Monday, October 30, 2023

How to Make Sound Absorbing Artwork Under $50


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If you followed our soundproofing journey, you know we dropped a LOT of money to get very little results.  Over the last several years reading articles, blog posts and forums about soundproofing, a lot of attached living peeps are losing a lot of sleep, having physical health issues or declining mental health from their neighbors.  There have been studies done that impact noises from neighbors can actually give you cardiovascular issues and sleep issues.  (I can vouch for the sleep and given I'm in a constant state of brace, I'm sure the heart stuff isn't far off either.)  

Every little bit you can do to make your home as peaceful as possible is worth trying in our book.  When throwing 5/8" 'soundproof' drywall, viscous soundproofing with caulking, puttying and the like at the problem, it created a different problem...echo.  Not only did the viscous material mentioned in the soundproofing posts not really work for us, it isolated the impact noises and made them LOUDER.  By putting all of that in our stairwell all the way around, it created an unbearable echo chamber that truly defies logic.  It reminds me of echo tunnels you would make in science class or at a museum.  This meant the slamming noises at 1 and 4am waking me up were now louder forcing me to a lifetime of raw ears from earplugs.  Before claiming a solid loss to the demons on either side of us, I had to pull out any remaining tricks to truly be able to say I did it all.

Artsy panels on Amazon and elsewhere were expensive and half of them got crappy reviews.  Well, we needed something sound absorbing, if there was such a thing,  in the stairwell and if I was going to do it, they were going to look the way I wanted them to.  I've used a company before called CanvasChamp.  (This is not sponsored- just who I used and let me be clear to use the wrap I suggest.  I got a few that were the smallest depth and it was SUPER cheap.  Pay the $3 extra.  They're still hangable but one had to be redone because it was damaged and shouldn't haven't gotten through quality control.  I'm looking for a comparable company for any future purchases.)  I ordered 20x30 prints and because I got 5 initially, I think I got one or two free.    

So here's what you'll need to make yours:

Digital print (I got mine from Etsy.  Just do a search for digital artwork.  Some of my favorite shops are North Prints, Waverly Prints, and Elm and Oak Prints.)

Canvas Print Service 




Most Etsy creators will have various sales on their digital artwork.  You shouldn't need to pay more than $5-7 for your print.  (I paid lower with 50-60% off sales.)  You can also put the print in your cart and sit on it and often times within a day or less the shop owner will send you a coupon to complete the purchase.  Make sure the print has a large print option so it will print correctly when you send it off to be created.

Once you download your print, go onto CanvasChamp (if that's who you're using) and select custom size if you don't see it.

(These prices are screenshots at time of publishing.  They may vary)


Click Start Order then upload your print.

Along the left side are all of your options.  Select size will verify the size you entered.

Wrap and border is selecting how deep you want your picture to be.  Since I knew the panels I got were 3/4" deep, I chose the Thin Gallery Wrap (3/4") and did the mirror image so the entire image would be on the front of the canvas.  (You can do different edges if you prefer.)  The canvas lite wrap is flimsy, consistently horrible quality so absolutely do not choose that option unless you want a huge headache! I chose the ready to hang option which will give you the D hooks you'll need for your picture wire and under Options, I chose not to have them laminated which costs an extra $5.  It is recommended to protect it but I didn't want a shine to mine.  If it's in a higher traffic area for you, you may want to consider it which will bump up the total cost for you by $5 obviously.  Then go to the upper right corner, add to cart and it'll walk you through the rest.

I will say to make sure when you get it to check your pictures asap so you can report any potential issues.  I'm not a fan of their flimsy "box" wrapping given it has to go through customs and such but haven't had more than one small scratch on the side which wasn't worth going through a new process for me.

When you receive it, it's time to get to work.  I take the attached D rings off 



...measure down the side 4" from the top (or your preferred amount down.)  Mark it, then line up the D ring with the mark and mark the holes so you can drill a pilot hole for the new placement.  Drill your pilot holes with a drill bit slightly smaller than the screw and not too deep and attach the hardware.

Measure the hollow space on the back of your canvas where the panels will slide into and mark it on the panel.  I needed to use a utility knife to cut it because scissors won't work without wrecking your hands.  



Once you cut it, make sure it fits and doesn't need more cut off.  Ours did and when you've got the perfect fit, use that as your template to mark others if you're doing multiple pictures like we did.

Slide the cut acoustic panel into the back of the picture under the hardware you installed and it will be even with the back of the frame.  Now, grab your wire to get it attached.  We always follow this video when we're doing it because we can never seem to remember on our own.  




When the wire is wound and felt pads are attached to every corner, it's ready to hang! 



We hung the two of these at the top of our stairs since we could stack them on top of each other.




We love the way it looks, they're not too deep to interfere or be in the way.  This eliminated the echo in our hallway when we hung more and slightly reduced the sound of impact noise.  Just know this project works best for echo/deadening purposes in a space like a hallway or recording studio.

Here's the cost breakdown:

$26.50 canvas art service with sales for 20x30 
$5 digital art (maybe more or less depending on sales)

$48.28  (that's with using the items in the links provided and corresponding sales for CanvasChamp and Etsy which are pretty constant.)

