Thursday, September 10, 2009

How do you?

Say goodbye forever, to your best friend?
How do you say goodbye to that face? Those wobbly eyeballs? That TAIL?

She was a rescue kitten...

She was so beloved in our home she had her own colloquialisms, she became a verb.

She had many names. The one we gave her:'Coco'. After we got to know her she became all of; but not limited to the following: Cocoyouresocute; Lemur butt; Ghostcat & Transporter Kitty (owing to the fact that she could disappear in the house and after much thorough searching on our part, would reappear mystically, sleepy eyed as if to say 'What? I've been here the whole time.') We knew differently of course, there was a magic door somewhere in the house, & when it would get really hot; we figured she was somewhere on a black sandy beach in her white fur & gorgeous sea blue eyes suckin' down a daiquiri under a cute umbrella.

But I digress; *sigh*

Coco bonded instantly with Ellen. They could be seen anywhere in the house together at all times. Sick or well, asleep or awake; eating or not; together always. Coco became Ellen's favorite muse for the camera & trust me when I tell you, Coco wouldn't have had it any other way. In fact; if you started talking sweetly to any of our other cats; Coco would insinuate herself immediately on the scene because she knew; all such worshipping was meant only for her.

After we created a lovely backyard full of plants & flowers to attract birds, butterflies & such, we made the decision to convert our cats from outdoor to indoor. The only times they were allowed outdoors was with me; for an hour or so in the afternoons & early Sunday mornings in the backyard. They much loved this time. As Ellen's star model; she became our 'Thank You' card.

The night of September 5th, 2009 was a gorgeous full moon. Ellen took her camera we went outside to photograph it. Two of our cats joined us; one was Coco. Upon coming back into the house; I thought El had Coco, El thought I had Coco, she put her camera away; we chatted a bit, then went to bed.

After my Sunday morning walk, I returned home; Coco neither came out from the garage to meet me (& do her morning stretch/flop in front of me) so I figured she was in El's room. I checked there; nope. Strange.

I got my coffee; opened the back door and went out; sat with the other girls & wondered where the heck that ghost cat had transported to this time. After watering the back yard; brought everyone back in & then I went to the front yard to water. It was then that I noticed a small patch of white fur on a low coarse brick barrier near the garage. I picked it up; not thinking. El got up came to the front door; I told her Coco was missing, it was strange; El said 'Transporter kitty'. And we laughed.

I went to the side of the house to turn the water off. There is a long stretch down the side of the house where the tall cypress tress grow shading everything. Nothing grows on that side as a result and sometimes trash blows there from the winds. Something caught my eye. Even from a distance I could see trouble... small white tufts of fur. And it was then my heart started trembling. I walked back there in & picked up the few tufts. There was nothing else, no sign of struggle, no blood, nothing... Just the fur. With my heart hammering in my chest, I walked to Ellen's window and asked her if it looked like Coco's fur to her (I was hoping beyond all hope that it was some other cat's fur owing to a fight or something) Ellen opened her screen & took it from me; I heard her say "it looks like it" and by the time I had turned around, she had thrown it back out the window. Ellen's action took me so by surprise that for a moment I was intensely angry with her I audibly gasped. Then the realization came to me, another component of my grief not yet known...

The loss to Ellen was so large, that when perceived by her tender young heart it became something to be avoided at all costs; she immediately went into denial out of self preservation. When I understood that, it was more devastating to me than the tragedy of Coco's disappearance.

I would have to watch my beloved daughter, endure the heart rending anguish of losing her best friend.

This was all 6 days ago now. I'm not trying to be dramatic; but honest. Body shaking sobs. I have not wanted to eat; have not cleaned house, have not much conversed. And for the first couple days, didn't even talk about it with El, fearing she wasn't ready. I didn't want to push her. If she still had hope of Coco's return, I would have to let her come to the realization herself. I didn't go to work on the 8th, nor did Ellen go to school. I could tell that morning when I went to wake her that she had cried in the night; her face & eyes all puffy. I simply kissed her head; (she leaned into me) and I said; don't worry, go back to sleep then.

Leaving her room, I felt a tiny pressure release in my pain, not screaming teapot release, but rather a slow, drip, drip, drip release that I would later recognize as a small step toward healing of my own shattered heart. Knowing that on some level, Ellen was facing it. My brave, strong, amazing daughter, on her own, without me prompting, was facing a horrible life truth. *sigh*

What I haven't told you dear readers; (and bless you if you're still reading this) is that the fault of Coco's death is mine. Even back in the archives of this blog; I wrote a post about an early morning sighting IN MY OWN BACKYARD of a beautiful Coyote. And I did not heed it's warning. Even as we locked the cats in at night; in our daily routine; my vigilance slipped. Just enough to let that tiny 4 year old life slip through it. She was not in that night; I did not make sure. My daughters heartbreak falls at my feet. Along with my own heart there shattered in tiny pieces, hers mingles there too and the whispers of the pieces as they rustle together like dried autumn leaves say to me 'guilty'. And I am.

