Friday, October 31, 2014

Time Unknown

Earlier this week, Herself took new old dog Tio in to the vet to have a troublesome skin growth removed from near his right armpit.  (He kept getting it snagged on things, and it would bleed.  Yucky.) We assumed it was just a minor thing - when Herself pointed it out to the vet before it started being problematic, he said it was most likely a mole.

When the caller ID on the phone indicated the vet was calling this morning, Herself was a bit perplexed; she knew Tio had an appointment to check his bandage late this afternoon. The vet let her know that the biopsy results had come back on that spot. Ah, she'd forgotten that biopsy was standard protocol.

Dermal hemangiosarcoma.

Hemangiosarcoma, often undetected and suddenly deadly when it develops in the heart or spleen of a canine, is less dire when localized to the skin. The pathology report indicated that the margins were clear, and so it's possible this will be the end of the matter. On the other hand (and unfortunately), there's no way of knowing whether this particular tiny tumor has already metastasized elsewhere, or if it was already a metastasis from another location.

Alas.  There is naught to do but wait and see what the future brings.

Fear not, intrepid, three-toothed, lolling-tongued pup. We shall ensure that your days, no matter how few or how many, are comfortable and happy.

Thursday, October 30, 2014


Hey, look at that!  Five months after its arrival, the lovely orchid not only is not deceased, but is, in fact, producing a new leaf.  That's quite an accomplishment around here, to keep any plant alive and growing after such a time.  Huzzah!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Close As One Can Get

The closest thing to being cared for is to care for someone else.
― Carson McCullers, The Square Root of Wonderful

Picture copyright 2014, Mediocria Firma. Used with gratitude.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Autumn Bird

[A]s the slow sea sucked at the shore and then withdrew, leaving the strip of seaweed bare and the shingle churned, the sea birds raced and ran upon the beaches. Then that same impulse to flight seized upon them too. Crying, whistling, calling, they skimmed the placid sea and left the shore. Make haste, make speed, hurry and begone; yet where, and to what purpose? The restless urge of autumn, unsatisfying, sad, had put a spell upon them and they must flock, and wheel, and cry; they must spill themselves of motion before winter came.

― Daphne du Maurier, The Birds and Other Stories

Picture copyright 2014, Mediocria Firma. Used with gratitude.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Last weekend, Herself was perusing the 'baby' aisles at the local Giant Store of Everything, because she needed to get a few small shirts for Nearly Toothless Dog to protect a scrape he had in his armpit, and infant clothing is much less expensive than garments tailor-made for canines.  (I know, I know. We never thought we'd dress a family pet.  Yet it's necessary so he will heal properly. That's our story and we're sticking to it.)

Herself might have felt a little wistful, looking at all the teeny tiny clothes, except for the fact that there was a tremendous collection of appalling T-shirts to contemplate instead. This particular round, we note that the vast majority of the shirts were targeted towards boys (and in one instance, fathers). Presented below for you are eight of the selections, including some (failed) attempts at witty double ententres.  Sigh. I just don't find them amusing.

The degeneration of civilization continues.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Box O'Soup

Offspring the third wanted to go to the party supply store to procure an item for a Halloween party at a friend's house this evening, and so Herself took a shower to wash off the germs and out they went.  While he waited in the seemingly endless line for the cash register, she wandered next door to the fancy supermarket with all the organic and high-end items.  Hey, look - boxes of soup for sale! 30% off! And with ingredients that are not likely to be migraine-inducing! This is good, indeed.

Ah, soup.  So helpful when one is ailing.

Friday, October 24, 2014


Herself has a cold.


We'll be back in a bit when she feels better.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Country Girl

I suppose it was inevitable, living here in the southwest: today, we purposefully tuned into the country music radio station. It was just right.

We might have a bit of a crush on Carrie Underwood. She's lovely.  And she sure can sing.

Here's one by Brad Paisley, with Carrie: Remind Me.  I hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Even among familiar faces, people often feel invisible and desolate, like an island in cold waters or the shadow of a gathering. Be the reason another never feels alone. ― Richelle E. Goodrich

Picture copyright 2014, Mediocria Firma. Used with gratitude.

Monday, October 20, 2014


Here's a lovely little ditty from Animation Domination.  I've included the lyrics below as well.  I hope you enjoy.

We're all the same, no matter how we've grown, 
Colors of our skin, defections in our bones
There's one thing we share, everyone, everywhere - 
We're all Alone. We're all Alone.

Everyone is fundamentally lonely,
Whether you trust science or a church
Because we're scared, some of us make pairs
And some are still on the search.

But everyone is fundamentally lonely,
So here's daily advice:
You're in pain, everyone feels the same
So - just be nice. 

