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Gail's Corner

Hello, I would like to share some of my eighty years of gathering quotes and interesting anecdotal material (which I call hidden gems or helpful crutches).  Just words that may clutter the mind - but not our homes ! I am not stuck in a time frame - regardless of my years! My blogs will be varied - like riding on a roller coaster. I will try not to be too wordy. My daughters laughed at that! Enjoy

Jack's Tale - A Dog´s Tale for Family and Friends

Puppy Jack - A Trip Down Memory Lane

Hey, there is a cute Jack Russell, Lilly, a ´tri-colour´, she has a face similar to mine but her body is white with black spot and her legs are longer than mine. Lilly is cute, friendly and smells nice. She lives just a few doors down the street. I rather fancy Lilly. I overheard her owner telling grandmother whenever Lilly passes our door, she sniffs at it, so I think that maybe Lilly fancies me too! Lilly is about two months younger than me and is allowed to run free, off her lead, at the lake.

Well, when Grandmother saw that, she realised it was time to carry yummy doggie treats in her pocket, and as soon as we are in the conservation area, well away from the street, I am allowed to run free too. What bliss, I can chase squirrels, sniff at will and run across the meadow at break-neck speed, bounding over tufts of grass, yapping in delight – great fun.

Often another doggie comes along and together we race across and around a vacant field next to the cricket pitch and football grounds, directly beyond the conservation area on the north side of the ravine. When Grandmother wants me back she calls “here”. I go (most times) ´lickety-split´back to her, as I know she will give me a treat or two and a “good boy”.
Jack and swan
dogs playing
I enjoy playing with other dogs, regardless of their size. However, not all want to play. Some dog owners think I´m aggressive, at times I am, much to Grandmother´s disapproval. First, I will dig my heels in and then slowly, silently, stalk towards the victim. Grandmother, all this while, will be gently saying, “no barking, be nice, be gentle”. Sometimes I will be, sometimes not, and will charge aggressively.

“Naughty boy – naughty – shame on you, Jack!” Grandmother will scold, while saying “I´m so sorry”. Unfortunately, at times these so-called victims have been Rottweilers, German Shepherds and one really mean Pit Bull. Fortunately, the latter was held tightly on its line while Grandmother managed to grab me in time, so I´m still alive to get on with this tale. Other times, I can be as sweet and gentle as can be. Depends on my mood I guess, I do not know. Grandmother does not know either.
Grandmother gets lost

One day, while Grandmother was busily picking wild blackberries in a large patch she found in a hedgerow, I was playing with two big black labs on the playing fields. The two dogs were called to go home and Grandmother called “Jack, here”. I do not know why, blame the wind or the long grass, but I hardly hear the ´here´ call and could not see Grandmother. Grandmother claimed she could see me! Anyway I became confused and ran off, ever so fast, in the direction of home.  Upon reaching the lake where Grandmother usually puts the lead back on me I ran around barking and looking for her ´in all directions´. Finally, she caught up with me. I woofed “Grandmummy, Grandmummy, I am so happy I found you – you were lost!”

Chapter One

Hi, my name is Jack. I am a Jack Russell, or so everyone claims, as this little breed can cover a wide range of colouring and size. I was born in North Yorkshire in the UK. When I was about five to six weeks old I was put in the back of an old white van with five other pups and taken to a pretty farm not far from Harrogate. The farmer was a friend of my owner who said he would sell us pups. We were all supposed to be Jack Russell’s but we sure looked different, except for two, who were all black. There was a white typical “Master´s voice” one with longer legs than mine. He claimed to be our “Top Dog” and ruled the van pack. Big deal! Or so he thought. 

It was shortly before Christmas on a dull overcast morning when the friendly farmer opened our van door and there stood – it looked like to me – three generations, a grandmother, a mother and son called Alex, who appeared to be nine years of age. As I lay quivering in the corner, Top Dog danced about showing off. He was the apparent farmer´s choice. The Grandmother, with a keen eye for perfection, scanned each of us over thoroughly and can you believe it, picked up poor little quivering me into her arms. 

Turning to her daughter she said, “I like this one, look his colouring is perfectly matched”.

“Well it’s a … wee cow’rin tim’rous bestie, but kind’a cute”, she replied (she’s married to a Scot). 

“Not necessarily a fault”, Grandmother responded adding, “Well, what do you think Alex, will this be our Jack?” while transferring me into the boy’s arms. 

