Sarah and Supa Nige.
Sarah and Supa Nige.

Well, it’s certainly been nice reconnecting with friends and family here in Montreal but I’m looking forward to getting back to Vancouver and – oh, wait.  What?  I still have four a half days left in town?  Shiiii-oooot!  Uh…great!  Fantastic!

Today, we dropped in on my aunt and uncle.  An hour into our visit, it started to snow and, rather than risk being caught in a storm like the one we experienced the other day, we elected to cut short our stay and head home.  My mother suggested that, rather than going back the way we’d come, we should try a different, purportedly quicker route.  I was leery.  The road conditions were bad and getting increasingly worse.  Also, I may be adventurous when it comes to a lot of things, but driving aint one of them.  It may take a little longer, but I prefer to know where I’m going.  But mom insisted it would be simple.  Just take a right on St. Martins, left onto the highway, then take the turn-off to Montreal and it would be smoooooooooooooth sailing.

Well, as most of you longtime regulars to this blog know, whenever I say smoooooooooooth sailing it never is.

So we took a right on St. Martins, a left onto the highway, took the turn-off to Montreal and then…we were lost.  My mother suggested we take a right toward another highway.  I took the turn and, for the next twenty minutes, we found ourselves slip sliding along with no highway in sight, ultimately winding our way through an industrial area where I eventually pulled over and consulted google maps.  Another twenty minutes of white knuckle driving and we were finally on the highway and heading toward familiar territory.

As we turned off at our exit, mom glanced down at the dashboard clock and marveled over the great time we’d made (!).

An easier drive last night as Akemi and I headed downtown for dinner at Da Emma restaurant – which now occupies a building that was once Montreal’s first women’s prison.  Dinner was good (I suspect better than what was served to the former occupants) but the company was OUSTANDING as we were joined by my good buddy Supa Nige and his friend, Sarah (pictured above).  As long as I’ve known Nigel, he has been one of the city’s premier partiers: coming home from work, napping until 11:00 p.m., then heading out to hit the clubs until their 3:00 a.m. closing before heading home – unless it’s the weekend, of course, in which case it’s off to the after-hours parties.  He seems to know everyone in town.  Whenever we go out, he’s greeted with hugs and kisses from staff, clientele, and owners alike.  He’s a charmer.  And the quintessential bachelor.  Back in the day, he lived in what he considered the perfect apartment complete with custom carpeting, a state of the art entertainment system, and high-end furniture.  It had everything – except a stove.  Whenever I called him on it, he always insisted it would just take up room, space that could go to one of those zero-G astronaut chairs or a humidor.  Besides, he had a microwave, what the hell did he need a stove for?

Like I said, he’s always great company – and last night was no different.  I can’t believe it’s been almost two years since I last saw him – at his house party where, during one exuberant response to the Jamaican gangster movie he was screening, he jumped up and brought one of his ceiling-mounted speakers crashing down.

Good times.

A couple of announcements –

Cookie Monster conveys his apologies but he won’t be able to review Spiderman 3 for this Monday. He’s visiting Kermit in The Hamptons. As a result, our Supermovie of the Week Club will reconvene the following Monday.

The owners of Chino, the pit bull shot by a police officer in North Carolina (one of many recent police shootings of family dogs on private property like this one Chicago police shoot and kill second innocent pet dog in one month, this one Police kill homeowner’s dog while responding to call at wrong address, this one Justice for Chloe -Dog shot by Commerce City Co Police, this one have hired a lawyer.  Best of luck to them: Justice For Chino and Ivy

Finally, many thanks for the well-wishes sent my sister’s way following the passing of her beloved husky, Aspen.  She left the following message for you in the comments section:

I have been touched by the number of people who have reached out on my brother’s blog and on Facebook, taking the time to leave me a few kind words. I appreciate every one and take comfort in reading them over and over again.Those of you who knew me, know that Aspen was special to me. He was my “bad boy”, a challenge to train who always had to have the last word. But Aspen was loving, loyal, funny, goofy, dignified and proud.

Aspen was diagnosed with transitional cell carcinoma in June. As is common with the disease, by the time we found out, it had already metastasized to his prostate, bladder and lymph nodes. Our only option was chemo, which we tried for a while. When it became clear that the chemo wasn’t working and that the side effects were beginning to destroy his quality of life, we stopped the treatment. In early November, Aspen was in such rough shape that I thought his time had come. But my boy rallied and blessed us with just over one more month with him.

I know everyone says you will know when it is time and then it will be okay. I have even said the same thing to others. The truths is, you make the decision when you feel their pain is too great and their quality of life is gone, but it is never okay. It is never okay and it never feels right.

I opted to let Aspen die peacefully at home, surrounded by familiar smells and the things he loved. I knew I needed to be there for Aspen… with him to the very end. It was the least I could do for him after everything he had given me during his life. As I lay spooning him with his face in my hands, I buried my face in his furry nape and kissed his head. His ears were so soft. I sang to him, and told him I loved him, inhaling his familiar scent for one last time as he took his final breath.

I miss him so much, and cry often, but you know what helps? Your kind words and knowing you understand. Thank you.

Andria (aka Sis)

23 thoughts on “December 29, 2012: Well, it’s been a fun time in Montreal but it’s time to head back…oh. Not yet?

  1. Joe, did you have your iPhone with you? You should have used the Maps app to find your way home!

    Andria: Thank you for commenting. Your words about your final moments with Aspen are just heart-wrenching. He was a lucky dog to be so loved.

