Today I celebrate my 49th birthday

Okay, maybe celebrate is too strong a word for it. I must admit that with each passing year, there is a little less hair on the top of my head and the hair that I do have is either turning white or coming out of my ears and other places I would rather not go into. Additionally, I recently went to see my doctor a few months ago for some sorenesss in my knees and elbows plus a few other things that seemed to make the trip worthwhile, I get the “James, you’re getting of an age…that arthritus may be a real thing you have to start dealing with.” Seriously! Like, I’m only 49. Those issues are for old people…and I am certainly not that – right? Then I had to take a moment to be honest with myself. In my own mind, I am not old but our bodies age differently and although to look at my clean shaven face + goatee, you might think I was just 40 or in my late 30’s, stop laughing, i’ve been told. Okay yes, they could have been lying to me but whatever. As I was saying before I was so rudely intereupted, i’ve had to deal with a myriad of issues that have, in my opinion, aged me physically more than I should have aged. This is not to say that I stop doing the things I like to do but rather am more accepting of my ability to do those things and feel good that i can still do them. Those of you who were once a twenty-something and able to do a thing at a high level and now find yourself on the wrong side of whatever age but are not able to no longer those things or can’t do them at the same level understand what I am talking about.

So, today is my birthday and today I feel pretty good. I am grateful that I can still do most everything a younger me could do, if not as well, but still. But where the body declines, the mind excels. Today I am wiser (don’t laugh), more empathetic, understand the value of friendship and still look forward to waking up each and every day. It wasn’t always so…

It was more than a year ago that I started feeling overwhelmed by pretty much everthing. I was working a part-time job until my own business took off and offered the financial freedom I hoped it would, until it didn’t. Late last year I made the choice to close Greenleaf Enterprises LLC and figure out this next chapter in my career life.I lost my self confidence and started going to a dark place. Eventually I saw a counselor. For about a year or more we talked about anything and everything but I just didn’t feel like myself. Ultimately my doctor, counselor and myself agreed that it would be in my best interest to go on anti-depressants.

Fast forward to now and today I wake up to see (via email message) that a bunch of people had posted on my Facebook Timeline (a place I almost never go and only am there to link this blog to it). It’s a day like this when people that you may not see or talk to regularly take the time to say nice things to and about me that I look forward to waking up each day. So, to all of you that wished me a happy birthday, Thank you so much. It means so much that you reached out. It also insentivises me to be a little more communicative for my own part.

I know that this post is a giant rant/stream of consciousness but that is where my headspace is right now. If you read this and would like to get in touch, please send me a note. I would love to hear from you.

Peace be with you!

More to come…

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Happy and Sad News

As some of you may recall, a few months back on April 1st, my family suffered the loss of our beloved dog Undie. No joke! This was a huge hole in our lives and hearts and struggled to fill the void created by his sudden passing. To that end, my wife was continuously checking out all the shelters around town. Eventually we started going to a few of them, not really intent on adoption just yet but sort of getting used to the idea of another four-legged friend.

Eventually we did find a dog, named Jody, that we would adopt. She was shy at the shelter, had just been spayed and had a UTI that we needed to address immediately. She is a mix of yellow lab and other. The other has been speculated to be greyhound or whippet. Not that it matters much, as she is really fantastic. We have been getting to know her and all her eccentricities as well as she learning ours.

For the time being, after we got her, we kept our cat Herc and the newly named Kona separated by a baby-gate just so there weren’t any misunderstandings. Since the dog formerly known as Jody was turned in as a stray wondering the streets somewhere in California, we didn’t know if she was packing heat or armed with blades. Hey, you never know.

Things went smoothly like this for a couple weeks when on a Thursday morning while eating breakfast next to Herc, as I do on the days I’m not working, he decided to get up and nearly fell. He walked as if he was drunk, bumping into the walls and things. As it turns out, Herc, whose straight up ornery-ness, had kept him going into his late teens, was now taking his last steps.

I stayed with him and made him comfortable until he passed early Saturday morning. He was at home surrounded by those that loved him in a place he was familiar with and had made his home for the past three years.

He had come to us after my mom passed away in 2015 while my sister was in the hospital and then recovery. Since then we added him to our family which wasn’t the easiest since we already had another cat, Axle (yes named after Foley), and our dog Undie (Underdog). We didn’t know how any of them would react but since Herc had been in the family for many years we couldn’t see giving him to a shelter if we could offer him a home.

