Hot Cocoa On The Road

Grab someone in the room and read this out loud.

Trust me.

How to make Ducky’s “Hot Cocoa On The Road”

Necessary items:

Small camp stove

Brown Sugar

Cinnamon

Allspice

Sugar in the raw

Goat’s milk

Unsweetened cocoa

Salt

Splenda

Excellent animal identification skills

Foul language

Just a few quick and easy steps!

First, lay out the ingredients in the order you fantasize you will be using them in. Light the camp stove’s burner and put the kettle on. Pour small ammt. of milk or cream into a mug. (About a fifth or so.)

Relight burner due to wind.

Second step: Go chase the Stellar’s Jay away from the opposite end of the table. This usually involves waving a dishtowel and yelling. Upon success, drop dishtowel triumphantly without realizing it’s landed into a bit of this morning’s oatmeal.

Return to stove, relight burner due to wind.

Third step: pour a small amount of salt into the milk. Stop to chase after a squirrel who is making off with the dishrag that now smells enticingly like Apples & Cinnamon. Retrieve towel, glare at squirre l, throw it into soapy water. (The towel that is, not the squirrel. Park service doesn’t really go for that kind of thing.)

Return to stove, curse, relight burner due to wind.

Fourth step: Realize one or more of the items above is missing. Turn the burner off, fetch item(s), return to table, relight burner and discover (The Damn) wind has deposited pine needles in cup. Pour milk and foliage out, restore original settings, and COVER THE FREAKING MUG.

Return to stove, curse, contemplate getting cheap swiss miss packets next grocery run, relight burner due to wind.

Burner goes out immediately.

Relight. With prayer this time.

Flames start to waver.

Stand while desperately cupping hands around the HOT burner in attempt to keep it lit.

Nope.

Give up on prayer and go back to cursing.

Fifth (?) step: Have a “Really Good Idea.” Grab two large water containers and the cooler strategically placing them in a protective barrier around the burner and kettle. Use your body for the fourth point and stand in a sentinel position until the water boils.  When it does boil, do a happy dance with a battle cry while flipping off the sky. Lose three dishtowels to a sudden gust of wind.

Cry.

Fifth step, (pt.2): Pick up muddy dishtowels and plop them next to the fire to dry (or burn up. Whatever, at this point.) Run back and quickly add salt, (measurements? You think we use MEASUREMENTS? *hysterical laughter*) somewhere between ½ teaspoon or ½ a tablespoon, depending on how upset you are at this point.

Sixth step: Pour boiling water in. Nearly burn yourself realizing that one of the dishtowels was to be used for the kettle. Run and get a dishtowel from area next to firepit, shake off ash frantically while running back to table.

Realize ash has fallen in the cup. Decide it’s either fiber or protein and proceed.

Seventh, eighth, and ninth steps: Add about a tablespoon of hot cocoa. Actually less. Okay, truthfully I’ve no idea; we use an old Menchies’ FroYo spoon so whatever one of those heaped comes to.

Start stirring frantically.

If the cocoa starts to blend, add cinnamon, allspice, sugar, and splenda. If not keep stirring while swearing and attempting to open the brown sugar one handed.

Note: opening things one handed never goes well.

Tenth step: Finish hot cocoa and look at the mess that was once the table. Add any of the ingredients that you have no doubt forgotten. Wonder if the “no crumb” #Fail you have accomplished is enough to get you banned from your beloved state parks.

Call out in your cheeriest voice, “Ducky! Hot Cocoa’s ready!”

Try not to kill offspring when he says, “I think this need more sweetener. It’s also a little cold. Do we have any whipped cream?”

Quietly chant to self, “I love camping, I love camping, I love camping…”




 

Day Unknown- Faded

I’m supposed to be sad but all I can do is rage. My kids have often remarked that my first response to being hurt or startled is to get angry. This is so much greater than a simple unexpected pain it’s gone beyond a measurable response. Even rage is too gentle a word but I can’t think of any other descriptions.

This is huge, it’s so big, I can’t grasp it, can’t comprehend it, can’t encompass it. My mind is spinning from the fruitless efforts I’m making to grab hold of something solid. But everything is liquid.

I’m so physically worn out I can’t function. Upon getting into our cabin tonight, I collapsed. My legs simply refused to bear any more weight of any kind. I had the kids bring my computer to me and now I’m writing, my fingers pounding the keyboard, striving to make sense of the senseless.

I’m not supposed to deal with this much death at my age. Or for all the years previous when the phrase “so young” first began it’s poisonous insertion into my life.

How many? How many more? Why do I stay closed off Dr. Shrink? Well let me tell you…

Today someone I love died.

And…

Today I was visiting the hometown of the last bright one who died on me.

It was to be a pilgrimage to try to make sense of what happened all those years ago to the two teens who loved, lost, tried to regain and eventually lost again.

Then the final loss.

Taking my children though the tribal lands today every drop of red sand felt like memory turned to blood, blinding my eyes and piercing my soul. I made myself vulnerable today and therefore I was already in a precarious place. Then the word came that on this day, of all days, another beloved one is gone.

There are no words for this, none.

I can’t rage, I can’t scream, I can’t let go because I’m the mom and I’m stuck in the cabin with my kids and the boy whose birthday is tomorrow. I have a cupcake for him. I bought it at the Diné market this afternoon, showing him around the land I didn’t realize I remembered so well.

(The stray dogs that wander all around and in and out, somewhat indulged yet ignored. One, with her teats heavy with milk followed us around the parking lot today and I wanted to grab her and say, “Take me to your pups and I will somehow save you all.”  Instead I got into my rental after griping after my kids for something-or-another and drove away.)

(The people whose eyes speak of both despair and wisdom but also great humor, they seem to see you from the side and not straight on as if to look too closely would be rude. The ones who approach you at the gas station with jewelry and the ones with fry-bread at the roadside stands and the tourist trap that we were at earlier today.)

(The land. Oh my dear God the land. The vistas that flow into pure light, colors not to be found at any other place I’ve ever been, the drab and dreary desert exploding into pinks and corals that aren’t quite those hues but again, there aren’t enough words.)

I have nothing but my words, I’m trying to ground but I’m not sure I’m able to. Tomorrow I promised a trip to the Grand Canyon and I’ve half killed myself getting us here and I have no idea what dawn will bring.

My kids are both scared of me right now. I have a snarl on my face that is so large and raw that I think they are reading it as a “Business Closed” sign. “Mommy isn’t home right now, leave a message and she might get back with you later.”

I know the rage is a cocoon, a safety-shield and a way of sheltering me from the tsunami of grief that I can see but refuse to face. I can’t. I just can’t.

I won’t candy-coat this, and put a shiny bow on it, talking about “better places” and other sanctimonious bullshit. My friend is dead and though I’m thrilled there is no more suffering for him, I am a gaping wound of pain. So I will feel my way through this.

I’m so tired.

I’m so pissed.

I’m so… Sad.

How can I be back here again and how do I get to tomorrow?