Cocktail Party Guests

Cocktail hour is quite a big deal these days.

The rules are as follows: once the dog and cat have been fed (and they are very good at keeping us on schedule with that) it’s cocktail hour.

Actually, that’s about it really. So … rule. Singular.

As it’s still a bit chilly out, the front porch is the best bet for sitting al fresco without a blanket. Toque and down jacket, yes — but no blanket!

Photo 2020-04-12, 5 33 32 PM

Geordie, with  black and white tux colours and serious expression, does a passably good imitation of a maitre de in a very high class establishment.

Photo 2020-04-12, 6 22 22 PM

How are the first sips tasting, madam?

Really, it’s a highlight of the day. The only thing that could make it better?

Friends coming over, of course — but that’s not possible right now.

Or is it?

During cocktail hour a couple of days ago we noticed that we DID have company. Marvin and Mavis, after a hectic day of nest building, were enjoying the corvid equivalent of cocktail hour with us.

Bobbing gently in the breeze in the Katsura tree by the porch, they sat together, dozing, preening and softly chatting for a least half an hour.

Just as we were making a move to head inside, they flew off — only to replaced a second later by the next round of cocktail party guests — a pair of collared doves.

It was almost, almost, like sitting on the patio of one of favourite restaurants, enjoying a drink and some people (or in this case, bird) watching.

It’s the little things . . .

 

 

Edgar’s Guide to Staying Home

As I mentioned, Edgar is really an expert at this, having been an indoor cat for ten years now, so here are a few more little tips from his store of “avoiding cabin fever” wisdom.

DAY TEN

Hello from the outside …
Edgar reminds you to get some fresh air, even if you just stick your face out of the window and breath, for a slightly different perspective.

DAY ELEVEN

Don’t think, even for a second, about slacking on the physical distancing.
Edgar has his eyes (both of them) on you!
Be Kind, Be Calm, Be Safe, in the words of the wonderful Dr. Bonnie Henry.

You can do this!

[The actual story behind Edgar’s disgusted look — I was finally baking Phillip’s birthday cake and it overflowed in the oven, so batter was burning and making everything smokey, in spite of open doors and window. He did not appreciate the pollution of his indoor air quality.]

GETTING ALONG WITH YOUR POD-MATES

By now, things could be getting kind of tense with those you are sharing your socially distanced “pod” with, no matter how much you love them.

Small grievances or failures of etiquette can lead to dark places, without the use of some careful diplomacy.

Edgar, having led a harmonious indoor life for so many years, getting along with so many uncouth species, shows us how it’s done.

The morning begins with Edgar in his “rightful” spot in front of the fire.

Geordie wanders over and Edgar gets up to give him his morning head bump.

Geordie accepts the morning caress but then — oh dear — misinterprets the situation and moves into the fireside vacancy.

Now, this could have gone rather badly for Geordie (and you can see he’s thinking the same thing) but Edgar decides to take the high ground, satisfying his honour by subjecting  Geordie to a slightly passive aggressive “butt in the face disguised as a snuggle” manoeuvre,  before retiring gracefully to his second “rightful” place beside the fire.

So that’s how it’s done folks. Win, win and no noses scratched.

Edgar would love to hear about your domestic diplomacy victories in the comments.

Ups and Downs

We took Geordie for a short run in the woods this morning. Just being in the forest is wonderful, but watching Geordie let loose is really joyful.

He loves to run — doesn’t need anything to chase, or another dog; he just likes to run for the sake of running.

He’s the very epitome of joie de vivre.

But I have to tell you, as soon as we turned onto the wider path near the end of the trails his entire demeanour changed. He hung back, walking like a condemned dog. It wasn’t just that the run was almost over — he’s usually fine with that. The problem was that he realized that he was muddy . . . and muddy means B – A – T – H.

He really is a dog who’s too smart for his own good and he’s always half-waiting for the “bad thing” to happen. It’s partly his personality, partly his rescue dog past, but he’s an incurable pessimist at heart.

I must say that this is perhaps one of the reasons I love him so much.