Herc never had it easy and it seemed was always in a scuffle because he was the outsider coming into some other pets home disrupting things. It was like that when I got him for my mom back between 2000-2002 from a coworker at PlaceWare named Debbie A. He entered a home with other cats and scuffles broke out. Later he would come to us and more scuffles broke out. Oh, and there was a fire at the apartment building my mom and sister lived at which precipitated their move. To say it wasn’t an easy life for Herc would just about sum things up. It would also be fair to say that he was loved by those that took him in.

Every pet, in my experience, will develop unique, sometimes quirky habits or affectations that endear them to us. For me, it was the way Herc would meow without making a sound. It was, I like to think, his way of speaking in code for me to come over and sit by him and watch his back while he slept or ate. He was also fond of sleeping on my stomach while I watched television.

In all the time Herc has been apart of the Nutt family, he has been an exclusively indoor cat. A few months ago we completed work or nearly had completed the landscaping in our backyard and thought we would let Herc explore a little if he dared. And dare he did. He would soon be making dashes for the door leading outside whenever it was opened.

Initially he would venture out on the path, stop, and then start meowing. Later he would walk a circuit around the yard like he was on patrol. I like to think this was a joy for him in the last months of his life.

It is at times like these that we are hurt so much by a loved pet that I ask why we keep doing this and the answer always is the same; because the amount of sadness and sorrow are minuscule compared to the immeasurable joy they bring to our lives.

I’ll wrap up by saying that if you can open your home and heart to a pet, do it, you will not regret it.

Peace be with you.

More to come…

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Road Trip 2018 – Days 3-10

Obviously time has slipped somewhat through my grasp in terms of being able to keep some of it to write during. So…instead of writing an entry for each day like I had originally wanted to, I’m instead going to do a brief outline of all the days’ events and share pics below. The pics will likely be in an order not corresponding to the actual date but you will be able to follow along I’m sure.

Day 3 – Drove to and stayed in Glacier National Park all day, visiting among other places, Lake McDonald Lodge. This was a grand old lodge built around the turn of the century in the Austrian stylings. As we walked around the lodge property, ground squirrels were everwhere. They run along the ground like a cat or ferret instead of the traditonal squirrel that kind of sproings (yes, like a Tigger) and make the cutest little sounds while they’re standing on their hind legs.

Later we drove to the South side to a place called Goat Lick Overlook…and yes, we did see a mountain goat.

Later on we drove over the continental divide to East Glacier Park Village and Two-Medicine. Gotta love the names, so descriptive.

Day 4 – Once again we hopped in the car and drove along Hwy 93 until we hit Cranbrook where we stopped in at a Thai restaurant for lunch. Both our lunches were damn spicy noodle dishes. So good.

Today was also the day we had to get back into the park with a pass from two years ago that we no longer had. The scoop as it goes initially takes place two years ago when we took a road trip to this very national park. We purchased a two-year pass for the national park as we believed we would be visiting again within that time frame. We believed the pass was still in the glove-box with all the other papers from our earlier time, including our resort booking details that showed we had indeed been here two years ago and had to pass through the checkpoint and purchase a pass.

As we could not produce our pass we thought we were going to need to buy another for the few days we were going to be in and out of the park. The attendant was very apologetic and said there wasn’t anything she could do for us. Resigning ourselves to the purchase of a new pass, the attendant spontaniously called her boss and explained the story…and low and behold, was told to write us a pass for the 5 days we were going to be staying. That was so fantastic. People here in Canada have, by and large, been SO nice. My wife and I have been doing our best to represent the US in the same light.

Day 5 – Today was a drive from the resort in Canmore to Peter Loughheed Provincial Park then to Spray Valley Provincial Park in Kananaskis (Cannon-ass-kiss or alternatively rhymes with banana with skis tacked on the to the end). While driving we did see a fox running along next to the highway with what appeared to be a freshly caught ground squirrel in its mouth.

Day 6 – We drove to Lake Louise and back. While we were at the lake, puttered around and took pics. It was so beautiful. The air was oddly very warm. I was out in just a t-shirt and was very comfortable.

Day 7 – Today’s drive consisted of touring around Bow River and Deadman Flats (again – gotta love the names – also…this is where the Revenant was filmed in large part). We did manage to see a whole mess of mountain sheep along the side of the road and up the mountain side.

