Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Couldn't Make It Up If I Tried

And, in the "Myths and Legends of our Time" category, we have the following e-mail message from a school teacher (relevant names and class redacted for protection of the involved parties):

I am [CHILD's] [SUBJECT] teacher. I would like to share a concern with you over something that I observed today. [CHILD] was observed crushing smarties into powder. Of course it is not illegal to crush candy; however, there is a growing trend of snorting smarties. [CHILD] tried to hide the candy from me immediately when I walked up. I threw it away. Students are not allowed to eat or drink in the classroom. I am concern that [CHILD] may have intended to snort the candy. This practice can be detrimental to [CHILD'S] health. I have listed a few links to supply you more detail about the topic. Please visit with [CHILD] about this topic."

Now, color me naive, perhaps, but my first thought upon observing a child crushing Smarties, would not be "SNORTING CRUSHED CANDY NASAL MAGGOTS SURE TO FOLLOW," but rather, would be something along the lines of "that'll make a mess, and will probably be sticky, and holy cow students don't make a sticky mess in the classroom."  If I were a particularly astute teacher, my second thought would probably be something such as "those sure are crushable and children who enjoy textures and sensations -- and minor destruction, as many young boys do -- probably enjoy it.  But it's still messy, and holy cow student's don't make a sticky mess in the classroom."

Along similar lines, if I saw a child hiding the evidence of a crushed Smartie, I would most likely think something along the lines of "child knows that's messy and that messes shouldn't be made in the classroom so is trying to hide mess-making," or possibly, "child knows it's against the rules to eat or drink in the classroom, so that's most likely why child is trying to hide the squashed Smartie."

And in addition, I might also think:  "While there are apparently news articles from seemingly legitimate sources about an alleged increase in Smartie-snorting, such snorting seems inherently unpleasant and it's really unlikely that students are actually doing so in droves."  Or finally, perhaps:  "I should check Snopes."

It's really very difficult to take this kind of message seriously.  But we must, somehow, in the extremely unlikely event that a child might have heard something obscure about snorting Smarties and decided to do something dumb like irritate their nasal passages with a bit of sugar and food coloring.

Or perhaps we should just remind children not to have any food or drink in the classroom.

This lovely image was found in an article discussing the snorting of Smarties, here

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Things That Are Awesome, Tiny Pug Edition

Herself, like many denizens of the internet, is a bit enamored of pugs.  Imagine her delight at discovering an Etsy shop -- "owlhaveyouinstitches" -- that offers, among many other things, tiny felt pugs in match box beds.

So cute!

Another's Poetry

I don't often read poetry.  Yet when I came across this particular poem, I found it to be particularly apt.

The days
were long when
she was

too much noise
for a heart that thrived
inside the stillness
of a softer light,
the filtered
lens of
dawn and dusk

a child that
longed for
the deckled edges
of a gentler
the subtler notes of
poetry and
the faded colors of
handled often
and so well-loved --
fabric frayed and
tears stained
with hope and sorrow,

she searched for
where the gold
of lamplight
reached -- yet
enough for
Dickens and
Austen and

she sought the
strains of
DeBussy and
leaned into the the
notes --
minor chords
that gave her space to
fat, hot
tears that
would not come in the
bright company
a DJ's
choice --
the top ten
heard on
a summer's day
by the

she found her
home in
snow falling on
still waters
a place
geese rose and
tiptoed through
the pinions
as tenderly as
first notes
an adagio

sweet --

her breath

for this
was what she'd

and she
curled herself
into that
moment of

and the


― Kate Mullane Robertson

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Downfall of Civilization

Behold, a brand of sneakers in the store yesterday.
Note the message inside the high-top.

I'm apoplectically speechless.

Just NO.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Frog Prince

While cleaning out the garage during a lull in the garage sale, we came across Herself's old album, The Frog Prince.  Delightful!  When she was a child, she listened to it on the brightly colored plastic-shelled record player in the playroom.  She'd listen to the voices and hum along with the songs while looking at the photos inside the album cover (which opened like a two-page book).  It was one of her favorite pastimes. It was only years later that she realized the photos were actually stills from a television special by Jim Henson and his muppets.  She's never seen the show.

One time, she was listening to the album when one of her mother's friends, who was visiting, came through the playroom.  She looked at the photos with Herself, and confided that she thought the Prince was better looking when he was a frog.  Indeed, he was.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Garage Sale

We are attempting to divest ourselves of some Stuff. We shall see how it goes.

