Sunday, June 30, 2013

Roost

The other night, there was a teeny bird perched on one of the patio columns at dusk, next to the the transmitter for the indoor-outdoor thermometer.  It stayed there most of the night; when Herself let ottoman-shaped dog out in the wee hours of the morning, the bird was still there.  At dawn, it was gone.

It's always nice to see a tiny bit of wildlife nearby.


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Strong Enough

Thanks to Sheryl Crow for today's earworm:  Strong Enough.


Friday, June 28, 2013

Seeking Beauty

Childhood was so long ago.

We are grownups now, with jobs, responsibilities, and relationships that are very distant from the playgrounds and chicken pox and birthday hats of youth. We wind our way through our days:  we do our work, we pay our bills; we feed the pets and buy socks for family members and dream about escaping to sit under the stars and listen to the silence for a few hours.  We look after others, and care for ourselves as best we can. This is adulthood.

There are some moments when ancient childhood injuries surface unexpectedly. Once upon a time, there were words said or unsaid, actions taken or not taken -- and tiny wounds were made on growing youthful souls.  Though we think we are long past those days, damage from those times can color and shape how we address words said and unsaid, actions taken and not taken, even today.

We are surprised when we catch a glimpse of old woundings. We are hypnotized by the unexpected depth of the scars, as well as their fragility and the ease with which the spots are scraped raw once more.  We tiptoe around them.  We try to ignore them.  We attempt to bandage them with the security blankets of adulthood -- comfort food, bad habits.  They still hurt.

On occasions when we are feeling strong, we can embrace the scars and learn to love them as part of us.  It is hard work. It is the lengthy mountain trail:  it exhausts us, but we know that eventually, we can reach the peak and look out upon all of the curves and valleys of the world.  Those are the good moments, indeed.

When we are truly fortunate, another soul will provide a helping hand along our path. Blessed are they who witness our pain and our sorrow and our rage, and yet are still willing to continue onwards on the path with us. They give us the strength that we need.  They give us hope.  And they show us that in the end, beauty is still possible, after all.

The beauty that emerges from woundedness is a beauty infused with feeling; a beauty different from the beauty of landscape and the cold perfect form. This is a beauty that has suffered its way through the ache of desolation until the words or music emerged to equal the hunger and desperation at its heart. It must also be said that not all woundedness succeeds in finding its way through to beauty of form. Most woundedness remains hidden, lost inside forgotten silence. Indeed, in every life there is some wound that continues to weep secretly, even after years of attempted healing. Where woundedness can be refined into beauty a wonderful transfiguration takes place. 
― John O'Donohue

Picture copyright 2012, 2013, Mediocria Firma. Used with gratitude.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

It's Not Easy Being Green

Kermit the frog:  we have always been extraordinarily fond of you.  We are in need of your optimistic joie de vivre - will you sing the Rainbow Connection for us? Thank you, everso.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Train of Thought

Herself's train of thought derails regularly over the summer. Offspring and pets and Beloved Husband all roam intermittently and frequently into the study where she is attempting to work, write, and escape, and also appear all over the house at odd hours, both early and late.  She cannot go downstairs to let ottoman-shaped dog out in the middle of the night without donning a bathrobe, lest she run into an Offspring; she cannot exercise on her elliptical without pets or people entering the room to investigate. They stand in the kitchen when she tries to cook. They hover. They stand on her square when she is at the computer. They need food, conversation, Stuff.

They are doing nothing wrong - they live here.  They are not being unduly difficult.  They are just omnipresent.

Alone Time:  where are you?  Come back to us. We miss you.

Picture copyright 2012, 2013, Mediocria Firma. Used with gratitude.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Indignity Of It All

Ottoman-shaped dog Thorbert had a difficult week, during which he urinated in the house a few times.  This is a behavior that is completely out of the ordinary for him, and is likely a sign that his bladder tumor is progressing.  Alas.  The veterinarian provided some information regarding additional chemotherapeutic agents that could be added to Thorbert's regime.  And decisions have to be made.

