Where the Wild Things Are: Death and Dying

Originally posted to ‘BackWash: Where the Wild Things Are’ newsletter, May, 16, 2004.

My Dad is quite likely going to die soon, any day now. Don’t worry about sending sympathy, condolences or anything of that sort. You don’t know him. For me it’s a lot more personal.

People think the dying become almost holy. As if, while dying, they change and become a better person all of a sudden. You can’t talk badly about them, you must visit them and you should really, really hold their hand.

Well, my Dad was not a nice, happy, friendly Dad. His dying hasn’t changed that. I don’t want to hold his hand. I don’t want to go in and see him now that he is becoming a pile of meat rather than a human being. Sure, I can stick my hand inside a turkey each Thanksgiving and pull out the little bag of goodies. That doesn’t mean I want to do the same sort of ghoulish thing with my Dad. So, I am visiting him (second time will be today after work) but I am not going to touch him.

What do you believe about death? That gets tested each time someone close to us (physically or emotionally) dies. I still believe in reincarnation. I still believe the body becomes about as useful as roadkill once the person inside is gone. I still think the best body disposal method is compost in the family garden rather than taking up space in a graveyard plot. I’d much rather have my remains sucked up by worms and trees than rotting away in an expensive box.

Am I grossing you out? Am I being too blunt? Do you not want to think about death in such a practical way? Too bad. Death is part of life. There is no getting away from it. Death is always there, waiting at the end. That, I very strongly believe.

I’m not afraid of death. I’m just in no hurry to get there. I’d miss too many things. Every ordinary day, new inventions and ideas, seeing the tulips each Spring and so on.

Anyway, my Dad wants to be cremated. It looks like he will soon have his wish. I don’t think I will miss him. But I’m doing my best to be a good daughter now, in these last days. Not for him, not for myself especially, but for my brother and sisters who seem to expect something grand and dramatic and perfect. As if now that he is about to kick off forever we should honour him for the things he did right.

Foraging 2.0: Grafting Fruit-Bearing Branches To Neutered City Trees

Foraging 2.0: Grafting Fruit-Bearing Branches To Neutered City Trees: SFist.

This is interesting to me because we gathered apples from abandoned farms and along the roadside from trees which were pretty forgotten. These apples would be heritage seeds and possibly types of apples no longer grown commercially. Yet they were often a stronger or better type of apple, resistant to bugs and disease. But unpopular for some other reason.

The idea grafting branches never occurred to me. It would give you the chance to have apples much sooner than growing a new tree from seed. Also, a lot of trees grown from seed just don’t make it. Grafting would have a better chance for success, though need more time to keep the tree from going back to it’s roots, literally.

Eat your Christmas Tree

What You Will Need:

• Cupcakes, any flavor
• Sweetened Whipped Cream
• Green Food Coloring
• Chopped candied fruit, red

Equipment Need:

• Icing Bag
• Open Star Icing Tip

How To:

1. Whip whipping cream till stiff peaks form.

2. Reserve some plain white icing for the floret border and add a tiny drop of green food color to the rest.

3. Mix the color into the cream very lightly to get a marbled effect.

4. Spread this icing on each cupcake with an icing knife or spatula.

Making the Trees
1. Mix in green food coloring to the remaining icing to make the trees.

2. Fit an icing bag with an open star tip (No. 17 or 18) and fill the bag with the green whipped cream.

3. To start making the trees, pipe out cream in center of the cupcake and bring outwards. For the first few lines, bulge out the icing in the center and then bring out. This will give the base of the tree some height for the other ‘branches’ to stand.

Floret Border:
With the same icing tip and plain white whipping cream, make little florets all around the edge of the cupcake.
Pipe out cream and press slightly on the same place to form a little floret. Make florets close to each other all around the rim.
1. Sort out red colored candied fruit from a mixed pack or use dried red berries.
2. Chop them up and puck into the trees to make tree decorations.
Whether preparing for your family or for a party, assembly line is the best way to get these done quick and well. Spread cream icing on all cupcakes first and then make trees on all of them.
Try making the trees and florets on a plate first. Once you get the hang of it, start making them on the cupcakes.

