Angel Jake at the RBC (Rainbow Broadcasting Corporation)

Angel Jake at the RBC (Rainbow Broadcasting Corporation)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

En derangement...

When our mom lived in Paris a hundred years ago, she always laughed when she saw a sign affixed to an out-of-order telephone that said: En derangement.

Now that she's translated the French for us, we can laugh too as we think how many other ways we'd like to use those words to explain our mom's current condition. Out of order? Yes. Way too busy? Yes. Thoroughly deranged? Absolutely.

We think she'll be back in order before too long. Still busy, but perhaps less so. But that deranged? No hope for a cure.

As we face the last month of hurricane season here in what has been a comparatively peaceful time, we feel awful for those elsewhere who seem to have gotten the brunt of winds and rain and even worse. No predicting anything anymore!!! Not even for this so far happily unemployed weather dog.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Life's incomprehensible equations

Some things are just too hard to understand. Neither by human nor by dog.

Today -- since last night at midnight actually -- we should have been feeling unalloyed joy as 33 men were removed one by one from their 70-day confinement almost a mile below the earth in the Chilean desert. Joy not only at their rescue, but at the sense that when people in dire circumstances stand together, positive things can happen. Joy that technology when used for man's good, can do miraculous things.

But no, on the other side of the world, this morning we learned that one nine-year old Polish Lowland Sheepdog named Wilf received anguishing news -- and the only option his family -- Angus and the Font -- have is to love him and keep him happy and free of pain.

No, there is no way we can understand life's equations.

Wilf, we love you. You have brightened our mornings for so many months now. You and your brother Digby, who left this earth way too soon, have been like part of our family. We can only hope that whatever time you have left will be surrounded with love and all the things you enjoy so much -- including sausages and Jaffa cakes.

Joan and Jake an Just Harry

Monday, October 11, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving to All Our Friends in Canada!!!

Mom and Dogdad want us to say how very thankful they are that they got to visit two parts of Canada this year -- first Vancouver in British Columbia, where they ( and Flat Jake and Flat Just Harry) met Sunshade and Jaffaman and their lovely mom, Elaine -- and then just a few weeks ago, Halifax and other parts of Nova Scotia. They -- and so we -- think Canada is a very cool place and we hope we get to visit it someday soon .
Just Harry knows that not everyone in Canada wears a kilt -- but he likes the look so much he was thinking he might move there and at least start a new canine trend.
In the meantime, we're wishing our Canadian neighbors a very HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!
Jake and Just Harry

Thursday, October 7, 2010

So what will she bring home next????

Whenever our mom goes on one of her "business trips," we both know she'll be bringing lots of stuff home with her. Sometimes it's treats for us. Sometimes new collars. Sometimes a stuffie or two. But most often it's something that goes on a wall (except we're pretty much out of wall space). Or something that goes on a shelf or a table (except we're pretty much out of empty flat surfaces too.). Or it's something that goes into a book case (30 pounds came back from Vancouver... and there's not much space to spare in the book cases either).
So we were kind of holding our breath when she came back from Nova Scotia. A few books, check. A calendar, check. A few prints, check. But nothing prepared us for this:

What is it you're probably wondering ?

According to mom, it's a musk ox sculpted by an Inuit artist. Just what we needed, eh?

According to, the musk ox plays an important role in the Inuit's lives and the musk ox is a favourite subject, especially among male carvers who are also hunters..
Muskoxen *
Should you be lucky enough to see the trademark shaggy coat of the muskox (umingmak), you may feel like you've been transported back in time. Indeed, it's easy to imagine continental ice sheets covering much of North America — as they did some 18,000 years ago — when in the company of the "bearded one."
Unlike the caribou, which prefer slow-growing lichens, muskoxen depend largely on grasses and sedges that recover relatively quickly from heavy grazing. In the summer, these herbivores may be seen in river valleys, along lake shores and near damp meadows. If grasses and sedges become unavailable in winter, muskoxen move onto ridges and hilltops to feed on willows and other plants. They are often seen in groups of 10 to 20, depending on season and location. When threatened, muskoxen form defensive circles with adults facing outwards and calves in the centre. This behavior, while effective against four-legged predators, makes muskoxen easy prey for human hunters.

