Tag: cats

Black Friday and Small Business Saturday

After nearly two years, the studio has reopened.  Starting in 2018, it will be rebranded as Sunrise Studio and will include the art of the Common Shaman and Neko-Jin Designs.

Every Saturday in 2017 we will be open from 11 am to 6 pm.  Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, we will be open from 10 am to 7 pm, offering sales and free goodies.

For me, this is a new beginning.  The same dream, manifesting in a different way.  Instead of going it alone, I have business partners that are amazing and so skilled in their art.

This is the most amazing thing for me.  I have never stopped making art, but I had not the strength within me to keep the studio open or to teach.  Now, things are changing. Come help us celebrate!  Here is a link to directions to our studio.

Writing this on Thanksgiving is appropriate.  I am grateful beyond words.  To further entice you ere are some of the goodies that will be available at the studio this weekend:



on the market

IMG_0175  The house is on the market – at least, i have signed papers with the realtor and we have started the process of taking pictures. IMG_0174 It will probably take at least a week to get the sign in the ground and all the photos up on the internet.  These are some shots I took after she left, mainly to prove to myself what 24 hours of concentrated cleaning can accomplish.  Sadly, i still have a ton of work to do – particularly cleaning the studio and moving the bits of glaze and boxes of clay still in the house over. i have not even begun what will be an impressive saga of purging: selling older art, furniture, books and other things.  i see many yard-sales in my future, as well as sales both on my online store and in my studio/gallery.  Lists of the things i can cast off and those i cannot live without fill my journal.

This was a intensely melancholy thing yesterday; i felt like i was hemorrhaging pain again afterward.  Indeed, my main goal after Kathy left was to be kind to myself  – and i was deeply grateful for both her compassion and efficiency during what is a difficult time for me.

During a class earlier this year, we were given a list of stressors.  Buying and selling homes, as well as changing living arrangements, moving homes and transplanting businesses all sat among the most highly rated causes for stress. IMG_0178

IMG_0176Obviously, i can’t be alone in being upset by such things – and, that said, i still feel like i am taking this particularly badly.  My woe refuses to be dignified.  This is a massive transition for a misfit like me: i root to spaces, i suffer tremendous anxiety that is barely kept in check by meditation, and i worry unreasonably about my beloved animals’ responses to this time of trial.  Like me, they seem to be suffering.  Both Roxi and Martin are hiding more than usual, chased under the bed by the sounds of transformation.  Roxi, in particular, has been so upset (she is so much like me) that even cuddling takes an openness and comfort that is in short supply right now.  Instead of sleeping beside me like she usually does, her paw in my hand all night long, she curls up on the couch, forsaking dreams to keep one eye open.  Unless he is the sleeping old man of the house, Darwin follows me everywhere. He is determined to keep me grounded and cheer me up simultaneously, hence all the photo-bombs of dog in these pictures.

IMG_3441So, i worry, and i stress, and i can feel it effecting my body. My blood sugar skyrockets irrelevant of food, my vision gets blurry, my heart slams around in my chest.IMG_3440 In response, i meditate more – for at least two hours last night, phone and computer off to avoid all distraction – and if i keep that up, it helps tremendously.  Still, no amount of quiet stillness has as yet turned me into a flawless person.  My memory and my work are suffering from the overload.  Even when i regain my inner peace for a time, i am still not supernaturally endowed with awe-inspiring strength or confidence. With my whole heart, i redirect myself whenever i start blaming another for my problems.  Instead, i take deep breaths, hope everything happens for a reason, and knead acceptance into my tight muscles.  Every time people ask me about my long term plans, i wince slightly – unable to articulate what i need to do. IMG_0179 Indeed, i truly don’t know what the absolutely ‘right’ course is at this stage. IMG_0177 To know that, i would have to be a precog and that – along with teleportation, telekinesis, telepathy and transmuting base metals to gold – is not a skill i have developed. Most of the time, i have no idea what to do, and no other viable options, than to keep putting one foot in front of another with as open a heart as possible.

Thankfully, i feel secure that the decisions i am making take me down the wisest path given who i am, what i have and what i know right now.  Of course, there is an element of choosing the lesser of evils, but that is what this moment entails.  So, i must move forward and accept the consequences. i have been actively holding my hands open to accept what the universe gives right now with as little resentment and fear as possible (and eventually, i feel confident, the cosmic diarrhea running through my fingers has to stop.)