I'm not saying these are going to solve all of your problems but having as many items to absorb sound between you and your neighbors, street noise, or whatever is peeving off your ears is worth it for any step toward a more peaceful home.  (Plus you get some cool art where you control what it looks like, not some company that would charge you a minimum of twice the price for it.  Another win!)


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Friday, October 27, 2023

What I'm Reading This Week #43

Happy final Friday of October.  Not even going to say it anymore.  You know it.  We've slowly but surely been getting the house back into some kind of order.  We had to end up ordering a slim shelving unit with wheels to do some rearranging of stuff in the basement.  Part of my overwhelm with cleaning and getting the odds and ends of Mom's stuff along with our own into their new homes is that nothing felt like it had a home anymore.  The clean basement of a few years ago is a friggin' disaster area since the reno in March and then adding on someone else's belongings you had no intention of adding to the mix and well, there ya go.  So I think I have it about arranged the way I want it but still have a long way to go basement wise.  We have a lot of piles and BS to go through around the house as well so it's a lot mentally to deal with on top of everything else.  We did get this over the door organizer for our linen closet when we saw the much more expensive Elfa one wasn't going to fit there.  Unfortunately the biggest basket just won't fit without the basket getting wonky on the bottom because it's too big for our super slim door but it takes care of a lot of stuff I didn't want to dig around for anymore like soap, pain meds/ointment, floss, etc.  It's nice to just know those things are right there when you open it so I feel a little accomplished dealing with that hot mess.

Now it's time to deal with:




5 Anti-Inflammatory Pumpkin Recipes That Pack More Potassium Per Serving Than a Banana  (You can also chuck some pumpkin into your chili for some extra nutrients too)

Eat These 8 Types of Vegetables to Lower Inflammation  (Can you tell I feel inflamed? πŸ˜‚)

8 Things That Cause Chapped Lips and How to Heal Them  (This explains a lot.  The only lip balm that works and stays on overnight is this bad boy.)

The Best Pastas for Weight Loss (If you told us 10 years ago our Wednesday night tradition would be lentil or chickpea pasta with vegan meatballs, I would've called you a liar and us sad but here we are.)

21 Simple & Effective Ways To Ground Yourself  (Some good suggestions and I know we feel the difference on the nights we have to unplug due to weather.)

How to Get Grease Stains out of Clothes (Nothing spikes my blood pressure quicker than grabbing a shirt I was set on wearing last minute and seeing that rogue mystery oil spot.  You'd think I'd learn to plan ahead by now. πŸ™„)

22 Signs Your Family Doesn't Care About You and What To Do About It  (Mmm, yep.  I might add though, sometimes people like myself are sensitive and pull away when they feel they aren't understood or that being vulnerable hasn't gone well in the past.  I would also urge people to reach out to get other people's side of the story instead of just accepting what your family feeds you about others as truth.  Everything is filtered through perspective.)


13 Luxury Vacations That Are Surprisingly Affordable  (Sometimes you just need to get the hell outta Dodge!)


The Mr and I are going to try to get the hell outta the house this weekend.  It feels more like prison in here than usual and our mental health is in the pooper so maybe a change of scenery will do us good and maybe see if there's anywhere with some color still clinging by the skin of its teeth.   I was watching the Trapp cam in Vermont as I do on the daily and I swear peak was only like two days there this year.  Anyone else's peak leaf season in the pooper this year?

What's on tap for your Halloweekend? πŸŽƒ


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Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Halloweenie Hump Day Poll

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Do you get any trick or treaters and if not, how long has it been and do you think it's a societal shift?

We haven't gotten trick or treaters in about 20 years.  I know there are a few kids in this area too but they have just never done it around here.  I hear this in a lot of neighborhoods all over the country so what gives?  Are mom's now just so paranoid they don't let their kids do anything anymore or are kids so connected to their screens that something fun and creative IRL seems stupid to them?

Old ass minds want to know.

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Monday, October 23, 2023

Landmine Weekend Recap

Tis Monday again just like that.  Anyone else feel like they're living groundhog day?

We started the weekend by watching spooky movies.  I originally selected Happy Death Day which is equal parts low grade horror but also comedy and time travel.  Then I remembered why she was avoiding answering her phone the whole movie within 2 minutes...her Mom died.  (That's a side note not a spoiler)  Nope not going there, so both that and the sequel are a no go this year... especially the sequel which would level me.  So I picked the Amazon prime movie Totally Killer which was set in the 80's, involved time travel for the Mr so off we went.  

Mom dies.  



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We still watched it and it was ehh but apparently I won't be able to escape that or TV shows talking about stage 4 cancer which most of the time I forget she even had since that wasn't even what ended up taking her.  It's one thing when something small and unexpected pops up like you're watching a benign show like Buddy Games and someone is wearing a shirt with the word ohana on it.  The Mr mentioned he saw Hallmark had an ohana ornament and wondered if it would play that scene so I played it in my head..."ohana means family.  Family means nobody gets left behind...or forgotten."  Cue friggin' ugly cry outburst of uncontrollable tears for almost 5 minutes.  Landmines are everywhere.

