Friday, February 28, 2014

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


We're re-reading some books from our youth:  the Tripod series.

The series is marketed as four books:  the first is a prequel, and then the remaining three form a trilogy.  The prequel (When The Tripods Came) was apparently written twenty years after the trilogy.  In my opinion, it lacks the pace, solid voice, and excitement of the trilogy.  There's nothing in the prequel that is necessary for enjoyment of the trilogy.  I'd recommend skipping it, and reading the trilogy by itself.

The trilogy -- The White Mountains, The City of Gold and Lead, and The Pool of Fire -- is a great series.  The target audience is grade school/young teen boys; it's likely Herself borrowed the books from her brother back in days of yore. The general plot points of fending for oneself and being strong in the face of adversity always resonated with Herself, and her most-often-reread books (including these) typically followed those themes.

We're working our way through the last book in the trilogy now.  Our favorite was the middle book.  Would we survive in the city of gold and lead? Would you?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


I suspect that the most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention. Especially if it's given from the heart. – Rachel Naomi Remen

Monday, February 24, 2014

Whither? Ether.

Herself saves a variety of photographs on her smartphone.  She keeps recent pictures, but also maintains a set of some of her older favorite pictures as well -- of loved ones and pets -- for viewing whenever needs require.  Occasionally we find inspiration for a post within the pictures; devoid of a particular subject for today, we opened the phone to peruse the contents of the gallery to see what might be useful.

Except most of the pictures were missing.

Oh, dear.  We have absolutely no idea how that happened.  A glitch in the works somehow. Most of the pictures are backed up on the computer, but not all of them were. They've disappeared into the ether, it appears.

Technology.  It often escapes us.

We'll be spending a bit of time today backing up the things that are still present (and backing up the computer, too, for good measure).  Then we'll have to put our favorite pictures back on to the phone -- assuming we can locate them.

For today, here's one that was mercifully backed up onto the computer:  Tiny Dog displaying her disdain for clothing.  It's a picture that always makes us smile, and so the picture must be handy on the smartphone, just in case a smile is needed.

If you smile when you are alone, then you really mean it. ― Andy Rooney

Sunday, February 23, 2014

New Recipe

I would post a picture of the "Dublin Cobbler" that we prepared yesterday evening, using a recipe from the new The Complete Irish Pub Cookbook, but there is none left.  It was delicious.  

Attempting a new recipe always gladdens my heart. 

Cooking is at once child's play and adult joy. And cooking done with care is an act of love. 
― Craig Claiborne

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Carmina Burana

Beloved Husband and Herself were given a pair of tickets to the local symphony, which -- together with local choir and opera groups -- was performing Carmina Burana.  It was a complex sensory experience - there were crowds and crowds of people in the audience (including a young man seated in front of them who was sporting far too much cologne), and over two hundred and fifty performers including the musicians and choir members on stage.  A lot to see, too much to smell, and the proximity of many, many strangers.

But:  the music.  Ah, the music.

O fortuna!

AndrĂ© Rieu conducting. Just marvelous. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Take What You Need

I came across the below photo while perusing the interwebs today.  (It was found in Buzzfeed, in "12 Unexpected Ways To Make Someone's Day".)  I love this, for reasons I can't quite articulate.

What word was on the strip the fourth from the right?
Who took it?
Which one would you take?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Things to Read: By the River

While picking up a book at the bookstore today, I perused the selection of Paulo Coelho's novels. They did not have By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept; I think, though, that I shall ask them to find it for me.  There is something about the quotations from that work that I find compelling.  Perhaps I should consider The Alchemist -- his most well-known work -- also.  We shall see. 

But love is always new. Regardless of whether we love once, twice, or a dozen times in our life, we always face a brand-new situation. Love can consign us to hell or to paradise, but it always takes us somewhere. We simply have to accept it, because it is what nourishes our existence. If we reject it, we die of hunger, because we lack the courage to stretch out a hand and pluck the fruit from the branches of the tree of life. We have to take love where we find it, even if that means hours, days, weeks of disappointment and sadness.

The moment we begin to seek love, love begins to seek us. And to save us

― Paulo Coelho, By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Whither Spring?

The desert waits for the caress of rain, as skin waits for the touch of fingertips. 

I miss your touch
all taciturn
like the slow migration of birds
nesting momentarily
upon my breast
then lifting
silver and quick--
sabotaging the landscape
with their absence
my skin silent without
their song
a thirsty pool of patient flesh
- Jewel

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

No One

For all aching hearts.