Friday, April 25, 2014


Herself speaks.

I can no longer
Define myself by my job,
My Offspring, my looks.

Question: who am I?
A round, middle-aged woman
Searching for meaning.

Not sure what comes next
Not at all sure where to look
Not sure what I'll find

Step by step, I go
Hoping the path becomes clear -
Join me, on my way?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Time To Think About Writing Poetry Again

And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.
― Pablo Neruda

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Self Sniff

Herself speaks of a mundane thing. 

For the past couple of days, I've used a slightly different hair care product from my regular one.  It has a mild and pleasant aroma; nevertheless, it is not a smell to which I'm accustomed.  Periodically when the breeze blows or I bend over and my ponytail moves past my face, I catch a whiff.  I don't smell quite like me, I think.

I know each person has his or her own scent.  I wonder what I smell like to other people - do I smell like me, as I sense me?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


After a couple of very busy days of meeting relatives and barking at everyone and everything this weekend, Tiny Dog was exhausted.  In the evening, after shrilly warning passers-by that they were interfering with her personal airspace surrounding the house, she suddenly dove off of the back of the couch and wedged herself between the cushion and Herself. She sighed once and then promptly fell asleep.

Imagine the comfort of tucking oneself into a warm spot next to one's Safe Person for a much-needed nap.

It's a Good Life for a Tiny Dog.  Or for anyone, really.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

A Day Like Any Other

Once upon a time, Easter was very close to Herself's heart.

Spring and new blossoms
The warm breeze and the fresh earth
Hope and forgiveness
Miracles, wonder and love

She found joy and comfort in the moments of togetherness with her family, and in the messages of the holiday services -- she was reminded of the Good in the world, of the mysteries and the infinite potential of the human spirit, and of the search for what is beyond the ordinary.  She remembered the Love that is present in the here and the now, for which one need only look to find.  It was a renewal of the perpetual quest for the Holy. It was enlivening. Enriching. Beautiful.


Time has passed, and now even on Easter Sunday, many are occupied with necessary, ordinary events. The family gathering of the day before has dissolved into naught but the photographs and the errant pieces of confetti that remained behind. Easter baskets have quietly disappeared into bedrooms. Family members have dispersed to their own occupations, and Herself is left to her own devices to derive meaning from the holiday.

It is hard.

She supposes, though, that the Quest for the Holy is always a solitary experience.

She'll keep looking.


We celebrated a niece's birthday, in addition to Easter, yesterday; and so, there was a piƱata along with the traditional egg hunt.  Even Herself took a swing at it. At first, she cringed just a bit at the resulting picture, for it's not particularly flattering.  She realized, though, that this photo will always remind her that this lovely group of people -- her in-laws -- have folded her into their family and brought her moments of happiness.  That makes it a good picture, indeed.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Seven Last Words

My history with organized religion is relatively uninteresting; there are a few things in which I have faith, and many things I do not believe or understand. I'm evolving. And although I do not adhere rigorously to any particular text or ritual or church or philosophy, today -- Good Friday -- I do like to take a little bit of time to contemplate the larger meanings of Life and Death. Or Death and Life, as it were.

I went looking for historical information on the last words of Jesus, since I had contradictory information in my head:  was it "it is finished," or "into Your hands I commend my spirit," or some other statement I'd heard during Easter celebrations of years past?  As with all descriptions of historical events, much depends on your source. Interestingly, I found the recitation of the seven last 'words' (statements, really) of Jesus Christ collected into a single document for reflection.  I present them for you in the order in which they appear in the timeline of the crucifixion, as reflected in the various gospels:

“Father, forgive them , for they know not what they do.” Luke 23: 34

“Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise.” Luke 23: 43

“Woman, behold thy son.... Behold thy mother.” John 19: 26-27

“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Matt 27:46

“I thirst.” John 19:28

“It is finished.” John 19:30

“Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit. ” Luke 23:46

I thought about parsing each of them individually. Perhaps that is a good theme for a series of posts; I shall need time to contemplate them in turn. I will say that of the seven, I find that the most difficult one is the fourth.  It rolls so many emotions into a single cry:  doubt, fear, loneliness, despair.  This pain of abandonment is an anguish within every human soul that each of us, at one point or another, experiences.

Eloi, Eloi, lama sabacthani?

It rends the heart.  

Yet at the end He understood that He was not forsaken, for He delivered His spirit into God's hands. 