WE are the caretakers of our animals. WE must be ever watchful for them. Just as we are over our children. And I failed; and EPIC fail. It cost someone her life; and it cost someone else so very dear to me, her heart and I accept responsibility for that.

As for me; there is a time of day that I cannot yet go into the backyard. Each time I think of it I feel myself breaking apart. The time when I would come home from work, kick of my shoes; walk barefoot on the grass, and water things. She would be there; in the area I don't mow so it's long & tall grass that she could hide in, stalk my feet from, and ambush the other cats. I know I'll look for that tail, or that face in the grass, I won't find it anymore; and my heart will squeeze tight because I know, she's just gone.

Coco, we love you with all our hearts and all our feelers. We send big purrs to you and hope you can feel the vibrations of love.

And, I'm so very, very sorry to have lost you. Please forgive me beautiful girl.

Thursday, September 03, 2009


The French, in their infinite wisdom, created the humble crepe. A lovely, light, flat, airy pancake. I am not a 'foodie' I do not watch 'Top Chef' or 'Reality Chef' or any other programme about food or it's preparation. If I'm hungry; I eat what's available, and move on.

For a short time; I lived with my biological father & step-mom, when I moved out they gave me a vacuum & a crepe maker. Very wise! The crepe maker wasn't anything fancy; it was slightly dome shaped and you made your batter, put it in the 'lid' portion that stayed on the counter, dipped the pan into it for a second, then flipped the pan over, waited for the light to go on and peel off your crepe. Voila! as the French say, a perfectly round, flat, thin as paper; crepe. Yum! I prefer to eat my crepes plain (that is opposed to having them stuffed with anything). Well, that gift was given to a little over 20 years ago now. I still have it; still use it.

Tonight, it decided it adored my crepe batter so much it wasn't going to let them go. NOT. EVEN. ONE.

Ever notice how you can have something for so long, it's never given you a lick of trouble (where does that phrase come from?) & the minute said item starts 'acting up' you don't calmly tell yourself "Oh my, I guess it's just time for the poor thing to die. I'll have to get a new one, it lasted soooo long." NO! You stand there sweating, angry, frustrated & thinking, what a "hunk a junk!' I can't believe this P.O.S. is doing this to me! curse.curse.curse.

Ugh... this day was frustrating enough, now, in the overbearing heat; I used my last three eggs (this means if it goes badly, I can't even have French toast) to create a little comfort food and alas, the crepe gods are laughing! son-of-a... Well, being the true red head I am, I was not ready to give up nor toss in my whatever-they-call-that-white-French-cooking-hat-thingy, so I took a deep cleansing breath, and thought. I'd seen others use a regular pan for this sort of thing but they usually had some sort of flat 'spreader' utensil to evenly spread the batter. Who cares! I'm an artist, 'Ces't la Vie'! So I took out my beautiful stainless steel Cuisinart pan. It has a wide flat bottom. It's so bottom heavy it almost feels like cast iron! That pan was a gift from my step-dad & his wife a couple years ago for Christmas when they secret-Santa'd me & El with a check that left both of us stunned & teary!

Back to cooking: I dabbed a tiny bit of butter on it & spooned some batter in and I waited.

No bubbling up, must mean I have to flip it on my own... *sigh* I took a deep breath, slid my long cake spatula underneath, all the way around, then lifted slightly & flipped! The top batter wasn't quite done so there were many splatters, but the bottom was a nice golden brown. Figuring I was on the right track, I made several more. When all done; put butter on them & the last of the maple syrup (I mean really, I wasn't going to have French toast if this didn't work so it didn't matter). I closed my eyes & tasted...

They tasted the same. The rich buttery goodness, sweet spongy consistency and slight tang on the finish (owing to the dash of lemon zest you put in). They were thicker, more like three or four pieces of paper as opposed to one, they weren't perfectly round at all, though some were quite artistic in their rendition of themselves I welcomed them all, in all their 'carnations'.

This is how I enjoy my crepes: butter & light maple syrup. If you like crepes stuffed with every manner of sea roach known to roam the bottom of the ocean, that's your business. I like 'em the way my other step-mom used to make 'em. French pancakes indeed. Strangely, I feel comforted. Now off for a walk. Because as the French also know; if you play... you'd better pay and NO calorie goes unpunished!