No one will tell me
That I am found beautiful
And loved and cherished

No one reminds me
That I am smart enough or
Good or kind enough.

No one is soothing
When I am lonely or scared
Or seething with rage

No one consoling,
In front of whom I can weep
Without fear or shame

No one forgives me
No one whispers, "try again"
No one says, "be brave"

I turn to no one
I pray and hope for no one
And I love no one

Yet I am complete,
The world at my fingertips - 
For I am No One.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Soledad Canyon

The weather yesterday was just right for being outside, and so Herself, Beloved Husband, and Offspring the Third visited Soledad Canyon.  It was an easy trip, just a bit over an hour's drive away, with decent trails that were not too strenuous. The trails covered typical desert terrain.  It was a quiet environment that was clearly enjoyed both by wildlife and humans: the trails were sprinkled with deer scat as well as the occasional desiccated pile of horse manure.  There were other hikers, but it was not crowded.  All in all, a pleasant place.  And it was Tiny Dog's first hiking adventure.

Although Herself does not usually use pink things, she outfitted Tiny Dog with a pink harness and leash -- if Tiny Dog were to become lost, she would be most easily spotted wearing such a bright color against the dull desert terrain.  Tiny Dog does not at all enjoy wearing a collar or harness, and she was a bit anxious when equipped.  Nevertheless, once they were on the trail, Tiny Dog found her equanimity.  She marched onward with purpose and interest, climbing over rocks that were rather large compared to her wee little legs.  Ears up, tail up, sniffing the breeze.

She did remarkably well indeed.  Only towards the very end of the trail did she need to be carried, when she developed a small bleeding cut on one foot.  Even then she did not cry, but merely held that one foot up in the air and attempted to keep going.  Brave Tiny Dog.

Afterwards, she had a snack, she had a drink, and then she slept, exhausted, for the late afternoon and evening.

Good girl, Tiny Dog.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Nose Prints

Now that the days are becoming longer, the sun slants into the house at different angles.  When it streams through the front door, we can see any markings on the glass:  finger prints, streaks, stains.

Nose prints.

Both ottoman-shaped dog and ancient decrepit dog would regularly leave smudges as they gazed out into the street, surveying their domain. The nose prints were a sign of their presence -- their attentive, protective activity as part of our familial pack.  Like errant socks on the family room floor or a semi-squashed tube of toothpaste on the counter, the nose prints were indicative of the mundane daily activity of the household.  Sniff, smudge. Bark bark bark. We are here.

It's been nearly six months since ottoman-shaped dog crossed the bridge, and a mere six weeks since aged dog joined him.  It seems like yesterday, and forever, since they have been here. I still feel a strange roominess in the blankets when I stretch out in bed at night; Thorbert would squash everything down near my feet with his weight, and it is odd not to feel the usual resistance in the blankets as I try to find room for my legs.  I still look at the chaise lounge at the foot of the bed if I get up in the middle of the night or when I get up in the morning, expecting to find Daisy resting there with all her feet sticking up. It's still a surprise sometimes to find their usual resting places empty -- I forget they are no longer here, and am reminded only by their obvious absence.

My heart has vacancies where Thorbert and Daisy once resided, spaces that are uniquely shaped to them. I am still learning how to work around these holes that are part of the terrain now. I miss their comforting presence when I am sad or angry or lonely. I wish I could run my hands across their warm furriness. The vacuum cleaner is probably relieved not to have to tackle so much shed fur, though.

I miss them.

I have washed the nose prints off of the front door.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Beyond Eutony

Eutony (n.) the pleasantness of a word's sound

We spent some time this morning wandering through the archives of There are so many magnificent words -- we were going to pick a single word and use it as a starting point for this post, but it was tremendously difficult to select just one. We bookmarked a half-dozen or more (sturmfrei, cicatrize, latibule, and caim, among others) with the thought that we would begin a word-of-the-week (or just word-of-the-moment) feature herein.  Our favorites are those that are used to express a complex emotion/situation, such as sillage, which we have mentioned previously. Miraculous, that so much can be captured in a few syllables.

Word of the moment, in honor of sleeping a bit longer on a Saturday:

dormiveglia (n.) the space that stretches between sleeping and awaking

Behold, the ancient and wise guinea pig, 
who slumbers in his pile of hay.
It's much like sleeping in a pile of corn flakes:  SNACKS. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Best Kind of Humor

Science humor.

