Wednesday, October 31, 2012


And, just like that, a hug makes things better.

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Herself got the call from the dermatologist - the biopsy was positive for basal cell carcinoma (BCC).  Mohs surgery has been scheduled for early December.  The hardest part now will be the waiting - for Herself's panicky brain shouts periodically, CANCER! GET IT OFF NOW!

How can this be? She is 45, far too young to have the label of "cancer" affixed to her. And yet, there it is.

The good part: research tells us that metastasis is extremely unlikely (less than 0.1%).  And so, Herself need not worry at this time about chemotherapy or mortality.  (She breathes a tiny sigh of relief that she will retain her hair.  She has grown quite fond of her ponytail, and would be sad -- yet unhesitant -- to sacrifice it for treatment if it were necessary.)

The ongoing part: the odds are that this is not the sole time she will have to address BCC.  There is a 35% chance of another BCC within 3 years, and 50% chance of another within 5 years.  In fact, as she surveys her pelt through the lens of a skin cancer diagnosis, she is already concerned about a few other tiny aberrations that she has previously dismissed as mere skin eccentricities.  She has an appointment later this week to check those as well.  I think she may start to feel better once those have been examined too.  Or worse, depending.  We shall see.

The slightly more difficult part:  80% of all BCC occur on the face and neck. While Herself is not particularly vain, she's rather unhappy about the seemingly likely possibility that she will accumulate a collection of little facial scars as these things occur and need to be removed. She does not like to call attention to herself, and the scars will, unfortunately, do so, particularly immediately post surgery.  She reminds herself that bandages and bruising/bleeding will be temporary, and that although scars are forever, hopefully they can be minimized. 

This is the first time that she will have a surgical scar that is visible to the public.  

Her body has required more of these small medical interventions over the years than she ever imagined it would.  She knows things could be worse, much worse, and is grateful that they are not. Still, she is sad.  It is clear that her days of youthful beauty, whatever little bit she may have had, are gone; and while intellectually she understands that physical appearance should be unimportant, a quiet kernel inside her heart still longs to be found attractive. Why? I cannot answer.

Right now, she wishes for the reassurance and comfort of physical proximity. She doesn't really want to talk much.  What she wants, most of all, is a hug. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Retail Therapy

Some people, when feeling depressed, go shopping.  While Herself does not consider herself to be 'depressed' at the moment (rather, she's really a rather pathetic amalgam of worried-bitter-self critical-sorrowful-lonely-frustrated-self pitying-pessimistic-angry that is unusual for her), she did indulge in a tiny bit of retail therapy today.  Sometimes, little things can perk up even a very dark mood.

What did she acquire?

An iTunes card (music is always soothing)
A refill for the reed diffuser in the bathroom (a fresh scent is helpful)
Extra flour (a little creative baking will be nice), and
New doormats for the front and back doors (quite useful).

While none of the items were strictly necessary, they brighten matters a bit.  That is a good thing.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Unexpected Void

A nullity, unseen in the daylight - and I have fallen into it, with that sickening lurch that happens when one expects a last step at the top of the staircase, but instead, finds none.  I shall have to gather my pieces and make myself whole anew.

To experience wholeness, first we experience the void.- Judy Ford

November Music

NaNoWriMo is approaching again!

An escape into the world of words is exactly what Herself needs right now.  She shall work on her story, breathe new life into it, allow it to take her to where she would like to go. Perhaps someday, someone will find it to be as tasty a tale, as the teeny tiny dog finds the household books to be.

To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the inner music the words make. ~ Truman Capote

Friday, October 26, 2012

Take Heart

Believe, when you are most unhappy, that there is something for you to do in the world. So long as you can sweeten another's pain, life is not in vain. - Helen Keller


We are listening to a '70s music station on Grooveshark.  It is playing Debby Boone's "You Light Up My Life."

Rollin' at sea, adrift on the water
Could it be finally I'm turning for home?

