R.I.P. Luke Skywalker Cross

…our very good boy
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The first iteration of Luke Skywalker Cross has exited the stage.

Today at 11:30, our vet relieved Luke of his pain.

Although plagued with several health problems, including slow growing carcinomas, arthritis and Cushing’s Syndrome, Luke was in pretty good shape this last year, and in good spirits right up to the end.

Luke came into our lives when he was 8 years old. His previous owner had died and he ended up on the street. When Animal Control found him, he had been hit by a car and was near starvation. He spent several weeks in the hospital and then a month waiting for somebody to adopt an older dog.

We were that somebody.

Luke was with us for 3 years and not quite 3 months. Only Daisy Ann had a shorter time in our family. We will miss our boy, but we are glad his pain is ended.

Goodbye, Luke. We love you. You were a good boy.

Halloween XXIII: The Return Of Michael Myers’ Cousin’s Roomate’s Cat

…insert spooky piano music and meow here

I did not plan for this to go up on Halloween, as it is neither spooky or funny, but this is how things work out. I’ve been meaning to write about this for years.

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The Final Goodbye

Let me preface this by saying that I do not at all believe in the supernatural, from the existence of ghosts to God. I don’t believe in any of it. Dead is dead.

That being said, I do understand I could be wrong and would be interested in any concrete scientific evidence to the contrary. So far, none exists.

What I do believe in, backed up by mountains of scientific evidence and personal experience, is that the human mind deals with strong emotions in endless ways.

The emotion I’m going to talk about is grief and how my mind deals with it.

And I’m specifically talking about grief after losing a non-human companion.

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ROSCOE


In 2005, our first dog, Roscoe, died. He was old for a basset, nearly 16, and had health issues that only got worse in his last couple of years. His death was not unexpected, but still hit us very hard.

It was 18 months before we felt ready for another dog, at which point we adopted Daisy Ann (November 2006). A month later, we adopted Winker Sue (December, 2006). They filled a huge hole in our hearts.

In that 18 months before we adopted Daisy & Winker, I thought about Roscoe often, but I never had a dream about him or really felt that final moment where you really let go. I just sort of rolled along. After we got The Girls, I thought about Roscoe somewhat less often. I was dealing with two rowdy dogs and life and such.

But in February of 2007, just before I was due to go to Dundracon, I was sitting in the living room late at night when it happened. I was very tired and had just looked at The Girls sleeping in front of the TV when I saw something out of the corner of my eye.

It was Roscoe. The front door was open a foot or so and he gave me a doggy smile and a little woof. Then I heard him say, “You’ll be okay now, boss. I’m outta here.”

Then he walked out the door, which shut behind him.

I jumped in my chair, no doubt coming fully awake. Everything was totally normal. The Girls were still sleeping, the tv was still on the Food Network and the house was otherwise quiet. At that point, I felt tears running down my face and said “Goodbye, Roscoe”.

From that point on I felt a weight lifted from me. I still thought of the old boy, but I wasn’t sad. Even on the first anniversary of his death, which is always terrible, be the deceased human or NHT, I was not as sad as I expected to be.

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DAISY ANN


Fast forward a bit less than two years and we lost Daisy Ann to cancer. She was just over 6 years old and Grace, Winker and I missed her. I had been taking nightly long walks, sometimes up to 5 miles, with Daisy and I called her My Old Walking Partner. After she died in early January, 2009, I stopped taking nightly walks. My heart was not in it and Winker was not inclined toward long walks.

But after about 3 months, I decided to start taking walks again. For a couple of weeks, I avoided the streets that Daisy and I walked, but one night I set off on our favorite walk, just to see how I’d handle it.

I got about 4 blocks from home, at the intersection where we usually paused to decide which route to take, when I got the very distinct feeling that a dog was beside me. I looked down and just for a fraction of a second, saw a black & white blur turn down one street. I did not hear a voice, but I got the overwhelming feeling that I was supposed to keep walking while Daisy went off on another route.

I walked for well over an hour non-stop, crying for the first few minutes. After that night, I felt okay about taking walks in that area.

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WINKER

Winker was born with a pretty bad heart murmur and when we adopted her at age 2+, the vets from UC Davis told us she would never live the average 10-12 years that bassets usually do. We accepted that and loved her very much. She was our little one eyed sweetie.

In 2011, she nearly died from congestive heart failure, but with medication and love, she pulled through. However, the vet told me that her time was limited, with maybe one more year. As it turned out, she died just a few days over a year later, going downhill rapidly over about 3 days.