Both possible pharmaceutical options would involve frequent visits (up to once a week) to the vet's office, either to administer the agent or to perform a CBC to ensure the agent is not unduly taxing Thorbert's kidneys. Poor Thorbert; he shivers and cries in the car during the two-mile drive to the vet's office, and quakes and sheds his fur on the exam table.  There is no way to explain to him why an onslaught of frightening visits would suddenly be happening, or what the pokes and the prods and the medications would be designed to do.

Furthermore, while side effects would be rare, they would be possible, and unpleasant.  And even more, the expenditure would be extensive:  even assuming that the additional median time of survival could be gained, the price -- approximately $500 per month, or more -- is shockingly high.  That cost, moreover, does not even include the cost of Thorbert's present needs:  his insulin, needles, regular glucose checks, prescription food, or current medicines.

While Herself has never shied away from spending what money is necessary to ensure comfortable quality of life for her pets, this situation has risen to an entirely different and complex level.  If she knew that significant years would be gained for ottoman-shaped dog, she would certainly give significant thought to a few months' unpleasant treatment.  The cold fact of the matter is, though, that treatment will not cure Thorbert.  It will only delay the inevitable.

It's like watching him die by millimeters instead of inches, she thinks.

Her decision has been made:  let us provide ottoman-shaped dog with as much comfort and as little anxiety as possible in these end times.

Her silent prayer:  let it be quick, and as painless as can be. 

In the meanwhile, we do what we can to ease his situation.  We have even tried a belly band on him, to help him become accustomed to it in the event he needs to wear it more often to prevent further household accidents.  He seems perplexed by this odd piece of clothing.  It's a little undignified.  Ever stoic, though, Thorbert maintains his equanimity.

Good boy, Thorbert.  We are doing what we think will be best for you.  Please forgive us for any mistakes we make, for we make them out of love for you.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Enough

It is enough for me by day
To walk the same bright earth with him;
Enough that over us by night
The same great roof of stars is dim.

I do not hope to bind the wind
Or set a fetter on the sea --
It is enough to feel his love
Blow by like music over me.

― Sara Teasdale


Friday, June 21, 2013

Witness

We were listening to the '60s music station today while working, and an old favorite -- Sam Cooke's Wonderful World -- played.

It reminded us of the scene in the movie Witness, where John is working on his car, aided by Rachel, who holds the lantern for him.  His tinkering in the engine causes the radio to go on, and this song is playing.  They dance, and giggle, and contemplate impossible things.  It's quite touching.  Go watch it, here.

This moment from the film was found here

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Stay

Today's earworm:  Stay, by Rihanna.

Not really sure how to feel about it
Something in the way you move
Makes me feel like I can't live without you
It takes me all the way
I want you to stay

Oh, the reason I hold on
Oh, cause I need this hole gone


She looks so sad in the video. It's haunting.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Breakfast of Champions

One of the very best parts of summer is the abundance of berries.  Our favorites are raspberries and blackberries (despite the plethora of seeds that tend to lodge in one's teeth); we also enjoy blueberries, both in pie and especially atop our circular cereal.  Strawberries are not normally something we consume, but every now and then, when they are chopped up and added to the blueberries in the cereal bowl, they hit the spot just right.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Healed

Just like children, emotions heal when they are heard and validated. ― Jill Bolte Taylor

This is the tile at our local train station. Lovely.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Song of the Gingerbread House

Gretel, o Gretel
You should dry your eye
The wicked old crone
Delights when you cry.

The woods all around,
No escape from here -
Survive by your wits
Swallow all your fear.

Beware the oven
The witch stokes it hot;
Hansel's in his cage
He can help you not.

No fairy-mother,
Nor bold knight to care -
None whisper, 'fret not'
No one strokes your hair.

There is no rescue,
Alone you shall be -
You must save yourself
Godspeed, child, to thee.

