juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
CW for discussions of pet death.

Two days ago, I got an email from my father that they'd euthanized Jamie. She'd been having episodes when she'd lose her footing or fall, and panic when she was unable to get up. This occurred when my mother was home; Dad left work, and the two of them were able to calm and comfort her until she could get back up. But these episodes were reoccurring, and only likely to become more common, and they could happen when no one was there; and she'd had ongoing health issues, and the vet had just found a possibly-cancerous mass in her abdomen. So that afternoon they took her in to the vet. They didn't want her to ever be alone and in distress.

She bounced back after the episode and she loved the vet and was excited to be there, and they almost had second thoughts, but this is a long time coming—and even Mamakitty, when we took her in, as sick and exhausted as she was, perked up at the vet because it was a new and distracting environment: that momentary change didn't erase the ongoing problems, for either of them.

This was a long time coming, which is why it feels so hard to handle; or rather, not hard, but distant—James had a heath scare a few months back, and I feel like I said my goodbyes at that time, not preemptively so much as in preparation, and I have done my grieving; but of course I haven't grieved and now I can't seem to start. I'm sure it will sink in when I go home, but I'm not ready for that. This in-betweenness of knowing and not believing, of loss without feeling, is unwelcome but not new; I've experienced similar disconnects before (like when Madison died).

Here's what I do know: We got Jamie the year we got back from England—England is an important landmark in my family's history, Jamie was an era. We named her after Jamie Oliver, because we watched his show while we lived in England, and to preserve the family tradition of giving our dogs gender-swapped names. She was 15, and that's ancient in lab years. My mother told my father about what I'd said, when they made the decision: about valuing the time had, about working in her best interest. She was a ridiculously good dog, ever since she was a puppy; she never had a demon dog phase and we even had a ban on talking about her when when Odi was going through his because no one needed the comparison. When she was old and blind and halfway deaf all she wanted to do was lean against her people so that she knew they were there and loved. She was a leggy field lab & she didn't know how to swim because she had skin conditions as a pup and by the time she was introduced to water she was afraid of it. Every Christmas, she got her own stocking and got to unwrap her own gifts:

She had the knee issues common in labs, and had surgery on both front legs when she was young; for a long time, she was afraid of both the vet and the location in the house where she threw out her first knee. For most of her life she didn't bark, she was an entirely silent dog; only in old age did she sometimes boof when a stranger passed the window. She used to stare out the gap in the blinds for an hour before my dad got home each evening—my mum was the pack leader but my dad was her best friend.

In my first year of college when my life began to fall apart, my mother made a surprise trip to Walla Walla and brought James; they waited in the quad for me to get out of class. I saw a dog across the way and thought, oh, a dog! dogs are great! and then the dog began to jump around because before I even recognized it was my dog, before I even saw my mother, Jamie recognized me across the distance and she was so happy to see me.

She was a sensitive, engaged member of the household, and would get super upset if people fought or talked about politics. She knew tons of commands, most of which we never taught her and were casual sentences, "Jamie, get out of the kitchen." She was our only black lab (the others were chocolate), her fur was rainbow-white in the sun, she liked ear-rubbing the best, she didn't like having her toenails trimmed but would let us do it anyway, and this was Jamie:

Jamie in the Sunlight

I don't believe that pets owe us love, but that it's something we owe them; it is our responsibility when we make them our responsibility, to provide unconditional care and support. But there is no love like the love of this dog, nothing so essential or complete.
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
Be ye warned of discussions of pet health/aging/death.

A little while ago, my family's dog Jamie (a fourteen year old black lab; lab life expediency is 10-12 years) had a health scare that resolved to be a probable brain bleed, collapsing, some seizing, labored breathing, etc. We did the entire routine of family panic, "the dog may be dying" phone calls, considering trips to the emergency vet; the crisis resolved overnight and they were able to take her to her normal vet the next day. She's been acting old-dog normal since, with all the ongoing health issues but no new ones. But the vet still believes she won't make it through autumn, if only because they see most old animals die in spring and autumn when the changing seasons add new stressors.

