ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem was written outside the regular prompt calls. It fills the "loss" square in my 8-1-16 card for the Survival Bingo fest, and the "Everybody Hurts" square in my 12-1-16 card for the iPod Shuffle Music Fest. It has been sponsored by a pool with[livejournal.com profile] daisiesrockalot and [personal profile] sweet_sparrow. This poem belongs to the Officer Pink thread of the Polychrome Heroics series, and directly follows "Centered Around Food and Family" so read that one first.

WARNING: This poem contains imagery likely to upset many readers. Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers and possibly triggers. HEED THE WARNINGS. Snatcher brings Ethan back to Ansel's place after a very bad call, covered in blood (none of it his) and thoroughly distraught, so Snatcher asks Ansel to take charge of Ethan since Ethan is not really up to taking care of himself right now. Hankie warning! There is emotional whump, quick-and-dirty discussion of consent, Ethan refusing to go to the shock room, and generally having a very iffy idea of self-care, graphic description of infant death and other mayhem from Ethan's call, gore, Ethan falling apart over that, minor inadvertent self-injury, references to family conflicts, everyone worrying about Ethan, including Turq who actually comes indoors to comfort Ethan, survivor guilt, self-blame, various people citing bad calls and horrible holiday memories they have had, so now Ethan is worried about them, but actually they're doing great at comforting each other, Turq running out of energy to stay indoors, angst, and other challenges. This is hardcore hurt/comfort. The hurt part has epic levels of emotional agony, but there's a lot of domestic fluff wrapped around it. This poem is relevant to character development for Turq and Ethan, but the gist of it is Turq's first trip upstairs and Ethan actually asking for help; if you skip this, it shouldn't leave an unbearably big hole in the plot. If these are sensitive issues for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before deciding whether to read onward.


"The Fullness of Life"


After the Thanksgiving feast had been
devoured and the leftovers put away,
people lingered around the campfire
because nobody wanted to break up
the pleasant atmosphere of the evening.

So Ansel brought out the red tea pot
and made sweet apple cider with spices,
while Janie brought out the black coffee pot
and made a batch of gunline coffee.

Turq tried both, but found them a little sweeter
than he was really in the mood for. Instead he
borrowed Ethan's titanium mess kit to brew up
a batch of cowboy coffee, using a handkerchief
to strain the grounds as he carefully poured
the coffee from the boiling pot into the cup.

Jasper tended the coals of the bonfire,
and when it was behaving well, he
brought out the rag rugs again.

They sat in the chilly November night,
telling stories and jokes and bits of news
to catch up on each other's activities.

Ansel gave thanks for the fullness of life
and the friends he had to share it with.

He was just starting to measure ingredients
for a fresh batch of coffee when Snatcher
suddenly reappeared with Ethan in tow.

Ethan's knees buckled as they landed,
which made Turq and Janie scramble
to catch him. They sat him in the gazebo
where they could turn on the lights and
figure out what was the matter.

His clothes were covered in blood.

By the time Ansel had untangled
himself from the coffee fixings,
Janie had Ethan well in hand, and
Snatcher pulled Ansel off to one side.

"Can you take charge of him?" Snatcher asked.

"I'll help however I can," Ansel said. "What
do you mean by 'take charge,' specifically?"

"Make sure Ethan gets washed, dressed,
fed if he can keep it down, and put to bed
as soon as he unwinds enough to sleep,"
Snatcher said. "Don't let him hurt himself."

"Is that likely?" Ansel asked, worried.

"Not on purpose, but he ... gets careless,
especially like this," Snatcher said.
"He had a really bad call today."

"Understood," Ansel said. "I'll take care
of Ethan, as long as he's willing."

"He asked me to bring him back here,"
Snatcher said. "I don't think you
appreciate how rare that is."

"I have an inkling," Ansel said.
"Come on, let's go ask him."

Janie and Turq had Ethan propped
between the two of them, and he
was visibly shaking anyway.

"Hi, Ethan," said Ansel. "Snatcher
asked me to take charge of you.
Is that okay with you?"

"Yeah," Ethan said hoarsely.
"Shouldn't be alone like this."

"Nobody should be alone after
a bad call," Ansel said. "Thank you
for coming here. How can I help?"

"Nothing helps," Ethan said.

"I know you'll probably turn me down,
but I have to ask," Ansel said. "May I
take you to the hospital? They have
a really good shock room, and --

"No," Ethan said, shaking his head.
"I've been dragged in before, and it
doesn't help, it just makes me feel
even worse. Right now I feel like I've
got no skin on; I can't block anything out."

"Okay, then we'll try something else,"
Ansel said. "Would you like to clean up?"

"Yeah, can I borrow a hose?" Ethan said.

"No, the outside water's turned off
so the pipes don't freeze," Ansel said,
appalled at the idea of washing outside
in this weather. "How about a shower?"

Ethan plucked at his bloody clothes.
His hands were clean, so he'd either
had time to put on gloves or he had
washed up at least that much. But
the cloth was sticking to his body.

"Don't worry, that's what we have
booties for," Janie said. "Sit tight,
and I'll grab some from the garage."

"Since you've got Ethan, I need
to get going," Snatcher said. "Call me
whenever he's ready to leave."

"I will, or Ethan can," Ansel said,
accepting the teleporter's card.
Then Snatcher disappeared.

Soon Janie came back with the cartons
of cheap disposable rainwear that
they kept for covering up before
or after the really dirty jobs.

Ethan picked out a pair of
plastic pants and some booties,
which contained the worst of the mess
so it wouldn't drip all over the floor.

Ansel and Janie managed to get Ethan
on his feet and headed toward the house.

"I have fire watch," Jasper said, and
Turq added, "I can tidy up out here."

"Thank you," Ansel said, grateful
that he didn't have to worry about that
on top of looking after a wrecked friend.

They coaxed Ethan up the stairs and
into the living room. "The bathroom
is through the kitchen," Janie said.

"Okay," Ethan said, clearly preoccupied
with trying not to touch anything.

The bathroom was small but thorough,
with a separate tub and a shower stall.
"I suggest that you rinse off in here,
then soak in the bathtub," Ansel said
as he pulled back the shower curtain.
"Can you manage by yourself, or
would you like a hand with that?"

"I can do it," Ethan said, shying away.

"Disposables in here, clothes too
if you never want to see them again,"
Janie said, handing him a biohazard bag.
"If you want your clothes washed, then
put them in the hamper there." She
pointed to the laundry closet.

Ethan started taking things off and
stuffing them into the biohazard bag
as fast as he possibly could.

"I'll find you something comfortable
to put on afterwards," Ansel offered.
"Look for it on top of the dryer."

"Here, try this in the shower," Janie said.
She put a wide-mouthed jar on the counter.
"It's lavender salt scrub. It's good for getting
gunk off and making you feel actually clean."