Day 8 – We drove to Jasper today. Along the way we did see 2 black bears and 1 grizzly. The hump right behind the shoulder blades gives it away as a grizzly. That was exciting to say the least. We also stopped at the Athabaska Glacier within the Icefields Parkway. It was a bit of a hike to get to the Toe of the glacier but it was worth the thin air and uneven footing. Also, the fields just below the glacier are almost entirely loose rock, the perfect place to stack them upon one another. Once you see the pic, you will understand. There were dozens of them ranging in height from just inches tall to maybe 6-7 feet! It was so bizarre and great all at the same time. The selfie of me with the big fuck-all glacier in the background doesn’t really do the glacier justice to illustrate just how big the glacier still is. Yes, I said “still” because of the climate getting warmer, the glaciers are all melting. I think the information I read about this one said it was be gone in the next 100 years. So sad.

Day 9 – Today was the big travel day. We drove to Whistler stopping at every place that offered up a wonderful pic. Not to say we stopped every five minutes, no, most of the pics were taken from the car but sometimes you just have to get out of the car to take in the beauty for more than just a few passing seconds you get while driving. It seemed like just around every bend was another beatiful landscape. Sometimes they were covered in trees, other times they were rocky and craggy. It took us between 9 hours and eternity of driving to arrive in Whistler.

We were in time to see the second half of the NBA Finals game four match-up between the Warriors and Cavaliers.

We also did manage to see a moose in a field about a hundred yards (or meters since we’re in Canada – I know the conversion isn’t exact but yoou get the idea) off the hwy.

Day 10 (Today) – We walked through Whistler Village. Just a big open-air mall really but pretty cool all the same. As we wondered we came out to the ski-lift area that now was taking mountain bikers and their bikes up to the trails that had been made especially for them. It was amazing to see so many people be into down-hill mountain-biking. I guess I don’t run in those circles. All in all, it was pretty cool.

We also drove around some of the small lakes around the resort. One inparticular that was amazing was Lost Lake; it literally had tens of thousands of tadpoles at the waters edge. It was amazing…and a little creepy if I’m being honest, but mostly amazing, mostly.

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Road Trip 2018 – Day 2

I realize that my first post for this series was a bit on the light side in terms of detail and exciting adventure stories, but hey, you get what you get. 😉

One of the great pics we got today was a heard of buffalo. Pretty good size too. We think that they weren’t wild but were some ranchers whose land butted up against the roadway.

Today we drove from Idaho to Missoula (Montana) where we ate lunch at the Catalyst Cafe. The building was an old timey structure that was once something else and was nice serving time as a cafe. It was super cool seeing the old moulding along the edges and phones in the back of the establishment. The food was fantastic. My wife had a hero sandwhich and cup of clam chowder. She said both were delightful. I had a chicken-bacon club sandwhich and cup of tomato soup. The sandwhich was wonderful but the real rockstar was the tomato soup. It was literally quite possibly the best tomato soup I’ve ever had. I think the secret ingredient was butter.

For dinner we stopped in at the Great Northern Bar & Grill located in Whitefish. First of all, I need to explain that the GNB & G was like an actual Road House you would see in the movie of the same name. There were locals hugging, loud music, great food and beer nary a beard in sight. I was definitely overdressed in that regard. Oh, plus everyone wore a baseball cap and (I swear this happened) was eyeballing me for not wearing one. I’m sure I am just imagining this but it seemed that way. Finally, everyone we met was super nice. People in Idaho and Montana rock. Just sayin’.

We stayed the night in Columbia Falls.

Total miles driven and drive time was 397 miles/7 hours 51 minutes. We took the scenic route. We’re on vacation after all.

Here are a few pics in no particular order:

Peace be with you!

More to come…

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Road Trip 2018 – Day 1

My apologies for not getting this out to you sooner; my wife and I had been doing so much driving in the last several days seeing the sights that I didn’t take the time to sit down and share anything about our journey. So, without much ado, I give you day one:

Thursday morning we got up early, ate, packed the car and promptly headed for McCall, Idaho where our lodgings were located on Payette Lake.

The distance was roughly 456 miles and took about 7.5 hours. That was a pretty good days worth of drive right there.

Let me state right here for the record, that Idaho is beautiful. Similar to Oregon with its own distinctive features for contrast but with more craggy/mountainy hills. (Yes…I did say mountainy – sue me!) Lots of agriculture and livestock farms dotted the landscape more often than not it seemed. Truly stunning.