Talking about this with Mum after the fact, she said that she'd used me as an example of calm and acceptance when everyone was doing the crying freakout thing—which startled me to hear, but makes sense. I've seen so many companion animals die, both recently and generally. I am on intimate terms with non-human animal death, in ways I never am with human death, even when I know the deceased. These dying animals are in my care or care-adjacent; their lives and deaths and my responsibility. None of that has a negative connotation, and I have gotten really good at calmly accepting end-of-life events.

When Mama died, so quickly, despite lifesaving measures, we still had a sense of absolute certainty. We watched her transition from skittish bedraggled stray to a playful, profoundly affectionate, calm housecat, and that was our doing; we also helped her in sickness, and made the decision to euthanize her, and that was equally as beneficial to her wellbeing. I cannot have one of those things without the other, nor would I want to. This one thing, providing love and care to animals, is within my ability, and there's nothing I'd rather do.

My sister got a mini red merle Australian Shepherd named Tiber last year, and, I mean, he's a good dog, but I was watching my family replace Jamie, not with intent but because it was easier to bond with a lively young dog than to accept Jamie in her old age, with her failing body, her loud panting, her constant need to Be With. They were looking after her physically, but their emotional energy was diverted. And, to be honest, I don't think Jamie knew or cared; with her blindness and exhaustion came a particularly dogged affection, a love unswayed by physical or social concerns. But seeing the impatience and distraction she received bothered me.

When I explained all of this to my mother (everything except the quiet judgment, obvs.), my emphasis was this: I was sad when she seemed like she might be dying, but not afraid and not sorry, because I regret nothing about Jamie, not the life I had with her, not who she is now, neither her eventual death. It's not an inconvenience or a price to be paid for the better parts; it is part of an experience, and that experience is the thing I value most in my life.

I don't expect them to do that, to turn tolerance into engagement and value Jamie-now as easily as Jamie-then. But not everyone engages with companion animals the way I do, and to be honest my engagement is something I've severely fucked up and undervalued in the past (and that I do regret). But her health scare woke them. They know not to take for granted the time she has left, and so to engage with her in that time, even if that requires patience with her old dog ways. I'm glad to see it, because she deserves the world—they all do, these animals we pledge ourselves to, but Jamie does in particular.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
In Corvallis, housesitting while my father is in Calfornia, meeting my mother at the tail end of a long stay in Texas. They'll be down there a few days, visiting friends; it's just Jamie and me in the meantime, hangin'.

Devon and I went round one in mission: tame the back pain last night. "Is it any better?" "Yes, actually." "It'll be worse tomorrow." And it was, starting when I woke at the end of my first sleep cycle at 3a, and I slept like shite on account. This battle with my back has been one of the toughest yet—in part just because the pain's been bad, in part because it's been going on for weeks now, in part because it's been one factor in many: exhaustion, maybe some depression, triggering (but good!) media, people I know with mental health and substance abuse issues, people I know with chronic pain issues, all of them filling my head to one whirling blur of problematic thoughts. But they are primarily thoughts; the only thing which is concrete is the pain—and even that is half as often phantom pain, a pain I can't feel directly but still know to be there because it effects me or just because I know. Writing about it seems insincere—like I'm appropriating other people's much more pressing issues, or dwelling on passing problems, or just making up problems entirely. Ten years in on this—my back problems started when I was abroad in England at sixteen; it terrifies me, in a way, that it's been so long—and I still don't believe it's real. On some level, I still think I'm faking it for attention or just because I enjoy being miserable. If I don't have rights to it, I certainly don't have rights to all the other thoughts, that blur. Before this trip I'd reached a point somewhere between resigned and angry, where I wasn't even trying to treat it anymore, I wasn't trying to do anything but watch TV and not think, but I was also taking these long walks despite a 80 degree heatwave, trying to pour all the agitation into blisters and sweat, trying to get so tired that I could actually sleep.

