Category: Life

On the Thanksgiving

It’s storming outside, and Lucien is nervous. The house is talking now and in many ways it is the wind that gives it its voice, not unlike how our own voices work. There’s a low groan from the fireplace downstairs because I have the chimney flute open for a fire later. There’s a pop and crack from time to time as the wood frame adjusts to the storm. The heat registers chime in as they activate to the cold trying to get in. The oven downstairs is almost finished roasting the duck, which will be basically our food supply for the next two days because it’s a larger bird than even I and the dogs could polish off in one sitting.

I am finding I like spending thanksgiving alone. It’s a day where everyone is busy making and doing things and enjoying company and, not unlike someone who works the night shift and sees how everything changes when the vast majority of humans are otherwise occupied, I feel like this day is my own private secret. It’s a good space to reflect, do some fun self-care, and actually pause for a moment to just be thankful by yourself.

Sometimes I think we should all take thanksgiving day privately, and leave the grand sharing with friends and awesome communal experience to Christmas. In a way, I think what we know of even the idea of Jesus would like that. A private reflection followed by a joyous celebration. But that would probably decimate the Turkey Industrial Complex. It would also probably decimate the Xanax Industrial Complex because there would be no political or religious arguments.

I’m thankful for so many things and, in general am happier than I have ever been. I’m thankful for growing up a lot in the past two years. I’m thankful for friends who helped me out through a tough spot. I’m thankful for my dogs Lucien and Basil without whom I simply could not function.  I’m thankful for the land that I live on and that it provides great joy for myself and the dogs. I’m grateful for the house that I live in which echoes and talks in its own way as I mentioned before and seems to be feeding my creative spirit. I love my job and the people I work with and am very thankful for the opportunity that has been provided to me.

I’m thankful for life! We spend such a short time on our planet. I wish so very deeply that I could share my new found zen sense that there is no great scorecard up in the sky for any of us. Our species moves on long timelines but our impact on it moves only in tiny bursts. History cares not in value for the victory of an election day for instance. It merely records it. Set down your baggage if you can, and stretch your arms.

I’m thankful for my privilege. I didn’t earn it nor do I deserve it, and I wish that everyone had the same privilege. My price for being thankful for it is to see it and work as much as I can to provide its benefits to everyone. Everyone. Because everyone deserves it.

The sun is setting. Dark when it’s day applies to us in Seattle. Basil is looking at me with his deep brown eyes and his serious face. I had put jazz on the turntable downstairs but it’s run through its side. It’s time to go outside and run my boy ragged with his ball while there’s light.

It’s thanksgiving. And if I was struck dead at any moment I would want my last words to be:

“Thank you for everything. I had a wonderful time.”

Meet Lucien Idaho!

Now that I’ve been settled and have a routine I’ve missed having more than one dog. Basil Hayden of course has been my rock the past year, but I can tell when I am away he gets lonely in the house. So for a while I have been thinking of getting him a playmate once everything sort of settled down. Rochelle and I when married had a system where every other dog we got was a rescue/adoption. I love pure bred Golden Retrievers and our breeder has been wonderful, but there are so many dogs out there that need rescuing. When we took in Aspen Blue he was a special needs rescue and is thriving now but I miss him terribly. I’ve been sponsoring some special needs Mini-Aussies in the PacNW with donations here and there, with an eye that I might take in another one for Basil’s playmate and my companion. Miniature Australian Shepherds are very smart like their larger bred cousins and are an interesting mix with the temperament of something like a Golden Retriever. I knew that if I didn’t rescue a Golden, I would most likely want a Mini-Aussie. So it was with some surprise this week when during a routine trip to the Vet for Basil I discovered a Red Merle Mini-Aussie who needed a forever home. May I present, Lucien Idaho!

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After some initial meet and greet to get him comfortable (pictured above he’s in his old home and was relaxed with me around after some initial “Dances with Wolves” style bribing with lamb treats) I brought him home for a short stay and I will bring him home permanently next weekend. He’s got all the typical Mini-Aussie traits, no health issues/needs other than a mild Coloboma which happens sometimes in this breed but most importantly:

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Inspection.

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Approved!

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Attention human. It’s outside playtime.

Lucien is a one year old who has bounced around a couple of homes, his last owner called him Trip because when he herds you he does it with all his weight. But I think he’s young enough to learn a new name. It’s within the realm of possibility that his coloboma might lead to blindness later on but I’m having him all checked out at my vet a week from Monday, and that would not affect my decision to take him in. So say hello to my new boy and Basil’s new brother!

(edit: The name Lucien Idaho was chosen because: Lucien as an homage to The Sandman and his unusual eye structure and how it will perceive light, and Idaho in homage to Duncan Idaho from Dune and most shepherd breeds are farm/herd animals.I give my dogs two names. Shut up it’s not weird. I said shut up!)

On the Turning Away

My new house is dead silent. I can’t sleep at the moment, a minor issue I find has cropped up since my coma. It’s not a bad thing, I don’t feel anxious or physically bad. Neither too do I feel energetic or purpose driven as if this is some psychological replacement for both the time I was nearly asleep for good or the second chance I was given. I’m just… awake.

Living in the country allows a lot of time for quiet and reflection and I suppose that’s a part of it. I’ve finished up my question list for Wil for Sunday’s Rose City Comic Con panel, and I’m making the drive down to Portland tomorrow to see my friend Mark before I hit the event.

