Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Catch-up: 3. Bill and Black Jack

I have just spent a very enjoyable couple of hours going back through photographs of Bill and Black Jack, dated between the 21st of March and yesterday, the 12th of April.

I will never be able to highlight all of the qualities I love about Bill in one post, but here's a start. He is one of the most empathetic people I know, he has a sharp eye, and he brings colour into my life. He spotted this butterfly yesterday at Boundary Bay. I'll come back to it later in the post.

Bill is a great cook, and he's thoughtful. He prepared this salad the evening before I travelled to Victoria with the band students. He knew I was stressed and pressed for time, and I came home to supper prepared, and an ear ready and willing to let me unwind. And, there's the colour again. A feast for the eye as well as for the palate.

Black Jack brings great happiness to my life as well, but I begin with an adventure that I may have preferred to pass up. On a recent visit to Stanley Park, she was checking out a hole at the base of this tree. I was just getting the camera set up to document her curious nature, when she slipped out of the view finder. Maybe you have already guessed that she fell right into that hole. I gather the skunk(s) trying to catch a few minutes of rest and tranquility was/were unimpressed with her visit. By the time I hauled her out, my nostrils were stinging, and she was in immediate need of a bath. Bill was away that weekend, and as it had been a bit too cold to bike with Black Jack, I had taken her in a taxi to the park. No way could I subject a taxi driver to that smell, so we began walking. I was worried about her eyes most of all, and thought a vet visit was in order. A couple of things are worthy of note here. First, the very, very kind vet who bathed Black Jack's eyes and refused payment. Checking out the vet hospital has shown both positive and negative reviews, but my experience was a good one. We had walked all the way from Stanley Park, with people along the street at first approaching, as so many do, with looks of, "Oh, what a cute dog." However, the looks swiftly changed to wrinkled up noses and stunned expressions, as they got a whiff of her aroma. Second, although a hydrogen peroxide mixture is the most recommended antidote to skunk odour, I was afraid to use it, as her head had taken the brunt of the skunk's wrath, and it is not considered safe for eyes. A product called Skunks, etc worked quite well. Two baths later, and the worst of the smell is gone. However, there is a residual reminder of skunk that still presents itself to my sensitive nose, several weeks later. I can only assume that one of the remedies for such a condition is time, and time alone. The third point is that I dropped in on four different groomers between Stanley Park and home, and not one would touch her. That was a bit of a shock. I would have thought groomers would be prepared for such emergencies. So, end story - I bathed Black Jack myself. Fortunately, she is a gentle soul who accepts bathing, if not enthusiastically, at least, with appreciation for the massage/tummy rubs that go along with the process, and the "zoomies" that make the aftermath quite fun.

Black Jack just before disappearing.

Another of Bill's qualities - he is agile and naturally fit. And, the empathy crops up over and over again. He makes me happy by keeping Black Jack safe and stimulated when I need a steady hand for pictures (that's all of the time when we are on outings), and he understands her need for rock climbing and tree investigating.

Bill's sharp eye spotted this squirrel just before Black Jack did.

Bill has some of the qualities that I loved in my Dad. He is curious about many different aspects of his world, and interested in what he calls "guy shots." This was at Moodyville Park in North Vancouver.

He spotted this boat, the C S Caroline in the water across from Moodyville. He often draws my attention to travel and industry and to the way goods are transported. I enjoy Bill's guy shots, and the inkling they give me into a part of the world I would otherwise probably ignore. I looked up this boat, and found this interesting quote:

Published On: Saturday, January 09, 2010

SHANGHAI - Minister of the Environment Earl Deveaux was in the People's Republic of China to attend the commissioning ceremony of the newest vessel on the Bahamian ship registry on Wednesday, January 6.

Barbara Jean Deveaux, the minister's wife, officially named the vessel the CS Caroline in honour of the late Winifred Caroline Mortimer. The vessel will be managed by Campbell Shipping Company Limited, a Bahamian company.

The ship was built in Jaingsu Province, the Peoples Republic of China, by Tsuji Industries (Jiangsu) Co Ltd and designed by Algoship Designers Limited. GTR Campbell Marine Consultants Limited supervised the construction of the ship. Both companies are Bahamian and have offices in Nassau.

Mr Deveaux said the Bahamas ship registry has many vessels built in China by Bahamian companies valued well in excess of a billion US dollars.

He also noted that the People's Republic of China and the Bahamas have had formal diplomatic relations for more than 12 years.

"However, our cultures have been comingled for a very long time, as many of the Bahamas' most successful citizens are of Chinese origin," Mr Deveaux said. "The relationship between our countries has proven to be mutually beneficial to both countries.

"The Bahamas has benefitted from significant Chinese investments, notably Hutchinson Whampoa in Freeport, Grand Bahama. The generosity of the Chinese people is exemplified in the gift of a sports complex and expert technical support by the government of the People's Republic of China."

I didn't get much of a picture of the boat, as we were looking across the road, and between trees and buildings, but here is the stern.

Bill always chooses outings that give me a chance to take pictures, and Black Jack a chance to explore and have fun. He was, I think, even more disappointed than I was, when we read this sign along a beach in White Rock. We totally understood the need for leashes, but a complete ban on dogs? In White Rock's defence, we did find a very nice beach not so far away (Crescent, I think) where Black Jack was welcome. It was my very first visit to White Rock, and aside from that one blemish, was a beautiful outing.

I confess, I was the one to decide that a short time on the beach would be okay. As you can see, Black Jack was very keen.

