Wednesday, September 30, 2015


We've written about personal space before (see, for example, here, here, and particularly here). Each person has a need for a personal space sphere, and the size of that sphere depends very much on individual preferences. The volume of a sphere speaks not only to a person's most comfortable distance from another individual, but also to a time component: some individuals prefer only short or minimal touch with other people, whereas other individuals are content -- even pleased -- by a significant amount of touch with other people.

I believe that the size of one's sphere is inborn; thinking back, I realize that the spheres of the Offspring were the same when they were wee, as they are now:

Offspring the First's sphere is perhaps medium-sized; she was a solid lap-sitter as a toddler, especially when we were reading books together, and even now she readily accepts hugs and leans in for the occasional kiss goodnight.

Offspring the Second's sphere is really rather large; he was the only one of the Offspring who preferred to be laid down in the crib to fall asleep by himself, rather than to be rocked. As an adult, he will tolerate the occasional pat or hug goodbye, because he is a kind soul and knows we like to do these things, but he only vary rarely initiates contact. (He will immediately hug individuals in distress, though -- because, as I said, he is a kind soul.)

Offspring the Third's sphere is really rather small; when he was a baby, in fact, he seemed to perpetually need to be within Herself's sphere. He's adapted and grown a somewhat larger sphere since then, but still enjoys hugs, especially from his many female friends.

What of Beloved Husband and Herself?  Beloved Husband's sphere is on the small side, as are the spheres of many of his relatives -- they're a huggy bunch, and it's very endearing. Herself has gotten used to accepting, and even offering, hugs to the myriad in-laws. Herself's sphere is on the medium-large size; while it is relatively small around her Safe People, it quickly inflates, like a puffer fish, when adjacent to strangers.

And how about the rest of Herself's family? Her father's sphere is medium-large, and her mother's sphere is perhaps medium-small, although it is difficult to tell, since her sphere appears to increase and decrease under various circumstances. Herself sees her siblings so infrequently that she's not sure any more of the size of their spheres. Alas. Cherished Friend, who counts as family, has a solidly large sphere; we do our best not to occupy his space, although it's likely we occasionally accidentally linger overlong because we are very comfortable with him in our own spheres.

Tiny Dog has no sense of personal sphere at all -- or perhaps she just prefers being inside Herself's sphere.

Herself believes that the size of one's personal bodily sphere also extends to one's personal space. For example, Offspring the Second is very protective of his room, and prefers that no one enter. We do our very best to respect his space. Everyone should have their Own Space.

Over the summer, Offspring the Second took down the loft bed he had had for years; he put his mattress on the floor until he could decide what type of headboard/footboard he would like for his bed. Then the school year began, and he was off and away, without yet getting a new bed. And so, when we had an opportunity to take a new and comfortable mattress and boxspring and plain frame from nearby neighbors who are moving, we did so -- this way, Offspring the Second will have a comfortable bed when he returns for the holidays.

Before moving the bed into his room, though, Herself asked him permission. She let him know exactly which furniture would need to be moved, and how, and asked whether it would be OK for her to do so.  He assented.  And so, Herself spent several hours painstakingly ensuring that the bed was set up in a manner that disturbed Offspring the Second's room the least. She vacuumed up errant sunflower seed shells, and gathered miscellaneous coins and put them all into the jar of coins on Offspring the Second's dresser, but all the while, she did her best to tidy and clean without actually rearranging anything at all. Because it's his Space.

She did get a new set of sheets and a comforter for the bed. She hopes it's not too intrusive for him to have unfamiliar bedding; perhaps the warmth and clean lines of the freshly-made bed will compensate for any strangeness. It's a fine line to walk, for one to provide accoutrements for another's comfort, and yet to do so in a manner that doesn't insert oneself into another's sphere. We'll keep trying, and hope that any clumsiness on our part is forgiven.

Your lair is acknowledged, and protected. You will be safe.

Picture copyright 2015, Mediocria Firma. Used with gratitude.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Herself speaks. Slightly adult subject matter; you have been warned! 

Sunday night was the supermoon eclipse. I watched the moon draw a translucent veil across her face until all that could be seen was the ruddy lunar ghost. Then, ever so slowly, the fullness of the moon slid out from behind the shadow, sliver by sliver, until her whole naked form shone bright and round in the velvety night. Even this morning, she hung as a silvery gossamer circle in the dawn sky. Beautiful.

