Thursday, January 31, 2013


Though the origin of most of our words is forgotten, each word was at first a stroke of genius, and obtained currency because for the moment it symbolized the world to the first speaker and to the hearer. The etymologist finds the deadest word to have been once a brilliant picture. Language is fossilized poetry. — Emerson, The Poet

We have just finished reading "20 awesomely untranslatable words from around the world" as well as "25 words that simply don't exist in English." Sometimes, other languages capture particular ideas best.  Beautiful words.

Our new word for the day:  cafuné.  We would enjoy that. 

This photo capturing an interspecies moment of cafuné was found in a variety of places on the interwebs. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Writing All The Things

The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible. ~Vladimir Nabakov

Monday, January 28, 2013


Offspring the Third, to Beloved Husband: "Mom's listening to depressing music. I think you'd better ask her what's up." 

Ah, Offspring the Third.  You have learned to try to assess a person's mood by their music.  That is a valuable skill that will take you far.

Let's evaluate the song in question, shall we?  Alanis Morissette's That I Would Be Good. It's a quiet, sparse song; the focus is on the lyrics and the voice, with simple accompaniment. It's not a song one would play when one felt like dancing, certainly.  I can understand why Offspring the Third would classify it as a "depressing" song.

Nevertheless, I find it to be a hopeful piece:  half wish, half affirmation, it speaks of still having value to someone else, even in the face of difficulty: 

that I would be loved even when I numb myself
that I would be good even when I am overwhelmed
that I would be loved even when I was fuming
that I would be good even if I was clingy


We're developing quite a fondness for Alanis Morissette.  We first became familiar with her music in the mid 1990s when her album Jagged Little Pill was released.  It included the very hostile You Oughta Know, a great song for angry moments.  Her music has mellowed and turned inward a bit over the years, exploring self-doubt (So Unsexy), as well as cheerfully falling in love (Head Over Feet).  She speaks of caring without generating an obligation in return in You Owe Me Nothing - a song that, though some may find sarcastic, Herself takes literally. It reminds her that although she knows individuals who attach strings to everything, she herself wants to -- and tries to -- move through her life and interact with other people without expecting any particular return for any act performed or kindness delivered.

Alanis Morissette also shows a tremendous sense of humor.  She slyly pokes fun at an appalling pop song (My Humps by the Black Eyed Peas) that extolled the virtues of using one's feminine assets for material gain, by spinning it into her own sarcastic ballad. And, of course, there is her wonderful appearance as God in the film, Dogma.  Without a single word, she shows God to be loving, forgiving, and playful.  Just as one might wish God to be. Outstanding.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

New Recipes

Herself spent a bit of time in the kitchen yesterday, attempting new recipes.  She had been in rather a bit of a cooking rut, and very much enjoyed the opportunity to try to produce tasty comestibles. 

The time it took to prepare didn't matter, because there is no such thing as wasted time in the kitchen--rather that is where we go to recover lost time.
 ― Laura Esquivel

We made "Grandma's Meatloaf" from Chow Ciao - while ours was not as pretty as the pictured loaf, it did seem to be rather tasty. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013


Last night, Herself waded through the basket of spare socks attempting to find pairs.  The teeny dog decided to join her on the bed, and rummaged about in the socks for a while as well, flinging them about on the bed where Herself was working.  Teeny dog soon ran out of energy, though, and decided to take a nap.  She burrowed in between two of the pillows.  It took Herself a little bit to discover where teeny dog had gone.

Offspring the Second peered in at teeny dog, knowing that if he extended his hand to pat her, she would lunge out and attempt to bite him.  He quipped:  "She's like a funnel-web spider."  Indeed!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Angry Monkey

A bit of biology today.  You have been warned!

When we were very young teens (and sometimes earlier), we all learned a bit about menstrual cycles, either from family members, peers, or from the fatigued and put-upon school nurse.  It seemed so straightforward, the way the information was presented.  We were told that girls generally began getting periods around the age of 12-13, and would continue to do so at regular intervals until they hit menopause at around 50 -- an impossibly old age, we thought at the time.  