I know it's almost unbearably sappy.  Still, I love this song.

This lighthouse with red moon rising was found at
Copyright belongs to Chris Cook Photography

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Little "c"

Herself does not spend a great deal of time on her appearance.  She doesn't fuss over her hair beyond making sure it's clean and brushed, and she doesn't wear makeup terribly often. She knows what she looks like:  a relatively plain, middle-aged woman.  Nevertheless, ever since a long-term acquaintance clumsily --and offensively, for its apparent focus on aesthetics, rather than health concerns -- mentioned a spot on the side of Herself's face, Herself has been self-conscious about it.  Whenever she looks in the mirror, that is all she can see.  She decided to see if the spot could be removed.

She had a visit with the dermatologist yesterday, and was told that though it could be a benign mole (as she'd always thought), it could actually be a basal cell carcinoma.



As the assistant placed the bandage over the biopsy site, she explained that basal cell carcinoma is referred to as "the little c" rather than "the BIG C" of cancer.  She went on to state that basal cell carcinoma is very unlikely to metastasize, that the doctor is an expert in the particular procedure she'll need for facial skin cancer surgery, that he has the lab right there so they can check the margins before closing to ensure they've gotten it all, and that although they’re already booking into December for surgery, they will try to get her scheduled as soon as possible once they get the results of the biopsy.

Herself is alternately resigned, mildly alarmed, and just a hair bitter.  The surgery to remove the spot does not scare her - the sooner the better, to have it behind her. She's a little worried about all the other little blips and miscellaneous skin oddities of middle age: what do they MEAN?  What if there is something truly evil lurking, something (else) that she has assumed is an innocent mark?  When she gets the biopsy results next week, she'll ask about having all the little things looked at.  Nonchalance appears unwise with a likely cancer diagnosis already in the works.

She feels betrayed yet again by her body.  She thought that after ages of coping with her back and hip pain, and after the biopsy of her thyroid a couple of months ago (and leaving aside her slightly checkered health history prior to those), she'd have a bit of peace. But no. What is next? Is this how it shall be going forward - little issue after bigger issue after little issue?  How long will it be before  something Truly Ugly appears?  Something with a capital "c" perhaps?

What if some errant cells conspire together to rob her of her dreams?

Will she find the time to try to write her book?  Will she ever be able to reach, and enjoy, retirement? Will she ever have the satisfaction of being debt-free? Will she have a chance to travel a little?  And closer to home:  Will she survive long enough to see all of the Offspring launched into the world? Will she ever get to spend some quality time with Beloved Husband?  Will she have an opportunity to tell those close to her, how much they truly mean to her?

She will do what must needs be done, as always.  She cannot fret about what the future holds, for that will not change what will transpire.  We shall have to wait and see.

If I worry, will the future change?
What will happen, will happen, whether I am afraid or not.
 - Caine, Kung Fu

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Wait. This was the first lesson I had learned about love. The day drags along, you make thousands of plans, you imagine every possible conversation, you promise to change your behavior in certain ways -- and you feel more and more anxious until your loved one arrives. But by then, you don't know what to say. The hours of waiting have been transformed into tension, the tension has become fear, and the fear makes you embarrassed about showing affection.
― Paulo Coelho, By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

As You Wish

This year is the twenty-fifth anniversary of the release of the movie, The Princess Bride.  We watched it for the first time in a very long time this weekend.  I'd forgotten how enjoyable it is. There's no wonder that its popularity has survived, and even flourished, throughout this quarter-century.

Ah, the story of True Love:
True Love, full of promise and hope.
True Love, with devotion and fidelity beyond compare.
True Love, surviving despite desperate odds.
True Love, coming to the rescue, every time, just in time.

Though I do not often subscribe to gender-specific generalizations, I suspect that men do, in fact, secretly want to be heroes, just as women secretly would like to be rescued.  Is it some kind of primitive biological imperative that drives us?  Is it a hidden desire to experience an all-consuming passion in a particular manner?  Or is it a wish for a vital human connection that will somehow magically exist beyond distance and time?

