Things Left Behind

Since last week I’ve been obsessed with a new game called Outer Wilds, a first-person game about jumping in your ramshackle spacecraft and exploring the solar system. It’s completely free of combat and has pretty excellent graphics and visual style. At its core is a mystery about an ancient race of aliens that arrived in the solar system, built a bunch of things, and then vanished; your job is to learn more about them and find out why. To this end, the game has a really well-designed journal system to keep track of the various story threads you can tug at, and you can explore locations in any order. As a person who loves exploration in games, this thing has grabbed me hard, and “obsession” is honestly not an exaggeration. I actually dreamed about it a few nights ago. Periodically throughout the day I’ve been going “Oh! What if I tried to do this to get into there?” and then I can’t wait to get a few moments to get to my console and try it.

It’s also surprisingly relaxing and low-key funny! Last night I was exploring an orbital probe cannon built by the aliens, and decoded a string of cute messages between the husband-and-wife caretakers of the cannon; about how they’d gotten specific instructions from the Construction Yard not to overcharge the cannon when using it, but that they were definitely going to do that because why build an orbital cannon and not push it to the limits? Later, when exploring the Construction Yard, I found another string of messages by the engineers, who had already assumed the married couple were going to try and overpower the cannon, so its “100% power level” was intentionally placed a little lower on the settings in order to keep everyone safe.

I love it.

On a total change of topic, Monday would have been my Mom’s 69th birthday. Lloyd ended up joining me as I went out to her grave in the morning, grabbing small coffees with cream and a muffin from McDonalds on the way. Small-with-cream was her regular order whenever we’d go out together, and we’d often share bites of the muffin. I drove out there last year with one from Tim Hortons, and I think I’m making this…like an annual thing.

She’s buried in the cemetery of the church she grew up in, Glencross, which is about 10 minutes south of Morden. It’s relatively small, and surrounded by trees and farmland. There’s almost no traffic along the roads during the day, and generally nobody at the church outside of services and events. The cemetery runs behind the church and is shaded by old trees from a lightly wooded area nearby. It is a wonderfully peaceful place.

So we stood for a bit, sipping our coffees, reminiscing and chatting a little about things in general. Sometimes we just stood quietly, hearing only birdsong and the wind in the trees. We’d both been there only a few weeks ago for Grandma Hoeppner’s funeral — mom’s mom — so we strolled over to that grave as well, before leaving quietly. On the way back to the car, we both lifted our cups in a kind of salute to Mom.

I know that she isn’t “there” and it’s just her earthly remains. I believe that she’s in heaven now and isn’t sad about any of this, and as such, a visit like this is really just for us. But I’m happy that one of the places we can go to remember her is so peaceful, and I hope it stays that way for a long time to come.

Thing I Saw: A dog wandering freely down the sidewalk near my house, with nobody around. Stray dogs are not common in our town, so one immediately assumes that this pupper (a golden doodle? I think??) escaped from somewhere. I got out of the car, raised my hand and used my nicest tone to call it over and see if I could get some info, but it ran away. Doesn’t it know I’m a friend to all dogs? (There was also a cat wandering around nearby, so maybe they were doing an Incredible Journey thing)

Thing I Learned: The James Beard Awards are sort of like the Oscars of the American culinary world.

I’m Grateful For: Honestly, living in a market where I’m not priced out of my favourite hobby (video games). I get to play so many new things for cheap / free these days it’s crazy, but going abroad — especially South America — I know gamers are asked to pay a lot more for some of these experiences.

A lot of Final Fantasy music was just put on Spotify, yay