Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Mitzi and the Monkey

Our company last week sent this gift of a Flying Screaming Monkey for the critters. The toy works sort of like a slingshot - pull both elastic arms back and let him go - and he screams as he flies across the room.  The reaction of both Allie and Mitzi was hilarious, and although Eddie ignored it at first he later decided to join in once he saw Mitzi having such a barkfest over it.  I couldn't make the monkey fly, a two handed operation, and run the camera at the same time, so I just pulled the arm and showed it to the critters for this video.  Turn on the sound!  (Thanks, Donna, for some fun entertainment!)

I hope this works - 

video

Friday, July 26, 2013

Camping with Eddie: Petals and Pigs

Thought I'd melted into a puddle on the computer room rug, didn't you?  Well, it is still hot, but that isn't the whole reason for not blogging.  And I certainly have lots of photos and topics to blog about.  So as well as summer inertia, we'll blame it on lost dogs (not mine!), facebook (what a time sucker), company, gardening, volunteerism, writing for other purposes, and just plain laziness.

So let's wrap up the Camping with Eddie series and move on to other topics...

The last couple of days of our camping trip were spent lazing around, playing with the camera.  Although it was mid-June, the spring flowers had just come into full force - spring arrives much later in the mountains than on the island!  There were blossoms everywhere, in every colour and shape.  Here's just a few of my favourites:
Okay, not a blossom - a berry!
Salmonberry

(c) Jean Ballard 2013 

California Poppies
(c) Jean Ballard 2013 

Foxglove
(c) Jean Ballard 2013 

Orange flower
(forgotten the name!)

(c) Jean Ballard 2013 

A bee flew into this shot
just as I snapped the photo!

Wild Rose
(c) Jean Ballard 2013 

Don't know what these are -
They grew on a large tree and lower shrubs, with large, broad,  five-petalled leaves.

(c) Jean Ballard 2013 

I was going to call this entry "Petals, Peckers, and Pigs", because I also have some photos of a woodpecker who entertained me one morning.  I thought, however, that pairing Peckers and Pigs in a title might be misinterpreted and who knows who might end up on this page while searching for completely different material!  But here are the photos of the woodpecker - he was either a rather large male Downy, or a male Hairy Woodpecker with a rather short beak. (The two species are almost identical except in overall size and in the length of the beak).

(c) Jean Ballard 2013 

(c) Jean Ballard 2013 

(c) Jean Ballard 2013 


(c) Jean Ballard 2013 

On the day we left the campsite to return home, we took a sidetrip to Hearts on Noses Mini Pig Sanctuary. Janice, the owner, was in hospital having had a heart attack two days previous, but her mom and sister were there to receive the fruit and veggies we took for the piggies and to share a cup of tea while I said a quick hello to all the critters.

Molly and Chilko, Janice's two dogs, came to greet me first.

Molly

Chilko
(c) Jean Ballard 2013 


And then Dior and  Lacey, the horses, came over to check out the apples I'd brought.

Got Apples?
(c) Jean Ballard 2013 
Then it was time to say hello to the pigs. They were all in their pens, as Janice's family was just about to leave for the hospital.  First stop was Panda, whose ears were bitten off by rats in the filthy conditions in which he was confined before coming to the sanctuary.

Panda
(c) Jean Ballard 2013 

Then there was this newcomer, whose name I don't know, but whose black and white markings and longer nose make him stand out in a crowd.


(c) Jean Ballard 2013 


Then off to see the twelve I fostered.  Most were sleeping, but some made the effort to come say hello to their former foster mama.
Hi Former Foster Mama!
(c) Jean Ballard 2013 


I didn't have treats on me - not wanting to get all the pigs excited just as everyone was about to leave - so some just opened their eyes and grunted a hello. 

What, no treats?
(c) Jean Ballard 2013 

Then round to see the pink pigs - Comet, Rose and Roscoe:


Comet
(c) Jean Ballard 2013 

Rose
(c) Jean Ballard 2013 

Roscoe
(c) Jean Ballard 2013 

And lastly a quick peek at some of the other potbellied porcines.  I particularly liked this shot:

Hello there.
Haz you seen our Mama Janice?

(c) Jean Ballard 2013 


And then it was back in the van, back on the boat, and back home to the island.  And onto other stories.

Yahoo!
(c) Jean Ballard 2013 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Mama Jean, Protect Me!



By Mitzi
I had a frittening frytning  scary experience this morning.  I was walking along the sea walk wiv Mama Jean. I was on leash but about six feet ahead of her.  She waz busy watching an eagle who flew overhead and was sitting in a tree behind us, making a lot of noise.

Suddenly there was a big dark shadow RIGHT over my head.   It was an osprey and he hovered only about 15 feet above me, eyeballing me fer breakfast I think.  He wazn't moving away so Mama Jean came and stood over me, one leg on each side.  Dat Big Bird waz gonna have to go through My Mama Jean to get to little old Me!

