Vale, Bucket, the Biggest Bucket of Love We’ve Known

Image-15These posts are never easy to write, but I need to write them. Although our animal’s lives cannot ever be adequately summarised, I still feel the need to write each pet’s eulogy, to try just a tiny bit, to honour what they gave us in life, and to honour the grief we feel. This one is for our cat Bucket, who passed away last week from a swift and aggressive illness, the cause of which heartbreakingly remains unknown. The unanswered questions about his death–and I have many–haunt me, but this piece is not about Bucket’s death, but his wonderful life.

Bucket was named such because from the moment I picked him up–a skinny, horribly flea-infested, unwanted kitten that was being all but given away on a cold morning in Kingaroy (his price was a mere $3) he proved himself to be the biggest bucket of love I’ve ever met in a cat. He was one of three, all brothers, and my hubby and I were torn as to whether to take one kitten or all three. We started by picking up each one, to get a vibe. The first one struggled to be put down, so we put him down. The second one pushed us away, so we let him go. The third one practically crawled up our arms and clung on for dear life. Take me home, right now! So we did. I took him to the bedroom and closed the door and sat down in the corner of the room to give him some space to investigate his new home. He didn’t want space, though, he wanted me. He climbed right back into my lap and made no efforts to leave.

Being utterly infested with fleas, I had to go to the local vet to see what to do. At his tender age, the only thing I could do was give him a medicated bath. He didn’t like that one bit, and I had to do it multiple times before all those awful fleas were gone, but finally he was relieved of them. We lived in a rural location at the time, on six acres, surrounded by other acreages. We already had another cat (Jasmine), two dogs, and three horses. He was my first kitten in ten years and I had forgotten how absolutely delightful kittens were. Pure joy. (Except for the amount of times he climbed up my legs! I wore nothing but jeans for a year to protect myself.)

Bucket’s first love was cuddling, but he didn’t just receive hugs, he actively hugged back.

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His second love was mischief. At these times, our ‘bucket of love’ became a ‘bucket of trouble’. He loved the dogs, love being very much a verb, an action. He would sneak up behind them and grab onto their tails, swinging off them in a rollicking jaunt while they ran around trying to dislodge him. He would come out to the lawn with us while we threw tennis balls for the retrievers. He raced them down the hill and always got to the ball first, but as he couldn’t pick it up in his mouth, he let them pick it up and then he raced them back up the hill, where we got the ball back and threw it again and the game would start anew. When he was still less than a year old, my stepmother visited us with her poodle puppy, and Bucket and Cocoa spent an hour chasing each other up and down the hallway before locking onto each other, somersaulting over one another, wrestling enthusiastically until they both collapsed, panting with exhaustion and happiness.

These days, all our cats are one hundred per cent indoor cats, but back when Bucket was younger, he got some time to range outside on the property during the day. We started to rethink this idea when two days in a row he discovered a baby hare, killed it and brought it back into the house, happily devouring its intestines. Not long after that, our third cat Sapphy, a stray who walked in off the street not long after Bucket arrived, was bitten by a brown snake and spent a week in hospital, and we closed the door to outdoor excursions.

Because we have so many animals, it’s difficult for us to go away, but on the odd occasion it’s happened, we’ve had to have house sitters come to look after our furry family, and everyone reported that Bucket struggled with our absence the most. He was a cat who needed his cuddles.

He was a generous soul, and over his life with us he accepted into the home two more dogs, four more cats and a human baby with maturity and grace. He was one of those magnanimous animals, with love to spare for all. He was our biggest cat (part Manx, was always my suspicion)–very long from nose to tail, a hefty seven kilos at his peak, a ball of muscle beneath all that soft fur, the kind of cat you could sling over your shoulder, fireman style–with a huge heart inside.