Picture copyright 2012, 2013, Mediocria Firma. Used with gratitude.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Bonanza

Within the next two days, there will be many family, extended-family, and family-with-hoi-polloi gatherings, for various purposes and celebrations.  There will be much to-in and fro-ing. There will be cooking, and cleaning, and listening patiently, and gritting of teeth and smiling. We shall return when it is all finished, and will lie in the cool of the shady green leaves of the blog and regain our composure and our peace.

In the meanwhile, know that we are thinking of you, gentle Reader, with love. Always.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Otherwordly

We have found a charming site, which has such lovely words:  Otherwordly.

Today's word:  sillage.  If we close our eyes and concentrate, we can recall a person's sillage.  It soothes us to do so, for in that moment, the person is with us, and all is well. 

This marvelous word can be found here

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Reminiscence

Herself misses taekwondo.

It has been nearly two years since the black belt test.  It seems like an eternity.

She misses the uniform, the belt.  The ritual of bowing, the grace of forms, the smell of a just-bleached mat. The sense of accomplishment when learning something new.  The challenge of pushing herself beyond her physical capabilities. The remarkable fact that she -- always last to be picked for teams in grade school, perpetually uncoordinated, tripping over Nothing -- could manage on occasion to get her body to do exactly the right thing, or could sometimes even demonstrate a proper technique.  The fear-fueled glory of surviving a sparring class or a belt test.  The camaraderie of the adults in the class as they sweat and suffered together.  The feeling of belonging to a group with a common goal and purpose.  The sense of being useful and helpful to the Littles of the classes.

There are also aspects that she does not miss. Many.

Some days, though, t is a cold comfort to focus on the Bad, in order to feel less sorrowful about no longer having the Good. When her bad hip aches after five minutes of lying on her side in bed at night, she is reminded anew of her physical limitations.  Time passes, things change, and people change, and she knows that even without the Bad, she would not be able to find again the Good as it once was.

Alas.

She still has the belt, though, as symbol of her accomplishment. That is hers, always.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Space Bubble

Herself, Beloved Husband and Cherished Friend oftentimes go for an evening constitutional. A bit of exercise, a bit of companionship and conversation, and a bit of fresh air, all rolled into one -- it is always good. Herself is quite fond of these walks.

In these summer months, their usual route is a bit more populated with additional walkers, joggers, and bicyclists, as well as strollers and scooters and surprisingly well-behaved dogs.  Although the path is relatively wide, it is helpful to move over as a courtesy for individuals going in the opposite direction. People are mostly affable and polite. It's a pleasant path.

Towards the end of last night's walk, a quiet jogger approached them from behind.  Sometimes the more speedy individuals call out a helpful, "On your left!" or "Excuse me!" to warn those who may not have heard their footsteps - not this jogger, however. He flew on by Herself, and as he did so, his arm brushed Herself's arm.  He sped onward and quickly disappeared up the path.

Herself's thought:
yuck.

Herself does not like to be touched by strangers, particularly unexpectedly. As we've mentioned before, Herself generally prefers to be the initiator of touch, for then she has control over with whom, and for how long, she is in contact.  She has a fairly large personal space sphere, and only certain people have a standing invitation to step into it.  These are her Safe People -- Beloved Husband, the Offspring, her siblings, Cherished Friend, and a few select extended family members.  Others are not welcome without Herself's specific invitation to do so.

It makes Herself uneasy when convention at a social gathering requires a number of physical interactions, such as hugs or close proximity of multiple people, and she occasionally needs to escape the crowd into a quiet space.  The ladies' room is a good place to recoup for a moment when necessary. If briefly removing herself from the crowd is difficult or socially inappropriate, Herself will resort to counter-touch:  she will sit quite near, or keep a hand upon, one of her Safe Persons.  They fortify her personal space sphere, and she is comforted.

As Offspring the Second's graduation, followed the next day by a family reunion, approaches, Herself already begins to feel a trifle uneasy about all the hubbub and extra people involved.  As long as she has her Safe People nearby, though, she will manage fine.  And then, later, she can go for a walk out in the open air, and all will be well again.