And so, on this Good Friday, my prayer is this:  that at the end (whenever and however our individual ends arrive), we will each understand that -- despite our fallibilities and our doubts, our mistakes and our fears -- we have never been forsaken, and we will be taken up by tender and loving hands.


Thursday, April 17, 2014


Being vulnerable means being open, for wounding, but also for pleasure. Being open to the wounds of life means also being open to the bounty and beauty. Don’t mask or deny your vulnerability: it is your greatest asset. Be vulnerable: quake and shake in your boots with it. The new goodness that is coming to you, in the form of people, situations, and things can only come to you when you are vulnerable, i.e., open. ― Stephen Russell

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Scratch and Sniff

The yellow bush in the front yard is fragrantly laden with blossoms, and the rosebush in the back yard is also blooming beautifully.  Herself is especially pleased about the roses; they have a delicate scent that, rather than evoking the rosewater-old-lady-perfume that one finds so frequently in other roses, is instead reminiscent of a light and delicious confection.  How we wish we could post the marvelous gentle fragrance for you. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Wearing The Pants

One morning last week, Herself's phone rang.  As the number was unfamiliar, she allowed the call to go to voicemail.  The recording was from a representative of the bank at which Herself and Beloved Husband have a joint account.  The message asked Husband to give him a call to see whether he might be interested in certain banking products.

Herself returned the call, introduced herself to the representative, and explained that she is in charge of banking, bill paying, and related tasks, so that it would be most helpful if he spoke with her directly rather than to Husband regarding such matters. The representative invited Herself to find a time to stop by the bank to meet in person. She said she would do so.

Several days later, there was a letter from the bank in the mailbox.  Herself is also in charge of sorting and handling the mail; since she and Beloved Husband use this particular bank solely for their joint account (his business accounts are at different banking institutions), she opened this letter.  It was from the same representative, introducing himself to Husband, and inviting Husband to contact him at his convenience and arrange a meeting.

Herself was mildly annoyed.

If the representative truly wanted to "look for ways [bank] can help you today and in the future through our wide range of innovative products and services," as the letter stated, one would think that contacting the individual who actively indicated that she is in charge of banking tasks would be the proper course of action.  Even if it were a generic form letter, in Herself's opinion, the letter should be addressed to both individuals on a joint account. Why was it not? Was it carelessness? Inattention to detail? Or something else?

As we've discussed before, Herself grew up in the context of Girl Power, when "girls can do anything boys can do" was a heavily-promoted mantra. Thus, it still surprises her when she sees what appears to be shades of traditional gender role-based assumptions. Perhaps in this community, men are primarily in charge of banking matters. (That's solely speculation -- and probably unlikely.)  And even if that were the case, given her action to identify herself as the responsible individual, Herself finds it improper and rather a bit irritating to have the bank and its representative overlook/ignore her stated role. Bad job, bank. Do better. 


Is it contradictory that Herself nevertheless also manages family tasks that are traditionally within women's domains? The household here generally adheres to a division of labor along traditional gender lines. Herself takes care of laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, pet care and such. The male Offspring and Beloved Husband tend to home repairs and yard work and such. Everyone seems satisfied with this arrangement.

Upon reflection, perhaps it's not really a question of gender-based division of chores.  Rather, it's more a matter of who has the best skills for certain tasks.

Herself can remove a stain and is aware of what temperature water, as well as dryer setting, will work best for certain fabrics and colors. She knows which cleaning fluid is needed for which type of flooring. She can polish silver.  She knows which foods are necessary for which recipes; she understands the diet and occasional medical needs of each pet (and person).  And she's happy to take care of these things; it's in her nature to try to care for the people and creatures of the household by providing good meals and a clean and comfortable environment.

On the other hand, she is not as well versed in lawnmower maintenance or the inner workings of a garbage disposal. It's always a relief when someone who understands such things better can take charge of them. Certain tasks Herself actively dislikes -- such as figuring out computer-related issues or taking the car to the mechanic -- are tasks that she would prefer not to handle because she feels she has insufficient knowledge to do so.  She cannot speak the language of RAM and processors and hard drives, nor of transmissions or brakes.  And when she becomes resentful at having to tackle such a job, it is because the task is out of her realm of expertise. She feels inadequate. She doesn't know what to do. Ugh.

She cannot be annoyed that someone else in the household isn't taking charge of these tricky projects. They are all busier with school and work than she is at the moment; she is best suited to spend the time to set up the home network or take the van for an oil change.  Furthermore, they may not have any additional information (particularly, for example, in relation to computer issues), and she may in fact be the best hope for researching and identifying sources of problems and potential solutions.