To wit, with regard to the below cartoon: life's rough sometimes.

(Get it? Get it!??)

This cartoon can be found various places on the interwebs, including here at sciencejokesdaily. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014


I did a Google image search to try to identify the source of the following picture, and the results said:

"Best guess for this image:  osaka gas."


Aha! Picture found here:

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Starfish Story

I can't remember the first time I heard this story.  If memory serves properly, it may have even been told by one of the speakers at my college graduation. If I were cynical, it would strike me as a corny, heavy-handed fable/allegory; however, I choose to see it as a tale of pure truth.  Every now and then, we see that we are the starfish, and we are grateful for a person who acts as the young man.  Rarer still -- when we are truly fortunate -- we realize that we may be the young man to another's starfish.

I found this particular retelling in Goodreads, quoting Loren Eiseley.  

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"

The young man paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean."

"I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said,

"It made a difference for that one.”

Photograph by David Doubilet.
Found at National Geographic, here

Monday, February 10, 2014

Things That Make Our Brains Happy

Offspring the Third has a science class assignment - create a three-dimensional haplotype depicting a chromosomal abnormality, and answer various questions regarding the haplotype and the effects of the abnormality.


Herself always finds science enjoyable.  Science is good in any form, and cellular/molecular biological is especially pleasing. To read again about chromosomes; to point out the relevant parts of the books and the internet pages, and watch while Offspring the Third studies and learns; to demonstrate a way to make chromosomes out of pipe cleaners, and see Offspring the Third work so hard to make certain he had the bits and pieces lined up properly; to read all about deletions, insertions, mutations, genes and chromosomes and the intricate machinery of the human body -- excellent, all.

Times like these, Herself misses school.  She did well in school; tasks were defined, learning was always good.  Perhaps someday far from now, she'll be able to be a student again, just for fun.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Moon Pie

Herself speaks.

So difficult, staying on the "eat right and exercise diligently" wagon.  Here I go, trying again.  

My goal is not necessarily weight loss -- though shedding a few pounds would make my jeans more comfortable, as well as make the purchasing of brassieres less fraught.  (And if truth be told, I would be happier with my body more if it were a wee bit thinner.)  Rather, my aim is, nebulously, to do better.  For starters, I'll work harder at declining foods that I know contribute to headache/migraine; much as I love -- and feel on occasion that I feel I *need* -- chocolate, it is not helping me, for it promptly yields a headache and when I have a headache I am much more inclined to inhale every available carbohydrate.  

Eat better, feel better, eat better.  Circular. 

To this end, I'm going to keep better record of what I eat.  Not in an obsessive every-calorie-counting way, but in a portion-size and variety-conscious manner - a Richard Simmons' Food Mover way. (I do in fact have a Food Mover. I purchased it twenty or so years ago and bring it out periodically when I feel I'm spiraling into bad habits, as I feel I am now. I have dusted the Food Mover off once more.) 

What is a Food Mover, you may ask?  Essentially, it's a wallet-sized plastic booklet with little windows that can be opened and shut; a card, selected for approximately calorie goals, is inserted into the booklet. The card has pictures for a variety of foods - starches, fruits, proteins, vegetables, fats, dairy, and even extras - that show through the windows.  Consume a portion of a particular food and close the appropriate windows.  There are booklets to indicate serving sizes -- how much is a window's worth? -- as well as to describe which windows should be closed for representative restaurant items.  Easy peasy. 

Normally I would scold myself for an inability to use self-control and just eat normally and in moderation, without a crutch to remind me how to eat.  Ridiculous, to resort to a pop-culture piece of dieting equipment.  Embarrassing. Silly.  

You know what, though?  Chastising myself isn't helping. It only makes me want to give up and reach for a chocolate bar.  So this time, I'll just be kind to myself. I'll think of it this way:  I write "to do" lists and put reminders in the calendar; surely it's not much different to have a food "to do" list and keep food reminders as well.  If it helps me to normalize my relationship with food, it is a good thing. 

I have a (strong) tendency to be an emotional eater -- feeding feelings, rather than hunger -- so perhaps the routine of keeping track will help me to start looking at food as serving the purpose of fuel, rather than comfort. I shall need find something else to do when I am tempted to turn to food unnecessarily.  Perhaps I will play the piano a bit more. Or attempt a Sudoku or a crossword puzzle. Or work on writing my book.  Productivity will feed the soul, too.  