Large numbers of muskoxen roamed the tundra of Nunavut before the arrival of European and Canadian traders. The subsequent market for meat and hides reduced their populations to dangerously low numbers until Canada protected them in 1917. Since then, muskoxen have recovered and recolonized most of their historic range so that closely regulated harvesting can be sustained. Today, Nunavut holds most of Canada's muskoxen, with about 60,000 animals. The species occupies much of Nunavut, except for the eastern mainland and Baffin Island.
Inuit do not usually prefer muskoxen over caribou, although the meat can be delicious and the skins produce warm sleeping robes. Beginning in May, muskoxen shed large quantities of their underfur (qiviut), which can be spun into a luxurious wool. Bulls weigh about 350 kilograms, some 50 kilograms heavier than cows. Muskoxen mate in the summer; bulls can become unpredictable during this period. Do not approach muskoxen too closely, especially if you're not accompanied by an experienced guide. They can be aggressive.

ABOUT THE WOOL²: The Oomingark [as the Inuit call it] is covered all over with "wool", except for it's horns,hooves, lips and nose, with an underlayer of short fine wool for exceptional warmth. Amuch longer outer coat composed of shaggy hair up to 24" in length covers theanimal, hanging nearly to the ground and giving the muskox its mystic appearance.

The coat is generally dark brown or nearly black. About the shoulders it is extremelyshaggy and forms a distinct mane, especially noticeable on bulls. Behind the shoulder is a short white or creamy yellow "saddle". The lower legs have light brown to white "stockings".

* - Reproduced from an article
Land Mammals by Marian and Mike Fergusoncontained in the Nunavut Handbook
2 - Reproduced from NWT Wildlife Sketches Series - Muskox of tje Northwest Territories

This new guy, who apparently is to make himself at home somewhere up high where we can't reach him, is kind of heavy -- his dense little body weighs about two pounds. And -- this is for Gail and Bertie -- we think he's made of serpentine, one of the rock formations prevalent in parts of Canada. He does have a few Inuit cohorts here from previous forays -- but so far hasn't joined them.

We do seem to have one thing in common: musk oxen have double coats, just like we do. But is that enough to be BFFs?

So far, he hasn't a name -- although Mak, short for umingmak, the Inuit word for musk ox, is a starter. And he seems rather staid (no, Lacie, we're not sure if he dates or not). But we can't help but wonder: who needs this?
When you have one of these??? And one of these???

Just askin'.
Jake and Just Harry

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

More Nova Scotia: Lunenburg and Peggy's Cove

Before we go back to our regular programming, Mom wanted to tell you about two unique coastal towns just a short drive from Halifax.

The first is Lunenburg, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. German and Swiss immigrants settled the area in the 19th century -- and UNESCO recognized it as an outstanding example of a planned European colonial settlement.

Lunenburg is also honoured to be the birthplace of Canada's famous racing schooner: Bluenose and her descendant, Bluenose II. Bluenose II wasn't in port when we were there, but other much smaller sailboats lay at anchor.The town is filled with brightly coloured houses. This mural -- inside the restaurant where we had lunch -- bacon-wrapped local scallops -- shows the town's waterside, which includes a popular fishing museum.

And here a few samples of the actual houses, with their unusual colours. It was raining, but looking at them made it impossible to kvetch at the weather.

In addition to their uncommon colours, many houses sport a variety of ornamental details.
And some pay tribute to the fishing industry that is still a mainstay of the community.

Churches of all denominations adorn the landscape. This striking Presbyterian church speaks for itself.
Between Lunenburg and Peggy's Cove is Mahone Bay -- not as brightly coloured as Lunenburg and not as unique as Peggy's Cove, but with fun shops and lovely views.
On the way into town, we spied this florist shop with pumpkins on the roof.

On the way out, we caught a glimpse of Garnet McPhal. We stopped to ask who she was and how she got there. It seems that the site once housed a folk art shop, where Garnet took up residence. Although the shop is long gone, she's still there and folks come by every so often to give her a touch-up and make sure her speckles and blue eyes are still in place.
And then we found Peggy's Cove, with its stark lighthouse and breathtaking granite boulders. The town dates back to 1811 and, at its peak, was home to 300 people.Today, no more than 50 people live here -- but a steady flow of tourists, artists, and photographers keeps the community going.

This church calls itself the heart of the community -- so different from the one in Lunenburg!

These are a few of the bare houses that nestle against the granite boulders, which are reputed to be some 40 million years old!

And this is the lighthouse. The Canadian Navy used it as a radio station in World War II. It's now automated and doubles as a post office in the summer.

An awe-inspiring place. Spare. Timeless.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Images from Halifax

Before we pick up our tales of Nova Scotia, as reported to us by our mom, first a word to blogger: PLEASE FIX YOUR NEW PICTURE UPLOADING SYSTEM!!! In desperation, after reading scores of complaints on the dashboard help site about the same problem we had experienced, we went back to the old editor -- and even that gave us a few of those lovable "503 service unavailable" codes. But with a few irresistible wirey kisses from us -- even though we're not included in this post -- she prevailed, and here are the photos that should have accompanied our previous Nova Scotia post.