Under that night sky, I thought about how -- even as I cross this landscape of middle age -- I am still drawn through cycles like the moon. Yearnings, silent and burning, flare and recede, alternately warming and cooling my heart. And just as the moon orbits through shadows, my longing sometimes hides in the comfort of darkness, and yet still wishes to be seen like that glowing lunar orb. Even though I struggle through some cycles, I am grateful for the ebb and flow; through them, I am connected to the rhythms of the universe.

I am a creature of blood and bone.
Wax and wane, rise and set.
See me, moon, as I see you,
And we shall travel together.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Fish Wishes III

The second Fish Wishes is here.

If wishes were fishes
You might be surprised,
That looking upon you
Are small fishes' eyes:

For when life is tricky,
You're angry or blue,
A silver shoal gathers,
Rides currents to you --

My hopes and my fishes
Swim with you each night,
'Til you find contentment,
'Til all turns out right.

The ocean eternal
Flows in its own time
And waves are uncertain,
No reason or rhyme --

But fishes are faithful,
Of this I am sure:
They'll be good companions
'Til you reach your shore.

Picture copyright 2015, Mediocria Firma. Used with gratitude.

Sunday, September 27, 2015


Life is a lot more fragile than we think. So you should treat others in a way that leaves no regrets. Fairly, and if possible, sincerely. ― Haruki Murakami, Dance Dance Dance

Picture copyright 2015, Mediocria Firma. Used with gratitude.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Have Courage

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. ― Lao Tzu

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Carry-You Me

Herself speaks.

Here is one more picture from the pile of pictures my parents delivered to me the other day. The photo was taken while I attended a wedding when Offspring the Second was just two months old. I wore him in the baby sling for part of the reception, and it kept him (and me) content.

How I loved that baby sling. I wore each Offspring in it in turn when they were small. Offspring the Third was particularly fond of the baby sling; when he was a wee tiny boy and would run out of energy, I would ask him, "Would you like me to carry you?" and he would respond by holding up his arms so I could pick him up and put him in the sling. Eventually he began to speak, and when he was fatigued he would hold up his arms and ask, "Carry-you me?" Thus, the sling became the "carry-you". I have the carry-you here even today, stored among my most treasured possessions.

Such a sweet reminiscence, the carry-you.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

el Papá Francisco

The Pope is visiting the United States. I like this Pope: he seems determined to eschew the aloof trappings of his position, and instead reaches out to the people. He embraces science and even seems to have an open-mindedness about social issues. He appears to work hard to model humility and service and forgiveness and love. Good for him. I wish him well.

As I watch the news coverage, I am struck by the ebullience of the crowds. What a tremendous responsibility and privilege he has, to bring hope and faith to so many all over the world -- yet he handles it beautifully.  He looks just as happy as the people in the crowds, too. It is delightful.

I hope you are able to serve long and well, Pope Francis.

The Pope, waving to the crowds, was found here:

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Herself speaks.

Sunday morning, I was taking care of a few things in the kitchen while Beloved Husband and Cherished Friend sat outside on the patio. Although I could not hear what they were saying, I could hear the ebb and flow of their voices as they talked. The sound washed over me like quiet waves at the edge of the ocean -- soothing and consoling, both. I thought about how very lucky I was to have them there, and held a blossom of joy in my heart.

If I close my eyes and concentrate, I can reimagine the scent of that flower, even now.

Grateful am I, beyond words.

Close friendships are one of life's miracles--that a few people get to know you deeply, all your messy or shadowy stuff along with the beauty and sweetness, and they still love you. Not only still love you, but love you more and more deeply. I would do anything for my closest friends, and they would do almost anything for me, and that is about as spiritual a truth as you can get. -- Anne Lamott

Monday, September 21, 2015


Herself speaks.

My parents delivered a small pile of pictures from the dawn of time.

Behold, a wee busy me.

I don't know where the picture was taken.  I do remember liking all the types of toys that are scattered on the table, though -- trucks, puzzles, and small animal figurines. And especially stuffed animals.

So long ago.

Sunday, September 20, 2015


Herself speaks.

Cherished friend had to attend a meeting nearby on Friday, and so, we were blessed with his company for the weekend.

Saturday morning, I got up early to go for a walk. It was cool and cloudy, with a breeze and a hint of drizzle. (Excellent walking weather.) 

As I stepped out the door, there was Cherished Friend's vehicle parked in front of the house. 


The day stretched before me, and I knew he would be here with us, all day long. 

And that made me Very Happy, Indeed.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

X Thoughts

Herself speaks.

Eons ago, it seems, Beloved Husband and I used to watch X Files. Science-y, science fiction-y, creepy awesomeness. And it's now on Netflix! HUZZAH. I've started fresh from season one, to see if it's as good as I remember. I've now watched the first few episodes, and have had the following thoughts:

Scully's complexion is flawless. And she always looks so well-coiffed.