When Winker died in February of 2012, we had had Lucy for almost 3 years and Sasha for 2 months. That and knowing that Winker was on borrowed time tended to lessen the hurt. Having been through what I now called “The Final Goodbye” twice, I waited for Winker to do hers.

And I waited. And waited some more.

It was 6 months later, in August, that it happened. It was a Saturday morning and I was sleeping in. Grace was out on some errand and Sasha & Lucy were asleep in the living room. Then I felt a dog lick my hand (which was hanging off the edge of the bed) and I heard Winker’s distinctive whine. I was waking up when I heard her happy bark. Of course, she was not there, but I still cried a bit.

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LUCY LOUISE

 

Lucy was a mental mess when we got her. I have written about that before, so I won’t go into it here, but by the time she died from lymphoma, in August of 2013, she was much better. She had issues with most other dogs, but she loved Grace and I like crazy.

We had about 4 months to come to terms with her impending death, but of course, it is never easy. The fact that we adopted Daisy Mae just a few days after Lucy died did a huge amount toward healing us.

About two weeks after she died, I saw a dog that looked very much like Lucy at the dog park. For a variety of reasons, I had taken Sasha and Daisy there early in the morning and for even more reasons, I was about 3 days into some seriously shitty sleeping at night. I was pretty tired and a bit punchy and I still missed Lucy.

Turns out, that was the perfect formula for that dog to sort of morph into Lucy, but a happy and unafraid Lucy. She was running and barking having a great time. It lasted maybe 30 seconds and then I blinked and that dog was not Lucy, but I felt pretty happy. Sad, too, and still punchy, but happy. I took The Girls home and had a 5 hour nap.

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Update from October 15th, 2019
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Silky Dawn
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It took just a bit less than 10 months, but early in the morning on September, 8th, 2019, Silky said her final goodbye. It was around 4:45 in the morning and, like all weekday mornings, Grace was up and tending to Sasha & Luke. As often happens, the dim sound of her talking to them in the living room woke me part way up. I was in that sort of hazy state of not quite sleep when I felt my hand on her head. Silky’s fur was longer, thicker softer than any of our other bassets, and the fur I felt was hers. I rubbed her ear for a moment, then heard her say, “I’m sorry about Daisy, Daddy. I love you.”

Then I woke up, crying and missing my girls terribly. After a few minutes, I fell asleep again. When I woke up at 9:00 am. I felt a bit sad, but also glad to know I had dealt with Silky, at least partially. In 5 days, it will be the first anniversary of her death, and I think maybe it will go somewhat easier than previous first anniversaries.

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So that leaves Daisy May. I’m not sure I’ll get a final goodbye from her before the one year mark. Unlike any of the other dog’s, I feel guilt over her death. It is almost certainly unwarranted, but it’s there. I feel pretty certain that her goodbye will help with me getting over the guilt, but it’s going to be a battle of two sides of my brain until then.

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Update from November 16th, 2019
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Luke died about 6 weeks ago, on November 2nd. His health had declined rapidly due to Cushing’s Syndrome, so our vet did the right thing by him. Losing three dogs in just shy of a year has done a number on Grace & I, so I have no idea how long it might be before our boy says his final goodbye.

Module Q-2: Lair Of The Rare Were-Bear

…for 6 to 10 adventurers of level 8-10

 

CritterCon 11

Trip Day Two (By Luke)

Hi there! Luke here, with your Day Two report, and what a day it was.

We all got up around 7 this morning and had a truly legendary breakfast provided by our KitchenBots, Julia, Jacques and Alton. No matter what species you are, the kitchen staff makes sure you have plenty to choose from. Misty and I had steak & kidney pie and some scrambled eggs.

After breakfast, Dad told us we had about an hour before we got to our first stop, so while the humans sat around drinking tea or coffee and chatting, we critters hit the Slide Room. Now that the room is about 4 times larger than before, there are long stretches where you can hit 75 miles an hour! There are also double helix loop de loops that will seriously test your ability to hold down the great breakfast you just had.

(Silky: Next time, let’s wait a couple of hours.)

(Janet: Or we could just go play in the Shoe Room.)

45 minutes of sliding was enough for everybody, so we went to join the humans to find out what Dad had chosen for our first stop.

That stop turned out to be The World Famous (you saw that one coming, right?) House of Doors.

(Leon: Well, at least it wasn’t the House Of Human Heads or Petrified Turds or some other crazy stuff.)