I don't know.

Today Jamie and I went for a walk. 60 degree weather, overcast and windy. Jamie's coming up on ten herself and often it's hard to tell, but man did all the uphills tire her. She's sleeping well, now. We went up a hilly residential street and into the Timberland forest, a walk I've made hundreds of times. I found sacred art in the woods, feathers tied a vine on a tree with bows of red fabric. They added a new road and residential development up that way about a year ago, and I hadn't been up there since, but to my surprise so much of the wilds are still intact—the field is gone, but the path beside it remains, and you can still walk in nature instead of beside a road. The wind was noisy through the tips of the pines; outside the forest, wild iris dotted the path. I felt grateful to be there. I ... haven't felt that in a while.

I really don't know. On one hand I'm full of thoughts about what it means to have a decade of chronic illness behind me (and a lifetime more to come!), and how I consider myself an alcoholic who's just never had a drink, and how ironic is that what keeps me from drinking is primarily that I'm too mentally ill to obtain alcohol har har har, and what it means to think about suicide, and if it changes things to admit that I think about suicide, and ... and. And yet I come here to a boyfriend that loves me beyond reason, and there is wind in the trees. I don't know how the two balance out, right now.
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
Christmas tree (family)

Every year it goes like this: We procure a tree (sometimes my parents have it when Allie and I come home for the holidays, sometimes Allie and I go with to get it—this year it was the former). Papa drags boxes down from the attic, wraps the tree in lights, and then wraps the tree in wooden cranberry garlands because they're my favorite Christmas decoration. I sort out ornaments and decorate the entire tree. When it's 95% finished, Allie puts her birth ornament in a special spot, Mum decides where her birth ornament should go and either Papa or I hang it, and then I put on finishing touches and fill in gaps. The end.

This year, Mum managed to sort all the Christmas stuff while I decorated, and we got rid of a few big boxes worth of the sort of kitschy stuff we don't like but have managed to collect—I hope it made someone at the local Goodwill happy. Last year I leaned red and gold with the decorations; this year, motley red, relying less on the sets of ornaments I love (the piles of wooden mushrooms and brass bells) to mix in more of the unique ornaments in our collection. It's a little more folksy than my usual taste, but I like the chance of pace. The tree this year is a Nordmann Fir, which was a joy to decorate.

So nothing special I guess but: hey look, a Christmas tree. (Fun game: count the Starbucks ornaments. There are more than a dozen.)

Jamie we are trying to take a picture of the tree. )

A close-up shot. )

Driving into town on Saturday—after my parents found the house, and met my cat, and briefly met Dee; after we picked up my sister and went out to Thai and got coffee; after we made the drive home—as we were reaching that point where you feel like you could almost walk home from here if you weren't so tired, we passed a side street and Papa and I glanced out the window and both did a "WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT WE ARE MAKING A LOOP TO SEE IT AGAIN."

A decorated house in Corvallis
That was this.

This is the sort of light display that makes the house across the street light up, too. And it animated. And it was set to music. Multiple songs worth of music. It was somewhere between awesome and horrifying, so one night when Devon and I were driving back from errands and dinner we went down the same road and I had him look down the same side street, and we did the same loop and then he got a video. Unfortunately we didn't get really audio, and it's blurry, and you should still watch it. )

Meanwhile, this is for Dee: Wizards in Winter. )

There's a newer, clearer version out there now, and I honestly do not care. The Wizards in Winter Christmas light display is my favorite YouTube video perhaps of all time, I watch it every year, and now so can you.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
I have a kitty again! She has already pinned me down for two cuddle sessions, and followed it up with a O.O LET US CHASE ONE ANOTHER AROUND THE HOUSE session. Now she's sacked out on my best pillow. I love her. Which is to say: I am back in Portland! My time in Corvallis was crazy busy—so busy that I decided to stay an extra day, that I would have time to simply relax and see my boyfriend.

