Don’t be scared: Don’t be afraid

Picture of Abraham

My dog is dying. The doctor estimates 8-10 weeks before the cancer “gets him.” He’s 14, so I’ve opted for palliative care. There’s little return on investment, so to speak, for the time, money, and suffering those treatments would bring to both of us.

I never thought I’d have a dog…or a dog to whom I was so attached. It’s rather ridiculous, really, this bond I have with Abraham. I grew up with cats. Any dog that entered the Eisenhower household didn’t last long. Rusty got cancer and didn’t linger. Ollie was killed by a wild animal. Snow the cat stuck it out until I was a senior in high school. So it’s been over 25 years since I lost a close animal companion.

“What an intensely special/odd time,” I said to a friend via Facebook private message. She said, “I know. Prayers. Don’t be afraid.”

Don’t be afraid. 

Of all the messages I’ve received, this one is the most comforting. Don’t be afraid.

I am afraid. Of Abraham suffering. Of not knowing when it’s time. Of calling it “time” too soon. Or too late. Of not being there in his last moments. Of being there in his last moments. Of the grief that will come.


Don’t be afraid.

Many have been in this place before, with animals AND with people, waiting for “that time.” The eerie balance between cherishing our time together and celebrating what Abraham CAN enjoy with the sadness of DAMMIT, soon we won’t be able to do this. It’s like taking a happy shot with a bummer chaser.

My “don’t be afraid” friend sent me this book. Abraham and I read it together. Well, I read it while choking on tears. He listened. When we got to the part of the book that talked about all the angel children for the dogs to play with, I assured him he could opt out. He’s never been much into kids. Also, he pointed out that he prefers chicken flavored treats to ham sandwich flavored treats. I said it wouldn’t be a problem. He winked.


I have moments of dark humor…like the time I spaced out on doing something I said I would do. I wanted to say, “My dog is dying. What’s your excuse?” Or when a friend snap chatted a pic of her dog with a drawn-on crown and the word “Spoiled” with an arrow pointing to the pup. My first instinct was to respond with one of Abraham with the word “Dying” and an arrow.

Perhaps the more I talk about him dying, I can face him dying.  I doubt it will take away the sting when “it’s time” but perhaps the twinges will feel less foreign. I’ve grieved before, so there’s a bit of familiarity to it, like that cousin you don’t see often, and don’t really like, but you realize, hey, she’s family. Give her a hug anyway.

Don’t be afraid.

Ok Abraham. I may feel afraid but I won’t BE afraid. I love you, my little man. Let’s talk about some important things for a while.


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Don’t be scared: DIY Laundry Detergent

I’m on a kick to minimize the chemicals and (popular word) TOXINS in my life. I’m making different food choices…now I turn my attention to home products. First up: laundry detergent! My pal Kerri over at Drink, Sleep & Be Kerri  blogged about her homemade-ry and I determined to do my own after I used up my commercial stuff.

Turns out this recipe is about $.07 per load. Heck yeah! Fewer chemicals AND cheaper than commercial deterg? Sign me up.

This recipe makes 52 1-cup “servings.” Compare to Tide Free Liquid Laundry Detergent, 64 loads, 100 fl oz, at approximately $10 which would be 19 cents a load.

I got my recipe from House Logic blog here — it has better pics than mine, so please visit and give some comment love. I got all my ingredients at Drug Emporium. I bet you can find them at WalMart or Kroger also.

1 bar Fels-Naptha soap
½ cup borax
1 cup washing soda
3 gallons water
5-gallon bucket with a lid

IMG_2811   IMG_2816   IMG_2813

I used my food processor with grating attachment to grate the entire bar of Fels-Naptha (it’s like a big bar of soap). Looks like cheese…but it ain’t, so no nibbling. Then, in a pot full of almost-boiling water, I added the grated soap and stirred, stirred, stirred, till it was all melted. Looks like lemonade, but it ain’t, so no drink-y.

washing_soda    PLUS   imgres PLUS WATERIMG_2823

Into the sink I put a 5 gallon bucket and added 3 gallons of hot water from the tap. I estimated the water. Then I added the borax and washing powder and stirred, stirred, stirred, till it was dissolved. Looks like…soapy water. Poured in the Fels-Naptha water and stirred until combined. Placed on floor (don’t do this if you have kids or curious pets) on a towel and will let sit for 24 hours.


Do you make your own soaps and detergents? Would love to know any secrets.

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Wordless Wednesday: The art of spaghetti stacking

Spaghetti stacking

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VocaliD: In studio

Hello from Soundscapes studio! Vid quality is ew.