Though the specific scientific terms were not necessarily taught, we learned that there are four general phases:   follicular (building) phase, ovulation, luteal phase, menstruation.  We learned that pregnancy was most likely to occur immediately before, during, or immediately after ovulation, and we understood that menstruation could involve pain and cramping. We were given advice on how to avoid embarrassments (don't wear white pants certain days of the month).  We were also told that some women experience what was termed "pre-menstrual syndrome" (PMS), which might cause them to be irritable, tearful, or have mood swings.  

(To be accurate going forward, I'll also reference the luteal phase that coincides with PMS; women who have had simple hysterectomies and retained their ovaries no longer menstruate, but will still cycle through the maturation of ovarian follicle, ovulation, and luteal phase, as well as a quiescent phase during which menstruation would otherwise have occurred.)

Many jokes are made about luteal phase/PMS.  Ask any man or woman. Humor abounds.

Oh, PMS.  You are not really funny.  The school nurse did not tell us exactly how difficult it can be.  Perhaps we would not have believed her anyway.  How could hormones, ebbing and flowing in regular patterns, influence a woman's mental state so much? And yet, they do. Not for every woman, and not to an intense degree even in most women -- but occasionally, to an unanticipated or difficult amount.

Sometimes, the luteal phase for a woman is much like having an angry monkey perched atop her brain. 

The monkey points out to the woman how she is physically uncomfortable from water retention, breast tenderness, food cravings, and/or digestive irregularities common in luteal phase.  The monkey makes sure the woman well aware of all the bodily changes.  In addition to bringing this heightened awareness of physical discomfort, the luteal phase monkey can bring an entirely different perspective on the world.  

It is an ugly viewpoint. 

The monkey whispers that the world is dark and cold. That life is unfair.  The monkey shines a harsh and sallow light upon even the tiniest of frustrations and annoyances.  The monkey points out that people are callous, self-centered, uncaring.  People are more apt to tread, literally or figuratively, on the woman's toes, and the weight of the monkey on the woman's brain ensures that each misstep is jarring and especially painful.  The monkey reminds the woman about all the things that currently make her sad or angry, linking them to similar events in the past that also made her sad or angry. It is a connect-the-dots of sorrow and ire and frustration that blankets everything the woman sees.  

The monkey generates conflict - for it wants to be coddled and treated tenderly, yet it bristles and is wary of the approach of others.  "I need," cries the monkey, and the woman is bewildered, not knowing how to calm or placate it:  hold it, but don't hold it; be kind to it, love it, though it is prickly and screeching and weeping and gives naught in return.  All of the woman's patience is used up by the monkey.  She is distracted. She cannot reach out to others, for the weight of the monkey threatens to topple her. It is exhausting. 

Finally the cycle ends.  The monkey curls up to rest, and the woman can again see clearly that there is good in the world.  Her ability to reach out to others is restored, and she can once more use her kindness and patience for people rather than for the monkey.  Small transgressions and minor irritations can be dismissed.  Without the monkey standing on her brain, she is able to concentrate, to be productive, to do what needs to be done.  She sighs with relief. 

Until the next time. 

What possible evolutionary advantage could there be to making a woman that much more sensitive, negative, and angry?  Would it yield some kind of advantage to any nascent blastocyst - perhaps ensuring that the woman had a heightened sense of the danger of the world, of the need to be aggressive to protect herself? 

We can speculate.  We do not know.  If this is some form of intelligent design, all we can do is scratch our heads perplexedly and wonder.  It is a mystery. 

All we can do is try to remember:  even an angry monkey must eventually sleep.  This, too, shall pass.  

This angry monkey was found in many places on the interwebs.  Perhaps it could benefit from some chocolate. Or a hug. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Snerk (Honk)

Offspring the Third has shared his germs with Herself.  (Such a giving child, he is.)  Fortunately, these are rather mild common cold germs -- nothing Herself can't grudgingly tolerate.  Bring on the tissues and the lip balm!

