The adventuresome life of a Great Pyrenees/Newfoundland dog in Northwestern Ontario

Archive for the ‘The Writing Life’ Category

Words on the Street

The other day a lady came into the shop. She seemed to know Elizabeth quite well, even though I had never seen her before (and I’ve been bookshop dog for a long time now). They greeted each other like long lost friends.

And it turns out that that is kind of what they were! Apparently, this new woman, who we’ll call Mathilda, used to work for Elizabeth a long time ago (at least several dog generations…), before she became a poet for hire. That’s right. And now that she has become a poet for hire, she has returned to the great Northwest from Savannah, Georgia.

Mathilda set up on our national holiday, July 1st. Some holiday. Everyone around here seemed to be working! Or shopping. Or sightseeing. But I digress….

Mathilda and Walter hard at work on a poem… for me!

Mathilda set up a little table in front of the shop, and whenever someone came walking down the sidewalk, she would start clacking away on Walter. Walter, Elizabeth informs me, is a pre-computer writing machine. Funny to see it being used to do something as cutting edge as busking poetry!

Writing poetry on the spur of the moment for hire is so cutting edge that most people don’t seem to get what Mathilda is doing. Things were pretty slow that first day. Mathilda sat with Walter and her stack of index cards waiting for requests. I felt a bit sorry for her, roasting under the afternoon sun, waiting, waiting.

Elizabeth came over to where I was lying. “Would you like a poem from Mathilda, Stella?”

I blinked, which is my way of telling her YES.

“What would you like her to write about?”

It wasn’t a question I could give my yes or no answer to, so I waited a minute for her to think.

“What about cookies?”

I just stared at her, which is my way of saying NO.

“What about rides?”

I stared back.

She got a wicked grin on her face and asked, “What about wood ticks?”

I blinked. A dog can only stare so long, you know. And Elizabeth ran outside.

I could hear the conversation through the window.

“Stella says, ‘Wood ticks.'”

Mathilda shifted uneasily in her chair. “There are wood ticks here? Downtown?”

“No. Stella says, wood ticks.”

Well, Mathilda is pretty quick on the uptake. You need to be when you are a typewriter poet for hire. “Oh, I get it. Oookaaay. Wood ticks it is!”

Elizabeth came back inside. I walked over to my treat bag and nudged it, then looked up at Elizabeth.

“That’s okay, Stella. I’ll give her some money. I don’t think she can use those.” She pulled out a five dollar bill and put it in her pocket. I could hear Walter rushing to write exactly what Mathilda told him to. In a few minutes, he was quiet again.

I went out to pay for my poem, but it wasn’t ready yet. I watched as Mathilda and Walter went back to work. Another couple of minutes, and Mathilda pulled the index card from Walter’s mouth, and she turned to me. “Shall I read it to you, Stella?”

She did.

I found my poem very amusing!

It was pretty good. And it made me laugh, too. Elizabeth was laughing, but she laughed at different places, which was odd, but then…

What do you think? Want to get one of your own? Contact us!

I decided I would share it with you folks, in hopes that you will drop by or send us a message asking for a poem. Mathilda is a story writer and is trying to earn some extra money writing these while she waits for her stories to go into books and then into bookshops like ours. It takes a long time for that to happen.

Elizabeth says that Walter can work on post cards, too, so if you are far away and can’t come to the shop, we can have them do up a poem on one of our post cards for you and pop it in the mail. Just add $3.00 to your donation to Mathilda to pay the postage and for the card! And Elizabeth says to be sure and email her with your address so she can  send it. Watch the the Walt & Mattie Shedule on the bookshop site so you know when Mathilda and Walter are here to take your orders in person.

Hope to see/hear from you soon!

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Doctors, Hyenas & Aging

It’s so good to be back in touch with my readers again. I know a number of you are wondering why I had been silent for so long. I wasn’t really. You just couldn’t hear me barking from there. BOL

It was the end of Gardening Season last year. Elizabeth had pushed herself to the limit trying to get everything harvested and stashed away for the winter. She was sore and tired. That’s nothing unusual for that time of the year.