Ethan looked down at his bare chest
smudged with dried blood. "That's nice
of you to offer, but I think it's going to take
a lot of soap to wash off all this ... mess."

"Soap's in the shower if you want it, plus
shampoo and conditioner," Ansel said.

"Don't worry about the scrub," Janie said.
"Use as much as you like, I get it by
the gallon. It's a trade deal."

"Okay then," Ethan said. "Lavender's
soothing, and I could use the buffer."

They left him in the bathroom, and
Ansel went into the bedroom to rummage
though his bureau and closet for clothes
that would fit Ethan and feel comforting.

He settled on a pair of gray pants lined with
red flannel and a red-and-gray flannel shirt,
both worn down to a velvety softness.

Ethan took a long time in the bathroom,
which was no surprise to anyone. Water
turned on and off at irregular intervals.

Ansel worried about him. He'd known Ethan
for several months, and in that time, realized
that the healer had plenty of contacts but had
few if any friends, let alone people whom he
would turn to for support when he needed it.

Like Turq, Ethan seemed to gravitate toward
Ansel as a refuge, likely because Ansel would
take care of him without making a fuss of it. Ethan
had shown up once in need of first aid and a place
to crash where he wouldn't get pestered, and
Ansel had provided that without hesitation.

Hopefully it would help this time too.

Janie puttered around in the kitchen,
washing dishes from the earlier feast.

Eventually Ethan slunk out of the bathroom,
dressed in warm flannel with a towel wrapped
around his wet hair. He huddled on the couch,
taking the end closest to the woodstove.

Ansel sat down on the far end and said,
"Do you want to talk about what happened,
or try to put it out of your mind for now?"

"Can't get it out of my head," Ethan said,
his voice hoarse. He'd probably been
crying in the bathroom all this time.

"Sometimes talking helps with that, or
drawing if you're more visually inclined,"
Ansel said. "You might think of it like
unclogging an emotional toilet."

Ethan stared straight ahead, but he
started talking. "I lost four patients,"
he whispered. "A woman was pregnant,
with twins, and found out that they had
superpowers. When her husband heard
about it, he shot her and then himself.
They had connections, so I got the call."

"What a horrible thing to happen,"
Ansel said. "I am so sorry to hear that."

"By the time I got there, the man
was already dead," Ethan said.

Technically, that meant he'd lost three
patients, not four; but if Ethan felt like he'd
lost four, then Ansel counted it that way.

"The woman was still alive when I
arrived, but just barely," Ethan said.
"The pregnancy had worn her out, and
she'd lost a lot of blood, so ... yeah."

"Sometimes there's nothing we can do,"
Ansel said. "That always hurts."

Ethan nodded, the blank look on his face
highlighted by wet lines. Ansel nudged
a box of kleenex in his direction, but Ethan
made no move toward them. So Ansel took
a tissue and gently dried his cheeks for him.

"It was the babies that really --" Ethan trailed off,
then tried again. "They lasted long enough
for me to cut them free of their mother's body.
One of them had bullet wounds, so I guess it's
no surprise that -- well." He swallowed hard.

"That doesn't make it any easier, though,
does it?" Ansel said. "It's still awful."
No wonder Ethan got covered in blood.

"The other one wasn't wounded, but she was
so tiny, they were at least two months premature,
I don't think she really knew how to hold onto
her body yet," Ethan said, his voice breaking.
"She just slipped through my fingers."

He started rubbing one hand over
the other, as if trying to wash them,
and Ansel could see where Ethan had
already rubbed the skin raw in places.

Ansel reached over and tenderly covered
Ethan's hands with his own larger ones.

"Try to be gentle with yourself," he said.
"I know it's hard. One of my bad calls
was the wreck of a nursery bus. Losing
kids is rough on everyone, but hurting
yourself doesn't change anything."

Ethan stilled under Ansel's touch.
"That's not even the worst of it," he said.

"I'm listening," Ansel assured him.

"The twins were little empaths," Ethan said.
"They could sense everything that happened,
and losing them was -- I could feel it."

"Oh, Ethan," said Ansel. "I can't
imagine how much worse that must be."

Ethan trembled in his grasp, leaning
forward as his shoulders started to shake.
"I feel so -- it's like my chest is torn open and
I can see my lungs but I can't breathe," he said.
"They were so young, not even born yet, and
they both died. I couldn't do anything for them."

"You couldn't save them," Ansel said, feeling
his way delicately through the conversation.
"That doesn't mean you didn't help at all."

"What do you mean?" Ethan asked.

"You were there for them, and so they didn't
die alone," Ansel said. I've felt your power, Ethan,
it's like falling asleep in a sunbeam. They knew
someone cared about them and wanted to help
them. That's not enough, but it's not nothing."

"Oh, god," Ethan said. He doubled over,
put his face in his hands, and started sobbing.

Ansel moved one hand to Ethan's shoulder
and applied the lightest possible pressure
to let Ethan know it was okay to lean on him.

The healer slumped against his side,
boneless with grief and survivor guilt.

Ansel let him cry it out.
That was all he could do.

Eventually Ethan pulled away
and started trying to wipe
the tears off his face.

"Here," Ansel said, handing him
the kleenex. "If there's anything else
we can do to help, just let us know."

"I need things to be normal,"
Ethan said hoarsely. "Please,
can I have something normal,
just for a little while?"

"All right, if that's what you need,
we'll do our best," Ansel said.
"You mean things like people
moving around you, and maybe
some light conversation, right?"

Ethan nodded.

"Happy holiday chatter,
coming right up," Ansel said.

Janie took that as her cue
to move from the kitchen into
the living room. She picked up
a felted basket of knitting supplies
and began working on the blanket
that she was making for Turq.

"What were your favorite foods
from the feast?" she asked as
she pulled strands of blue and
gold yarn across her lap.

"Well, I loved the turkey, but
I think the pumpkin rice is
a new favorite," Ansel said.
"What about yours?"

"I agree that the pumpkin rice
is well worth repeating," she said.
"I loved the creamed cornbread."

The outside door swung open,
and Jasper said, "Did I just hear
someone mention my cornbread?"

"Yes, it's a favorite," Janie said.
"We love when you bring that."

"Smooth," Jasper said. "Anyhow,
the fire's almost out. Turq wants
to watch it a little longer, but I'm
getting cold and ready to come in."

"Sit down and join us, we're
going over the feast," Ansel said.

Jasper cast a worried look at Ethan.

Ansel touched his finger to his lips,
warning Jasper to leave the man alone.

"Which dish did you like best?"
Ansel said. "Mine's pumpkin rice
and Janie favors your cornbread."

"Totally the turkey," Jasper said.
"Janie fries the best bird in Bluehill."

"Why, thank you!" Janie said.

The conversation rambled from food
to fire tending to autumn camping
to Thanksgiving Day and what
each of them felt grateful for.

Janie finished her current square
and rummaged for new colors of yarn.

