Friday, July 31, 2009

Handy

While being disembodied does have its advantages, there are moments when the absence of anatomical components other than my head weighs heavily upon me. My greatest sorrow is that I have no hands.

One of Herself's greatest joys is touching her loved ones: a pat of a child's hair or of a friend's shoulder is a means by which she can convey her fondness for another. The physical contact of sparring is a completely different, yet complementary, joy, for even in discomfort there is the satisfaction of endurance and conquering of self.

I am reminded of dialog from my favorite Television series, Kung Fu. It encompasses not only a reminder of the power of touch, but also a delineation of the yin and yang that arises with it.

Master Po: The hands, Grasshopper, are the eyes and the tongue of touch. Through them a man may reach out and see another's feelings, or speak his own.

Caine: Is it not sad, Master, that the hands of a man may strike a blow as well as caress?

Master Po: Pain and pleasure are like two bells, side by side. And the voice of each makes a trembling in the other.



Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sunday, July 26, 2009

My Ninja Friend

"Why is it," he said, one time, at the subway entrance, "I feel I've known you so many years?" "Because I like you," she said, "and I don't want anything from you. And because we know each other."
— Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Science!

Last year for my science fair project, I cloned a corythosaurus. She likes to play fetch and answers to the name, "Gilda".


Friday, July 24, 2009

Arf

I do enjoy an early morning walk with my dog, Rufus.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Straight From Roswell

Thought I'd introduce you to a few more of my friends. Here's Harold, who hails from New Mexico. He enjoys boxing, horticulture, and observing protoplanetary nebulae.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Very Potter Weekend

My apologies for my somewhat lengthy absence. The weekend was long, full, and required thorough contemplation. All things considered, there is not much to tell, even though much transpired.

The bulk of the weekend did not, in fact, center on the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince movie, but rather, around a family from the tae kwon do gym, who are moving away from the area. It was a very sorrowful departure, not only because of the palpable sense of loss emanating from friends, but also because of a feeling of missed opportunities, of “wish I had had the time to get to know these lovely people better.” The barbecue in their honor on Saturday was outstanding. There was food, tae kwon do friends aplenty, and time in the pool. Herself even took the opportunity to play with the water guns with the children and others. It was bittersweet fun – joy tinged with the knowledge of forthcoming loss.

Sunday afternoon, Herself and Offspring the second went out to help the family with moving-related activities. Shuffling of containers, carrying of furniture, arranging of things. There’s always a sorrow present in the boxing up of all the myriad tiny pieces of a life. Herself was truly glad of a chance to be helpful – it’s the best way she knows to try to ease another’s heartache. The evening ended with hugs goodbye and a burgeoning, overriding sense of loss.

Sandwiched in between these two activities was the screening of the Harry Potter movie.

Herself attended the movie with the Offspring, Beloved Husband, and two others from the tae kwon do gym. Usually at any occasion requiring patience and stationary seating, Herself is in charge of Offspring the third, who typically is a wiggly, chatty, short-attention-spanned child. The evening before, however, Herself mentioned to Beloved Husband the significance of the movie to her as a devoted Harry Potter fan, and requested that he be in charge of Offspring the third. Out of kindness, Beloved Husband had Offspring the third sit next to him instead. And so, Herself had the happy privilege of sitting between her friend and her Beloved Husband. She couldn’t have been more delighted.

The movie itself was exactly as expected – essentially true to the book, with occasional pieces that were in the movie but not the book, as well as absences of parts of the book that were not in the movie. There was humor, there was love, there was friendship, and there was loss. It was good.

In essence, the entire weekend seemed to be much like a slice from the Harry Potter universe: there were moments well spent with treasured companions; there was packing like that at the end of a school year at Hogwarts; and there was a feeling of worry and of sorrow about the future and about when one would see certain friends again. At the same time, though, there was the clear presence of caring and fellowship that can be so difficult to find in this disjointed, hurried, muggle world.