Grandmother paid the farmer while Top Dog yapped in disappointed rejection. 
I lucked out – big time – as this tale, somewhat cropped, will reveal. 

Jack's Tale – Chapter 2

Harrogate, North Yorkshire

My first home was in the posh North Yorkshire spa town of Harrogate with its lovely “Valley Gardens” Park and the renowned parkland called “the Stray”. The Stray is one hundred acres of open green space, right in the heart of town. It was an early 19th century land bequeath to the town on condition it would be maintained forever as a green space for the pleasure of its citizens. Rather similar to a village commons, however on a grander scale.

Although I was supposed to be Alex´s dog it soon became apparent that I was to live at Grandmother´s Boot Camp. While I was still an adorable “wee” pup I got lots of cuddles and stroking. Every time we went on an outing almost everyone would stop and say sweet words such as: “Isn´t he adorable”. Grandmother was almost embarrassed by all the attention focused on little me. Even from an early age I was a guy´s type of dog. Men of all ages would stop; even grumpy old men would smile at me. Why, once a person even produced his mobile phone and showed Grandmother a picture of his dog!

Grandmother was amazed at all this friendliness. “Why” she said, “I´ve lived here two years and was totally ignored until now. Jack, all these smiles are all about you. Hmm ... , if only I were thirty years younger, now that might have been interesting.” I just wagged my tail.
Do not for a moment think, dear Reader that I was, or am, being spoilt. No way, Grandmother believes in tough love. I soon learned that a certain tone meant ‘behave and now’, in no uncertain terms. I soon got the hang of it. 

Chapter Three - My first Christmas
My first Christmas was spent up in the Scottish Highlands with the Campbells. We drove up to Gourouck (near Glasgow) and took the ferry across the Clyde to Dunoon. There were two men and a woman in the vehicle parked next to us on the car deck, all smiling and waving at me. Through their open window the lady asked what my name was. “Jack”, Grandmother replied.
The lady then said, “You must be bored with Jack by now, we will take him”. Much to my pleasure, Grandmother just laughed and replied; “sorry, not yet”.
We soon disembarked at Dunoon and drove on the Kyles of Bute. Finally, at dusk we arrived at our remote cottage. I was so happy, for I desperately needed a pee. Even so, I would not be let out alone, and especially at night. Grandmother said that since I was so little, a bird of prey could swoop down and carry me off in no time. It was pretty remote country, yes it was, and apparently Grandmother had already seen a large bird take flight from a big old evergreen as we drove in. 

Silent Night, a well-known Austrian Christmas carol, could have been descriptive of this night. Yet, as Grandmother stood in the moonlight on the balcony overlooking the loch towards Bute on this clear and crisp holy night, reminded of Robert Service´s words depicting the Canadian Northland, she exclaimed:

“It´s the great, big, broad land ´way up yonder, 
It´s the forests where silence has lease;
It´s the beauty that thrills me with wonder,
It´s the stillness that fills me with peace”

With a nostalgic tear in her eye Grandmother said, “Almost the same, big starry sky, spooky wild wasteland, gentle almost soundless motion of the in-shore tide and not a civilised light in sight.”
(Jack's not a puppy anymore but he still likes sitting on a lap)
You can be certain that I did not wander far, in fact I became very clingy, and could be found curled up in one lap or another. Hence for the duration of this holiday I became known as Grandmother´s lap dog. Grandmother tolerated this lap dog title while I was still as she said, ´in the wee puppy stage´. She claimed cuddling was good for my early puppy stage development. “Silky ears, soft as velvet” she would say, slowly, softly, and sighing contentedly I would settle cosily into her lap to “Silly sugar plum” murmuring. On the one hand, she wanted me to grow up to the kind and gentle. Yet, on the other hand, said I mustn’t become a wimp. 

Ah, Grandmother was in for a surprise, as she never had a Jack Russell before and did not know our most predominate trait can be summed up in one word “spunky”. 

On the return journey while waiting for the ferry in Dunoon, we took a stroll through the town. I was walking along nicely on my lead, leading the way, when all of a sudden I heard a voice saying, “Look there is Jack, Hi Jack, well hello Jack, are they still not bored with you yet?” Can you believe it? I´m already known in Scotland. Now, if I could sing maybe I could be a star one day? Grandmother gave me a look, which I interpreted to be “keep your paws on the ground”. I sometimes think she can read my mind. 

Chapter Four - What do you mean I'm not a Rottweiler?