What do you lose, when life's already the worst?
Leave a better tip; let that guy in line first.
We're all lonely - pay for his coffee.
Pick up that trash.  I know it's not your trash. 

Everyone is fundamentally lonely.
Sometimes it comes out as rage - 
Screaming in a store, they're lonely at the core
So be calm when you engage

Everyone is fundamentally lonely.
I'm not saying, "sacrifice"
Lend some support at the airport.
It won't kill you to be nice.

Everything is stupid.
Success is a projection.
We're all quietly helpless.
Being nice is a connection.

Blaring your car horn
Won't make you feel tremendous
But picking up something someone dropped,
Will make this whole thing less... horrendous.

Everyone is fundamentally lonely.
Even ones pretending they're not.
Be nice today - it'll make things just slightly OK
On this lonely, little blue dot. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Horse Farm

Once upon a time when Herself was in the early stages of grade school, she (like so many other young girls) was enamored of horses.  She had a collection of model horses, and she used to cart her box of them up to Jenny's house two doors away to play.  They would arrange the horses lovingly, with the tiny ones together and the larger ones in their own collection.  The few rare ones that came with accoutrements such as saddles or reins or little horse blankets would receive extended and preferential treatment. Herself loved her horses.

One summer, a family trip was planned.  Her parents intended to drive with Herself and her siblings down from their New England home to visit relatives along the eastern seaboard.  On the return trip, they were going to stop by The Horse Farm to look at the horses. Herself was pleased. Horses!

Unfortunately, once they had arrived to the state of the relatives, another distant relative (elderly and frail) took a sudden turn for the worse. The remainder of the trip had to be canceled so that Herself's parents could rush home to attend a funeral. "We'll go to the horse farm another time." Herself was disappointed, but she understood that some changes to plans cannot be helped.

In the years that followed, they never did visit The Horse Farm.

Herself grew up, lost her interest in horses, and put her toy horse collection away.


Herself thought about The Horse Farm yesterday.  After multiple weekends of attending to various things, she had declared yesterday evening to be the domain of What She Wanted To Do. What would she most like to do? That proved to be much more difficult to assess than she'd realized.

She doesn't like to make plans, first, because - like The Horse Farm - fate, or the needs of others, so often intervenes.  If one doesn't have plans, one cannot be disappointed when the plans do not take place.

Moreover, and possibly more crucial, there's no point in her being solely responsible for making plans, if she would like company while executing the plans.  For she cannot enjoy what she is doing without knowing that the pastime is also relatively enjoyable (or at least painlessly tolerable) to the people whom she would like to have there. Unless those involved actively participate in the planning process, she cannot be certain how they will feel, and it's quite important to her that she not subject her favorite people to unpleasant activities. She will not impose. Her wants aren't that important.

The end result, though, is that no particular plans get made.


Ultimately yesterday evening, Herself decided that going out to dinner would be most likely to be acceptable to those involved.  Most people find it pleasant to go to a decent restaurant and have a good meal. It was indeed a good meal, and it perked Herself up a bit. She hopes her companions of the evening enjoyed the meal as well.


 Ninety-five percent of the time, Herself enjoys -- or at least does not mind -- taking care of everything.  She likes to look after Things:  to make sure that the house is tidy and the bills are paid; that the laundry is done and the larder is stocked; that the errands have been accomplished and the chores finished.  Everyone, human and beast, should have the things that he or she likes to eat and to wear, and a comfortable, safe place to spend time and put all worldly cares aside.

Every now and then, though, Herself wearies of being responsible for All The Things. What she'd really like, somehow, would be for Someone to plan the adult equivalent of a trip to The Horse Farm. And then, make it happen.

Perhaps she just needs to learn to be her own Someone.

One of Herself's favorites was a dappled gray, a bit like this one, found here:

Saturday, October 18, 2014


I arise today

In the name of Silence
Womb of the Word,
In the name of Stillness
Home of Belonging,
In the name of the Solitude
Of the Soul and the Earth.

I arise today

Blessed by all things,
Wings of breath,
Delight of eyes,
Wonder of whisper,
Intimacy of touch,
Eternity of soul,
Urgency of thought,
Miracle of health,
Embrace of God.

May I live this day

Compassionate of heart,
Gentle in word,
Gracious in awareness,
Courageous in thought,
Generous in love.

- John O'Donohue, Eternal Echoes: Celtic Reflections on Our Yearning to Belong

Picture copyright 2014, Mediocria Firma. Used with gratitude.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Fill It Up

Herself noticed that the fuel gauge in her vehicle was really rather very very low yesterday, and so she put gas into the tank. 29.878 gallons into a 30 gallon tank, to be precise.  Oh, dear. That was living a tad dangerously.


