Country Kitchen, Vierra Canyon Road, Salinas, California

Today was the day self had been dreading for weeks and weeks:  Gracie’s cremation and the interment of her bones.

Hubby really really wanted to have a ceremony, and self was Oh all right whatever.

Self was afraid she’d be crying all the way to the place (Monterey Bay Loved Pet in Royal Oaks), but the sun was shining, it was a gorgeous day, and that reverend in Oakland said today was the last day for All Mankind (Is his name really “Camping”?  And what happens if we are all still alive tomorrow?).  In addition, self was very distracted by hubby’s constant assertions that his car had “engine knock” and we’d be stranded on 101 and have to catch a bus back home.  Self had asked him for weeks and weeks whether we shouldn’t just rent a car, and he said No, he’d much prefer taking his car and seeing if it really broke down on the freeway.  And self wondered why she had to put up with all the stress of wondering if we would make it to Gracie’s cremation, when the event itself was already so stressful, but apparently hubby enjoys the drama and excitement of not knowing whether we will get to our destination in one piece.  So self decided to go along and see whether we would:  a) die in the Rapture today, like the Oakland minister said we are all supposed to; or b) get stranded on 101.  And NEITHER OF THOSE THINGS HAPPENED.  So self considers herself lucky to be:  a) alive, and b) home safe, with Gracie’s ashes.  (Now self knows why son decided to major in Social Psychology.  But that is a long story which self must reserve for another post.)

When we got to the pet cemetery, Gracie was all laid out in a viewing parlor, but self could not bring herself to look at her dearly beloved.  She stayed outside the viewing parlor, and hubby and son (who had driven up from San Luis Obispo) discussed Gracie’s remarkable preservation, in spite  of having been in the freezer for so many weeks.  Self stood just outside the door and heard every word.  Then she heard much movement and “Oh!” this and “Oh!” that, and surmised hubby was posing son next to Gracie’s body, for pictures.

The actual cremation was going to take 1 1/2 hours, so hubby asked the pet cemetery guy if there was a restaurant in the area he could recommend.  And without any hesitation whatsoever, he said “Country Kitchen.”  So we trooped there, and —  self knows this is gross, posting about food on the day of Beloved Gracie’s interment, not to mention while self was worrying whether she would be stranded on the 101, or killed by the Rapture —  but this place

HAS THE MOST HEAVENLY CORNED BEEF HASH SELF HAS EVER TASTED.

This is a rather nondescript-looking restaurant, right across the street from a shopping center, but heck, with that kind of recommendation from Monterey Bay Loved Pet, it was full steam ahead.  The first thing self saw upon entering was a cartoon moose stuffed toy-thingie affixed to a wall of the dining room.  In another room, further in, self could see a rooster on some hay affixed to a wall.

All the patrons were a) white (with the exception, that is, of self, hubby, and son —  we are quite easily identifiable as Asian, not only because of the black hair but also because of —  Self!  Will you stop with the digressions already?!) and b) local, but no one glanced up when we entered, thank goodness.

The hash browns came on a foot-wide plate.  Self is not exaggerating:  the plate was actually A FOOT WIDE.  And it came with two eggs over easy, and a smaller plate containing white toast slathered with butter.  And even though self hates the fact that as soon as she returns to California, she instantly gains 10 lbs., she could not desist from eating.  And eating.  And eating.  Until there was nothing left on her plate.  Not even a scrap of egg.

AAARRRGH!

And then we returned to the Pet Cemetery, and by this time self could hardly walk, her pants were so tight.  And the Monterey Bay Loved Pet man handed self a small wooden box that had Gracie’s name engraved on it, and the dates 2000 – 2011, and self hugged the box and thought Oh Gracie, oh Gracie, oh Gracie.  But she did not cry.

And then we headed back home.  And even though hubby kept reminding self that we would probably break down any minute, we made it home in one piece.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

4 Comments

  1. Kathleen said,

    May 22, 2011 at 3:12 am

    Oh Gracie. We had a dear cat that got lost for 7 years, and was just down the street. We stole her back and had 2 happy years with her. She had a stroke on Easter and while she was dying, all the animals in the house came and sat with her. Then we had a funeral with prayers in the back yard. She was buried under the statue of St. Francis. For weeks after I missed her presence. She used to sit outside my bedroom door in the morning and greet me. For weeks her absence was so palpable. It was lonely without her. Time helped. Her name was Smudgy.

  2. May 22, 2011 at 5:09 am

    Kathleen,

    I share your grief about Smudgy! It is so hard when a pet dies . . .

    You mean — your neighbors kept her, knowing she belonged to someone else? So glad you stole her back and got two years more with her. (I’m mad at your neighbors)

  3. Maya said,

    May 22, 2011 at 9:04 am

    This is quite masterful– you had me laughing and sad, laughing and sad, between the rapture and the imminent breakdown of the car, your pants so tight you are hardly able to walk, then hugging the engraved wooden box with Gracie’s ashes– all throughout the post! Is this what it’s like to be you for a day? 🙂

    I remember hearing a story about your Mom losing her mother’s ashes in the frenzy of moving houses; can’t recall how it ended, must ask my Mom again…

  4. May 22, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    Tell me how that story ended: I really do want to find out what happened to Lola’s ashes!

    Yes, yesterday was certainly a dizzy one. I don’t even know why all these varying strands — the Rapture, corned beef hash, Gracie — came together and collided on this one Saturday.

    The important thing is: It’s the next day, AND WE ARE ALL STILL HERE !!!


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