A soft scratching at the door
made Ansel's head come up.
"What in the world?" he wondered
as he got up to investigate the sound.

When Ansel opened the door,
the caney greeted him with a whine.

"Turq?" said Ansel. "Come on in,
if that's something you want to do."

The caney slipped past him,
fluffy fur brushing Ansel's leg,
and made a beeline for the couch.


Instead of pouncing on Ethan,
however, Turq dropped into a crouch
and then crept forward an inch at a time,
making that pleading whine again.

That got Ethan's attention.
"Is he okay?" the healer asked.

"I think Turq is fine, he's just
worried about you," Ansel said.
"He must be, to come indoors at all."

In fact, this was the first time that
Turq had made it all the way upstairs,
despite their repeated invitations.

"I'm a bit much for him to handle,"
Ethan said. "Or anyone, to be honest."

Ansel watched Turq perform a maneuver
used by therapy dogs -- which was working --
and wondered where he had learned that.

"He actually is quite good at this,
most of all in furry form," Ansel said.

Turq had put him back together
a time or two, in fact. Ansel
trusted his judgment.

"All right, fine, come here,"
Ethan said with a sigh.

Turq wagged the tip of his tail,
its aquamarine plume startling
against his blue-and-black coat,
then crept onto the couch and
laid his head in Ethan's lap.

Ethan dug his fingers into
the lush fur. "Oh," he said.

It was like watching someone
touch Microfyne for the first time,
Ansel decided. He hid a smile.
They didn't need him staring.

"We've pretty much covered
what we're thankful for," he said.
"How about plans for tomorrow?"

"Hanging holiday lights around town,"
Janie said. "Not everyone can do
their own, so it's nice to help out."

"Yeah, I think we've got at least
a dozen volunteers," Jasper said.

"That's good to hear," Ansel said.
"I have to work tomorrow, though.
People who worked today deserve
to get part of the holiday weekend off."

"We're not going to run out of
people who want their lights hung,"
Janie said dryly. "You can help later."

The caney's ears twitched, rotating
to follow the conversation, although
he kept his head in Ethan's lap.

The topics drifted from hanging lights
to favorite decorations to shopping.

Janie's knitting needles clicked quietly as
she worked on the blanket. Jasper kept looking
at it, his fingers twitching, until Janie passed him
some yarn scraps with a pair of knitting needles
and said, "Here, make a pillow or something."

"Thanks," Jasper said, and started knitting.
Either he had finished his rug, or he
just felt more like knitting now.

Ansel wasn't sure whether Jasper
was really that fast, or more time had
passed than they had quite realized,
or it was a simple shift of mood.

"Have you seen the new episode of
The House on the Corner?" Janie asked.

"No, what's happening with the pocket park?"
Jasper said. "Have they settled on features yet?"

"They're leaning toward multipurpose things,
so skateable sculpture benches and a shelter
serving as both a bus stop and a busking stop,"
Janie said. "They're still debating whether to make
the wet spot into a rain garden or a water fountain."

"Rain garden," Ansel said. He loved the show for
its boisterous sharehouse full of idealists, but they
didn't always think beyond their own perspectives.
"That neighborhood has a lot of young children,
and now that the neighbors know each other better,
those kids are roaming around more. A rain garden
is safe; an open fountain is begging for trouble."

"They could make a pebble fountain," Jasper said.
"With those, you can hear the water falling,
but can't get into it. That's much safer."

"Kids throw rocks," Ansel said. He'd
gotten called to deal with more than
one broken window because of that.

"You win," Jasper said, laughing.
"I just hope they figure that out too."

The conversation rambled on for a while,
because all of them liked that television show,
which involved efforts to revitalize a neighborhood,
starting with house parties and moving to projects.

They had fun comparing the current season to
the previous seasons and speculating about
what might develop in later plot arcs.

"Turkey salad," Ethan said abruptly.

"Excuse me?" Ansel said, thrown
off guard by the sudden non sequitur.

"You asked what would help," Ethan said.
"My grandmother used to make turkey salad
after Thanksgiving dinner, and now I want some."

"Okay," Janie said. "Give me your recipe
and I can make a batch for you. We
have no shortage of turkey!"

"It's not exactly a recipe, it's
more like a set of guidelines,"
Ethan said, shaking his head.
"It would be easier to show you,
if you don't mind lending me
the use of you kitchen."

"Make yourself at home,"
Janie said. "I hope that we
have everything you'll need."

"If you have any kind of yogurt,
preferably fruit, and turkey then
we're good," Ethan said. "I can
make it with whatever else you
happen to have on hand."

"This sounds like fun," Janie said.

"Yeah, it is," Ethan said with
a ghostly smile. "It's sweet so
the kids would like it, and we all
got to help Grandma make it."

Turq hopped down from the couch
and shook himself, fluffing his blue fur.
Then he returned to human form.

"Can I help?" he offered. "I'm
pretty good at peeling or chopping."

"Will you be okay in here?" Janie asked.

Turq looked back at the door. "I think so,
if I have something to concentrate on."

"Then please join us," Janie invited.
She led Ethan and Turq into the kitchen,
which was divided from the living room by
a buffet bar that had a large hinged leaf under it
that could be brought up to form a dining table.

Ansel leaned on the bar to watch them
as they all took turns washing their hands
at the kitchen sink, then went to work.

"Start with the turkey," Ethan suggested, and
Janie passed him a giant baggie of shredded meat.

"You said fruit yogurt, right?" Janie asked.
"I have about half a huge tub of strawberry
that's left over from another recipe."

"That's perfect," Ethan said. "I also need
a crunchy green vegetable like bell pepper
or celery, some allium like onions or chives,
and fresh fruit like apples or grapes."

"We have celery and half an onion in
the fridge," Janie said as she opened it.
"There's fresh fruit in the bowl, pick
whatever you want out of that."

She chopped the onion while Turq
did the celery, leaving the apples and
a crisp pear for Ethan to dice up.

"Okay, now I need a can of fancy fruit,
another of crunchy nuts, and some ginger,"
Ethan said. "What have you got?"

"Maraschino cherries, mandarin oranges --"
Janie said, reading from the cabinet.

"I'll take the mandarins," Ethan said,
and accepted the can from her.

"I don't see any nuts," Janie said.
"What about water chestnuts?"

"That'll do," Ethan agreed.

"There's powdered ginger; I don't know
if we have any fresh right now," Janie said.

"Powder is fine," Ethan said. "I will
start with a teaspoon, and we can
add more if people want to."

He dumped all the ingredients into
the biggest mixing bowl, washed his hands
one more time, and smushed it all together.

When the turkey salad was blended,
Ethan washed his hands again and
scooped it onto the slices of bread
that Turq had thoughtfully laid out.

Biting into the sandwich made
Ethan close his eyes in satisfaction,
and a little more of the tension
went out of his shoulders.

"Does anyone else want some?"
Ethan asked, looking around.

