It’s 2014

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not just noticing that. I’m just thinking that it’s about time I posted something on Scatterthought, since we’re more than halfway through February, and I’ve now been living in Victoria, BC, for over half a year.

So what, you might ask, has taken place over the past six months?

Well, let’s see.

I got myself pretty much all settled in by mid-September, moving into a basement suite not too far out of downtown Victoria. It’s a newly renovated space that’s all above grount (translation: lots of natural light), and my landlords are awesome. So, I’m very pleased with it.

The only downside is that I have to park in the driveway, as there’s no garage or carport. And in truth, that wasn’t a big deal until yesterday, when I discovered water in the trunk of my MX-5. There are pipes inside the car that are supposed to allow water to drain from the convertible roof, but the wet trunk means that those drains are clogged. I feared that this would happen, because the trees on the side of the driveway have dropped a lot of needles onto my car, and now I need to declog everything.

Luckily for me, there are lots of people with MX-5s who have run into the same issue, and all it takes to fix things is a free afternoon and a trombone cleaning snake. Though I’m sure there will also be some swearing involved…

Let’s shift gears and go to the bad news: in December, one of my cats died. It was my boy cat, Chet, and he was 13 years old. In late November, he stopped eating and drinking–anyone who knows him know that this is unheard of–and I took him to a vet, who directed me to the emergency hospital. Chet was there for four days, where they discovered that he had pancreatitis and anemia, but didn’t know why. He survived the ordeal and came home, but tests revealed that the cause was cancer. Specifically, intestinal lymphoma.

Basically, Chet was producing cancerous red blood cells, and his immune system was immediately destroying them. As a result, his cell counts were slowly dropping, and he wasn’t getting enough oxygen. So, I went from thinking he was all fine and healthy in November to knowing that he wasn’t going to make it through December.

We confirmed the diagnosis on Tuesday, December 10. The vets told me that there was no way to know how long he would last–he could go downhill immediately, or rebound for awhile with help from the drugs. But I knew that it was going to be a matter of days or weeks, not months. By Sunday the 15th, he could barely move himself around…he was too tired and had no energy. On Monday the 16th, my sister took us to the vet, and Chet was peacefully put to sleep.

Hmm…I guess it’s been exactly two months. Crazy.

Chet had clearly known for awhile that he was going to die, and so did his sister, Min. She had been hissing at him a lot in November, and I found out that a lot of cats do this, because their sense of smell tells them that’s something’s wrong. She also stopped looking after him, and had essentially made her peace with his eventual departure. That made me both sad and happy. In Chet’s last few weeks, I really wanted them to cuddle together like they used to do all of the time. But in the long run, it was better that Min knew what was coming, so that she wouldn’t be upset when Chet disappeared from her life.

As for me, I’m just glad that I got time to adjust. As I’ve told lots of people, it would have been a tragedy if Chet had died during his initial hospital visit, since I wouldn’t have seen it coming. Instead, I got an extra week to think that he was going to be okay, and one more to prepare for the inevitable. I can live with that. I don’t even mind that it cost me over $5k in vet bills.

These days, Min seems to like being the only cat in the house, and she has become aggressively affectionate with me. She doesn’t miss many opportunities to sit with me, even if it means shoving whatever I’m doing or reading out of the way to claim my lap. Interestingly, I used to joke that it would be better for Min to outlive Chet, because she’d be able to handle his absence better than if it were the other way around. Turns out that might be true.

But enough about that.

On the volunteering front, I’ve gotten myself heavily involved with CFAX Santas Anonymous, which you can learn more about on the website I rebuilt for the organization in December. If you want a really in-depth look (and have time to spare), you can also read the blog I wrote about my volunteer experience, which I called Santa’s Workshop.

As for employment, I wasn’t making too much of an effort in 2013, particularly as I got involved with Santas Anonymous and dealt with Chet’s health issues. I picked up some part-time consulting contracts that have kept me busy, but I would eventually like to return to full-time work. Though I enjoy the freedom I currently have, I miss being in an office environment with friends/coworkers and a shared purpose.

Finally, there’s the question of whether this move has been a “success” or not. At six months it’s really far too early to say, but I know this much:

  • I love being near my family, and am glad to have so much time with my sister
  • I dearly miss my friends in Ontario, and sometimes wish I were back there with them
  • Whenever I hear about the Ontario winter, I’m glad to be in Victoria

There’s nothing groundbreaking here…all three of those points were expected when I decided to move. I guess this means that the jury is still out. And for now, that’s perfectly fine by me.

Russ