A Day in the Life

My days are long and exciting right now. A general weekday involves getting up near first light and commuting to work, about a half hour to forty-five minute drive in my EV. Most days it is cold and rainy. The sky is light by the time I arrive. What I do at work probably is relatively boring to most, but I honestly enjoy working with students and trying to make their lives easier best I can, whether it’s just listening to them or figuring out why they might not be registered into a class yet or talking with them about how to go on to get their degree. Mid-day I usually go on a walk, sometimes just to get some lunch; otherwise, if it’s relatively dry, to hike my old running trails around campus. Then I come the other way and arrive home just at dusk, though it is starting to almost be light by the time I get home. That’s about ten hours of my day right there. My last day at work is February 28th, and while I will really miss my coworkers, I am counting the days. I don’t like being in traffic or around big crowds of people. Yes, counting the days until life gets more rural. Some coworkers joined up last Friday night after work at a local brewery that we’ve been to a few times. It was a nice evening. One more good bye party is coming. I assume there will be cake and hugs.

We have both our cats on strict feeding schedules now. The older cat needs to eat more, so we feed him three times a day. He is becoming neurotic about this timed schedule, even though he gets more than he needs to eat. He needs to eat at 5:30 pm, and I usually get home slightly before that. It’s become kind of an annoying thing, where he just meows at us tremendously before it’s time for him to eat. I wish we could go back to free-feeding him, but our other cat would just eat too much food then. We feed her separately in the basement in a timed feeder. She always gets there first and, despite being a female, is the alpha cat in this household. She is not as whiny and is starting to lose weight–she had gained so much weight at one point. Funny that this cat feeding thing is such a big part of our day and that the older more neurotic cat is so picky now. I’m hoping when we move we can figure something out. I’d like to move the older cat back to free-feeding but keep our other cat on timed feeds, but do not know how to do this right now. Both cats are sweet as can be and super cuddly, though, and we love them so much.

Older male cat “Kitty” on the bottom and the younger female cat “Granny” when she was a little smaller on the top of the cat tree. They love playing in boxes, thus the box in the middle of the floor. She is bigger than him now, but he’s just all fluff and not that big, really.

Outside of work, I’m crazily writing on the novella now. It is taking over every part of me that isn’t thinking about our upcoming move. I am so psyched about it. It is devouring me. I guess maybe only writers could understand that feeling. It’s also got me under some kind of weird spell as if everything I have ever dreamed of writing is coming out in this piece of fiction. It has the old child me–my love for writing about islands–to the school year me when I loved reading about mythology, to the more adult me who has been exploring all these ecological tours in fiction and how many genres and approaches there are to writing them. The field is entirely diverse and blurring of genres, and I love being a part of it. I think that fiction is really a unique vehicle for telling stories about the natural world. Similar to any sort of art, it can speak to the heart and is not surrounded by jargon or dry facts or repetition. I guess there can be repetition; I’ve seen lots of novels come close to using similar stories, motifs, and structures in telling the climate story. But so many novels are freshly unique. I think we have to be careful to not repeat words or be too predictable in fiction as writers. We have to be careful to not sanitize the idea of climate change. Especially on Twitter, which is so limited in wording, I feel that my feed is full of everyone being angry (and rightly so) or being repetitive about this fiction or being predictable. It is the structure of Twitter, not the authors themselves. Most social media is really lacking, but I still use it, because I feel a need to lift the diverse voices of authors in any way at all possible. Comparing newsfeeds to actual writing of a story I love is like trying to compare apples and oranges. One is superficial; the other makes way more sense. Artists and Climate Change have a series of posts called Wild Authors, which syndicates my own monthly column on eco-fiction around the world at Dragonfly.eco. Maybe Ilija Trojanow said it well when he said in our interview, featured this month at AACC:

We lean back, munch popcorn and delight in the apocalypse. That’s pathological.

