The Great CriFSMas Food (and More) Roundup, 2013 edition!

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

It felt like I did a ridiculous amount of baking this Christmas – so, when I went and looked back at last year’s roundup, I nearly fainted in disbelief. (Full disclosure: there may have also been a food coma involved, due to the copious amounts of sugar I’ve been ingesting.) Did I seriously make a dozen plus batches of cookies last year? Little old me?

Fun story: after feeling super-smug and self-satisfied over my achievement of baking FIVE WHOLE BATCHES of cookies in one day, I headed on over to tumblr – where some lady posted about the 40 donuts and multiple trays of cookies she baked in one afternoon. Whoops! There goes my self-confidence!

So anyway, here’s the Great CriFSMas Food Roundup, 2013 edition! But with bonus x-mas presents and vegan pop culture observations.

First up: the noms. As per usual, let’s start with dessert, shall we? All the cookies are from Kelly Peloza’s The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur, a review of which I’ll probably have for y’all soon. Unless. Maybe I need to try out a few more recipes? You know, for the love of science and books and all that is holy and sugar-dusted.

2013-12-22 - VCC Glazed Rum Raisin Cookies - 0001

Glazed Rum Raisin Cookies – With their copious amounts of liquor and strong rummy taste, these cookies aren’t for kids. Very tasty and easy to bake, though I opted to make my glaze into more of an icing, so as not to risk the cookies sticking to one another during storage. If you go this route, start out with less rum. I ended up with way more icing than I could use. Or drink! (Yes, I actually tried that.)

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Chewy Caramel Pecan Cookies – SO GOOD! Caramel and pecans, what’s not to love? Well, the cookies’ inherent stickiness, for starters: I had to refrigerate the sheet of cookies for about ten minutes before I was able to peel them from the parchment paper without tearing the cookies to shreds. I wonder if my batter was too wet; the caramel pecan mix didn’t get especially thick, which resulted in a very sticky cookie dough. Further experimentation may be required.

Also, pro tip: these cookies have mad spread, so space them far, far apart. As in four cookies to a medium-sized tray. No kidding!

(More below the fold…)

So this is Christmas…

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

I almost didn’t bother decorating this year – I was just feeling too damn depressed. But then I figured that I’d be even more bummed without all the shiny happy tinsels and ribbons and be-pirated stuffed animals brightening up the bleak winter landscape. (There’s a reason I leave the decorations up through February, people!) Plus I knew I’d regret skipping the holiday cards further down the line; some of my favorite pictures of the dogs are from our x-mas photo sessions (see, e.g., Kaylee in her shindig dress and Ralphie the pizza poo). So X-Mas came to the Garbato-Brady household after all!

fsmas card 2013 - tis the season

For this year’s cards, I decided to keep it simple: instead of complicated outfits, I opted for ribbons taped to dog collars. My original idea was to photograph everyone in pairs and, long story short, I have no freaking clue how I was able to get Ralphie, Peedee, and Rennie to sit still (AT THE SAME TIME!!!) for our very first card. No one was having it, and I think the treats meant as bribery actually made things worse – everyone seemed to be competing with their partners for the noms. The good news is that everyone made it on the card – even Lemmy, who spent most of his photo time chewing on the ribbon strings.

Ralphie and Kaylee were even represented on the back of the card…though only those who know us will pick up the meaning.

2013 message label

I still couldn’t help but make a second card with the paired pictures, though. At first it was just for my own benefit, but I decided to print them up and mail them out as well. Actually I think everyone looks okay save for Jayne and Lemmy. Those two did NOT want to have anything to do with each other.

fsmas card 2013 - silent night

And then of course we have the individual “outtake” cards. I didn’t have a theme to speak of, so I just went with Supernatural quotes. Totally irrelevant, but totally hilarious.

(More below the fold…)

tweets for 2013-11-20

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

I will shit on you and everything you love.

Monday, November 18th, 2013

(File this under “Doh! I can’t believe I forgot to point this out last night!”)