Ah, Mulder. I had such a thing for you, back in the day.

Scully is supposed to be a medical school graduate? And teaching at the FBI Academy? She's not old enough. SO YOUNG.

And Mulder is supposed to be 33. Really? He looks SO YOUNG too.

I must be really old.

Equal opportunity gratuitous flesh: Scully in a bra, Mulder shirtless. (Not together, mind you.) 
Something for everyone.

How does Scully manage not to look ginormous in all those boxy oversized shoulder-padded blazers? I would have loved her wardrobe back in the late 80s-early 90s. Except if would never have worked on me, because Boobs. I wonder what it's like to be a tiny woman? Sigh.

Mulder's dialog is a bit hackneyed. Why does he always sound like he's enunciating profound truths in every sentence?

Oooh, Scully's apartment. She has a bathtub with feet. I would love a bathtub with feet.

Mulder has Very Poofy Hair. In the shot in which he's supposed to have just woken up, he has extremely realistic bedhead. Oh, dear.

They both have big round glasses. I had those! Awesome.

Scully is very careless with her firearm. She tucked it into her waistband to climb down a ladder (NO), and in two consecutive episodes, she left it in a place where she'd have to run to it or scrabble to get it -- the wrong nightstand in a hotel, and on the back of her living room couch. She really needs to be more responsible.

Oh, Mulder. WHY did I have such a thing for you back in the day?

They have a very pleasant rapport. They can question one another's point of view and beliefs without making it personal or taking offense. Well done, you two.

So many of their problems could be solved with cell phones.

Good times.

Mulder and Scully were found here

Thursday, September 17, 2015


Offspring the Second, ever so intelligent and humorous, had this to say on social media the other day:

Science insult: referring to someone as an anapsid, because not only does it imply that they are decidedly primitive and non-mammalian, but also that their jaw muscles are contained within their skull, causing them to put pressure on their brain every time they move their mouth.

I can think of a few people who may fit that description.

Hee. Me, too.

We miss having Offspring the Second's quiet, astute, and always-wise observations in the house.

This anapsid skull was found here:

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


Herself had the tremendous pleasure of speaking with Offspring the First today. During the course of the conversation, Offspring the First said:

I wish I had fur so I could poof up and make myself look more intimidating.

Hee. Me, too.

She's so humorous, Offspring the First. We miss having her charm and wit in the house.

Picture copyright 2013, 2015, Mediocria Firma. Used with gratitude.

Monday, September 14, 2015


The multitude of lizards on the back patio at night appears to be... well, multiplying.  They're quite small, and sometimes not quite as small, and all vaguely creepy -- almost fetal in their tiny pinkness. The way they run makes me shudder inwardly. Ew. 

Yet, they're all God's creatures. Welcome, lizards.

Sunday, September 13, 2015


The next word I have chosen from Consolations, by David Whyte, is one of the most beautiful words of all:  Solace.

Solace is the art of asking the beautiful question, of ourselves, of our world or of one another, in fiercely difficult and un-beautiful moments.  Solace is what we must look for when the mind cannot bear the pain, the loss or the suffering that eventually touches every life and every endeavor; when longing does not come to fruition in a form we can recognize, when people we know and love disappear, when hope must take a different form than the one we have shaped for it. 

My greatest wish: to bring consolation in the time of need. 

I am here for you.

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

Saturday, September 12, 2015


The next word I have chosen from Consolations, by David Whyte: Silence.

Silence is frightening, an intimation of the end, the graveyard of fixed identities.  Real silence puts any present understanding to shame; orphans us from certainty; leads us beyond the well-known and accepted reality and confronts us with the unknown and previously unacceptable conversation about to break in upon our lives.  

When I was a tiny little girl, I had a fever nightmare. I dreamt that I was in a dark void. The void was not crowded, nor was it vast; it was a nothingness in which I was strangely comfortable. But then I heard a shout. The shout was not a sound that came through my ears, but rather a visceral sensation that resonated throughout my inchoate body. I did not know where the shout came from, nor did I understand its single syllable word. The shout was Silence itself, and yet was Not-Silence, and it repeated at intervals, growing ominously louder and yet more silent simultaneously, until finally I awoke into consciousness, sweating, heart pounding. I threw myself out of bed and ran down the hall towards the light of my father's study, with the incomprehensible Silent Not-Silence echoing in my brain. I could not tell my father what was so terribly wrong. I had no words. He turned from his desk and gently picked me up.