Saturday I grabbed the Fall flowers I got for her grave and went to the cemetery and arranged them.  It's a little late but I didn't want to take away the pretty purple flowers she picked for her service for at least two months.  After that it was basically eating, him watching football while I napped since I'm not sleeping much these days and watching all of season two of FBI before it went away.  I did finally manage to plant the crocus bulbs I ordered in mom's honor and still have some left that I will plant at my grandmother's new grave once I'm sure my dad's left town and there isn't a higher chance of running into someone.  

Sunday was a continuation of Saturday on the poopie scale.  The Mr woke up with a migraine, I had insomnia until about 3am which seems to be my new bedtime and feeling like I'm sitting on an 8x8 island in the middle of the ocean just looking around trapped.  The Mr grabbed the early grocery pickup and we had coffee in bed, chatted, cried and the like.  Finally, we got up after watching SNL and I made a big brunch to dropkick his headache out the door.  We thought we'd head down to the historic district for another mellow walk like we had last weekend.


Somewhat of a mistake.  Because it was sunny instead of cloudy, people were out in droves.  Big, fat, annoying, throats asking to be punched droves.  The annoyance level was already high but then the super intrusive, panic inducing thoughts came.  This is an area heavily tied to my familial past and every good memory I thought of was then punctuated with "when she was alive."  Every single thought.  I spent most of the 90 minutes in a full on anxiety attack when I wasn't trying to avoid people who make you need bail bonds.  I really don't know why cloudy days are so repelling for people but I'll make sure not to suggest it again if the sun is peeking out.  That was part of the anxiety problem as well...Mom would've loved the weather that day and I am nowhere near the place where I can enjoy it for her instead of lament and suffer that she isn't here to enjoy it.  Again...landmines are everywhere.

I saw something Tyler Henry posted and it is so true:

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I burned 700 calories on the walk and my gams were shot to hell.  I wasn't able to regulate my body temperature so the Mr kindly made some coffee while I lit one of my favorite candles to heat things up too.  We pretty much chilled the rest of the night and it was time to watch Scream (you know, where Sydney's mom dies πŸ˜‘) and settle in with some cocoa and the final season of Escape to the Chateau.

How was your weekend?

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Friday, October 20, 2023

What I'm Reading This Week #42

Happiest of Fridays to you, my lovelies!  I hope life has been good to you this week and you are geared up for some festive Fall shenanigans.  πŸπŸ‚

I'll be honest as usual, this week has been particularly bad.  In addition to full throttle Mom grief, Grandma's death, the extreme childhood emotions and complete lack of give-a-shittedness from my father to STILL not ask me how I'm doing since losing Mom when notifying me about losing his has been debilitating.  You know how someone disappoints you your whole life but there's always that little kid in you that hopes that in your worst days they will step up for you in literally the smallest of ways to show that they care about you at ALL?  Then when they don't, it's like every horrible way they ever made you feel throughout your life just floods you.  I have to give a massive shout out to the Mr for being there for me as usual as well as my two besties who are dealing with their own personal hell with their husbands right now.  The world feels pretty bleak and somehow I feel like we're all clinging on this shitty middle aged life raft of hell going down class 6 rapids.  

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I must also thank those of you who continue to hang in with me even though this space has not been the happiest of places to be.  Several of you have expressed how much these posts have helped you process your own grief that is even years out.  I've tried to keep Friday posts lighter but I felt called to share my struggles and maybe that's because grandma's service is today.  I have sent flowers in my absence as I am not putting myself through going into a funeral home when I can't even walk past earrings that remind me of Mom without hyperventilating much less the trauma of reliving the hell of all of that funeral stuff.  (Plus I honestly don't trust myself not to unleash and out of respect for grandma, I will allow her family to grieve her in peace.  I haven't been a part of that family for 40 years now.  I love and miss who she was before the divorce and I will have to come to terms with how to grieve who she became to me after.)

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ANYHOO!  πŸ˜‚

Let's move on to happier thoughts like:



How to Get Your Body to Poop on a Schedule, According to Gastros  (Well gastros need to come up with something new for me because I'm a three timer and keep a diary but nothing seems to work.)



The One Mistake That Makes Your Cup of Tea Bad for Your Health  (Wow, definitely read if you're on meds.  Some surprises in there!)


How Grief Shows Up In Your Body  (It is BRUTAL!  If I thought I had trouble losing weight before...)

13 Ways You’re Shortening the Life of Your Car  (Trust me, don't nobody want to do that!)

How Bad Is It Really to Never Deep Clean Your House?  (Hell, I need to regular clean much less deep clean!)

Shocking new study finds exposure to everyday factor is comparable to smoking cigarettes: ‘96% of the population is unsafe’  (And nope, it's not sitting either!  I will just say I might as well get my urn now.)


Man, a viewing of Airplane is in order soon because nothing will make you laugh if you're over 40 like that movie!  We've got some more schpooky movies to get in but it might be time for Halloweentown or something.  Actually let me check something... nope, Marnie and Kal aren't married yet but looks like this time next year they will be and all of us Halloweentowners can explode with squee.  