We had a visitor come to stay with us. Elizabeth and Kay drove her back up to Winnipeg when she had to go home. Elizabeth drove most of the way, and with already being stiff and sore, well, by the time we got back home, she put me in mind of machinery that was in desperate need of an oiling! As she put me in my run for the night, she slipped and fell off the ramp.

The next week was full of trips into town to see the Chiropractor and the two-legger vet, Dr. Buzz.

The Chiropractor tried to fix the problem by twisting and pulling and otherwise manipulating Elizabeth’s spine. But it wouldn’t move.

The Doctor left me feeling a bit… concerned. He took one look at Elizabeth, who could barely walk, and then only by using a set of Nordic poles. “You poor s..t,” he told her. Then he told her it was a disc in her spine. He said a Hyena ate it.

Even more concerning was the fact that Elizabeth believed him. He gave her lots of pills and added some exercises to those the Chiropractor had given her. She took it all in hobble.

When we got home, I did a serious recce, a double patrol, scouring the area for any sign of Hyenas. I’ve only seen them on the TV. Kay and Elizabeth often relax by watching nature shows, so I know what a Hyena looks and sounds like. I’ve never smelled one, though. Still, I could find no unusual scent that would indicate that a Hyena might have been in our area. I think that Dr. Buzz was telling stories!

It took Elizabeth a very long time to get better. She still needs to be very careful. When she works too hard for too long, I tell her it’s time she took a cuddle break with me. Now that the snow and ice is all gone, I make sure she comes for a walk with me every day. And every day I put a little more pressure on the leash for added resistance training. I’ve heard that’s very good for two-leggers trying to recover strength. And I give her tummy massages while she does her core strengthening exercises. We can’t have her front muscles seizing up, too!

Frequent breaks are important. Here I am taking a little time out with Elizabeth's sister-in-law after working in the garden.

Frequent breaks are important. Here I am taking a little time out with Elizabeth’s sister-in-law after working in the garden.

I’m trying very hard to get Elizabeth back into line as a scribe. She had a lot of other catching up to do when she was able to go back to work. And because she needs to take work in short spurts with lots of little rests in between, work seems to take a lot longer to get done. She’s doing pretty well, though. The older you get the longer it seems to take to bounce back – and this is not the first injury a Hyena (if you listen to doctors) has inflicted on her back. But this time there was some other stuff that went wrong. So, I really need to keep an eye on her. She always seems to think that she can do more than she should….

Truth be told, I’m slowing down a bit, too. True, it is the ‘dog days of summer’ now. I find that when I get up I feel a bit stiff, and I feel a little more tired after my patrols. Nothing a good stretchy-stretchy and a long snooze can’t put to rights. Elizabeth says it’s because I’m getting older, too. Still got a ways to go before I catch up to her, though!

I still haven't found any sign of Hyenas in the neighbourhood.

I still haven’t found any sign of Hyenas in the neighbourhood.

Birthday & Other News

Friday was my Birthday! I turned five years old (That’s two-legger years. According to the chart at the vets’, I’m about 42 dog years old.). We aren’t much for celebrating birthdays around here, but I did get some extra treats, an extra walk and a whole lot of love. I always get a whole lot of love.   ~|o}=

I did have to work at the bookshop on my birthday, though. I didn’t mind at all. As it turned out, we had some interesting two-leggers in to say hello – two-leggers from far, far away. We had a couple Elizabeth knew from her university days drop in to say hello. They were from a place called Victoria, the capital city of Canada’s westernmost province, British Columbia.