As a side benefit, the multiple cups of tea ingested for the cold have washed away a large portion of the Seething Wrath and General Ire Towards Everything that Herself has battled for several days. Despite her sniffles, she is now a tad more pleasant.  She can even tolerate herself.  It is better.

This lovely visual aid was found on the interwebs, and is a Getty image. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Universe, we ask of you: please, open our hands so that we may climb.

Don't hold to anger, hurt or pain. They steal your energy and keep you from love.
― Leo Buscaglia

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Where's The Ladder?

What is the void like?

I always think of it as being rather like a dry well.  Circular, damp, made of stones.  A scent of clay and earth, clean and aromatic.  Quiet. Solitary.  Not terribly large, but not claustrophobically small, either.  It's a familiar space; it is not frightening.  There's nothing lurking in it of which we're not already aware.

It's not a bad place.  We cannot stay here, though; people need us elsewhere, and Things must be done.

It's very dark in the void.

I know the ladder's here someplace. All I need to do is find it. The hardest part is getting to my feet, brushing myself off, and beginning the search.

Monday, January 21, 2013

What To Say

Spoiler Alert:  a brief discussion of an issue raised in season 2 of The Walking Dead.  While no particulars have been revealed, if you are being especially diligent about avoiding spoilers, you may wish to skip this entry and come back later.  We've even placed a picture here, rather than at the end, to help you avoid temptation to read further before you click away from the blog.  You're welcome!

Still on board?  You've been warned!

We have been plowing our way through Season 2 of The Walking Dead.  It is an outstanding show -- painful in its realistic portrayal of the emotional evolution of a band of survivors in the midst of the zombie apocalypse.  We sympathize with, and are angry at, each character in turn.  It's exhausting to watch.  Yet we cannot turn away.

In a recently watched episode, a main character meets the end.  The others gather around this character, knowing the wounds are fatal, seeing the character suffer as life slowly ebbs away.  Finally, another brave individual of the group delivers a bullet of mercy, after looking the character in the face and quietly, stoically stating: "Sorry."

It was terribly sad.

There are the thoughts that crossed our minds as we watched:

Why, knowing that the character was irreparably wounded, did the others not offer a few more last words of solace?

Perhaps the shock of what had happened was too much even to contemplate what to say. We'd believe that.  Such is the realism of this show.

We hoped as we watched that someone would utter words to hold - "thank you for all that you have done;" or perhaps provide the information that another individual, about whose fate that character had been concerned, was still among the living.  Or even a few words of love.  How we longed for some last comforting thought as the character slipped the surly bonds of earth.

We have not yet -- mercy be -- ever had to hold a hand growing cold or looked into eyes growing dim.  We cannot even begin to imagine the difficulty.  Death can be messy and unexpected, whether sudden or drawn out.  There is not always time to say what we would like - or what we need - to say.  We hope, though, that when such an occasion arises, we will somehow be able to find the right words to send the soul onward in peace.

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Of all the weapons of destruction that man could invent, the most terrible -- and the most powerful -- was the word. Daggers and spears left traces of blood; arrows could be seen at a distance. Poisons were detected in the end and avoided. But the word managed to destroy without leaving clues.  
― Paulo Coelho

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Being heard
is so close to being loved
that for the average person,
they are almost indistinguishable.

― David Augsburger

Friday, January 18, 2013

Happy Places

Though they do sometimes meet in the middle, Beloved Husband and Cherished Friend tend to fall more towards opposing ends of the political spectrum. Interesting and quite animated conversations ensue.  Herself tries valiantly to follow their discourse; by the time she has processed their positions and has put together a cogent sentence to contribute, though, they have frequently moved forward in the discussion, rendering her point moot. She begins again, following and processing and attempting to generate a complete, intelligent sentence to interject.  It is significant mental exercise.

If the conversation is too lengthy, complex, or charged for Herself's tiny brain, she retreats to her Happy Place.  Ah, Happy Place. How soothing you are.