Whatchu got going on this weekend?

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Wednesday, October 18, 2023

How to Do an Interment Ceremony


The following is a post on what has become a series.  If you have been through an illness or death of a parent/loved one, consider this what the young'uns call a 'trigger warning' as it deals with the raw emotions of an unexpected death which may include cursing, dark humor and not holding back my feelings about my experience.  If that's offensive, go elsewhere as this post isn't likely going to benefit you.  If you are new here and want to see the posts leading up to this one, you can start with posts on July 7th and go forward.

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That was the search term I used after Mom's memorial/visitation which was four days after she passed.   I thought that funeral home deal was all you did and then the cemetery took care of doing a burial ceremony asking what readings you wanted and all that jazz.  HA!!  Nope.  Sorry, you get to plan a second funeral and unless you have a truly amazing cemetery who will give you guidance, it's just you and Google...and maybe this post now.  I'm going to warn you, this feels so discombobulated to me so I apologize for that but that's what the process felt like too.

Mom's was our families first cremation so I had no idea that I had to basically plan a second funeral!  I mean that was fine, it was just one more way to honor her but when the cemetery told us that we basically just had the chapel room available to us and they'll put her in the ground, welp, if we wanted any pomp and circumstance, that was going to be up to me.  The guy talked like "if you want music or readings that someone in the family does, then you'll do all of that" and I just looked around like "uh...where's the adult in the room?"  Oh yeah...I'M the adult.  Just so you know, because of the fact it's a cremation, you can do it whenever you want.  You don't have to do it as soon as you get the ashes back.  I had her for 10 days before we buried them.  I did ask the funeral home to retain and separate 1/4 of the ashes for me to have at home in my own urn which I think she would love in her favorite color.  I also wanted enough for those who potentially wanted cremation jewelry without dipping too much into 'my stash' of her.  I know that sounds crass but that's how it is.  So consider those things.  Trigger warning!  Also prepare yourself for the first time you need to disperse them to others either for jewelry or small keepsake purposes.  While it initially looked like the Aztec clay I'm used to using for my face, when I put some ashes into a necklace, there were uh...pieces.  There will be small chips of bone leftover and you may need to have someone who can handle that part of it help you.  I didn't realize that and I ended up being okay but it was a bit of a shock because I thought they pulverized upon collection and they don't.  As long as you're prepared for that bit, especially if it's your first cremation in your family, it will help you get through it.  I used dark humor to get through that part.  I won't even tell you what I said.

Anyhoo, back to the service.

I did what most clueless people do and typed in something like "what do you do at an interment ceremony?" and got lots of different general ideas but nothing super concrete other than basics.  "People can speak, a pastor can say something if you're religious, annnnd there's your ceremony!"  Fine.  I'll plan it myself.  I knew I wanted music involved so I came up with playlists.  We had three and named them as such so they wouldn't replay at the wrong time.  

Here's a basic outline of how I chose to do the service for her:

Pre-Service

Playlist 1- Instrumental "mingle" music on Spotify (make sure you're paying for it or doing a trial- you don't want ads playing!)   I chose instrumental versions of The Rose by Bette Midler, Hallelujah piano version, and piano version of Smile by Nat King Cole and we just looped that until the start of the service.

Start of Service

(Playlist 2)- Never Alone by Lady Antebellum to start the service which had everyone in tears.

The Mr's eulogy (which didn't leave a dry eye in the room)

Offer to share memories (one person did)

My speech

(Playlist 3)- Songbird by Fleetwood Mac followed by several instrumentals of songs like Because You Loved Me by Celine Dion (which had special meaning to us), Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler and Que Sera Sera instrumental (special meaning) so that people could pay their respects and get in their cars to drive to the gravesite.

Graveside:

Passed out rose petals to sprinkle on urn after placed in the ground but before burial.

Reading (poem- Death is Nothing at All

Sprinkling of petals

(We meant to do the Lord's Prayer here but forgot so the Mr and I did it alone when everyone left)

Burial


This is just how I did it but it's truly up to you.  Here are some of the thoughts behind how I came up with everything.

Because we are, us, the day of Mom's service didn't go off without a hitch.  I made sure we went to the gravesite before going to set up and thankfully we did.  When we pulled back the carpet they set up, the hole dug was FULL of water.  It had rained overnight for two nights and there was no way I was putting her in a small lake.  The front office was called to syphon it out so keep that in mind if there's been weather recently.  It was going to be hotter than hell that day and because we'd already been in the chapel, we knew it was quite stuffy so I ordered hand fans for people.  Thank God I did because the morning of the service both the AC AND the water line to the chapel broke meaning no bathrooms either.  We did a quick pick up of bottled water to chuck into a cooler so people didn't pass out.  

At the front of the chapel, I had a memory book but was really bummed that people didn't seem to write in that or on the online tribute wall as much as I used to see about 10 years ago.  There were TONS of people at Mom's service so just be prepared for that if you're looking for memories others share to comfort you.  You may not get them.  All I did was get a lined journal Mom would've liked with a note beside it saying to share any memories to bring the family comfort.  I think it's nice to give people the option even if they don't take it.  I also had her favorite tea in a container for people to take as a memento that it was her favorite and a copy of grandma's Butter Ball recipe that she loved.  I had a little box of favors over memory cards because everyone got one at her service.  They were little wooden 'pocket hugs' and the back said 'I am always with you'.  Mom was a hugger and I think she would've liked those.

