One of the best things about this season is that old friends come to visit (one of the worst is having to dress up). Two female humans appeared yesterday to see me (although they were polite and spent some time in the house with our humans). I've known these two visiting humans all my life and was anxious to introduce them to Jack.
Jack was a bit worried at first - he feels that any stranger could be a potential abductor or abuser or axe murderer but when he saw how donkey-friendly they were, he relaxed and unpursed his lips. Mary Jane understood how worried Jack was so she crouched down at floor level and stayed very still. He grew much more comfortable and tried to climb in her lap. She is an extremely polite human and let us choose which brushes we liked and said many, many complimentary things about our appearance, intelligence, bravery, furriness etc. "Sheaffer, you're growing even more handsome with age and your tail is magnificently full", she said "and honestly, I don't know why anyone would say you're too full-figured - you're in peak condition." I draped myself over her shoulder and breathed heavily.
Mary Jane even managed to remove the dried food from Jack's beard. He becomes so literally wrapped up in his hot gruel that some of it ends up welded under his chin. He grows impatient with our woman and stomps off after only a few crumbs have been removed. Although it was bone-chillingly cold in the barn, Mary Jane stayed crouched down and gently worked away till his beard was nearly food-free. Meanwhile, Janet, the other visitor, held the ends of my ears to warm them up. Beard cleaning and ear warming; it was a most excellent, civilized, visit and we look forward to seeing them again soon.
The woman relented on the decorating front and has installed a low-key, yet festive, banner on our stall. I fervently hope we don't have to wear it at some point. You never know around here. She chopped up some apple pieces very fine so Jack wouldn't choke and put them in a bowl. Then the male human held them for us to eat while she took photos. They call it a photo-op but it is actually a thinly disguised bribe. We allowed ourselves to be bribed.