I do not know.  Will I ever understand?  Centuries may be necessary even to begin to parse the mysteries of the human heart.

Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while. - Westley

Picture found among the internets. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Keep Him Warm

He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion. - Unknown

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing 
and rightdoing there is a field.
I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass, 
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other 
doesn't make any sense. 

― Rumi

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Ode To A Vehicle

With Kevlar tires, roof rack, and gas cans, too,
Gear shift of river rock, plus winch and jack -
Equipped for anything you’d like to do
Wherever you would like to go, and back.

We drove to Percha Box and Kilbourne Hole,
To Aden Crater and to Timberon,
Out to the desert (restful for the soul) -
Just some adventures where we all have gone.

And though your ownership of it is done,
Imagination seeds by it were sown.
Its form –so marvelous – inspired one
To purchase a Suzuki of his own.

Godspeed, the Jeep, you will serve someone well
And build new memories and tales to tell.

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Book Of Celtic Wisdom

You may have noticed that  more than once, we have provided quotations from John O'Donohue from his book, Anam Cara: A Book Of Celtic Wisdom. Because even simple internet searches for quotations have yielded so many of his words from this particular work, we decided to procure a copy of the book itself.

The book is complex and philosophical. Every paragraph -- and sometimes even just a single sentence -- must be read attentively and with adequate time for contemplation. A highlighter, and quiet, are required. It is as though the individual who coined the phrase, "food for thought," had such a book in mind because of the necessity of taking into oneself, and then digesting, tiny portions at a time. 

After roaming here and there in Anam Cara, we thought we'd start a new feature in the blog by using occasional quotations from the book as jumping-off points for our own discourse.  Sometimes, too, we shall leave you to ruminate upon the words alone from the book. Will it be a weekly entry? Fortnightly? Occasionally?  We shall see.

As an invocation, we shall begin with the Celtic prayer, St. Patrick's Breastplate (The Deer's Cry), that is presented towards the very beginning of Anam Cara

I arise today
through the strength of heaven, light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning, 
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Not a Fairy Tale

Disney has re-envisioned the Princess. We approve.

No knight in armor
And no fairy godmother,
Nor any magic.

Resolute, loving,
With naught but my strength within 
I shall save myself.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


He could tell by the way animals walked that they were keeping time to some kind of music. Maybe it was the song in their own hearts that they walked to. - Laura Adams Armer, Waterless Mountain

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


I am making a list. It is a compilation of ordinary gestures, small in their actions, yet noteworthy in their thoughtfulness.  I shall reveal it in due course in the season of Thanksgiving, when it suits us particularly well to remember such deeds.

Tiny kindnesses
Blow their breath into my heart
Wakening new warmth. 

Grey ashes, scattered
Embers of love, igniting
Gratitude - complete. 

Such little moments,
So easily overlooked - 
Together, form joy. 

Monday, October 15, 2012


Silence is one of the great victims of modern culture. 
- John O'Donohue, Anam Cara

We had an opportunity this weekend to enjoy silence.

It was a particular sort of silence:  the silence that occurs when ordinary noises are extinguished.  Cars, trains, leaf-blowers, lawn-mowers, trash cans, all inaudible; mechanical klunkings and hummings and honkings and buzzings, all absent.  There was no tick of a clock, no swish of clothes-washer or dishwasher, no gurgle of a drain, rumble of a vacuum, or whir of the air conditioning.  Not even the music of the iPod, which Herself usually employs to drown out the racket of daily life.

The detritus of sound, all swept away.

Instead, there were solely the gurgle of a stream, the chirp of crickets, the crackle of campfire. Talk on occasion, and comfortable lulls in between sentences. The turn of a page of a book. A birdcall here and there. That was all.

Such marvelous aural space, to quiet the mind and soothe the overstimulated, exhausted brain.