I was told I'd have access to two easels so I got two 16x20 frames.  One for a single picture (I did a poster of her from Walgreens.  They ALWAYS have sales so look up Walgreens photo coupon code first) and the other had eight 4x6 spots to include family members and friends.  She was a crafter/card maker so I brought the cards she'd given the Mr and I over the years for birthdays and holidays and sat them around her urn/flower arrangement.  Oh yeah!  Local florists can do urn arrangements which really make it look lovely and less like "plop...here's your mom" if I'd just sat her in the middle of the table.  (You certainly don't have to though and can find something crafty and cheaper if you like because that baby set me back about $200.  A pre-made wreath from Hobby Lobby type stores would look lovely too.)  You tell them the dimensions of the urn and they make something to fit the width.  (I will tell you to bring several thick books or something because the flowers could hide any plaque you may attach to the urn so we had to put her on Styrofoam blocks and ice packs from the car!)  I had one of her long crocheted doilies she bought and put the arrangement and urn on that.  Everyone commented how beautiful the table was and I was quite pleased with the way it turned out.



I also wanted to make sure we had rose petals to sprinkle on her urn at the grave site and if you ask for those yourself, they will want an arm and a leg for them.  I got a loose bundle of 25 lavender roses for $26 at the florist up the street.  I gently grasped each rose head and wiggled it until it broke free from the stem, shook it out over the sink, separated the petals slightly and placed one head worth of petals in organza bags so they could breathe.  I had 20 bags total (12 expected at the service and extra for any surprise people) and I put a paper towel in a large ziploc bag and put the petal bags in there and kept them in the fridge overnight.  On the way to the cemetery in BLAZING heat, I had them in a collapsible cooler on tea towel covered ice sheets so they would stay cool and I'll tell you, the extras we had lasted two weeks after the service in the fridge.  So this is a lovely way to still have a beautiful touch for the ceremony and save money.

Because she was cremated, the urn at the bottom was left unsealed so we could have messages/ mementos put in with her.  I had pens at the sign in podium with a note to write something if they would like it to be buried with her.  

(Just don't forget to take the messages out to be put with them before interment.)


I had a plastic baggie with a picture of the two of us with my message written on the back, the messages those in attendance wrote and her Mom's butter ball cookie recipe which I made for her every Christmas because no one else in the family liked them.  Before the service, in a Sharpie on the screw lid of the urn, inside I wrote her name, years of birth/death and what her hobbies were and the people special to her.  If something ever happened where God forbid it was unearthed one day, I wanted people to know who she was.  Also for identification's sake, I had an urn plaque done and secured to the front and let the weight of the urn sit on it for days to really bond it to the marble.  (The cemetery laughably tried to put a strip of paper on top of it for identification...and then put it in the wet ground.  SMH)

Mom wasn't particularly religious that I knew of or at least if she was, she was private about it.  We went to church before my parents divorced but I think that was because of my Dad's side so we didn't need a clergy (and honestly, the clergy at Grandma's ruined her service so no thank you.)  I already did the long eulogy at her service with a lot more people there.  This was going to be her closest family and friends (that could make it because they only do those M-F here) so I felt more comfortable preparing something that didn't require being more upbeat.  I chose to speak about how hard it's been 3 weeks after she passed, how it doesn't seem real, the signs she has given and not to let anyone tell them how to grieve and how long it "should" take.  I was surprised and delighted when my Mr said he wanted to speak and did a eulogy of his own.  Because it was going to be a shorter service,  I gave people the option of sharing stories/memories of their own but only one person took me up on it.  You can add a bit more to the service by choosing readings, so I would say choose ones that are meaningful to the person who has passed (or if you know of a particular story they loved and some way to incorporate that).  

I would say the most important thing is to choose things your LOVED ONE would want, not you.  It was only after scouring her social media that I saw some other country bands she liked and was able to find that Never Alone song by Lady Antebellum.  Fleetwood Mac was on heavy rotation as a kid so I chose those songs as well as the instrumentals because they had meaning and not just because they were sad or emotional.  The reading I chose for her ash interment was one I found that while it sounded somewhat stoic, also had a wonderful message to it.  If you read some examples of 'ash interment readings' it would make you want to run the other way.  Choose songs, readings, colors, memorabilia and favors that would reflect who they were and you will honor them and their memory.

I'm sorry you have to go through this if that's how you ended up here and I hope this gave a little bit of direction or gave you some ideas you can incorporate.  If you thankfully don't need this, bookmark it in case you or someone you know may need it and want some direction.  

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If you or someone you know is going through a grief process, you may find these resources given to me by a friend helpful:

Crisis Text Line or text 741741

Books I'm currently reading:



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Tuesday, October 17, 2023

What To Expect With Cremation

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The following is a post on what has become a series.  If you have been through an illness or death of a parent/loved one, consider this what the young'uns call a 'trigger warning' as it deals with the raw emotions of an unexpected death which may include cursing, dark humor and not holding back my feelings about my experience.  If that's offensive, go elsewhere as this post isn't likely going to benefit you.  If you are new here and want to see the posts leading up to this one, you can start with posts on July 7th and go forward.

