This, That, and the Other Thing

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve brought the world in general and both my faithful readers up to date with events at the corner of Water and Prince. I’m sure breathes have been baited and anticipations run highish so without further palavers here’s a few tidbits of news.

It’s called “groaking” and these two have it down to a science.

Starting as always with the Hounds from Hell – I know what’s important and what people really care about. Nicky and Nora have had their yearly check-ups and great was the surprise when the 4th year vet student was told they were 10 years old. Nora seems to have rebounded from her back problems however I’ve noticed she has moments when she slows down – for her! Now that spring is here and her friends Steve, Jerry, Sarah and Cathy from the Parks Department are back in their orange vests (pockets brimming with treats) she wants her two or three long walks and is most indignant when they are cut short. We are trying, often unsuccessfully, to keep the running, jumping and tussling to a minimum.

What’s your problem? The mat say “HOME” and we’re making ourselves “at HOME”.

Nicky’s main pursuit is the sun; his motto is “there is sun then it must be basked in”. Forget that it is still only in the one digits there are rays to be caught! And don’t forget to leave the door open and if the humans are cold they can put their sweaters on.

Holland America’s Zaandam is small cruise ship as cruise ships go these days however May 1st it still brings almost 2000 people (passengers and crew) into Port each visit.

The arrival of HAL’s Zaandam in port on May 1st signalled the beginning of cruise ship season. During the summer the Zaandam’s in almost every week alternating Tuesdays and Wednesdays depending on where the journey began, Montreal or Boston. Over June, July and August five or six other ships will visit town irregularly however come September through October there will be ships in port almost every day – on at least five days there will be three ships visiting. And on one day mid-September there will be four cruise ships disgorging upwards of 5000 passengers onto our fair shores. Let’s hope that lessons learned last year will bear results this year but just in case I think we will get the hell out of town that day.

Already this cruise ship season Nicky and Nora have had their pictures taken five times. I am tempted to buy them little straw hats with red pigtails and tell people they are Anne’s dogs. I figure $10.00 a photo should help pay some of those vet bills??

Lillian Roth in 1971 during the recording of the original cast album of her last Broadway appearance in 70, Girls, 70.

In my surfing for bits and pieces about Lillian Roth earlier this week I came across a reference to her grave marker at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in West Chester County, New York. It came as no surprise when I read that is simply gives her name, dates and this comment on her life:

As bad as it was it was good.

A welcome sign of the season on Peake’s Quay is Carron’s little red Chip Shack. The self-proclaimed – and rightly to my mind – Queen of Fries she has the best French Fries on the Island if not in Canada. Fresh cut PEI potatoes, double fried to a nice crispy brown-gold outside and butter soft inside. We were in line on the 7th when she was up and floating by the dock and had our first “small” bag of chips of the season.

Another sure, if not necessarily all that welcome, sign that spring – and tourist season – is here would be the blue awning up on the terrace at Peake’s Quay. Which means that Friday and Saturday nights on Water Street will be “festive”, yes I think that’s the word they want us to us “festive” until the wee hours of the morning. Ah well we choose to live in tourist central so suck it up buttercup!

Happy to say it was an almost capacity and very enthusiastic house for the performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 by the PEI Symphony Orchestra on April 14. Photograph by Darrell Theriault for the PEISO.

You may recall that a great deal of my month of April was taken up with Gustav Mahler in preparation for the performance of his Symphony No. 3 by our PEI Symphony Orchestra. With all the build up there was a chance that the performance itself could be a bit of a let down however Maestro Mark Shapiro, the orchestra and choruses met the challenge of both the work and the anticipation. The horn section – sometimes I think Mahler had it in for the brass players – shone in some of the most difficult passages in the brass repertoire. My friend David had mentioned that he hoped the string section was up to that heart-breakingly beautiful final movement and I assure him they were. It was a remarkably fine performance and made at least one audience member very proud to be involved howbeit tangentially.

The children and women’s choruses along with the hard-working horn section waiting for the downbeat at the beginning of the 4th movement. Photograph by Darrell Theriault for the PEISO.