We need to find more of such silence.  Even tiny pieces, here and there, would be rejuvenating.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man. - Heraclitus

Friday, October 12, 2012


Sometimes, the only words that can be made with one's letter tiles, are ones that invoke slightly naughty thoughts.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Water Yourself

As she continues to work on making arrangements for a grownup camping trip, Herself has run into a typical difficulty of parenthood. Herself has no caregiver able to come stay in her home to look after Offspring the Second and Offspring the Third, and so, they will be delivered to the caregivers' home for the selected weekend in due course.

She informed the Offspring significantly in advance; she likes to give them plenty of time to contemplate any potential disruption in routine, so that by the time it occurs, they will not be terribly crabby - or at least will be resigned to the changes from the regular schedule. The Offspring -- creatures of habit that they are-- were mildly (to medium-ly) disgruntled when she told them about the possibility of their having to spend a future weekend elsewhere besides at home, although they are adjusting to the idea.  It will be one weekend, a tiny blip in time; she knows the Offspring will manage, especially since the caregivers are lovely, fun, kind people. The Offspring always manage to rise to the occasion when need be.  They are fairly self-sufficient teenagers, and even more, they are good eggs.

Herself nevertheless feels guilty that she must momentarily uproot the Offspring and inconvenience others, solely so that she may have some time alone with adults.  She feels selfish.  Yet isn't she allowed to enjoy such an event periodically?

The Cult of Motherhood extends far beyond cloth diapers and baby-wearing and extended nursing, beyond helicopter parenting and micromanaging of schoolwork and complex schedules. One sees in the news these days -- and hears on the playground or in the grocery store -- the tales of the Super Devoted Mothers. "Oh, I wouldn't ever leave little Progeny with anyone" and "I've never used a babysitter" and "I just love being with them so much, I can't bear to leave them."  It's a kind of self-inflicted martyrdom. 

Some women (and men, too, no doubt) expect that every woman's life should revolve solely around her children.  At what cost? Piece by piece by piece, the woman's soul is given away, and her personality is entirely consumed by the needs and wants of the Children.   The woman becomes nothing, except what she is in relation to the Children.

It's like being eaten alive.

Yes, the vast majority of mothers put their children first, and that is how it should be:  first priority is the children. Oftentimes, this action means that women end up leaving their own needs and wants unattended.  Still, women do not become non-individuals once they become mothers. A woman still has -- and should have -- dreams, hopes, aspirations of her own. She has herself.  She cannot give it all away; for once the children are grown, what would be left?   Even devoted mothers should take a few molecules of time away from the children, to relax and recharge and consider themselves for a change.

A woman needs to meet her own needs on occasion. She should be able to nurture herself every now and then, without guilt - and without having to justify her decision to do so. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Dog Hobbies

Large elderly oafish dog recently became enamored of interacting with the neighbors' dogs. For many days in a row, she galloped across the yard and flung herself upwards at the rock wall, sticking her nose through the iron bars at the top, barking furiously.  The neighbors' dogs behaved similarly. Occasionally, one of them would manage to rake his teeth across large elderly oafish dog's snout.  Large elderly oafish dog's nose began to resemble a zebra.

We have put a wheelbarrow and some upended chairs in that corner in the yard.  Though it is a rather unattractive arrangement, the obstacle has momentarily suspended large elderly Oafish dog's activities.  Her snoot can now begin to heal properly.

Silly old girl.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Happy Beans

One day, Herself made refried bean burritos for Beloved Husband's lunch.  When she passed by the stove later, she noticed that the leftover beans seemed quite cheerful.

Clearly, this was the work of Offspring the Third:  only he puts noses in his smiley faces.  It makes me smile, too.


