We stopped by the Hard Rock Hotel in Albuquerque just to take a look. This lovely black widow was busily working on her web in the parking lot, and she was even kind enough to display her hourglass for the picture. Beautiful.
What's that odd noise? Why, it's the brakes on the travel trailer! A pit stop to have the bearings repacked and other things adjusted. Good thing there is a half dozen romantic novels to keep me occupied.
Whoops, let's try that again. This is my second attempt to post directly from e-mail. (First was deleted to rectify a SNAFU.) I am hoping it works this time, as it will allow me to update from the road during our family vacation. Fingers crossed, everyone!
Daisy dog, how fortunate are we, that your kidneys are functioning well enough that we can try some medication to prolong your time with us here? Through the magic of modern pharmaceuticals, you seemed to sleep well last night for the first time in a long time, and even tried to chase a bird in the yard this morning. How it warms our hearts to see you enjoying yourself. We will go for another long walk today if you feel up to it, and we promise to let you stop and sniff to your heart's content.
Daisy dog, I know you are getting old and that your time with us may be short. When the vet looked at your X-ray today and said, my, she has significant arthritis, I felt the End creep closer even as I stood there patting your head and telling you that there was nothing to fear. I hope we still have more time together, and I hope that we can make you happy in your waning days.
You have been part of our family for nine and a half years, and yet it seems like barely yesterday that we brought you home from the Humane Society. You were such a pathetic scrap of an animal, with that big black fur spot on your back that made you look vaguely like Snoopy. Everyone debated what to name you, but I won out. To me, you just looked like a Daisy. We nursed you to health, and you grew and grew, until what was once a four-and-a-half-pound puppy turned into a 65-pound giant mutt. You still think you are tiny, though, and try to sit in our laps. We let you.
You are such a cheerful dog. I love the way you smile at us when you see us at the door. I am endlessly entertained when you chase your tail. It warms my heart to see you sniffing all the fascinating scents when we hike in the desert, and running loose joyously in White Sands. You sleep upside down, with your gums flapping and all of your giant club-sized feet sticking up into the air.
You enjoy digging up rocks in the back yard, and I have been amazed more than once at the size of rock you are able to carry about. You are thrilled with dog toys that squeak and will fetch a ball, indoors or out, at any time. You are so very patient when we pat you, poke you, pester you, and balance things on your head. You faithfully look alertly out the door when we say, "Where's the Kitty" and never fail to glance up in the sky when we ask, "Where's the bird?" You investigate bugs.
It makes me laugh to think of the time when I came home to find the shreds of a bag of pretzels on the kitchen floor, and your water bowl empty and overturned. You drank what seemed like a whole gallon when I refilled it. There was also the time when the apples in the fruit bowl on the table kept disappearing, and I discovered that you had been quietly taking them one by one and eating them where you wouldn't be discovered. I won't even mention how many watermelon rinds you have stolen and carted off to the back yard. You do love fruit.
I should have played ball with you more often, taken you on more walks, and been more patient when you made a mess or chewed on the rocking chair. I am sorry. I am an imperfect human. I hope you forgive me.
You have given us one of the greatest of blessings: unconditional Dog-love. Thank you, my Daisy. No matter how many -- or how few -- days you have left with us, we will be grateful for each and every one.
There is a glint of sunlight on the abating waves, and I can see the shimmer of the scales of the fishes once more. I cannot catch them yet, but I know if I am patient, they will swim up beside me and welcome me again.
Sometimes I am lost in a sea of language, unable to find just the right words to express what I would like to say. Other times I am lost in a sea of silence, unable to find any words at all.
The seas are, in fact, one and the same. The words I need are all there beneath the surface of the waves, moving like shy and purposeful fish. There are days when the words rise to the shallows, drawn upward into the sunlight, and I can collect them with ease. Other days, they swim deep in the shadows, and I cannot see them.
While the Scylla of daily life is a danger to my writings, it is the dark and formless void of the Charybdis in my ocean that I fear more. Within it is an indescribable longing. The fish scatter before its deafening roar.