And so, I leave you with a quote from Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, which sums up my feelings at the moment:

Of house-elves and children's tales, of love, loyalty, and innocence, Voldemort knows and understands nothing. Nothing. That they all have a power beyond his own, a power beyond the reach of any magic, is a truth he has never grasped.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Anticipation

In just under twelve hours, I'll be at the theater in line for Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince. Huzzah!


Friday, July 17, 2009

Cloaked

One of the most noteworthy magical objects throughout the Harry Potter series is the invisibility cloak. Although it appears (so to speak) in the very first book, it is not until the end of the series that its unique and vital properties are fully revealed. It is the one of the three hallows that I would most like to have. Aside from the more practical applications -- such as smuggling baby dragons -- such a cloak would be particularly useful for understanding humanity.

People are perplexing. I find some individuals difficult to read; I tend to forget that others may have hidden agendas and ulterior motives. There are moments when I am surprised that another person doesn't think the same way as I do. If I could spend more time observing and listening without intruding, I might slowly develop a better sense of what motivates individuals. An invisibility cloak would be an invaluable asset in this quest.

Plus, I could raid the refrigerator unnoticed.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Platform 9 3/4

Herself has acquired tickets for the family and two friends to see Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince on Sunday. She is delighted. The addition of the friends is a welcome bonus, in part because they will likely serve as a Good-Behavior-Eliciting Buffer amongst the Offspring (who perplexingly are often inspired to squabble whenever attending the movies).

These are as close as I can get to having a ticket to the Hogwarts Express.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Elves and Ghosts

It must be quite simple for children to imagine themselves as part of the Harry Potter universe. To receive that coveted letter with its emerald green ink; to explore the castle and grounds of Hogwarts; to have a wand; to meet, befriend, or even be, The Boy Who Lived. Bliss.

For those of us of a certain age, it's a bit more difficult to envision. We are too old to sit in the Transfiguration or Potions classrooms, and it has been eons since most of us were students, anyway. We would have to dance with the Professors rather than the students at the Yule Ball. We are a bit jaded. Nevertheless, I am certain that there are places for us in that magical world.

I can well picture Herself as Madame Pince. Fond as Herself is of words and of small, furry creatures, she would find a happy home in the Hogwarts library among the unusual books that require extraordinary attention and care. If anyone could tame a Monster Book of Monsters, Herself could.

The most clear role for Herself, however, would be that of one particular magical creature: the House Elf. She is fiercely devoted to those she loves, and fewer things make her happier than nurturing them. She works to discover and prepare the things that they enjoy eating; she tries hard to perform whatever small acts of service will be of greatest use to them; she is quick to leap to her feet and help the moment that she is asked. She is the keeper of secrets, the soother of rumpled brows, and the holder of germ-infested hands. Like the House Elf, she is at her best when she is asked to serve.

And I? I would be a house ghost. My mentor, Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington, could undoubtedly provide helpful tips on navigating the intricacies of ghost experience even though his corporeal predicament ("nearly headless") is practically the inverse of mine. I would be pleased to provide snippets of my philosophy and wisdom to any students who seem to require it. In fact, such a ghost existence would be markedly similar to the one I have now. It would be most enjoyable.

Perhaps I could persuade my friend, the partially-torsoed pirate, to be a ghost with me.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Deliberation, Divination, and Desperation

One of the most useful skills in the Harry Potter universe is the ability to apparate. If I could magically transport myself from one place to another, entire realms of possibility would open up. The fuel savings alone would be most beneficial, both to the wallet and to the environment.

I would have to be quite careful to guard against splinching, however, as there is so little of me. Perhaps that's how I ended up disembodied in the first place?

Nevertheless, I enjoy imagining the convenience of needing no vehicle to change location.


Monday, July 13, 2009

A Single Charm

If I could perform only one spell from the world of Harry Potter, it would be:

Scourgify!

A trifle mundane, I know, but it would be so very useful.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!

After an agonizingly long delay, the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince movie is finally being released this week. Herself and the children are enthusiastic and have been contemplating which of their many Harry-Potter-themed vestments to wear to the theater. Even Herself's Beloved, who has not read the books, appears to be looking forward to the movie. I still bear a grudge for the eight-month deferment, but know that the film will have been worth the wait.