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We've always been a traditional family when it comes to funerals.  Viewing, burial, grieve.  For the longest time, I thought Mom would be the same as she had an aversion to the cremation process like many of us have if you were born around mid century.  It's just how many of them grew up and in turn that viewpoint was passed down and accepted by many Gen X children like me.  About two years ago, Mom said she changed her mind and thought maybe she'd be cremated and Grandma's husband had signed off on allowing her children's ashes to be buried with her if they wanted.  Mom said that's what she wanted and I'm so glad she told us.  That's not a conversation anyone wants to have but literally just mentioning it at a family gathering where there are multiple witnesses to their wishes or making sure you tell a few of the people closest to you will ensure that your wishes are carried out especially if you've held one viewpoint for most of your life and it's changed.

If you are an information seeker and want to know what the cremation process entails from beginning to end, this link provides great information with chapters so you can skip to the parts you have questions about.  It tells you everything so decide if you want to know those things or not.  You do need to know this though, if someone has a pacemaker, it will need to be removed before cremation or else it will explode during the process.  Also, if someone has pins, screws, etc from surgeries, those will likely be recycled after cremation so if you specifically want those if they survive the process, you need to tell the funeral home that.

Because of the need for some people to have closure with a funeral, we chose an open casket viewing with cremation following another day and it took 7 days for the ashes to be returned to us even though we were told 10-14 days.  The 'rental casket' is basically a shell.  The body is embalmed and placed in the cardboard box they will be cremated in and the 'lining' of the casket is loose but then tucked along side the body so it looks like they're in a full on casket.  This may be different in your neck of the woods but that's how they did it here.  You couldn't tell.  Now unfortunately, this place did not do a satisfactory job with embalming which is why having a most recent picture is VERY important.  Despite Mom having lost weight unknowingly because of cancer, she was also happy about the loss.  Welp, they re-inflated all of her weight loss in her face and then underfilled her hands.  It was like a bunch of morons inherited a funeral home and she was a test subject.  This was exactly what I was afraid of and let me just tell you, you CAN shop around.  It is NOT tacky.  This is the last time you are going to see your loved one and if you don't have a good feeling or the process while going through planning the funeral service seems off, chances are you're not going to like the end result.  For a fee, you can have them transported elsewhere and you'll be charged for the embalming.  I just want to make that clear.  If no contracts have been signed, you can change your mind.  I wish I had instead of just going along with what was suggested which I wasn't thrilled with in the first place.

Anyhoo...

For those who don't know, many funeral homes will allow you to witness the cremation - for a fee, of course.  (Ours was $150.)  Here's what you need to know about that and why someone may choose that option to send their loved ones off.  If you've ever watched the series Six Feet Under, you know that Nate chose to do this with someone who was alone in his last days.  It was very clear by the attitude of the dude at the crematorium that this was not a person anymore but a job.  My mama wasn't going out as a job.  Maybe it's because of our weight struggles all our lives but as someone who is always ready for a fat comment to be thrown at me, I was going to make sure that I sent her out with dignity and respect and to show them she was a PERSON, not a job.  No, this isn't for everyone.  Most will not choose this option, I could not accompany her to her final journey but I could send her off.  They will be basically in what looks like a refrigerator box with a lid.  The Mr and I wrote letters to her of love and thanks for all she gave us, how much we loved her and our deep sadness of how we were going to navigate life without her.  We put both in one envelope and gave it to the guy to put in the box with her since by law we weren't allowed to go into the room.  He kind of waved it to us and tucked it in beside her.  I wanted our love, our words, our joy and sorrow to become a part of her.

We could not see the flames.  The way it is situated at ours is the window is at the side so you can see them being pushed in but no flames because I don't know that I could've watched that.  We were told we could take as much time as we needed and when we were ready to give them a signal to proceed.  I had Through the Years by Kenny Rogers (one of her favorite country singers) pulled up and we listened to that and bawled.  I told her I loved her and I missed her and how is this happening?  I tearfully gave a nod and they put the lid over her.  They began to slowly push her in at first and I swear I wanted to run in and grab her, wheel her down the road and yell 'nothing to see here!'  They gave a quick shove and I just lost my shit crying yelling "Mommy!"  48 years old and I'm 4 all over again.  We let the song play and when it was over, they met us on the side and he showed us the purple marble urn we got.  (I checked and we were not overcharged for that but you can get them from Amazon.  Mackenzie is the one we got.  It must be marble if it's going to be buried.)  Was it hard?  Yes.  Do I regret it?  HELL NO.  That woman brought me into this world.  She got left by a man who said he'd always be there for her but didn't mean his vows and she struggled and sacrificed for me her whole life.  I wanted her to know that I was ALWAYS going to be there for her, even when it's hard and I don't know that I made that clear enough when she was alive.   