So Mags is slowly but surely perfecting her disgusted Kaylee look. To wit:

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2011-04-02 - Kaylee Macro - 0005

Pretty much the best fuck you ever.

Book Review: For Every Dog An Angel, Christine Davis (2004)

Friday, November 1st, 2013

For anyone who’s ever loved and lost a canine companion.

five out of five stars

I lost my two oldest dogs, Ralphie and Kaylee, in May of this year. Though I live with five other dogs – nothing to sniff at! – my home feels so unbelievably empty without them here. Ralphie was my first rescue dog; he lived with my husband and me for nearly twelve years before his passing. And Kaylee…well, she was something special. I don’t know if I believe in the idea of one “forever” dog – it’s too depressing to think that I’ll never love another creature the way I did (do!) her – but she was certainly my favorite. Five months later, and not a moment passes in which I don’t miss them both something awful.

Anyway, I was treating myself to a few science fiction books when I stumbled upon For Every Dog An Angel on my Amazon wishlist. It’s been there for years – I think I first heard of author Christine Davis via a Dogs Deserve Better newsletter – but only in my grief did I feel compelled to buy it. I’m so glad I did, too. For such a simple little book, it proved surprisingly cathartic.

(More below the fold…)

Kaylee!

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

I spent the evening watching old videos of the dogs and missing Kaylee something awful. I wish I had more footage; there are so many moments I never quite managed to capture, Kaylee’s dinner dance chief among them. (Google, please send me a pair of those nifty new glasses I keep hearing about!)

Still, I took more video than I thought I did, and even rediscovered some memories I’d long since forgotten – like the time Kaylee managed to get her head jammed inside a discarded cardboard Quaker container. She’d fished it out of the recycling box – everyone save for Mags and Finnick loves to snack on paper products – and, I guess while licking its tasty, cornmealy insides, gotten her head stuck. She then proceeded to tear ass around the house in search of me – while I, of course, grabbed the camera. Maybe I let it play out a few seconds too long, but damn am I glad I thought to record it for history’s sake.

Dogs, man.

A birthday cake for Jayne – and for Kaylee, an everlasting bouquet of forget-me-nots.

Monday, September 30th, 2013

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2006-09-30 - PM-Kaylee&JayneMake5-0044 [1024x768]

Going home! I love Kaylee’s hysterical smile in the top photo,
and her funny little body, all stretched out across the cage, in the bottom one.
Oh, if only there was a way to bottle up feelings!
I’d let this one age like the finest of wines.
——————————

Seven years ago today – this very minute, in fact; I double-checked the time stamps on the photos just to be sure! – Shane and I were headed home from Lexington, Missouri, with dogs number four and five in tow. I can still recall (vaguely, but the feeling is there) the sense of excitement the day we brought our girls home – excitement which was only heightened by the one month gap between the day we first met Kaylee and Jayne, and the day we were able to liberate them from the no-kill shelter in which they’d been staying for the previous six months. I took 54 pictures of them – bouncing around their crate in nervous anticipation – just on the ride back. Hundreds of photos those first few days and weeks.

That morning, I snapped a few quick pics of Ralphie, Peedee, and O-Ren playing in the yard. I called the series “three lonely dogs” – a reference, I think, both to the fact that we’d just gotten back from visiting my parents in New York, where the dogs had enjoyed spending time with their new friends Shadow and Copper; but also that their lives would never again be the same after that morning, when our family expanded from one of six to eight. Looking back, I wonder if I knew then how radically my life would change with Kaylee in it? If I knew what great friends we’d become? Probably not. I was just silly happy to have two more dogs to love. I don’t think I had an inkling how hard I’d fall for Kaylee, though.

We weren’t the first ones to take an interest in Kaylee and Jayne. Apparently another woman had met and adopted them – only she couldn’t take them home right away, on account of she was going away on a cruise. She promised Gina, their foster mom, that she’d return for them after her vacation. She never did. So I can only imagine Gina’s skepticism when we told her the same. But that woman’s loss was perhaps the greatest gain of my life. Because of her, Kaylee found her way to me. (And Jayne. Can’t forget Jayne!) For that, I’ll forever be thankful.