Devon picked me up late on Friday, and then we drove to the Portland airport to pick up his friend Nathan, coming into town after a two-week vacation. Nathan may be my favorite of boy's friends—not that we're particularly close, but he's an all-'round good guy and I respect him. Great trip back as a result, but we got home late.

On Saturday I went into town with my father as planned. We hit the farmer's market with Jamie in tow, and it never fails to delight me to see how others interact with her: kids that actually ask to pet her! parents that ask if she's purebred, because they've never known a lab to be so soft. But I can feel it, these days, that Jamie is growing older. I see her less often; the changes are more obvious when I do. Her chin is white, she's both skinnier and flabbier without the allover sleekness of youth, she grumbles more. She's hardly dying but it's still a bitter thing. Old age was hard on Cokie, our last lab, and I feel death all around me these days (without dwelling, it was miserable to be in town and not have Madison there)—and I know that's an exaggeration, what with August in my life, but the impression remains and weighs on me.

Then we ran the dog and food home and returned for the Fall Festival. The theme this year was crows—not literally in any sense, but once I noticed them I never stopped. Last year we bought One for You from Barton DeGraaf; Murder of Crows was new this year, but we managed to walk away without a copy. I fell in love with Cameron Kaseberg's work; this is some of why, but the piece I want most to share with you isn't online. Papa was in search of three-dimensional outdoor art to decorate the back deck—an ongoing project that is finally nearing completion—and the best of what he picked up was a pecking crow from Cote Fine Sculpture (ours holds a red bead in its mouth). The artist's other work tend towards Wonderland-esque surreality; the crows meanwhile are surprisingly lifelike, with a fantastic feather texture. Unfortunately, we were at the Fall Festival through the hottest part of a sunny day, and I got my first sunburn of the year on the advent of autumn—of course. Eight hours of activity also wrecked havoc on my back.

On Sunday, Devon and I went over for a traditional family pancake breakfast. It was fantastically overcast and quiet, and I brought some muffins to leave with my parents. Sunday evening was a friend's birthday barbecue, which was—let us say: strange. I don't much miss my Corvallis acquaintances, but the social interaction was surprisingly pleasant for an evening, but I have no desire to do it again. It makes me want more social stimulation, and a more intellectual social circle—so the usual, I suppose, but the first reminder of its kind in some time.

On Monday, I dropped by the house around noon. I had some low-key time to talk with my mother, and it was fantastic. Our relationship has improved significantly in the last few years, and it may be conversations like those that I appreciate most: we had a tumultuous mother/daughter relationship, but we have a lot to say to one another as equals and I enjoy it. At half one, Papa and I swung by his place of work to do some paperwork, and he gave me a tour of his new job. He was working on the Halo project (video conferencing, not first person shooting) before HP sold it; now he's working with large-scale printing technology. He'd described it to me, but seeing it in person is different—in no small part (hah) because these beasts are huge. Room-sized huge. The scale is awesome; it could only have been better if I hadn't been in pain.

Between daily activity and poor sleep, and instigated by a particularly long Saturday, my back was miserable through the entire trip. Cocoa butter massages helped (and smelled fantastic, ohgod why did no one tell me), as did medication, by rights I should be resting now and will soon, but it seems largely resolved. Still: not a pleasant companion for a long weekend.

On Tuesday all we did was run an errand and go out to dinner, bless. I left for Portland early today, Wednesday. And now I have a week before I take a long train to San Francisco—but the panic about that trip has begun.

But I have a cat, and she loves me.

All in all: When I said I wanted to see my family, three days in a row was not quite what I had in mind—but a fantastic trip all told, in no small part because I discovered cocoa butter along the way. Nonetheless I am just as glad to be back. And now I can fall down, go boom.
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
The good news is that August missed me, and would like to celebrate my return with cuddles. It's not frantic behavior, she's just a little velcro'd and very fuIl of purrs. I was worried that she wouldn't care that I had left or returned, because I'm paranoid like that, and so I'm beyond relieved and it feels even better to come back to this home, to my city, to my babycat. The bad news is that it's about a thousand degrees outside, as summer would like to go out with a bang this year. But touching the black long-haired cat is still worth it.