However, i keep remembering something that occurred to me years ago: there is a certain nobility to endings.  They demand a sense of presence and honor that can disappear when things are stable and appear unchanging.  How we leave situations, whether it is a relationship, a home, a job, a life – that speaks at least as much about who we are as how we enter them.  As much as it hurts, i have been greatly blessed and honored to have lived here for ten years, to have created this marvelous network of friends, to have worked as an artist so wholeheartedly.  Now, to remember that gift, and maintain this sense of gratitude and grace, when the cosmos starts to have gastric distress in my general direction again.

Darkness and warmth

Don’t blame me for your high heating oil bills, human slave.

For the past several years, the cats have defeated all attempts at weatherproofing the house with plastic.  Plastic over windows, like catnip, is completely irresistible.  Since they don’t pay the power bills, they don’t care.  Also, they wear fuzzy fur coats all the time, and their jobs are to hold the bed down (Roxi) and hug all the blankets (Martin) for at least twenty hour a day, so an argument to be made that they stay warmer than their hairless ape.

So, Saturday, i went to my friend Lara Max’s house and used one of her marvelous, vintage Singer sewing machines (getting a severe case of sewing machine envy in the process. i forgot how much i liked it) and made heavy curtains out of fabric – taping them down like i do the plastic – to stop the precious heat from seeping out the house.  Yesterday, i put them all up, took some advil for my aching back and stared at my work with pride.

For about five minutes.

Then i had to make myself feel useful.  Since i was waiting for responses for a website job, the next logical thing was to attack something on the monstrous to-do list, squatting on Stickies (the app, not actual pieces of paper) on my computer.  Of course, i wanted to choose the most fun thing…Print

So, i started working on my presentation for PKBucksport – our local Pecha Kucha event happening February 5.

Sometimes, i think i develop short-term creatively-based OCD.  i didn’t have to finish the project last night.  i already had all the slides together – getting the text done was gravy.  But try as i might, i could not stop.  i knew what i needed to say in a way that might have disappeared if i waited until morning.

i finally fell asleep at 4 am – having finished the job.  After some more advil kicked in, i slept like a baby until nine-thirty when Roo, my new tenant’s dog, woke me up with her angst (the poem she inspired will post tomorrow.)

Once i straggled into wakefulness, i found myself dealing with websites and moving furniture and stealing time to walk the dog for a half an hour on the Bucksport boardwalk while the weather was good … not doing what i wanted to do all day.  My house feels like a womb now, as though i have sealed the rest of the world out.  The light of day was muted through these brand new heavy curtains.  There is the perception of warmth, if not the reality of it.  For whatever reason, with the view of the outer world cut off, it is making the inner one light up.  It feels like words are filling this space, bouncing off the walls, floating up to the ceiling (like the bed would if it were not for Roxi’s diligent efforts.)

Transitioning my work to the house has been slow.  Except for painting and my new standing desk (yay!), everything is thrown into place, not organized and sorted.  Other labor demands several hours out of each day, and thank God for it, but i still find myself craving stillness and quiet and the chance to pluck those words out of the air and put them down onto paper.  i have written so many poems in the past week, stealing time from one task or another.  The PK writing felt like theft too – as though i was stealing something from the universe that felt indecently good – and happily will be able to give it back on the fifth.

The house is filled darkness and warmth.  i stole time to write this from the dishes, but i don’t actually repent …  the dishes are patient.


roxi_selfieI wanted to be asleep three hours ago, if for no other reason than my foot (I broke a toe recently and am relatively sure I reinjured previously broken metatarsals at the same time) hurt too badly to stand.  I knew I was doing badly when I broke three pieces of pottery in the studio – overtired and undercoordinated, I headed back to the house.

For two hours, I laid in bed with my leg up, trying  to do productive things, but my brain would not engage.  I could not even delude myself into thinking I had the wherewithal to work on the financials.  Poetry did not form into cohesive patterns; waves of feeling refused to be articulated.  Characters from my prose kept running away.  I opened book after book on my Kindle, then started going through the pile of paperbacks and hardbacks that share the bed with the animals and I, but nothing caught my attention for more than a few seconds. Each time I turned off the light and willed my body to relax, my eyes refused to shut. Each limb twitched with excess energy. My head swelled with discomfort, most profound at the meeting of spine and skull.  My brain, thank God, wasn’t churning endlessly, but neither was it willing to surrender to dreams.  Finally I gave up and moved to the couch to write a blog and surf the internet.