I can so relate to that “living in the moment” to “worst case scenario” emotional seesaw. Especially now.

You should know that we spared him the bath this time. Just a brisk towel off (which he likes) when we got home!

 

A Small Care Package

I had meant to write another crow update blog post today, but somehow it was a bit hard to focus on pulling the images and words together.

So, instead, here is a small, somewhat random bouquet of things that are helpful for my mental health at this tough time. I hope they help you too.

First, here is Norman the Nuthatch visiting the garden this morning.

It’s just 5 seconds, but I find playing him over and over again kind of restful.

Second, here is Mr. Pants, looking at me from the wires on our morning dog walk.

Crow Therapy is proving to be a lifeline for me at the moment.

Third, in exceptionally good timing we have Luke the Super Emotional Support dog staying with us for the weekend. Triple-strength dog therapy with Geordie and Nina. They take their work very seriously.

Fourth, and last, we need Edgar’s advice …

As an indoor cat he is already a master of both social distancing and extreme cleanliness.

Further advice he would like to share:  stay safe, nap frequently, and be very kind to others.

 

 

 

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© junehunterimages, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to junehunterimages with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Festive Greetings and Tips

Wishing you all peace, joy and a reasonable amount of merriment this holiday season.

Geordie and Edgar are, as you can see, anxiously waiting for Santa. There is a rumour that the man in red is bringing them each a cosy new bed.

I am still in my cast of course, so no far-ranging adventures until the foot heals. Luckily Marvin and Mavis come by several times a day to check in and assure me that they’ve both been very good crows this year.

Marvin, the always magnificent

Mavis, the ever-marvellous

Edgar wanted me to share with you some of his top tips for the having the best sort of holiday season …

  1. Do lots of bird watching (or whatever brings you joy)
  2. Keep up with your napping schedule
  3. Listen to “Drinking White Wine in the Sun” by Tim Minchin (or your favourite holiday tune) and sing along
  4. Don’t worry about the dusting, or anything else that seems overwhelming and/or not fun. Domestic triage is key.
  5. Once the gravy is made, you’re entitled to a drink with rum in it

. . . OK, so those last few might have been me . . .

You can actually make up your own rules. I’m pretty sure Edgar’s good with that.

Best Laid Plans

One of my most vivid childhood memories is sitting beside my mother where she’d tripped and fallen on the sidewalk while rushing for the bus to go shopping. “More haste, less speed,” she said, through gritted teeth. She had a pithy saying for every occasion, my mum, and most them were/are very true. We never did go shopping that day, or for many days thereafter, as she’d sprained her ankle quite badly.

I had great plans for this festive season. Finish up the local sales events early,  leaving lots of time to update my online shop, go for long walks and catch up on the local crows and maybe even get some snowshoeing (ravens!)  in before Christmas. Leisurely holiday shopping in the local shops, baking,  …

Well, you can see how I was asking for trouble.

Like Icarus flying too close to the sun, here I am this festive season.

It seems to be a family tradition now, the pre-Christmas disaster. The worst was Phillip’s concussion from a bicycle accident a few years back. The most hilarious (although only in retrospect) was 2016 when Lily’s dog got sprayed by a skunk at 11pm on Christmas Eve.

The sore foot I noticed the week before the studio sale turned out to be a stress fracture. What with one thing and another, it took quite a while for the x-ray results and to get fitted for the stylish new boot, with a few days when I really could hardly get about at all.  I was starting to feel pretty sorry for myself.

But, another one of my mother’s favourite sayings was “worse things are happening at sea,” and this seems to fit well into that category. We do have the Christmas tree up, and as long as I can hobble as far as the garden, or even the deck, I have some spectacular company.

It was a bit wet this morning, but Marvin and Mavis were, as always, on hand to say hello.

Moist Marvin

Mavis

I think Mavis holds me partially responsible for the change in weather.

In the garden on the weekend, there was a positive Who’s Who of bird visitors coming by to cheer me up.