It is, as I said, dead silent around me.

Except for Basil’s snoring, a reminder of the life I’m a steward of and how much happiness he brings me. And the clicking of my keyboard as I write, reminding me these same tools I use to write this are the tools that provide my livelihood. The house itself occasionally makes noise, a squirrel or wandering cat on the roof or the simple sounds that all houses make when talking to you if you remember to stop and listen and not tune them out. (They have their own languages, Houses. Some of them shout like Ollie the weather man, and others whisper.) I can hear my own breathing, a reminder I’m still here. My stomach growls loudly because my medication often makes me want to eat something at odd times.

I go downstairs to grab a piece of fruit from the fridge, conscious of the sound of my bare feet on the wood floor. I can hear the soft whir of the fridge. Outside, despite the late hour, a car drives up the gravel main road.

All these noises and sounds happen all around me typically while I sleep, and now I feel pleasantly sleepy having gotten to sit and experience them for a moment. I finish my snack, turn away and go back to bed.

And We Give Thanks So That There May Be An Accounting In Our Hearts Of Blessings

First Thanksgiving alone and spent it awake all night.

That doesn’t mean I’m not thankful for things. I’m thankful for all the good parts of my marriage to Rochelle. I’m thankful for all our pets here and gone (Illusion, Isabeau, Hennessey, Adia, Buddy, Remington Martin, Eowyn Marie, Medallion, Basil Hayden, and Aspen Blue).

I’m thankful for family, heroes, and friends both here and gone (quite literally too many for my brain to hold)

I’m thankful for HBO and Microsoft and the opportunities they have afforded me. I’m thankful for my job now at Black Tusk Studios getting to work on Gears of War. And the apartment I’m in that bridged a difficult gap into a new little place that has a nice sandy beach for Basil to play on that I start moving into this weekend.

I’m thankful for Ikea. If nothing else I will have a bed.

They don’t celebrate Thanksgiving at the same time we do up here in Canada (Canadian Thanksgiving was in October), so today is a work day. I have not decided what bird to cook tonight, it can’t be a turkey of course, too big. But I’ll have my tiny celebration nonetheless and begin to pack for the weekend move.

I hope you and yours have a wonderful day.

The Days Are Just Packed

Medallion the cat thought she would forever have run of my little apartment in the Yaletown section of Vancouver. She reverted almost instantly into the cat I remember. She’d curl on my lap and purr, greet me each morning when I sat for some cereal and watched the sun hit the mountains.

Then Mr. Basil Hayden arrived and the hissing started. It’s been almost a week so she’s over it for the most part. But it was a funny dynamic. Last night they slept curled up together. Peace in our time.

Apartment living after 15 years is odd. I’m high up in a tower and sometimes stand out on the balcony and wish I had a wizard’s robes and staff. The people in the building are all so friendly, and almost all have a dog, so Basil has met lots of new friends when we go on “Walkies.” I always liked that word, I picked it up from Wallace and Grommit first and decided it would be my code name for him to know when we were about to go let him do his business which we end up doing four or five times a day. Now, all I have to do is say it and he runs and grabs his leash and brings it to me.

He hasn’t taken to city living totally. He hates to be on a leash. But he prances like he owns the entirety of Vancouver and everyone around are just his subjects. People stop me on the street to tell me how beautiful he is. They set down their bags or whatever and ask if they can love on him, just for a few seconds. It feels like I have a four legged gift to give my new home.

The mornings on Beatty street are pleasant. My routine has become simple: Get up, clean up, walk (Basil) and feed him and Medallion. Have some tea on the balcony, then walk to work. The transit station is along my walk, people bustling to and from various locales and all nod or say hi or note how the weather is either rainy or beautiful.

Forgive me a tangent, but in Star Trek Generations there’s a moment where Picard comes across James Kirk chopping wood. Shatner delivers a line perfectly, “Beautiful day isn’t it?”

When the weather here shines, everyone delivers that line perfectly, unprompted.

At noon the cruise ships sound the departure horns from the bay. I thought Seattle had good sushi, Vancouver spanks it, calls it a bad boy, and tells it to go home. There’s an Asian market right by my place and I boiled fresh live Dungeness Crab for a friend for dinner and it. was. divine. I even used a new recipe for the carapace fat mixed with garlic and butter to dip bread into. I had never done that. I had always just sprayed that stuff out.

(Recipe fans: boil the crabs alive. Pop the top carapace when done. Scrap out the tomalley (yellow fat), mix it with a small amount of egg, lots of garlic, and a little butter in a skillet (DON’T OVERCOOK IT), pour it back into the top half carapace as a serving dish. Dip french bread in it. Nectar of the gods)

Major changes become little changes so fast. Today I go to look at a little condo overlooking a river far from here. It’s small and like everything up here real estate wise it’s insanely expensive for a tiny space. But it has a small area for Basil outside and is in a quiet neighborhood. Downtown living is interesting but I can’t take the police sirens *every* *single* *night*.

I miss Aspen Blue, and Adia, and Eowyn Marie terribly. Sometimes so much I can’t bear it. But such is the nature of change.

Every day is packed, with major changes flowing into little ones. And that’s ok.