Perhaps because of the generous green space in Harrogate, many houses have very limited gardens, ours included. Therefore Grandmother had an allotment, where she grew vegetables, fruit and flowers. 
The walk through a pleasant residential road to the allotment had as many enjoyable and interesting sniffs for me as observations for Grandmother. Grandmother noticed that all the original wrought iron fencing and gates had been taken or replaced. One day, when Alex was with us, Grandmother mentioned this fact and Alex replied: “My mother told me that during the First World War all the metal fencing was conscripted and melted down for war purposes”. 

So, while Grandmother would be studying the various fence replacements on our pleasurable journey to and from the allotment, I was getting on with my sniffing. Some sniffs were most interesting and when one was especially so, I would lift my hind leg and leave a trace of my own scent. Only a little each time though, as sometimes on a long trip, I would run out of fuel. Grandmother would laugh, saying “even your long sausage-like body has a limited storage tank”. I´d just look at her disgustedly and get on with my concerns.
I found the allotment rather boring, as I was not allowed to run around and had to be tied up with a long rope to the garden shed. Sometimes I would bark at other gardeners as thy walked past. All I was saying is, “please come over, stroke my belly and play with me”, but Grandmother claimed it did not sound like that, and sometimes she locked me in the shed “shoo, no barking”, she would say. To a Jack Russell that would be equivalent to the Sound of Music´s “how do you solve a problem like Maria”?
One gardener used to say, “Oh I know, he thinks he will grow up to be a Rottweiler” and go chuckling along to his own plot. He, perhaps unknowingly, had me “pegged”, as since I was a year old I have charged at German Shepherds and Rhodesian Ridgebacks, much to Grandmother´s dismay. She gets pretty upset at times like this and once she is over her initial shock, she scolds me. “Naughty boy, shame on you, Jack”. Yeah, I guess I have been pretty lucky, however, so far the big dogs just look at me, as I am too insignificant to bother with. But, if they growl I am straight back behind Grandmother. “Don´t hide behind me, you naughty doggie, serves you right,” she scolds heartlessly.

(more next week ...)

Chapter Five - Still watching the veggies grow
Ah well, and anyway, we are at the allotment now, with a great view out onto the moors and the American ´golf balls` (the secret in-full-view tracking station everyone knows about). Grandmother is contentedly digging up weeds, occasionally resting on her shovel, her eyes wandering out to the moors. Gracious, how she loves big wide open spaces; think I would do too if I ever had the chance to be free of this lead…

There was a huge old rhubarb plant right in the centre of the plot; (Yorkshire is famous for its rhubarb and cricket players). “What´s cricket have to do with the garden patch, Jack?”

“Oh, just thought I´d mention it. Alex plays cricket and sometimes helps out here at the allotment, Grandmother”.

“You are reasoning more like me every day Jack”.

I´d better get along with the tale. Grandmother, being rather creative, decided to make the rhubarb the focal point of her garden and dug a path up, around and beyond, cutting the plot into four equal sections around the plant. In the two upper patches she planted corn, squash, beans and potatoes. All the corners had flowers. The centre path had bamboo teepees with sweet peas. The lower plots had cucumbers, various salad greens and a large area of choice tomatoes.

Well, the serious Yorkshire old-timers were rolling their eyes. To them it was pretty obvious, “this old Canadian woman transplanted onto North Yorkshire soil does not have a clue about gardening”. “Tomatoes grow in green houses” she was told. Ah, little did they know that gardening ran in her veins, inherited from her farming ancestors.

Well, regardless, harvest time was “proof of the pudding”, when family, neighbours, et al were enjoying the fresh succulent produce. A joy to the eye were the harvest arrangements of pumpkin, gourds, huge beautiful red and green decorative cabbages and golden zinnias glowing in the warm sunshine.

Oh, Grandmother´s garden grew on me too. I´d lay contentedly watching her fussing about pruning blackberries, raspberries or whatever. She always found something to improve on, leaving me free to dream at the rose covered garden shed door in the shade of the hollyhocks.
It's a dog’s life.

basket of vegetables


Train Journey to Newark

Grandmother found out that doggies are allowed to travel on trains. In fact up to two dogs free of charge. A third dog would have to pay child´s fare. One sheep is also allowed free of charge. This old rule is still in the book of rail regulations. I never met a Mary travelling with her lamb on any of what soon became frequent train journeys to visit the Campbell’s in Newark. There was regular day travel from Harrogate via either York or Leeds to Newark as both connect to the London Kings Cross line. Including a thirty-minute change-over at either of these locations – it’s still less than a two hour journey.