There was a couple of motorcycle dudes from Lac du Bonnet, which isn’t that far away, but it is in another province, too: Manitoba. Elizabeth says that Lac du Bonnet is also on the mighty Winnipeg River, some distance down from us. I could swim there if I really wanted to. But I’m more Great Pyrenees than Newfoundland Dog, so, I’ll be keeping to my end of the River, thank you! Anyway, these bikers were wanting a better view of the road than they’ve been getting from their motorcycles, ’cause they asked for books on aviation… bush flying in particular. Elizabeth had several, but they didn’t buy any.

Then a couple came in from Geraldton, a town in Northwestern Ontario. Why mention that, you might be thinking. Well, Northwestern Ontario is a very big area, and these folks had travelled even farther than the biker dudes from a different province. Geraldton (now called Greenstone) is almost 750 km away! That’s a long way to come shopping for books. But then, our bookshop is the biggest bookshop in all of Northwestern Ontario, so they knew what they were doing!

Some local regulars came by, too, including a man who’s father was an author (he wrote about naval history). Just after he left, Elizabeth was emptying an incoming box of books. In it was one of the two books this man’s father had written! That’s a bit spooky considering just how many books we have to deal with in here…

But it was on the way home that I had my biggest birthday surprise. We were driving around the famous Kenricia corner in Kay’s Growly Beast. Two men were standing on the corner waiting for the pedestrian light. Elizabeth knew them, and she waved hello. They waved back, and one of them, someone I’m sure I’ve never met before, called out, “Hello, Stella!” to me through the open backseat window. He must know me from coming here to read my stories! A fan!

I’m going to have to get me some sunglasses…   ~:oD=

OTHER NEWS

Interesting goings on on the ‘Estate’, too. All of the flapper puppies are fledged and learning how to survive in the world. This makes for some interesting viewing from my station on the front step. Robin pups are learning to pull worms from the ground. Phoebe pups are learning where to catch the best insects for eating and how to despatch them. Hummingbird pups are learning which flowers have the tastiest nectar. And the Kibble Snatchers are back teaching their pups to trust Elizabeth to hand-feed them tasty chow.

On Saturday, though, we had some flapper visitors that I’ve never seen before. Elizabeth says she’s seen them here once before, when she was a child. Kay was the first to see one this time, and she called Elizabeth to tell her what it was. Elizabeth ran for her camera. There was no time for a tripod, and they are shy flappers, so she wasn’t able to get close. But she did manage to get some photos that weren’t too bad so that I could show you what they looked like.

The Magpie looks like a colourful, long-tailed version of the Black Cawing Flapper.

The Magpie looks like a colourful, long-tailed version of the Black Cawing Flapper.

They are a bit smaller than Black Cawing Flappers, though, Elizabeth thinks. But they are from the same family as Crows and Whisky Jacks and other Jays.

They are a bit smaller than Black Cawing Flappers, though, Elizabeth thinks. But they are from the same family as Crows, Whisky Jacks and other Jays.

They're rather beautiful, we think. Some two-leggers consider them nuisance birds. They are more common to the west of us, in the prairie/parkland. Maybe they interfere with crops.

They’re rather beautiful, we think. Some two-leggers consider them nuisance birds. They are more common to the west of us, in the prairie/parkland. Maybe they interfere with crops.

Sometimes I’ve heard Elizabeth say that she is a bit of a Magpie. She means that she likes picking up pretty, shiny things when she sees them on our walks. She’s particularly vulnerable to this habit, she says, when she walks along beaches.

This Magpie wasn't interested in shiny things, however. He was hunting Grasshoppers! And he's welcome to all he can catch - both Kay and Elizabeth said so!

This Magpie wasn’t interested in shiny things, however. He was hunting Grasshoppers! And he’s welcome to all he can catch – both Kay and Elizabeth said so!

AND FINALLY…

I have one last item of good news to impart before I go…

There has been rain all around us for the last week, but all of that has avoided us. Our lawn is brown and the woods are very dry. But yesterday, it finally decided to rain on us!

There has been rain all around us for the last week, but all of that has avoided us. Our lawn is brown and the woods are very dry. But yesterday, it finally decided to rain on us!

 

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