Here’s To You, Pal

…one last time
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The Roscoe Tapes

In a bit shy of 60 days, it will be the 14th anniversary of the death of our first dog, Roscoe. It will also be time for me to see, for maybe the 100th time, if I am ready to listen to his memoirs. Right now, I’m not sure if I am. Hearing the last words of a person’s voice is a hell of a thing. You feel all sorts of emotions, but the big one comes at the end. You feel great sorrow knowing that that was it. There will be no more messages, no more sound of their voice that you have not heard before. In a way, it puts a stamp on their death that says “Memories Only From Now On”.

About a month before he died, Roscoe finished his memoirs. He used a cassette recorder because that was years before the Bus, Sasha and Ottopus arms. To write, he would have needed a tricked out typewriter. Speaking into a microphone was easier and much faster.

When he finished the last tape, he came to me and said, “I’m done, boss. Put them somewhere safe and when I’m gone and you finally can do it, listen to them. Make ’em public if you want, I don’t care. It’s 50% of the damndest story you’ll ever hear. Now excuse me, but I need a double scotch neat.”

33 days later, he was dead. It took 4 years before I even really thought about the tapes. In that time, we had gained two dogs, lost one of them to cancer and adopted another, all on top of the curveballs life throws at you. When I did think of them, it was just to say, “nope, not yet.”

On the 10th anniversary, I actually opened the box, then shut it. About a week later, I had Sasha take the tapes and digitize them. The file “The Roscoe Tapes”, has been on all of my computers ever since. Many times, my cursor has hovered just above the “play” icon, but I haven’t clicked it. The only person who ever did listen to it was Silky, the day after she found out her days were numbered. We know that she cried and laughed while she listened, but she never said anything to anyone about the content.

Anyway, I think it might be time to hit “play”. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the old hound told what happened to him over the course of several lives, starting with his first one on his Earth during WWII. Having heard Silky’s story, I’m very curious to hear Roscoe’s, even though it will hurt like hell to have it finish.

So on May 23rd, at 9:45 am, the moment he left this life, I’ll sit on one of the sofas on the bus, put on my headphones and hit “play”. Jeeves will hand me a glass and a bottle of the good stuff and I’ll spend the next 15 hours listening to my old pal tell 50% of the damnedest story I’ll ever hear. No doubt I will laugh and cry more than a few times.

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.

 

 

 

Pork Tower

…NOT a new comic strip from John Kovalic

After The Change Came

Series 3

A Day & Night For Getting One’s Game On

If this post stops abruptly, it’s because I’ve fallen asleep after a day on the go. Here’s the fast recap of what went down for me at QuestCon today.

Breakfast with friends at Magic Waffles.

Listened to Roscoe’s keynote speech. He did great.

Moderated the “Pulp Era Quest Design” seminar. It went very well.

Had an hour in the Dealer’s Room, meeting friends and buying stuff. Fave purchase: A full on replica of the Fire Warrior armor from the original QuestWorld series. It cost more than the first 4 cars I ever owned.

Went to the big “QuestWorld Upgrade 3 Update” event. Biggest news of the very little they had is that there will now be single world Quest clusters and the first ones will all be direct ports of the oldest D&D modules! I think many of us oldsters came near to fainting. Still no taking weapons from one world to another, which I think is a good move.

Took part in the “QuestWorld 3: Let The Rumor Mill Commence” session, with Roscoe and several other folks. Packed house for it and after we covered all of the possible rumors, we started making up really strange ones. The speculation about “Naked Questing” was pretty funny.

Ate lunch with Spike, then checked in with Grace and the sprouts. They were just back from a picnic with Gigi & the pups and my mom & dad.

Playtested one of the surreal Quests from Hot Moon Studios out of Nigeria. All I can say is that Salvatore Dali would have wept with joy. Well, that and if you play this Quest, you never need use hallucinogens.

More time in the Dealer’s Room yakking. Interestingly, found out that my friend Jodi has decided to emigrate to Mars as soon as they allow it. We’ll all miss seeing her at cons.

Dinner with Roscoe & Spike at a little Italian place a couple miles from the con. We swapped stories from our day and discussed what might lay ahead at the Speed Challenge tonight.