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Walking around Smithville Lake on Kaylee’s thirteenth birthday.
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Sadly – tragically – Kaylee’s not here to celebrate her 15th birthday. She passed away in May, just twelve days after her older brother Ralphie. I haven’t quite recovered. I suspect I never will, not fully. Kaylee meant so, so much to me – more than words can ever convey. It’s difficult to define our relationship – friends, sisters, confidants – but I think the word that comes closest is “daemon.” Kaylee was my daemon – an external manifestation of part of my self. Not a moment goes by that I don’t think of her; she’s with me, always, and her presence is a source of comfort as much as it sometimes hurts. I welcome the pain. I often imagine that the ache in my chest is her: rooting around for tasty, tasty slugs; doing the Kaylee quick step; lawn dancing on my heart. As long as I hurt, she’s there. It’s the not-hurting that I fear.

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Getting to know Mags and Finnick.
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It’s a little too soon this year, but in the future I think I’ll observe September 30th as a holiday: Kaylee Day, or perhaps The Feast of Kaylee Garbato, Patron Saint of Exploited Motherhood, in the style of the God’s Gardeners. We’ll lay a blanket out in the sun and nap all day; graze on all our favorite foods, licking the plates clean; and at night we’ll go the the drive-in and gorge ourselves on popcorn. I draw the line at bug-eating, though. Peedee and Jayne can eat enough insects for all of us. (Oh, Peedee. Will this year never end?)

And then there’s Jayne. Dear, goofy Jayne who, even after seven years with us, is wary of human attention and affection, even as she craves it. Jayne, who is my link – one of many! – to Kaylee. Jayne, who deserves her own day of celebration too. Jayne, who turns nine years old today. Man, how time flies.

Looking back through old photos, it struck me how much Jayne – well, all of us – has aged, and with me hardly noticing it, too! Whereas I’ve come to see the white circles around her eyes as “normal” – how things have always been and always will be – they’re a newish development: when we first met Jayne, most of her face was hard-to-photograph black.

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I’d totally forgotten. Damn.

Last year I started the “little things” tradition with Kaylee and Jayne. Rather than start from scratch, I’ll add to the lists. Both of them because, while Kaylee may be gone, she will never be forgotten.

Happy birthday to my ladies. I love you both so much.

(More below the fold…)

Saying Goodbye (The Ralphie and Kaylee Post)

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

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4/30/08 – The pack (at the time), reunited after Kaylee’s surgery.
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The Power of the Dog

by Rudyard Kipling

There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie–
Perfect passsion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart to a dog to tear.

When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
And the vet’s unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find–it’s your own affair–
But … you’ve given your heart to a dog to tear.

When the body that lived at your single will,
With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!)
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone–wherever it goes–for good,
You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart to a dog to tear.

We’ve sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we’ve kept ’em, the more do we grieve:
For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-term loan is as bad as a long–
So why in–Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

* * * * * * *

2006-09-24 - RevisitingFairport-0049 [modified-square1]

9/24/06 – When Shane and I (with Ralphie, Peedee, and O-Ren in tow) visited our family in New York, we took Ralphie on a special trip (just us three!) to our old haunts in Fairport: old house, hiking trails, community center, Lollypop Farm. I’ll cherish these memories forever.
——————————

The year that Shane, Ralphie, Ozzy, and I relocated from New York to the Midwest (then Kansas, now Missouri), I did some work on a pet loss website. In addition to graphics, I scoured books and the web for public domain poetry and whatnot for use on the site. While the whole project was rather maudlin and depressing, it’s the latter task that took the greatest toll on me. Oftentimes I’d find myself bawling at the computer screen, imagining as the subject of this essay or that poem Ralphie – my first-born, my baby, my little man – placing myself in the author’s shoes, contemplating just how utterly awful my dog kid’s passing would be. Sleepless nights spent crying into his gorgeous red fur, willing him to live forever; arms wrapped in a veritable death grip.