We shall see how it goes. Wish me luck.  

I want to lose weight by eating nothing but moon pies, which have significantly less gravity than earthier foods such as fruits and vegetables. ― Jarod Kintz, I Want

Friday, February 7, 2014

Gifts for You

Our humanity comes to its fullest bloom in giving. We become beautiful people when we give whatever we can give: a smile, a handshake, a kiss, an embrace, a word of love, a present, a part of our life...all of our life. ― Henri J.M. Nouwen, Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World

Thursday, February 6, 2014


Tiny Dog does indeed enjoy the warmth of a person.

Wouldn't it be marvelous if I could wriggle into someone else's jacket and snooze there, too? Yes. Yes, it would.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Death Letters

Herself's family members have a tendency to try to plan for every possibility:  life insurance, wills, and related documents are all meticulously put into place.  Her Father in particular is very organized; periodically (and especially before any overseas travel or medical procedures), he double-checks all his paperwork and then revises and re-sends a letter containing all the current relevant information to Herself and her siblings.  They all affectionately refer to the document as "The Death Letter."  It's a bit like having an umbrella -- if one carries an umbrella, it seems that it's less likely to rain, and if it does rain, one doesn't get as wet.  Similarly, if one attends to all ones bits and pieces, it seems that it's less likely that one will need to use one's will and related documentation, and even if one does (or rather, one's heirs do), it'll be easier on everyone involved.

It's the time of year when everyone is assessing their respective Death Letters, including Herself.  She's gotten all the paperwork organized, and all that remains is to review and revise the personal letters she has written to be distributed in the event of her demise.  Always sobering, to contemplate one's own mortality. What statement does one leave for one's loved ones, for them to wrap around whatever memories they choose to keep?

Hopefully, the letters will be unnecessary for a long time.  And in the unlikely event that they are, Herself hopes that the paltry words she finds will be enough to let the people of her heart know how much they have meant to her.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Brotherly Backbone

This morning, Herself's brother had surgery to address a spinal issue.  Word is that the surgery went fine, that he is in recovery, and will be seen by other family members soon.  We hope that the procedure will bring him relief, lessen his pain, and improve his quality of life.

Earlier, Herself's Father sent a photograph from pre-op -- Brother's familiar face smiling above the standard-issue hospital gown, the IV already in place.  He was holding hands with Dee, a former college girlfriend turned into lifelong friend, who has been a rock of fortitude for him.  We were so very glad to see Dee there with him. Having a hand to hold pre-op is absolutely essential, Herself thinks.

Herself looks at the picture, and is just a tiny bit heartsick. She remembers the last time she saw Brother in a hospital gown:  it was three decades ago (or more) when Brother had his appendix removed. The years have gone by in the blink of an eye, and she regrets not making efforts to be a better and more communicative sister after they grew up and went their separate ways.  Perhaps this is a reminder that she needs to try harder, starting now.  That's what she'll do.

One time when they were very young, the family dog tangled with a porcupine while they were all at the primitive summer farmhouse for a weekend.  Brother took charge of the siblings:  he inspected the medicine cabinet, selected what he believed to be appropriate bandages and other supplies, and handed the items to Herself and their younger sister.  He then led them, a worried band of tiny children, down to where their parents were removing the spines from the dog's muzzle. He was reassuring and helpful -- a caretaker even then. That is how he was, and is, and always will be. He's a kindhearted soul.

The summer farmhouse is long gone, as is the family dog (who, back then, made a complete recovery from the encounter with the porcupine and went on to bark down woodchuck holes for years and years afterwards).  Brother lives several states away now.  He is never far from Herself's heart, though.

Heal well and quickly, Brother Mine.

Technique is Immaterial

The following conversation transpired yesterday evening in the kitchen.

Herself (turning on music and dancing a wee bit while doing chores): Remember, one thing that a lot of the ladies really like is when a guy is willing to dance.
Offspring the Third:  Willing to dance badly?
Herself:  Technique isn't important - it's the willingness to dance that's important.
Offspring the Third:  [dances out of room].

They were listening to Bruce Springsteen, Hungry Heart. Enjoy.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Show Me

Today's earworm:  Brave, by Sara Bareilles.

Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way that words do
When they settle ‘neath your skin
Kept on the inside and no sunlight
Sometimes a shadow wins
But I wonder what would happen if you

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave
With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave...

Show me how big your brave is. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014


I think that perhaps, the same is applicable to people who have broken, and have mended.