The day itself was a bit on the cloudy side but the pics I hope represent the the diversity of landscape outside the little slice of Oregon known as Portland, where my wife and I reside. After we arrived at our lodgings for the night, we cracked open some cold ones and settled in for some basketball.

Not much more to tell so let me wrap this up with this; If you ever get the chance to travel, DO IT! You wont regret it at all. There is so much to see and do outside our own cosims that we often don’t do or see. I want to have lived my life with the mantra “remember when” instead of “I wish I would have.” I got to tell ya, I’m not a young man (not really an old one either despite what my aches and pains say to the contrary) and am trying to make up for lost time when I was a young man and not doing as much of the things I truly enjoy. I guess it took me getting married to a wonderful woman to show me how much I love to travel. Thank you Sweety!

Here are a couple pics of day one:

Peace be with you!

More to come…

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I say farewell…

To my beloved dog Undie, truly the best dog ever. Sadly, I must express that the Underdog passed away Monday the 2nd. He was in his dog bed with Jessica at his side when he died. It was sudden and unexpected and was not in any pain.

I know that everyone says that their own pets are “fill in the blanks” and I believe that to be true. I think there is something about a dog that is so selfless that it’s hard not to think of them as the ultimate in animal companionship.

Undie was a rescue dog whose previous owners did not take care of him very well. He had to overcome so much before he could trust and allowed to be the great dog he always was. The question I ask is “Did my wife really rescue him or did he rescue those that come to know and love him?” I like to think of it as the latter.

While figuring out Undie’s quirks over the years I found that I had grown to love him. No mean feat considering I grew up with cats as a child and after my own cat passed when I was 25 decided not to own another pet. It was just too painful when they passed away… or so I thought. I realized that the pain we feel or rather I felt at their passing was all the love I had for the animal expressing itself. Fortunately my wife had three pets when we met; two cats and a dog (Manu and Axle and Undie). It was either get on board in accepting them as part of the family or hit the road. 12 years later…i’m pretty sure I made the right choice.

So with the passing of Undie, he joins his other house mates Manu and Axle as well as two members of Dog-Nation, Lily and Ruby. They were all so special. It will be hard to move forward but as life moves forward, so will I in the pain I feel so keenly at Undie’s passing.

My wife Jessica put it very simply, “Undie taught you how to love dogs.” Truer words were never spoken.

I apologize if this posting isn’t very coherent or follows a reasonable thought process. I still am struggling with him not being here, following me into every room where he would lay down in his dog bed while I worked or watched t.v.

Here are some of the things I will miss about you Undie:

  1. Our daily walks around the block where you peed 57 seven times and smelled everything in site.
  2. Your absolutely perfect “Good-dog” behavior when waiting for a treat.
  3. Your dog smile – c’mon people, if ever you owned a dog, you know what I am talking about.
  4. The way you “snuck” onto the couch when we left a room or how you greeted us when we came back from a quick trip out knowing that you had been on the couch the entire time we were gone.
  5. The way you belly-crawled onto our sleeping bags when we were camping.
  6. The howl you let out when you were in the backyard and we just came home from work.
  7. The way you played dog-ball with yourself, tossing the ball or anything really, into the air and then chasing after it.
  8. The way we played with the tennis ball in the front room.
  9. Your dog-kisses.
  10. The way you got excited when I grabbed the leash to go for a walk.
  11. The way you sneezed on command for treats when I asked you to.
  12. The way you found the most disgusting thing on the beach, usually dead, to roll around on.

I think that will do for now. I’m sure there are more but these are the ones that come most to mind.

Here are a few pics of all the members of our family I mentioned in this post.

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Storm King’s Thunder

What a massive campaign. I can’t say enough about the amount of detail placed into the book, almost too much in some ways. I guess it’s assumed that all player characters aren’t Murder-Hobos and that dialoguing with various monsters might occur, and thus everyone gets a name. Kinda funny when the characters kill a goblin and I remark something to the effect, “‘Ol Gum Gum screams briefly before he dies all too quick from your mighty sword stroke to the neck.”

Plan for lots of time to prep for this campaign and don’t be afraid of “guiding” the characters asking so they aren’t wading in the weeds and thus making it boring for them.

Here’s how I prepped today…

Prep is made a little easier with some beer.

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