The most handsome Spotted Towhee

Towhees are new to the garden this year. Always a thrill to see that oh-so-stylish and dotty colour combination.

The world’s most winsome White Crowned Sparrow.

Sweetest Song Sparrow.

Cheery Chestnut-Backed Chickadee

Jolly Junco

I’m noticing that some of the juncos I’m seeing lately have more chestnut on their hoods than I remember in the past. I always thought they were more uniformly grey or black, so I wonder if there is some sort of avian gene pooling going on there.

Heavenly Hummingbird

For years we’ve had one single Anna’s Hummingbird visit the garden all year round. Recently she has found a friend with whom to squabble about the hummingbird feeder.

Natty Nuthatch

I’d never seen a nuthatch until this one started frequenting the garden a couple of months ago. I can always tell when he’s around by the honking sound. At first I thought it was someone’s car alarm going off!

Rosy House Finch

A couple of weeks ago I noticed a couple of house finches with eye problems in the garden. Internet research revealed that there is a very contagious eye disease that spreads among finches, and advice was to bring the bird feeders in for a week or so, meanwhile cleaning them thoroughly with a bleach solution (rinsing well.) I just put the feeders out again a couple of days ago and the birds are celebrating, but I’m keeping a close watch on the finches — and planning on cleaning the feeders every week from now on.

Fabulous Flicker

Flicker Face Off

Probably a stern Flicker look for her old nest rival, the starling.

And, when my foot is starting to throb and it’s time to head inside for a sit down, there’s even more great company in there.

Can I get you a cup of tea …?

Festive Feline

The human company is pretty good too!

Finally, in late breaking news, Marvin has declared that the City Crow Calendar, 2020 Edition has passed the all important corvid taste test!

Hmm, could use a little ketchup, but otherwise, not bad …

www.junehunter.com

 

 

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© junehunterimages, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to junehunterimages with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Dog’s Life and A New Year Wish

May your 2018 be just like this.

It’s just a quick photo, taken with my phone on a walk in the Seymour Demonstration Forest earlier this week. It captures one second in a dog’s life.

In this moment, he is completely happy.

He is with his people, in the woods, off-leash, with snow (Geordie’s favourite), some mud, and a stick.

He still has the recent happy memory of playing with two big dogs (black and yellow labs, I think they were) just now walking out of the frame with their owners.

He doesn’t know it yet, but just entering the frame is another dog. This one loves to run for the joy of it as much as him, and they’re about to experience several minutes of euphoric woodland racing.

2017 had its ups and downs, but I wish you a 2018 full of times like Geordie’s.

Contentment in the moment . . .

fond memories  . . .

unseen joy around the corner.

Happy Woof Year!

www.junehunter.com

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Christmas Address

It used to be just Edgar who used to offer up, Queen-like, his pithy Christmas thoughts, but this year we’ve got a bit of clamour of creatures willing to share their musings for 2017.

I’ve told them all they’ll need to be brief if we’re going to fit everyone in.

EDGAR

Naturally, my thoughts are the most important.

For maximum efficiency, combine your stretching exercises with relaxation.

Claiming the higher ground always gives you a comforting tactical advantage.

GEORDIE

As a rescue dog I am, by nature, a pessimist — but nevertheless I try to be brave and plunge into new things. Most of the time (except for the baths) it’s turns out pretty well. Also, I like it when everyone is kind to each other.

MARVIN & MAVIS

crow on a fence, photograph by June Hunter

Sometimes life can throw you challenges.

Crow on a fence, photograph by June Hunter

With a bit of perseverance though, you can learn new things.

Sometimes your loved ones will try to do helpful things …

… which will result in a hairdo like this. But, they love you and they mean well, so just keep your beak shut and say thanks.

THE BUSHTITS

Sometimes it’s nice to get together will a bunch of friends over the festive season.

Bushtit photo by June Hunter

… but sometimes it’s nice to spend a bit of quiet time on your own.

THE CHICKADEES

Be bold! Be free! Don’t miss out on the peanuts!

