Italy Trip – Days 26 – 34 – Our Lucca Farmhouse

With Grandma and Grandpa in tow, we made the move from our lovely Lucca apartment out to a farmhouse about 30 minutes outside of town.

On the way there we stopped at a large supermarket, which had this interesting cart corral:

Yup, boobaloo.

Yup, boobaloo.

They still fit in here. Love it!

They still fit in here. Love it!

Nonni and Poppi had the apartment next to ours, connected by a door, which worked out great. Their last night with us we all cuddled together in the one apartment, and that worked out fine, too.

The patio leading down to our door, the very last one.

The patio leading down to our door, the very last one.

The shutters in the living room- open.

The shutters in the living room- open.

The shutters- closed.

The shutters- closed.

The children's bedroom, initially.

The children’s bedroom, initially.

The room Buds and Gin shared.

The room Buds and Gin shared.

The large wardrobe in our bedroom.

The large wardrobe in our bedroom.

The view from the hallway into the front part of the bathroom. Note the towel I put on the floor because it's a copper floor there and it was FREEZING at night!

The view from the hallway into the front part of the bathroom. Note the towel I put on the floor because it’s a copper floor there and it was FREEZING at night!

The other half of the bathroom.

The other half of the bathroom.

The custom-built stairs down- note the plexiglass covering.

The custom-built stairs down- note the plexiglass covering.

The view from the kitchen into the living room. The futon became Monkey's bedroom as well.

The view from the kitchen into the living room. The futon became Monkey’s bedroom as well.

The stairs looking up.

The stairs looking up.

Looking into the kitchen from the living room: The washing machine straight ahead with the dishwasher to the left of it.

Looking into the kitchen from the living room: The washing machine straight ahead with the dishwasher to the left of it.

Looking in from the main door.

Looking in from the main door.

The gas stove and pizza oven.

The gas stove and pizza oven.

Long view of the patio.

Long view of the patio.

The end patio on the opposite end of the house from our front door. Just to the left of the photo are the stairs to the lower yard. The stairs are lined by rosemary bushes which smelled heavenly as you brushed your hand along them.

The end patio on the opposite end of the house from our front door. Just to the left of the photo are the stairs to the lower yard. The stairs are lined by rosemary bushes which smelled heavenly as you brushed your hand along them.

Note the pizza oven on the patio behind the children.

Note the pizza oven on the patio behind the children.

A snuggly nap.

A snuggly nap.

The futon as a couch.

The futon as a couch.

Another couch in the living room- nearly enough room for two.

Another couch in the living room- nearly enough room for two.

If the two aren't too big! The left side of the picture shows the entrance to the apartment Nonni and Poppi stayed in.

If the two aren’t too big! The left side of the picture shows the entrance to the apartment Nonni and Poppi stayed in.

One of our first meals all together in the farmhouse.

One of our first meals all together in the farmhouse.

Interesting tidbit we learned while we were in the farmhouse: The heat in Italy isn’t supposed to be turned on before October 15. Our landlady did eventually turn it on for us early, but there were some cold nights and stepping out of the warm shower into a freezing room was teeth-chattery.

The one other exciting part during the time in the farmhouse was the twisty-turny roads to get to it. Buds got us there the first time with no mishaps, but it was some tight driving in parts. (Turns out it was easy driving compared to some that was still in our future.) But then, because he likes to help me grow and learn, he found another path to get us from off the mountain to the farmhouse, driving through olive groves on really tight roads. We clenched our cheeks and did it, and it was gorgeous.

The video doesn’t do it justice, but it was a fantastic adventure:

More stories of our time in the farmhouse to come.

Italy Trip – Day 31 – Our Lucca Farmhouse – We Take A Cooking Class

Editor’s note: We have been back from Italy for more than 5 months now, and at last I am ready to return to writing regularly, and, finally, to revisit the days of our Italian Adventure that have yet to be chronicled. Even now I feel tightness in my chest as I prepare to settle into re-telling our stories from the trip. The time was so wonderful, so intense, so special, I fear I won’t do it justice.

