it emerge again through thick fog just around a hump in the mountain, lighting up the Indian Bean tree across the street, and painting watercolour fog scenes for one last photoshoot.

Fifteen minutes later, heavy cloud cover moved in and blocked out the sun, the rain started to drizzle, and the rest of the day was grey and dreary and wet.  But the colours of early morning stayed fresh in my memory. And the dogs never knew what they'd missed.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Two hikes, two days, two friends

Excitable Annoying Eddie is  much easier to live with when he gets lots of off-leash time even though, at eleven years of age, he is starting to slow down in both speed and distance traveled.  The maxim  "A tired dog is a good dog" certainly applies to Eddie, whose irritating behaviours around the house are completely eradicated after a good hike.  No barking, no begging, no stepping on my heels as I head to the kitchen, when he's fast asleep!

Eddie:  Just look at this face!
Do you really think I have ANY annoying habits???

On Saturday, we headed to Fuller Woods with our friend Pat and her puppy Cosmo.  (Actually, we headed to Grace Road Park, but the barrage of  gun shots from the shooting range across the canyon forced us to rethink our destination the minute we got to the parking area). Cosmo, at five months, is an Energizer Bunny who can go-go-go for two hours of hiking and then come back to my place to play-play-play for another hour.
Bunny?  I'm no bunny!
I'm a dog, Auntie Jean!
And a darn cute one too. 

Num num num I found a stick!

Eddie wasn't too keen on him the first time they met, but now they get along just fine - Cosmo knows not to jump on Mr. Eddie, and mostly they just ignore each other - except, of course, if there are treats to be had.

Whoa - TREATS!

You'll notice which dog is sitting nicely
and which dog totally ignored the command! 

Today, Sunday, Eddie and I headed to Chemainus Lake with Margaret and Rajah, to do the 2.5 km trail loop trail that encircles the lake.  Eddie used to try to bolt at the little metal and grid iron bridge a few minutes in from the parking lot, but with Rajah in the lead, then me, then Eddie, then Margaret, we have gradually perfected the art of getting Eddie across.  And after each crossing we throw a party with lots of dried liver treats, which I'm sure has improved his attitude toward metal bridge decks.  What a delight to see him march right across without a moment's hesitation today!

I'm such a smarty-pants!

I took lots of photos today, but sadly most came out blurry - not sure what that was about - perhaps a weak battery that no longer fully charges and doesn't have the power to auto focus properly.  As my larger camera had a little accident a few weeks ago (as in, falling from the tripod to the concrete patio), it looks like I may soon need to replace both my pocket one I use for hiking and my bigger one.  Ouch.

But, to continue our walk around the lake, a few photos escaped the Blur Monster:

Mom?  I need a treat! Mom? Mom?

Chemainus Lake through trees and mist

Rajah decided to play "Where's Waldo Rajah?"

Reflections in the lake

On the far side of the lake, significant improvements have been made to the trail, widening it  and providing a firm navijack surface where mud and mulch used to be.  A little harder on tender paws, according to Eddie, but a more durable trail given the many people and dogs who use this off-leash park.

Hey, lookit this new trail surface!

Tomorrow we'll be back to walking about town for a day or two, and permitting.....a third hike with a third friend.

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Foggy Foggy Dew

When I was a bachelor, I liv'd all alone
I worked at the weaver's trade
And the only, only thing that I ever did wrong
Was to woo a fair young maid.
I wooed her in the wintertime
And in the summer, too
And the only, only thing that I did that was wrong
Was to keep her from the foggy, foggy dew.

(Old English folk song, circa 1815)

Now I'm no fair young maid for sure, but there isn't a bachelor on earth who could keep me from the foggy, foggy dew.  Those  foggy morning walks with Shiloh are some of my favourites - like walking while cocooned in a cotton puff, noises muffled, peaceful solitude, beautiful photo ops as the rising sun tries its hardest to shine through the mists.  I can stand on the shore gazing through my camera's lens for hours.  As much as I love crisp sunny mornings, I think I love the foggy ones even more.  These shots are from this morning's walk:

7:45  AM

8:15 AM

8:30 AM

Barrow's Goldeneye

8:45 AM

Fog lifting on Maple Mountain

"What's she babbling on about?"
"I dunno - just ignore her! "

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

My world in black and white

Back in November, a friend on Facebook asked me to participate in a five day challenge, publishing on facebook one black and white photograph each day for five days.  The rules allowed for the photographer to take a colour photo and change it to black and white, which is what I did.  The hardest part of the challenge was deciding which five photos to post.  I knew I'd have no problem finding five photos of dogs which would look great in black and white,  but decided to challenge myself at another level by deliberately choosing photos from different categories. As it happens, I ended up starting and finishing the challenge with dog ones, but diversifying for the second, third, and fourth photos.  These are the five I ended up posting:  

Day 1:  This was a photo I took for Bully Buddies rescue several ago. I call it "I'll be your Best Friend". 

I'll Be Your Best Friend
(c) Jean Ballard 2009

Day 2:  One of my favourite photography subjects, second only to dogs, is the elderly. In this photo, my friend Pearl is having a great laugh over some silliness we got up to.

Laughter is the best medicine
(c) Jean Ballard 2013

Day 3:  As one who avoids big cities like the plague, I seldom do urban photography, but I took this shot on a rare visit to downtown Vancouver BC last fall.

The Urban Jungle
(c) Jean Ballard 2014

Day 4:  Day four's contribution contrasts sharply with Day three's urban shot - a young First Nation's man spearfishing at Swallowfield, one of my favourite hiking spots near Crofton BC. 

Spearfisher at Swallowfield
(c) Jean Ballard 2010

Day 5: I had trouble deciding what to post for the last day of the challenge, but decided to return to the subject of dogs as I love how removing the colour from this photo makes it look like a pencil line drawing. It is my favourite of the black and whites I'd selected for this challenge: 

Little Dog with Big Bark
(c) Jean Ballard 2013

I thought of this challenge again today when I looked at some photos I took on this morning's walk with Shiloh.  It was just after daybreak on a somewhat foggy morn.  I took the photos in colour, but when I downloaded them to the computer, I realized this morning's world was actually black and white - no photo editing required:  

Osborne Bay on a Foggy Morn
(c) Jean Ballard 2015

I do enjoy black and white photographs, but prefer my real world to have more colour.  Thankfully, as I opened the gate to my backyard, colour emerged - in the form of this little orange cat who has taken to visiting my garden a couple of times a day:  

The Visitor
(c) Jean Ballard 2015

Monday, January 5, 2015

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas...

On the twelfth day of Christmas, your blogger posts for thee.....

Twelve dogs all posing, 

Eleven scenes of beauty, 

Ten suns a rising,

Nine foggy mornings, 

Eight pretty blossoms,

Seven island birdies,

Six happy piggies,

Five.... Gold...en... Flowers

Four happy kids,

Three kitties,

Two yellow ducks, 

And a sheltie by an evergreen tree!  
Can I go now?

And now Christmas is officially over and we are well into the New Year.  I don't make resolutions, but if I did it would be to get my stories better organized, write some new ones, and blog at least once a week.  I hope you've enjoyed these twelve days of blogging. Please come back soon. 

All photos copyright Jean Ballard 2014