For ten years, he was our most loving, affectionate, cuddly boy, a ginormous bucket of love. He’s gone too soon and we miss him terribly, but we know we were so blessed to have had him in our home and life. I am proud to say he had a good life, a really good one. He gave joy and he received it and I know he knew he was loved hard till the very end.

His ashes will be back soon, and he will go in the garden next to Daisy, his most favourite canine friend.

Feel the Love at Goodness Gracious Cafe

20160524_105802LOVE. This is the first word that comes to mind when I think of Goodness Gracious Gluten Free & Organic Cafe in Yandina on the Sunshine Coast. The women who run this charming abode (Jill and Nicky) radiate love.

But I’ll get back to this. For now, I’m going to sidestep a little to a time in my life when I was really sick. Stay with me…

About thirteen years ago, my health was in a terrible mess, diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), Hashimoto’s Disease, hypothyroidism, a host of rheumatological issues and more. It was an intensely frightening time, unable to work to make the money I needed for the many treatments that doctors and natural therapists claimed would help. Unable to afford them, I had to make Big Life Decisions. But one of the easiest decisions I made was that I needed to invest the little amount of money I had into FOOD. It was clear to me that high quality food would be the basis of everything after that.

I started going to the Northey Street City Farm organic markets each week. And then for whatever reason, I found myself drawn to eating at Govinda’s (Hare Krishna) cafe in Brisbane city. Something that deeply impressed me about the Hare Krishna lifestyle was how important food was in their service and spirituality. So much so, I was told, that to be a person elevated to a food prep position was something of an honour, something that had to be earned. To prepare food in a Hare Krishna kitchen included loving and blessing the food before it was eaten.

Call me crazy if you like, but I felt some deep healing on those Sunday evenings spent at Govinda’s.

And this takes me back to Goodness Gracious Cafe. From the moment you pull up on the footpath you are surrounded by love–in the welcoming chalkboard signs; in the organic garden that’s lovingly tended by these women; in the heart-shaped art pieces hanging from the ceiling; in the locally-made handmade artworks for sale; in the groups of women knitting at the tables, with their rows of stitches becoming blankets for the homeless in the local area; and most certainly, most definitely, in the food.

Everything here is baked on site inside this post-war home on stumps–a home that has a fascinating history including being a railway station master’s home and having had a resident spirit called ‘Alfred’ walking the rooms (who was later ‘released’ when his daughter, who’d also lived in the home, happened upon the cafe and took him home with her).

Jill and Nicky and their friendly staff are always there with a warm smile, knowing many of their customers by name. Their gratitude for living their dream is evident, with the cafe and its customers supporting more than half a dozen different charities, both local and overseas. And their gastronomic creations never let you down.

My favourites include the Turkish delight hot chocolate (with real rose water); the chocolate, blueberry and lavender mud cake (seriously, you MUST try this!); the banana pancakes with homemade caramel sauce and banana ‘nice cream’ (dairy free); the chicken crepes and salad; the paleo lemon bar; and, well, pretty much everything else on the menu too.

There is some kind of deep wisdom that tells us that to provide food with love, and to eat food with love, is one of the most powerful things we can do. That’s why so many of our memories involve food with loved ones. That’s why we say ‘you are what you eat’. That’s why we go home for a ‘home cooked meal’. That’s why we make our loved ones soup when they’re ill.

Hippocrates is reported to have said, “Let food be thy medicine.”

Whether it’s intentional or not, the love and care that comes from these women’s hands infuses every mouthful. Just like my time at Govinda’s all those years ago, I come away from Goodness Gracious every time feeling blessed, nurtured and a little bit healed. And I walk away feeling that the world is a good place after all.

 

Goodness Gracious Cafe: 3 Conn St, Yandina. 

Opening Hours

Mon – Fri  8:00am – 4:00pm

Saturday  7:00am – 2:00pm & Sunday  7:00am – 1:00pm

(This post is part of a series of fortnightly reviews by Josephine Moon and Ashley Jubinville of healthy places to eat on the Sunshine Coast.)