I was gone because it was my birthday! I'm now 26. I went down to Corvallis last Tuesday evening. My sister is living with my parents for a few weeks before her semester abroad (in Italy) begins, so I was able to go home on my birthday, Thursday the 18th, and see everyone for homemade pizza and flourless chocolate torte. (I also renewed my driver's license on my birthday, the day it expired.) On Friday I went home for a briefer day visit, and picked out a few of my mum's quilts to hang in the Portland house. On Saturday Devon and I ran errands in the blistering heat, but now I have bedding and shoes on their way to me. I'm ridiculously excited for them, because they're a long time coming. The bedding is a birthday gift from my parents (and, depending on how much of it they decide to buy, the rest will be purchased with birthday money from my paternal grandfather and his wife), and it'll be a huge step towards pulling my Portland room together. The shoes are a longtime wish finally fulfilled (and none too soon, as my current shoes are dying)—they're Sketcher's Parties - Mate, and I sure hope I love them. I also came back with some BPAL, Boy's on-the-day birthday gift (as the big gift was August, who came just a bit early), a few books from Border's funeral party, and some chocolate that will probably be used for baking because by my lofty standards it's not fit to eat. On Saturday evening, Devon's family stuffed me full of chocolate cake. On Sunday morning, I took the train back to Portland.

This is my birthday torte. )

Candles on my birthday cake
And this is what happened to the candles in the 90 seconds they were lit.
It was pretty ridiculous, but hilarious. It's a good thing the wax came off easily once it had dried.

Also, Jamie says hi. )

I saw Jamie, and Woof, and Dude and Madison (and so help me if Madison isn't the size of a grapefruit—that cat is so small). I saw everyone, really, and went everywhere, and felt like I was doing nothing but eating celebratory food but I suppose there are worse evils than that. It was an unexpectedly busy trip, and a fantastic one, and I am just as glad to be back.

For my own records, my birthday gifts. )

And now it has grown too warm to be sitting here at the computer. Happy belated birthday to all my fellow Leos! For about as long as I can remember, about half my friends have been born in this fire time of the year, and we all get a bit swamped by the concurrance. But I had a great birthday—and I hope you did too.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
Tonight was the first night of Hanukkah. (Well, that was yesterday evening at this point, but precision is overrated.) With the cruise cutting my holidays short, I find myself in more of a holiday spirit than I am most years—preemptively making up for lost time, perhaps, or just trying to prove that I can enjoy myself despite the best efforts of fate to ruin the season. But everything is in disarray. Allie may not make it home until after Hanukkah, so we may have to light the menorah without her and reschedule gift opening to the 9th. Everything is foreshortened and hasty—most of my family doesn't even have wish lists, yet—and at the whim of schedules outside our control.

But I went home to light the first candle with my family. We haven't bought a new set of candles yet (another thing in disarray), so we scrounged through the remnants of old sets. These first candles were light blue—and beautiful with the brass menorah, bright flame, and deep blue night.

And it was a wonderful evening.

Jamie spent her day at the vet, getting some benign fatty lumps removed. Papa and I picked her up before lighting the menorah, and the vet tech warned us she would probably be dazed and disoriented, and maybe not even hungry—and Papa and I broke out laughing, and we were right, because when they brought her out from the back Jamie broke into dancing and wiggles to see her people, and then she hurried home to eat the food that had been denied her all day long. She was a little whiny and clingy, sure; she's in a bit of pain, and she will be for the next few days. But this is our Jamie. She's had two major surgeries and a few minor lump removals at the vet, and she's still happy to go there (the tech remembered her because "she really loves our cookies!"). She's overjoyed when she's returned to her pack, and even when she lies down for some pain-dazed rest she still wants you to hold her paw and look into her eyes.