  2. I am so sorry to hear about Aspen. Losing a beloved pet is like losing a member of the family. I feel for both Andria and family, and Bella & Kasper for their loss.

  3. My first (and so far, only) dog is nearly 16. I hope when the time comes, I can handle it with as much grace and dignity as you did, Andria. GOD bless…

  4. I can’t imagine going to see my mom for that long. You are lucky your family is so normal and can get along. My brothers make it impossible to relax at my mom’s house. They are a constant source of stress for her and she won’t leave even to visit me. “The boys might need me”. She is probably right! My mom is the one stable influence/babysitter in my brother’s kids’ lives.

    Your Sis is right! You may know when it’s time for them to go but it’s never easy. I still miss my sweeties from 20 years ago. The only thing that helps me is seeing all those homeless pets and knowing I gave mine a good home. My sweeties were loved.

  5. Thank you Andria for sharing Aspen with us. It was always wonderful to see pictures of him when Joe went home to visit. He was such a handsome boy, obviously well loved and so lucky to have you.

  6. Hard to let them go, I remember, I cry along with you. They will always be with us. I know that they were loved and had the best we could give them. Time will help heal, and we never forget. {{Many hugs}}
    ~~and Joe, another reason we love our mothers~~

  7. @Andria: It does get a bit better, but will hit you at times very hard. Why do the “bad boys” always touch us the most? I found it helped to have the distraction of my very energetic/destructive/busy mini schnauzer youngster and female shepherd, although they still look for Bilo.

    @gforce: iphone map app always takes people trying to get to us to the other side of the city….

    On a lighter note, I came across a website from Germany ( It is about a woman competing in a new trail horse competition with dogs. Normally, German shepherds accompany the horse and rider but for a joke, the woman (Anja) used her friend’s pug (Sir Cedrik). It worked out so well, they now compete together all the time and in Sept were 11th in the German finals. On the website (it’s in German) click on “Sir Cedrik” and you will see a link for photos and videos. Very cute! It’s amazing that the little guy trusts the horse not to step on him (horses don’t always note what’s under their hooves, particularly at the back).

  8. What does screening a movie mean? Does that mean it’s related to work?

    @gforce – suggesting he use the iPhone maps app and google maps are lightyears different. One is a curse.

  9. *hugs for Andria* My prayers are with you. It’s never easy. I remember when we put down my Perky (Yorkie). 🙁 That was 10 years ago, and I still miss him. Sweet baby boy Aspen will be missed I am sure. 🙁 I wish I could give you a hug for real.

  10. @DP & Bella&Kasper. Heh, I know what you mean – I will say that the Apple Maps app was recently able to direct me to a rural address that my Garmin unit was unable to find, so it does have some benefits. Anyway, Google now has full iOS version out again, so it’s all good.

  11. Aspen’s story overwhelmed me…. Anyway, just wanted to say that your friends look very nice. I’m very glad your trip is going well. (not counting the loss of Aspen, of course) I couldn’t read your dog links. Stories like that upset me and there are A LOT of those here in the Memphis area. If my experience reading about lawsuits against “police shooting dogs” that happen here are any indication, it won’t go anywhere. The court system will give the police the benefit of the doubt in most cases (here), unless of course, it involves the shooting of an ethnic person instead of a dog. Then you can count on a big name ethnic activist to come swooping in and getting a lot of press. When that fails, the activist slinks away and the case to be brought up when the next shooting occurs.

  12. Bonjour Joe!

    Cela fait tellement longtemps, j’espère que tu vas bien, j’ai appris pour Aspen, je suis désolé de ce qui est arrivé, mais je suis sure que sa vie était belle.

    Depuis que j’ai créer ta page pour tes fans sur Facebook, il y’a bientôt 100 membres, je reçois de nombreux messages pour toi que je voudrais bien te transmettre mais malheureusement j’ai égaré ton email. (Si tu veux que je te l’ai envoie ou discuter un peu avec moi dit à Andria de m’envoyer ton email via FB)

    Même si je ne viens plus beaucoup ici sache que je pense toujours à toi mon ami.

    Je te souhaite une très bonne année, beaucoup de bonheur et de chance pour toi et toute ta famille.

    Biss xx.

  13. I read the blog this morning and cried my eyes out.

    Now I’m back and would like to say:thanks, Andria, for allowing Joe to share Aspen with us. You and Aspen were lucky to have each other.

  14. Andria, I couldn’t write earlier, for all the tears. What a picture of love you gave us.

    Your comment and good-bye with Aspen was beautiful. As a fellow mom of a northern breed dog, I had to laugh when you wrote, “He was my “bad boy,” a challenge to train who always had to have the last word.” That is so the attitude of snow dogs. They are loving and kind, clownishly goofy, intelligent, and stubbornly independent. The only way I was able to train my Manna girl was to convince her that whatever I wanted was really her idea, and her choice, in the first place. LOL. I filled her up with all the love in my heart, and out of her love for me, she’d humor me and do what I asked — most of the time.

    She had a very close call a year before she died, but rallied after a weekend in the vet hospital. Out of that love, she decided to stay.

    Aspen did the same for you. He rallied and stayed to give you both a little time. What is more powerful than love? He knew that you loved him, and though his body left you, his love never will.

    Love remains for shining…


  15. I remember your post of that visit with your friend. Glad you found your way home. And to your sis, I left a comment on yesterday’s blog for her. Hope she sees it (the poem I wrote for my Sam).

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