Speed Challenge Time! First off, I’ve gotta say that Atlas Games outdid themselves on this Quest. The setting was, of course, The Edge on Al Amarja and it was full blown old school OTE, folks. We were looking to find the Bowl of Truth, but so was every conspiracy on the island. Our characters were a Mover Cell, but we had ties to the Cut-Ups. Yes, at one point we did meet the Cut-Up version of me. That was strange, since he looked like the pre-Change me. Anyway, we completed the Quest in 7 hours, 34 minutes, 26 seconds. This got us (Team Bandana Split) fourth place. Third Place went to the former champs, Team Deadly Sweetness and Second Place went to the folks from Cork, Ireland, Team Salty Dogs. The winning team? Why, that was the team Lily and Marty were on, Team Hella Kitty. Their time of 6 hours 49 minutes, 12 seconds beat the Salty Dogs by 3 minutes, 4 seconds. Well done, kids!

After that, there came a couple hours of drinking and recapping and now will come the sleeping. Doc out.

The Mystery Of The Five Golden Frogs

… featuring that inscrutable detective, Chanley Charles

After The Change Came

Series 3

A Day For Geeking Out

As I post this, Roscoe, Ben and I are on the train to San Francisco for QuestCon. Once we hit the City, we’ll meet up with our friend Spike, with whom we’ll be sharing a suite. Gigi, Lily & Grace will drop into the virtual con later today and many of my East Coast & Midwest friends are at the live con in Chicago. Many more friends are at live QuestCons around the world. Many more will be at the virtual con.

As with previous years, both Roscoe and I will be on live panels that will be carried on the net as they happen. In addition, Roscoe will be giving the keynote speech at the Quest Designer’s Conference. That’s my son right there!

Spike, who is relatively new to the design side of QuestWorld, will be on a couple of panels, too.

Our panels, speeches, etc are as follows…

Roscoe: Keynote speech, “Tips & Tricks for WorldMaker 5”, “My Favorite Quest”, “QuestWorld 3: Let The Rumor Mill Commence”, “Quests For Non-Humanoids”, “What’s New At ManDog Game Design” and the ever popular “QuestWorld Year In Review”

Me: “Pulp Era Quest Design”, “…And That’s When It All Went South On Us”, “QuestWorld 3: Let The Rumor Mill Commence”, “What’s New At ManDog Game Design”, “Mining Pre-Change Adventures For QuestWorld”, and “QuestWorld Year In Review”.

Spike: “Print Editors Turn QuestWorld Troubleshooters”, “Mining Pre-Change Adventures For QuestWorld”, and “QuestWorld Year In Review”.

Speaking of the just barely announced third upgrade of QuestWorld, it’s due in about 6 months. Roscoe has been asked to be on the design team, but beyond that, it’s non-disclosure city. The hot rumor about QW3 (as of a day ago) is that it will allow for longer and more complex quests in larger areas. That seems pretty logical. The rumor of single world quest clusters is more of a maybe.

I’ll post more from the con later.

Yule Be Sorry!

…sorry, had to be done.

I’ve reposted this entry every few years since 2004, both because it is fun and in memory of our late dog, Roscoe. Enjoy.

The Twelve Dog Days Of Christmas
Words by Roscoe T. Cross

“On the first day of Christmas, my humans gave to me…a tree on which I could pee!”

“On the second day of Christmas, my humans gave to me…two pounds of meat and a tree on which I could pee!”

“On the third day of Christmas, my humans gave to me…three cats to woof at, two pounds of meat and a tree on which I could pee!”

“On the fourth day of Christmas, my humans gave to me…four yummy bratwursts, three cats to woof at, two pounds of meat and a tree on which I could pee!”

“On the fifth day of Christmas, my humans gave to me…five butts to sniff, four yummy bratwursts, three cats to woof at, two pounds of meat and a tree on which I could pee!”

“On the sixth day of Christmas, my humans gave to me…six beds to sleep on, five butts to sniff, four yummy bratwursts, three cats to woof at, two pounds of meat and a tree on which I could pee!”

“On the seventh day of Christmas, my humans gave to me…seven bowls of dog rice, six beds to sleep on, five butts to sniff, four yummy bratwursts, three cats to woof at, two pounds of meat and a tree on which I could pee!”

“On the eighth day of Christmas, my humans gave to me…eight bitches in heat, seven bowls of dog rice, six beds to sleep on, five butts to sniff, four yummy bratwursts, three cats to woof at, two pounds of meat and a tree on which I could pee!”

“On the ninth day of Christmas, my humans gave to me…nine cars to ride in, eight bitches in heat, seven bowls of dog rice, six beds to sleep on, five butts to sniff, four yummy bratwursts, three cats to woof at, two pounds of meat and a tree on which I could pee!”

“On the tenth day of Christmas, my humans gave to me…ten pounds of hot dogs, nine cars to ride in, eight bitches in heat, seven bowls of dog rice, six beds to sleep on, five butts to sniff, four yummy bratwursts, three cats to woof at, two pounds of meat and a tree on which I could pee!”

