My Extended Family

Mary and Henry Burke were already married when they moved into a house in Willow Creek. Mary was a scientist. Henry was a painter.


Mary and Henry

Mary and Henry have one child: a son named Aquarius Burke.


young Aquarius Burke

Mary and Henry have retired to a home in the Countryside neighborhood of Windenburg. They have both died, and have chosen to spend eternity as ghosts. They spend their retirement pay on camping trips to Granite Falls.

Henry and Mary

When he was old enough to move out, Aquarius answered a “roommate wanted” ad placed by a woman named Francine Cha. He moved into Francine’s cramped, rundown apartment in the Fashion District of San Myshuno. Aquarius and Francine were both loners. Aquarius was socially awkward. They were uncomfortable roommates.

Francine and Aquarius

Francine and Aquarius

Francine Cha has remained close to her longtime friend, Daryl Robards. They both feel as if they’d known each other in a previous life. Francine feels some romantic attraction toward Daryl, but understands that he prefers men. Daryl is now a vampire. He’s almost always asleep when Francine comes to visit.

Daryl and Francine

Daryl and Francine

Somehow, despite the awkwardness, Aquarius Burke and Francine Cha fell in love, married, and raised a family. As their family grew, they moved into larger and larger apartments in San Mayshuno, finally settling into a three-bedroom apartment in the Arts Quarter.

Aquarius Francine and family

Francine and Aquarius have three children. Their eldest, Lily Cha-Burke, married Rita Somberg, from Oasis Springs. They’ve moved in with Francine, in San Myshuno, thinking that Francine is in her last days. They have two children.

Lily and Rita

Lily (on the right) and Rita

Lily and Rita’s older daughter, Rylie Cha-Somberg, recently became a young adult and moved into a cheap San Myshuno apartment across the hall from her parents. Rylie is pursuing a career in law enforcement.


Rylie Cha-Somberg

Lily and Rita’s younger daughter, Reece Cha-Somberg, is still a child. Reece enjoys visiting her ghost great-grandparents in Windenburg. She gets excellent grades in school.


Reece Cha-Somberg

Aquarius and Francine’s second child, Spencer Burke-Cha, married his childhood sweetheart, Cassandra Goth.  They’ve moved into a modest two-bedroom house in Willow Creek. They’ve decided to not have children. They use the space bedroom as a music studio.

Spencer and Cassandra

Spencer and Cassandra

Aquarius and Francine’s third child, Chris Cha-Burke, married Wendy Ashby. They met at GeekCon. Chris and Wendy share the three-bedroom apartment with Lily, Rita, Reece, and Francine.

Chris and Wendy

Chris and Wendy

Wendy and Chris have one child, a daughter named Annie Ashby-Burke. Annie is a toddler. She is fiercely independent.


Annie Ashby-Burke

Francine Cha outlived Aquarius Burke.

Aquarius dies

After Aquarius passed away, Francine married a painter named Sam Moore.

Sam and Francine

Sam and Francine

Francine outlived Sam, too.

Sam Dies

Francine Cha currently has a new boyfriend, a much younger man named Karim Al Habib.

Francine and Karim

Francine and Karim

Francine also has a girlfriend, named Cheyanne Greenwood. Cheyanne wants to move in with Francine, and settle down. Francine doesn’t want to give up her relationship with Karim.

Francine and Cheyanne

Francine and Cheyanne

Cheyanne is also much younger than Francine. Then again, just about everyone is younger than Francine.

It seems like Francine Cha is going to live forever.

I am rather enjoying this new method of playing The Sims 4, following just one multi-generational family.




No Convention, But Plenty Of Walking

Yesterday, I sent Phillip a text message saying that I was going to the Black Lives Matter march today, instead of NorWesCon. His reply was: “Awesome!”

Right before I left our apartment this afternoon, Phillip sent me another text message: “Photos or it didn’t happen”

I rode Link light rail to Westlake, where the rally started. I had a hot dog from Dog In The Park while I listened to speeches and music. I had fun reading everyone’s signs – there were many voices and groups there. The park was jammed with people, so we were constantly bumping into each other to let people pass. It was, indeed, awesome. Sakura-Con was going on nearby, so every once in a while, people in cosplay would squeeze through the crowd. It was fun and exciting.

Westlake rally


I was expecting rain, so I wore a heavy coat. I was hoping to buy a black beanie at the rally, so I didn’t wear a hat. The sun was shining, there was no rain, and I was much too hot in my coat. They were selling beanies up at the stage, but I never got up there.

When the rally ended, the march began. I hadn’t read, beforehand, what the parade route would be. I was surprised. It was the most interesting route I’d ever been a part of.

From Westlake, we marched south on 5th Avenue. Then we turned west onto Union Street. Then we marched south on 2nd Avenue. Then we turned east onto the rather steep, uphill Marion Street. Then we turned north on 4th Avenue, and marched past Westlake. Then we turned east on Virginia Street.

The marched ended on the steps of the US District Courthouse, where a second rally took place. Then the parade route made sense. If we had marched directly from Westlake to the Courthouse, the march would have been just two blocks long.