As remarkable as the performance was the audience reaction and involvement. In his brief remarks Maestro Shapiro observed that we were about to climb a mountain – audience, orchestra and chorus. And this audience was very much involved in that climb. During the interval after that lengthy first movement the talk was mostly about what had just been heard and more than one person remarked to me in passing that they were eager to hear what was to come. The reaction at the end went beyond the now de rigeur standing applause – there were whoops, whistles and some good old fashioned foot stomping. We had reached the summit of that mountain – perhaps a little flushed and winded but definitely triumphantly there.

I don’t know how I missed it but yesterdays was Lost Sock Memorial Day! And today is Clean Up Your Room Day; don’t know about you but I think they should be reversed.

Throwback Thursday on Friday

And once again we look back on earlier days…..

… when the Hounds from Hell were merely Puppies from Purgatory

Reesie (left) always had that slightly woeful look while Bundnie was all-knowing.

On December 26, 2007 we had to say goodbye to our Reesie. We were living in Chicago in 1992 when he came into our lives and he travelled with us and Bundnie – who had found us in Cairo – to each new home in Ottawa, Montreal, Warsaw, and back to Ottawa. Bundnie was no longer with us when we made the move to Rome that summer of 2007 but the Reeserman was there for one final trip. After he died I swore that there would be no more dogs and each time the subject was brought up would assume that look and those pursed lips I learned at my mother’s knee that said: NO, AND I MEAN IT.

On the left we have Eleanora di Capena (Nora) and on the right Fantastico Nicky (Nicky) as we prepare to leave la Casa degli orsi in Capena on April 25, 2009.

And that resolve lasted a full year and a half until Spring of 2009. On April 25 of that year we pulled away from the Casa degli orsi in Capena with me sitting in the backseat of the car,  Nora cowering in the corner and a whining Nicky on my lap with his sharp little claws digging into my cashmere sweater.  Nora gave up cowering very quickly – when being chastised her normal demeanour is to simply stare you down.  Nicky’s claws are no longer little needles but he still whines.

To celebrate, and in the spirit of Throwback Thursday, I thought I’d repost a few of the many videos I took back when the Hounds from Hell first came into our lives.  I was very busy with the camera back in those days and the HFH videos became a tedious fixture here for a goodly number of months.

The first appearance by the HFH on video and on the blog:

Followed by quite a few more

There were many more videos during that time in Rome and a few back in Ottawa – yes our dogs travel!

Here’s a full grown Nicky showing the stuff he’s made of:

And our Nora, now a mature lady, being very very vocal and frankly a bit of a nag:

I’m glad my lips unpursed and resolve faltered back in 2009 – they are the Hounds from Hell but they are Our Hounds from Hell.

On this day in 1667: John Milton, blind and impoverished, sells the copyright of Paradise Lost for £10.

Throwback Thursday

*HFH Redux

Nora with that ridiculous Elizabethan collar – an affront to the dignity of a proud daschie!

While clearing out a few videos I came across several more immortalizing the early days of the *Hounds from Hell.  Those adorable days when our Nicky would eat concrete walls (I kid you not!), and IKEA furniture; when Nora would joyfully chew holes in blankets, and then throw the pieces back up on the oriental rugs.  Ah the salad days of puppyhood.  Days when a closed door or a gate were new challenges; nowadays they are just mundane and useless obstacles that can be overcome by whining until they are opened by a well-trained human.

Only last week , ever the consummate escape artist, Nora decided that she had enough of looking like Gloriana managed to remove her Elizabethan collar using the side of her kennel and a few well-judged moves.

On this day in 1942:  The Boeing B-29 Superfortress makes its maiden flight.


Happy First (Seventh ????) Birthday!*

I originally wrote this post four years ago (2010) to be published on the first anniversary of the births of The Hounds from Hell and then for some reason (a busy life, work, study…  laziness) didn’t finish it.  So I thought that perhaps four years later I’d go back and revise it to reflect things that have changed since that first year.  Changes – if any – are in blue.  I’ve added a few pictures – some of which may well have appeared here before – from over the past few years.