For what it’s worth, I see a very real lesson in this bout of insomnia.  I have been so overwhelmed lately making changes in my life, taking my art and refocusing it differently, struggling to get a handle on my business by forming a new plan, committing to a greater work load of external projects, I have so little time to be still and quiet and rest.  The past few weeks have been a struggle to keep myself from falling into a major depression.  Meditation, writing, making art have all helped, but I am developing a new habit. A mantra came into being during this chaos and I cling to it – “Do what you can in this moment.  Nothing else matters but what you can do right now.”  I could drown in what I ought to do and what I want to do, indeed I regularly choke on the bitterness of frustration at my limitations. I can only work so many hours of the day.  I can only do one thing at a time, and many obligations have the same urgency.  Forcing myself to acknowledge that there is a limit to what I can do when my foot throbs and my head aches and my thoughts won’t coalesce helps me cope with what feels like indolence.  Moreover, it forces me to accept that I cannot work every waking moment.  There has to be some time to be slow and quiet.

As much as I wish I were asleep right now – this instant is delicious.  The house is utterly quiet, allowing the tapping of the rain on the window to fill the room.  Roxi the cat (see above photo) is not letting me languish in wakefulness alone.  She has fused herself to my thigh and purrs with wild contentment every time I take a break from typing to rub her head.

It could be an illusion, but I gradually I sense that sleep might come to me, despite its previous shyness.  For that, too, I am grateful.

on dead mice and personal growth

One of my cats – I suspect Martin – has finally learned how to smite a mouse.  IMG_1225I discovered this yesterday morning, while staggering through the house to get ready for a day in a gallery.

This is particularly exciting for him, because Martin is not necessarily the strongest candidate for cat-mensa I have ever known.  He is, however, beautiful. Ridiculously so. That gets him through a lot.  Also, he sweet and very loving if he trusts you.  You’ll have to take my word on that last statement, since I appear to be the only person he trusts (enough to put ribbons on his head!)

At any rate, I found an entire mouse family that had been brutally shoved across the rainbow bridge.  When I happened upon the scene, Roxi the cat was poking the distorted corpses with a look of horror on her face while Martin ran over to me, started rubbing up against me, purring, awe-inspiring joy beaming up at me through those slightly vacuous golden eyes.

Prime suspect number one.

He does so love the toys that move on their own.

And now for the personal growth part.  Rodent removal has been in every lease I have ever set up as my tenant’s job, but right now I have no renter… so, I had to step up.

He is so proud, beaming down from heaven.
He is so proud, beaming down from heaven.

In previous experiences with such things, my phobias made me dress like I was about to walk on the moon.  I used a broom or long-handled tongs, gloves, glasses, a coat, etc.  This time, even though my aversion was no less strong and I kept apologizing to the wee victims of Martin’s glee, I was able to use the shoveler for my wood stove and a stick – carry them out without protective gear, and put them in the graveyard of dead things (which has not seen a lot of use since my cat Andre the Giant Cat died.)

Necessity, it appears, is the mother of transformation as well as other things.  As I flung the corpses, I thought about how much this actually means – I have conquered a lot of my fears, big and small, and keep making progress on those that stick around.  For the past two weeks, I have been a mess of stress and anxiety, barely able to function, praying that if I can’t feel better at least I’ll learn to fake it more convincingly.  With all my might, I’ve been trying to ooze pain quietly, without the loud and lusty complaints that usually accompany such downturns.  In that kind of distant, observational way in which I notice change in myself, I saw the ability to remove the mice despite my horror and fear as a sign of personal growth.  I am still improving my ability to walk through the world, traveling through both its good parts and its disgusting parts.  Oddly, since I was shaking with the power of the “eeeewww,” I realized the task was vaguely empowering.  I could actually do it, after all, without tears or a full body suit.

Yesterday, after I got to the gallery, the sense of empowerment persisted.  I sent out sixty-one post cards to promote my art. My good mood lasted until this morning, when I awoke from nightmares feeling utterly hopeless.  Like a zombie, motivated not so much by need as an inability to figure out what else to do, I started going through the list of things waiting for my attention: including writing a blog about rodent removal and personal growth.