"I'll take a kiddie sandwich,
one spoonful on one slice of
bread, folded over," Ansel said.
"Jasper, do you want a snack?"

The other man looked from where
he was wedging another log into
the woodstove. "Same as yours."

The sandwich that Ethan handed
to Ansel over the bar was delicious.
"This is so much better than making
turkey salad with mayonnaise!" he said.

"I think so," Ethan said, one corner
of his mouth curling slightly upward.

"It's not bad," Turq said. "I don't have
as much of a sweet tooth as Ansel, though."

"Yeah, Grandma made it this way to appeal
to the kids, and most of us never changed it,"
Ethan said. "Grandpa said it was too sweet,
so he used plain yogurt and put mustard in his."

"Not mustard, but maybe more ginger?"
Turq said. "Raw if we have any."

"I think there's some in the fridge,"
Ansel said. "Let me come look."

He stuffed the last bite of sandwich
into his mouth and went into the kitchen.
The ginger root was buried under a bag of
mushrooms he'd been meaning to fry up.
"Here, use as much as you want," he said.

Turq quickly peeled the root and then
used a shredder to make long threads of
ginger to spread over his sandwich filling.

He took a bite and then said, "Oh yeah,
that tastes so much better now. Thanks
for sharing a family recipe, Ethan."

"You're welcome," Ethan said. "It's been
a while since I had anyone to share with.
I love my family, but we've ... kind of
drifted out of touch in recent years."

Likely because they couldn't bear
to watch Ethan tormenting himself,
or he didn't want them to see what
a wreck he was, but Ansel didn't
want to bring that up now.

They cleaned up the kitchen
and went back to the living room.

"I'm sorry I ruined your Thanksgiving,"
Ethan said. "I didn't mean to do this,
I just ... needed somewhere to go."

"You haven't ruined anything,"
Ansel said firmly. "I'm sorry that
you had a bad call, but I'm glad you
came to us. These things happen, Ethan.
What would you say, Janie, once a month
or two somebody comes to us like this?"

"About that -- sometimes two close together,
sometimes a longer dry spell, but it averages
four to six weeks," Janie said. "Listen, I may
not be a first responder, but I've lost people too."

"Really?" Ethan said. "I thought that
you worked odd jobs or something."

"I'm a handywoman," she said. "My work
gets risky if you don't pay attention. Once on
somebody else's crew as a teen, one of the guys
got careless about safety, which is why I'm always
so particular about it. Once on my own crew, when
our safety equipment failed -- we got a settlement
for that, but it didn't make me feel much better."

"Usually doesn't," Ethan said glumly.

"Don't worry about interrupting the holiday,"
Ansel said. "We're used to it here. If it's not
one of our neighbors getting drunk and disorderly,
it's some toddler locking himself in the bathroom --
Janie takes emergency calls too, just different ones.
We deal with it, and then we move forward."

"I got an oddjob emergency call once," Jasper said.
"Some grandmother tried to do Thanksgiving for
the first time after her husband's death, and she
hadn't cleared out his stuff yet, so it turned into
a major trigger. Her son called some friends --
one of them me -- to come haul off the clothes and
such. It helped, that she didn't have to go through all
the carting away herself, just say what she didn't need."

"That was kind of you," Ethan said. "It doesn't make
the loss hurt less, but makes it more bearable."
He rubbed his hands over his face. "I still feel
like this was the worst Thanksgiving ever."

"Maybe for you," Turq said quietly. "I was ...
I had some really bad years, so it's not mine."

"Mine either," Janie said. "When I was little,
one of my cousins fell out of a tree and died.
Broke his neck, nothing anyone could've done.
That's my high tide for horrible holiday memories."

Ethan lifted his head. "It sounds like you've
had a pretty rough time here," he said.

"Nah," Janie said as she picked up
her knitting again. "Some sad things
have happened to me, but if you want
to know the most stressful thing in my life,
then it was growing up as an extrovert in
an extremely introverted family. That
drove me nuts, which is why I purposely
picked such a sociable boyfriend, and
now everyone is much happier."

Ethan looked at Ansel. "And you?"

"I've been lucky, and not just Janie
picking me," said Ansel. "My cousin
tried to smoke firecrackers one time for
the Fourth of July, but he came out okay.
Taking care of a friend on Thanksgiving?
That's not a minus for me, it's a plus."

"Yeah, I'm smooth with it too,"
Jasper said. "Hey, Ethan, you
wanna help me wrangle yarns?
I'm itching to try that bicolor square
like what Janie's knitting over there."

"Some of these are complicated,"
Janie warned him. "Try a bee stitch
or a bicolor stockinette first." Then
she leaned over to get him started.

"What do you want me to do?"
Ethan asked, leaning toward Jasper.

Ansel vacated the couch so that
Jasper and Ethan could share it
for knitting, and moved to one of
the rustic wooden chairs by Janie.

Turq promptly took over the warm spot
and plastered himself against Ethan's side.
Fortunately Ethan didn't seem to mind.

"Just hold one ball in each hand, and
don't let them tangle," Jasper said to Ethan.
"Otherwise if I pull on them, half the time
they wind up rolling over the floor."

"Okay, I can do that," Ethan said.

The simple task gave him something
to do with his hands, which helped
keep his attention on the present
instead of his awful memories.

Ansel glanced at Jasper,
who gave him a tiny nod.
They had done this before.

The quiet click of knitting needles
filled the air, along with the crackle
of the logs in the woodstove.

Janie and Jasper talked about
fibers and patterns, while Ethan
managed the strands going into
Jasper's work. Ansel and Turq
talked about their favorite colors --
rosy and watery tones, respectively.

Despite some of the rough spots, it
was a cozy evening spent with friends.

"I hate to bow out, but I'm running short
on energy for staying indoors," Turq said.

"No problem," Ansel said. "Just put
your coat on before you go out."
He got up to open the door.

Turq shifted into caney form
and trotted out the door, which
Ansel closed behind him.

Jasper yawned. "I think that it's
about time I went to bed," he said.

"Whenever you like," Ansel said,
waving a hand at the stairs to the loft.
"Ethan, can I interest you in crash space
for the night? There's room in my office
downstairs, or up in the loft, your pick."

"I'd normally go for the door that locks, but
that probably isn't wise tonight," Ethan said.

"I usually crash on the couch in the loft,"
Jasper said. "That leaves the futon up there
free if you want it, and there are a couple of
folding screens in case you need privacy.
But don't worry about waking me if you have
nightmares -- I've got brothers, I can handle it."

"Show me?" Ethan said, looking at Ansel.

"Sure," Ansel said as he led the way upstairs.
"I can get you some sheets if you want them, but
most folks just take a blanket to snuggle under.
The cabin gets chilly once the fire goes out -- it was
never really meant for year-round living, just for
a vacation rental. Those big picture windows
bleed heat like you would not believe."