Yes, it’s a big Victorian house up on a hill just past the top of the Grapevine (that’s what they call Interstate 5 as it comes up over the mountains into the Los Angeles basin) and it is indeed constructed completely out of doors. Front doors, garage doors, interior doors, barn doors, security doors, sliding glass doors and even doggie doors. It looks goofy from the outside, but inside, it’s a pretty ordinary house. That was kind of a letdown, but you still had to admire the ingenuity of Rex Hollister, the guy who built the place back in 1966.

(Daisy: Why don’t these nutty humans build hospitals or orphanages instead of screwy houses?)


Once we were done buying the requisite bumper stickers and such, we all piled back into the Bus and headed into that strange and bizarre land known as Greater Los Angeles. We were about 90 minutes from our next stop, so Dad put on a movie from this Earth. It was “Monster X” (1948 RKO) and starred Boris Karloff as the good guy and Lon Chaney Jr as the deranged madman who gets infected by an ancient fungus and grows into a 15 foot tall monster that ravages Los Angeles. It ran 85 minutes and wasn’t a bad movie.

(Misty: I just love old monster movies!)

In a rather rare departure from Dad’s usual strange taste in roadside attractions, our second stop was the Museum of Television Costumes in Burbank. After paying the reasonable rate of five bucks per, we all went in and saw a ton of costumes. Most were pretty ordinary suits and dresses from the late 1940s to the present, but there were plenty of costumes from sci fi and fantasy shows, along with stuff from westerns and medical shows and other genre TV. We spent about an hour there.

Next up was a stop just 10 minutes away and it was another Giant Jesus. However, this Giant Jesus was strictly from Hollywood because he was all dressed up like some studio PR weasel. White suit, big smile, sunglasses and well styled hair, he could not have been more SoCal unless he had a surfboard.

(Silky: I thought Daddy would start crying when he saw it.)


The statue is 100 feet tall and very well built. An elevator can take 10 people up into the head to get a really great view of Griffith Park. Dad was very impressed and left a 20 buck donation on the way out. He even bought a little dashboard version of that Jesus and put it on the dashboard next to Mr. Spock and the 3rd Doctor.

(Max: That is high praise from Mister C.)

We didn’t drive too far when Dad stopped at Red and Ed’s BBQ Burger Joint. We got in just before the lunch rush and had some great burgers, fries and shakes.

(Goldie: Say what you will about humans, but dang, can they cook up great food!)

(Sasha: Dude, wait until we hit a Texas BBQ joint.)

As we were leaving, I’m pretty sure we boggled several people who saw 23 humans (all of us NHT were in human bodies) climb into a small ice cream truck.

(Penny: One lady dropped her milkshake.)

Our next stop was all the way out in Long Beach and since it was almost one o’clock, we needed to get out there ASAP. As usual, the combined minds of Dad, Sasha and our quantum mechanic, Joe, came up with the answer.

By now, most of you have at least seen the trailer for “Ant Man and The Wasp”, so you probably have an idea what happened next. Dad pulled a stickshift looking lever back and suddenly, the Bus was the size of a shoe box and rocketing along at 90 miles an hour. Thankfully, Mom did not find this out until we got to our destination. When she did find out the answer to “how did we get here so fast?” she was not amused.

(Sadie: “Not amused” is British level understatement.)

(Sasha: Yeah, she ripped us new asses.)


Our Long Beach destination was a real mind blower: Uncle Ferdy’s Trained Squirrel Review! Yes, folks, this Earth has an Uncle Ferdy and the show is even better than the one in our world. We all paid ten bucks and watched some really talented squirrels, as well as some chipmunks, prairie dogs and groundhogs, do their thing. There was acrobatics, dancing and all sorts of comedy. It was a great show and there were no critter related incidents because we were all in human bodies and had instinct suppressors turned on.

(Daisy: Even with suppressors on, some of us were twitching.)

(Leon: I may have a permanent facial tic.)


The show was an hour long and apparently only takes place Monday-Saturday, three times a day. When it was all over, several of us got Uncle Ferdy’s autograph.

We got back on the road a bit after 3 and headed off to our last stop, The World Famous Serpent Park near Laguna Beach. It was almost 4 when we got there and, oddly enough, not everyone wanted to go into a huge building full of snakes. Leon, Penny, Roxie, Silky (who died from snakebite once), Mom, Max and Auntie Mary, Auntie Holly and Misty all stayed on the bus. The rest of us ponied up our $7.50 and went into a nightmare.

(Leon: No goddamn way was I going in there!)