Just the other day I came across this quote in a book: “Memory is a tricky thing, Sophia,” he had said to her. “It doesn’t just recall the past, it makes the past.” From The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove.

There’s something fragile yet timeless about these memories.

Children, be gentle with me in the future, when our memories diverge. I did my best.

Now, on to our story:

Lella, our hostess/owner here at the farmhouse, offers a couple iterations of cooking class. We chose the one where we would make an appetizer, pasta, and dessert, then eat all that for our lunch.

We were joined by two other renters at the farmhouse, Paula and Mark, fellow English-speakers from Minnesota. (There are three separate apartments for travelers, plus Lella and her husband’s home, plus-in a condo-type arrangement, another completely separate home for another Italian family stuck on the end in this huge old Tuscan villa.)

We began at 10 a.m., and finally ate lunch around 2:45 p.m., and a great time was had by all. The Buster popped down to help make the dessert and pasta and to eat. The girls hung in there for the vast majority of the class, but did take a break when we were making the meat sauce. Lella complimented us several times on the children and how great they were to have in class.

The story in pictures:

Directions

Directions

Focused.

Focused.

Fresh!

Fresh!

Crushing cookies

Crushing cookies

Yes, there was wine.

Yes, there was wine.

Mini-semifreddos.

Mini-semifreddos.

She's a pro.

She’s a pro.

What a treat to share this time with them.

What a treat to share this time with them.

The menu

The menu

Learning from the Master.

Learning from the Master.

Everyone wanted a turn.

Everyone wanted a turn.

Working together.

Working together.

I was concentrating hard...and wearing the green fleecy.

I was concentrating hard…and wearing the green fleecy.

One of my favorite shots from this part of the trip.

One of my favorite shots from this part of the trip.

Cooking together is much more fun!

Cooking together is much more fun!

Tiring work.

Tiring work.

The payoff

The payoff

Fresh really is best.

Fresh really is best.

Rolling it to just right.

Rolling it to just right.

Fresh and vibrant.

Fresh and vibrant.

Ready to slice and dice.

Ready to slice and dice.

Visiting and learning.

Visiting and learning.

The completed semifreddo.

The completed semifreddo.

Everyone helped.

Everyone helped.

We had many laughs.

We had many laughs.

Paula takes notes while I offer encouragement.

Paula takes notes while I offer encouragement.

I borrowed a pasta maker from my sister-in-law, but with the kitchen in the midst of a renovation, we haven’t made the effort yet. I look forward to giving it a shot.

Asheville Adventures- Spring Break 2016

After many, many weeks of anticipation, the time had come for our annual spring break trip with Kel, Paula, and the girls. Two years ago, country fun in Nashville. Last year was snowy Vermont. This year we were keeping it warmer, we hoped, in beautiful Asheville, NC.

Buds had flown up to work with the Virginia crowd the week before the trip, so he hitched a ride in the K + P party van while the kids and I drove over from Nash.

We had a tasty stop at Steak and Shake on the way.

Fries and Dragons.

Fries and Dragons.

Buds and Paula found the house during extensive online searching, and the minute we all saw it, we knew it was the one. We had too many bodies for beds, but the Buster was great about sleeping on an air mattress, so all was well.

The house was way up a gravel road.

The house was way up a gravel road.

We were first to arrive at the house, so we quickly unloaded, then explored.

We’d been waiting at the house for awhile, and finally connected on the phone with Kel. They were lost, or had been lost, and had been attempting to drive the van up a 90 degree hill, but they were back on track and not far away.

Here they come!

Here they come!

The house was a delight for all of us.

Monkey had her own secret space downstairs:

Swinging bookcases are cool!

Swinging bookcases are cool!

In front of the closed bookcase.

