Never Forget: the Dog Gets Gifts, Too

Grain Free Dog Biscuits

Grain Free Dog Biscuits…heart shaped of course

Since William died I have a few irrational fears. One of which is that friends and family and even myself, as I age, will forget him. To help alleviate that fear, shortly after he died, I wrote a photo book about him from the time he was in high school up until the time he died. A few copies were printed and given, as gifts to those I knew would keep him safe in their hearts. It felt good to document those years. This blog is simply an extension of that book and I hope I never forget that.

My book: Gone Too Soon Forever In Our Hearts

My book: Gone Too Soon Forever In Our Hearts

Recently, a few friends have lost their beloved dogs. While I would never compare the loss of a person to that of a pet I can without a doubt say that the death of a much-loved pet is heart wrenching. It is sad and requires grieving. For some it is like losing an important member of the family. It brought to mind a “Will Story”.

Baby Will & Colleen

Baby Will & Colleen

One of the more touching “Will stories” has to do with his love and loss of our first dog, Colleen. Colleen came into our lives as a puppy when Will was just 16 months old. The two little tykes quickly bonded and grew up together rather inseparable. Doesn’t every boy just love his dog? Fast-forward 15 years and the price one pays for the love of a good pet is suddenly realized. Colleen is too old to fetch one more tennis ball and too sick for one more swim in Lake Elise. It is decision time. We waited for William to give the okay. It was important for him to be ready to say, “good-bye”. And as always the boy had a plan.

Go fetch

Go fetch

He wrapped her in his baby blanket and carried her into the Vet’s office. He took off his U.S. Navy St. Christopher medal and placed it lovingly around her neck. He gathered her one last time into his arms and gave the Vet a nod. I will never forget the tearful scene or the boy who whispered, “we will see each other again.”

Cait, Will & Colleen

Cait, Will & Colleen

she got her name 'cause she was half Irish setter

Named Colleen ’cause she was half Irish setter

I just bet every pet lover out there has a Christmas stocking with their Pet’s name on it. Look what Deacon is getting in hers. Good thing she hasn’t been too naughty.

a gift from the heart is always welcome

a gift from the heart is always welcome

Deacon’s Grain Free Dog Biscuits

3/4 cup buckwheat flour (did you know that buckwheat is actually a fruit seed related to rhubarb—me neither, but it is true)

1/2 cup almond flour

1/4 cup canned pumpkin

1 egg

1 tablespoon peanut butter

Mix all the ingredients together adding more buckwheat flour if too sticky. Roll out on a flour dusted board to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Bake on a parchment lined cookie sheet at 300F for 30 minutes. Makes about 2 dozen.

ho ho ho...Deacon the Dog

ho ho ho…Deacon the Dog

View from Will’s Bench & Holiday Gifts

cranberry apple relish

cranberry apple relish

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, but before we head into the dead of winter lets take one last look at autumn. The view from Will’s Bench in the fall is glorious. It is the best time of year to visit New England.

Will's Bench Middlebury, CT

Will’s Bench Middlebury, CT

Who doesn’t like rainbows and a pine forest? I can’t help but think of my boy when I see the sun shining down on the water in such a colorful way. He’s out there, casting a line just happy to be. I can almost see him. There is a scent of pine still on his sweatshirt.

the rainbow shot

the rainbow shot

And to the one who always leaves flowers I wish you peace and hope always, but especially during this holiday season. Thank you.

peace and hope

peace and hope

Whew! I feel much better now that I have put the fall season behind us…and you have to believe that I really do actually enjoy the Christmas season. I miss William terribly, but I have to rejoice in the thought that I had his bright light in my life for 23 years. How lucky am I to have loved such a son. And to have so many in my life who continue to love and honor him, too. William is the gift that keeps on giving.

can't have an empty jar

can’t have an empty jar

Do you love a homemade gift as much as I do? Nothing better than a gift from someone’s heart. Homemade means someone has given you their precious time. It can’t be bought. It’s priceless. So, this recipe for cranberry-apple relish was born because I was feeling guilty about simply opening up a jar or can of cranberry sauce and tossing it on the table at Thanksgiving. Pressed for time I just didn’t think anyone would care about cranberry sauce, but the thought of not doing something homemade for such a special event got the best of me. Thankfully, I got it done. The jar was practically licked clean by my guests and my darling daughter announced it was the best cranberry sauce she had ever eaten and could I make more. So I did and so should you.

honey to your taste

honey to your taste

Cranberry-Apple Relish

1-cup water

½ cup sugar

1 (12 oz) bag fresh cranberries

1 Meyer lemon or medium-size orange, grated zest and juice

1 large honey crisp apple, peeled, grated

½ cup honey

pinch of Alaskan alder smoked salt or finishing salt of your choice

½ cup toasted chopped pecans, optional

In medium saucepan, over medium heat, combine water, sugar, cranberries, lemon (or orange) zest and juice, apple and half the honey; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring mixture occasionally, pressing cranberries with the back of your spoon against the side of the pan insuring all have popped. Taste and add additional honey to your desired sweetness. (I use the whole half-cup if using the Meyer lemon instead of an orange). Simmer until the mixture is thickened. Cool. Stir in salt and pecans, if desired. Makes about 2 ½ cups IMG_3991

For a nice gift pour into sterilized jars while still hot. Seal and wrap with a decorative ribbon.

Transforming Yourself & Cornbread

cornbread turkey pot pie

cornbread turkey pot pie

The sadness of losing my child sends me to a quiet place. It’s dark and uncomfortable. Everything I ever believed in and held dear has collapsed. The pain is unbearable and I shut down. Stillness is needed. It brings to mind childhood memories of the little old Italian ladies dressed in black. A symbol of their sadness, they literally wore their hearts on their sleeves. As I remember, these women refrained from socializing for a whole year “out of respect” for the dead. It’s possible that what they were really doing was re-inventing themselves in that quiet place.

Cole and William fishing Lake Elise

Cole and William fishing Lake Elise

Who am I? Why am I hear? What is the meaning of all of this? That lonely darkness forces the soul to ask questions and search for light; to find a spark. Honoring the pain, accepting the grief, openly mourning and challenging everything you have ever believed leads to healing and emergence. It is in that necessary quiet place that you have spiritually re-grouped. There is no doubt that you can live and you can love. You have been transformed.

Best cousins

Best cousins

I have always loved these photos of William and my nephew, Cole. Cole is also my godchild and I can’t help but think of William when I look at him. Cole is smart and thoughtful and loving much like his older cousin. He also bakes the best cornbread on earth. It is a must at Thanksgiving dinner and Cole is happy to oblige his old auntie. This year he made a double batch, so I had some leftover. Crumbled and mixed with some shredded cheese it made the perfect topping completely transforming the usual leftover turkey pot pie into something more special and satisfying.

Cole’s Corn Bread

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 c sugar
1/2 c corn meal
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup veg oil
3 T butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease an 8-inch baking pan.
COMBINE flour, sugar, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.  Combine milk, eggs, veg oil and butter in a small bowl; mix well.  Add to flour mixture; stir until just blended.  Pour into prepared pan.
BAKE for 35 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.