Her name is Grace

Posted by & filed under goodbye gracie.

This morning, like every morning, she jumped on the bed, to sit in my lap and purr. For as long as I will stay in bed.

She makes it hard to get out of bed. It’s one of my favorite parts of the day. The other is at night, when she starts coming around as if to say, “hey now, when are you coming to bed for our snuggle?”

I don’t know what I’m going to do once she’s gone.

Today I made the decision that I can’t keep her with me any longer. I am headed to the veterinarian’s office in a couple of hours. Even though she still is herself at times. But I’ve had to coax her to eat the last two times. And she’s starting to hide. She’s licking all the time and last night when I found her under the guest bedroom covers, she had pink drool down the side of her chin with the bone tumor. It’s getting bigger. And I felt like she let me touch it last night, as if to allow me to make it better. The same with the herbal extract I had started to give her via dropper the last week. She trusts me. But I can’t make it better. I can only help her move on to the next stage, where there is no more pain.

I was going to write this after the appointment. Spend the morning with her. Make this last day a full one. But she didn’t want to go outside this morning. I even carried her outside and she let me know clearly that she was not interested, and pasted herself up at the door to come in. So we went on to catnip. She loved that, I took a video of it and some more pictures. And now she’s sleeping, under the covers again. And if that keeps her out of feeling pain, that’s what I want for her for her last few hours. This isn’t about me anymore. Actually, it has never been. When she was first diagnosed with a bone tumor (we had hoped it was an infection, but it didn’t respond to antibiotics, it only grew bigger) I told the vet that we weren’t putting her through chemo, we were only going to let her enjoy her last time here on earth. She’s 13. And at that point, she was acting completely like herself. I don’t even know how long she had the bump on her chin before I noticed it. The vet agreed, gave me a sheet about quality of life. Tracey (my vet tech daughter) said to pick a couple of things she liked to do and when she wasn’t doing those anymore, I’d know. I think I’ve decided a little earlier than most people might. But I’ve seen her turn a corner and it’s only downhill from here. And I watched one of my best friends die from cancer. I’m going to spare her that. We are lucky we can spare our pets that, but oh the responsibility of this decision is so, so, heavy.

I really hope there is an afterlife and that I will see her again. She’s been such a good companion. And so, enough of the grief, I’m going to talk about all she means to me right now. Because I can’t really focus on much else, anyway.

My cousin-in-law’s kitty was Gracie’s mother. She sent us a picture of the litter, and I picked Gracie from the photo. She was a pretty little thing. A calico. I have been scouring my computer files for a Gracie kitten photo but, alas, can’t find one. I’ve lost a lot of digital pictures over the years from hard drive failures. Just trust me. She was cute, had really great markings, and double paws, that were white. She looked like she wore mittens.

My daughter Kelly came with me to pick her up. She fell in love with a yellow tiger and wanted me to pick him instead. But I had my heart set on Gracie. I picked her up, put her in my lap, and she promptly stood up and jumped onto the couch and laid down next to my leg. My mind wandered to switching to the yellow tiger. But I stuck with this gal who knew her own mind. Very cat-like.

I was wearing a green fleece. She snuggled into it on the ride home. Every time I had that fleece on the bed, she would snuggle into it. Once it finally became no longer wearable (it lasted a LONG time, it was just this past year), it wound up down in my sewing room, waiting for me to make a pillow for a basket she lays in. I never got to it. After I found out she was sick I just picked it up as is and laid it in the basket. I’ve found her in the basket a few times snuggling into it. I’m going to bring it with me when we go to the vet for her ride “home.”

The first time I took her to the vet, they said, “oh, a Calico, they have tough personalities.” I told them she was great, I hadn’t seen any signs of that.

The signs eventually came. She would all of a sudden just not want you to touch her. She wanted things on her own terms (we had that sign at the beginning), she would whip her tail around (I actually never could figure out if she wagged that tail like a dog because she did it when she seemed to be happy, too). It took two people to cut her nails (or one person with her wrapped up in a blanket). She would scream bloody murder and the moment we were done it was like nothing had happened, she’d just whip that tail a little more. She had that cattitude to deal with the dogs, to let them know she was the ultimate boss (Max, my other cat, runs away from Koda).

Gracie talks ALL THE TIME. She talks when she is happy. She talks when she is mad. She is a chatty kitty. I never really could figure her out. She is the QUIRKIEST kitty I’ve ever met. Her own “person.” I love her even more for that. I have a thing for quirky.