Find Your Name

I found the NameListings Network. A social network based on your first name.
From Behind the Name:


Usage: English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Finnish, Estonian, Hungarian, Polish, Slovene, Scandinavian, German, Dutch

Pronounced: LAWR-? (English), LOW-rah (Spanish, Italian, Polish, German, Dutch) [key]
Feminine form of the Late Latin name Laurus, which meant “laurel”. This meaning was favourable, since in ancient Rome the leaves of laurel trees were used to create victors’ garlands. The name was borne by the 9th-century Spanish martyr Saint Laura, who was a nun thrown into a vat of molten lead by the Moors. It was also the name of the subject of poems by the 14th-century Italian poet Petrarch.

As an English name, Laura has been used since the 13th century. A famous bearer was Laura Secord (1775-1868), a Canadian heroine during the War of 1812.

Another Paper Box

I’ve got a crayon box sitting on my desk. It had Crayola markers in it, 64 of them. One of them, garden green, has no colour and I’m going to send an email to Crayola about that. Maybe I will even get that done, off my to-do list, tonight.

I’m just looking at this box and thinking about the paper/ cardboard used to make this box which is now disposable. Thinking about all the years we had boxes of crayons, pencil crayons and pens and threw away boxes. Often they were kind of ripped up cause I did try to keep mine all tidy in their box as long as I could. But the box never could outlast a pencil case or metal crayon box (usually a cookie tin left over from Christmas).

Does it make anyone else feel kind of sad to think of the trees cut down to make packaging which we throw out soon after we bring the stuff home?

A crayon box isn’t big. One crayon box is just one crayon box. But, we bought a new bathtub for the renovations to add an apartment to the basement and that was a really big box, for one home, one family. It had to be strapped to the roof of a friend’s van to bring it here. The empty box had to be folded several times to fit into the trunk of the car. The recycling truck which picks up our cereal boxes, milk cartons and newspapers, would not take the bathtub box. The man on the truck explained that it would not fit on their truck. The box would take up too much space and they would not have enough room to load all the recyclables from the houses on their usual run. We would have to drive that box to the dump.

To the dump? That doesn’t sound like recycling.

So that isn’t what we did. I folded and semi-crushed that box until I could smoosh it into the trunk of the car. Then we drove it to the massive store (one of those huge parking lots with a row of massive chain stores to one side) where we had bought the bathtub. I dragged that box out of the car and put it into a handy shopping cart in the parking lot. I left it there. My small protest to too much packaging and the waste of too many trees.

This crayon box is still on my desk though. Still making me feel sad for the part of a tree it once was. Never to be a tree again. Was it worth it? To be cut down, pulverized, painted and folded and then stuffed with crayons only to be bought and then discarded? I don’t think so.

We need different packaging. Why can’t crayons be sold in a tin box which would last longer and not become dog earred and torn. A tin box could go to school and stay in a locker and then come home again. A tin box could last a kid from grade one to high school and beyond. The tin box could outlast the original crayons and end up holding pens and pencils when that kid starts their first job in some cubicle or something more interesting and unique. A tin box could be passed on to children of that child and then grandchildren. A tin box would only increase in value and be something treasured if it was kept by the family.

This cardboard box is never going to be any of those things. If I don’t take it to the blue box it will just be landfill, un-needed and unnecessary landfill. We have an overflow of landfill of this kind already.

So here is this one box. One box isn’t much. Like one tree in a forest, it’s just one and when it’s gone it makes a bit of room for saplings to reach up through the space and grab some sun for themselves. The problem is that it’s not just one tree or one box.

Think about all the packaging we take for granted, don’t even see it as we go through our day to day lives. There is such a ton of it. In a week you might be throwing away a whole tree. But, one tree isn’t much. Right?