If you want a portion kept aside to be scattered, divided amongst relatives who may want them, etc., make sure you tell them.  I asked for 1/4 of her ashes to be set aside for us and it's more than you may think.  This was for a decorative urn for me (actually two but the one only held like a teaspoon) as well as some to scatter at her favorite places.  I got the call seven days later her cremains were ready.  They gave her to us in a poorly zip tied plastic bag inside of a black plastic box a little less than the size of a shoebox with a sticker identifying her inside of a "lovely" fabric bag with the funeral home's name printed on the side.  You can bet that funeral home bag got thrown away asap.  They also give you a certificate of cremation.  Since I hadn't yet picked out a decorative urn for the house at the time, I put her in this little purple flowered dΓ©cor suitcase piece she bought and never got to use.  Sigh...NOT what she bought that for.  I used one of her doilies to cover the black box and put her readers beside it.  In the meantime, I bought a necklace for some of her ashes to go in for me.   

Here's where I'm going to use some dark humor so skip to the next paragraph if that offends you.  The amount you can fit into any cremation jewelry piece is like super minimal.  We're talking if it were pepper, barely enough to make you sneeze.  If it were blow, certainly not enough to give you a high.  They give you a pamphlet that you can then cut along the dotted lines to make a funnel to get them into the necklace.  I did this within 3 weeks of her passing and it was the first time I actually had to get in there bag wise.  Initially, the ashes looked super smooth like this Aztec clay stuff I've used in the past but that's not the consistency.  There are chunks.  Not big ones but I would say maybe the size of an oat or smaller which can be well, jarring to say the least.  Bone and teeth only break down so far and while they are pulverized to a point, it's not fine powder completely.   However, when you actually have to funnel your Mom into a bamboo skewer sized hole, life just looks pretty effing surreal.  😳  I shook my head as some of her made it into the necklace and the bigger bits went onto the paper towel I had down.  The Mr looked back and I said "gently cajole your loved one into the chamber" and we busted out laughing.  If you didn't laugh, you were certainly going to cry for the 734th time that day.  So be aware of that if you are going to get cremation jewelry and also plan on using a GOOD chain, not what you get with it.  I sure as heck wouldn't want to lose my loved ones cremains and I've read some reviews where that happened.  I have a very nice necklace the Mr got me back in the day and will transfer the pendant to that when I want to wear it.   I used a plastic spoon and just kept it with the ashes so that when I put some in jewelry bags to sprinkle at some of her favorite places, it would be right there.

The burial urn for the majority of her to be interred with her mother was purple marble.  (The Mr made sure she got her favorite color which I was grateful for and wouldn't have thought of in the hours after her passing.)  Some funeral homes will seal it.  DON'T do that!  Ours wasn't going to anyway but I made it clear I didn't want it sealed so that we could put messages and mementos in with her.  (I will share more about that in a different post.)  We were in charge of putting her in her urn but some places will return them to you already in the urn.  I just think it's important for things to be inspected by the family to make sure nothing looks off.  You read too many horrible stories in that industry but there is a stainless steel marker that is with the body when it is cremated and included with ashes that is registered to them.  If you or someone close to you wants to, you can use a spoon to search for that tag to verify.  I kind of wish we'd done that now but this place does not do a lot of cremations and it was on site so I'm pretty sure it's her.  

When I finally found an urn that seemed to be the perfect mix of both of us, I ordered it as well as a purple velvet bag for the rest of her ashes in the plastic bag to sit in.  I had it embroidered with her name, years of birth/passing, angel wings and the phrase she used to sign every card or email.  The urn came with the option for a little heart plaque or picture.  I opted for the gold heart with name and dates.  I didn't want her picture constantly associated with her death.  Like I have the picture of us up which is fine and brings back good memories.  It was used for her obituary but I can't look at her memory card with that picture of just her cropped onto the card because alone, it represents her death.  I don't know if that makes sense or not but that's how I reacted to it.  As a whole, love the picture but I can't look at the prayer card or I'll lose it.  

As far as scattering is concerned, I'm sure there are all kinds of legal loopholes you have to jump through if you want to do it the right way.  If you knew how many people they sweep up after every baseball game at Wrigley Field, you know that doesn't happen much.  I personally reunited her with her father after she was interred with her mother and I poured water on top to make sure she penetrated.  I did the same at the place she liked to spend time and I'm not telling you where that was in case the ashes police are reading.  I did the same with the water making sure her ashes didn't blow away.  I will scatter her two other places as well if I feel called to do so.  I am sharing a tablespoon with her sib and my cousin who wants a cremation jewelry piece.  They didn't ask, I offered it up because they were like a second child to Mom and it felt like the right thing to do.  

I would encourage you to do the same with people closest to them.  Cremation jewelry and even the small butterfly urn like I got literally hold so little that sharing a teaspoon here and there will not make much of a dent in what you still have for yourself.  You can do other pretty amazing things with cremains like have them made into a record!  I know it sounds crazy but if the price ever comes down from $1000, I'm doing that with my friend when he passes.  He doesn't have any other family and I promised to return him to a place he loved but he's a HUGE audiophile and I think it's more than fitting he would be a record when he goes as well!  You can have cremains put into an art piece, make your own jewelry with clay beads and the important thing is you're honoring your loved one in a way that makes your heart happy and you're able to carry them with you.  If you want your ashes scattered somewhere specific, make sure you leave those wishes with your loved ones before you pass.  You don't want to end up in the landfill because someone doesn't know what to do with you!

