A Conversation with Nozomi

Not a day goes by where I don't chat with Nozomi about whatever happens to be on my mind. This generally happens when we're out in the park for one of her walks, and typically when there aren't too many people within earshot. For reasons I can only guess at, my neighbours generally do not talk to their dogs aside from issuing commands like "sit", "stop", and "come on". Maybe their conversations are limited to their homes.

Today marks 40 years since my parents braved driving through a final winter storm so that I could be born in a hospital. Despite the round number, growing list of responsibilities, and crippling home-owner's debt, I don't feel my age. If anything, I feel younger today than I did at 35. Perhaps the boy has something to do with this. However, it's because of this youthful feeling that I often find myself enjoying moments where the devices are put away, the distractions are minimal, and the current activity is the singular focus.

Clouds Above

This focus happened a couple of times today, once when I took the picture above, once when the boy and I were playing together, and again when Nozomi and I were outside after dinner, with the stars above shining brilliantly despite the light pollution that obscures all but the brightest celestial objects. It was this last moment, when Nozomi and I were alone in the park and observing our separate interests1 that I shared with her my unrealistic desire to explore the universe.

While she sniffed grass and leaves, I explained how the local solar system could keep me busy for years and the nearby star systems for decades. The problem of travelling vast distances at relativistic speeds was brought up as well as a couple of options for how humanity might get around going insane during the years, decades, or centuries of travel. Challenges with food and energy production for long periods of time kept the one-sided conversation going longer than Nozomi was willing to listen, but we could certainly walk and talk at the same time. And then, as was to be expected, the ultimate fantasy was declared:

This would all be easier if I were a Q.

Q, the fictional, omnipotent race of beings from Star Trek, can do anything they please regardless of how impossible the desire might be. Time travel. Going from one side of the galaxy to the other in a heartbeat. Reading a book while enjoying a cup of coffee on the surface of the Sun. All of these things are possible and more. Of course, being Q would also make a person immortal. With this sort of potential, now it becomes feasible to explore the galaxy … and the next one … and the one after that. Nozomi could come with me. I could ensure she never aged a day ever again. Heck, with the power to do anything at all, I might just solve Brexit2 before heading off to Andromeda to see what happens when a pulsar is absorbed by a black hole.

These are the sorts of conversations that I enjoy having with Nozomi when we're outside. She doesn't get to share her ideas very often, though she does send clear signals when a topic isn't to her liking. A few months back I was talking about how we needed to find a better shampoo for her to use during baths. As soon as she heard that last word, she was as far away from me as her leash would allow and pretending to be incredibly interested in some fallen leaf that was just out of reach.

Her honesty and patience are both wonderful.


  1. As one would expect, Nozomi is interested in what's on the ground. I am interested in what's above.

  2. First order of business: fire all of the politicians.

A Place to Relax

Over the last few weeks I've been trying to remember the last time I felt really relaxed for more than a handful of hours. "Slow time" has all but disappeared since moving out of the classroom and into a development role at the day job. This isn't just because of all the new responsibilities and expectations that arose from the career shift, but a rapid series of changes at home, too.

Reiko received her master's degree in March of 2016 and almost immediately received an offer to work at a university, a dream she's had for as long as I've known her. Then I moved into my new role at the day job. A few weeks later we discovered Reiko was pregnant with the boy. Then we invested a great deal of effort into getting everything and everyone ready for a new member of the family. Then the boy was born, which drastically changed … everything. While getting accustomed to parenthood, we took on the challenge of buying a house, which I've documented on this site quite a bit.

And all the while Nozomi patiently waited for everything to slow down and return to normal. Or as normal as one can hope for, considering the new addition to the family.

One of the many things I've wanted from moving into our new home is the ability to slow down and enjoy time with the people and puppies closest to me. While there are still a lot of constraints as everyone settles into the new neighbourhood, I have made sure to set aside an extra bit of time for Nozomi. She doesn't ask for much aside from nice walks, nice tummy rubs, and a nice meal twice a day. These things are not too much to ask for and, fortunately, there is a lovely photogenic park literally 45 seconds from our front door.

Nozomi Enjoying the Scenery

Nozomi Exploring the Grass

Hopefully Nozomi doesn't mind if I use our walks to do a little photography.

The Blue Bridge

When Nozomi and I go for a walk, we typically head 130 metres south to the Hatta River. There are a pair of walking paths on the south bank, and it's a great place for the puppy to exercise her nose while I enjoy the view. With less than two weeks to go before we move to our new home and bid farewell to these familiar parks, I thought it would be nice to have Nozomi try and cover as much ground as we could so she could get "one last sniff" of the various routes we've taken over the years. While she's not young or energetic enough to manage the 5km+ walks we used to enjoy, she can still enjoy a good 1500m walk without needing a little break. For this reason, we made a slight detour along our regular route to make one final crossing of The Blue Bridge.

Looking South Across the Blue Bridge

The Blue Bridge is not the proper name for this pedestrian bridge, but it's the most apt name I could come up with. Many years ago the city decided that bridges in close proximity to others would be painted different colours. The red bridge that Nozomi and I usually walk across is just 80 meters west of this one, and a yellow pedestrian bridge is another 80 meters further. Because this bridge bounces as people walk across it, Nozomi is not too keen on this route. That said, once she's on the bridge proper her nose gets to work tracing the paths of all the other animals that have crossed the shallow river the same way.

Nozomi Enjoying a Break

There are close to a dozen bridges spanning the Hatta river within walking distance for the puppy and I. Hopefully we'll have enough time and good weather to revisit them all before exploring a new series of parks in the next city.

The Best Things In Life

The old adage that boldly states that the best things in life are free was clearly coined by a person who enjoyed walking their dog in the morning. Nozomi is fast approaching her eighth birthday but you wouldn't know it from the way she attacks the local parks, sniffing every blade of grass along the way.

Nozomi Enjoying a Walk

In less than two months we'll walk these familiar walking paths one last time before moving six kilometres to our new home. Fortunately, the parks in the new neighbourhood are even closer than the ones we currently enjoy.