She actually has several locations to use for a Happy Place to visit in her head when the need arises:  Carlsbad Caverns, Big Bend, other quiet spots in nature that are peaceful and calming.  There are a few more Happy Places, too - locations where she feels at ease, where she feels that nothing can harm her, where she is safe.  She guards her mental Happy Places closely; she does not reveal them lightly.  Visitors are not often allowed.  Every now and then, though, they are welcome company. 


Six weeks ago, in the middle of her recent Mohs surgery, the doctor told Herself that he had cleared the margins of the incision and was preparing to close the site. He added: "This will be a bit uncomfortable.  You should go to your Happy Place." 

Off she fled.   

Ah, Happy Place.  We are so grateful for you.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


We are checking Offspring the Third's algebra homework. We do enjoy math. Offspring the Third, though, is not so fond of it. He tries hard all the same.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Comfort Dog

Elderly and decrepit dog is coping with another bout of her chronic gastrointestinal delicacy. Herself was suspicious; elderly and decrepit dog did not eat much yesterday, and looked a tad miserable hunched up to poop in the unseasonable cold.  When elderly and decrepit dog urgently trotted into Herself's study this morning, lips clamped shut and eyes piercing, Herself knew that was code for "must go out but can't bark at the door to tell you lest I vomit right here."  Poor thing, so wretched. Off they hustled to the vet right away.  Better to tackle the matter now than wait, lest they get worse. (We could wait and see whether things improved.  Experience tells us, though, that is never the case with this particular dog.)

Elderly and decrepit dog is now resting, exhausted by the trauma of having her temperature taken and two injections given by the vet.  Ottoman-shaped dog lies beside her.  Likely it is the marvelousness of that particular dog blanket that has attracted him.  All the same, ottoman-shaped dog is always a comforter of the afflicted and the suffering. I like to think that perhaps he is keeping near to her, to be kind. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Love isn't how you feel. It's what you do
― Madeleine L'Engle

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Bond, James

The holidays are officially behind us now: the bins containing the Christmas decorations have been returned to their usual spots in the garage, the furniture has been returned to its usual configuration, and a general tidying-up has been performed.  Herself spent a significant chunk of yesterday rearranging two spaces in the house-- the arts-and-crafts closet and the cupboard under the stairs that traditionally has been a tangled, heaped mass of building blocks, tiny cars and tracks, and eight thousand other sundry toys with their eight million sub-pieces --so that all materials for crafty projects are now in one place instead of spread in three locations, and so that pantry items can also be stored in the cupboard.  It was a genuinely onerous task, and she is pleased to have accomplished it.

There was also a return to family movie night last night.  It is such a pleasant relief to get back into the ordinary activities which we enjoy so much.  Yesterday evening, we watched Casino Royale, the first Bond movie to star Daniel Craig.  It is by far the best Bond film we have seen to date.

Daniel Craig is a different sort of character from the other men who have played Bond before him -- he has a much greater physical presence than ever before.  (Herself admits that although he is not the type of man to whom she's physically attracted, he nevertheless is quite easy on the eyes.)  With his extremely muscular physique and pouting lower lip, he almost falls within what Herself considers the "meathead" category.  Nevertheless, he has a side of humanity and much less slick charm than the others, keeping him from being pigeonholed despite his brawn.

There is one scene where we get to see a unique side to Bond:  the moment when he finds Vesper, fully clothed, sitting in the shower.   He does not ask what she is doing, or even say a word.  Instead, he quietly, unassumingly, promptly sits down beside her, fully clothed as well. He waits for her to speak.  He takes her hand, and puts one and then another of her fingers briefly in his mouth.  He then holds her hand and affirms quietly: "That's better."  He inquires if she is cold, turns up the hot water, and cradles her, stroking her wet hair.

(This is the point when Herself swoons.)

It is knowledge of the tender side to Bond that makes Vesper's betrayal of him all that much more tragic.


It will be interesting to see how Daniel Craig's Bond character develops in Quantum of Solace and in Skyfall.  Will there be glimpses of that part of his persona again?  Will it be forever buried?  We shall see.