I could go on and on forever. But I won’t. The last thing I want to say is that she and Max are pals. I call them the “gang of two.” They have never allowed another cat settle into this house. We got a stray once. He would always sleep with his back against the wall. Eventually he just left. And Tracey came home with her cats for awhile. They didn’t get to stay. Gracie would walk up to Max as if to say, “Max, he’s bothering me” and all of a sudden Max would go after that cat. It was bizarre. Together, they had their own love/hate thing going on. Gracie would grab a hold of Max and groom him. I used to have a picture of that, but I haven’t found that either – I’ll keep looking. She doesn’t really groom him anymore. Gracie is queen of my lap. Max knows to stay away if she’s already present (except for last night. We all snuggled together on the couch). Max is king of the food dishes. I feed them across the room from each other and I often have to block him from coming over before Gracie is done. Once she’s done, I let him finish up her food. Many times they get into fights and I have to yell, “knock it off!” You never know when the hello is going to turn into someone looking at each other the wrong way and then the escalation begins. But it may all just be play getting out of hand. As I’ve said, I can’t figure this girl out. And even at age 13, she still (up until the last week) could be caught zooming around the house in kitten mode.

When my cat Cosby died, he had something similar. A growth. When the time came, all of us gathered around him on the bed and said goodbye. Gave him a brushing, petted him. Last night, snuggling on the couch, I feel like Max and Gracie got a goodbye time (even though they weren’t really interacting with each other, but they were both interacting with me). And Andy and I got snuggle time with her last night. She crawled under the covers and snuggled into my sideways “lap” a couple of times as I was drifting off to sleep (it was hard to do last night, knowing I was going to say goodbye to her today). And this morning, we had our last morning snuggle. My heart breaks to even write that last line.

It’s almost time to leave. I’m going to close with some pictures of my Gracie. And a link to this post I wrote about her years ago. She’s been a lovely kitty. I’m going to miss her so much.

 

 

There are so many more….Thank goodness for cameras.

PS the scary-looking picture is a yawn. But, to me, it’s always represented the wild thing she became when we cut her claws!


I’m back now. She’s gone. My lovely friend told me to ask Gracie to give me signs after she went to her next life. I told Gracie that and that we’d think about a sign. Right after that the song Twinkle Twinkle Little Star played on my Pandora Piano Guys radio station. I told her I will be looking for her up in the night sky.

The Wrong Side of a Gun

Posted by & filed under poetry.

Have you ever been on the wrong side of a gun?
The end that screams death as metal hurls faster
than any force man could exert on his own
and rips apart flesh like it wasn’t even there?
Have you ever heard the screams or loosed them yourself
as the wrong side of the gun pointed its ugly finger?
Have you ever been just going about your day
when your life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness
was on the wrong side of a gun
and was splashed with blood that stains the ground and your brain
to change you forever?
Have you?
Ever?
I haven’t.
But I will listen to to the cries of those who have,
both living and dead.
Because they have a wisdom born from that
that speaks louder than anyone else.


photo credit: CaliPicture via photopin (license)

A note from me:

This poem was inspired by the kids from Parkland, FL who are speaking out against gun violence, saying #NeverAgain. And now there are “grownups” speaking out against them and putting them down. Isn’t that easy to do if you’ve never been through a massacre? And, so, as I was thinking on that, this poem began writing itself in my head. And this scary picture showed up when I searched for a picture of a gun. I decided to use it because I hope it will be a wake-up jolt for us all. We need to listen to the voices of those who have been there.

The loud voices

Posted by & filed under poetry.

I lost myself in the loud voices;

couldn’t hear myself.

They called, cajoled,

Insisted.

“Be like us.”

“Believe like us.”

They made me afraid of being wrong.

But I see now that they were the ones afraid,

not me.

Because I’ve always known what I believe,

I just let them talk me out of it for a little while.

 


Shhhhhhhhhh. Be still, and know.

photo credit: torbakhopper how to get away with murder in the snow : tv shot, san francisco (2015) via photopin (license)

Merry Christmas 2017

Posted by & filed under my life.

I’ve sat down to write a Christmas greeting a couple of times but I stare at the blank page and ask myself, “what should I even write?” I’m not really in the mood to be chatty – say, what? But, there it is. Really. So quick updates on our lives, then I’m outa here.

Me: Herbal business progresses. Did 3 craft fairs this holiday season. Loved meeting people and talking herbs. Products are now listed on my Dandelion Forest site, but I’m refining as I go. I really like making medicinal tea blends the best. Hoping to start an herbal newsletter after the holidays.

Andy: Tennis. Crossfit. Basketball. Crossfit. Tennis. Senior Games in June, did great. We went to Alabama for that and rented an RV. It was fun. This summer will be qualifying events for the following year’s games. I am confident he will qualify in more than one event and we’ll have a nice trip to New Mexico, which we’ve never been to. Proud of my athletic hubby.

Tracey & Roberto: Big year for them! Another baby, Leiana, was born on March 3rd. She set about winning our hearts right away. Landon continues to bring us great joy. Such a neat kid (3 1/2 now). And they bought their first home, in Fairfield, CT. Still at their same jobs, tennis pro-ing and saving animals’ lives.