I must find Odysseus' fig tree and cling until the storm surge wanes. Then I will be able to look out over the waters again, and I will be relieved to see the silvery scales of my wordy fishes once more.
There are fewer things more entrancing than a brand new box of crayons. This is the very first time I have ever had the gigantic 96-count box. I must find just the right thing to color. Oh, the possibilities!
One of Herself's friends has dubbed this season "the Summer of Tears." There is nothing particularly heartwrenching that has led to the waterworks of these past few weeks; rather, it is the piling up of multiple small difficulties that has led to various individuals bursting into tears at various times. In addition, with the summer heat, tempers have flared and patience is in drastically short supply. Frustration, annoyance and sorrow, even in tiny doses, seem to spontaneously erupt into flames and need to be doused with tears.
Herself is not immune. When the Blog grows silent -- as it has this past week -- it is because she requires my help to maintain (or regain) her equilibrium, and there is no leftover energy to expend upon writing for you. We apologize, and remind you that you are never far from our thoughts, even when our hearts ache too much to compose a post.
With time and a bit of self-care, the tears dry. Sparring at taekwondo surprisingly helps, because it takes Herself away from the daily concerns she has and brings her solely into the current moment. There may be bruises at the end, but they will heal, and as those visible wounds resolve themselves, so will the unwritten worries that lurk within her. All will be well.
I have noticed that when Herself is lonely, she visits her piano more often. The piano has gotten quite a bit of use lately; in fact, Herself has gotten out some additional music and is learning to play some new pieces (or relearning some old pieces that she has not played for more than twenty years). The music pleases her, and the challenge of a complicated work keeps her mind occupied for a little while.
Some days, time crawls. Yesterday afternoon, she played the piano, and then she sighed, and checked her FaceBook, and read her book, and tidied the house, and fed the children, and went for a walk, then sighed and played the piano again. The piano occupied just enough space to keep Herself from dwelling on her loneliness. I hope that it will do the same today.
Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness. - Maya Angelou
Herself had the rare pleasure of enjoying dinner with a friend yesterday. The meal itself was unremarkable -- a standard sandwich -- but the company was outstanding and the conversation was gratifyingly consequential. Once more, she is enormously thankful that the Universe has seen fit to provide her with this cherished friend.
Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'
Herself attended a doctor's appointment yesterday with a much-loved relative, to provide support as critical test results were received. Magnificently, miraculously, the report was good news indeed. A sigh of relief, an unwinding of muscles that had braced themselves for the worst, a slow, broadening smile. Hallelujah and praise be. Treatment will continue, but with new hope that disease will eventually be vanquished fully.
Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.
We have made our first attempt at cooking with artificial sweeteners in lieu of sugar. The result: a pan of brownies, especially prepared for an extended family member. Though you'd never know it from looking at his slight build, he is diabetic. He recently received difficult medical news, and the family is rallying around him, hoping to bolster his spirits as he undergoes treatment. Our contribution is the brownies, his favorite dessert. It's the very least we can do.
Sometimes, Herself imagines having a very small house. It would be tidy, organized, everything in its place - the essentials, nothing more. She would like to situate the house on a large plot of land in an environment close to nature: the desert, the mountains, a forest. A location where hiking is plentiful and people are scarce. A place where everyday worries disappear and life is simple.
Recently, a subtle change has occurred in her mental house plans. She has added a guest room. While this might not seem particularly unusual, it is, in fact, extraordinary. For the first time, she has friends with whom she is willing to share her happy place. Her friends do not crowd her: in fact, having them there would increase the joy of the small house.
NinjaHead resides with a muffin-baking woman known herein as Herself. Herself has a Beloved Husband, with whom she shares three nearly-grown Offspring. When she is not writing Things, Herself nurtures a visceral fondness for small furry creatures. The household menagerie, which has varied in size and composition over the years, presently contains a minuscule middle aged chihuahua, a most mild-mannered senior chihuahua, and a very small hamster who, due to the prominence of his gonads, seems to need trousers for decency.