Still, sometimes she feels like a small child with a knot in her shoelaces.  She wishes a responsible adult would come along and kindly untangle the knot and tie her shoes. HELP ME. She knows, though: she IS the responsible adult.  She needs to tackle her own laces.

So she does. She might secretly shed a frustrated tear or two while undoing the knots. But that's OK.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Loafing Around

I tried a new potato bread recipe the other day.  It was a satisfying project - mixing, kneading, baking.  I think that because of the volume of the dough and it's moisture level, though, that I will in the future divide the dough and make two smaller loaves rather than one big one.  That will ensure that the middle of the loaf rises properly and isn't excessively moist.  It was pretty tasty, all things considered. Hooray for bread!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Occupying Time on the Interwebs

One of the mildly amusing time-spenders we encounter so often online:  the quiz.  "How extreme is your devotion to pizza?"  "Who Said What: The Pope vs. Lord Voldemort."  "How Many Justin Biebers Could You Take In a Fight?" "What Kind of Pocket Are You?" The possibilities are endless. They are silly, they are nonsensical, and every now and then, they are just a touch serious. 

In honor of Palm Sunday today, Herself took the Buzzfeed quiz titled, "Which Biblical Heroine Are You?

Her results:

Mary, Mother of Jesus

Unfailingly kind and gentle, most people don’t realize your vast inner strength at first. You’re calm and sensible even in the most difficult times and your family and friends rely on you for your support. You’re always there to nudge people in the right direction and offer unconditional love during tough times. You find joy in life’s simple pleasures and the company of loved ones and you can light up a room just by walking into it. Quiet and caring, you make everyone you meet want to be a better person.

That's exactly the kind of person she aspires to be.

This Mother Mary was found all over the internet, 
I'd love to give credit where credit is due, so please do let me know if you know who the artist is. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014


There is a candle in your heart, ready to be kindled.
There is a void in your soul, ready to be filled.
You feel it, don't you?

― Rumi

Friday, April 11, 2014

Prophylactic Pitching

Note: there will be idle discussion of condoms today.  You have been warned!
Herself speaks.

Springtime!  The plants, they are a-blooming; and as lovely as they are, they bring with them the onus of seasonal pollinosis.  And so, I went to our local pharmacy today to pick up a refill of a prescription for allergy medicine for Beloved Husband.  The packaging of the medication was slightly different this time compared to that of the previous refill, and so I inspected it carefully before leaving the store.  It's a good thing I did; they had provided the incorrect medication -- solely the antihistamine, rather than the antihistamine-decongestant combination.  I brought this to the attention of the workers in the pharmacy, and after much staring at the box, pointing at the shelf where the correct medication (if it had been in stock) would have been located, and corralling of additional pharmacy workers to do the same, it was determined that they could fill the prescription properly with a name-brand drug in lieu of the generic version. I was asked to wait while they did so.  Or rather, I indicated I would wait, as I was disinclined to leave it to the vagaries of "it'll be ready later and you can come back for it," since I'd already waited in line twice for this prescription.

What to do to occupy my time while they resolved the issue?  I meandered the aisles, and then decided to peruse the prophylactics. Certainly more interesting than the confusing array of makeup, or the holiday aisle with bags of fake grass and plastic eggs.

For your benefit, gentle readers, I took pictures of the products.  Behold the array of options, each followed by my commentary.  Enjoy.

Let's start with good advertising: "Get closer!"  That sounds like a very pleasant goal.  This is one of what appears to be a plethora of non-latex condoms that are available.  Given the emerging prevalence of latex allergies, that's a very good idea.  Not to mention: Latex clothing = rather interesting; yet latex condom = somewhat less so, particularly because it is reminiscent of a balloon or dishwashing glove. Finally, a question: "America's Thinnest!"  Does that mean that condoms in other countries may be thinner?  Do people purposefully seek out imported condoms for even greater thinness? I wonder. 

ec·sta·sy [ek-stuh-see]
noun, plural ec·sta·sies.

1. rapturous delight.
2. an overpowering emotion or exaltation; a state of sudden, intense feeling.
3. the frenzy of poetic inspiration.
4. mental transport or rapture from the contemplation of divine things.