However, one day it was not as simple as that!

This particular trip is one I will never forget and I will tell you all about it. “Yes Grandmother, I will, it is fair as it was all your fault, even the Campbell´s were worried, besides, this is my tale and you write it as I dictate”. “Saucy, tattle tale”, Grandmother said. I grinned back.

I´m a pretty good little traveller. Sitting up nicely on Grandmother´s knees, so much to see. I am inquisitive. Well, on this day, the journey was via York and we were informed over the loud speaker that due to unforeseen difficulties on the London line there was a back-up from the North and our train connection would be delayed. To make a long story short we got on a London bound train on the correct track but this train was a fast direct to Kings Cross with no stops en-route. So, there I was looking out the window as we swished by Newark in a flash.

On and on we went for seventy minutes finally arriving at London’s King´s Cross. (This is where Harry Potter and his friends would catch the Hogwart's Express). The conductor got us on the very next train north, leaving in twenty-five minutes, which would stop in Newark. Oh, I was not a happy camper. I was wearing a surgical cone around my head as I recently had that operation called castration which many male puppies at about six months undergo. Or, so I am told. I did not mind wearing the plastic cone, although once a small boy said “Look, that doggie is wearing a lamp shade”.

Oh well, here I now am on Grandmother´s knee with my legs crossed. I needed a pee – desperately. I moaned a low guttural whine as Grandmother would not allow me to bark on the train. Everyone felt sorry for me and Grandmother kept saying “shoo” quietly. Finally we arrived and once I found some grass relieved myself ever so gratefully. Also, grateful that we finally showed up, were the Campbell´s. Auntie Sylvia had alerted the Rail Authorities that a grandmother travelling with a small dog wearing a surgical cone had gone missing. Uncle Neil had been meeting all incoming trains. Grandmother did receive a well-deserved telling off while I barked my approval.
picture of dog

 Chapter Seven
Jack meets Russell
I love visiting the Campbells in Newark as they have a pond with five goldfish in their yard. Also many interesting plants and grasses for me to water. Uncle Neil pretends not to see me do it. He is garden proud and designed and put in the large pond all by himself. Next door lives a cute little dog that I can woof at. In fact I dug a little hole under the fence just big enough to put my nose and eyes through so we can see each other.

The very best part is going for my two daily walks. Just five minutes away, as their property is near the rural border between Newark and Balderton. Balderton, once a small village, is now amalgamated with Newark. Years ago, there had been two large deep gravel pits beside a railway line and siding between these two places. Eventually, these gravel pits filled with water and the unused rail line became a path. Fish were stocked in the tow two ponds and a fishing club founded. (Fishing is now the fastest growing sport in the UK – can you believe it?) Wild water fowl soon flew in from the Trent River, populating these two secluded now tiny lakes. White birch, willows, bushes, reeds and grasses left unattended, flourished. Actually, even today, only a few nature lovers, dog walkers, cyclists and school children are aware of this so small, yet, beautiful Canadian-like, (or so Grandmother insists), natural beauty spot. She calls it, ´Little Canada´.
The old line and siding from Newark North Gate Station, hosted once overnight the Royal Train with Prince Charles, or so the locals claim. Now the path has an asphalt surface which runs alongside the first little finger-like lake, continuing on under the London Road viaduct, further on up past the larger lake and continuing eventually into the country-side. Grandmother also insists this ravine-like footpath \ cycle-path reminds her of Toronto´s Rosedale Valley ravine up past the old Don Valley brick works, Chorley Park and on to Moore Ave. She claims to have many pleasant memories of outings there.

So, as we are walking along, sniffing, or at least I am, while Grandmother had wandered off into those memories, we come upon another Jack Russell, also out for a jaunt. He seems quite friendly. We both do the sniffing ritual, thoroughly, while Grandmother exchanges ´hello´ with his owner. Finally, Grandmother said, ´Come Jack, that´s enough, let´s go. The man said to his dog, `yes Russell, it is time for us to move on too.`

Grandmother thought she had been so clever naming me Jack. Until she discovered it was this breed´s most common name. She still claims the name suits my personality – although I can appear cute and ever so friendly I also have a tough spunky nature, sometimes taking on dogs many times my size. When such a little encounter happens, Grandmother just gasps, then scolds, ´naughty boy!´ Of course these German Shepherds, Pit Bulls, etc. are terrified of me, as they should be, but Grandmother says they find me amusing.