Monday, October 8, 2012


The ottoman-shaped dog and the itty bitty dog have a comfortable relationship.  Itty bitty dog, despite her miniscule size, attempts to dominate ottoman-shaped dog.  She lets ottoman-shaped dog know this by growling or barking shrilly whenever ottoman-shaped dog approaches the person or the food that itty bitty dog is currently guarding.  Ottoman-shaped dog -- master of patience -- allows itty bitty dog to be queen and quietly goes about his business.  He does not deliberately antagonize the itty bitty dog (in contrast to large elderly oafish dog, who purposefully retrieves for herself any toys that itty bitty dog finds interesting).  He is kind to her - probably more than she deserves, considering how often she snaps at him.

Occasionally, itty bitty dog will try to interact playfully with ottoman-shaped dog.  Ottoman-shaped dog is perplexed by "playing," for he is quite a serious soul, and defuses itty bitty dog's antics by licking her tiny head.  Itty bitty dog seems to enjoy the sensation, for she closes her eyes and appears to relax.  Once recently, she even allowed him to rest his chin upon her ever so briefly when he had finished licking her noggin.  She then quickly squirmed away and ran off to pull the stuffing out of a toy.

Itty bitty dog's territoriality (which she displays not only towards ottoman-shaped dog, but also towards the humans in the household) reminded Herself a bit of our previous musings on touch in between people: itty bitty dog is vulnerable because of her diminutive size, and so, she attempts through preemptive noise to be in charge of exactly how interaction occurs. Similarly (though with far less ruckus), Herself tends to initiate physical contacts in order to manage them better. And then -- a lightbulb moment -- Herself connected these dots to other dots: nurturing as preemptive withdrawal to avoid vulnerability, as we contemplated recently. Is it all a question of taking action first, in order to have (conscious or subconscious) control? Is it all a matter of safety? Perhaps so.  

Herself wonders about the roots of such a hard-wired desire for control.  Are all people similar? When do we feel safe enough to relinquish control, for just a little while?  Do we ever? It must be exhausting, constantly refraining and restraining and suppressing oneself out of fear of hurt, while simultaneously actively attempting to exert control.  No wonder people are so often tired.

We all need the comfort of another's physical presence on occasion, and we all need to be able to be vulnerable in safety.  Such things nourish and restore the soul - both for small dogs and humans alike. 


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Fun With Clay

Sometimes on weekends, we play games: Scrabble, cribbage, perhaps chess. Other times, we fiddle around with what is on hand:  bits of paper, small plastic pieces that snap together, clay. Here is one creation from a while back. It's a tiny bit grisly, but we found it humorous.

We amuse ourselves.  It is good.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Cootie Catcher

Do you remember Cootie Catchers?  At least, that is what they were called when Herself was young. They were used for grade-school fortune-telling:  how one would do on the quiz of the state capitols; what one should have for dessert; whether one liked, or LIKED, a favored-boy-of-the-moment.

At Herself's elementary school, cootie catchers were the mysterious domain of the pretty, feminine, popular girls. It was a preteen honor to have one of Those Girls tell one's fortune with the cootie catcher, even though one would be slightly terrified lest the cootie catcher reveal that one was, in fact, enamored of a particular classmate. 

 Herself never knew how to make cootie catchers - until last night, when she was taught. For some reason, this positively delights her.  She made several this morning, just because she can.  

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Pushing The Season

Spotted in the grocery store today -- more than eleven weeks prior to that holiday.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012


It's that time of year again - time to contemplate Halloween.  Eeek!

Herself has an idea for her Halloween costume; unfortunately, she is at the moment having a wee bit of difficulty. Or rather, two slightly-more-than-medium-sized difficulties.  She had ordered a garment necessary for the costume, and once it arrived, she tried it on only to discover that there is absolutely no way that her cleavage can be properly ensconced in the garment.  There is too much of her. Or not enough of the garment. Or both. 

She is trying hard not to succumb to the despondency that such an event so often triggers: the "I'm fat" melancholy that is never far away.  She realizes she'll never be tiny, waiflike, or even thin; all the same, she still can't quite come to terms with being a tad Rubenesque.  Alas.  