In front of the closed bookcase.

Buds and I had the yoga studio on the very top floor:

Paula's photo of the view out our circle window.

Paula’s photo of the view out our circle window.

The daytime view

The daytime view

Our round window from the outside.

Our round window from the outside.

The indoor slide was used by nearly everyone:

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One

Two

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Three

Three

Four

Four

And the landing at the bottom of the slide was another great play space:

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The bedroom the younger kids shared had a beautiful custom loft:
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The tree house was a hit:

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Inside the treehouse.

Inside the treehouse.

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There was even a tire swing up on the hill that looked like it would launch you into space:

A Bets and a swing.

A Bets and a swing.

View from the swing.

View from the swing.

We had time by the fire:

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And time on the porch:

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Delicious meals were made (mostly by Buds and Paula), including scotch-blocked (spatch-cocked?) chicken.

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K + P are great about getting out and exploring, and always offered to include our crew in their adventures. (Buds worked all week, and I worked a couple of the days, so our schedules were varied.)

They took the younger girls out to the Nature Center:

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K and Monkey had a great time ziplining with Paula along for the photographic historical record.

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B and Yessa had an outing to a “Paint Your Own Pottery” spot:

Focused!

Focused!

The Final Product.

The Final Product.

One of my favorite parts of the whole week was when the adults would gather on the couches each evening to have a drink and share stories: The Blond Assassin, Paula’s path into computers, retelling the story of our early relationships, kid stories, parent stories, dreaming of the future, where should we go for Spring Break next year…I loved them all.

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I was dying with anticipation to show everyone The Biltmore, and that trip was fantastic! Plus, thanks to Kel and Paula having sports team shirts, we got $10 off each admission! That makes baseball worth it!

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Monkey was sooo happy to see that rowers have been around a long time.

Monkey was sooo happy to see that rowers have been around a long time.

An awesome shot Paula caught of flying stuffies.

An awesome shot Paula caught of flying stuffies.

My favorite room.

My favorite room.

The Youngers enjoyed the audio tour.

The Youngers enjoyed the audio tour.

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Ghostly.

Ghostly.

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Passing time at the end of the tour.

Passing time at the end of the tour.

A display I loved at the end of the tour that showed what was blooming in the extensive gardens that day.

A display I loved at the end of the tour that showed what was blooming in the extensive gardens that day.

The nearly-whole crazy lot of us:

Might have been a little bright that day.

Might have been a little bright that day.

We had a picnic lunch after we left the house. Paula asked around and found an awesome spot on the lagoon on the far side of the property. We were joined by a very pushy duck and goose. They obviously had enjoyed human food a time or two.

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Another day was spent hiking at a couple awesome spots Paula hunted down for us. (Do you see the trend here?)

Two different waterfalls, great, easy hikes, and some fun climbing and splashing.

First stop:

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Kel wanted to look tall.

Kel wanted to look tall.

Second hike:

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A butterfly looking for sanctuary in Kelly's sleeve.

A butterfly looking for sanctuary in Kelly’s sleeve.

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Buds and Monkey stayed home to work on hike day, so they met us at an awesome pizza restaurant at the end of the day. The pizza place used to be a movie theater, so tons of character, and fun old-school video games.

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Dividing up the tokens to play.

Dividing up the tokens to play.

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Monkey's eyes are closed because she hated the video on the screen.

Monkey’s eyes are closed because she hated the video on the screen.

Buster had a chance to serve as “Dungeon Master” as a few folks played “A Faerie’s Tale,” something he has wanted to do for a very long time.

Much giggling involved.

Much giggling involved.

One night we headed into town to explore. Asheville has the first indoor mall, Grove Arcade, which is beautiful. (Buster was a little disgusted to find the use of the word “arcade” being used in the old-school sense.)

This is not your teenagers’ mall:

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Monkey and I wandered into a fantastic bookstore that had a wine bar/restaurant, and all sorts of amazing nooks and crannies for meetings and settling in with a book.