Alex & Caroline: Alex and his girlfriend, Caroline, got an apartment together in Brighton. They are getting their exercise, daily, living on the 4th floor. We love having them close by (relatively speaking). Both are working towards advanced degrees – Caroline doing her masters, Alex heads down in the world of GMAT studying. And they are both voracious – VORACIOUS – readers. UPDATE 1/2/18 – Alex and Caroline are engaged to be married! We are all so happy!

Kelly & Greg: Kelly got a new job working for New York Road Runners, which puts on a bunch of road races, including the NYC marathon. Greg ran the marathon (in really good time!) this year and Kelly got to give him his medal at the finish line. Special. They, also, bought a house (in Berkeley Heights), soon after moving out of NYC and into an apartment in NJ. Move in date is early February. They both still commute into the city for work.

Animals: Koda is 11 and stiffening up a bit (this dang aging thing), Columbus is 6 and as puppyish as ever, Max and Gracie are somewhat older than Koda, but I’m too lazy to look up their birth years. I think 12 & 13/14. Still doing well although Gracie is missing most of her teeth, which also makes it easier to cut her nails now that I don’t have to worry about her biting me. Our poultry count is 10 chickens, 3 ducks, and a goose. We added the goose this year (a gift from my pet sitter) and I love her to pieces. Her name is Silly. And she is.

Okay, that’s the update. Still a bit chatty. Once I started typing, my chatty genes kicked in.

But, what I really want to say, to end this, is that this year, especially, I pray for our country and world – that kindness will permeate every one and every thing, and in the spirit of Jesus and all the great spiritual teachers that pointed the way to God, we all will live from that place of pure love.

Much love to you and yours.

And herbal blessings.

Chris

Do Over

Posted by & filed under poetry.

Do over.
Starting now.
No more carrying other people’s pain.
No more carrying their mistakes either.
We are each carrying enough of our own.
Time to drop those, too, into the past where they belong.
Unencumbered, let us move forward
With a heart full of love,
A mind full of peace,
And lips full of blessings.
A better world awaits….

 


photo credit: Coram Deo “Living Before The Face of God” O Lord, Let Me Not Build My Life On Sands But On The Foundation Of Your Word via photopin (license)

A place of grace

Posted by & filed under poetry.


Let me live from a place of grace,

where my light shines bright

and judgement melts

like dripping wax

until,

in the end,

nothing remains

but a burning light

over the remains

of what once was.



photo credit: Alexander Babl Melted Candle via photopin (license)

The Story of Me

Posted by & filed under my life, poetry.

As I looked into the mirror tonight and saw my wrinkles

I wondered, when do I have enough wrinkles that I cross the line into elderly?

Then I realized that there is no line to cross but that I am walking the line –

a linear journey from birth to death

and that the wrinkles are my story.

The story of me.

From little girl to fifty-something,

fighting gravity and expectations,

my biggest wrinkle a furrow in my forehead,

a message from my soul.

 

Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017!

Posted by & filed under my life.

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Well, hey everybody. It’s been a whirlwind year! I hope yours was ultimately full of love and life and goodness. There have been some difficult things on a global level, but the longer I live the more I realize I need to take my eyes off of the world stage (besides doing my civic duty) and focus on the local stage. We have the biggest impact in the world right around us, and ripples spread into ever-widening circles. I refuse to be frozen by fear. There is too much work to be done!

Speaking of work, I retired from IBM. I had a great gig there for 15 years. But it was getting more and more technical, and after trying to work successfully in 3 different technical environments, I called it quits. I need to produce and create. It felt like someone had tied my hands behind my back and attached a ball and chain to my leg. Excruciating. I do miss the web UI work, though. I was getting into web animation and responsive design (making a web page look good on all devices) and we finally got to drop accommodating older browsers.

My heart was torn, anyway. I keep being more and more pulled by the plants and the natural world – herbalism (my focus for this year is to finish up my studies that keep being put on the back burner) and gardening (I hope to have a farm “stand” at the end of my driveway this year). I also need to figure out how to maneuver all the laws of food production/having a business. But that will come. I’m moving forward in this direction. We’ll see what the future brings. It may only ever be a hobby/ministry. Only time will tell. Because I still like photography and writing and crafting…oh my! I will NEVER run out of things to do.

In the meantime, I am helping out at a local wellness bar. And doing some babysitting on the side.

Okay, enough about me! As I said, we had a great year. It was the year of weddings, for us. We had 4 – our daughter’s, our “other” daughter’s (my daughter’s best friend, Erin), and our friends’ daughter in January and then their son in September. What happy occasions to spend with friends and family!

And two more of Kelly’s friends besides Erin got married. So fun seeing all these kids grown up and settling into their lives.