First, here's the restaurant where they had their first meal after landing in Halifax -- and their last before leaving. Oysters, shrimp, scallops... The next day was kind of a free day for mom, so she took off to visit the museum (where she made a significant contribution to the Canadian economy -- to be shown in a later post). These interesting fellows -- seahorses -- are on the facade of the Bank of Nova Scotia. And this is the outside of the museum -- formally called the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. This amazing bird is an Inuit sculpture. The name of the cafe, Cheapside, is a reference to the past, when the area was known for having less expensive goods for sale. But the cafe inside the gallery is anything but cheap looking -- warm russet walls, black tables and chairs, harlequin tiles on the bar, and dark blue on the ceiling. Among other art, the gallery is known for its collection of Canadian folk artists. One of the most well known is Maud Lewis, a self-taught artist who painted life around her -- and also everything inside her house. The house -- just one room -- has been preserved in the gallery -- along with many of her original paintings. They are just delightful. Check her out on the gallery web site: is everywhere. Dogdad spotted this trompe l'oeil on a building while they were waiting for a shuttle to take them to the convention site one evening.
And lots of it is in the statues of hearty Scotsmen and fishermen and the prows from sailing ships. Below is the Red Stag Tavern, part of Keith's Brewery which dates back several centuries and is now a favored tourist stop, especially for the thousands of cruise passengers who visit Halifax in the late summer and early fall.

The Old Burying Ground is also a touching part of Halifax' history. When mom stopped there, she found both locals looking at gravestones and trying to make out the names as well as tourists imagining what the times were like in the 18th century when the city was founded.

This is the Welsford-Parker Monument, a memorial standing at the entrance to the cemetery. It commemorates the Crimean War.The tombstones are weathered and almost impossible to read. Many have images of winged angels above the tributes to departed loved ones. Just near the cemetary is this striking contrast of the old and the new.

Ah, but this is a seaport -- and, something mom didn't know until she saw this -- the birthplace of Samuel Cunard. The venue where the convention was held carries his name: the Cunard Centre -- adjacent to the piers where the cruise ships berth, including Pier 21, which was the site of so many immigrant debarkations in the past two centuries.

Oops, you're not a prow figure -- and who do you think you're fooling with that camouflage?The interesting Maritime Museum pays tribute to centuries of Halifax history and seafarers. This marking buoy is on the street next to the museum -- which mom will remember for one Cape Breton oyster that was the best oyster she ever ate... just one because so many people were crowding the man shucking them that she had no other choice! Dad, on the other paw, who isn't a raw oyster person, will remember the museum for its lighthouse lenses and other awesome technological exhibits.
The statue of the sailor is a tribute to all who have served Canada -- but may not have returned.

The Halifax waterfront is edged by a boardwalk that is also filled with local people and tourists/cruise passengers enjoying the sights and the weather -- post-Igor, the day was beautiful. Cool, not humid, bright sun -- very different from summer --or fall -- where we live.

Teddy Tugboat Too takes people on sightseeing tours. And the historic properties, restored with shops and restaurants, are part of the old town.
Below is the view from their hotel room -- and the Waterfront Warehouse, which used to be a tugboat repair shop but now serves delicious seafood. On the walls are the names of tug boats and companies that used to serve the area's maritime industry.

But what about the convention, Mom? Didn't you go to Halifax on business?????

Ok, Jakey, shhhh. I'll take over from here.

Remember one of the lobsters in our earlier post? Well, picture long tables at the Cunard Centre. Picture 740 almost-drooling people from all over the continent with black cloth bibs bearing a red lobster on the front, picture bottles of red and white wine, and now hear the bagpipes as waiters and watresses holding platters of lobsters on high circle the room and set one of those platters in front of every person. Sorry for the blurry photo -- but shut your eyes and you will understand one of the reasons why mom goes to conventions.....

For the opening session, we were greeted by these very well-clad gentlemen, while more bagpipes echoed on the air.

They brought in the colours.
But you have the picture, Jakey, so let's just skip to the final gala. One of our colleagues -- of the Ferguson clan -- dressed for the occasion.

Sporn and all...
The entertainment included the Canadian tenors, who we were not allowed to video -- but they were great. And just like that, it was over.

But there is more, as we still had a day to really relax before flying home -- so next post will be about the unique towns of Lunenberg and Peggy's Cove...