I’m so excited! I love the folks at Soundscapes and the opportunity to work in studio is a fun change of pace from my day job, other hobbies, and volunteer activities. I’m not a professional voice actor, but fortunately I don’t have to be!

The process is easy. Phrases pop up on the screen, I click the record button, say the phrase, click stop and voila. Next phrase. It’s self-regulated, not timed, and I can do as many retakes as I like.

Microphone and computer

SAY WHAT? I soon realize the phrases are out of context so I don’t know how to deliver them. For example, “Walk the dog for exercise.” Do I emphasize WALK to indicate that the dog should be walked instead of run? Or EXERCISE because the purpose of the dog’s walk is not just to poop or pee? Am I saying it pleasantly, or am I saying it to someone who has been asked many times and I’m annoyed?

I decide not to read too much (ha, no pun intended) and go with the first take. I re-record only if I mispronounce or lack clarity. I figure the creators of the program know what they are doing and can parse the sounds for their purposes.

IMG_5285To avoid vocal fatigue, I end the session after 20 minutes. I’ll do a total of 3-4 hours of speech. I feel energized and happy. And who doesn’t love the chance to visit with Karen C and the crew at Soundscapes!

Thanks, Soundscapes for hosting the voice drive for VOCALiD!

SSC-Logo_Small_Bell copy

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VOCALiD – giving voice to the voiceless

What if you lost your voice, through disease or trauma? Now imagine having a computerized voice–like Siri or the voice that comes from the device that Stephen Hawking uses.

My beautiful friend Karen works at Soundscapes, a local audio production company that is offering their recording services for a project called VOCALiD … a project that is taking voices from those who can speak and creating CUSTOMIZED voices for those who don’t have them. HOW COOL IS THAT!?!?!?!

“Each one of us has a unique voiceprint. Yet, until now, millions of people who rely on computerized speech to communicate have been given uniform voices. Voices that don’t fit their bodies or their personalities. We wouldn’t dream of fitting a little girl with the prosthetic limb of a grown man, so, why then the same prosthetic voice? ” –VocaliD

VOCALiD is building The Human Voicebank, “a crowdsourced initiative to gather the world’s largest collection of standardized speech recordings from English speakers of all ages and backgrounds.” I jumped at the chance to volunteer to record my voice. I’m not a professional vocal actor, but what an opportunity!

More to come. :)

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Don’t be scared: Jicama

I’ve recently become a huge fan of jicama because I can nibble on it raw and have a satisfying crunchy, slightly sweet snack with almost no calories, and no added sugar or salt. It’s relatively inexpensive ($1 each) for what you get.

So what the heck is a jicama? And how do you say the word? First, the pronunciation:

Jicama is a vegetable…the root of the Mexican yam or turnip plant. In the store, it looks like a huge potato, with a tough outer skin that you peel off. I like to use a vegetable peeler.


Jicama partially peeled.


Peelings in sink. Compost those suckers!

It can be cumbersome and slippery but persevere.  Then cut into matchsticks (julienne for you fancy folk…here’s a tutorial) or cubed, based on what you want to do with it.


I have been known to pick up one of these rounds and nibble on it.


Matchsticks. I don’t cut off the rounded edges. Wasted jicama!

I like it raw. Alone or as a carrier for salsa or almond butter. It’s the main ingredient in the jicama mango salad I posted here. I also diced it, tossed with a smidge of salt and fresh mint as a side to lamb. I bet it would be good in fish tacos. Or as a coleslaw-type garnish for pork. YUMO!

Have you tried jicama? What other recipes or uses do you recommend?

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Don’t be scared: Chickpea “tabbouleh”

DANGIT IT IS HOT. Last thing I want to do is to fire up the stove, oven, or grill. So here’s dinner tonight. Super snaps to THUG KITCHEN and Mark Bittman for the inspiration. Lordamercy that site cracks me up. Warning: if profanity offends, you don’t want to click on this link. Seriously. Don’t do it. There. You’ve been warned. Ok now the recipe. Oh wait, if you’re gluten-free, dairy-free but not taste-free, this is for you.

Katie’s ThuggishBitt Chickpea & Quinoa Salad

Combine the following ingredients in a large bowl and chill for a few hours to let flavors develop. Eat. Also good in a tortilla with sliced avocado. If you are one who feels that s/he must have MEAT, add pre-cooked chicken or tuna because, again, I’m not turning on the stove.

  • 2 cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), or cooked from scratch
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped (I like 3 large plum tomatoes, seeds mostly removed)
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3-5 radishes, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley (1/2 a big bunch; I like flat-leaf Italian-style)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mint (2 handfuls of leaves)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (juice of 3 lemons)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 ribs of celery, chopped (optional)
  • ½ cup chopped green onions (optional)
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