Saturday, February 28, 2015

Is It Spring Yet? I Need A New Leaf

Winter reigns.  Various parts of the nation are buried under snow and/or frozen with terrible low temperatures. Herself's parents, who are attempting to make their way to this desert land, have had flights canceled on two successive days due to the inclement weather. These are the winter doldrums. The doldrums are not a good place.

Herself cannot find any rhythm right now. She knows she must find new patterns, new habits, new ways of moving through the days, yet she continues to be stymied by the losses and changes. Having spent various evenings of the past month and a half interviewing applicants to her alma mater, she is acutely aware that she graduated from college long before any of these youngsters were born, and she feels the full weight of her middle-age and her myriad responsibilities.  She feels stuck at a crossroads, unsure where to go or how to get there, but knowing that the world keeps turning and thus she must also keep moving as well.

In this winter of the soul, Herself seeks consolation in the writings of John O'Donohue. Author of two of Herself's favorite books -- Anam Cara: A Book Of Celtic Wisdom, and Eternal Echoes: Celtic Reflections on Our Yearning to Belong, he gathers words in beautiful, complex, and lyrical ways. (You'll find quotes of his sprinkled throughout the blog, including herehere, here, and here, to name just a few.)  There is a comfort in his words that can be found no where else.

Tonight, we've delved into a third book:  To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings.  When all is in flux and we are uncertain, a blessing may be what we need the most.

For The Interim Time

When near the end of day, life has drained
Out of light, and it is too soon
For the mind of night to have darkened things,

No place looks like itself, loss of outline
Makes everything look strangely in-between,
Unsure of what has been, or what might come.

In this wan light, even trees seem groundless.
In a while it will be night, but nothing
Here seems to believe the relief of darkness.

You are in this time of the interim
Where everything seems withheld.

The path you took to get here has washed out;
The way forward is still concealed from you.

"The old is not old enough to have died away;
The new is still too young to be born."

You cannot lay claim to anything;
In this place of dusk,
Your eyes are blurred;
And there is no mirror.

Everyone else has lost sight of your heart
And you can see nowhere to put your trust;
You know you have to make your own way through.

As far as you can, hold your confidence.
Do not allow confusion to squander
This call which is loosening
Your roots in false ground,
That you might come free
From all you have outgrown.

What is being transfigured here is your mind,
And it is difficult and slow to become new.
The more faithfully you can endure here,
The more refined your heart will become
For your arrival in the new dawn.

- John O'Donohue

Picture copyright 2014, 2015, Mediocria Firma. Used with gratitude.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Live Long and Prosper

Leonard Nimoy passed away today.  His iconic Mr. Spock -- he of arched eyebrow, "fascinating," and impeccable logic -- was near and dear to generations of Star Trek fans.  Herself was always partial to Spock: his science, his wry and patient tolerance for the foibles of human nature, his effortless intelligence, were all so appealing. She suspects that many of these characteristics were shared by Leonard Nimoy himself.  He was so much more than Spock, too: he was photographer, director, and poet; he was a million other little things, including the narrator of bits of the planetarium shows at the Boston Museum of Science. And thus in a way, he was a piece of our childhoods, our young adulthoods, our Star Trek-loving selves.  He enriched our imaginations and our lives. And the planet is better for him.

Godspeed, Mr. Nimoy.  You lived long, and you prospered. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Things I Cannot See

Time once more for the annual pelt survey with the dermatologist.  Inward sigh.

All went reasonably well.  There were only two questionable skin activities about which Herself had concerns; the first was handled with a wee bit of liquid nitrogen, and the second was addressed with a (slightly painful) injection that might require a second treatment in a few weeks, but should resolve in due course.  Then, she'll be all set -- barring any new oddities -- for another year.