I can be stubborn. If I see something interesting, I first like to stalk it, then charge. If I am on the lead, I stop and dig in my heels, so that Grandmother has to drag me, sometimes even backwards. At some point she picks me up, especially when the other dog is one of the feistier breeds. I then sit under her arm looking ever so innocent.

When I am out walking with my family pack in town, I try to keep them all together. Just like my original wolf pack at the beginning of time. `No straying from the pack´. What a job it is, someone is always going into a shop or lagging behind. I bark them all together again, however, if I should spot a squirrel, ha, I´m off in a flash. But that is ok, as it´s prey and the pack must eat!

The Lancashire Heeler

There is another explanation as to my herding instinct. Long ago, before cattle were transported by ´lorries´ (as they call trucks in Britain), Welsh and West Coast farmers and their dogs herded their livestock north to market by foot. En-route their dogs encountered a happy, courageous, alert, energetic and powerful little breed called the `Lancashire Heeler´. 

These are my cousins, Lancashire Heelers, they look a bit like me. Although I think I am cuter!
Well, in a twinkle of their roving eyes,  yep, you guessed it, wham, bam and
adorable little me with all those wonderful traits. 

“Hush puppy! Ok Jack, sometimes you bark too much”. 

“Yep, a predestined miracle”. 

“Don´t get carried away Jack”.

 “You see, I tried to tell her but she just wouldn’t listen. Old Grandmother know-it-all. “Now Jack, don´t be saucy”. 

I grin and think, “she's not the only one with interesting DNA". 

John Russell
picture of dog with ball
This is the Rev John Russell who first bred Jack Russells.                                  This is me with my ball. 
However, according to the Internet there are three classifications of Jack Russells: 

Parsons Russell: white with spots (not me)

Jack Russell Shorty: an Irish type (who knows?)

Jack Russell Terrier: that’s me, even though I look like a cousin to a Dachshund! (Toria makes fun of my short legs - that's rich coming from her)

Evolution folks, survival of the fittest. “Bring 'em on”.

Chapter Nine
Balderton lake in winter
 (photo by Gilly Walker)

 Balderton Lakes

The path from North Gate railway station runs up along the north shore of this small pond, which for years was left neglected. Unwittingly, nature was given a chance to heal this old quarry scar into a natural beauty spot. A perfect retreat and nesting ground for wild waterfowl. 

Recently, this pond was leased from the council for a members-only fishing club. The pond was stocked with a variety of fish, which may be caught with a special not harmful hook, and then must be released back into the water again. These sportsmen sit, even in the winter, for hours, all bundled up in the warmest fishing fashions, on designated platforms with the latest fishing gear imaginable. Maybe they enjoy the tranquility and bird watching as much as Grandmother, as she has not yet seen a fish landed. On my second Christmas day I saw and woofed at a young fisher-boy trying out his new rod. I know this as I heard Grandmother say, “new rod for Christmas?” Shyly he smiled and nodded in reply. 

It is not fly fishing with a long backward swing, cast with an extremely long rod which hangs out over the water. Certainly does not appear to be an active manner of fishing, more like us Canadians sitting quietly ice fishing for hours. Whatever. 

Check out this video clip of 1,200 lbs of carp being added to lake with a Sports England grant. Coarse fishing (with bait such as maggots) is used for carp as opposed to fly fishing. 

Christmas was quietly spent alone with Grandmother as the rest of the family had a very nasty winter flu. We stayed well away and were grateful to be able to enjoy this bight sunny mild (9 degrees) day, rambling around the ponds with the many other walkers with their dogs. The winters here are relatively mild. The usual temperature hovers around five degrees, and the grass remains green all year. Grandmother finds this strange indeed as well as deceiving. A windy damp seven degrees can chill to the bone. On a few days the fog hung around the lake so thick, droplets of water hung from each little twig, like the nasal drip from Grandmother´s nose. 

A few centimetres of snow blanketed the ground one clear crisp morning in January, just enough to crunch under Grandmother´s jaunty stepping sturdy Timberlands. A glorious morning, everyone had frozen grins in reply to her, “marvellous morning” greeting. She didn´t need to say, “oh so Canadian like” it was plastered all over her face. 
The south shoreline of this narrow pond is reedy with overgrown bushes grasping precariously on to the steep embankment. The overlooking field beyond is an allotment site and rural area. (Sylvia and Neil have an allotment here, which is just an eight minute walk from their house). The west end of the pond which is near the London Road viaduct is shallow, marsh and wasteland. A perfect sanctuary and nesting grounds for the natural habitat. 

