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While I hammered out the previous post HOLDING THE END IN MY HANDS someone dear to me lay dying.

I have barely been able to hold a pen in my hands. Those times when I reflect on writing my final wishes that evening, I feel selfish.  Yet there wasn’t a thing I could have done to change the outcome.   On that I am certain.

I’d tried to reach them, tried to teach them, sharing my hard-earned wisdom of history, genetics, and unfortunate choices.  Never could I share an “I told you so,” my head full of old wounds offered to protect them.  They already knew.  They hurt enough and their wounds, like a protector, I wished would quickly heal.  I preferred to dish out “Atta girl, Follow your heart and happiness will follow, Do what you love and love will come to you, Lead with your gut but don’t forget your head, Life is short, and a complimentary You rock!”.

It’s over now. I will not dwell on the proximity I never had. I’m grateful for the times I had her ear, most grateful to have learned she had listened.  Selectively.  I’m grateful for the times we had together throughout our lives.  I’ve grateful she was brought into this world, so sad to say she is gone.

Thus I see how short life is and I say it often, I’m saying it to you:  Life is short.  Live every moment as if it is your last.  Forgive and forget.  Rock on.  Follow your heart and happiness will follow.

And for her:

 

YOU ROCKED!

Cutthroat

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My heart beats bleeding

What do I say as my heart beats bleeding,

As the same blood flows from kin

The waterfall of pain ripped open by sleeping?

How many roses do I buy to get in the door,

Extend  arms out not simply to comfort

Show I care, show I am there?

How many times do I knock on the door

Pleading to come in

Feeling only silence?  Avoiding the din?

My heart beats bleeding

My desire  to teach

How I crawled on this journey

The dust the dirt

abrasions on my tummy

I might have saved you,

Would rescue you still.

Could only it matter

My attempt to reach?

You leave us shattered

The moment is here

No reasons for speech.

 

 

Holding the end in my hands

A postcard arrived in the mail from The Neptune Society recently.  My first thought,  “Burial at sea, hmmm.  I’ve always liked water.”  Second thought, “With my luck I’ll end up on top of Osama bin Laden.”

The Neptune Society is a company which allows an individual to preplan their cremation.  I have known for a  very long time cremation is what I wish for my remains, at least after any usable organs have been removed, harvested, whatever.  Just do not lock me in a casket, encase me in concrete, bury me beneath the surface of the earth.  I used to have bad dreams as a child I’d accidentally be buried alive and wake up after the dirt had been piled atop, everyone had left the after party and all the cake was gone.  Cake never really figured into any of this until just now.

I sent in their reply postcard requesting information from Neptune.  Figuring it would take a while I was very surprised to learn less than a week later, my husband and I had gotten a call from one of their agents to set up an appointment with us at our house.  He and I figured we would look at their plan and get some other quotes on final bonfires. In other words, we could kick that tire around until it went flat and forgotten.  We procrastinate way too much.

We signed on the bottom line.  Its all taken care of except monthly payments.  Unless I completely disappear, I will someday be blowin’ in the wind. I promise I won’t fart.

Detached is a good word for how I have approached my last wishes.  I am not one for wanting to go to my own funeral, and I really do not want one. I have had the pleasure of attending them throughout my life, exposed for the first time at the age of six when my Mom’s brother died. The experience wasn’t too terribly bad as I had my cousins to gang around the funeral parlor with, a ton of people attended, and I experienced Catholicism at its ritual finest.      Not long after, a Protestant Grandmother passed away. It was so sad. I remember cold, bleak darkness.   No hoopla for my favorite Granma. What a let-down.  Every other funeral has followed suit with hers.   Looking at a stiff, remark on how nice they look (For crying out loud, they are dead.  When does dead look nice?) sit on folding chairs and listen for pins to drop is not my idea of a send-off.   Aside from being a tremendous expense taking up valuable space in the earth strikes me as wasteful.  Someday earth’s inhabitants may need the area to plant or build upon.  I have been a long-term advocate to Prevent Poltergeist!