I guess that’s how I’m feeling. Climate change is not something to read or write about and then that’s it. We cannot separate ourselves from the unfolding events because they cease to be anything but words on paper or words in a Twitter feed. That separation is super strong, I feel.  I don’t feel there are significant enough words or phrases that adequately capture climate change. Lexicon books have been written too, but has that changed us? The phrase of “climate change” is saturated already. I love language, for sure, and new ideas. But short words do not equal the impact of stories. Phrases and quick ideas often become jargon and sterile and aren’t capable of truly breaking through the the varying stages of climate denialism, whether it’s people who think it’s a divine event caused by a god or that it isn’t happening at all or that it’s happening but who cares or that it is happening but is not caused by people. There’s another kind of denialism: that of those who agree it’s happening and is caused by humans but who live life as they always have. Some of the environmentalists I admired from the past, for instance, are rich elitists who have huge houses, fly all the time everywhere, and buy/consume way too much stuff.

My undead priest walking on water in search of fishing spots near the jungle

Onto other things. I had blogged a few months about playing World of Warcraft’s Classic game, which came back to reality in August last year. I quit playing due to not having that much fun compared to my time in beta as well as being upset that one of Blizzard-Activision’s game’s competitive players got banned and lost his earnings due to a statement he made about Freeing Hong Kong. The company got a lot of media backlash, but reverted their previous actions by paying the player finally and reversing his ban. I hate big corporations these days, most of them, anyway. It’s kind of crazy how we are almost forced to use them to do anything. Amazon, for instance. I’m under contract at my press to distribute books and e-books the best way possible, and to do it all privately would grant me no sales whatsoever. Anyway, I didn’t play the game for a few months and then in December or so decided to play again as I’d gotten a year’s free code from some employee I met in beta and had a subscription up through May of 2021. I started a new player from scratch, a horde undead priest, using the same nickname that referenced A Song of Ice and Fire’s Jenny of Oldstones. I thought lore-wise it just as meaningful that she be undead. Jenny’s song was about her dancing with ghosts, after all. A memory of a previous life. My previous character, wherein I didn’t like the realm or guild, was a night elf; some say that Jenny may have been a descendant from a child of the forest and a human. That’s the one I quit playing. Regardless, I’m not a roleplayer, but I’m still loving the game due to the exploration of the world and all the weird landscapes and lore. I finally hit max level, but have to slow down now due to moving soon and having to pack a few things we’ll ship and start getting other things ready to donate or sell/auction. The game has filled some of my freetime lately, and the new guild I’m in consists of players I’ve at least been acquaintances with for a very long time. And the guild is friendly, helpful, but also kind of smart-ass, which is okay by me. The big thing is that they do not allow racism or homophobia or any sort of political shit in chat or on their Discord. It’s a bannable offense, and trust me, the game itself has a lot of 8chan types these days, or stupidly ironical trolls that are not funny at all, so to be in a guild with like-minded individuals–and the server itself seems to be a better community than others–makes the community part of the game tolerable.

Anyway, now that I’m max level and have gone on my first raid, I can’t play as much.

Because we are deep into preparing to move.

Partial Google street view of the house we’re buying–behind the trees.

Morgan’s traveling to Halifax next weekend to do the inspection and put the down payment on a house. Our offer has been accepted, our finances approved, etc. I’m afraid still to get too excited, because I’m aware that things could happen. The owners may decide not to sell at the last minute. Maybe the inspection will show some big defect. But it doesn’t seem either of these things are too likely. I feel that I can safely say it’s almost 100% positive this is going to happen, with the knowledge there might be some weird thing that makes it not happen. If that is the case, we will find a different house and equally love life I’m sure!

The house has one main story, with a full basement. The previous owners custom-built the house 35 years ago, and have been the only residents, and included hardwood floors on the main story, along with ceramic tile in the kitchen and bathroom. They did this beautiful wood trim on the doors between the living room, kitchen, sun room, and dining room. Their decor (we saw the house when it was furnished with their stuff) was really overly flowery and frilly and not what our style is at all, but we could tell underneath that the house itself had a beautiful build. Our style is more plain. Rather than having a dainty dining room filled with china cabinets and dainty furniture (reminiscent of my mammaw’s), ours will have a farmhouse table with benches–which a local woodworker, whom I’ve already talked with, is making. His prices are really reasonable, and he’s throwing the benches in for free. We also plan to get a wood stove installed in the living room to help cut electricity costs and to heat in those extreme Halifax blizzards and/or windstorms when the power can go out for days. And we’re going to switch to solar panels either this year or next.