A variety of birds can be seen here, ducks, coots and swans also on occasion a heron or a colourful metallic turquoise blue kingfisher might be spotted. One day last autumn I was startled by a swan family, which were resting in a sheltered area by the lake. The four cygnets were about six months old, yet, still under the care of their watchful parents. Well, the big old swan decided to attack little me. She stretched her log neck out and hissed in my face. Wow, I was both frightened and angry. I stood my ground and barked right back at her. Grandmother froze and watched in horror as Swan, her beady eyes blazing in anger, stretched up to all her six foot height while flapping her outstretched wings over chubby year-old little me. Why I wasn´t bigger than a water ratty. Nevertheless, I held my ground, didn´t give an inch, reared up too and continued barking, furiously. Swan finally retreated and Grandmother shakily pulled me out of danger. Since then the swans and I seem to have an understanding – we ignore each other and keep well out of each other’s way. Rather, like a truce. 

dog and swan
I usually leave the other water fowl alone, however, sometimes I chase a coot or two if they are on the land. The birds are pretty tame as the locals feed them bread and they associated humans with food for them. At both of the lakes the water level is maintained by an overflow outlet, which feeds into a deep ditch which runs along beside a wide embankment flowing down eastward along beside the path to the train station and on to the river Trent. This system is managed by the Balderton Parish Recreational Parks Committee. It seems to work well controlling the water levels from serious flooding. 
I know where a water rat lives. 

One day last autumn, when Grandmother was admiring the fall colours, big yellow maple leaves, rosy red wild rose hips, cat tails and rusty hued grasses while murmuring “so Canadian like” I raised a big old ratty from the muddy deep ditch. In fact it jumped out of the muddy ditch, scampered across the dyke and dove into the lake. I was so surprised I fell, head first into the stagnant smelly ditch. Grandmother was not amused. 

water rat

It appears, or so Grandmother tells me, that the Canada Geese seem to be split into three groups: a few old or wounded birds remain all year, keeping mean old white Goose company. The middle age ones take short flights and likely supervise training manoeuvres, passing on their hereditary Canadian customs and memories, to the younger birds. These young strong and brave youths perhaps for sentimental reasons, as well as a keeping fit routine, go along with this flying south tradition. However, they most likely fly southward for a while, returning frequently during the winter months, as the food source at the home pond is daily replenished by the ´feeding the birds´ locals. The winters over here are different! Such as, chill to the bone dampness, if it freezes, the ice is paper thin, sometimes the seagulls can walk on it. 
Canada goose swimming
white goose
two Canada geese flying
One day, Grandmother saw the Canada Goose with the broken wing, leading a new flock of about fourteen towards where we were standing. “Look Jack, that is the Canada Goose who is normally with White Goose, look, he thinks we might have food for them. Jack, these must be his kin folk that he is unable to fly with anymore and they have come for a visit”. Grandmother was pretty thoughtful for the rest of that walk. I tried to behave myself and stuck to her heels. 

Out walking yesterday, we met a friendly man with two friendly dogs. He said: ‘I’m getting a ‘rescue’ dog from Ireland tomorrow.’  Well, by chance we met up with him again this morning. He said because of the gale force winds last night, the ferries were not running, so his dog would now be arriving this afternoon. He said he is going to call it ´Tanks´ (sic) like 'tanks for the memory'. 

Grandmother thought that was pretty funny, but frankly I don´t have a clue what she was chuckling about. 

Battle on the Pond
According to locals, White Goose showed up, out of the blue, about three years ago. A big, fat, bossy and sometimes mean goose. Two Canada Geese have befriended it, or vice versa. One of the Canada Geese has a broken wing and it, with its partner, stays in the pond all year. The two of them accompany White Goose at all times, or are in the immediate area. The pair of them appear to be White Goose´s bodyguards or vanguards and are usually seen swimming around the pond, one on either side or led by White Goose. The rest sit mainly on an elevated shady nook, which projects out over the water with full view of the public feeding station, where the locals generously throw stale bread into the water to the now almost tame birds.
One day, through the morning mist, I was surprised to see two white geese. Another white goose must have flown in out of the blue, visiting White Goose for a couple of days, before taking off again. When I was telling Sylvia and Neil that I saw another white goose on the pond, Neil asked if it wasn't the same goose, which might have crossed the pond while I was slowly meandering around it. 