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Before we headed to Curatè for our dinner reservation, we joined the protest of an atrocious state law that was passed while we were in town.

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Dinner at Curatè was deliciously delightful. I’m glad we got to share with our beloveds. As a tapas place, we shared plates and plates of food.

Buds makes a strategy.

Buds makes a strategy.

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We attended church on Sunday morning. The Associate Minister was a former intern at UUCF, and it was a delight to see her and hear her message.

Other great meals were had at awesome restaurants. (All of which, I’m pretty sure, were discovered by Buds and Paula. Kel and I are along for crowd control.)

Waiting to be seated.

Waiting to be seated.

Waiting to be seated, again.

Waiting to be seated, again.

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Our last breakfast together.

Our last breakfast together.

And finally the week drew to a close with happy hugs and loving tears:

All the shades of red.

All the shades of red.

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And a few of my last favorite shots:

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I love how our families mesh together. I love that they love our kids as they are, and vice versa. I love that Paula took the vast majority of these pictures and doesn’t mind me posting them (though we need to get her in many more of them in the future), and finally, I love that we have so many ways that we are alike, and so many ways that we are different, and our friendship continues to grow and deepen.

I miss much about Northern Virginia, but these four are what I miss the most.

Now, where shall we go next year?

She Speaks The Truth

Yessa has provided some splendid/dreadful insight in this last week, and though some of it was difficult to hear, I’m so grateful for this rational child, who is so much like me, but also has the best of Buds.

There have been a few incidents in the last couple months that angered me, or hurt my feelings. I like to feel righteous indignation, and I never get any arguments at home, so when someone wrongs me, I hang on to those feelings for a long time. And I like to gripe about those incidents. (Kelly and Paula got to see me spitting with rage when I retold these stories the last time we were together.)

Not a mature or helpful part of my personality, and I’m constantly working on it, but it’s hard.

Yessa heard me telling these stories on our long drive to and from Vermont, and our first night home, as I sat with her while she fell asleep, she had some home truths to offer.

“Mom, what if this person did this because of this?”

And, “maybe this happened for this reason.”

She recast these lovely stories I had spun with myself as the blameless victim. She presented them to me without guile or sarcasm, but with the loving insight of trying to see the best in everyone involved.

To rephrase her words, she said, “What if you assume good intentions on the part of the other people in the story.”

Always assume good intentions.

Not only was she correct, but as I think back on the incidents now, all the sting has gone out of them. She lovingly pushed a mirror in front of my nose, and my distorted view was forever altered.

Then, a few days later, with that razor sharp wit she has, she looked at me with a half-smile and said,”When I want to feel safe, I ride with you.”

Brief pause…

“When I want to have fun, I ride with Dad.”

As most of you know, I am a horrendous passenger, and I love to drive. And once again, she has summarized her parents beautifully.

I want to be, and am, the “safe” one.

Fall down, want to be snuggled? Find Mom.

Have a rash or bite or splinter? Find Mom.

Want laughter or big picture or ideas? Find Dad.

Wrestling, bouncing, a game made up on the spot? Dad’s the one.

Want to have fun? Ride with Dad.

It's all up here!

It’s all up here!

With All Its Sham and Drudgery…

I was bustling around the yard in that way I do; A list of goals embedded in my mind. As I trotted across the back yard toward the garden shed to gather more bricks, I remembered the message from the visiting minister at church today.

The visitor, a United Methodist Minister on sabbatical for a year to work on climate change action across members of various faiths, talked about the need to care for the Earth, but also the need to find joy and peace in it. Not only to fret about what needs to change, but to renew in the beauty that surrounds us.

As I bustled along, I walked past the hammock swing hanging from the large tree in our yard.

It was not on fire, but I lay down on it. And, oh, friends, it was good.

At first I felt the fear of leaving work undone while I lazed.