Ethan chuckled, looking at the expanse
of glass above the futon, through which
the driveway would be visible in daylight.

"Oh, I believe it," he said. "I don't need
a sheet, but two blankets would be welcome,
if you have them to spare. Given that and
the folding screens, I should do fine here."

"Two blankets, coming up," Ansel said.

He went back downstairs to his bedroom
and fetched the chocolate waffle blanket and
the thicker wool quilt that Jasper had made
from patches cut out of old suitcoats.

Climbing up the stairs, Ansel saw that
Ethan had folded out the futon already.

"Thanks," Ethan said, although he had
his back to the room as Ansel approached.

"Roll over, you'll feel warmer with the cushions
at your back," Ansel suggested, showing him
how to arrange the throw pillows as a barrier
between the cold window and the warmer room.

Ethan did so, and Ansel spread out first
the cotton blanket and then the wool quilt,
tucking them gently around the drowsy healer.

"I appreciate it," Ethan said. He burrowed
under the blankets, one hand curling around
the soft cotton fringe. "You don't have
to keep fussing over me, though."

"I like taking care of people," Ansel said,
patting Ethan on the shoulder. Then he
stepped back. "Feel free to stick around
tomorrow if you still need a place to stay."

After a bad call, it helped to take off
the rest of the shift, or the next day
if it happened in the evening.

"Think about it," Ethan mumbled.
clearly half asleep already.

Ansel tiptoed out of the loft,
grateful Ethan was able to accept
at least that much care and consideration.

To Ansel, that made Thanksgiving worth it.

* * *

Notes:

Turq (Drustan Moreau) -- He has pale skin and hazel eyes with hints of blue, green, and gray. His hair was originally brown, but is turning turquoise from the top down. His eyebrows, beard, and mustache are still brown. His ears are pierced. He is slim and muscular with a heart-shaped face. He is left-handed. Drustan is Scorpio with Pisces as a moon sign. His heritage includes Welsh, French, and German. Following incidents of child abuse and neglect, he grew up in the foster care system, so he has no real family support. The results of that have not been very good.
Sold by his foster parents, Drustan fell prey to a mad scientist whose disturbing experiments gave him superpowers. The body horror from his ordeal has left him full of dread and melancholy, making it difficult for him to connect with people. He also gets anxious about being tied up, locked in, or confined in any other way. That has given him a nasty set of striationary marks, more than once.
Turq works as a supervillain; he is a capable thief and a useful distraction, but iffy in a real fight. Most often he uses the shapeshifting, although his neural blast allows him to disorient people or shock them unconscious depending how much force he puts into it. He does his best to conceal the drawbacks of his superpowers, because he doesn't want anyone to take advantage of him. He is fatalistic about injuries and resistant to help. His cape name is a double tap. It's short for turquoise, in reference to his hair. It also touches on the Turk chess machine, which in Terramagne was not a hoax but an early gizmo.
Origin: Mad science torture. The supervillain Carl Bernhardt locked Drustan in a strange metal chamber and bombarded him with mysterious energies that caused his body to warp. He escaped when he finally manifested teleportation. Now he works as a henchman for hire.
Uniform: Street clothes. He prefers clothes with stripes, spots, or other patterns because they hide bloodstains better. Usually he wears dark or neutral colors.
Qualities: Good (+2) Adaptable, Good (+2) Chess Player, Good (+2) Comforting When Fuzzy, Good (+2) Fast, Good (+2) Finding and Fixing Things, Good (+2) Supervillain Henchman
Poor (-2) Body Horror
Powers: Average (0) Teleporting, Average (0) Neural Blast, Average (0) Regeneration, Average (0) Shapeshifting
His alternate forms include caney, deer, and ferret. In caney form he has a violet gland with a pronounced floral scent, which is less intense but still present in his other shapes.
Vulnerability: Turq has difficulty controlling his superpowers. Shapeshifting screws up his body in ways that leave him coughing and vomiting blood afterwards. However, he can heal the damage -- anything that doesn't kill him instantly probably can't kill him at all. Teleporting can leave him disoriented and twitching from misconnected nerves, or scrambled inside, or all of the above. He actually travels by disintegrating and then reintegrating somewhere else, rather than by blinking from one place to another the way most teleporters do.
Motivation: Get through the day without screaming too much.

Jasper Cornwall -- He has fair skin and green eyes. His curly auburn hair hangs past his ears, and he has a full beard and mustache. Jasper lives in Bluehill and is friends with Janie Newcastle and Ansel Nicholson. He has an unspecified number of brothers. He works odd jobs, mostly making or mending things. He is quite good at repairing clothes and toys, or finding cheap solutions to problems. This makes him popular with Bluehill's bohemian crowd. Because he's so absent-minded, though, he winds up leaving stray items all over town. Usually he just makes himself another of whatever he has lost.
Qualities: Good (+2) Bohemian, Good (+2) Dexterity, Good (+2) Generous, Good (+2) Kind-hearted Man, Good (+2) Making and Mending Things, Good (+2) Thinking Outside the Box
Poor (-2) Absent-minded

Ethan Wheeler -- He has pale skin, brown eyes, and short dark hair. He can't always get to the facilities he needs, so he often has five-o-clock shadow, and his oily hair soon sticks into messy tufts. He enjoys music, especially buskers. He carries cheap paperback books to trade with other people, and will read pretty much anything.
Ethan serves as a street medic, going along with whomever will hire him. He often works for supervillains and other people of questionable ethics, but he's just as willing to work for superheroes. People on both sides have repeatedly offered him permanent jobs, but he keeps turning them down because he feels unworthy. He is even more attached than most people to medical neutrality, and he refuses to take sides on cape politics or any other moral issue. He's gotten burned badly enough that he doesn't go there anymore. He just wants to make up for the damage he's done. Other people tend to view him as a tragic figure. He gets into a lot of rough situations. Ethan is not a combat medic in the military sense, but neither does he have anything like a sense of self-preservation.
Origin: Ethan started out taking premed in college, where he got an excellent job working as a lab assistant on a zetetic project designed to enhance human health in hopes of making the world a better place. A terrible lab accident happened, quickly killing several of the assistants and wounding others. Ethan's bench partner Hermanigildo managed to drag him to safety before triggering the alarm, which sealed the other nonmobile victims inside, where they all died. Hermanigildo died in the hospital a few days later.
Ethan recovered swiftly and now bounces back well from almost anything. However, he blames himself for the accident because he was the safety supervisor for the assistants, he had reported several concerns but not pursued them more vigorously, and the problem started at one of the assistant benches. More fault actually lies with one of the senior researchers, who falsified some of the data in attempt to attract more people to the project. Since that scientist also died in the incident, the truth is unlikely to come out. Ethan left school and became a traveling medic, purposely seeking out dangerous people and situations where most medics refuse to go.
Uniform: Typically supplied by whomever he's working for at the moment, so it can vary a lot. At minimum, Ethan always wears an armband with the red cross (or other local emblem) for medical staff, and carries a backpack that contains a heavy-duty first aid kit. He favors practical clothes and dark colors.
Qualities: Master (+6) Friends on the Street, Expert (+4) Neutral Stance, Expert (+4) Soup Contacts, Good (+2) Busker Fan, Good (+2) Compassion, Good (+2) Endurance, Good (+2) Medic, Good (+2) Reader
Poor (-2) Traumatic Guilt
Powers: Average (0) Healing, Average (0) Regeneration
Motivation: Atonement