“Neil” Grandmother said, with her eyebrows raised “the two geese were swimming together”. The Campbell´s looked at each other and took a stroll to the lake! 

Jack Russell dog
two white greese
Small flocks of Canada geese frequently fly in for a few days for fishing and rest without any obvious fuss. However, one day (which was the day we met Marion Holmes and her dog, Scubby) we heard an angry exchange of honking and hissing out over the open water. Grandmother and I stopped to see what the commotion was all about from an elevated position above the shoreline. Looking back towards the islands sheltering the cove we saw White Goose being aggressive, hissing, flapping her wings and charging at one of the newly arrived flock of about eight, who backed off. 

White Goose then actually attacked one while the other seven new Canada cronies honked their disapproval. The two Canada geese, pals of White Goose, also kept well out of it, swimming off to some distance – some bodyguards! The new Canada goose angrily put up a fight but White Goose was able to overpower it. To my amazement, White Goose held it completely submerged. Grandmother gasped. Me, my eyes were wide like saucers, both ears straight up. We then heard a big splash and the Canada goose surfaced and quickly retreated. Silly White Goose, having won the dispute, did not know to leave well enough alone. She flaunted her victory and then attacked for a third time. 
two canada geese
Well, the Canada goose, having got a second wind and with the encouraging honking of its pals, rose again to the fight. It was a ferocious battle.

By this time, other walkers with their dogs were standing next to us, watching. We had not time to notice, as the Canada goose had overpowered White Goose and now, had it firmly under the water. We stood still, open mouthed, chins dropping, as time ticked on. We were all thinking White Goose must be drowned, but then, up she came, sputtering. She swam a frantic retreat, to the jeers of the Canada flock, directly to the shoreline from where we were standing. With frightened eyes she looked right up to us, as much as to say “poor me”. 

Grandmother looked down at it, glad it was alive but with little pity, saying,   “serves you right White Goose, you started it”. Seeing as it was not going to get any sympathy from us, White Goose collected itself and swam limping off towards its two Canada geese cronies, who as I have said, kept well out of it. 

white goose aggressive
A woman who was watching with us asked Grandmother why she said “serves you right” to White Goose. “Firstly, because it was the aggressor and held the Canada goose under the water first”, Grandmother replied, while I nodded my head in agreement. “Secondly”, she continued, “I was cheering for the Canada goose as I am Canadian”. I just rolled my eyes. “Oh”, the lady replied, stretching up tall, “I am Canadian too, Marion Holmes, I was born in Windsor”. And this is my dog “Scubby”.
More adventures of Jack's Tale next week
 Jack's Take on Guy Fawkes
guy fawkes
Guy Fawkes
5th November, 1605:
„Remember, remember,
the fifth of November,
gunpowder, treason and plot.
We see no reason why
Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!”

Oh, I do not like the Guy Fawkes fireworks. This is not a ´one evening´ event – oh no. It goes on before the 5th and even afterwards, from dusk till 11 pm. Grandmother says “it sounds like living next to a battle field” – or “what I imagine it to sound like”. “All that money…. Seems such a waste”. “Bluddy” (sic) noise I yelp, quivering down to my paws. 
The morning after the biggest battle on the 5th the security alarm on one of the houses facing the pond had been set off and the rundown tone was still running as we went off for our jaunt around the lake. “One hears what one wants to hear” declared Grandmother. “Or one sees what one wants to see”, she said as she bent down to pick up a discarded beer can. 
“Pretty hard not to", I woof. Especially after a TGIF youth gathering. 

One Saturday morning we saw a few pages torn from a Yellow Pages telephone directory scattered left and right along the bicycle path, up and though the playing fields towards town. One can just visualise the culprit tearing a few sheets and tossing them left and right while saying “no one loves me, no one cares, I´m a loser and I don´t care”.

“At times it can be difficult to ´hug a hoodie´” murmurs Grandmother, as she diverts her attention to gaze out over the pond to see if ´her´ Canada Geese flock have returned from flight manoeuvres.

(Editor’s note: Jack has another reason for not liking Guy Fawkes Night. He was born not three miles as the crow flies from where Guy Fawkes grew up. And he doesn’t think we should burn effigies even if it’s of a person who tried to blow up Parliament. One person’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter. Jack is glad that Guy Fawkes and his friends failed, but it’s time to let this episode be confined to the history books he says. Woof!)