And, like magic, writing this has made life better.  Halfway through the blog, I felt brave enough to place an ad about the rental. I think I might actually have enough strength now to deliver pottery and run errands before the torrential rains come.

I keep looking for solutions to my loneliness, to my fear, to this outrageous, crippling sense of vulnerability.  Perhaps the only way to really see any progress with such things is to focus on the tiny, small improvements: personal growth, one mouse at a time.

quiet day at the gallery…

photoToday has been another gallery day – Harbor Artisans at Southwest Harbor, Maine.  This is the surest sign that summer has arrived, spending my days off from the studio at one cooperative or another.

During this exceptionally quiet day – by 4 pm, only five people have crossed the thresh-hold – I have been catching up on my writing.  Nearly all the poems I have scribbled into notebooks this year have been edited and typed into the computer.  The novel I was obsessed with over the winter – that I had to put aside in favor of pottery and the rush of stocking stores – has come surging back.  I love the days I can throw into writing without guilt or worry that I should be doing something more financially productive.

Ah, the sun is shining, the store looks beautiful and I am feeling a wave of gratitude, even though I wish other people were here, preferably buying everything in the store.

Since this blog is not the most thrilling run of drama ever, I’ll leave you with one of the cutest poems from today’s editing – about my cat Roxanne.


She hides –IMG_1201
nothing visible
to those seeking her
but a mound
under a quilt,
even her pink nose
and glorious whiskers
peek out under pillows,
where no one can see.

The world is cold,
filled with wild beasts
and potential annoyance.

Within her warm womb,
she finds softness,roxi_closeup
the sweet echo of her own purr,
and the fantastic glory
of her dreams.

It is not so much
that she hides…
she retreats
into the embrace
of the best company
she knows –
her own.


pieces of loneliness: isolation

Another chapter from “Pieces of Loneliness”


Some mornings the sense of isolation is palpable, like a physical presence looming over my bed. The gravity of a personal black hole drags me into its frozen solitude.  Occasionally loneliness does not attach itself to those moments, instead i enjoy a level of peaceful acceptance, but those are not the mornings of greatest pain.

When I awake crying out for my legs have seized into one contracted muscle so they will neither relax nor move, the fact that i am alone drives into me like a knife.  The inevitable headache from my jaws being clenched before, and after my return to consciousness and the ragged breathing from spasms in my back as i bend down to try and coax my legs into working, hit me like hammers of condemnation. “i am alone. Unloved. Worthless. Friendless. Isolated. Helpless.”  Rather than words, the naked emotion behind those statements screams its way through my nerves, nails dug into the neck of pain.  Although i know the madness of it will pass, i am powerless against it.  All i can do, the only viable option, is to lie in bed and wait.  Eventually, my limbs will become functional – if not supple – and the crushing weight of forsakenness will lift off my chest enough for me to breathe.  Eventually.  Not yet.

All i have managed so far was one awkward, agonized toddle to the kitchen to feed hungry, insistent animals and then to lurch down the back steps to give the dog a chance to pee within leash length of the door. Hands on the walls, grunting, grimacing, my legs still feeling hamstrung by spasm, i made it back to the soft warmth of bed.darkest hours

This too shall pass.  Normally, i would push aside the absence of others that haunts me with something electronic – a video, facebook, a few games of mahjong – or a book.  Only, today, i am wondering what will happen if i welcome the black hole of isolation, pat the bed beside me, invite it to sit down and ask why it has arrived today.  Why does it always seem to ride agony like a bucking bull? Why on this particular day did it need my attention so much?

However, i get no answers from silence – instead one of my cats has found me, licking her lips from a satisfying breakfast, and proceeds to nestle in beside me, curling up in the crook of my arm and grooming my forehead with her pungent tongue.  Her purring chases away the demons, reminding me that even when i am most desperate, when i am incapacitated, i am not alone.

the coup

For the past hour or so, I’ve been rambling about the studio trying to figure out if I dare throw the five big pieces that have been hanging over my head for ages (three for nearly two months, having gone through four previous throws only to crack in the dry air of the studio, then to be thrown again, to crack again…). There is a cruel mathematics to things like this: do I risk hurting myself more for the psychological delight that will be ticking these things off my to-do list?  (The to-do monster is appeased by such actions, almost giggling, his red eyes glow a little less angrily for awhile.)