My husband and I received, in separate boxes, our ‘preneed’ kit.  We each got a beautiful box. They are shiny, smooth, and the top of the box is rounded. The interior is soft and plush.  Included are a candle and holder, a slab of acrylic with “Forever Loved” beautifully engraved upon it, and a tiny little plastic bag and plug for a tad of my cremains for someone to hold onto until thrown out or donated to Goodwill.  There is a circle carved out of the slab. I initially pictured a photo of my favorite dead cat in it until my hubby pointed out it is a place for the candle holder.  The plug goes on the bottom of the slab.

I’m not going in there. All of the above sits above a hidden interior compartment (not really hidden, there are obvious pull tabs. I was enjoying the haunted feel).  A Guide to Goodbye lays on top of a biodegradable box my actual cremains are to be placed into after I am cooked and crushed.

I want to fly like an eagle, roll down a river, ride the air and float the ocean to disappear into nothingness.  I do hope I don’t hang out in the box very long. I’m claustrophobic.

My husband heard me open up the cardboard shipping box, remove the packing, and asked, “Did our caskets arrive?”.   That sucked all the air out. I was getting an early look at my own funeral.  I could customize it.  Put in the names of everyone important, everyone who would find it important to come pay some last respects to me.  I find that regretfully humorous as no one comes to see me while I’m living and breathing and able to serve up some awesome cookies.   A very lonely thought, indeed.  I put everything away.  I hope the next time its opened will be when the time comes for me to be swept up off the conveyor belt and poured into the biodegradable box, temporarily.  Really temporarily or I will come back and haunt whomever.  No cookies for them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Carrot Cake I made

I made some changes to my cousin’s recipe.

I made one round layer.  Parchment paper is back in vogue for good reason. Trace the bottom of the pan, cut out the tracing.  Set that aside. Grease and flour the pan and put the paper cut-out in the bottom.    For the rest of the batter I made cupcakes with paper cups, the store bought type.  I’m not ambitious enough to create my own.  I do spray the cupcake cups with cooking spray so the papers can be peeled away.  I hate it when half the cupcakes or muffins stick to the paper and  go to waste or I  scrape away the cake with my teeth when no one is looking.  Forks are never around when you need them.  Cooking spray works like a charm.

Cut the oil to one cup.  For spices 2 tsp of cinnamon, 3/4 tsp each of ground ginger and nutmeg.  3/4 tsp. of salt, 1 3/4 tsp. of baking soda.  I grated up 2 1/2 Cups of carrots (organic: who can stand the taste of fertilizers and pesticides?), of which I made easy work of using my food processor.   It is the same little processor my Ex gave me thirty years ago.

Oops! I was clean out of brown sugar so I made my own.  Here is a good link for a how to:   http://joythebaker.com/2010/08/how-to-make-brown-sugar/   I made it in my stand mixer and did have to scrape the sugar down the sides of bowl.  Took a little elbow grease but I got’er done.

I used 3/4 Cup of chopped walnuts, only one cup of raisins and 1 1/2 tsp of vanilla, Mexican or Bourbon vanilla.  I likes it strong. And I likes to drink my booze on those rare occasions of indulgence.

For the frosting, I admit it to be a flaming red light food.  I bought some cream cheese frosting in a container, told my husband he was in charge of the frosting.  I forgot to remind him to hide it from me.  Let me just say, it wasn’t worth it.

The cake and the cupcakes took longer to bake than the average cake(s).  Utilizing both the toothpick test and testing the top of the cakes to spring back when touched lightly guaranteed doneness.  It is the OCD in me.  All were allowed to cool on racks for 15 minutes before a sharp knife (what Native Americans called Andrew Jackson) inserted along the interior side of the layer to loosen it.  The layer was placed upside down upon a cooling rack. Pan removed, the parchment paper was then peeled away and the cake allowed to cool.  No, I didn’t scrape the cake crumbs off to taste.  I have grown up a bit.

I tend to get carried away when I fill cupcake or muffin cups with batter.  For those that overflowed unto the top of the pan I did run that same sharp blade between the pan and the overflow.    The cupcakes were then tilted a bit on their sides to continue to cool completely.