Here is a picture of our new blended family! (The wedding party is in this picture, too.)

wedding-party

Second gal from the left is my niece Carlene (some tall genes on Andy’s side of the family). Fourth gal is Erin, who got married a month later, then Tracey and her ever-expanding family (she is having another baby in March), our parents, us, Kelly and Greg, Greg’s parents, and on the far right is Greg’s sister Kristina and Alex.

Speaking of Alex, earlier this year Alex started dating Caroline. We love her. And she is into words (an avid reader and an English teacher). She won my heart over the day we first met her when she ordered Red Raspberry Rage ice cream “because of the alliteration.”

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And speaking of love, Roby came from Italy to attend Kelly’s wedding! Such a wonderful gal.

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And, also, speaking of love. This guy.

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Landon continues to delight all of us. He is such a joy. And quite expressive.

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As for the rest of Landon’s family, mom Tracey is still working as a surgical vet tech, dad Roberto is teaching tennis, and they still live in Norwalk, CT with their 3 kitties. And soon, baby girl Mahoney!

Back to Alex, he is still working at 9-Point Medical, in the finance department.

And Kelly is still working for the NYC Wine and Food Festival, while Greg works for Credit Suisse. They took some time off to go to Alaska for their honeymoon. The pictures Kelly kept sending us could make a person jealous!

Andy is still working hard at Reliance Engineering. He also has a little side vending machine business going. If you are local and your office wants a vending machine, give him a call!

So this year Andy competed again in the Senior Games. He started training at CrossFit in preparation for the high jump. And he wound up qualifying for the nationals in the high jump, long jump, and 200 meter race. He’s going to compete in Alabama this summer in the jumping. We are going to rent an RV to go down there and see if we like traveling that way, in preparation for maybe getting one ourselves in the future.

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Andy continues to do CrossFit (he got hooked). So add that to tennis and basketball.

Me, I’m trying to get a regular yoga practice going. And my project this fall was to hike the Midstate Trail, some which goes through our town. It’s 92 miles long, from the Northern border of Massachusetts to the Southern border, through the middle of the state. I’m hiking with a friend named Annie who has finished (she hiked a few sections closer to home before we started hiking together)! I did reach the end (with her), I just have a 12 mile Barre-to-Spencer section to finish up. And I got some micro-spikes to hopefully finish up this winter.

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Hands raised in happiness, accomplishment, and celebration. That is my wish for you this coming year!

And let us all be the change we wish to see.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

PS I used Tracey’s Christmas photo (I took it) at the top of this post. This would be our Christmas photo, taken by Kelly. This tells the story of our dogs, in a nutshell. Happy Holidays from Koda and Columbus.

kodacolumbuspersonalities

 

 

 

Princeton to Barre

Posted by & filed under the hiking diaries.

princeton-to-barre

On Monday, Annie and I walked one of the sections of the Midstate Trail I had not done yet. We started at Wachusett Meadows in Princeton (the panorama, above) and walked to Barre Falls Dam.

See the road in the right-hand side of the above photo? We were parked beyond the barn and headed further down the road, where it really becomes an untravelled road, except by person or wagon or the many creatures of this world. I did remark once along our hike that there sure was a lot of forest for the animals. Made me happy thinking of them living unbothered by us humans.

One of the first things we saw was that we weren’t the only ones who had walked the trail. Our feet are beside their tracks. Turkey? Or Pterodactyl!

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This is Four Corners in Princeton. This land has been designated conservation area and connects two wildlife corridors. We entered on the far right side of this picture and continued on to the left, beyond Annie.

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The trail goes in the woods and comes out by Old Colony Road. I sometimes walk this part with my friend Vivian and our two dogs (I leave Columbus at home, he can’t be trusted to come back if I let him run free).

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The winter woods have a beauty all their own.

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Here is the bridge on Old Colony Road.

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Loved our silhouettes! (Also loved that I just spelled silhouettes right on the first try!)

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Here’s a video of the waterfall on the bottom of the photo.

Beyond the bridge, we crossed railroad tracks.

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We walked on Old Colony Road Extension….

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And into a beautiful area called Savage Hill. In all the years I’ve lived in Princeton, I’d never known of this area.

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At some point we entered Rutland, and passed by a friend’s house.

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But we were never on the road for too long. Lots of woods!

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This is my silly hunters-are-in-the-woods attire. I’m going to get an orange vest. This is all I had to work with at my house. But it was functional.

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We wound up walking 12 miles this day. Both of us were very tired. At just about this point, we weren’t sure which way to go, because the parking area is beyond the trail. But we wound up following the midstate markers and came back to a spot where we could see the parking lot. We will start from there on our next leg! (And at that point I’ll take a picture of the dam.)

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PS if you are a local, Barre Falls is a wonderful place to cross country ski or snowshoe!