He decided Mama was too big to tackle, so he flew away.

Mama assured me osprey don't usually eat anything but fish and was probably more interested in pissing off the eagle than eating me.

But I dunno. I found this website which says: "Although Ospreys catch mainly fish, they have been recorded hunting rabbits, hares, birds and reptiles."  I betcha they would eat a little white furry dog like me.  

I think Mama better feed me more treats so I can grow up to be a BIG DOG.  Sumtimes its no fun being small.

Love, Mitzi.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Camping with Eddie - Ema and Emma

The day after the big thunderstorm was a day of making new friends and seeing old ones.  First, Ann's friends Sharon and Ema came up to the campsite. We hit it off right away - they both have the kind of teasing, witty sense of humor that I grew up with, and immediately felt like family.  We all laughed and laughed, ate, told stories, and had a wonderful time - just the thing to dispel any aftermath of the storm.

Sharon and Ema
New friends who I hope to see again!

That evening, I visited with another Emma (this one with two 'm's)  - my Emma who lives with my ex.
As usual she was excited to see me:

Mom!  You're here!

As usual, we went through her commands that I taught her when she was just a pup - sit, stay, down, come, heel, shake paw, kiss, speak  - and she posed for pictures.

Speak?  What would you like me to say?

"Come!"  My favourite word, next to "Cookie"! 

Do I look distinguised in this pose?

She is eight and a half years old now (where did the years go?!!), and for the first time I saw some grey on her muzzle and the beginnings of aging in her face:

Dontcha know?  Us  labs are puppies until we are eight.
I'm just entering adulthood now!

And the highlight of the evening was that my ex popped the question:  "If I die before Emma, would you take her for me?".

You bet I will.

Not that I wish him ill.  The odds of him dying first are slim - he is, after all, not yet sixty, and Emma is almost a senior. But it filled my heart with joy to know he loves her so much that he plans for her future if he can't be with her, that he chooses someone he knows will love her unconditionally and always give her a good home.

It warms my heart to know Emma is so very much loved by both of us.

She is one happy, lucky girl.

Well of course I am!
I'm a lab!



Saturday, July 13, 2013

Camping with Eddie: The Sounds of H*ll

(This is the continuing story of the camping trip Eddie and I took last month.  This entry describes Sunday night, quite possibly the scariest night of Eddie's life.  I wrote the story during the storm and in the early morning hours after.)

                                                           The Sounds of Hell
                                                           (c) Jean Ballard, 2013

Hell has no fury like a late night storm.  Huddled in our tent, my dog Eddie and I listen to the crash and clamor around us – the roar of the thunder amplified immeasurably by the mountains that rim the canyon in which we are camped.  
Mountains, the afternoon before the storm hit

The nearby creeks and Fraser river, full to capacity from rain and melting snow, race tumultuously between canyon walls, vomiting logs onto giant boulders.  The roar of river and storm is exacerbated by the big rigs and trains that thunder along their paths heading to the city. Rain drums incessantly on the heavy polyethylene tarp that covers my tent. 

Swollen creek floods into swollen river,
prior to storm.

 
Creek runs wild, post storm.

The noise is overwhelming.  I yell at it to stop.  It swallows the sounds of every day life – was that a dog yipping on the path behind my tent?  Are those voices I hear shouting for help?  Is someone trying to break into my car?  I hear everything yet I hear nothing.  I am in the great outdoors yet I am claustrophobic, held captive by nature’s maelstrom.  Compressed, squeezed on all sides by darkness and water and noise.  Tortured. 

And Eddie.  He is terrified.  Every clap of thunder sends him into more paroxysms of barking, more frantic attempts to escape that unknown beast around us.  The trains and trucks, even as they slam their way across the metal bridges over the river, metal on metal, screeching their pain, don’t frighten him – but Thor, God of Thunder, terrifies.

Eddie:  Trucks over that little bridge don't scare me!


But I sure don't like THUNDER!

I have never been the motherly sort. Whining and shouting, whether from dogs or kids, only frustrates me.  I alternate between holding him tightly, rocking him, wrapping him in my shirt, singing softly in his ear and angrily saying “Eddie stop it!” “Eddie quiet!” “ EDDIE!”.  He responds to the loudly screamed EDDIE better than the gentle, happy, crooning tones.  I know I’m doing it all wrong.  "Bad Dog Mom" is branded on my forehead.  Even in the midst of hell, I feel guilty.

I sit up reading till long past midnight, afraid to rest in case yet another clap of thunder sends the dog right through the tent wall.  The bedlam lasts two hours, the rain pummels the tarp much longer. 

Five AM.   The rain has finally stopped, save a few lingering showers.  Birds are singing.  I toss aside my blanket and pull on my warm flannel shirt and old navy sweatpants.  We scramble out of the tent.  I take Eddie for a walk, but he is strangely subdued – he doesn’t mark, doesn’t sniff, doesn’t budge from my side.  Finally he releases a small burst of urine and we head back to the campsite.  I build a fire, make my coffee, feed the dog  - his night terrors have apparently not affected his morning appetite. 

