Goodbye Yukiko · 17 March 2018

I never knew I could cry so much for a dog.

Grief is a strange thing. It is sad and it is happy. It is maddening and gladdening. It is part of life. Even if we wish it was not so. At least those are some of the thoughts and feelings I have had over the past few years. And while losing a parent and a pet are completely different things, they are much the same. After all, we love them both. And we grieve for them both. Maybe what my wife said is true. Dogs are people too.

Actually, I think that we have been hosting an angel in our midst for the past sixteen years. Oh sure, our little dog, Yukiko, got into mischief and had a few potty accidents and she barked a lot. But she loved us well, and she kept our yard safe from moles as she made her appointed rounds. She was a West Highland White Terrier after all.

I am sure that most people would agree that their pets, especially their dogs, become part of their family. (Some people might even agree that they are people.) They are very social animals after all and surely think of us as their packs. Yukiko was always part of our family. Right from the day she got here. Of course, getting her here was part of the reason I think we might have hosted an angel.

I did not want a dog, but my mom said that we needed one. Our kids needed the experience of having a pet. Of having a dog. All I could think of was the mess. Actually, all I thought of was the dog poop. (It has been a while since I wrote about poop. But it really was a consideration.) And then there was the barking, which I never even thought about. Still, Mom being Mom, got her wish. And it was not with the argument that the dog would help clean up messes under the kids’ chairs when they were young.

Well, we thought about adopting a dog from a friend, but that did not work out. (It tried to eat our oldest when he came back from being away for a weekend.) So we ended up getting Yukiko. We knew it was meant to be.

Yukiko was this tiny thing. She came with her own little Beanie Baby too. A little black and white panda that contrasted with her all white body. She loved that little panda through the years until it had no stuffing left. But she still loved it even then. Mostly though, that little dog loved us.

And we loved her too.

Yukiko liked to play fetch as a youngster. And it was always fun to see her race around the house for no reason at all. She would start in one room and race around and around. Then, she would just stop. She and the boys would have fun playing in the water or in the snow. Every season was a fun season with the dog around to play with the boys. She was with us for sixteen wonderful years, but slowed down the last couple. The boys did not really play with her much anymore then except for our oldest who had taught her to bark at his fingers or toy guns when he made a shooting sound.

We all loved that little dog.

But upon Yukiko leaving this earth, I cannot help but think that our little dog was more than just a dog. I really do see her as an angel. Or at least some sort of emissary from God. After all she taught me many lessons.

I learned better how to live in the moment. Yukiko did not worry and helped me remember that I ought not either. She was always excited for any little thing, especially supper. And Saturday morning pancakes. (I regret not having those pancakes for the last several weeks of her life.) She taught me that I needed to treat my family with respect and dignity. She taught this especially well, as she aged, and had a few more accidents and was not able to do all her jobs quite as well.

Mostly, our Yukiko taught us about unconditional love. When I scolded her or called her naughty names, she still loved me. When I ignored her, she loved me. When I was sad, she loved me. Always, under every circumstance, she loved me. Just like God does. Which is why I say that we hosted an angel for the last sixteen years. It is not just the grief talking.

Writing is part of my grieving process. It is how I process the loss. I wrote a bunch when my dad died. And I wrote this and a poem when my dog died. I will still process the loss for a while and I am sure I will cry some more. For we lost more than our little dog. More than a family member. We lost our little angel. But I am thankful for the time we had together.

Thank you for the time we spent together. And thank you for the lessons you taught me. Goodbye Yukiko. I hope I get to see you again. (It is hard to believe I am still crying.)

© 2018 Michael T. Miyoshi

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Strange Social Media Phenomenon · 10 March 2018

Botón Me gusta by Enoc vt
Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

I think I may have stumbled upon a strange social media phenomenon. People like the strangest things.

I have been on social media for a long time now. Or at least it seems so. Even so, I still do not get too wrapped up in it. I do not spend hours on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram. Quite honestly, I still mostly just use it to promote my writing (even though I do not do that much). Oh sure, I like to play the digital voyeur to check on what people are doing. (A few of my cousins are doing tough mudders and marathons and all sorts of crazy things. And most of them are older than me.) But I do not get too wrapped up in posting stuff about myself. I suppose I am supposed to do that if I am really promoting my writing, but something in me goes against the thought of posting too much about myself. Besides, it would mean spending hours on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, which is something I am loathe to do.

One of the things I do enjoy is looking at trending hashtags on Twitter. Sometimes I find one that I comment on. I just take a couple seconds and pound out those 140 characters (more now). Sometimes I write a #6WordStory. Sometimes I make a comment about #WhatsHappening. Sometimes I just see something that #TripsMyTrigger and so I write a quick thought.