Snatcher (Darkeem de Rei) -- He has chestnut skin, brown eyes, and nappy black hair buzzed almost down to nothing. He is strong with well-defined muscles. A supervillain who captures superheroes or other authorities and teleports them safely away from the conflict zone. He is later enticed away from that line of work to provide security for the Mercedes hospital, either teleporting a wild person to a secure location or teleporting staff to safety. He enjoys traveling the world, seeing the sights, talking about them and comparing favorites with other travelers. He's very gregarious. Although he can hold down a job, he likes to move around and switch activities often. He is not good at sticking with projects that take a long time to complete.
Origin: Growing up in rough neighborhoods, he worked as a lookout for drug peddlers. One day a speeding car lost control and headed right for his boss. Snatcher knocked his boss out of the way -- and they landed on the far side of town.
Uniform: Men's activewear, mostly in dark colors with occasional accents of something brighter. On duty, Snatcher prefers dexflan and capery; off duty, he may choose ordinary fabrics.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Athletic, Good (+2) Observant, Good (+2) Supervillain Henchman, Good (+2) Tourist
Poor (-2) Lengthy Projects
Powers: Master (+6) Teleportation
His range is global. His speed and finesse are excellent. However, his weight limit isn't very high; he can rarely take more than two passengers at a time, and prefers to carry singles. When startled or injured, he tends to teleport back to the last place he teleported from, which means that on dangerous missions he likes to make interim jumps to a secure landing pad in a hospital. That isn't always feasible, which can cause problems.
Motivation: "I've never lost a passenger."

* * *

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.
-- Melody Beattie

This is the home of Officer Pink (Ansel Nicholson) which used to be part of a resort alongside a lake. When the resort closed, the rental cabins were parceled into individual lots and sold, while some of the resort's main facilities -- such as the lodge and the main boating dock -- were set aside as neighborhood resources. See the exterior, lower floor, main living floor, and loft.

Ansel's version of this gazebo has built-in storage benches where the seats lift or doors open to access the cabinets underneath. The two end benches have end doors that open at the entrance of the gazebo. The two middle benches have seats that lift up. The center back bench has front doors. There is a large central light and smaller running lights overhead.

Ansel's firepit is typical of the small ones found in many of the larger yards. It's a comfortable gathering spot for about a dozen people.

Ansel's bedroom has a subtle blend of masculine and feminine features. His bathroom is through the kitchen. Not visible from here, the kitchen is divided from the living room by a dining/buffet bar. Underneath the bar is a large hinged leaf that can be brought up to form a dining table. The wide end of the loft, which faces the lake, has a game room. The side of the loft is a home gym. The small end of the loft, which faces the driveway, has a futon with a matching coffee table that can be hidden by a pair of folding screens.

The red tea pot is used for making things like Sweet Apple Cider at the Campsite. The black coffee pot is used for making things like Gunline Coffee. Color-coding makes it easy to tell what beverage is in which pot.

Ethan's titanium mess kit contains a pot and skillet, a cup, and cutlery.

Cowboy Coffee can be made over a campfire in various ways.

If you frequently do messy jobs, then it helps to have disposable plastic shoe covers, boot covers, pants and tops.

Lavender salt scrub is awesome stuff. Lavender is a healing herb with soothing qualities. Salt provides protection and purification; some (but not all) types are also good for the skin. (Sea water and tears can both irritate skin.) You can buy this stuff or make your own. Salt scrubs come in wet, moist, or dry versions. This glop is about how mine looks: salt and lavender buds swimming in oil. Here's a good wet recipe. This is a lovely moist version. Dry recipes may be described as salt scrubs, bath salts, or tub tea. Be aware that many recipes include rosemary as well as lavender, because rosemary uplifts and clears the mind. Rosemary is also a memory enhancer, so DO NOT use that if you're flashbacking or freshly traumatized. It can exacerbate problems caused by overactive memory.

See Ansel's flannel-lined pants and red-and-gray flannel shirt. These are ideal for cold-weather work. For unknown reasons, the pants are usually made with plaid flannel but do not come with a matching shirt, thus all but impossible to match. It is much easier to match a solid flannel with a plaid sharing similar colors. We may assume that Terramagne-America is more sensible in this regard as in many others.

(These links are upsetting.)
Horrible experiences can cause emotional trauma. Medics have a high rate of traumatic stress. After a bad call, some organizations use Critical Incident Stress Debriefing. While some people find this helpful, others find it harmful. So it is usually best to let each person decide what seems helpful to them in the moment; listen if they choose to talk, but don't pry. Fortunately, T-America widely offers EFA training for peer support, which is difficult but not impossible to find here. Ansel and Janie are plenty familiar with this, and Jasper has picked up some of the techniques from them. Know how to take care of yourself or others after a bad call. There are emergency lines for first responders in distress.

First responders have higher risk for PTSD. Ethan already has traumatic stress from his college accident. One reason he started to recover from this incident after a few hours is simply that he's survived a lot of hell, so it doesn't have the same impact on him that it might on someone fresh out of EMT school. Know how to handle your own or help someone else through it.

"Emotional toilet" can refer to a person that you like to dump on, but also to a friend who listens to you when you feel horrible. "Unclogging your emotional toilet" is about dealing with backed-up crap you don't want to deal with but can't ignore anymore.

Survivor guilt is generally thought of as affecting people who live through a traumatic event, but there's a variation that affects emergency workers. Child death is particularly prone to cause this kind of problem, and difficult to cope with. Therefore, first responders need to know how to handle survivor guilt. I could not find anything on helping someone else who has survivor guilt, but this post about supporting survivors of suicide loss seems to cover similar territory.

(Some of this material is sad.)
A healthy gestation period for humans averages 40 weeks, but ranges from about 37-42 weeks, thus roughly 9 months. Extremely premature babies are born between 24 and 28 weeks. These babies were at least 14 weeks early, over 2 months, so probably around 26 weeks of gestation. Extremely low birthweight babies weigh less than 1,000 g (2.2 lbs). As twins, these babies were probably under 907 g (2 lbs). The L-American survival rate for babies at 26 weeks is 85%; the advantage of feminine sex and disadvantage of multiple pregnancy probably cancel each other out. T-American survival rates are likely higher, even in an ordinary hospital without a gizmotronic womb. A healer trumps all that. Cause of death is therefore almost certainly one of two things: 1) the body simply isn't intact enough that it can be held together, or 2) the soul has just vehemently changed her mind about this incarnation. Which sucks for Ethan, but none of this was his fault.