Morning campfire


By 5:30, my dog is slowly relaxing, drifting back to sleep on the mat beside my chair near the fire.  Drips from the trees punctuate my notes as I scribble the memory of last night’s storm.  A light breeze freshens the damp air and a spot of blue appears between the white puffs of cloud.  Mist rises from the mountains, and squirrels seek crumbs from my granola bar. Spring flowers are in bloom everywhere, though the calendar says it is summer.

Trees tower above our campsite


Flowers bloom around the campsite

 
Excuse me?  May I have some of your granola bar?

A towhee provides a morning symphony



The coffee is hot.  The fire is comforting.  The dog rests easy.  The storm is over.

We are free once more, no longer held captive by the sounds of hell. 




Monday, July 8, 2013

It's Too Hot to Blog




It's Too Hot to Blog
(A Poem by Eddie)

It's too hot to blog, 
Said my mama to me.
It's too hot to blog,
Let's walk by the sea.
Let's play in the sprinkler,
Let's splash in a pool.
It's too hot to blog.
I'm nobody's fool.

It's too hot to blog,
Though I know there are those
Who are waiting impatiently
While we play with the hose.
We've got lots of photos,
And stories as well, 
But it's too hot to blog
So just go to H...

  (Jean)                 E D D I E !

 Eddie's correct with the title - it is too hot to blog. And I'm working on a couple of projects that require a lot of time at the computer, so any time I have in the early morning or late evening is spent on that.  But I promise we'll be back soon - we still have stories from camp, photos of Emma and piggies and flowers and birds and, of course, dogs.  Keep checking back - should be something new here in a couple of days. J. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Canada, My Canada

(I do have a couple more posts about Camping with Eddie, but in keeping with tradition, I offer my annual tribute to Canada using some of my  favourite photos from the past twelve months).  

Canada, my Canada,

Where there is space to explore,
(c) Jean Ballard 2013


forests to hike,
(c) Jean Ballard 2013

secluded lakes to discover,
(c) Jean Ballard 2013

shorelines to wander,
(c) Jean Ballard 2013

parks to enjoy,
(c) Jean Ballard 2013

tree lined rivers,
(c) Jean Ballard 2013

and boardwalks by oceans.
(c) Jean Ballard 2013

Canada, my Canada,

Where one can walk or bike this mighty land
on the 23,000 km Trans Canada Trail,
(c) Jean Ballard 2013


Or kayak its lakes and oceans,
(c) Jean Ballard 2013

Or go for a drive in the country,
(c) Jean Ballard 2013

or visit a street market,
all in one day.
(c) Jean Ballard 2013


Canada, my Canada,

where we gather with friends,
(c) Jean Ballard 2013

to sing and make music,
(c) Jean Ballard 2013

and to laugh with delight,
(c) Jean Ballard 2013

and to play with abandon.
(c) Jean Ballard 2013
Canada, my Canada,


where none need go hungry
(c) Jean Ballard
if we all work together.
(c) Jean Ballard 2013
Canada, my Canada,

Where the youngest
(c) Jean Ballard 2013


and smallest
(c) Jean Ballard 2013

of all kinds of species
(c) Jean Ballard 2013



To the oldest among us,
We all have our worth.
(c) Jean Ballard 2013


And the quiet
(c) Jean Ballard 2013

and the noisy
(c) Jean Ballard 2013


Can all have their say.
(c) Jean Ballard 2013

Canada, my Canada,

where the birds
(c) Jean Ballard 2013

of all colours
(c) Jean Ballard 2013

and sizes
(c) Jean Ballard 2013

and habitats,
(c) Jean Ballard 2013

and the bees
(c) Jean Ballard 2013

and the flowers
(c) Jean Ballard 2013

bring us joy
(c) Jean Ballard 2013

neverending.
(c) Jean Ballard 2013

Canada, my Canada, 

Where we look up to family
(c) Jean Ballard 2013




And show them we care.
(c) Jean Ballard 2013

Canada, my Canada,
Where the tired can find rest
(c) Jean Ballard 2013


And when we're at the end of our rope
(c) Jean Ballard 2013


Someone will stand with us,
(c) Jean Ballard 2013


Protect us,
(c) Jean Ballard 2013

And listen to us.
(c) Jean Ballard 2013
.
Canada, my Canada,


Whether in large urban centres
(c) Jean Ballard 2013

Or out in the country,
(c) Jean Ballard 2013

On a ranch on the prairies
(c) Jean Ballard 2013

Or in a tent by the ocean,
(c) Jean Ballard 2013




We are proud to be Canadian
(c) Jean Ballard 2013

And our ship has come in.
(c) Jean Ballard 2013


Treasure the life this country offers.
Look for its goodness, and contribute to it too.
It is ours for the taking, but also for the giving,
And we must protect it, the land and each other.
Happy Canada Day