That was what happened on #NationalPancakeDay. I happened to see it and said something about how the day ought to happen on a Saturday like our household pancake day does. I also happened to mention how the #PrincessBride30th Anniversary was crazy and quoted a line. Silly thoughts that do not really mean much. But inconceivably, those were the posts that garnered likes and comments. Not the blog posts where I labored on each word and poured out my heart and soul. Not the posts that point to where I put in my blood, sweat, and tears. (My blog for those that did not get the reference. By the way, I know that explaining the joke or reference takes the humor and fun out of said joke or reference. Ah well…)

Okay. I do not really put that much effort into my blog. Well I do, but I don’t. Words just usually flow and so I do not need to put in too much blood, sweat, and tears. (Notice the Oxford comma.) I just love to write so the words usually come without that much effort. Besides, I only have a few real and imaginary readers, so there are not that many people who nitpick my stuff. And fewer still who post on my social media (or directly to my blog, hint, hint).

Which is why I wrote that people like the strangest things. They comment and like or love something based purely on what they feel in the moment. Which is not usually about something that takes more than a few seconds to read. Or so it seems. Maybe I stumbled upon a strange social media phenomenon. Or maybe I just made a few people mad, by writing this post. What a strange phenomenon is social media.

© 2018 Michael T. Miyoshi

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A Real Fish Story · 3 March 2018

Photo courtesy of Margie Miyoshi

Now for a real fish story. One that did not get away.

I put a couple pictures on my last blog post that might have been a bit misleading. I put a picture of my grandpa and me with a bunch of fish. He caught the bigger two. Naturally. And I had a picture of my mom and one of my aunts with a bunch of fish. Needless to say, I have a little ‘splainin’ to do.

The first time I saw that picture of my mom and aunt with the fish, I thought, “Wow! They caught some nice fish.” About as nice as the fish my dad and uncle caught. I even thought it was nice that they posed about the same. I never did think to look at the fish. Apparently, the fish were the ones that Dad and Uncle Don caught, not the ones that Mom and Auntie Judi caught. (Yes, I still say Auntie and Uncle.)

Photo courtesy of Margie Miyoshi

I never realized that they were the same fish until my mom said I could use the picture on my blog. My aunt said that she would be honored to be mentioned in my blog. I am not so sure that is true now that I have uncovered the truth about their picture. The whole world could have thought she and Mom were great fly fisherwomen. Ah well. They will get over the notoriety. After all, not all the fun in fishing is in the catching. Most of it is in the storytelling.

My dad really liked to fish. Not just pose for pictures with fish that somebody else caught. He and at least a few of his siblings learned that love from their father, my grandpa. And my favorite fishing stories revolve around him.

Grandpa was a great fisherman. When he was not farming, he was fishing. Or so it seemed. I remember going fishing with him many times. Most of the time, we would head up from northern Colorado, where he lived, to Wyoming, where he fished. Most of the time, we kids would end up being too loud for him. He would say “Yakamashi!” which means we were being too loud and ought to quiet down because we were scaring the fish. (But that is another story.)

While there are many fishing trips that I remember, there is only one trip and one fish that I will never forget.

Contrary to popular opinion, fishing is not a competitive sport. You just catch fish. And then, you either release them or you eat them. Simple. Not a competition. Unless, of course, you make it one.

Well for some reason on this particular fishing trip, somebody made it a competition. For one day of our trip up to Wyoming, we were going to see who caught the biggest fish. Not the most or the least. Just the biggest. It hardly seemed fair. After all, I was not even a teenager yet. Which meant that my cousins were younger and would not be catching any fish bigger than Grandpa. That left, Grandma, my dad, and whichever other adults were fishing to try and catch a bigger fish than Grandpa. It was obviously a rigged game. Grandpa would surely win.

Even though I knew the outcome was inevitable, I went out to catch fish. I was old enough to go out on my own on the river and so I walked the bank like all the adults did. I found a spot I thought might have some fish and cast in my line. I reeled in and cast out, reeled in and cast out. All the time moving just a little bit downstream. Not much, but enough so that I was not always in the same spot.

All of a sudden I had a bite. It was not just a nibble. It was a huge strike. I set the hook and started reeling in. I even had to adjust the drag to be tighter to bring that fish in. We fought and fought until I finally got the big rainbow trout to the shore. I pulled it up on the grass and was getting ready to pull out the hook and put it on my stringer, when it spit the hook. I was shocked and unprepared, but I did not just watch as the fish flopped itself into the air trying to get back to the water. I threw down my pole and jumped after it.

It only took a couple flops, but the fish used its last bits of strength and gravity to make it back into the water. I did too. I jumped into the knee deep water. There was no way that fish was getting away. Thankfully, the fish was exhausted by our fight and the flipping and flopping it had to do to get back into the water. It was just sitting there in the water catching its breath. Letting the water flow through its gills. I had no mercy. I caught that fish in my hands and took it back out of the water and onto my stringer. I caught that fish fair and square, and it was going to be supper. For more than just me.

Photo courtesy of Margie Miyoshi

I do not have a picture of it, but if I did it would be priceless. The picture would be of Grandpa and me standing side by side like we are in the picture here. But instead of Grandpa having the biggest fish, I did. I won the competition! My fish was longer and rounder. Larger by every measure. And that is no fish story.

I have fond memories of fishing with our family. And even though many of the best fish stories are about the one that got away or the one somebody else caught, my favorite fish story is of the day that I outfished my Grandpa. I love the story of the one that almost got away.

© 2018 Michael T. Miyoshi

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