That is all I remember.

Forty-five years later, I am still occasionally terrified of Silence.

Literal Silence is surprisingly hard to come across. Even in the wee hours, there are still crickets, night birds, the rumble of a distant truck. Even on a quiet afternoon, there is the hum of the washing machine, the buzz of a cicada. Silence instead comes in different forms: a phone call not returned. An e-mail or a text sent out into the ether, generating no reply. A plea unheard, a conversation stalled or dismissed, a glance not shared. A whisper that falls into the cracks of the world. A question left hanging.  An unanswered prayer.

These Silences are the hardest.

I can always think of 100 different, perfectly normal reasons, for such Silences. And yet, there is always one terrible reason, a reason that makes my blood run cold, that lurks in the background, waiting, exuding Silence and Not-Silence until I want to run.

I am a grownup. There is no where to run any more.

Have mercy, Silent Not-Silence, for I am still small, and needy.

Picture copyright 2015, Mediocria Firma. Used with gratitude.

Friday, September 11, 2015


Today is the fourteenth anniversary of that terrible day when planes crashed and buildings disintegrated and thousands of ordinary people were unexpectedly, brutally, gone. A collective national grief was born, virulently angry and unassuagable. The course of the history of humanity was changed -- and not for the better.

Social media is once more full of the pictures from that day, and the hashtag "Never Forget."

As if we ever could.

I felt a great disturbance in the force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. - Obi-wan Kenobi, Star Wars: Episode IV, A New Hope

Rest easy, lost souls. And pray for humanity, for we are lost in our anger and grief and hatred. Help us to find the grace that eludes us. We need it so.

Photograph from the 9/11 memorial found here

Thursday, September 10, 2015


It was time for the canines' annual check-up and vaccinations.  Elderly Three-toothed Dog came through like a champ. Tiny Dog was disgruntled, but managed as well as she could. Good pups.

Today, we found out that while Three-toothed Dog's routine bloodwork came back fine, not so for Tiny Dog. Strange. It could be nothing, or it could be something. The markers that were out of whack point to an intestinal issue -- possibly bleeding somewhere in the GI tract. Our old Ancient and Decrepit Dog -- may she rest in peace -- had the occasional bleeding ulcer, which was treated with medication, so perhaps something like that, we surmise. Tiny Dog is otherwise the picture of health. And so, we'll watch and wait and repeat them in a month.

Be well, Tiny Dog. You are the apple of Beloved Husband's eye, and you are much loved - even if you are still not sure about the hamster.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


Walking at dawn is far preferable to walking at dusk. At dawn, the day is still hushed and expectant; there are no snakes of which to beware. The quiet is broken only by the occasional leaf blower or frustrated early-morning conversation between spouses getting into the car ("It might help you feel better, but it's not helping me." I hope they both feel better soon.) Sometimes there's the cry of a nighthawk. 

It's somewhat easier to photograph the morning. Now that we are at the tail end of the rainy season, there are some lovely clouds. 

Sometimes, there's even a rainbow.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


Herself has been making a greater effort to Walk. Walking is Good. (The primary barrier to habitual constitutionals over the past nine months has been the absence of our regular walking partner, Cherished Friend, now that he resides 300-plus miles away. Although Beloved Husband tries as often as he can to perambulate with Herself, his very busy schedule does not permit for much advanced walk planning. Alas. Walking is always better with someone.) 

Rather than try to manage one lengthy walk, Herself has broken daily activity into two smaller walks -- one right after returning from dropping Offspring the Third at band practice in the wee hours of the morning, and one after finishing chores and kitchen-tidying in the evening. So far, so good. 

It is difficult to get a good picture, but the moon is a frequent companion for the evening walk. It's a comfort. Nice.


Monday, September 7, 2015

What Is Mine

Herself speaks.

I'm having an issue. It relates to the people whom I am comfortable having in my house.

Certain people -- Beloved Husband, the Offspring, Cherished Friend, certain family members (my Safe People) -- enlarge the joy of my house.  In contrast, there is another particular type of person -- the Particular Person -- about whom the very thought of their presence in my house yields an incomprehensible, visceral, fight-or-flight reaction.

When visiting, this type of Particular Person will, as usual, start more than one sentence with, "I noticed that...," followed by some commentary: on the inadequacy of my home (e.g., it needs paint) or my possessions (e.g., my couch is well-used) or my clothes (e.g., too informal). Any sentence that starts with "I noticed that" always makes my inwardly cringe and brace myself for the criticism that follows. Yet this is not the crux of the matter -- it's an irritant, but not unusual or noteworthy.