It's an awkward situation, to be so carefully scrutinized by a virtual stranger, yet the nurse practitioner who conducts the exams makes it tolerable with her professional and soothing demeanor.  Herself is rather a freckly person, so the nurse checks all the spots carefully:  "This looks fine... these are all the same, which is good... anything different? No? Good...."  Herself was vaguely amused when the nurse pointed out that there are three freckles in a row on Herself's left buttock:  "Like a constellation...."  Herself hadn't known that.  (After all, it's a tad difficult to observe one's own posterior.)  Perhaps Herself shall get out the hand mirror and take a peek later.  Orion's Belt? Or part of Ursa Major? We shall see.

These constellations found here: And possibly on Herself's behind.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

When One Is Sad

It seems to me that almost all our sadnesses are moments of tension, which we feel as paralysis because we no longer hear our astonished emotions living. Because we are alone with the unfamiliar presence that has entered us; because everything we trust and are used to is for a moment taken away from us; because we stand in the midst of a transition where we cannot remain standing. That is why the sadness passes: the new presence inside us, the presence that has been added, has entered our heart, has gone into its innermost chamber and is no longer even there, - is already in our bloodstream. And we don't know what it was. 

We could easily be made to believe that nothing happened, and yet we have changed, as a house that a guest has entered changes. We can't say who has come, perhaps we will never know, but many signs indicate that the future enters us in this way in order to be transformed in us, long before it happens. And that is why it is so important to be solitary and attentive when one is sad: because the seemingly uneventful and motionless moment when our future steps into us is so much closer to life than that other loud and accidental point of time when it happens to us as if from outside. The quieter we are, the more patient and open we are in our sadnesses, the more deeply and serenely the new presence can enter us, and the more we can make it our own, the more it becomes our fate. 

― Rainer Maria Rilke

Monday, February 23, 2015

One Thousand

The car turned 1,000 miles this evening.

It is ever so polite and considerate, this car.  This morning when the temperature was a brisk 37 degrees, a notification popped up reminding that the roads might be icy, and to drive carefully.  And this afternoon, it provided another reminder, indicating that the fuel level was low and to please refuel.

Thank you, car.  We've taken note.

Sunday, February 22, 2015


While Herself heartily dislikes putting on a bathing suit, she would make an exception for this one, from ModCloth.  Retro! Supportive! Not excessively revealing! And best of all, science-y.  Excellent.

You can find it here:

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Opus 9, No. 2

Herself and Beloved Husband went to see a performance of the local symphony orchestra this evening.  Herself was ambivalent: they had been given the tickets, and thus felt obligated to attend; yet none of the pieces listed in the program were ones with which she was familiar.  Sighing slightly, Herself got ready, and she and Beloved Husband arrived at the venue a handful of minutes before the performance began.

The venue is charming -- a historic old theater that has been lovingly and painstakingly refurbished. Herself particularly likes the ceiling, painted a deep night sky blue, with randomly dispersed tiny lights that slowly blink more brightly and then more dimly, like twinkling stars.  A bit like the enchanted ceiling in the Great Hall of Hogwarts, Herself thinks. The backdrop is a lovely rendition of the mountains of this desert land at sunrise, awash in muted colors that reveal the peaks and crags of the ridges.

The guest this evening was an accomplished pianist.  The piece he played with the orchestra was lengthy, complex, and well performed.

And then, he played an encore.

At the first two notes, Herself knew the piece:  Chopin Nocturne, Opus 9, No. 2.  She has played it before. But not like this.

Years ago, Herself's piano teacher in high school paced around the room as she played, exclaiming, "SING  your octaves!"

If ever a person made a piano sing, it was this man, in this venue, in that moment.

It was exquisite.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Listen -- Can You Hear What I Say?

I closed my mouth and spoke to you in a hundred silent ways.  ― Rumi

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Fur Friends

Herself is feeling a bit out of sorts in a vague, indefinable, "I need to go for an evening walk" sort of way.  She's deriving consolation from the small dogs, who are terrible company for strolling around the block but are nevertheless good companions when a bit of warmth and soothing fur is needed.

A dog has one aim in life... to bestow his heart. ― J.R. Ackerley

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Don't Bug Me

While away this past weekend, we visited a fascinating little storefront in a slightly dingy little mall.  It held a marvelous collection of all kinds of insects, including a few that could be held, if one desired.