(Penny: Nope, nope, nope!)

(Max: Prey animal here, yo. Fuck them snakes!)


Well, a nightmare for some of us. I mean, folks, there were a whole lot of snakes in there, including a species of python we don’t have on our Earth, which is damned good because it was 33 feet long!

(Sasha: HA! I’ve created bigger snakes than that!)

(Daisy: You have? What the hell is wrong with you?)

(Sasha: Was the term “mad scientist” never fully explained to you?)

I nearly pooped myself when I saw it. The pit full of cobras didn’t help anybody’s nerves, either. Ditto the pit full of rattlesnakes or the glass walled hallway that let you walk under a pond containing at least 4 big anacondas. We were in there for an hour and everyone, even Dad, was glad when we left.

(Goldie: I will probably piss myself the next time I see a garden hose out of the corner of my eye.)


After leaving Snake Nightmare Land, we drove on down to San Clemente where we parked the Bus, now looking like an old beater Chevy Nova. Dinner tonight was Italian and as delicious as it always is. We just finished a couple of hours of boardgames and now everyone is drinking and chatting or heading to the Shoe Room.

More reportage from somebody else tomorrow.

Here’s looking at you, kid.

Luke


Destination Sign When We Started: The Land Of The Giants
Destination Sign When We Stopped: Baskerville Hall

QM Radio Station: Girl Group Radio

The Exceptionally Witty, Yet Also Quite Profound, Story of Mostly Purple Patty And The Boy Who Dressed Like A Walrus

…co-starring her new best pall, Russ Wall.

The Doclopedia #1,376

When Harry Met…: Luke

The Dark Lord was as close to being giddy with happiness as he was ever likely to get. His enemies were dying nearly every day and his forces were getting bolder. True, he had lost several Death Eaters, like that simpering fool Lucius and the werewolf and others, but they were a small price to pay for such success. Tonight, the final blow would be struck and then the Wizarding populace of the U.K. would serve him or die. The muggles, of course, would just die. And to think he owed much of this rapid success to two loyal supporters from the United States. Two whose hatred of muggles rivaled his own.

Lorcan and Mistria Cross first came to his notice after Bellatrix witnessed them killing an entire family of muggles with the Killing Curse. Six people dead and they had laughed and joked about it. In a rare moment of lucidity, she had thought to approach them. Did they know of her Lord? Did they know of the Death Eaters? Why, yes they did and they had traveled from America to join up!

And so they did, after being thoroughly questioned and examined the Dark Lord’s most trusted follower, Severus Snape. Oh, the things they admitted to while under the influence of Veritaserum! Butchery of muggles and mudbloods that shocked some of his followers, but made him smile. Yes, these two mad dog killers would be his perfect weapon.

For two months they slaughtered their way across England, Scotland & Wales. They outdid all of the other Death Eaters combined, sometimes wiping every trace of a mudblood out of existence. Indeed, he had to actually rein them in a few times when their zeal began to attract too much attention. But tonight, their full fury would be unleashed on the perfect target: Hogwarts. When hundreds of their children were dead, along with the staff of the school, the Wizarding populace would be so demoralized that his ascent as lord over them would be easy.

But first, the Dark Lord had to take care of the Potters and their son. Voldemort was no fool when it came to prophecies, so it was best to nip this one in the bud. He thought all of this as he walked up the steps to the Potter home, wand ready to blast open the door.

But the door was already ajar. Had that weak coward Pettigrew warned them after all? His blood boiled at the thought and he rushed into the house, wand at the ready.

He stopped in his tracks when he saw the three Potters dead on the floor and himself standing over them.

The other Voldemort laughed and said, “Hello, me. I’ve come from the future to save our life.”

Time travel? It was, of course, possible, but fraught with far too much risk for him to ever consider. But there he was. Or was he.

Voldemore lifted his wand and said, “Prove that you are truly me! Do it now!”

Again, the other Dark Lord laughed. “Oh, yes, yes. I knew this was coming, of course.” He then began relating how each and every horcrux had been made. By the time he was done, the Present Dark Lord had lowered his wand and was staring at him in amazement.

“But time travel is so dangerous. Why risk it?”

Future Dark Lord waved his hand at the Potters and said, “Because Pettigrew warned them and you would have been killed the moment you set foot in this room. Well, of course, not killed, but you would have lost 20 years of hard work and been reborn into a wizarding world that would…or did…prove much harder to conquer. I made time travel research a priority just so I would not spend two decades in limbo.”