She's a bit stymied at the moment; hopefully, though, she can pull the proper attire together and make her costume come to fruition. We shall see. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Expectations and Wants

Herself, Beloved Husband, and Cherished Friend have been contemplating making arrangements for a camping trip without the Offspring.  While the Offspring are wonderful people, there are times when it is important to have some Time Away to have relaxation and conversation amongst just adults.

It has been suggested by a kind and well-intentioned acquaintance that rather than doing such a camping trip, Herself and Herself's Beloved Husband should go away for a weekend to a spa, or to a nearby city known for its art community.  It's almost a sort of obligation, a type of societal expectation:  thou shalt have a fancy shiny romantic weekend away with Beloved Husband in an art-laden or personal-service-oriented location 

Herself understands that many people do enjoy spas and art museums. She does enjoy the occasional art museum, too. She also understands that many people would willingly spend their portion of recreational time doing such things. These are not, however, the activities that Herself -- or Beloved Husband -- wish to do. 

Herself's Beloved Husband is a very busy man. We all know this. He works extraordinarily hard. He does not spend as much time at home as he, the Offspring, or Herself would like.  His free time is extremely valuable, and should be spent in a way that maximizes his enjoyment and relaxation. What would he like to do, given the opportunity? Venture out into the desert and have target practice with the firearms. Go camping, hiking, or RVing. These are the kinds of things that Herself also enjoys, and that their Cherished Friend does, too - and their enjoyment is enhanced by one another's company. Thus, the plan for a camping trip together. 

As for Herself's time alone with Beloved Husband? Herself's wish is not, as might be assumed by acquaintances, to spend a weekend visiting a different city or staying in an upscale resort with Beloved Husband.  What Herself would like most of all, is to have a little bit of additional time with him on a daily basis.  That's quite ordinary, she knows - but the vast majority of life is made up of commonplace occasions. Those are the moments in which she would like to have his presence.

These things might not be what other people expect, but they are what she wants. Life is far too short, and time far too valuable, to waste it upon what others expect. And so, she promises herself that she shall follow the wants, not the expectations.

Monday, October 1, 2012


Herself has fallen off of the "don't eat things which are known to induce headache/migraine" wagon.


She did well for a little while, but the menu was so very restrictive. Plus, the ice cream was calling her name.

She knows that if she would only exert sufficient self-discipline, she would have fewer headaches.  She's rather a bit annoyed with herself for succumbing to temptation, but at the same time, has decided not to berate herself too much. That's not particularly effective. Instead, she is just going to try again, starting today.

Currently taboo foods include the following:
Baked goods and processed (boxed) cereals;
Aged or processed dairy products -- no yogurt, cheese, sour cream, buttermilk, ice cream;
Chocolate (sigh);
Processed, fermented, pickled, smoked or marinated things;
Artificial sweeteners;
Nuts, peanuts and seeds;
Monosodium glutamate, yeast extract, and anything labeled with "natural flavorings";
Nitrates and nitrites -- no cold cuts, processed or cured meats, no sausage or hot dogs, and, saddest of all, no bacon;
Red wine (no loss there);
Pork, shellfish, and canned seafood;
Soy-based products;
Avocados, bananas, raw onions, citrus, figs, and dried fruit.

That seems like a lot of things, doesn't it?

There are also some questionable foods that she's eliminating for now, but may attempt to add back into her diet later: wheat; eggs; plain milk; and butter.  And lastly, there are foods that she's keeping for now, even though they may have to go later: potatoes and tomatoes.

Things that appear to be safe include oatmeal (with brown sugar), tilapia (boring whitefish), corn tortillas, green beans, broccoli, rice. And corn chips - like Fritos.  All is not lost!

It's a bit plain, the non-headache diet.  Plus, processed and packaged foods are out, so she must exert the effort to cook more for herself. She would rather cook for other people.

We shall see how it goes.

One bright spot - sushi, like this tasty platter from the last time Herself and Beloved Husband went out to dine, may still be on the menu.