Then I felt the nausea of a zooming swing.

Then I felt the fear of staring at the big branch from which the swing hangs and thinking about if it fell.

Then I reassured myself that the arborist examined the tree not too many years ago, and the tree stands straight and strong, ready to hold me and my kin.

Then I relaxed…

And as I relaxed, I looked past the big branch, up into the branches of the tree.

This tree is the late bloomer in our yard. It has budded, but from a distance, it looks sparse and old. The other trees are in full leaf. This one seems to be waiting.

Then, I realized, this tree isn’t sparse. This tree is a nursery.

I was seeing baby leaves. Tiny, tiny, baby leaves. I don’t remember ever noticing or really seeing baby leaves before. Then I noticed the toddler leaves, and the adolescents, the whole childhood of leafdom, spread out above my head.

And then I wept, for Nutmeg who won’t see this new spring, and for the many springs I never noticed the baby leaves, and for our Earth that needs us so badly and yet still holds us so lovingly.

With all its sham and drudgery, it is still such a beautiful world.

A Sappy Trip to Vermont

Or, more accurately, a sap-less trip to Vermont. Despite the Little Mother’s best efforts to control the weather, the trees were done with their annual sap routine by the time we made it to Vermont last week. The weather was cold and sunny, and we got to show Grandma Iowa how the process works, even if she didn’t get to see it in action.

We helped take taps out of trees and gathered some of the buckets, so we still felt we had earned our share of the yearly production.

Our trip north was leisurely this year, as it was last year. The kids and I drove to Cleveland on a Wednesday, where we stayed overnight near the airport so we could pick Mom up at the airport on Thursday morning. Thursday we drove to Putney, VT, and stayed in the Putney Inn, which was delightful. Friday morning we had a leisurely breakfast at the Putney. The children wanted to hear stories from their past and mine, so we sat and laughed for an hour as we retold family lore.

From there to the Vermont Country Store for a long visit.

A long stop at the Vermont Country Store- becoming part of our annual tradition.

A long stop at the Vermont Country Store- becoming part of our annual tradition.

We had planned for lunch and a museum with Aunt L and cousins, but they had a visit from the Flu Fairy in the days before we arrived, so a quick stop to see their house, beautiful view, and some hugs and wan smiles were the extent of this visit. It was splendid to see their fantastic location, and cousin’s sweet faces.

Because of that change in plans, we were feeling pretty leisurely. And L suggested the King Arthur Flour cafe for lunch before we began our trip over the mountains to get to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. We had a delicious lunch and fun watching the baking class in their professional kitchen.

Enjoying time at the King Arthur Flour Cafe

Enjoying time at the King Arthur Flour Cafe

Yessa and Sophia having a freezing picnic.

Yessa and Sophia having a freezing picnic.

I lost cell phone reception soon after we drove across the VT border on Thursday night, so we had a paper map with us, but because some roads are closed in the winter, I had also called on google maps to give us directions for all the places we needed to go. Luckily, Aunt L realized the way the google was going to send us was heading us toward the Lincoln Gap, which would still be closed. She did a fantastic job writing out wonderful directions for us…and we still managed to get lost. Or, rather, we weren’t truly lost, but we still ended up trying to take the wrong roads that were deep into mud season.

We finally arrived at the house in the mountains that we love, unpacked, grabbed a quick bite, then headed to Cousin M’s play: Cinderella and The Glass Slipper.

At Cousin M's play: Cinderella's Glass Slipper

At Cousin M’s play: Cinderella’s Glass Slipper

So glad to be together.

So glad to be together.

The proud mom of the actress.

The proud mom of the actress.

We're related to the brown mouse in the front left.

We’re related to the brown mouse in the front left.

We only had Saturday and Sunday to spend, so we didn’t plan on extreme outings, just enjoyed time together. Since the children and I had traveled thousands of miles in the car over the previous three weeks, we were grateful to not go on any driving adventures.