Rudyard Kipling’s “The Power of the Dog” and “Where To Bury A Dog,” by Ben Hur Lampman, were two of my favorites. Even though I’ve since realized that Kipling was a racist asshat, I still adore much of his animal-centric poetry. (As always, the speciesism is taken with a grain of salt. I don’t, for example, consider myself anyone’s “master,” nor would I ever buy a dog, puppy or otherwise.) Even today, I start to tear up over the titles alone – the feelings associated with each are that visceral and powerful.

Regrettably, my love for Ralphie carried with it a long shadow of sadness, colored by unhappiness and anxiety over the grief this love was sure to one day cause. Not any time soon, mind you; this was in 2002, when Ralphie was a wee little pup of four or five. Obsessing over a future hurt still a decade away – this just goes to show how utterly illogical it all was.

In retrospect, I was most likely suffering from depression. I’d just moved to a new state, more than 1,000 miles away from the friends and family I’d known for the first 24 years of my life, accompanied only by a man, a dog, and a cat. I didn’t know a soul aside from our landlords, who were perfectly pleasant people – except for the fact that they exploited nonhuman animals (cows and dogs) for a living. I’ve never suffered from a glut of social skills, and complicating matters was my budding vegetarianism and feminism, which slowly gave rise to a sense of alienation from others. I’d put graduate school on hold because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life (still don’t a decade plus later). Ralphie was my best friend, my responsibility, my reason for being; it’s no surprise that the inevitability of losing him, no matter how far off, exacerbated the depression and anxiety I was already feeling.

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4/9/03 – Ralphie, Peedee, and I taking one of our famous midday naps.
——————————

Things got better when Peedee came into the picture. From the day we started planning our move to Kansas, we knew that we’d adopt a second dog so that Ralphie wouldn’t be alone. We even wrote it into our lease! (Luckily, Karla and Larry were nice enough to allow dogs three through five, even though they were not previously agreed upon.) Peedee took some of the pressure and focus off of Ralphie, allowing me to relax a little. Ditto Rennie, Kaylee, and Jayne, who came later (March 2005 and September 2006, respectively). While my dog kids’ mortality has been and will forever be a source of dread for me, it’s something that I’ve learned not to linger on. Whatever comes, we’ll all face it together.

* * * * * * *

(More below the fold…)

One step forward, two steps back.

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

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On Tuesday and I Shane traveled south of the city, to donate Ralphie and Kaylee’s unused medications to Wayside Waifs. While we were out, we also ran some errands and hit up a few used book stores, in a halfhearted attempt to fill the dog-shaped hole in my heart. Also because I love books and we’ve neither a library (it keeps getting voted down! even though KCMO preemptively extended us borrowing privileges! boooooo!) nor a book store (used or otherwise) in my town.

It was a rather emotional day, to say the least…especially considering that, the last time I went shopping in the Leawood/Overland Park area, it was when we still lived in the area. Circa 2008 or so, back when Ralphie and Kaylee were alive and kicking. We stopped in the same Sam’s Club store we frequented when we lived in Stilwell, and visited the used book store in the JoCo library branch closest to our old place. It was trippy enough, revisiting out old haunts, without thinking about how much things have changed. How much our family has changed. New members added, old friends lost. I wish I could go back in time and relive it all again…but even if that were possible, the ending would always be the same. Pain and death and misery. And yet I’d do it a million times over.

(More below the fold…)

Organizational Therapy

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Spoiler alert: this is one of those long and rambling posts that’s mostly for my own benefit. There will be others! You have been warned!

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In the days and weeks after Kaylee’s death – and once I was finally able to get out of bed – I tried to bury my grief in busy work. I’ve always loved cleaning; not the dirty, repetitive kind requiring vacuum cleaners and dust rags, the kind that’s gross at best and a tedious weekly chore at worst, but the type that involves organizing and reorganizing things: rearranging closets, purging my life of unwanted possessions, finding the perfect homes for even the tiniest of items. You know, FUN cleaning. There’s something refreshing about the whole process: putting your life back in order. Plus, it’s something I’m actually quite good at – more than once I’ve though about making a job of it.