Well, that seems like quite a lot of pressure on these condoms (not to mention the users) to deliver Ecstasy.  Double Ecstasy, even. The more times I type the word "ecstasy," the less it looks like a real word.  It's one thing to advertise pleasure; to imply the possibility of rapturous delight is a bit much, though. Also, the byline:  "Feels like nothing's there" seems... wrong. While I understand that this is intended to indicate that one might not notice the presence of the condom, it's a terrible advertising slogan -- it could also imply an absence of other kinds of things (such as an absence of the promised ecstasy). I think I'd really like to be sure that I feel like something is there. Perhaps I'm overthinking. Hmm.

Assorted temptations. Temptations? Oh, dear.  First, "warmer" - warming on contact.  How warm is warm?  I don't think a temperature much more than lukewarm would be particularly desirable for one's genitals.  And then "tingling" - I'm not at all certain that tingling would be comfortable for one's private bits. The box thoughtfully provides "soothing" next, presumably to recover from all the warming and the tingling.  And then dessert - two different fruity varieties! Oh, my.  

FIRE? ICE? I feel an urge to cross my legs protectively. Oh, just more "warming" and "tingling."  I'm still a bit doubtful about those.

And again:  "warms and excites."  What's with all the warming?  This one wins a prize for the least subtle slogan:  "orgasmic pleasure."  Well, yes, isn't that part of the plan when using condoms?  One can hope. Yet why must everything be all extreme -- "intensified" and "charged" and all that?  I suppose there's not much advertising power in a slogan that would promise solely some sort of quiet, satisfactory intimacy.  Even though that might be, on occasion, exactly what one would like.

And now, for something completely different:

The Today Sponge.  I remember the sponge being groundbreaking for a variety of reasons; it's heyday was around the time that I was in college. I remember vividly when it was withdrawn from the market, and I'm glad to see it back.  After all the warming and tingling of the condoms, the sponge seems like a comfortable pillow.  Ah, yes. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Unnecessary Instructions

Why is this sign posted in the ladies' room of an office building?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Forgiveness and Hope

This morning whilst perusing the internet, I stumbled upon a quote regarding forgiveness.  The origin of the saying is a bit uncertain -- some sources attribute it to Oprah Winfrey herself, and others indicate it began with a guest on Oprah's show nearly a quarter of a century ago.  Regardless, it is understandable that the germ of such a concept could survive over twenty years and still ring true, and stronger than ever, not only for Oprah but for others as well.  Behold:  
Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different.

Imagine that. 

Usually I think of "giving up hope" as a negative event.  Hope is a magnificent creature:  it give us the courage to try, the fortitude to try again, the impetus to keep moving even when we doubt and fear and worry.  We cannot give up hope, I reflexively counter. 

Upon reflection, though, I see that forgiveness is not giving up all hope.  Rather, it is giving up the hope -- the unfulfilled wish, the impossible want -- that we can somehow change what has happened. We cannot. 

Time is linear. The past is immutable. We can only move forward.  

The challenge, therefore, is to put down my desire for What Was Not, for the past will never be anything other than  exactly what it was, and to carry only the lessons I have learned into the future with me. Imagine the weight I could leave behind if I learned to do so.

And I can move forward with hope, always.

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.

― Emily Dickinson

Photograph copyright 2012, 2014, Mediocria Firma. Used with gratitude.

Monday, April 7, 2014


Herself was in the store the other day, and spotted a round pink bunny in the Easter-related aisle.  "How cute," she thought.  "Tiny dog would like it."  And Tiny Dog does, gratifyingly, cart it around by the ears and play with it on occasion.

Herself noticed, though, that the round pink bunny takes on a different personality in the evening twilight.  The eyes are not reflective; in the dusk, they are giant round staring sinkholes. She finds it weirdly unsettling.

Frankly, the bunny is a tad sinister.

Oh, dear.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The First Twenty-One

Beautiful, kind-hearted, witty and charming Offspring the First turns twenty-one today.

Happy birthday, beloved child.  Your future is ever so bright.  I wish for you All Good Things, always.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

When I Listen

A mountain keeps an echo deep inside. That's how I hold your voice. ― Rumi

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Not A Fool

Herself speaks.

After I professed a thorough dislike of April Fool's Day yesterday, I received two texts from Offspring the First.  I present them below, complete with her punctuation and capitalization. 

First:  You're the coolest mom in the world!!!

Ah, beloved child.  Thank you so much. It warms my heart tremendously to know that somehow, sometime, I did some of the right things for you. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


April Fool's Day:  a day on which it is socially sanctioned to play tricks and promote hoaxes designed to embarrass, deceive, mislead, surprise, and scare other people.

What a terrible idea.