Herself opted to pat the millipede's head rather than to allow it to walk across her hand.  (That would be a bit much for her.)  Insects are truly fascinating critters, that's for sure. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

What Do The Flowers Say?

Herself has been reading an engaging little book: A Victorian Flower Dictionary. She has known for a long time that different flowers are intended to convey different messages, and she felt compelled to learn more. It's an entire language, the language of flowers.  It would be ever so useful if people were to speak in flowers more often; a complex set of sentiments could be presented in a single, hand-gathered bouquet.  Herself would love to be able to do so -- sometimes, words are insufficient.

Some of the flowers are quite poignant:

The anemone, symbolizing abandonment and love that is fleeting.

The camellia: "my destiny is in your hands."

The heliotrope, depicting devoted affection.

The snowdrop, for consolation and hope.

The periwinkle, bringing remembrance of former delights as tender recollections.

Right now, Herself has a particular favorite:  the pansy.

Pansy -- from the French, pensée, the past tense of the verb penser, meaning to think -- asks of the receiver, think of me. The Victorian Flower Dictionary indicates that for the Victorians, the pansy embodied "the virtues of tender attachment, concern and compassion." Lovely.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Out of the Zone, But In It

Outside of Herself's comfort zone: planning and executing a road trip, complete with place to stay, things to visit, and accompanying teenager to feed and tend.

Round trip drive from this desert land, to the new patch of desert where Cherished Friend now resides: 622.2 miles.

Time spent in car making that trip: 10 hours 35 minutes, give or take a few.

Museums visited: two, including a small private bug collection and a large public natural history museum.

Board games played:  just one, though it was quite complex.

Time spent in the moment, enjoying the company of Cherished Friend:  uncounted, for to measure the time would detract from it.  Suffice to say, it was not quite enough -- but it was Very Good, Indeed.

Time ephemeral
As fluttering butterfly
Tranquil, lovely Time. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015


Herself is stepping a bit out of her comfort zone this weekend -- but the benefits of doing so far outweigh any negatives.  We shall report back in due course. Allons-y!

Friday, February 13, 2015


For the past dozen or so years, Herself has participated in an Alumni Schools Committee program for her alma mater, through which applicants to the college have an opportunity for an interview with an alumnus/alumna.  It's an interesting process.  She meets -- either by telephone, Skype, or in person -- intense, academically-oriented, and oftentimes quite interesting high school seniors. (And after she contemplates the myriad extracurriculars and activities in addition to the multiple advanced classes these seniors undertake, she sometimes thinks, she'd never get into college at this point.)

This year, there is an abundance of applicants and a paucity of alumni in her geographic area; as a result, she has undertaken a full third of the interviews personally.  On the one hand, it's a welcome distraction -- the interviews, and her subsequent write-up, occupy the evening hours that she used to spend going for a walk with Cherished friend, and so she feels the absence of that activity a little bit less than she would otherwise.  On the other hand, it's a tricky process -- she has to make small talk with strangers, in a manner designed to elicit information about their strengths, weaknesses, and talents that may shed light on whether they would thrive at her alma mater.  Not an easy feat.

She does not know what the "magic formula," if there is one, may be for admission. She suspects that her interview summaries have a practically negligible effect on the admission committee's decision-making process.  All the same, she must represent the college well and professionally, and do her best to provide useful insight into the applicants.  Some days, it seems like a tremendous amount of responsibility.  But if she does not take on this task, who will?

Best of luck, applicants.  If you make the most of the opportunities presented to you, you will do well wherever you choose to go.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

TV Dinners

Tiny Dog and Tri-toothed Dog will be spending some time at grandmother's house this weekend.  And so, Herself made dinner in the crock pot for them, and then put the proper serving size into little baggies for each of them. There's a bag with a few treats, too.