When Herself was a college student, if she were in need of a vehicle she would drive a mundane Chevrolet that was the family's extra car.
Before she went on road trips, her father would always find some reason to use that car.  The only errand he would run, as far as Herself could tell, was to go and fill the Chevy with gas before returning it to Herself.

It was very touching.

Thanks, Daddy.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


If you will stay close to nature, to its simplicity, to the small things hardly noticeable, those things can unexpectedly become great and immeasurable.― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Picture copyright 2014, Mediocria Firma. Used with gratitude.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Flora Microscopia

Behold, bloom-like nanostructures grown at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. They are approximately 50 microns tall (1000 microns in a millimeter), and are cultivated in the laboratory through carefully-timed chemical reactions that allow the flowers to self-assemble.

The tiniest and most magnificent of blossoms.

(This collage, which states "Image courtesy of Wim L. Noorduin", was found here at:

Monday, October 13, 2014

Smooth As Grapes

Some lovely words to start your week out right:

So That You Will Hear Me -- Pablo Neruda, Twenty Love Poems And A Song Of Despair

So that you will hear me
my words
sometimes grow thin
as the tracks of the gulls on the beaches.

Necklace, drunken bell
for your hands smooth as grapes.

And I watch my words from a long way off.
They are more yours than mine.
They climb on my old suffering like ivy.

It climbs the same way on damp walls.
You are to blame for this cruel sport.
They are fleeing from my dark lair.
You fill everything, you fill everything.

Before you they peopled the solitude that you occupy,
and they are more used to my sadness than you are.

Now I want them to say what I want to say to you
to make you hear as I want you to hear me.

The wind of anguish still hauls on them as usual.
Sometimes hurricanes of dreams still knock them over.
You listen to other voices in my painful voice.

Lament of old mouths, blood of old supplications.
Love me, companion. Don't forsake me. Follow me.
Follow me, companion, on this wave of anguish.

But my words become stained with your love.
You occupy everything, you occupy everything.

I am making them into an endless necklace
for your white hands, smooth as grapes.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Wild Thing

The dignified, somewhat elderly chihuahua rests in the savannah and surveys his domain.  The dry season is coming, and he must make the most of the cool fresh grass before it withers away.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Oh, Honey, No.

Be the superhero yourself. 

Side by Side

If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together... there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart... I'll always be with you. - A. A. Milne

Thursday, October 9, 2014


There is no better time than the autumn to begin forgetting the things that trouble us, allowing them to fall away like dried leaves. There is no better time to dance again, to make the most of every crumb of sunlight and warm body and soul with its rays before it falls asleep and becomes only a dim light bulb in the skies. ― Paulo Coelho

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Cross Your Legs and Read The Science

For those who are a bit squeamish about medical discussions, the recent articles about innovations in reconstructing penile tissue might be a bit much.  Nevertheless, I wanted to point out this fascinating piece of information for two reasons:  first, it might genuinely be useful, and we are always pleased to read such materials; and second, the doctor who is conducting the research is a surgeon, and seventeen years ago, he performed surgery on one of the offspring to correct vesicoureteral reflux. At the time the surgery was performed, the surgeon was conducting research on growth and restructuring of bladders, and we were asked for permission for a very small sample of bladder tissue to be taken for research purposes. We readily agreed.  I am glad that we were able to contribute in a small way to the progress of science. The doctor has progressed continuously since then - you can see some of his materials in a TED talk as well. 

Good job, Dr. Atala. 

Dr. Atala looks the same, nearly two decades after we met him.  His smiling intelligent face was found here:

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


What is this shoe? A wedge-heeled sneaker?

No. Just, no.

Monday, October 6, 2014


Today's earworm:  P!nk's cover of Janis Joplin's Me and Bobby McGee.  Excellent.

Such a heartfelt rendition of such a heartbreaking song.

I'd trade all of my tomorrows for one single yesterday
To be holding Bobby's body next to mine.

I hope you enjoy, too. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Weekend Pancakes

When Herself was small, her father would make pancakes on the occasional weekend.  He used a square electric skillet, and probably a standard pancake mix. Each pancake was a perfect golden brown and perfectly round, every time.  Sometimes he'd make tiny pancakes out of a drop or two of batter; those would be "hamster pancakes".  Herself can't recall whether they ever gave any of the hamster pancakes to the hamsters.

Herself made pancakes this weekend.  They were a wee bit fancy -- they came from a recipe and included pumpkin -- but they turned out reasonably round and fairly golden-hued.  She wonders whether her pancakes would be prettier if she had a square electric skillet like Daddy used to have.