This whole baking extravaganza took place on Christmas Eve, two plus weeks after my hubby’s original request to concoct a carrot cake.  It was my Christmas present to him;  he celebrates the occasion like a heathen, he just doesn’t.  I do enjoy Christmas, and I have learned these 17 years of us together to go about it lightly, protecting my own feelings.  My expectations are nil for his voluntary outward participation.  He got cupcakes and a batch of  Dory Greenspan’s World peace Cookies (A chocoholic’s answer to cocoa withdrawal).  I will allow you to look the latter up, it is in her Cookie Cookbook.  There is a sweet little story on how she named the recipe.

May your cookies gently crumble, your carrot cakes taste yummy, and let Peace prevail on earth, good friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Tabatha,

I found your “farm animal” catnip toy yesterday.  For the first time since we parted I was able to smile.  It was fun to remember you carrying it around the house while you spoke in tongues and looked for us in your anxious moments of separation.  You were so cute, embarrassed to be seen in a desperate moment of needing humans.  Not the usual look of one of God’s most successful predators. It’s been cleaned up and I took a needle and thread to the hole in its back where you chewed through to get to the nip.

The catnip in your backyard has begun to flower.  You did an awesome job getting the seed from one little plant spread around last year.  Catnip is coming up EVERYWHERE: in the raspberry bushes, under the deck, between the deck stairs, in my ice plant, the purple cone flowers, the dianthus, spirea, everywhere.  Some of the stalks are so tall you could have found shade behind them or a new hiding place from those obnoxious Magpies who had the nerve to visit your yard in the first place. You did yourself proud, it is a shame you aren’t here to enjoy your bumper crop.  If you could work some magic, send somebody by who could use a little pick-me-up, just so long as it is not a mountain lion.

The house has been terribly quiet. We miss your persistent whining, snoring in your sleep, and the occasional swear words uttered when you found yourself underfoot.  I haven’t hit the deck stumbling over your speed bump of a body lying on the dark rug in the dark night.  I secretly crave the feel of your silky fur on the skin of my feet or to find one of my slippers in some off location.

My free time has opened up.  I no longer have you plunking yourself down in the middle of the floor for one of the 30 or so daily massages you squeezed out of me.  I find myself ready for the day on time or even early.  Yet I would give my tail to see you again shoot up the stairs like a bullet, run to that favored spot to fall over, and give that look which said, “Well, what’s the hold-up?”.

Both of us are terribly sorry you had such a rough go as you began to ‘pack-up’ to leave.  Rand saw the changes in you before I did.  Truthfully, I wanted to hide behind a curtain of denial.  You had stopped playing with thing on the end of a string and showed zero interest going outside with me in the mornings.  You had stopped cleaning up the dry kibble we left for your overnight munchies.  The last of it was thrown in the trash, I know you wouldn’t have wished that awful prescription diet on any of the neighborhood cats who had the nerve to hang out or pass through your yard.  I did you a solid. 077.JPG

You were a great cat, Tabatha.  Unlike most of your species, you loved unconditionally, especially when we ate ice cream and with the exception of our feeble attempts to clip those talon like claws.  There was rarely a time when you were not willing to show love to us, generous with your head bumps, one of my favorite ways to be woken up.

We miss having you hold us down in our laps, greeting us at the door when we come home to then fall over on your side in submission following with  a steady murmur of purring.  You left us with many happy memories.  We are grateful you chose us, sorrowful at your passing.  The place you reside in our hearts is yours to have forever.

All our love,

Janet and Rand

 

 

 Breathe above the water (For Tabatha)

Inhale exhale eyes closed

An insect jets by

Hummingbird hovers

 we face-to-face

Wings circle eight

My hands move in kind 

Keep me afloat in a pool of dreams

Time Remembered 

My tears for you

Who could never know

Opening my eyes 

A cottontail leaps 

Across the meadow  

Of tall grass and aspen trees

Beauty in motion 

A doe stands tall 

Leaving the field of wildflowers

She springs to life 

I am alone knowing 

It is time to set you free.