Here is Janie's basket of knitting supplies. It is easy to make a felted knitting basket out of old sweaters.

This is the blanket that Janie is knitting for Turq using the same "Fall Colors" pattern as the one in Ansel's office, but adding shades of blue and purple yarn to the warm ones.

Holiday conversations improve family ties. Here are some Thanksgiving story starters, thoughtful questions, dinner conversation starters, family history topics, and Thanksgiving questions. Know how to listen and converse respectfully. At least one company here has made a "Family Fuelbox" full of ideas like these. In T-America they are more common; people often have a box or jar of these things, and schools or clubs print them on handouts. So gregarious adults like Ansel and Janie tend to have some memorized that they can whip out at need, even under stressful circumstances. Their social skills are strong enough to carry that conversation right over a friend melting down on the couch -- which is exactly what Ethan needs.

Holiday volunteers spread joy around the neighborhood. Bluehill is really meshed in this regard. They have people who do everything from hang lights to rake leaves and shovel snow, for those who can't. Sometimes for pay, other times for free. Janie knows most of the folks in the area who do this, and often coordinates teams.

Knitted pillows can be fun to make, and also an opportunity to use up odds and ends of yarn. This confetti pillow has a free pattern. You can also knit or crochet a patchwork pillow.

Here's a fun look at the conversational ramble about the T-American television show:


"The House on the Corner" is a boisterous, fun-filled show about a sharehouse full of idealists, most of them college age or recent graduates but a few older ones, as they try to revitalize a run-down neighborhood. They organize a club that travels to a nearby community garden. They turn an empty lot into a pocket park. Their house parties slowly turn into block parties. Each episode concludes with a five-minute talk about some social skill or civic resource featured in it, giving viewers ideas on where to learn more about that.

Season 1: The household forms, and the residents begin trying to revitalize the neighborhood. They struggle to connect with disaffected neighbors. House parties help the household jell and start attracting a few guests.

Season 2: The housemates identify some affinity groups and launch collective activities to support those. They organize a club that travels to a nearby community garden. The house parties get bigger and turn into yard parties.

Season 3: With the neighbors becoming friends, the household looks for ways to expand their efforts to fix up the neighborhood. They conduct a survey of current resources and unmet needs. As a community project, they turn an empty lot into a pocket park. The house parties are turning into block parties now.

A sharehouse is a collection of several people living together who do not all belong to the same (conventionally structured) family. People may rent or buy the space. It helps to know how to make a harmonious household.

Revitalizing a neighborhood can take a lot of work. Here is a handbook on Making a Difference in Your Neighborhood. This Community Tool Box has a chapter on assessing community needs and resources. Know how to get more people involved and improve your neighborhood. T-America encourages these skills, and showing them in a fun TV program may encourage viewers to try it at home.

Placemaking is the craft of creating community by designing locations that facilitate socialization. Learn what makes a place great and follow the steps to put community in place. The Power of Ten is actually a fractal plan for ten major destinations in a city, ten individual places at each destination, and ten things to do in each of those places. There are strategies for transforming cities through their public places.

There are many types of neighborhood groups. Read a guide to neighborhood associations.

The House on the Corner and the pocket park each have a 1/3 acre corner lot, which is average. T-America tends to have larger corner lots with bigger buildings -- large houses for big families or sharehouses, boarding houses, multiplexes, or small apartment buildings. In between, the lots are usually 1/8 acre. A tighter pack would be 1/4 acre corners with 1/10 acre side lots. L-America has trouble with lot size, house size, and urban sprawl. Here's a comparison of lot sizes.

Parks come in different sizes. A pocket park is typically less than 5 acres. Ideally, you want one per block, but you can stretch to one every few blocks; people using a pocket park will rarely walk more than four blocks for it, and most users come from a 1-2 block radius. Pocket parks can increase the physical activity of residents, and thus improve their health and happiness. Learn how to create a pocket park. It doesn't take much.

Landscape ponds are beautiful and beneficial to wildlife, but they also have hazards. In neighborhoods full of small children, it is usually better to choose child-friendly water features instead.

A rain garden catches runoff so that the water does not become a nuisance. Although most sources talk about making rain gardens as beds, you can also make one simply by planting water-tolerant plants in any spot that gets soggy after a rain. Because the plants soak up water quickly and soil wicks it away, rain gardens rarely if ever have standing water. This makes them much safer for small children -- but still very attractive to wildlife. Discover how to make a rain garden.

The bus stop/busking stop has a double-sided bench. It has wire racks to hold water coolers, since installing a water fountain proved prohibitively expensive. Instead, volunteers taking turns stocking the water coolers. The T-American version has a cut-resistant strap with a sturdy lock for security of coolers left in position all day. These also work for holding buckets of sidewalk chalk.

The sidewalk incorporates skateable sculpture
by providing banked edges, which also double as more benches for seating. Due to the prevalence of young children in the neighborhood, the challenge level is deliberately low. However, the banks require small hills that add interest to the previously flat landscape. The wide sidewalk offers space for walking, jogging, riding bikes or tricycles, rollerskating, making chalk art or hopscotch, etc.

There are many recipes for turkey salad. Here is a general description. Some versions include fruit. Allium is the onion family.

Ethan's grandmother used an algorithm instead of a recipe, roughly:
* 1 1/2 cup cooked poultry, shredded
* 1/2 cup crunchy green vegetable (celery, bell pepper, etc.)
* 1/8 cup allium (green onion, a shallot and chives, garlic and chives, etc.)
* 1 can fancy fruit (mandarin orange slices, tropical fruit cocktail, etc.)
* 1 can crunchy nuts (water chestnuts, sliced almonds, hazelnuts, etc.)
* 1 carton fruit yogurt (peach, strawberry, orange, lemon, tropical fruit, etc.)
* ginger to taste (powdered, fresh grated, diced candied ginger, etc.)
* 1 cup fresh fruit (grapes, chopped apples, chopped pears, etc.)
* ginger to taste (powdered, fresh grated, diced candied ginger, etc.)


Normalizing Trauma
The normalization of trauma experiences and reactions helps survivors understand that bad things happen to lots of people, who then feel horrible about it for a while; this eases the sense of isolation. (It's important to avoid comparing traumas in an attempt to one-up each other; notice that everyone is comparing this Thanksgiving to their own prior experiences, not across to other people's holidays. Also the only person dwelling on bad feelings is Ethan, who just got flattened; everyone else just touches on theirs as common ground of sympathy, then moves on.) Another crucial skill is integration, often through storytelling. By sorting a memory into its place in your life narrative, it becomes part of the flow instead of an obstruction. Similarly, reconnecting with people after trauma helps spread out the impact so it doesn't do as much damage. Notice how folks keep gently bringing Ethan's attention back to the current moment, which he is sharing with several friends. That's going to help prevent today's trauma from getting worse, while also giving him more resources to cope with past trauma. Understand how to integrate traumatic memories for yourself. There are resources for counselors and friends to help someone after a traumatic experience. Here is a great workbook on Life After Trauma.