Friday, January 11, 2013


Do you ever feel as though you're missing some kind of skill, some sort of knowledge that practically everybody around you seems to have naturally? Herself does:  she lacks a decent ability to identify sarcasm.  Sometimes she can tell when people are kidding.  A lot of times, she cannot.  How do other people understand such things?  Who teaches these subtleties to children?  Did she not learn?  Is she deficient? Defective?  Stunted? It is frustrating.

She has just today been introduced to The Big Bang Theory, which holds highly amusing promise and also provides some humorous insight into sarcasm.  To wit:


Hahahahahahaaaaaaaaha!  Enjoy.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Offspring the First is on her way back to college. She took the train - an epic 12 hour trip across the desert badlands.  She will likely sleep much of the way.  We hope she has a safe journey.  We are wistful at her departure from home. 

Herself waited in the train station until Offspring the First climbed aboard.  It is a warm and inviting station, full of light, air, and the promise of adventure.  Herself is happy for Offspring the First, who faces the future with a spring in her step and a train ticket in her hand.  

Herself would like very much to take a train. Somewhere. Anywhere. A small suitcase, a pair of comfortable shoes, and endless possibilities.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Herself had a headache today that threatened to evolve into a migraine.  She took an over-the-counter acetaminophen, aspirin and caffeine combination to try to nip the pain in the bud.  It did successfully reduce the headache to a dull hum rather than the loud roar it was threatening to become.


Herself has been decaffeinated for nearly a quarter of a century; she gave up caffeine before she turned twenty-one.  At the time, scientific studies had pointed to a connection between caffeine consumption and benign breast fibroadenoma.  Herself had recently undergone the very unpleasant procedure of the removal of three of such lumps -- first one, the summer after her freshman year of college, and then two more simultaneously, in January of her junior year.  Back in that day, the surgery was done under local anesthesia after immobilizing the patient by strapping her arms to boards such that she would resemble the letter "T".  She remembers the surgeon was a rather stern and humorless gray-haired man, who chastised Herself when she let him know that she could still feel pain at the site during the operation, and who at one point stated "oops" during the procedure.  (She inquired, "oops what?" but never received an answer.)  She was determined to eliminate any substances that might contribute to the development of additional fibroadenoma, and so, caffeine was out.  She did not miss it.

All these years later, the evidence linking caffeine and fibroadenoma is now under doubt.  Furthermore, age, three pregnancies and five cumulative years of nursing the Offspring all contribute to the unlikelihood of Herself developing any further fibroadenoma.  So occasionally, Herself indulges in a caffeine-containing soda, and -- as was necessary today -- a caffeine-containing headache remedy.

Still:  she is unaccustomed to a large amount of caffeine, and she is very much abuzz from the dose she has had.  She wonders how coffee drinkers handle the sensation.  Perhaps they become accustomed to it.  She cannot imagine.  She feels as though she should run in circles right now.  How long will this buzz last?  And what can she accomplish during that time?  We shall see!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Mmmmm, Pamcakes

Pancakes for the Offspring. For breakfast, for dinner. For whenever one feels like pancakes. We don't have rules about which foods should be consumed at which meals around here.  Enjoy. 

Monday, January 7, 2013


Roots, leaves, flowers, cones
Insects, spiderwebs, cocoons,
Cracked earth, sand grains, rocks

The world is too big
Except when seen piece by piece -
Then: details revealed

All the minutiae
Fascinating, overlooked
Beauty of the small.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sun and Silence

During the trip to Big Bend, the weather was chilly, and the skies were mostly overcast (though on the first evening, they had a beautiful view of the stars).  On the last day of the 2012, though, the cloudcover dissipated and the sun shone down upon them as they took a stroll through Chisos Basin. It made the views that much more spectacular.

It was a moment Herself had anticipated -- and dreaded just a bit, for it was the first time she had been deliberately out in the sun since her diagnosis of skin cancer.  Though she had not brought her sunhat, she did have on an SPF 15 sunscreen that she now wears on a daily basis.  With the addition of an application of a much higher SPF sunscreen (she has taken to carrying some wherever she goes), she was set. All things considered, she was physically and mentally comfortable being in the sun.  It was a small personal success -- a tiny metaphorical hill that she had needed to climb, and she did so.