Making pancakes with Nonni.

Making pancakes with Nonni.

Yessa clearing out my old purse to make way for the new purple purse.

Yessa clearing out my old purse to make way for the new purple purse.

Many games were played.

Many games were played.

Explaining how to win.

Explaining how to win.

Discussing strategy.

Discussing strategy.

What shall we do, Buster?

What shall we do, Buster?

Puzzle time

Puzzle time

Grannie Babs learns to feed the indoor stove.

Grannie Babs learns to feed the indoor stove.

Night owls get extra time with the Grands.

Night owls get extra time with the Grands.

Yup, they are related.

Yup, they are related.

So fun to get extended time together.

So fun to get extended time together.

Sunday was a crisp, sunny day, and Aunt B, Uncle S, and Cousins came over nice and early so we could have as much time together as possible.

Off to enjoy the sun on the playground.

Off to enjoy the sun on the playground.

Mud swings.

Mud swings.

Cleaning up another sappy season.

Cleaning up another sappy season.

B and S had to leave for a conference and to open the store, but the youngest cousins had a long time playing outdoors while the older cousins and Grannie Babs went to examine the Vermont Solar Panels.

Checking out the solar panels.

Checking out the solar panels.

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With a Monkey for scale.

With a Monkey for scale.

The house looks particularly beautiful with its blue siding.

The house looks particularly beautiful with its blue siding.

They are catching up quickly in height.

They are catching up quickly in height.

The Little Mother likes to make these round piles which look so whimsical.

The Little Mother likes to make these round piles which look so whimsical.

Monkey loves genealogical research, and Nonni came through with two gems: The History of Her Family and the photo album and random documents she kept from our wedding and Buddie’s early years.

Nonni brought out the big book of her family history, and Monkey was absorbed for hours.

Nonni brought out the big book of her family history, and Monkey was absorbed for hours.

Another found treasure: Look at Zach's face in the background. He's attempting to propel birdseed through our skulls.

Another found treasure: Look at Zach’s face in the background. He’s attempting to propel birdseed through our skulls.

And an early resume...

And an early resume…

A few final memories with cousins:

The decades of play on the rock continues.

The decades of play on the rock continues.

Let's talk Magic!

Let’s talk Magic!

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So good to be together.

So good to be together.

And Monday morning we were up and out bright and early for the long drive back to the South.

It was well worth the drive.

And a reminder of last year’s trip.

Nutmeg’s Final Chapter

Buddie’s eulogy is a beautiful tribute to Nutmeg. I’d like to round out the memories of her final chapter.

Nutmeg had been on thyroid medicine for a long time, and when we moved to Nash, the new vet we found suggested subcutaneous fluids to help support her kidney function. I’d stick her with a needle a couple times a week to get her extra fluid.

We’d take her in every few months for blood work to see if the thyroid medicine was helping. The vet would increase it because her weight continued to fall. She kept eating well, and we pampered her with any food we could find that had “gravy” in the title.

Then, in mid-February, the inkling of concerns I had came to the fore. Her weight had fallen to under 5 pounds. She was still walking around, but seemed…fragile…to me.

Extensive emailing back and forth with the vet ensued. He suggested a steroid shot. I asked what the hope was for that, and what the potential outcomes were. We were discussing a twenty year-old cat, who has always been in excellent health, overall.

The vet and I finally reached comfortable agreement. He would prescribe a pain medicine, because that was my biggest fear; that she was in pain, and it wasn’t being handled. We would stop all the other meds.

In essence, Nutmeg was on home hospice care. She continued to have the choicest food money could buy. There were bed options on pillows wherever she chose to lie. She drank from whatever faucet she could get to, and we had a cat “water fountain” to give her the opportunity for flowing water.

The pain medicine made a big difference. She began to move around much more, talk to us again, and she even carried some of her toys, which she hadn’t done for awhile.