We rarely let Black Jack off leash, as her recall is still unreliable, and she can cover an incredible distance in a very, very short time. However, with treats in our pockets, we spent a few minutes having her run from one of us to the other. She loved the exercise.

Another guy shot, and another little bit of investigation from this site, searched after Bill's curiosity started the wheels turning.

Here's a quote from the White Rock site, just in case you don't have time to check out the site:
BNSF Railway has a single-track main line through White Rock that runs along the entire length of the White Rock Beach promenade. The city itself has no train service, however this rail line is a major corridor for goods being transported between the ports of Vancouver and the continental United States as well as the Amtrak Cascades passenger service between Seattle and Vancouver via Bellingham, Washington. The Canadian National Railway and the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) also have trackage rights along this line. Goods transported on this corridor include Canadian softwood lumber, coal, paper products, and general merchandise. The CPR runs regular potash trains along this line to the Canpotex export terminal in Oregon.

After our second beach walk of the day, we were on our way home, when we passed Stewart Farm. Although the buildings were officially closed, Bill turned the truck around, and we decided to explore the grounds, which were still open to the public. Again, examples of Bill's empathy, sharp eye, and curiosity. And, here he is, keeping Black Jack happy while I play with my camera.

On her third walk of the day, and energy still to burn!

There were all kinds of heritage apple trees on the property, with signs describing the qualities of each variety. I think, but am not entirely certain, that I have the right blossom to go with the Jona Gold apple, the apple Bill was most excited about.

He had bought some before, and found them to be delicious!
Large fruit striped red over bright yellow. Firm, crackling, juicy, slightly tart, flesh. Superb, rich, full flavor. Finest dessert and eating quality. Good cooking properties. Will store in common refrigerator for 3 months.
A guy shot.

Black Jack likes guy shots too.

Bill and Black Jack make me laugh a lot. Here, I could barely take the photo for giggling.

Black Jack, sitting in Bill's "easy chair" hands, but never taking her eyes of the squirrel across the road. It still makes me laugh when I remember this moment.

Bill likes trees. So do I, but sometimes, in my zeal to photograph birds, forget to notice them. Here, he drew my attention to this enormous cedar (?) in Stanley Park.

Bill also loves music. He enjoys a wide variety of styles, but especially loves opera's soprano arias. We attended this Pro Cantanti version of Rigoletto on Sunday night. It's an amateur group, but for both Bill and I, Dawn Wolski provided a thrill as great, or greater, than any professional either of us has ever heard. I also loved Andrew Greenwood, although I think Bill was a bit put off by the sheer volume of his voice. They are performing again on April 18th, and, if you have any desire to hear a full production of Rigoletto, and a certain amount of understanding for amateur enthusiasm, I highly recommend it.

There is a toy store on the corner of the street, by the Cambrian Hall where the opera was held. Bill's eye spotted this rocking horse on the roof of the store.

This cherry tree is on the same corner. I don't often see lights on a cherry tree, and Bill patiently waited while I tried to figure out how to get a night shot.

These last photos were taken yesterday, on our outing to Boundary Bay.

This one is at the end of a long day of running after Black Jack:)

Bill drew my attention to this ant hill. Would you call this a guy shot? Maybe not, because I found it fascinating too. If you are not grossed out by insects, this one is seriously worth clicking on to enlarge.

Black Jack running happy.

Trying to identify this butterfly was a challenge. My best guess is a Swallowtail, but what kind? I looked in the book Ship Rock so kindly gave me, but the stripes along the top edge of this butterfly are yellow, rather than black, as they were in the most similar picture in that book. I also discovered a fascinating and heartbreakingly beautiful blog by someone named Bev, but although her photos are beyond breathtaking, I could not find an exact match. What I can tell you is that seeing that butterfly was one of many highlights in a perfect day. I hope you may have time to check out Ship Rock's and Bev's sites. They are well worth your time.

Bill thought of our friend, Jock, when he asked me to take this guy shot.

That concludes my Bill and Black Jack post. I am everlastingly grateful to have them in my life!


  1. Interesting post, covering most of our regular walks.

    Funny, I never noticed that sign on the White Rock beach before. There are always plenty of dogs, mostly off-leash, on the beach. You're probably the first person to actually pay attention!

  2. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a packed anthill, although I’ve probably walked by several over the years. Nice to have sharp-eyed Bill to point out interesting details and to provide an “armchair” for Black Jack. The skunk incident was gripping and brought back similar aromatic memories … although luckily I didn’t fall down a hole. As usual your post was a pleasure to read, informative and visually entertaining. :)

  3. Wonderful post except for the meeting with the skunk den! Poor Blackjack! I am rather biased, of course, because I am a great fan of Blackjack and Bill, my brother!! Phyllis

  4. Thanks for your comments Susannah, Penelope and Phyllis. They are much appreciated.

    I think Bill has more fans than he realizes, Phyllis, and deservedly so! I suspect Black Jack will thank you by jumping in your lap and giving you a big kiss, the next time she sees you:)

  5. Happy Saturday! My name is JoAnne and my friend, Wayne Marks, has asked that I share this information with you. I'm doing so under the impression you'll understand what he's talking about - something that, in my experience with him, isn't as easy as you'd think;-)

    'The young Osprey is back and is re-building the nest."

  6. Oh my goodness, thank you!!! I just saw this message late in the afternoon on Monday, but will be looking for it tomorrow! So, Wayne is not exactly what you would call predictable, huh? All the more fun for his friends;-)