“On the eleventh day of Christmas, my humans gave to me…eleven kids to pet me, ten pounds of hot dogs, nine cars to ride in, eight bitches in heat, seven bowls of dog rice, six beds to sleep on, five butts to sniff, four yummy bratwursts, three cats to woof at, two pounds of meat and a tree on which I could pee!”

“On the twelfth day of Christmas, my humans gave to me…twelve bellyrubs, eleven kids to pet me, ten pounds of hot dogs, nine cars to ride in, eight bitches in heat, seven bowls of dog rice, six beds to sleep on, five butts to sniff, four yummy bratwursts, three cats to woof at, two pounds of meat and a tree on which I could pee!”

Dark Green Happy Soup

…just like our mom unit used to make

Ho ho bloody ho! Here’s that 12 Days of Xmas meme.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, doccross sent to me…

Twelve pigs drumming
Eleven rpgs writing
Ten chiles a-gardening
Nine animals cooking
Eight zoos a-reading
Seven blues a-travelling
Six parrots a-hiking
Five ani-i-i-imated cartoons
Four wild animals
Three chicken tractors
Two roleplaying games
…and a toon in a nanotechnology.

Get your own Twelve Days:

Toons with nanotechnology? No good can come of that!

And for those who didn’t see it a couple of years ago, here is a doggy take on the 12 Days thing.

The Twelve Dog Days Of Christmas

Words by Roscoe T. Cross (1990-2005)

“On the first day of Christmas, my humans gave to me…a tree on which I could pee!”

“On the second day of Christmas, my humans gave to me…two pounds of meat and a tree on which I could pee!”

“On the third day of Christmas, my humans gave to me…three cats to woof at, two pounds of meat and a tree on which I could pee!”

“On the fourth day of Christmas, my humans gave to me…four yummy bratwursts, three cats to woof at, two pounds of meat and a tree on which I could pee!”

“On the fifth day of Christmas, my humans gave to me…five butts to sniff, four yummy bratwursts, three cats to woof at, two pounds of meat and a tree on which I could pee!”

“On the sixth day of Christmas, my humans gave to me…six beds to sleep on, five butts to sniff, four yummy bratwursts, three cats to woof at, two pounds of meat and a tree on which I could pee!”

“On the seventh day of Christmas, my humans gave to me…seven bowls of dog rice, six beds to sleep on, five butts to sniff, four yummy bratwursts, three cats to woof at, two pounds of meat and a tree on which I could pee!”

“On the eighth day of Christmas, my humans gave to me…eight bitches in heat, seven bowls of dog rice, six beds to sleep on, five butts to sniff, four yummy bratwursts, three cats to woof at, two pounds of meat and a tree on which I could pee!”

“On the ninth day of Christmas, my humans gave to me…nine cars to ride in, eight bitches in heat, seven bowls of dog rice, six beds to sleep on, five butts to sniff, four yummy bratwursts, three cats to woof at, two pounds of meat and a tree on which I could pee!”

“On the tenth day of Christmas, my humans gave to me…ten pounds of hot dogs, nine cars to ride in, eight bitches in heat, seven bowls of dog rice, six beds to sleep on, five butts to sniff, four yummy bratwursts, three cats to woof at, two pounds of meat and a tree on which I could pee!”

“On the eleventh day of Christmas, my humans gave to me…eleven kids to pet me, ten pounds of hot dogs, nine cars to ride in, eight bitches in heat, seven bowls of dog rice, six beds to sleep on, five butts to sniff, four yummy bratwursts, three cats to woof at, two pounds of meat and a tree on which I could pee!”

“On the twelfth day of Christmas, my humans gave to me…twelve bellyrubs, eleven kids to pet me, ten pounds of hot dogs, nine cars to ride in, eight bitches in heat, seven bowls of dog rice, six beds to sleep on, five butts to sniff, four yummy bratwursts, three cats to woof at, two pounds of meat and a tree on which I could pee!”

The Sun Is The Same, In A Relative Way

…but you’re older

Tomorrow will mark one year since Roscoe died. I had kinda considered staying home from work with a bottle of tequila, but several things changed my mind. Can’t afford to lose a day of work, can’t drink like I used to, don’t want to upset Grace and Roscoe never did like tequila anyway, being a confirmed scotch drinker. So instead I’ll just go about my daily biz and know that now, once the one year mark has passed, the painful memories will truly begin to fade into the past.

I miss you, buddy. You were a helluva dog.