The whole Harry Potter series occupies a place in my heart that is difficult to describe. The magic of the Harry Potter universe extends far beyond spell-casting, unusual creatures, and powerful objects: it ventures into a world of very human emotion where unshakable friendships are forged and lessons in bravery, trust, and allegiance are learned; where purity of heart always triumphs, and the love of a mother for her child can change the world. It can bring optimism to even the most cynical at heart.

In honor of the movie, each day this week I will devote the blog to an aspect of the Harry Potter world. Today, a quote, capturing the fervent desire of many a reader:

“Tell me one last thing,” said Harry. “Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?”
“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”





Friday, July 10, 2009

Detachment

Today I yearn to be alone. Like Herself, I am inherently solitary and require seclusion and silence in order to process and absorb fully my thoughts and experiences. A private hike and a long moment of contemplation in the desert appear to be in order.

"Only in solitude do we find ourselves; and in finding ourselves, we find in ourselves all our brothers in solitude." -- Miguel de Unamuno


Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Room of Fear And Hope

One of yesterday’s unhappy tasks was to take Offspring the Third for part one of his annual visit to the pediatric hematologist/oncologist. He was a picture of stoicism and endurance. Apart from the usual patience-consuming wait to refresh the insurance paperwork, there was the momentary terror of a blood draw.

Mercifully, as he has aged, the horror of phlebotomy has decreased significantly for Offspring the Third. It used to require the assistance of two nurses and Herself, holding his flailing and bellowing form as still as possible, while the woman with the needle attempted to secure the required sample. Each appointment would leave both Herself and Offspring the Third nauseated, sweating and quivering. Yesterday, though, all that was required was a comforting lap and some words of encouragement. He still broke out in a cold sweat, but did no more than discreetly wipe a few tears and adjust his hat afterwards. If I had hands, I would have applauded.

This yearly appointment was established when Offspring the Third was still just a toddler. An enlarged spleen during a viral illness triggered a flurry of doctors’ appointments with thinly-veiled undertones of immense worry. It was eventually determined that he had been spared the grimmer possibilities of childhood cancer, and that instead, he has a congenital enzyme deficiency that can lead to a form of hemolytic anemia. His deficiency is mild, and he has not (yet) become anemic. Careful watch of him when his immune system is fighting illness, and protection of his spleen when it is enlarged, are the only requirements beyond his annual visit.

There is a room set aside specifically for the children waiting for appointments in the hematology/oncology clinic. It was relatively quiet there yesterday. Often populated by bald-headed children and their stoic families, it is a place where a bond of understanding can be instantly and wordlessly forged. The wellsprings of sorrow, dread, and determined optimism lie very close to the surface in all parents who have had to contemplate a child’s potentially fatal illness, and one glance is all that is needed for a channel to be opened between them.

Today, we are particularly grateful that Offspring the Third -- and the First and Second as well -- are healthy, and we offer a silent request to the universe that the children of the waiting room and their families can find the strength and courage to face whatever lies ahead.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Just A Little Crabby

It is one of those days when a multitude of mundane tasks awaits. Alas. Nonetheless, until one performs a plethora of prosaic projects, one cannot truly appreciate the extraordinary when it arrives. Onward!



Tuesday, July 7, 2009

In The Gutter With Cereal

One of the small treats this weekend was a variety package of single-serving cereals. Some were brightly colored, some were so sweet as to make my teeth itch, and then there was this one:



If you look closely, you'll see an odd adjective there under the Honey Graham.

Why is it a selling point that this cereal is ridged?

Is it for the consumer's pleasure?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Vacation, Round 2

The Family and I returned to the Lincoln National Forest this weekend, with the hope that the weather would be sufficiently clear for some lengthier walks in the woods. Luck prevailed and we successfully hiked a substantial part of the Trestle Recreation Area in Cloudcroft, New Mexico.


While the remnants of the old railways were indeed interesting, the most noteworthy parts of the trip were the opportunities to commune with nature in an up-close and personal way.


