Book Hippo

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Animals In Apartments?

The one disagreeable thing about living in an apartment is that it's hard to have animals. I know some people do and I probably would if I could but my room mate has put his foot down. He believes it's cruel to lock an animal up in such a small space.

As a young man he kept Weimaraners, a big, gray dog that likes to guard his territory. He had three of them, Beethoven, Bach and Misty, the female. They were quite happy in the big backyard run they had and very joyously chased Jehovah's Witnesses off the property.

He, David, used to show them, which they took as great fun as he was not serious about it himself. He also used to drive them all the way down to Sandbanks Provincial Park every weekend so they could run on the dunes and swim.

As a child, my own dog, Cindy used to swim. I took her at least once a week to the beach. Neither David or I would be able to take our dogs swimming if we had them because now it's not allowed to let a dog swim where there are people swimming. I don't like this rule because, coming from White Rock, I know full well that children, when they don't want to bother going all the way to the restrooms, will just pee in the ocean. I can't see a dog being any worse than that.

But today I passed the pet store and saw some kittens. One black, two tabbies and one calico. So sweet, so cute but I knew what David would say if I bought one. Cruel!

So I guess everyone who lives in an apartment has to look to his/ her own conscience as to whether an animal living with them is a good idea or not. I've only ever had an animal in a house, with the exception of two Siamese cats that lived in an apartment where I rented a room. So I do know how much they want to get out and catch birds.

So for right now I'll just be happy looking at them in the pet store. Someday...

Well, I'll sign off now, with a reminder that you can but The Mountain City Bronzes at

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Chipmunk Playfulness

All the new findings of animals intelligence and playfulness take me back to the same place. My mother. She always said animals are more intelligent than they are given credit for.

My mother grew up in the woods of southern Alberta. Her father was a section foreman for the railways and they lived in places where the only population was the other people who worked for the railways. So one place was population thirteen and another population seven. She spent a lot of time observing animals and nature and was always happiest when she was near a forest.

I, on the other hand, grew up in a city. A small city indeed but there were a lot of people, in my view. I wasn't sure exactly how smart something like a chipmunk was.

Later on, when I was in my twenties, I went to the woods: Algonquin Park. I went twice. Once, I have written about, this is the second time.

I found the chipmunks enchanting and lively and at one campsite where I settled in one came to play at night on my tent. It was strange and something I never thought an animal would do. The little guy climbed up one side of my tent, which was a wedge tent, and then slid down the other side. It did this over and over again and I just knew it was playing a game and enjoying itself, yes, having fun.

Again and again the chipmunk would climb up one side and slide down the other. It was pitch black but I couldn't sleep, I was too entranced. The next night the little guy jumped into my food, which was hanging from a branch. So it figured out how to get my food.

I thought of my mother that night and wished she were there. Maybe she could tell me of times when she was a child and some wild animal had played with her, something that would let me know how she had known about animal intelligence. After all, although sliding is not rocket science, it would have taken some thinking to figure out that it could slide there.

Now I agree with my mother that animals are probably smarter than we think.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


It's funny what it takes to get a different perspective. Sometimes it's just a word from a friend but I find nothing works as well as going somewhere different for a few days.

When I was young, I went to Algonquin Park. I have written about my first trip there in three previous blogs. I did go again because I found the first time, getting away from the city made me appreciate things a lot better and also to get some things out of my system.

Crowds. Now Ottawa is not the biggest city in North America or even Canada but there are enough people to make a crowd. I'm not anti-social but I do like to feel that I'm alone, not all the time, but sometimes. Away from the rush of coffee shops and grocery stores where I have brought all my own food and drink out of a lake. I found this refreshing.

On the other hand, out in the woods has an element of danger. I could have broken a leg and then I would have to crawl miles back into civilization. I had my rules of the forest: don't run (to make sure you don't catch your leg in a hole made by some animal) and keep all food separate from the rest of your backpack. One thing they'll tell you about bears is: Never get between a she-bear and her cubs and never get between a bear and it's food; and your food is his food.

So I placed all my (it's) food into a smaller backpack and carried it in my hands so if a bear came around as I was hiking, I could just throw it to it and be safe. (I hoped)

I felt I would live my life from city to wilderness, when I got sick of one I would go to the other but it didn't work out so well. I found I like to feel safe and bears do not make me feel safe. I need shelter and good food and maybe a pool. So I guess I'm a nature quitter but I still like the fact that I went and experienced it.