This is what makes her happy -- to feed all the creatures.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


One of the benefits of living in this desert land is the occasional splendid weather even in mid-February.  It was 70 degrees today, and so Herself took the wee dogs for a twilight stroll.  Each has a small light clipped to his or her collar to ensure they are somewhat visible, and in the darkness, as they stopped to pee on every plant they passed, they resembled lightning bugs flitting from bush to bush.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Peridot Thumb

The beautiful orchid has not only not perished, but has practically thrived for the past eight and a half months.  In fact, it is growing a new shoot off of the stem, in preparation for flowering.  Huzzah!  Herself does not have a green thumb, 'tis true - but her thumb might nevertheless be a shade of peridot.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Things That Are Both Exciting and Terrifying

For the first time in fourteen years, Herself is driving a new vehicle; and for the very first time, ever, it is a vehicle which she helped select.  It is nice: easy to drive, economical, practical. And, if we might say so, pretty.  Herself would be a bit excited about the new car, were it not for the terror of something happening to the new car. Perhaps in time she'll relax and enjoy it.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Adieu, Abode

Herself said goodbye to Cherished Friend's house today.

The sale is imminent, and Herself is glad for Cherished Friend, knowing that he will have tidied up this particular loose end from his time here in this desert land.  Nevertheless, she still feels a bit wistful.

She checked the mail one last time to verify that the US Postal Service had processed the 'change address' form successfully. (It had; the only mail was the generic midweek fliers and a misdirected magazine.)  Then she affixed the key to a small file card on which she'd written which mailbox is the correct one, and went into the house to put the key on the counter for the new owners.

In the silence, Herself could recall perfectly the sound from the filter on the fish tank that Cherished Friend once had.  Herself would feed the fish on occasion when he was away, and it was very soothing to watch the wee fishes flit to and fro while the filter bubbled soothingly in the dark quiet house.

She walked softly through the empty house, according it the respect it deserved for being Cherished Friend's home for so long. She only peeked into the rooms that had been his private domains -- his office and his bedroom -- for it seemed as though it would be an invasion of his privacy to set foot therein, even now. She paused for a bit in the kitchen, remembering the rich color of the wood of the bar and the table and chairs, and the conversations she and Cherished Friend had had standing there.  Finally, she laid a hand on the walls of the entryway for a moment; and then exited, carefully locked the door behind her.

Thank you, house, for being our Cherished Friend's personal sanctuary.  We are grateful.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Paper Flowers

Recently, Herself and Beloved Husband attended the celebration of the wedding of a friend.  It was a lavish affair.  The most noteworthy aspect of the venue, Herself thought, was the intricate paper flower archway at the entrance.  It was incredibly beautiful, even more than if it had been wrought of organic flowers.  Herself would have liked to touch it.  Instead, she contented herself with a photo.

A glorious work of art, it was.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Lap Dogs

We pause our current Facebook diatribes about vaccinations and measles (which we shall discuss on another day), to bring you the soothing sight of the wee little dogs tolerating one another's proximity in Herself's lap.  Ahhh.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

White Noise

You’d think that silence would be peaceful. but really, it’s painful. 
― David Levithan, Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Sometimes, silence is lovely. The quiet of sitting together under the trees and the stars, with naught but an occasional rustle of leaves or crackle from the campfire interjecting occasionally into the unspoken conversation. Or the quiet of working alone in the kitchen, as the clouds creep in and the smallest patter of raindrops mingles with the scent of cookies in the oven. Or the mountaintop, with just the wind whispering. 

Other times, silence is arduous. The gap in socially-required small talk when one does not know what next topic to introduce. Or the hesitation in a sentence when there is a hitch in one's voice, and one must wait to compose oneself.  Or the pause after one gingerly reveals one's worries or fears or sadness, and then waits, hoping that the listener will deliver a word of consolation to ease the heartache. 

There are times that without assistance from another, only the silence speaks -- yet we do not know what the silence says. And as the silence speaks longer, it begins to shout, and we want to cover our ears and run away, because it is unbearable even (and especially) when we do not understand what it is saying. 

Speak to us gently, Silence, so that we may comprehend.

Picture copyright 2014, 2015, Mediocria Firma. Used with gratitude