Courthouse rally

Courthouse panorama

I stayed for most of the second rally. Then I walked back to Westlake Mall. I hadn’t been there in a long time, and I was surprised to find that the entire food court was gone. I found a Taco del Mar in the mall, however, and I had a taco salad.

Then I rode light rail back to Capitol Hill, and walked home.

I am exhausted, but it’s a good kind of exhausted.

A Wild Hare

Year of the HareJäniksen vuosi, by Arto Paasilinna, was published in Finland in 1975. It was translated into English by Herbert Lomas in 1995 as The Year of the Hare.

A photographer and a journalist are out on assignment. They’d been arguing. They’re both angry. The photographer is driving. The sun is in their eyes.

A young hare is practicing hopping. It leaps in front of a car. The photographer tries to stop in time, but the hare is hit. It staggers off into the woods.

The jouralist, whose name is Kaarlo Vatanen, gets out of the car and walks into the woods. He finds the hare. Its leg is broken. He makes a splint for the leg, holds the scared animal in his arms, sits down on the ground, and ignores the photographer’s calls to return to the car.

The photographer, still angry, drives off and leaves Vatanen in the woods. He checks into the hotel, gets drunk, and waits for Vatanen to catch up. He starts to worry, so he hires a taxi to take him back to the scene of the accident. Vatanen is nowhere to be found.

The photographer calls Vatanen’s wife and their magazine editor, but neither is terribly concerned. Vatanen will show up, eventually.

Vatanen has decided to drop out of society, and live in the Finnish wilderness, with the hare by his side. Suddenly, his wife and his editor are terribly concerned.

The foreword, by Pico Iyer, compares Vatanen to Gauguin and Thoreau.

The Year of the Hare is a comedy.

Vatanen finds a veterinarian who treats the hare’s injuries, and gives Vatanen a special permit to allow him to keep a wild hare, which isn’t strictly allowed. All through his journey, Vatanen meets people like the vet, who care more about doing what’s right than about following the rules.

As Vatanen travels northward through the wilderness, stopping into towns and villages, he encounters many friendly, eccentric people, like the District Superintendent who takes him fishing and shares his conspiracy theory that President Kekkonen has been replaced by a look-alike.  He encounters a clergyman, who, thinking a wild animal is loose in the church, ends up shooting Jesus in the kneecap and himself in the foot, and then performs a wedding before being taken to the hospital. Not everyone he meets is friendly, however. Vatanen has many adventures and misadventures, all with the faithful hare by his side.

Vatanen lives off the money he made from selling his beloved boat. He also works manual labor jobs here and there, fighting fires, repairing lodge houses, or cutting trees. As he moves farther north, toward the Arctic Circle, he moves farther away from his former office job in Helsinki, both physically and mentally.

The Year of the Hare is a fun, anti-establishment romp. I enjoyed it a lot. As I read it, I wondered if there was a message in all this, or is it merely an episodic tale of adventure? Then, in the final pages, it all comes together.

  • A book set in the wilderness

An Unexpected Night

Last night, around eight o’clock, our phone rang. Usually, we don’t answer our landline, especially at 8:00 at night. It’s always telemarketers calling. Last night, though, I had the feeling that I should see who was calling. I recognized the name on Caller ID. It was Barbara, from Writers’ Group. I answered the phone.

Barbara had fallen, and aid unit had come, decided that she didn’t need to be taken to the hospital, and left. She was better now, but would I mind coming over and visiting with her for a while? Of course, I said I didn’t mind at all. I explained that I didn’t have my car, but I’d be right over.

As expected, there were no cars2go or ReachNow cars in the neighborhood.

As I headed out the door, it occurred to me that Barbara doesn’t have my cell phone number. I gave her a call, and suggested I give her my number, in case she needs to reach me before I get there. She said she’d be all right without it.

I walked up the hill at a brisker pace than I usually do when I’m on my way to Writers’ Group.  When I rang Barbara’s intercom, a woman I didn’t recognize appeared. She said her name was Isobel, and she introduced herself as Barbara’s neighbor across the hall. Isobel was smiling, so I wasn’t worried that something bad had happened.

I learned that Isobel had seen that Barbara had left her door open, and had checked to see if she was OK. Barbara told me she should have gotten my cell phone number, because Isobel had been sitting with her, and I didn’t have to come. I told Barbara that I was happy to come over.

Barbara laid down on her bed, she and I sat and talked, and watched the Arts channel together. Barbara told me it had been just a pinched nerve, and she was already feeling better.

At 10:00, I knocked on Isobel’s door. She came over to sit with Barbara. I gave Barbara my cell phone number, and said good night.

I walked up to 15th Avenue, to catch a 10 bus home. I just missed one – I saw it leaving the stop as I rounded the corner. OneBusAway told me the next one would be in 18 minutes. I walked into Caffe Ladro and got a latte to go. I walked down 15th to E Thomas Street, to the stop where both the 8 and the 10 stop. I had a 4 minute wait for an 8 bus.

The neighborhood was full of cars2go, but I didn’t need one then.

I rode the 8 bus down the hill and walked home.