Monthly Archives: December 2010

A Wonderful Life, by Izzy

Lumps. You get ’em in your oatmeal if you’re not careful, on your noggin if you’re clumsy, or just in life, cos that’s how it is.

I got a lot of lumps. Not just the physical ones, either. I mean, when I first met Mom, when I was a baby, I was kinda a biter. Snip snap crunch if you looked at me wrong. And to be honest, I haven’t quiiiiiiiite given up on that, even now. I messed with Mom’s head tonight by giving her a chomp when she saw my adorable face peeking out the igloo and stuck her finger in to pet my head. I’m not really sure why I did that, and it’s been so long since the last chomp that this time, Mom did the yi yi yi hand-jerk thing. Then she laughed! I had to look out again to see what was so funny, and she said I didn’t even really bite her. Then she stuck her finger in my face again and… I dunno… it was like I had to — so I did. But — nothing happened! Mom didn’t move away or jump or yell. Hmmm. So I started chewing on her finger (hey, it was already in my mouth), and she giggled.

I am totally losing my touch.

But wait — losing my touch? Why would I even want to bite Mom anyway?

Um, I dunno. It wasn’t really a thought, it just happened.

But I lost my point here. Lumps! That was it. I got lumps. All over me. Lotsa tumor thingies. And THE tumor, the PT (brain tumor) — it’s, like, so not there. From the Dostinex that Mom makes me take every night. The stuff works. Tastes like ass, though. No, wait, ass tastes pretty good, I’ve licked mine and my siblings’ a lot. The Dostinex tastes like… medicine. Bleggah. It works great for my PT, but of course doesn’t work on the other tumors. Luckily, the others don’t hurt.

They are starting to kinda bother me, though. Getting in my way sometimes, making me tired. Well, I’m pretty old, and being tired kinda comes with the territory, so who knows if it’s the lumps or old age. Ooh, one good thing about being old as dirt is that just about whenever Mom touches me, I just sort of flop down and fall asleep where I am, cos she gives me lovely massages. I love it when she massages my ears, the top of my head, in between my shoulder blades, and the sides of my face under my eyes. She kisses me on my face, too, and I let her cos I love her lots, even though something like that would have bothered me when I was younger. Doesn’t bother me now, though, I just love it. And I still love being wrapped in my towel, of course, and lying there safe and warm and toasty while Mommy kisses and pets me and tells me over and over again that she loves me and that I’m beautiful.

Dontcha wish you had my life?

Well, I’ve had my life, and it’s been wonderful. I’ve had lotsa fun. Eating so many extremely yummy foods and treats whenever I’ve wanted to. Making the most awesome nests in the igloos with my siblings. Chasing string Mom dragged across the hardwood floor. Shredding paper towels to my heart’s content. Exploring Mom’s inner ear while sitting on her shoulder, chewing on her hair while sitting on the back of her neck, trying to chew off her eyelashes while she kissed me. Chasing my sibs around the cages and room at 3 AM making all kinds of noise, then looking sleepy and innocent when Mommy gets out of bed and turns on the light to make sure we weren’t killing one another. Climbing onto the windowsills and lounging there in the summer sun, my face pressed to the screen, occasionally lifting my chin when a warm breeze blew interesting smells into the room. Biting Nitram when Mom told him I wouldn’t! Running up and down the hallway like a nutter. Playing in the upstairs bath behind the sink where that slight leak makes for some interesting floor-licking. Chewing on table legs, couches, Booda bones, whole walnuts, apple tree sticks, Mommy’s favorite slippers, the curtain that peeks under the laundry room door, Mom’s sweatshirt, and my sibs’ ears and tails. Sleeping on my head (I know it looks weird but we rats know about how to sleep professionally, so don’t knock it til you’ve tried it). Tossing litter and bedding around the cages and room until everything is decorated just right, then doing it all over again the next night. Playing Kill the Hand and Gotcha with Mom. Sleeping in a pile with my three sibs, noses up asses, feet in ears, tails round necks, everyone breathing and dreaming together…

Like I said, if you had my life, you’d know what living really is, and what’s important and what’s not.

So, not because it’s that time of year, but because it’s that time of my life, I want to wish you all a life like mine: good food, great play, interesting smells, and, please — Humans — get a clue about how to sleep. Just pile up and do it. You all don’t get enough of that.

Speaking of sleep, like I said, I’m really very tired now, so I’ve got to nestle in and snooze for a good long while. This is likely my last blog post. Oh, okay, I know I only wrote like three of them, but it was fun talking at you all when I had the chance… and the energy.

Have a wonderful life.

Love, Izzy.

Nanny Cookies

Cucidati, by LilianaVT on Flickr

Mom’s mother was Italian and we called her Nanny, since Dad’s mom was Grammy. Nanny always made these wonderful cookies at Christmas, sort of a cross between cucidati and rugelach. I was talking to Mom about Christmas Eve yesterday, and asked her if she was going to make Nanny Cookies, a holiday tradition in our family. Which reminded me of when my dad’s parents died…

After Grampa died, they sent him off to be cremated. Grammy died not long after, of a broken heart, really. They sent her off as well. Grammy had always promised my sister and me that she’d come back to us after she died. When we were really little and she’d tell us bedtime stories, the last thing we always asked her before she turned off the light was, “Grammy, after you’re dead, will you come back and haunt us?”

“Yes, I will,” she always answered with a chuckle, and we’d say, “Promise? You promise?” and she’d answer, “I promise.”