They were relatively tasty, all things considered.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Shiny Blanket

Herself survived the hair salon appointment.  It went well.  Her hair is still long, but with some layers for "volume and movement" (we are learning the lingo of hair).  It feels fine.  Best of all, the color is very close to her natural color. Shiny. No more gray. Good.

She secretly thinks: I'm still an ugly duckling, but at least I have better hair.

It's a start.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Security Blanket

Herself has a fondness for her hair.  It is long, it is naturally straight and unprocessed, and on occasion, it even seems to be a pretty color - except this past weekend, when Herself was washing her hands and glanced in the mirror over the sink.  She noticed, to her tremendous horror, that there is far too much gray there within her locks.  Alas.

It is time.

She has an appointment tomorrow to have her hair cut and the gray removed.  She's trepidatious, to say the least.  Her hair needs to stay long and straight and the right color.  It needs to feel the same, smell of the same shampoo, move in the same way. It's her security blanket, and changes to one's security blanket are traumatic.

Good luck, hair. We shall see what happens.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


Out of sight, out of mind:  this is Herself's greatest challenge.

Like all people, Herself thinks often about the individuals who are important to her. She reaches out to them periodically by text or e-mail (or even on occasion by telephone):  she sends them cartoons they'll find amusing, or articles that might be interesting to them.  Sometimes, her purpose is just to touch base to affirm a connection to them. She doesn't necessarily expect a reply; oftentimes it's enough to have sent forth a word to them. I am thinking of you.

There are also times when she wishes to elicit a response -- some kind of return acknowledgment to assuage her need for human connection. She might write of what makes her happy or sad, in the hopes they will share her joy or help alleviate her sorrow. She might inquire about their opinions or about their plans. Or perhaps she merely wants to receive word that the person is well. She likes to know.

Sometimes that goal of evoking a reply is not realized.  It's not an earth-shattering event; everyone has things to do and his or her own life to lead, and may not be capable, either literally or metaphorically, of responding at a particular point in time.  She knows this. (This is, in fact, why she prefers text and e-mail; they can be read at the receiver's convenience, and she feels less as though she might be intruding on someone else's activities or solitude.) It is fine. She hopes that her people will reach out to her in turn when they are not busy.  She waits.

When she has not received any reply for a period of time, though, she becomes uncomfortable. How long a silence is too long for her? That varies with the circumstances. At some juncture, though, she crosses a threshold, and then she is lost.  She has completely inexplicable reaction to the lack of communication. It is out of proportion. The silence frightens her. It's akin to panic. Visceral, primitive. Terrible. Terrifying.

If she could give it a name, it would be: Abandonment.  

The Beast of Abandonment is coming; it is not a question of if, but of when. This she knows, in the same way she knows that the moon waxes and wanes. It is the Nature of the World.

The Beast whispers:  They do not care. You are Alone.

No amount of reasoning with her brain can soothe her primordial fear of the Beast. Only contact with the person in question can reassure and console her.

She doesn't understand why she feels this way; she just knows she does.  Sometimes when she is feeling fine, she wonders what Freud would say.


There are many times when Herself's Beloved Husband works very long hours.  He is tremendously dedicated to his work as well to several boards and activities. We admire his commitment and his work ethic. With his dedication, though, comes the shadow of the Beast. Even though she knows that he spends time with her to the best of his abilities, and even though he periodically reassures her that he is thinking of her even when he doesn't communicate with her, she can still see the Beast lurking in the dark places. She knows it is there. Always.

Today when she came home, though, she found an unexpected light:  mail.  When Beloved Husband was away over the weekend, he took the time to write and send her two note cards.


It has been ages and ages since she's received letters from him, yet there they were: tangible evidence that she was not out of mind, even though she was out of sight. And the Beast momentarily slunk away, into the recesses of her mind's jungle.

It is the small miracles like these -- a pen taken to paper, a stone put in a pocket  -- that tell her that despite her being the way she is, she is not Alone. She does matter. And at least for that day, she need not fear the Beast.

The lesson that she has yet to learn:  she is Enough.

It’s easy to feel uncared for when people aren't able to communicate and connect with you in the way you need. And it’s so hard not to internalize that silence as a reflection on your worth. But the truth is that the way other people operate is not about you. Most people are so caught up in their own responsibilities, struggles, and anxiety that the thought of asking someone else how they’re doing doesn’t even cross their mind. They aren’t inherently bad or uncaring — they’re just busy and self-focused. And that’s okay. It’s not evidence of some fundamental failing on your part. It doesn’t make you unloveable or invisible.... [D]espite what you feel, you are not too much. You are not too sensitive or too needy. You are thoughtful and empathetic. You are compassionate and kind. And with or without anyone’s acknowledgment or affection, you are enough. ― Daniell Koepke