The fully finished basement of the house has various smaller rooms, which could serve our needs as tiny bedrooms or office spaces or whatever–though my office space is one of the two bedrooms on the main floor that has a window overlooking the acreage in the back. Since we have family over a lot, extra rooms come in handy. Of course, now that we will be in Nova Scotia rather than British Columbia, we may have family visit less, but family and friends from both sides cannot wait to come visit. There’s nothing I like more than having a house full of people. One of the basement rooms will most certainly be the “cat room” where the litter box is and that kind of stuff. The laundry room in the basement leads outside, as the ground is lower there than in the front of the house, and has a pathway to what they call a “summer house,” which is really just a double-garage that they used during the summer for a man cave or something. It has a small shed nearby as well, where we can store firewood.

The backyard consists of about an acre. A deck above overlooks it. One half of it that’s closer to the house is landscaped with some topiary bushes and other plants encircling a bird bath. While I thought maybe I could call this a fairy circle and maybe like it, I don’t like such manicured landscapes, preferring more natural stuff. I want to dig up the bushes and other plants circling the bird bath and make something more natural there. I’ll have to see if that area gets a lot of sun; if so, I’ll make my garden in part of that area or just plant some bee grass. Another idea is having a space to put out some long tables and string some lights for outdoor parties. Part of that landscaped area also includes some apple trees, which I love. The other half acre in the back has nothing at all, just grass. It looks like there might be a fire pit back there, but that’s it. It edges up to a strand of forest that has a road on the other side and then a big lake. We’ve had fun dreaming about what to do with this area in the back. One idea is to dissemble this gazebo from the front yard and put it back together back there. We also want to plant more trees. We thought about planting some hybrid poplars back there,  because they grow fast and we could use for firewood when needed. I’ve been so enamored by author Jeff VanderMeer’s yard posts on Twitter; he and his wife built a wildlife sanctuary out in their yard. I don’t know if they call it that, but the yard is attracting foxes, a raccoon that actually rings their doorbell, all kinds of birds, etc. I really want to do something similar.

The front yard is also quite large, probably another half acre (the house has 1.55 acres in all, so it’s just a guess). From street view I can see what looks like a cedar-type of bush, a couple oaks, and some maples in the front yard. I love oak trees, so am really excited about that. We’ve dreamed of tapping the maples and making maple sugar too.  There’s also a small deck in front of the sunroom, which is going to have to suffice as my dream front porch. I’m sure I’ll put a settee out there or something. There’s a path leading down from a small parking area in the front. The path has an area with like a wooden arch over it, and there’s also a bird bath out front there. We’ll likely not park up by the front, by the road, because we always plug in our car after driving it. A separate private driveway goes down to the double garage / summer house / whatever. Between  the sunroom and road (which is lined by trees so that in the summer you cannot really see the house when the trees are green), there is a gazebo, where they’ve had weddings before.

When I talk about this house it may seem expensive and fancy, and the land sure is cool and the features on the land are unique, but the house is not too expensive. I think the reasoning for the cheaper cost is that it is a bit further out from Halifax than all the subdivisions, and even though a bus route is nearby, the house itself does not have that “location” aspect that most people want. We do not want that convenient location thing. though. The house still has municipal water and sewage, but is way more rural than other areas people are seeking to buy, it seems. I actually got on street view and went down all the streets and roads and toward the lake, and there are houses around, but they are spread out some and in the summer and spring it is absolutely beautiful. It kind of reminded me of when we up camping at Saltery Bay in BC on the coast a few years ago, and then went up to Powell River.

I guess this is part of my day in a life–making plans for our move and dreaming of the years to come in our new abode as well as saying good bye to friends here and making those last-minute plans to get together.

I’ll be leaving Vancouver around March 12. I’m doing a few days of a layover in Chicago to visit family, then heading up to take possession of the house.

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