This is family.

We're not big on the winter holidays. We celebrate so many of them that it spreads out and mixes into something mild and amorphous: gathering, a few symbols, some gifts, and everything pausing midway for my father's winter birthday. We don't couple our celebrations religion, and so there is no greater purpose than the gathering and the gifts. We rarely decorate the house for any occasion, and this year it doesn't even make sense to have a Christmas tree. Our schedule is all messed up, and we're all left a bit mixed up as a result.

That doesn't matter, really. We still come home to the most beautiful and loving dog (even if we have to go pick her and her sutures up from the vet), we light a beautiful menorah against the night, we spend some time as a family, we rearrange schedules to carve out more time. We gather. We give.

And yes, I wish I were staying here through the holidays, and how I wanted to follow [livejournal.com profile] sisterite's example and listen to The Nightmare Before Christmas while decorating the tree, and I begrudge the disruption. But it doesn't really matter. We gather, we give, anyway.

On the 10th, I'm taking the train up to visit [livejournal.com profile] century_eyes—she's been down to see me before, but this is my first time coming up to see her. Initially I was planning to make this trip in January, but Devon thought to change the schedule—and we was absolutely right. She'll open her doors to me and we'll gather, we'll give.

There are things I wish I could change, but there are some—a dog, a menorah, a friend—which I would not have any other way.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
I only answer this because the answers that have been appearing on my flist delight me.

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Woof (the dog): OMG! I love you. Touch me. Touch me more. Is it guinea pig time? OMG I think it might be guinea pig time! Let us pet the guinea pigs! Together! Hey are they gonna eat that?

Maidson (the cat): For I am great queen of the universe, and all lower beings must bow down to me. I think today shall be "sleep on the paper bag day." The paper bag does make beautiful noise, which delights my even-more-beautiful ears. Oh, hello. I didn't realize you were listening. Pet me?

Dude (the cat): I love you. I looooooove you. I love you more than I've ever loved everyone before. Pet me. Hold me. Allow me to climb upon you and shove my purring love in your face. I love you. You are my favorite person in whole world until someone else enters the room. Hold me...

Kuzco (the guinea pig): Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you, that's all I'm saying. Also: FOOOOOD! FOOD FOOD FOOOOOD TIME FOOD!

Alfie (the guinea pig): ...

Okay with Alfie I admit I'm stuck. I can't even pretend to imagine what Alfie is thinking, much less what he would say. I believe he thinks not in desires or thoughts as we know them, but in alien beeps and pauses—like Morse code, only undecipherable, and constantly punctuated by desires for carrots. So if he has words, it is a loud call for food. But the rest is nonsense not even Kuzco could understand.

Jamie (the dog): As far as we're concerned, James does talk in the best human-decipherable English she can manage in silence and as a dog.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
My parents this weekend were out of town this weekend, seeing plays, so I housesat and dogsat. It was good timing to be with the dog, because Jamie recently had a few lumps removed, one of which biopsied as cancerous. This is not halfway as bad as it sounds—it's not unusual for dogs her age and breed, she's starting some preventative medication, all in all this is mostly a early warning and she's going to be fine. But we all dealt with cancer in our last dog, Cokie, and that was tough on all of us—so we're pretty shook up. I was really upset when I first found out, but a few days spent cuddling with James has done wonders to calm me. It's not good news, but it's bearable news, news we can act on. And right now Jamie couldn't care less. She things her pills are treats, her sutures are healing fine, and as a dog will, as Jamie does, she is loving every single day.

And when you live every day with all your heart then you can be happy ever after, even if it's only a short time.
—Virgina Lewis, The 10th Kingdom

But I suspect she has many years more to go.

And I took pictures! I suppose that's a perquisite for dog visits. I'll admit that I love this first in part because of all the color in the background. The second is purely sunlit—when sunbathing, she glows. There are also a few pictures of some of the other animals in my life.