*This was the original title but of course it should really read Happy Fifth (35?) Birthday! 

The first day we saw them – March 13, 2009 – they almost fit in my hand.
At the end of their first day with us – April 24, 2009.  It was an exhausting day for everyone.

The Hounds from Hell turned one year old this week – Nora actually last week (February 19), she’s the older of the two. (Nicky was born on February 23 – they are from two different litters) There was no party and nobody got any presents but I was reminded of a friend who worked her way through collage as an events planner. At the time there was a television personality called LouLou or something like that, who was very popular in Quebec and she asked my friend to plan a birthday party for her poodle and the other dogs from the off-leash park in Outremont. The party mostly consisted of Loulou and her friends enjoy cocktails upstairs as the dogs scrapped, peed, craped, humped, slept and created mayhem amongst streamers and balloons downstairs. Every twenty minutes a progressively more festive Loulou would call down to ask how things were going – though since she purported to be a psychic you’d think she would have known? Apparently she  missed the guests destroying the rather elaborate doggie biscuit cake while a great Dane tried to hump her beloved Bijoux.  My friend said it was a total disaster but at least it paid for her books for that year’s courses at University.

A year later in April, 2010 they fit their lovely big kid collars from Auntie Cecilia and pretty much
owned the house and had the humans trained the way they wanted them to be.

But I digress – back to the kids! In honour of their first fifth year I thought I’d post this adaptation I made of a great e-mail I got from my friend Charlie and added some pictures of the HFH from the past two months five years.

If I Didn’t Have Two Dogs ….

  • All the carpets would be in place to cover those cold tiled and marble hardwood floors.
  • All flat surfaces, clothing, furniture, and cars would be free of hair.

These photos were part of the original post so I thought I’d leave them as is.

Nick really is intrigued and I might add distressed by suitcases – signs of an adventure to come or being left alone! And he does love to pose!
  • When the doorbell rings, it wouldn’t sound like a kennel.
  • When the doorbell rings, I could get to the door without wading through barking, fuzzy bodies who beat me there.
Honestly Nicky hasn’t been drinking – its just one of his favourite ways of laying – even when he was a puppy.

And another favoured position is this sort of pile-on – which was fine when they were puppies
– a bit more cumbersome when they got a bit bigger.

    • I could sit on the couch, at the computer or on my bed the way I wanted, without taking into consideration how much space several fur bodies would need to get comfortable.
    • I would be able to get up to answer the phone or the call of nature without having 10 kilos of fur glower at me for disturbing their rest.
    Our Nora has always had a Zen side to her – her mantra is the Daschie equivalent of “Kill the Squirrel”.
    And Nicky is always more interested in things of – or more to the point on – the table.

    • I would have money, and no guilt when I go on a vacation.
    • I would not be on a first-name basis with 3 veterinarians, as I put their yet unborn grandkids through college.
    Semper iacebat in sole – the Daschie motto!
    And sometimes a girl has to forgo elegance to get that all important tan just right.

    • The most used words in my vocabulary would not be: NORA, NICKY, out, sit, down, come, NO, stay, and leave him/her/it ALONE.
    • I would not have to pretend to eat from the dog dish to establish who is the alpha or at least in my case beta in the household.
    • I would not talk ‘ baby talk’ in French and English:  ‘Mange, mange!’ ‘DoeDoe’. “Who’s the most beautiful girl/handsomest boy on Mcleod St
    • I would no longer have to spell the words W-A-L-K, T-R-E-A-T, G-O, R-I-D-E, B-I-S-C-U-I-T.
    Yeah well you can say: get off! as much as you want – if you turn the heat off outside
    in October we’re planning on being warm and comfortable inside until it comes back on. 

    • I’d look forward to a gentle fall of rain without thinking “O God! Mud! Puddles!”.
    • My pockets would not contain things like poop bags, treats and an extra leash.
    • Walks November through April would not entail unending struggles with boots and coats
    • It would not be necessary to go back into a snow bank to retrieve boots that have been kicked off by over-exuberant little back feet.


