The Players

All this talk of the new setting, and we haven’t really gotten to the new people! And they are as much of a change as anything else. Living as an only child, followed by single occupant dorm rooms in college does not prepare you for dealing with a house full of people vying for resources/attention/bathrooms, etc. Yes, certainly at our age the need for “attention” is less critical, but social interaction remains a must. I was used to “sharing” as a kind of abstract concept, and suddenly I am living in the same place as three (sometimes four) other people.

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Most importantly, there’s the reason I’m here; Katrina, the Love Interest, and a bit of a Cloudcukoolander. I’ve described her as “understanding, but not particularly sympathetic”: She’s never cruel, and often sweet, but just a bit of a “space case” (her words) and something of a klutz as well. In high school, she was a junior dog musher, and has “handled” sled dogs for the Iditarod. She is strong, beautiful, and completely unconcerned with trying to impress with jewelry or makeup. She’ll wear them if the situation demands it, but generally would rather not. For the pop culture buffs, she very much reminds me of The Hunger Games‘ Katniss Everdeen, maybe with less starving. But I figure she could survive the Games as well, if she had to.

Her mother, Deb, is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl who grew up into something of a Jewish Mother. She is a bundle of enthusiasm for just about everything, but especially fishing, clam digging, and pretty much anything outdoors and Alaskan. Always more concerned with the well-being of others than herself, she’s always the first with advice for a problem. An experienced teacher, she is currently teaching elementary school in the remote frontier town of Ambler, so I haven’t seen her since this summer. Her motto at all times is “Let’s go FISHING!”

Byron (“Buff” to everyone but his mother and the IRS) is Katrina’s Minnesota-born, Deadpan Snarker father. He was honestly the one I was most afraid of going in, mostly due to the old “fathers-in-law will never trust you with their daughters” myth, but we get along famously. We share an understated, sarcastic sense of humor, and are always game to crack wise at lousy television. Buff is the resident hunter/gatherer/cook; not that no one else does those things, he just seems to be better at them. He handles most of the care of the various chickens, ducks, and rabbits that make up the Rixes’ menagerie of meat, and cooks some mean barbecue.

Not pictured above is the younger sister Anna. (In fact, I have no pictures of her at present.) She is probably the closest thing I have to an Antagonist, but we have been slowly coming to an understanding as the weeks pass. Incredibly smart and incredibly driven, she has a bit of an arrogant streak, and is a classic example of a Control Freak. Anna tries to simultaneously be the mature, responsible one and put on airs of the “cute wittle baby sister,” which generally leads to a lot of nagging, whining, and rubbing me the wrong way.

We humans also share the house with a variety of non-livestock critters. Dogs of the working breeds are highly valued out here, and generally for doing the jobs they were bred to do. Cats, being cats, have fewer responsibilities, but any inherent mousing ability is appreciated.

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Griffon (Griff) is an elderly Alaskan Malamute. Balding at the tail and easily tired, he is mostly retired from his weight pulling days, though his 150-pound frame still serves as bear-deterrent and the big lug remains endlessly charming. You don’t so much “walk” Griff as get dragged behind him, and if he gets loose, he can get an idea in his head to just GO, and has to be tracked down.

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Vitus (named for Alaskan explorer Vitus Bering) is an adolescent Chesapeake Bay Retriever, being trained by Buff to be a duck hunting dog. Besides his natural intelligence and enthusiasm, he also has an innate talent for looking goofy in photos. He’s still very much a young dog, always in trouble, bored, hungry, or all three. Both dogs act as the first rinse cycle, getting to lick any and all scraps off plates before they go in the dishwasher. Yes, it does sound kind of gross. No, I haven’t been able to convince anyone else of this.

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Cat-wise, there’s Zelda, a two-year-old cinder colored cat, dedicated to the outdoors, who occasionally deigns to grace us with her presence. She is fiercely dignified, and my initial attempts at cat affection have turned her completely against me. Her general response to my presence, especially when I use my “talking to cats” voice, is to look at me, narrow her eyes, and hiss. Even in this photo, she is busy growling and muttering under her breath because that Evan idiot is in her house. I find it endlessly amusing.

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On the opposite end of the spectrum is Gracie, an elderly and mildly senile cat who absolutely loves me. She’ll come and snuggle with Katrina and me early in the morning, a disheveled bundle of purr and fluff. She’s the only cat I’ve ever met who isn’t a meticulous groomer, and doesn’t particularly live up to the name “Grace”.

So, that’s where I find myself now. In a different state, a different climate, surrounded by a veritable sitcom of characters. We’ll just have to see where we go from here.

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