(And then I remember my utter lack of people skills. Years spent trying to help my younger sister organize her room, most sessions devolving into me arguing with her about what to toss and what not to toss, and lectures about what a slob she was/is. Me working with the public? Probably not the best idea ever. Still, among friends and family I am universally recognized as THE BEST trunk packer ever. Second only to my father. Maybe. Just between us, he wishes he had my skills.)

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Kaylee, Ralphie, and I during happier times.
——————————

So after Ralphie and Kaylee passed, Shane and I tackled a few projects around the house: moving knickknacks, hanging new posters, reorganizing the bookshelves. (I should say “library,” seeing as we have an entire room filled with shelves, but that sounds pretentious, no?) Nothing radical like a kitchen remodel; mostly just redecorating here and there. Or rather adding to the existing decor.

I had this crazy idea that, the more different I could make the house look, the less conspicuous Ralphie and Kaylee’s absences would feel in comparison. So many new things to distract my attention from the holes left by their departure; baubles and frivolities and states of being that never coexisted with them. Does that make sense? It sounds totally reasonable in my head, but less so when spoken from my lips or written on a page. But it has helped…a little. And at this point I’ll take whatever I can get.

(More below the fold…)

7-14-01

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

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Twelve years ago today, Shane and I adopted our first dog together. Ralphie was terribly well-behaved on the (long) ride home, even politely letting us know when he needed us to stop the car so he could go to the bathroom. But the first thing he did upon arriving at his new home? Take a dump in the kitchen.

I don’t really have anything poignant to say…I just miss my two old dogs so, so much. And it pains my heart to know that Peedee is now the senior in the house. Just last year he was an excitable, 7-month-old ball of energy wrapped up in younger brother angst. How can this be?

professor butts

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

So hey I did a thing.

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In case it isn’t plainly obvious, I filled a collage frame with pictures of my dogs in various stages of bathroom-related activities: peeing, pooping, eating poop

(Peedee I’m looking at you! Sadly, I have more than enough pictures of Peedee eating feces to fill one of those ginormous, wall-shaped collage frames. Possibly his poo habit is why he’s nearly toothless, though the vet will neither confirm nor deny this theory.),

and in Ralphie’s case, just plain strutting his butt (it’s so cute!). And then I hung it in the bathroom. Genius, right? Don’t all go copying me at once. By which I mean do, because it’s awesome and you will be the talk of your neighborhood. (Though not necessarily in a good way, but who cares? You’re a rebel and a trendsetter, you do what you want.)

The hardest part was finding a frame; the ones at the craft stores tend to be big and pricey, so I opted for a mid-sized cheapo plastic one and then gussied it up with some metallic spray paint. I was actually going for a weathered, two-tone look, with some of the original black peaking through, but the paint I chose would have none of that. If I were a craftier type, I probably would have picked something more suitable for the task. Oh well. I don’t love it, but the color’s not bad, it matches the walls, and I can always change it later.

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I hung it right over the toilet (classy!), and on the wall adjacent I put up this adorable plaque my mom gave me on my last trip to New York (which was much, much too long ago, I might add). It used to hang next to the toilet in our upstairs bathroom, and as a wee little one I sometimes spent hours (tmi!) staring at it. I didn’t understand the significance of the prunes until I was well into my teens; when I was younger, I thought it was a reference to poo-shaped items: “think about pushing out a prune.” True story.

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Here are the photos that made the cut; the outtakes are over on flickr. (There’s an album! OF COURSE there’s an album.) As you can see, Peedee’s overrepresented, and Jayne and Finnick are nowhere to be found. They hate having their pictures taken enough without being chased down while dropping a dookie.

On that note.

(More below the fold…)

Going to the drive-in!