And that’s about it from all of us over here at The Urban Nature Enthusiast. The sparrows and juncos wanted to put their five cents in as well, but I have still got some wrapping to do!

Thank-you so much to everyone who has read the blog this year and sent me so many kind comments.

Have the very brightest holiday season, whether it’s being surrounded by friends and family, or simply enjoying the quiet of the winter season with some good books and walks outside. Much love to all of you.

 

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Gone To The Dogs

That Face

This week I was going write a blog post with an update on the nesting crows.

There were a lot of things I planned to do this week.

But everything has gone to the dogs. Well, THE dog.

Our house has been dogless for over two years, since Molly, the last of the brother and sister Labrador duo, died at the age of 15.

We’ve been thinking of getting a rescue pup for the last few months. Our daughter, Lily, introduced us to lots of fabulous rescue dogs through her volunteer work with Leash of Hope, so it just seemed the right way to go.

Leash of Hope is a wonderful charity that rescues unwanted dogs and trains them to be service dogs. You can read more about the amazing work here.

Leash Of Hope Group

Photo by Lily Ditchburn

Lily and I visited some local shelters, and tried local dog adoption agencies but we found that many small/medium dogs and puppies were quickly spoken for.

We began to spend hours looking at heart-breaking photos of puppies online. Most of them were in the US or abroad in what are known as “high kill” shelters. In Canada, dogs are generally kept in shelters until they’re adopted unless found to be too aggressive or too sick to be saved. But in the US, Mexico and other parts of the world, the sheer volume of unwanted dogs means that they have only a short time in a shelter before being moved to the “euthanize” list.

It was so tempting to just send for any of the lovely little faces we saw on these web sites, but I really wanted to meet the dog we were going to share a home with for (hopefully) 15 or more years before committing.

Also, there’s Edgar. Any new family member would have obviously have to pass the Edgar approval test.

edgar watching

Then, as I had a feeling it would, the very perfect dog just appeared.

About a month ago, a Leash of Hope trainer saw this photo online and brought the puppy to Vancouver from a shelter in LA.

Shelter photo

He had only a few days left there before running out of time, and they hoped he’d be a good candidate to be a service dog.

However, his traumatic early days in the shelter (and wherever he was before that) had left a mark. After being assessed while in foster care, it was determined that he was a just bit too nervous for life as an assistance dog. And so a home was needed.

First, there was the Edgar test. It helps that Edgar is one of the most relaxed cats in the world. He was very tolerant of the pup unless he went into “let’s play” mode. Edgar, first of all, gave him a hiss and a rapid-fire series of a slaps to the face (no claws) to express his disapproval. Message received. When the pup forgot the first lesson an hour or so later, Edgar only had to languidly raise a paw to refresh his memory.

Just to make sure, we had the pup over one more time. We decided he was definitely the dog for us. An intensive naming debate ensued. Suggestions were texted furiously back and forth between family members and collected on this white board. A final selection was made. Geordie was the unanimous choice.

Edgar makes sure to add his opinion to the puppy naming debate

Edgar makes sure to add his opinion to the puppy naming debate

For one of the best Mother’s Days ever, we brought him home for good.

While his shelter profile had him listed as a Lab, I don’t think there’s much, if any, labrador retriever in his make-up. Some border collie for sure and perhaps some spaniel ..?

Edgar Kisses Geordie

Everyone is thrilled with Geordie.

He’s a lovely dog and I’m sure he’s going to be the perfect family dog.

Geordie is a great new studio assistant.

Geordie is a great new studio assistant

Making himself at home in the studio

… although he does seem to sleep on the job quite a bit.

While some puppies are boundlessly optimistic and bold, Geordie seems like an old soul. He’s been through a lot in the four short months of his life, which tends to make him a bit pessimistic about anything new (particularly vans and crates). For now, he sleeps on the floor of our bedroom, rides in the car with a seatbelt harness, and gets a little bit more optimistic every day.

Geordie cu

Geordie and Edgar have already discovered a shared interest in bird watching.

Geordie and Edgar have already discovered a shared interest in bird watching.

logo with crow