Rather, the problem is: I have my Treasures in my house. A Particular Person's presence among my Treasures -- especially if I am not here to  protect them -- puts them at risk.

It's not that I'm overly attached to my Things. It's that my Things will not be afforded the respect they deserve. They may be rearranged in a manner that the Particular Person feels is somehow more suitable. They may be damaged, because their value and the need for careful handling may be ignored. Their importance may be minimized, dismissed, or even mocked. Terrible. As I have said before, our Things are part of who we are. It's ever so important not to scoff at another's Things - to do so is to ridicule pieces of a person, and that is an unacceptable unkindness.

The physical presence of Particular Person here in my home, puts into danger all the pieces of comfort and happiness with which I have feathered my nest. It's a danger that I cannot prevent, and must tolerate.

It renders my Safe Place unsafe.

I will have to rely on the help of my Safe People to get through. I hope that they will understand. 

Sunday, September 6, 2015


The new hamster -- bless his heart, he's a wee bit dim -- spent a great deal of time trying to make a nest within his running wheel. He's not tidy, either. Beloved Husband asked that Rocky be moved off of the kitchen counter, in view of his general untidiness, and so, we have rearranged his voluminous habitat (and cleaned out the wheel) and set it on the small table in the corner of the kitchen, under venerable elderly nigh-immortal cockatiel. It works well, for we can see Mr. Hamster foraging, running, or sleeping, and yet his detritus is not on the counter.

Tiny Dog is most disturbed by Rocky's activities. "LOOK HE IS RUNNING IN THE WHEEL AGAIN LOOK LOOK LOOK" she announces. It's all right, Tiny Dog.  Wee hamsters need activities, too. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

The Next Word

The next word I have chosen from Consolations, by David Whyte:  Heartbreak.

Heartbreak is unpreventable; the natural outcome of caring for people and things over which we have no control, of holding in our affections those who inevitably move beyond our line of sight.

Heartbreak occurs in ways both giant and tiny. As it is inevitable, 
so it must be embraced. 'Tis a difficult, and necessary, part of being fully human. 

Picture copyright 2015, Mediocria Firma. Used with gratitude.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Piano Consolations

The choosing of words from Consolations by David Whyte over the past several days has brought to mind certain music for the piano that Herself learned many years ago: Liszt's Consolations.  They are beautiful pieces. You can hear all six at this link here, if you like. Herself is particularly fond of the third in the series - here's one lovely  rendition of Consolation No. 3 (lento placido) in D flat major.

We need to listen to far more Liszt.

I hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


The next word I have chosen from Consolations, by David Whyte: "friendship." David Whyte sees friendship in a very similar manner as John O'Donohue in Anam Cara. Lovely. I need not parse this essay, for it speaks for itself.

It reminds me of Cherished Friend.
[N]o matter the medicinal virtues of being a true friend or sustaining a long close relationship with another, the ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement, neither of the other nor of the self, the ultimate touchstone is witness, the privilege of having been seen by someone and the equal privilege of being granted the sight of the essence of another, to have walked with them and to have believed in them, and sometimes just to have accompanied them for however brief a span, on a journey impossible to accomplish alone.

Picture copyright 2015, Mediocria Firma. Used with gratitude.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


The third word I have chosen from Consolations, by David Whyte: "forgiveness."  I selected this one in particular because it seems to go hand-in-hand with yesterday's word, anger.

Why is forgiveness difficult?

Forgiveness is a heartache and difficult to achieve because strangely, it not only refuses to eliminate the original wound, but actually draws us closer to its source.  To approach forgiveness is to close in on the nature of the hurt itself, the only remedy being, as we approach its raw center, to reimagine our relation to it.

Once more -- as with anger -- we are asked to transform ourselves, to acknowledge what lies within and move above and beyond. Why should we?

Forgiveness is a skill, a way of preserving clarity, sanity and generosity in an individual life, a beautiful way of shaping the mind to a future we want for ourselves...

Forgiveness, then, is not so much for the person who has done us wrong, as it is for ourselves:  to prevent us from becoming trapped within our own hurt and anger. To keep us from becoming stuck. To help us tend to our own wounds and embrace them as part of us. To give ourselves the grace that we need, so that we may fly free.

At the end of life, the wish to be forgiven is ultimately the chief desire of almost every human being. In refusing to wait; in extending forgiveness to others now, we begin the long journey of becoming the person who will be large enough, able enough and generous enough to receive, at the very end, that absolution ourselves. 


Picture copyright 2015, Mediocria Firma. Used with gratitude.