But now I've just gotten back from a friend's house. It's good talk, we went to an antique fair, we've gone apple picking and swimming in her pool. I had a ball.

I've decided that instead of the outdoors, I might just want to go to small towns. They're fun and the people will actually talk to you. Not a bit like Ottawa where if you talk to someone they think you're out to get them.

I have my relaxation strategy now and hope it works for me for a long time. I'll have to write about my second trip to the park but right now I'm just looking forward to my next visit to my friend.

I've decided to post a link to my other flash fiction published in Apollo's Lyre.

you can highlight and paste into the bar. I don't think the link is live.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Changing Attitudes

I always wanted to be an adult when I was a child. It seemed that when you were older, you could do what you wanted. After I grew up I realized that what I thought wasn't true. There are things you have to do that you don't want to do.

But I have found one thing that I never expected at all; and that is how much there is to understand about life and how much you'll look back when you reach a certain age. Just to digress, does anyone about age fifty remember the older people who talked about the Depression incessantly? How boring we thought them! But they knew so much that's all gone now.

Although I'm not real old, I can see a big difference in attitudes, especially since I'm female and I remember the days where, if you were walking with your head up, some busybody man (there was always one) would come and challenge your 'pretensions'. Women with 'attitude' had to be 'put in their place.'

This makes me think of the Victorians, and all the attitudes I'm glad I missed. Can you imagine not being able to wear shorts in summer or even Capri pants? Suppose you had to wear those heavy, itchy wool dresses in winter. Women back in the Victorian age often got very ill because their dress hems, dragging on the ground, would get wet and they would be walking about soaked to the skin. Even in England in was bad, can you imagine in Canada?

I think most young people these days don't understand the past, just like I didn't. I don't talk much about it with them, they will never understand until about thirty years down the road, how much they didn't know. With all the people these days writing on the internet, I think we'll leave more of a record of ourselves than previous people have been able to.

That being said, one last thing I find is that it's a good thing people die. Who would really want to meet a Victorian today? Or a medieval person? We have to make room for the young ones who will take the world in directions we can't imagine.

I do wish the youngsters were a little more respectful, but then, I understand them, another thing is you know they think you're an idiot and you know they have no idea that they're idiots, and you can be satisfied that you understand that.

Well, I'm not ready to die yet but I'm not afraid either. Some day someone will look back and say, "I wish she were here to tell me all the things I didn't want to listen to." Just like I did with my grandmother who talked of WWI. How boring, right? Wrong. But that's life...and death.

Just to leave on a lighter note. Here is the link to a flash fiction that I wrote:


Friday, June 8, 2012

Summer Beach

It's this time of year when I miss the beach at White Rock, BC. It was a great place to go in the evening especially when I had my dog, Cindy, with me. She loved to swim out and bring back the sticks I would throw and even knew the word 'water' meant a trip to the beach.

The first year I was in Ottawa was the hardest. Summer came and there was no beach to go to. Nothing 'right there' where I could just wander down to and take a dip. Oh, there are three beaches in Ottawa but they were nowhere around where I lived and besides, at that early date, 1980, I would have laughed at anyone calling those little patches of sand a beach.

For years I missed the beach but when I finally went for a swim at one of them, I found I had forgotten how to balance when a wave crashes into you. Those tiny river waves almost pushed me right over whereas as a child I used to long for the big three foot waves to pick me up. I would dive right ahead of them and it was so fun.

And yet...there was a small boy playing with a bucket, making little heaps of sand. There was the 'bathing beauties' and their very small thongs. Mothers, a place to eat, all the things that make a day at the beach worthwhile. All the elements are here in Ottawa, just scaled down.

My room mate and I will probably go on a vacation together this year. We haven't decided whether to go east of west. I'm hoping to go to the Maritimes and see a big beach again but I'm okay going through the prairies if that's what he wants. His daughter lives in Alberta. I think he'd like to see her and I could see my brother, who is also in Alberta.

So whatever we do, it'll have spirit, like the little beaches of Ottawa, where, even though no big waves or avenue of restaurants awaits them, they'll just have a ball. A beach ball.