This new level of comfort lasted until the very end. When the children and I were in Vermont last week, Buds was tickled to tell me that he had been awakened early on Sunday morning by Nutmeg standing on his back, informing him it was time to get up and feed her.

It had been weeks since she’d climbed onto our bed, so that felt like a pleasant sign.

When we returned home, her appetite was unabated. Several times a day she would mosey out to the kitchen, sit in the spot where the cats are fed, and look at me. When I’d look back, she’d meow. Then I’d feed her.

Our system was very simple. She instructed me to feed her, and I was glad to comply.

On Wednesday night, as I prepared for bed, I stooped to pet her as she lay on the floor in our bedroom. The last few days she’d taken to sleeping right by her water fountain. In the morning we’d awaken to find her in her bed, so she was still moving fine, just seemed to prefer this particular spot.

I gave her some loving good nights, then snuggled in to sleep around 9 p.m.

Buds awakened me at 10:30 to let me know she was gone. She was laying in the same spot on the floor, just stretched out, looking peaceful and comfortable. We petted her for awhile. Monkey, Yessa, and my visiting mother all had some time to say good byes

The house seems very quiet now. The new kittens are generally quiet. They haven’t shown any extraordinary talents yet that compete with a fetching cat, but they are loving, and that goes a long way.

One final thing: The vet told me more than once that we had reached a point where euthanasia was a very appropriate option. Buds and I even talked about it several times. He was always sure that she wasn’t quite ready to go, and I was very comfortable that she wasn’t in pain, so we were able to convince ourselves that she would make it through our two recent trips…and she did.

This death, at home, free of pain, was exactly what I hoped for her. It’s what I hope for all beloveds.

Trying out a new bed option.

Trying out a new bed option.

Snuggled in a new spot.

Snuggled in a new spot.

Teaching the next generation the joys of faucet drinking.

Teaching the next generation the joys of faucet drinking.

Sharing food space.

Sharing food space.

Having a Yessa snuggle.

Having a Yessa snuggle.

Sunlight feels good on old bones.

Sunlight feels good on old bones.

My perspective about death has been shaped by many events, and my views continue to evolve. This video, which was part of my End Of Life Doula training, is how I will remember Nutmeg’s death. When death came, it was as a loving friend, who had seen the beautiful life she had lived.

Nutmeg

Nutmeg, our oldest cat, queen of our house, died last night in her sleep. She was almost 21 years old and had seen and passed judgement on many things.

One of the first things Jennie and I did together was adopt this pair of rambunctious siblings, Nutmeg and Chance, to join our small hungry cocker spaniel Brandie. They came home in a cardboard box striking the lid with excitement like tiny sharks.

Chance was sweet and Nutmeg was confident. She would fetch crumpled paper balls that we threw; not with the throw it, throw it now! intensity of a dog, but with a sleek grace. She would pad back to us and return the missing prey.

In later years, fetching involved selecting random things from a far corner of the house (a sock, a toy, a slipper) and bringing them to the top of the stairs or the hallway. Why these things? Oh human, it is not for you to know such things.

I see echoes of Nutmeg and Chance in our two new adoptee cats. Waffles, male, black, clueless, prone to fits where he NEEDS love and your human touch. He will get that touch; you can not stop him. Moonstar: the huntress, aloof, aware and graceful.

A link to our past is broken; all the pets of our early years have lived, loved, and passed on.

Nutmeg in Virginia

Nutmeg in Virginia

She loved running water and would stare pointedly at faucets until she got some

She loved running water and would stare pointedly at faucets until she got some

Snuggled

Snuggled

More Nashville days

More Nashville days

Looking at you, kid.

Looking at you, kid.

Enjoying the sunshine in Nashville

Enjoying the sunshine in Nashville

Siblings snuggled

Siblings snuggled

Young Nutmeg fights off a furrocious Brandie

Young Nutmeg fights off a furrocious Brandie