My wandering was interrupted by a phone call and a delightful conversation – the poor woman had no idea how much I wanted to connect with another person today!  As the words burbled from my mouth despite her attempts to hang up, I kept pacing, hoping my back would magically heal itself.  Alas, it has neither gotten worse nor better, which gives me no answers.

roxi_martinbothersmeHowever, I realized that I could use these moments of indecision to tell you about the coup this morning.

The cat to the left, Roxanne Whiskerdinks, had been the undisputed ruler of this domicile since the untimely passing of her elder brother, Andre the Giant.  As a radical militant female supremacist, a lot of her job had involved keeping her younger brother, Martin Longshanks, in check.  For two years, he has worshiped her as a goddess and every time he has drawn near enough to dare physical touch, she has growled and smacked him on the head.  He kept trying to win her over with his beauty and charisma, but she could not see past his deeply annoying little brotherness.

During the past two weeks, she had developed a new torment for the nervous, jumpy boy: standing on one side of a partially open door so she could jump on his back while he walked through and bite him on the head.  It had gotten so bad, he had taken to waving a paw into any open doorway, testing the waters, not realizing that all he was doing was providing her with delighted anticipation for the taste of his delicious flesh.  A small tooth sized chunk is missing from his left ear, which I believe is related to this particular game of hers.  (When questioned, she seemed to indicate he did it to himself.)martin_wakeup

This morning, as I showered, I heard what turned out to be the opening volley of a coup. The actual cause is a mystery. I don’t know why, but quite suddenly Martin’s nonviolent leanings left him – perhaps knocked out of his head in another assault by his sister.

By the time I was making breakfast, he had thoroughly thrashed her four times – each time relenting when she mewed and complained, only to get hit on the head as soon as she thought it was safe, at which point he looked completely affronted and attacked again.

Neither cat seems to have caused permanent damage to the other (except for the missing chunk of ear), although a significant amount of Roxi’s beautiful belly fur was caught in Martin’s back claws, like she was violently groomed.

What is obvious, though, is that the power structure of the house has changed.

The cats have a job while I work in the studio – holding down the bed – and Roxi always sleeps by my pillows and Martin is relegated to the foot of the bed where the dog sleeps.  This afternoon positions shifted.  I watched Roxi come into the dining room and all but bow to her little brother who stood on the table, tall and regal, with his eyes narrowed in pleasure, as though he were now her liege.  She even waited for him to have kibble first, instead of shoving him away and mewling at him for his impudence.

All hail Martin Longshanks, King of the House.

The interesting thing to me is that Martin could have done this at any point during the last eighteen months, at least, if not earlier.  He is taller than she is – with amazingly long legs and tail. When she rolls over onto her back, exposing her belly, fangs and all the sharp points, he can reach right through the barricade with his longer limbs. In a lot of ways, he is more agile. She always took Jabba the Hutt as her role model for despotic monarch, never really worrying about keeping her form or martial art skills in peak condition. She relied on psychological tactics: Martin thought the sun rose and set on his sister – and she used that mercilessly to her advantage.

Although, I think she has learned her lesson.  The last time I went in the house, he was forcing her to cuddle with him – something she detests more than anything else (boy cooties! For the love of GOD, boy cooties!) – and although I did not see the negotiation that lead to their positioning, he had more of her soft belly fur caught in his back claws.

So, I suppose the moral of the story for Roxi is that you shouldn’t treat your little brother like shit and expect that he will take it forever and ever without complaint.  And her brother’s take on all this?  Sadly, I think it is limited to: “If I close my eyes, it almost sounds like her growling is a purr.  She loves me!  She really loves me!”

The coup is complete.


abusing cats with flea prevention medicine – or, his name is mud.

So, I don’t want my cats getting fleas (again!) so I give them a flea prevention treatment every month.

Let me stress, every month. The same medication for months on end.  None of them are allergic to it, none of them have burst into flames at the thought of it.  Every. single. month. This is not a new situation and they usually whine a little but seem to accept the futility of resistance.