    You say Patriotic – I say just plain embarrassing!  And you want me to go out dressed like this?

      Our Nora – every vigilant!  Just in case some other dog walks by four floors down
      – she’ll sound the warning!  And god help the dog that dares come up here!

      • I would not have to explain to concerned joggers that I am NOT “doing anything” to that dog its just that she’s seen a squirrel and that’s her hunting howl.  
      • Okay let me say this more slowly – she is a hunting dog,  yes she is small but you wouldn’t want to see her take on that squirrel!
      Explain to me again why I left a warm patio in Roma for this?

      Yes red is “my colour” but honestly enough is really enough!
      • I would not look strangely at people who think having ONE dog/cat ties them down too much.
      • I would not have to answer the question “Don’t two dogs really interfere with your life?” from people who don’t understand that yes they do but the joy they bring into my life more than makes up for it.
      Your coffee table?  Where on earth did you get the idea it was your coffee table?

      Yep the Hounds from Hell are still pains in the butt but they are our pains in the butt and we love them almost as much as they love us – particularly if we have a two biscuits in hand.

      February 21 –  1739: Richard Palmer is identified at York Castle, by his former schoolteacher, as the outlaw Dick Turpin.

      HFH* – Long Overdue GPP**

      Its been so long that most people have probably forgotten the acronyms *HFH (Hounds from Hell) and **GPP (Gratuitous Puppy Pictures) but rest assured that Nicky and Nora are still running around the household.  Mind you they are no longer puppies however as far as I’m concerned they will always be my puppies.

      This is now their third winter here in Canada and much like the humans they own they are still not use to or happy with it.   And they are particularly not use to (or happy with) winter arriving at the end of November!  They have however learned the difference between the temperature and the temperature + wind chill.  As an example this past Monday it may well have been only -24°C but with a sharp blowing wind that -30°C was more like it. They’ve learned that when it gets that cold the stylish doggie coats come out.

      They’ve also learned that when there is snow and ice on the ground plus salt to melt the snow and ice  – and our super uses generous amounts of salt – then those detested red booties are also necessary.  The past week or two the boots have become de rigueur for even the quickest trip into the cold. 

      But of course this winter sartorial splendor requires that the human equation in all this do some fancy work to get puppies clad and booted.  Not having a great experience of it  I am only guessing but I would think it is less work to get a child ready for skating on the canal.

      Particularly with our Nicky.  First he runs and hides on the couch, then reluctantly creeps towards the entrance hall – trembling in (feigned) fear and trepidation.  A furtive look up and an attempt to placate the demanding human with a quick lick face-wards.  Then the real fun begins 

       Okay so the left paw – nay won’t fight you on that one:

       The back paws – hmmm well okay I’ll let you win that one.  In fact I may even lift my leg so you can get them on without too much trouble.

      Ah the right paw – not sure on that one…. how about I just put it over here out of reach and push real hard against your paw. 

      Gosh you weren’t able to get it on that way – how about I push the other way.  Oh sorry that doesn’t seem to be helping much, does it? 

      Well okay that one is finally on – hey it only took three minutes this time, if you want I can do a repeat of the morning I went for the record?????  Okay I’m ready!  Hurry up I have to go!

      Nora is a bit more of a stoic about it – no fuss, the odd furtive look and attempted lick; she won’t fight you but she’ll be damned if she’ll help you with this form of canine torture.  She is not really happy about this; in fact if she had a cell phone the Humane Society  would be on speed dial!

       Okay now I’m ready!  I don’t like this one bit but damn it red is my colour isn’t it?

      Okay torture – not to mention the indignity of being seen in those damned boots – over!  Biscuits given as a rewards for doing what we were aching to do anyway.  Time for a doe-doe.  Wake us when it’s summer!

      December 21 – 1913: Arthur Wynne‘s “word-cross”, the first crossword puzzle, is published in the New York World.