Saturday, June 29th, 2013

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Rennie wanted to play fetch in the minivan. Silly rabbit!
——————————

Rennie got her second chance at accompanying us to the drive-in this week – her first one being some time around 2005-2006. That first time (which was possibly still during her puppyhood) she was awful, barking at the other patrons and claiming her territory (the Intrepid! we got rid of that thing last summer! memories.) and stuff. We had to throw a towel over her crate so she couldn’t see. Ditto Ralphie and Peedee. For a long time Kaylee was the only dog well-behaved enough to go with us, and then Mags joined the party last summer. (A development with which Kaylee was none too happy.)

With Kaylee gone, Rennie got another shot and she was AWESOME. She only barked once during intermission, and that was when Shane left to go to the bathroom, so she was already excitable and a little on edge. And the second time (we went twice in one week – World War Z & Now You See Me and This is the End & The Purge – and consequently, I’m still catching up on my sleep), she barked at the end of the feature. I think she’d fallen asleep in the back of the van and with the slamming of a car door, awoke in a strange-to-her place. So it wasn’t so much annoying as silly adorable.

Anyway, I think we found the perfect drive-in pair: they get on well, are mostly quiet, and don’t cause too much trouble. And Rennie’s presence helps to take some of the edge off Kaylee’s absence. This week was our first trip out since she passed – the first time in nearly a year, actually – and I was both anticipating and dreading it.

Now if only I could get through a yoga session without busting into tears.

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Mags is not amused.
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In other news, Mags got a package in the mail today! Girl’s gonna be super-bummed when she realizes that it’s an inflatable pool for water therapy. I predict a looooong summer for one little doggeh.

P.S. Today’s Vegan Pizza Day, and yes – I AM HOLDING A CONTEST ON TUMBLR. Check it.

2013 Vegan Pizza Day Banner

Forget Freddy. Pet theft is where it’s at.

Friday, June 21st, 2013

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I had the most terrifying dream in recent memory last night. Usually I find my “nightmares” – dreams of being pursued by zombies, serial killers, and the like – more entertaining than scary, but last night? Oy.

There was some kind of emergency going on – a hurricane, maybe; or perhaps it was a celebration or big shopping day – but anyway, everyone was gathered at the the local high school (Eastridge, in my mind), which was supposed to be a shopping center, I think. idk, the details are hazy. But I was walking Rennie in the parking lot – along with a bunch of other “pet” “owners”; off-leash, for some strange reason – and, as she rounded a shrub I lost sight of her temporarily. And she vanished. Was snatched. Dog-napped.

Naturally, I panicked. Apparently there was a dog smuggling ring operating in the area and Rennie wasn’t the only dog missing. There were also several rescue groups holding adoption events at the time, trying to place recently rescued animals. On second though, I think it was a natural disaster type situation and everyone was holed up at the high school. Anyway, I got a little sympathy, but not a whole lot of help: everyone was just too damned busy with their own problems.

(More below the fold…)

Kaylee 325

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Yup, I’m still here – and yes, I’m still grieving. After sorting, naming, editing, uploading, and captioning all of Ralphie’s photos – no small task, it took me the better part of two days – I quickly got started on Kaylee’s batch. Like ripping a band-aid off, right?: best to do it nice and fast. Compared to those of Ralphie’s mostly joyful last few days, though, Kaylee’s pictures proved terribly depressing. So much so that they landed me in bed for two days straight. It was a few weeks before I was able to force myself to finish the task.

And with that, I bring you a small selection of Kaylee’s final 325 photos – with a few extras from early 2013 to help brighten the mood.


 
——————————
Early 2013

These are just a few of my favorites from earlier in the year, before all this horrible shit went down. This is how I hope to remember Kaylee: happy, grateful, and full of life.
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1/5/13 – Kaylee & Ralphie, sharing a rare snugly moment.

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1/19/13 – Four Dogs, One Bed

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2/23/13 – Soaking in the sun.

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3/4/13 – Dem teefies!

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3/4/13 – The abominable snowdog.

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3/4/13 – Incredibly close (always!), but extremely loud? (Rarely.)

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3/31/13 – This is her snotty, “I can’t believe you’re
paying attention to that little runt Mags!” look.
I can’t lie, I adore it.