Jamie sleeping

+1 Jamie, +2 Dude and Madison, +3 Kuzco and Woof )

The weather has turned hot—unpleasantly so sometimes, but the animals love it. The cats (Dude is black and white, Madison is the tabby) enjoy the sunbeams almost enough to share the same breathing space—not something they often do. The pigs have been feasting on fresh grass and enjoying occasional trips outside, as per these pics of Kuzco outside. Woof thinks that this last is epic awesome: she's part sheepdog, and thinks the pigs are puppies; when they're outside, she runs circles around their cage and watches them eat. She can get a little overeager (I think all of the pigs have had an overenthusiastic dogtongue explore unwelcome places by now), but for the most part she's an angel with them.

It is warm, the earth is glowing, and while I am a fan of autumn myself it is so far a lovely summer.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
Every year, Jamie (my family's black lab) gets a wrapped present or two on Christmas. This is her, raiding her stocking and unwrapping one gift. (A direct link.)

Happy Holidays to all who celebrate. I hope yours are as wonderful as mine have been.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
I'm in charge of decorating the Christmas tree.

Papa puts up the tree and hangs the lights and the wooden cranberry beads; Allie hangs a couple of ornaments and Mum choses where to put her bell. But I pick the ornaments and hang most all of them—and I love it. Like wrapping presents, it's one of my favorite parts of the holiday season. This year, I went with a gold and red color scheme against a Fraiser fir. (The tree, by the way, is wonderful: we have a couple of heavy ornaments, but it's stiff upward branches handled them without difficulty.) Mixed in to the color scheme are a couple of the ornaments we put up every year: a set of porecelain teddy bears and cats, birth ornaments for Allie and myself, Papa's large collection of Starbucks ornamnets, Mum's bell, and in between a sprinkling of wooden mushrooms and golden bells.

I'm very happy with how it turned out. Therefore, I present Chirstmas picspam! Pictures of the tree, the gifts beneath (all wrapped by me), and a bonus picture of Jamie in her jingle collar. As always, click through for larger; for the full shot of the tree, click through for markers indicating specific ornaments.

Christmas tree detail

+3 Christmas pictures. )

Tonight was the first night of Hanukkah.

What you may not know of me: My mother was raised Catholic; my father, Jewish. My sister and I grew up with a cultural Jewish influence via my father's family (there's some more information here), and primarily celebrated Passover and Hannukah. We still celebrate Hannukah now, as a family. It's perhaps the best moments of the holiday season. Stripped of merchandizing, materializing, and decorating, it is simply a time of quiet and peace for us to gather as a family and light the menorah.

And tonight, the menorah was beautiful. (The reflection in the window, beside me and my camera, is my father.)

The menorah on the first night of Hanukkah
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
This time, I come bearing videos of Jamie, the family dog.

Jamie in the Sunlight
Much as promised.

I took these on my visit home the other day. James is stunningly photogenic, but the videos are a bit lacking in that my voice still runs in the background. Nevertheless, some of you might enjoy them, and I definitely plan to send them to my sister, who is away at college and misses Jamie. I can hardly blame her—she is the perfect dog.

So, without further ado: two videos. )

Anyway, I hope that you enjoy. I'm going to finish getting dressed, and then I'm off for my Thanksgiving: breakfast at my parent's house, assuming that the boy remembers to wake so that we may drive there.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)
Next: Jamie in a t-shirt. Jamie is the family dog: purebred black lab, just a few days away from her fourth birthday. She's our third dog, also third lab, but first black (the other two were chocolate). Very calm, well-trained, and in all ways the absolutely perfect dog. We lucked out with her. And what do we do to spoil the pretty puppy?

We put her in a lime-green t-shirt that Papa got for free at the Farmer's Market. Then we take pictures. Then we post them online.

This is our dog, Jamie.

We put her in a t-shirt. )

I promise to leave you people alone for a while now. I'll make a real post ... eventually, I suppose.


juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)

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