Friday, Herself had a short e-mail exchange with a friend.  The friend sends out periodic updates regarding family happenings; it is always good to read what is going on with the friend and her family, especially since Herself's path has diverged from the friend and they do not see one another as often as they once did.  Herself read the update about her friend's travels and holidays and responded with a short message, as she always tries to do, expressing her gladness that her friend had enjoyed her time with family and friends.

She was pleasantly surprised when the friend responded in turn a short time later, wishing Herself happy holidays and commenting that she hoped Herself was enjoying Offspring the First's time home from college.  Herself continued the conversation by preparing another return message, indicating that she was enjoying Offspring the First's visit very much, and that they had enjoyed a bit of time in Big Bend.

Herself paused for a moment, and then added a sentence commenting that in Big Bend she had been in the sun for the first time since her skin cancer surgery a month ago, and that it went well.  In deciding to include that information, Herself reasoned that because she and friend have shared stories of both worries and small triumphs in the past, this would be an appropriate time to mention the minor personal trial she's undergone recently and her success in learning to move past it.  She sent the message.

Was Herself looking for some kind of validation? Show of concern? Expression of good will?  In truth: yes. While Herself's skin cancer was not necessarily a Big Deal, it was not Nothing, either. Herself did not want a big fuss -- or even a medium fuss -- really, but just some kind of recognition that this slightly difficult occurrence in Herself's life had taken place.

She's not entirely sure what response she expected. She did not want fanfare or drama; exact language would not have been important.  Merely some kind of simple, heartfelt "good for you for getting back out" or "hope all's well" would have sufficed. Just a few words of care.

What she did not expect, was silence.


This is the second time she has met such a silence.

A week after her surgery, A friend had invited Herself to attend a women's gathering to view some handicrafts. Herself replied by e-mail that she would love to attend, but that she might be a bit late because she was having the stitches from her surgery removed earlier that day.  Her purpose then in mentioning it then was twofold: first, to explain that she might not be timely to the event; and second, to give advance notice regarding the visible scar and any bandage, so that it would not be a surprise or an unwelcome focus of conversation in front of women she did not know.

There was no response then, either.


Herself understands that the one friend was likely busy preparing for the gathering that day three weeks ago, and that the other friend was likely busy at work that day. Herself also realizes that sometimes messages are not opened right away, or are inadvertently deleted or somehow lost, or even, perhaps, not properly delivered.  She knows that the word "cancer" can be a conversation-stopper, and that some individuals may not know what kinds of statements are appropriate when informed of a friend's experience with this particular disease.  There are all kinds of reasons why neither friend said anything.  Intellectually, Herself comprehends.

Nevertheless, and try as she might, she cannot truly understand why someone who had received such word would say nothing.

Perhaps it is because she has difficulty putting herself in others' shoes; she can think only of how she would have responded.  It is clear that others would respond differently -- or not at all.

Perhaps she should just not have mentioned it.  It might make others too uncomfortable. This might be one of those experiences that she should just process herself.

It is a mystery.


What Herself has learned from these silences,  is to be even more thankful for those who were there for her, who are here for her now:  those who look at her scar in person and here in the blog, those who neither make a fuss nor dismiss or ignore Herself's mentions of the experience, those who treat it all matter-of-factly as she is learning to do.  She is ever so grateful for them.  She will do her very best to return their thoughtful care, should they ever be in need.  She would like them to know:

You are my blessings. Thank you. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013


Herself went to see Les Miserables last night with Beloved Husband and Cherished Friend. Without giving away too many plot points for the few people in the world who have not yet experienced Les Mis in any form -- be it the novel, the play, or one of the previous film adaptations -- we will just say that is was very well done indeed.  In particular, Anne Hathaway, upon whom Herself has a tremendous girlcrush, delivered a beautiful and heartbreaking performance.  Lovely.