In keeping with the newly-established tradition of documenting my travels in verse, I present to you the relevant details of this adventure in a quartet of limericks.
1.
The campground was quite isolated
The Offspring were less than elated
The site was not level
The dogs, though, did revel


And the cookies left all satiated.


2.
The forest was truly quite damp
On mushrooms we often did stamp

And while we were hikin’
We found crops of lichen

And cow pies all over the camp.


3.
When darkness was most at its height
The campfire flames lit the night


A toasted marshmallow
Can make taste buds bellow
They’re much better blackened than white.



4.
Alongside the carpets of moss
The snake guards his turf against loss

The ‘pillar’s striped sweater
Stays warm when it’s wetter


As the stately snail oozes across.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Evolution of a Name

I go by one appellation: Ninja Head. Concise, descriptive. No other moniker necessary.

Herself has a relatively formal and slightly lengthy first name. For the sake of discussion, we’ll use: Leeloo Minai Lekarariba-Laminai-Tchai Ekbat De Sebat (or LMLLTEDS).

When Herself was in grade school, she was called by this full first name by family, teachers and peers. Except for a few weeks at camp one summer -- when she went by “Frank,” after tiring of repeating her seemingly unmemorable name for the millionth time -- LMLLTEDS she remained until eighth grade.

A change of school provided an opportunity for a new designation. Something less stuffy, more casual. “Leeloo.” Herself used Leeloo throughout high school, college, and graduate school. She met Beloved Husband during this phase.

When Herself entered the work force, it was time to resume use of the punctilious full name – an attempt to lend Maturity and Significance to her employment. Since then, Herself has juggled both LMLLTEDS and Leeloo, depending on the audience. Old friends and family, clients and coworkers, and new acquaintances: LMLLTEDS. High school/college/internet friends, Beloved Husband, and in-laws: Leeloo.

An oddity has risen on occasion. For example, when Herself began tae kwon do, she typically introduced herself to her new acquaintances as LMLLTEDS. Yet Beloved Husband refers to her as Leeloo when speaking with these individuals (and, in fact, it would seem quite strange if he were to call her LMLLTEDS). As Herself and Beloved Husband have become friends with the people at the gym, there has been a gradual and spontaneous changeover from the use of LMLLTEDS to Leeloo.

Why does she continue to use LMLLTEDS? Why not switch to referring to herself as Leeloo, since the natural progression is in its direction? There is, in fact, a certain logic at work.

The closest analogy appears to be the separation between the formal and the familiar: Usted and Tu; Vous and Tu; LMLLTEDs and Leeloo. Her full name is her shield: it has more gravitas, and is better in accord with her normally serious and slightly shy demeanor. Those to whom she introduces herself as LMLLTEDS are typically held at arm’s length. Clients and workplace individuals will always be subject to this more solemn treatment. Unknown individuals are handled with similar procedures.

Over time, though, increased rapport with a new person affords her the opportunity to step out of her protective shell a bit. Since her closest companion –Beloved Husband – refers to her as Leeloo, the name has become a signpost of familiarity. Those who employ Leeloo have been let within her personal sphere. She is comfortable with them.

There are exceptions, of course. Her family, and those who have known her from the years when she had only single digits in her age, will forever think of her as LMLLTEDS; and once in a while, a new friend will stick with LMLLTEDS since it was the first name presented when they met. Conversely, there are a few individuals who call her Leeloo despite her reticence with them (and that is a most unwelcome scenario). Fortunately there is also a simple test to determine accurately a person’s degree of familiarity with Herself:

Would she spontaneously bake muffins for that individual?

Leeloo people are muffin-worthy.



Thursday, July 2, 2009

That'll Do, Pig

If I had words to make a day for you
I’d sing you a morning golden and new
I would make the day last for all time
Give you a night deep in moonshine.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

GAH!

Despite professing to have little imaginative ability, Herself appears to have a very creative subconscious that emerges while she slumbers. She frequently remembers her dreams and will recount them for me if asked. Some have wonderlands that I would enjoy visiting. Others would be quite spine-chilling, had I a backbone. I swear I can still feel the tendrils of the phantasm from two nights ago creeping about me.