This lovely personal space sphere can be found here
Thank you, Sinbad Design, for the photographs of these lovely Micasa Lab Cocoons. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Rain Reign

This dry desert land desperately needs rain.

As we wait, let us listen to this cover of The Who's Love, Reign O'er Me, by Pearl Jam.  Yes. 


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Banana Split

The past multiple weekends have been extremely busy, as have the recent several weeks.  This weekend was the very first in ages, it seems, for some actual downtime.  Herself was quite relieved not to have anything specific on the schedule.  Last night, she made a simple dinner for the Menfolk.  Afterward, banana splits -- for which there had been a craving -- were artfully constructed and contentedly consumed. It was so pleasant. Unhurried. Such an enjoyable change from the hubbub.

After the sun went down, they adjourned to the back yard.  There was a warm breeze and a few stars appeared despite the haziness of the evening.  Someone nearby was sending paper lanterns up into the sky; the lights would rise, glowing silently, until they flickered and ultimately disappeared.

Beloved Husband and Cherished Friend talked a bit about cars and engines and things; Herself listened, trying to organize new bits of information into the data she has collected during previous discussions about various vehicles.  (She is looking forward to the time when she has gathered sufficient knowledge to actively participate in such conversations.)  As she continued to relax for the first time in days and days and days, though, Herself found herself -- instead of hearing the content of their conversation -- listening to the cadence of their voices.  It was a small murmur back-and-forth, like water over stones in a brook near a campground. Or rather, like the quiet bubbling of a nascent River Lethe, washing away cares for those marvelous moments.   So soothing.

It was good.


Saturday, June 8, 2013

Temporal 1,461

Our recent 1,000th post was a milestone marker, celebrating the journey of steps as shown by the number of entries composed for the blog.  Today, we find another noteworthy moment.  Rather than speaking to volume of posts, however, this landmark speaks to time:  four years ago (1,461 days - including a leap day), the very first post appeared.  I had arrived.

Thank you, my readers, not only for taking each of the steps with me, but also for bearing witness to my evolution over time.  I am glad to be who, where, and when I am; I am doubly glad that you are who, where, and when you are, with me.


Friday, June 7, 2013

Hush, Look

When we long for quiet, we think about walking:  walking in the desert, walking on the mountain. Walking in the cave. Walking, on rare occasion, in the forest.  We think about the creatures we encounter while walking:  in pre-dawn moments at campsites, when javelina trot across the path; on afternoon hills, where deer blend into the foliage; under the trees, where evening birds roost and call to one another.  Squirrels, scampering. Scorpions, scavenging. Giant twilight moths, like hummingbirds, investigating the flowers.

We try so hard not to disturb them.  We watch and hold our breath and listen.  We imagine that if we are peaceful enough, the animals will understand us, and know we are not to be feared.

Do not leave me,
hide in my heart like a secret.

- Rumi

Picture copyright 2012, 2013, Mediocria Firma. Used with gratitude.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

End of Year

Big milestones at the end of this school year:  Offspring the Second graduates from high school in just over a week, and Offspring the Third finishes middle school.  The schedules these last days are complex, with special events, trips hither and yon, end-of-program performances and shows, particular rules regarding backpacks (don't bring them) and textbooks (turn them in pronto or face a hefty fine), and appearing for a requisite hour even if one is exempt from a high-school exam (silly).  The Offspring are facing these changes with a combination of joy, relief, and angst, and with just a hint of anxiety.  It's a tricky time, but they'll get through it.

Herself has enjoyed seeing Offspring the Second and Offspring the Third's accomplishments in their respective art and theater classes, and finds it heartening to see them interact with their peers in their jovial and warm manners.  Those are the bright spots in these days, for Herself does not particularly care for transitions. Her daily routine is interrupted and reorganized almost beyond recognition. It makes it difficult to accomplish things; she feels at odds and ends.  Even cooking a decent meal seems to be nearly beyond her capabilities at the moment. She is looking forward to the looser, more relaxed structure of summertime.