Chapter Thirteen - A New Home for Jack
Newark on Trent
Newark on Trent market square
It was one day, while we were on one of our frequent visits to Newark, that my life style was to change, BIG TIME. It was the day, to be exact, that as we were approaching the larger of the two lakes near the feeding station,  we heard a loud honking announcement of an incoming flight of a small flock of Canadian Geese. They zoomed in for the landing, skidding across the water surface, as a jet plane landing too fast on a wet tarmac. 

Grandmother watched silently for a few minutes and out of the blue said, “Jack, we are going house hunting”. I wagged my tail, thinking “I have no problem with that”. 
It must have been one of those “meant to be” situations when things work out so well. Within a few days, Grandmother found just the place she wanted. A very small cosy terrace cottage with an extra long 150 metre garden. I call it “my pooping grounds” while Grandmother calls it her “scooping grounds”. 

Nevertheless, it is nicely landscaped with a central winding grass path and plenty of scope for her creativity. The best bit is that we can be by the lake within four minutes (including time for me to have a quick pee). Yep, my own fenced-in garden to play in, two walks a day around the lake or down the ravine, past the finger lake and on to the Campbell´s (which takes a leisurely twenty-five minutes, including the occasional socialising with proper doggie-sniffing etiquette).

Balderton Lake
Yep, I lucked out big time! When the weather gets warmer, we can even travel faster to the Campbell´s, as Grandmother now has a bicycle! With a carrying basket for me, when she is in a hurry. Which is seldom, as Grandmother does not like to rush around. She refutes the “being slow” accusations, saying, “she is just enjoying the moment”. I´ve seen eyes roll at this comment, however everyone is most patient with her. Well, most times. One exception is at the supermarket check-out counters, where she truly tests the patience of the shoppers behind her and that of the cashiers. 

“Oh, I´m so sorry,” she says, as she carefully separates the groceries so that the bananas will not get crushed, or the eggs broken. She also likes to have the ´need to be refrigerated` items together too. Oh well, “I´m sorry” is preferable to her usual saying “I'm Canadian” as if that explains anything!
I personally think that she is expecting to have her purchases bagged for her as is so often done at the posh “Waitrose”  grocery chain.

Jack meeting retriever
broken eggs
So you see, we are settling in nicely. Grandmother calls it ´camping´ as the little old house, “her cottage” needs a great deal of fixing-up before things can get unpacked. One example, as I have to sleep in the kitchen, Grandmother had put my bed beside a radiator and under the heating boiler, which is fixed half way up the wall. Well, a few weeks ago she started noticing that my bedding was wet. She didn't say anything, or scold, just washed and hung my bedding on the outdoor wash line, as well as taking me out later at night and earlier in the morning for my pee. Then one day, coincidentally, the radiator burst and a steady drip from the heating boiler solved the mystery of the wet bed - it turns out I was NOT the culprit!

Grandmother felt ever so sorry, you see, the heating was set to turn down overnight, and it was too cold as the kitchen wall is not well insulated – yet! But I did not complain and was making the best of it. Nevertheless, I am grateful that that problem is solved. You will, I have no doubt, be happy to hear that my bed has now been moved to a safer area.

Jack on trolley
burst pipe

"The whole world opened to me when I learned to read."

(Mary McLeod Bethune 1875 - 1955: born to slaves, she started working in the fields aged 5. She went on to become an educator, humanitarian, philanthropist and civil rights activist.)

an old woman
toni morrison
mark twain
There is a big difference between caring for yourself and being selfish!

Here are two of my favourite quotes by two American authors from different generations: 

Mark Twain (1835 - 1910) said:
'When people do not respect us we are sharply offended;
yet deep down in his private heart no man much respects himself.'

And during my studies I saw a documentary clip interview with Toni Morrison (b. 1931). While stroking her arm, she said:

"Love yourself, because no one can love you better than you yourself." 

My motto is: 'Be reasonable, do it my way!'
Let Me Grow Lovely Growing Old

Let me grow lovely growing old-
So many fine things do;
Laces, and ivory, and gold,
And silks need not be new;
And their is healing in old trees
Old streets a glamour hold;
Why may I, as well as these,
Grow lovely , growing old?

Karle Wilson Baker (1878 - 1960)
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