So, realizing that tomorrow might wind up getting away from me quite quickly, I decided to go ahead and give them their treatments.  My female cat, Roxi, wins gold stars for sleeping through the entire process.  But my cat Martin, watching his big sister get the stuff gooed on the back of her head, decided to hide under the bed.  No big deal, I got him out, got about six drops on the nape of his neck when he acted like a vampire in the noonday sun, clawed and darted under the bed.  I sighed, put the remaining flea treatment on top of the chest of drawers, closed the bedroom door and treated the dog.

The dog also wins a gold star for taking his like a champ.

Alas, Martin would not come out from under the bed.  Coaxing did not work.  The water spritzer did not work.  Stripping the bed did not work (that usually agitates him enough to want to leave the room.)  Moving the mattress did not work.  Lifting the box springs and putting them against the wall worked, sort of.  He was out from under the bed, for there was no bed to be under, but he scaled the door and was balancing with his back feet wobblingmud on the top of the door jam and his front claws furiously scratching the joint between the ceiling and the wall, trying to tunnel into the upstairs.  Much screaming accompanied this, and part of it came from the cat.

I got him down from that unstable perch, grabbing his ass until he realized he could let go of his death-grip on the wall.  Alas, he then clawed me and ran into the window, plowing through the plastic weatherproofing like it wasn’t there, his back feet on the joint between window panes, his paws furiously trying to make their way through glass.

I got him, brought him onto the floor, got the flea stuff, got two more drops on (it burns! it burns!) before he clawed me again and ran back into the window. Finally the adrenaline subsided enough for me to realized the hole he made only devastated the bottom of the weatherproofing – the top was intact, holding him like a little shrink wrapped kitty.  I punched a hole through the still firm plastic, right at the nape of his neck and gave him his flea treatment while he was trapped, although he kept screaming for the ASPCA.

Of course, he ran for the hills as soon as it was done, and I started to put the bedroom back together (and my back hurt badly enough to cry BEFORE having to lift the TempurPedic mattress.  Now I feel positively broken.)  Five minutes afterward, though, he crept into the room and stared at me disparagingly.  Five minutes after that, he made contented piggy sounds while he ate the extra gushy food I give them for successful treatment and kept looking at me like – WHAT?  WHAT?? Why are you grumps???

His name is mud.

But on the bright side, I will not have to watch him scratch at fleas.

However, any ideas how to explain the claw marks on the ceiling to the realtor?

Pieces of Loneliness: the dog

Another chapter from Pieces of Loneliness.  I wrote this about my dog, years before he was attacked by a huge dog this summer.  Happily, it did not change his opinion on other dogs in general – he seems to understand the sentiment below, that hostility is not inevitable.

–the dog–

Other dogs confused him. As a puppy, his only canine companion had been a vicious bitch who kept beating him until he bled. She always wanted something from him, but he could never discern what it might be. Once he found his current person, he stopped thinking about others like himself, with the wagging tails and droopy ears. He dwelt in a realm populated by cats and bipeds.

Then one day, his strange little caretaker took him to a dog-filled beach. Those first few moments, he quaked with fear, flinching every time a creature barked or a nose came sniffing a greeting.  He was overcome with anxiety. But, after a little while, much quicker than expected, he recognized that hostility was not inevitable. Each subsequent trip to the beach or the dog park increased his comfort. In fact, he began to enjoy the strange intimacies of the other dogs. They certainly smelled interesting. They appeared rather concerned with his personal hygiene and general health. One plucky terrier even stood in his urine stream, no doubt worshiping him as a minor deity.

However, he never quite comprehended them. With zeal, they ran after balls and brought them back to their companions, who as far as he could tell did not want them, for instantly the balls flew across the field again. When he ran, others acted as though he should be chased and contained. Dogs, he noticed, always wanted to wrestle. They grappled him inappropriately, not respecting his personal space. But he could not be so rude as to bark or growl. Squirming away, he inevitably began to run again. None of the other dogs seemed to grasp how running – not grappling and running or fetching and running – but simply running until you meet the horizon was the most wonderful thing in the world.

In time, he became more acclimated to others of his species. Even the biggest, meanest dog failed to terrify him. He could stand up to vicious ones by making them chase him until they dropped from exhaustion. Over time, he found his way through their complex social maneuverings, even though he could never bring himself to care where he ranked in the group. He never felt compelled to conform. The things that made him happiest, pulled him away from other dogs. He squandered not one second worrying about it. Humans, cats, the wind against his face as he raced at full speed, all of these things provided him with more unadulterated joy than belonging to the pack ever could.