Mom's may have been our first cremation but won't be our last, I'm sure.  I don't know if this was helpful to anyone or not but it's how our experience went for us.  Feel free to share anything else that may be helpful in your loved one's cremation experience.  Tomorrow I will outline how I planned her interment ceremony winging it the entire way, of course.

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If you or someone you know is going through a grief process, you may find these resources given to me by a friend helpful:

Crisis Text Line or text 741741

Books I'm currently reading:




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Monday, October 16, 2023

Celebration Interruptus Weekend Recap

Howdy do all?  I hope you had a wonderful weekend and got in some rest, relaxation and got your chore list all checked off.   The Mr's birthday was last week but we celebrated Saturday.  My friend got me a $100 Goldbelly gift card when Mom passed and I used it last week to order Pequod's deep dish from Chicago.


I know, it looks burnt...it's not.  You can read about it here if you ever want to try real deep dish that hasn't been super commercialized.

Grocery cakes have been horrible the past few years but they weren't as bad as this atrocity I made for the Mr.  😬



I attempted to use the Russian frosting tips the Mr got me a few years ago for the first time hence the pathetic pseudo flowers.  I only had Imperial over butter and asked the Mr if he wanted butter for his homemade frosting and he assured me it was good.  (Note:  Never use margarine...BLECK.  He said he thought it was good, all I could taste was oil.)  I got M&M's (his favorite) as something to distract from what I knew would be horrible piping. 

Later we had the cake and he opened presents.  I used Mom's 'manly' paper so she was with us in some way.



He got some good old fashioned nostalgia items that he seemed happy with as well as a cushion for his work chair to cradle his bum.  I know it wasn't quite the celebration it was last year but I hope it was adequate given all we're dealing with.

Oh, did I forget to mention in between all of that my grandma died?  πŸ˜‘  For anyone keeping track, that's my favorite great uncle in July, my mom the beginning of August and now my final grandparent in October which of course I only found out because someone other than my Dad's family told me.  That is how it's always been, my father tells me nothing so I will give him what he gave me when I lost my mom, a bouquet of flowers to her service whenever that will be.  I do not have the emotional fortitude to go back to a funeral home and relieve all of that so soon after Mom and if anyone on that side has a problem with that I guess it just confirms to them what they've always thought about me anyway so who cares.  She was 91, I got to see her one last time at Mom's service where sadly she was still making excuses for her 60 something year old son and we knew it would be the last time we saw her so I'm not shocked by it.  I don't know what it is God thinks I can handle but I'm about done with the tests.  

The Mr wanted Panda Express for dinner since we had some gift cards from Mom's purse to use and as I entered the one I got her for Christmas I lost it bawling.  While he was gone, I had a full on meltdown especially after getting a message from a page she followed that felt directed toward me.  I was there for her sib the other day when they were having a meltdown and we cried together for 45 minutes.  Thursday I had a gynie appointment and had a full on anxiety attack where the nurse had to crouch in front of me and hold my hands while telling me how to breathe and said we could reschedule.  Nope.  If you think medical equipment is somehow not going to trigger me in a month, not likely.  Both of my friends husbands are going through medical issues right now and I feel helpless to do anything.  

Sunday wasn't much better.  I started writing our Christmas newsletter and you can guess how that went.  Actually you can't because it turned into "it's a Tonight Dough for breakfast kind of morning" so there goes any chance for weight loss this week no matter how much we work out.  I'd say a good two hour crying jag talking about Mom and Grandma and just the loss of that whole side of the family after the divorce so you know, happy stuff.  We had Longhorn for lunch which actually wasn't terrible calorie wise but still.  I just gave zero fucks after a really long, bad, hard week.  From more death, dealing with being cleared down below but still needing to be seen for it once a year which can't happen at the same time as my yearly's which means the constant threat of biopsy in the worst possible place and general existential dread,  I handled it poorly and that's that.  I wanted nothing more than to give the Mr a tear free weekend but I failed.  

I needed to get out and get some fresh air and since it wasn't going to reach 60 and it was peak we should head over to the historic district for a three miler.


It was the perfect temperature and it was a pretty quiet walk.  We just stayed pretty silent and took in all of the beautiful decorations we encountered.

(I bet a lot of cursing happened when this went up)


I burned 750 which should take care of the dairy breakfast we consumed.  After that I couldn't regulate my temperature to save my life so it was grilled cheese and soup for dinner after watching the Hawaii / San Diego State game we recorded the night before.  Then it was time for Waxwork so that we're getting into some of the more favorite movies of spooky season.

I need to plan out the strengths for this week.  I think tonight will be a one mile WATP for a warm up to this total body workout.  Then Wednesday will be leg day after a mile walk warm up.

Make sure to swing by tomorrow for a post in addition to the usual Wednesday schtuff.

How was your weekend? 

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