The Dark Lord saw the wisdom in that, but realized something, too.

Won’t this create a paradox?”

The other Dark Lord smiled. “Well, it would if it weren’t total bullshit.”

And then the real Voldemort was hit with hexes from a dozen different wands as all of his formerly dead Death Eaters and some of the living ones appeared in the room. He hit the floor, agonizing under multiple Cruciatis curses. He barely noticed when his wand was taken and several Aurors apparated into the now crowded room. He did notice when the Potters got up off the floor, but only for an instant. Then things went black.

Hours had passed by the time he woke up. He was shackled to a chair by both cold iron chains and very powerful magic. A few feet away from him was a small table containing all of his horcruxes. On the other side of that table stood Lorcan and Mistria Cross, surrounded by Aurors, the Minister of Magic, the Potters and Albus Dumbledore.

Voldemort was equally filled with rage and fear, but rage wone out and he screamed “HOW?” at Lorcan.

Lorcan walked around the table and bent over so his face was inches from the Dark Lord’s.

“Acting, Tom. World class acting. Well, that and some very high tech doodads, but mostly acting. As my sister might say, you were totally scammed.”

Mistria walked up to stand beside her husband. She was actually chuckling at him. She was laughing at him!

Yes, Tom, we had everything planned out like a high class con job…”

Or a well written play”, Lorcan interjected.

“…or a play. We knew exactly where that wack job Bellatrix was going to be, so we made it look like we stunned those muggles. Then we gassed her so she would become very suggestible. After that, we just played the parts that you most needed.”

“All the while, we were also conferring with the Ministry and the good Headmaster here.” Lorcan gestured at the others as he spoke. “We used your own overconfidence against you. Well, that and the fact that you wizarding folks are pretty much blind to ultra technology.”

With that, both Lorcan and Mistria reached up and detached their faces from the fronts of their heads. They were machines!

Robots”, said Voldemort.

“Androids, actually.” Mistria’s eye winked at him as she reattached her face. “You see, Tom, you had spells set up to warn you against muggles, enemy wizards, magical creatures, spells, even your own followers. But you never thought to do up a warning spell for late 22nd century technology. Getting next to you was easy peasy.”

“As was keeping you gobsmacked long enough for your “dead” followers, whom you no longer felt the need to be warned about, to just walk in the door behind you.” Lorcan’s smug smile drove Voldemort into a fit of rage that took a couple of minutes to subside.

Once again, Lorcan got face to face. “So here’s the plan, Tommy Boy. We are going to put all of your horcruxes into a box and take them to a whole other reality where there is zero magic. In fact, it’s an Earth that has about six months left before the sun goes nova. That’ll take care of them. As for you, you ugly reptilian asshole, we are going to take you to another Earth with no magic. You’ll be a muggle there. Now, there won’t be any humans there, but there will be plenty of dinosaurs. I hope you can run fast.”

The former Dark Lord was about to say something when Mistria slapped a metallic gag over his mouth. He felt the chair begin to float. It followed the group outside. There was a small brightly colored bus waiting. The back of the bus opened, revealing a cargo area too large for the bus to contain. Once he and the chair were inside, the doors shut.

Luke and Misty said goodbye to their friends and headed for the Bus, where Jeeves, the always competent SmartBot had just loaded the Box O’ Horcruxes.

“So,” Luke asked as they walked, “Oscar worthy performances or what?”

Misty took his arm. “Olivier and Streep could not touch us, love.”

Introducing Luke Skywalker Cross

20180918_95…8/6/16

And now we are six.

Doc, Grace, Silky, Sasha & Daisy Cross are very happy to introduce our newest family member, Mr. Luke Skywalker Cross. Luke is a Basset Hound/Standard Poodle mix, 8 years old and has had a very rough last few months. His owners died, he looks to have been a stray for a while and he got pretty badly hurt when he was hit by a car. He has healed up from the injuries, but being an older dog, was getting passed over at the shelter.

Cross family to the rescue!

Adopted today, we will get him cleaned and groomed, then put a few pounds on his underweight body. Luke is a gentle fellow who is fascinated by The Girls and eager to sniff out his new home. For their part, The Girls seem to have accepted him pretty quickly, as is the manner of Bassets and other hounds traditionally kept in packs.

He will be going onto the Magic Bus soon, so as to get up to mental speed with The Girls and Grace & I. Being half poodle, I’m thinking he will be smart. Being surrounded by three sisters, he will probably be smart to not bug them too much.

Pix coming after his grooming session.

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