---

Herself remembers one end-of-year season in particular when she was in grade school. She and her family lived up the hill, fewer than a half-dozen houses away from the school building.  She was allowed to walk down to the school and to help her teacher -- she thinks perhaps it was her fourth-grade teacher -- to organize and tidy up after classes were done.  It was blissfully quiet, the empty classroom.

There was no hubbub; there were no classmates whose noise Herself had to tolerate, no peers whom she needed to avoid to keep from being teased.  There were no deadlines, no quizzes.  There was no need to improve her poor penmanship.  There were books and papers and all the accoutrements of elementary learning that Herself loved.  The teacher was kind and spoke in a soft voice, and Herself was able to do what she loves most, even to this day:  be helpful.

Sometimes Herself wishes anew for a quiet day like that.

The elementary school Herself once attended is now a community center.  
She took this picture three years ago when she attended a high-school reunion, and visited her old stomping grounds. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Clown Feet

Ottoman-shaped dog did something odd yesterday.  For about half an hour, it looked as though he were wearing clown shoes on his back feet - he was rocked back on his "heels," and his toe pads were showing because they were pointing more forward than towards the ground.

Weird.

He also had a slight tremor in a back leg, and crouched slightly, rather than lifting his leg, to urinate. But shortly thereafter, he galloped full speed in the yard in order to notify the top of the pool cleaning implement he spied over the wall in the neighbor's house that hovering in the nearby airspace was not welcome.

His clown feet have not reappeared since then. Herself watches him while he is out marking his territory in the back yard.  He looks at her askance, as if to query, "Why are you looking? I need some privacy!"

What to make of it?  It is very difficult not to speculate about every tiny motion, action, symptom.  Because of her technical expertise for work, Herself knows all about things like paraneoplastic syndromes and peripheral neuropathies; she can't help but wonder if he's starting to exhibit signs of something more because of the cancer.  Or perhaps it is because of his diabetes.  Or perhaps, it is just some other mysterious downturn/betrayal of his small furry body.  There is no way to tell, and also, no good way to stop his decline without causing him undue distress. The only thing to do is to let him age with dignity, treat symptoms that cause him pain, and wait patiently.  It could be a brief wait.  It could be a lingering, questioning wait.  We shall see.

Herself is dreading the inevitable medical crisis and/or final decision. She knows worrying about it won't change the day and time of its occurrence; she just hasn't reached the degree of acceptance and serenity about it that she wants to have. She is afraid of seeing Thorbert suffer.  She is afraid of the ottoman-shaped empty space that will reside near the front door after he is gone. Unimaginable. Or, truthfully, far too imaginable.

She puts on her brave face and enjoys having him nearby, slipping little treats of cooked chicken to him on occasion, making sure he is comfortable.  Tiny Dog rests near him.  It's a good dog life, for now.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Fringe

We have been enjoying Fringe.  It has just the right amounts of science and science fiction, good actors with excellent chemistry, decent special effects. It keeps Herself moving on her elliptical trainer -- she only watches it while exercising, and is sufficiently motivated to get to the end of an episode, each time.  It is difficult to find quality television these days, but Fringe clearly fills the bill.

The episode we watched yesterday, Brown Betty, was a stylized, fairy-tale retelling of some of the basics of the plot of the show so far.  It was oddly touching.  And in the midst of the episode, character Olivia Dunham summed everything up, beautifully:

All I want is someone who'll warm me when I'm cold, feed me when I'm hungry, and maybe take me dancing. 



Saturday, June 1, 2013

1,000 Steps

We have traveled far
From the beginning, to this,
Millennial post.

We do not yet know
Where the path leads, or wherefore;
Step by step, we go.

The sojourn abides.
We are glad for the journey
And your company.

All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.  - Martin Buber