Bicolor squares are pretty to knit, but can be challenging. For beginners the bee stitch is relatively easy, as are some variations on the stockinette stitch. Learn the basic stockinette first.

Wool and polar fleece are among the warmest blankets. Ansel's quilt was made by Jasper with squares of wool cut from old suitcoats. A cotton waffle blanket is lightweight by itself, but with another layer over it, creates many pockets of warm air. Ansel has the chocolate version.

*fistpump*

Date: 2016-12-26 01:05 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
PROGRESS! PROGRESS ALL AROUND! YAAAAY!

not yay that Ethan had a sucktastic call, that's awful, and sad, and maddening, and sucktastic.

but WOW! HE'S *ASKING FOR HELP* AND LETTING PEOPLE HELP STEER HIM THROUGH IT! YAAAY!

AND TURQ!! TURQ AND THERAPY ANIMAL CUDDLETASTIC FANTAWESOMENESS!! AND TURQ COMING INSIDE!!!

and Jasper!! and Ansel!! and Janie!! and just YAAAAY!!!

That call was SUPER awful, like WOW was it awful, srsly, it was sucky, but overall I'm having more of a WOOT progress PROGRESS!! moment than a "wow, sucky downer awful muddy bloody mire squcikfest of a dragging awful call dude" moment

sorry, I just, this is SO GOOD!

Re: *fistpump*

Date: 2016-12-26 11:22 pm (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
Agreed 100%. Turq doing the therapy-caney thing <3 <3 <3 SQUEEEE!

Re: *fistpump*

Date: 2016-12-27 12:50 am (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
I think that ... right from the start, something about Turq's caney form, to me anyway, hinted that he might do better as more of a pack canine and less of a lone wolf.

Re: *fistpump*

Date: 2016-12-27 07:04 am (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
Okay. Yeah, that tracks with Turq's need for quiet-with-people-around in this poem. I guess I know dogs a lot and wolves a little, but not foxes or coyotes so much, so it's harder for me to see those aspects. (As cats/cat-people go I'm on the social end, though not quite at lion levels; I want to know that my clowder is in good health, on schedule for daily activities, and not about to jump out at me from behind a bush, without necessarily feeling the need to go groom or yowl at them. Of course this has me well into introvert and differently-social territory by human standards.)

Re: *fistpump*

Date: 2016-12-27 04:20 pm (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
I'm absurdly pleased by the note about fox ears and tails as low-light body-language adaptive equipment.

And slightly wishing I could somehow get everyone around me to wear mood-reading animatronic ears... I liked Falconwing's text tags, too.

Re: *fistpump*

Date: 2016-12-28 02:47 am (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
I can wear ears and a tail and am happier doing so. That's not a problem, at least in my preferred geeky social contexts, although I wish to upgrade what I have. The difficulty is that everyone else is not! Wonder if there will ever be augmented-reality googles that would give people anime eyes and such to make their body language large-print?

Re: *fistpump*

Date: 2016-12-27 06:16 am (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
Seconded! That's a HUGE jump for Turq, going from needing tons of help to giving same... and owning his own needs and not letting things get out of hand.

Aaaaand, Ethan just demo'ed why I can't handle being a first responder (or a 911 dispatcher, for that matter; I have a friend who worked her way to supervisor at that job, and I have immense respect for her for that)...

Woof. I just realised that one took a little something out of me. But I think I learnt a valuable lesson... I've only ever lost-as-in-permanent two people I was truly close to. One way or the other that's going to start getting far too common as I go. I need to make sure I have EFA available.

No, no apology necessary. You said yourself you do this to teach people how it's done... and for that you get full marks.

Some lessons are just *easier* than others.

Re: *fistpump*

Date: 2016-12-27 07:00 am (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
Well done. It can take a lot of extra work to not only fully engage writing or art on a emotional level, and then respond appropriately, AND THEN translate to a life lesson on how to respond to one's own, rather than vicrious, experience. But it's one of the best methods out there for learning from anything other than brute-force, inefficient, trial and error... Kudos for you for learning from reading a relevant poem.

Re: *fistpump*

Date: 2016-12-27 07:05 am (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
Thank you! I don't know as anyone has complimented me for that before. That's pretty awesome in its own right.

Ysabet, we can keep this one, if willing?

Re: *fistpump*

Date: 2016-12-27 04:21 pm (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
*ducks head*

*bumps and purrs*

Re: *fistpump*

Date: 2016-12-28 02:50 am (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
*bookmarks for reference*

Death, as an old friend

Date: 2016-12-28 09:16 pm (UTC)
librarygeek: cute cartoon fox with nose in book (Default)
From: [personal profile] librarygeek
This part:
"Also, Death is lonely. It sucks to have a really important job that nobody appreciates and they just scream at you every time you show up to do it. Suuuuuucks. Which means Death is really easy to make friends with once you get past the "Are you actually talking to me?" skittishness. And likes poetry, in case you want a mutual interest to chat about."

Somehow, when Sir Terry Pratchett died, and all the memes about how he would greet Death, his biggest fan, I GOT this internalized. My problem with dealing with that death was it really is a foreshadowing for me, because my father has the same fatal medical condition as Sir Terry, posterior cortical atrophy, a variant of Alzheimer's disease. But, if as Sir Terry, and as the youngest son for the Harry Potter Tale of the Deathly Hallows, I can greet Death, as a long awaited old friend, well, it's not for myself I weep at the prospect of Death anymore.

I grieve at the deaths around me, because I have to script for myself the lessons or strategies the dead did for me, when alive. My mom's death is still a problem, because of how little I knew of HOW she dealt with my autistic meltdowns, shutdowns, and the sensory issues. I have to THINK my way through helping my gifted/ADD child on some things, when my issues may be completely opposite.

And that's why this year has been so hard. Our rebel heroes are dying, and whole age groups are saying how do we rebel without our leaders? Hmm, if you see the need, maybe you're the one to answer it? My skewed perspective from history and religion says we NEED a new progressive *iconography* to handle the symbolism for the new Revolution. Hmmm... I need to pull out a sketch book...

Re: *fistpump*

Date: 2016-12-27 04:44 pm (UTC)
mdlbear: (xteddy)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
Here when you need me.

Just realized I need a "middle-sized Bear" icon. xteddy just doesn't cut it.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-12-27 03:32 am (UTC)
thnidu: Double spiral, spinning out from the empty space at a common center (heyiya-if)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
Oohhhh yes there's so much here that's so good I'm not even going to try to do a list. A horrible, horrible crash, but the multiple comforts after it, and how WELL they are working... I feel them comforting me.

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