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4/9/13 – Barreling towards mom.

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4/30/13 – Taken during the first days of Ralphie’s illness, before we knew it was the big bad.
Review forthcoming, natch.

(More below the fold…)

tweets for 2013-06-07

Saturday, June 8th, 2013

my spotted heaven

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

2011-09-12 - Dogs Outside - 0033

Often I found myself desiring simple things and I would get them. Riches in furry packages. Dogs.

Every day in my heaven tiny dogs and big dogs, dogs of every kind, ran through the park outside my room. When I opened the door I saw them fat and happy, skinny and hairy, lean and hairless even. Pitbulls rolled on their backs, the nipples of the females distended and dark, begging for their pups to come and suckle them, happy in the sun. Bassets tripped over their ears, ambling forward, nudging the rumps of the dachshunds, the ankles of greyhounds, and the heads of the Pekingese. And when Holly took her tenor sax, set herself up outside the door that looked onto the park, and played the blues, the hounds all ran to form her chorus. On their haunches they say wailing. Other doors opened then, and women stepped out from where they lived alone or with roommates. I would step outside, Holly would go into an endless encore, the sun going down, and we would dance with the dogs – all of us together. We chased them, they chased us. We circled tail to tail. We wore spotted gowns, flowered gowns, striped gowns, plain. When the moon was high the music would stop. The dancing stopped. We froze.

Mrs. Bethel Utemeyer, the oldest resident of my heaven, would bring out her violin. Holly trod lightly on her horn. They would do a duet. One woman old and silent, one woman not past girl yet. Back and forth, a crazy schizoid solace they’d create.

All the dancers would go slowly inside. The song reverberated until Holly, for a final time, passed the tune over, and Mrs. Utemeyer, quiet, upright, historical, finished with a jig.

The house asleep by then; this was my Evensong.

– Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones (pp. 34-35)

So I just started reading The Lovely Bones, and am right now looking at a copy of Year of the Dog newly arrived from Netflix. Apparently I’m not depressed enough already? (On tap for tomorrow: vigorous self-flagellation.)

My heaven – if I believed in heaven, and I wish desperately at times like this that I did believe, or could will myself to – would look something like this: acres upon acres of greenery, home to dogs (and cats and rats and cows and pigs) of all shapes and sizes. Dogs I’d loved and lost, and dogs I never had the pleasure of meeting. Dogs I couldn’t save, but wanted to. Millions upon millions of them. Dogs who never received the love and care they deserved in the physical world. And – because heaven is forever and infinite – I’d finally be able to show them all the kindness and compassion I’d wanted to all along. A lifetime’s worth, and then some.

Same for the cats and rats and cows and pigs.

tweets for 2013-05-27

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

tweets for 2013-05-21

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

My Heart Is in a Freezer

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Kaylee's last photo

Kaylee’s last photo, 5/19/13, 12:49PM.
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“Aye,” Roland said, “but first we should see what Mordred had for gunna—there may be something useful there—and bury our friend. Will’ee help me see Oy into the ground, Patrick?”

Patrick was willing, and the burial didn’t take long; the body was far smaller than the heart it had held. By midmorning they had begun to cover the last few miles on the long road which led to the Dark Tower.

I’ve always known that the name we chose for her was as close to perfect as you can get: just like her namesake, Kaywinnet Lee Frye, Kaylee was sweet and caring, but tough in her own scrappy way. (Jayne, not so much; methinks Wash would’ve been a better choice for her.) Yet when I think of her – and right now I can’t imagine millisecond when I won’t – I’ll always be reminded of the billy-bumbler Oy, and this passage in particular. Like Oy, Kaylee had a heart far bigger than her tiny little body, both figuratively and literally; a heart that was brave – so brave! – and fiercely loyal, even to a fault. She was just an all-around BAMF; there aren’t enough words in the English language to adequately describe the awesomeness that was Kaylee. If we ever adopted any goats, I thought we might name the first pair Oy and ake (pronounced “ache,” short for Jake). Now I’m not so sure. I think that name belongs to Kaylee too.