Herself was a trifle concerned about seeing such a tragic movie; mustn't cry in front of the Menfolk. To prepare, she did resort to reading a plot summary in advance to ensure she knew exactly what transpired and who died. She then knew that Les Mis contains both types of storylines that Herself finds the most unsettling:  unrequited love, and leaving one's child behind. Alas.  She put a package of tissues in her purse, just in case. Fortunately, even though the film was truly sad at times, Herself managed to stay composed.  

Today, we are roaming the internets to find clips from the film, and are humming the few songs we already know quietly to ourselves.  It was a movie that will be well worth watching again. And again. I hope you enjoy as well.


Friday, January 4, 2013

White and Blue

A winter storm has passed through this corner of the southwest.  Today, a smattering of leftover snowflakes continues to drift slowly down and to add to the thin sheet of white that is draped across the landscape.  It's a welcome reprieve from the usual winter colors of the desert -- grey, brown, dirt. People stay inside and decline to brave the cold and the slippery roads; the world is a bit quieter. We admire the icicles that have sprouted from the roof edge and wonder how long until all the frozen bits have melted away and been absorbed by the thirsty desert earth.

With the snow has fallen the Winter Doldrums.

The Christmas decorations have begun to look a bit crumpled and stale; it is time to remove them and put them away. We are now biding our time until the Offspring return to school and we can resume our regular schedules and activities.  Work continues. Bills must be paid. Life goes on.

We are blue -- though from the letdown of the return to Ordinary Life, rather than from the cold itself.  After the anticipation of the holidays and the New Year, there is a sensation that we now lack a goal:  we need something new to which to look forward, and we have not yet found it.  We are just the tiniest bit lost.

We think of those few lovely days in Big Bend, when the biggest obligations were to remain patient with all the creatures (human, canine, and otherwise) occupying space in the small camper-trailer and to tolerate the chaotic distribution of their possessions; when Herself could cook a few simple meals without being interrupted by the hundred other mundane household requirements; when we explored a beautiful corner of nature every day and played Scrabble every night.

Those moments of happiness are the fuel that carry us onward.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Where All Is Well

There was something marvelously soothing about wandering around in Big Bend.  Such a peaceful place to be -- near the river, the mountains, the wall of rock, the vast nothingness.  Big Bend holds a quieting solitude that would comfort any soul, be it restless or already at ease. It is a happy place.

The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles. ― Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Mountain Language

We switch to another language-- not our invented language or the language we've learned from our lives. As we walk further up the mountain, we speak the language of silence. This language gives us time to think and move. We can be here and elsewhere at the same time. ― David Levithan

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

What On Earth Are You Doing?

We are back, intrepid readers, from a five-day trip to Lajitas/Big Bend National Park. We had a very good time. I will provide more detail in due course; right now, unpacking, laundry and cleaning await.  To tide you over in the meanwhile, I offer you the following snapshot from the trip:  can you guess what Herself is doing?  Take your time.  I will explain after the photo.

One afternoon, Herself, Beloved Husband, Offspring the Second, Offspring the Third, and Cherished Friend found a spot along the river to explore.  (Offspring the First remained behind at the camper-trailer, for she was not feeling well.)  The mud was dried and cracked in fascinating layers and formations.  Close to the riverbed itself, tiny green plants -- could they have been clover? -- sprouted here and there through the mud.  Herself selected one of the plants, and dusted and chipped away the mud layers near its root to see how far the root system extended.  For perhaps about ten minutes, she worked slowly and carefully to avoid damaging the plant.  When she was finished, she reburied the roots, tucking the plant gently back into its dried mud layers.

It was a happy moment.  Herself worked on this small plant, safe in the knowledge that the people with her would not mock her for her slightly odd investigation, but would, in fact, come over and admire the plant's root structure if she asked them to do so. There was a small quiet joy in being able to perform a tiny bit of slightly scientific observation, unhindered by self-consciousness. So very rare, to be able to be truly oneself in front of others.

Science and comfortable people: two wonderful things, indeed.