My basement apartment was in the house my father and his two brothers grew up in (the family still owns it), and at that time, all three of my siblings lived in the upstairs apartment. One day a large package came in the mail when I was the only one home, and it was addressed to Grampa. I thought I’d better tell Dad about that, so I put the package on a shelf in my hallway. I forgot about it for a few weeks until an identical package was delivered, this time addressed to Grammy. I wondered, Who is sending my grandparents packages after they’re dead? and put that one on the shelf too.

A little while later I was walking through the hall and saw the two packages out of the corner of my eye, and all of a sudden I realized what they were: ashes! I stood there staring at them, then just had to open them. In each box was a shiny metal container about the size and shape of a gallon paint can, with a label bearing each grandparent’s name. Hmmm. I just had to tell someone, so I ran upstairs to see who was home.

My sister was in the bathroom putting on cosmetics. I stood in the bathroom door and looked at her and said, “Hey Di… guess what?”

“What?” she asked, staring into the mirror as she applied eyeliner.

“Grammy and Grampa…”


“Umm… Grammy and Grampa… are downstairs.”

She slowly turned her head to look at me, one eye ringed in black, and I watched in horrified fascination as her face drained deathly white in a matter of seconds. Wondering what the heck was wrong with her, I opened my mouth to ask when she croaked, “Where… are they?”

I said, “On the shelf,” and she swayed dangerously and whispered: “Jesus God, did they come back as fucking leprechauns or something?!”

“WHAT–” and I burst out laughing, finally realizing how my words must have sounded to her. I said, “No, Di… their ashes are on the shelf in two containers!” She swore at me and got her color back.

We sat at her kitchen table wondering if we should look at the ashes. After all, they were our grandparents. But then, they were Dad’s parents and we didn’t want to do anything untoward. As we were discussing this, Danny and George came home, and we all discussed it some more. Finally it was decided we should go downstairs and at least just look at the cans. So we all trooped down to my apartment as Di told our brothers what I’d just done to her.

We put the two cans on my kitchen table and stared at them. We really wanted to look inside but were afraid to. Danny said, “Well, if we just open one and look, and then close it again, that would be okay.” That made sense at the time. So we tried to open Grampa’s can, and discovered the only way to do so was like for a paint can: with a can opener. Danny had one on his pocket knife, so we made him do it. He was standing in my kitchen with the can of Grampa under one arm, prying at the lid with his opener, the rest of us ringed around him whispering, “Don’t spill it, don’t spill any…!” The lid popped off and Danny put the can on the counter and we stared down at the crinkly paper on top, upon which rested a strange burnt-looking round metal token with some numbers on it. We all looked at each other with huge eyes. Then I reached in and pulled out the paper, and we stared at Grampa’s ashes. George said, “Phew,” and we all wrinkled our noses. It smelled dusty and chalky.

We took turns poking our fingers in and exclaiming how un-ash-like it seemed: it was more chunky-style. Danny said, “Have you got a large bowl? Let’s pour ’em out and take a good look.” I got my largest mixing bowl and we poured Grampa into it, then poked and stirred and exclaimed some more.

Then. Someone got the bright idea to open Grammy’s can and mix both their ashes together. A nice thought, surely, but impetuous.

We did it immediately.

When the lid came off Grammy’s can, Di yelled, “Oh my god! Where’s the rest of her?” We were shocked at the much smaller amount of Grammy until one of us had the brains to mention how much larger Grampa had been than Grammy, and then we were relieved. We poured her in with Grampa, and I got a wooden spoon and commenced mixing. We were reverent about doing that for a few minutes, liking the thought that they’d never be separated again.

Then Danny had to say, “Hey girl, what’s cookin’?”

And I — I had to open my big mouth and loudly state: “I’m makin’ Nanny Cookies!” just as Dad walked in the door.

He said, “Hey, Nanny Cookies! Awright!” as we all froze like the guilty, irreverent creatures we were, our mouths still open in laughter, our eyes now huge and shamed, and me in mid-stir, holding the bowl. Dad walked over, still smiling, looked in the bowl and immediately frowned, saying, “That doesn’t look like Nanny Cookies. What the hell is that?”

Dead silence.

He looked at all of us and said, “What’s wrong with you guys?” I said, “Ahh–” and Di said, “Umm, umm–” and Danny began to shake and turn beet red with suppressed laughter. George just rolled his eyes. Dad looked at Danny, then at Di and me with our stupid nervous grins, and started to laugh although he didn’t know why. George covered his eyes and slumped in his chair. I said, weakly, “It’s, um, well, it’s ah, grammyangrampa.”

Dad said, “Huh?”

I said, “We thought it would be nice if they were… together. You know — together…” I looked down at the bowl I still held, “…umm, like, forever? heh…”

Since I still hadn’t got round to telling Dad that the ashes had arrived, it took him another moment to really get what was going on. His eyes bugged out when he realized what was in the bowl. “Whaa–?” He sat down hard at my kitchen table, put face in his hands, his shoulders shaking. We evil children stared at one another in horror of what we’d done — made our dad cry! Then he lifted his head, his face red and contorted with laughter. “Jesus Christ! You kids are weird!”

After we all recovered, we spent an interesting hour or so learning about cremation from Dad (he knows odd things about a lot of stuff), stirring the ashes some more, and reminiscing about our grandparents.

Home Baking, by Becca_* on Flickr

Narayanan Krishnan

Narayanan Krishnan
Cross boundaries, touch lives, give help and hope. That’s what this guy does. It’s what any of us can do, in our own ways, in whatever ways we can — do a little something, maybe just once, or keep doing more if you can.

India, Old Dehli – No Comment, by lǝuoıl sılıpoq on Flickr