Thursday, December 31, 2015

Out With The Old

Here we are, once again, at the end of the year.

Herself and Beloved Husband looked at one another these past few weeks and concurred that this was the first year in many years that they hadn't gotten to mid-year and said, "I thought this year was supposed to be better than last year."  We are all tremendously grateful that this was, all-in-all, a decent year. There were still repercussions from the previous year -- Herself still periodically feels grief related to her unmooring, and sadness and readjustments were regular features of the days of this year as we learned to cope with Cherished Friend's moving away  -- but everyone is healthy, bills are paid, and :::fervently knocking wood::: there have been no new dramatic or difficult changes.

In our relief, we feel that it might be greedy to ask the Universe for more and better for next year. In our eternal optimism, though, we breathe wishes into the ether for those we love: may they have health, contentment, satisfaction at school or at work, and flashes of Joy. May they know they are loved. And may Good Things, in whatever form they take, come to them, always.

Here's to a New Year.


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

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

On Top

Today's earworm: On Top Of The World, by Imagine Dragons.

I found this in some random internet list of Songs To Wake Up To. And though I won't be setting it as my alarm, it does certainly have that just-right degree of upbeat melody to perk up one's day.

I hope you enjoy.




Monday, December 28, 2015

Sun Dog

Elderly three-toothed dog likes to keep Herself company upstairs when she uses the elliptical trainer. (He is much like ottoman-shaped dog in that respect. And it is nice to have that company.) This afternoon, the sun streamed in just right, so we arranged a blanket on the chaise for him to rest. He was quite happy.

Good boy, Tio.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Snow Shovel

A few thoughts about the snow.


The snow started out mildly.
Just a dusting in the front of the house.

A bit more in the back of the house.

It was really rather poetic.

In the evening streetlight, it was lovely

And then, by the next morning, it was... quite abundant.

Eight-inch (or more?) caps of snow on all of the pots and plants.

The rose bushes were thoroughly weighted down by the snow.

The small dogs were most alarmed.
Even shoveling them a patch of grass was insufficient 
to console them.

It was nearly knee-deep to 6-foot-two-inch Offspring the Third.

He built a snowman.

He said, of the snowman:

"The dramatic snowman, built upon my likeness, is here to bid you all a late merry Christmas and an early happy new year. Also, a big thank you to Mrs. Clause, Jingle Bell, and Jangle Bell for talking to mother nature to get the heat miser to fork over some southern territory to snow miser to allow snow for his creation."

We spent the afternoon shoveling the driveway, lest it all melt-and-freeze. (Herself actually enjoys shoveling snow. I suppose it would be less enjoyable if it was necessary more often, but today, it was a pleasant task.) 

It was beautiful snow. We shall see how long it remains.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Snowfall

It's snowing! 

I have browned the pot roast and put it into the crock pot, and we are all watching the Star Wars movies. It is Good, indeed.

Friday, December 25, 2015

What It Is

What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace. ~ Agnes M. Pharo

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

Thursday, December 24, 2015

That Which We Have Loved

The holiday season can be joyous, complex, difficult -- sometimes, all in the same day. Our wish for you is that you find yourself safe and warm and healthy, and knowing that you are loved. 

Christmas – that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance. It may weave a spell of nostalgia. Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance – a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved. ~ Augusta E. Rundel


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Like a Pile of Puppies

Herself speaks.

Offspring the Third had a small horde of friends over this past weekend. (Another day, I'll write about how marvelous that is, especially when one considers how brutal his peers were when he was in grade school. Good for him, to have found his way and his Tribe.) They were a mixed group of boys and girls, all very cheerful and polite. They drank cocoa with marshmallows, and consumed pizza and wee little pumpkin pie tarts that Offspring the Third had made, and then together they all rolled out and decorated sugar cookies. (I played the role of house elf, invisible except for when requested by Offspring the Third to help find the rolling pin or to fetch the pizzas from the oven.) They all laughed and shared inside jokes with one another, and it sounded as if they enjoyed themselves mightily.

After they exchanged gifts as per a preordained name-draw, they sat around the Christmas tree and chatted. All nine of them were squished together on the furniture, deliberately putting arms, feet, heads on one another, each physically in contact with several of the others concurrently. It didn't have any overt sexual overtones; rather, they all just seemed extraordinarily comfortable with touch. The same behavior extended to when they moved to the kitchen, for they all crowded and jostled each other playfully, comfortably. A few of them even carried some of the others back and forth between rooms. They were like a bunch of puppies together.

I wonder: at what point do we lose that type of physical contact?

My physical contact with others -- except for my immediate family, where there is a bit more contact -- is limited to handshakes and occasionally the briefest of hugs hello or goodbye for a few people. It is difficult even to imagine draping an arm across someone else's shoulders, or brushing someone else's hair, or sitting close enough for a foot or a knee to touch someone else. It's a cultural barrier of adulthood, with building of invisible walls and assertions of broad personal space. It leaves us all insufficiently touched, I think.

Are trained to eschew any physical contact so as to avoid any possibility of offending someone else with touch? Are we so easily bothered by another's touch? Or is it that any touch is construed as possibly sexual, and thus we avoid contact so as to avoid misinterpretation of small gestures? What ever happened to physical without sexual touch?

This is how we end up with professional "cuddlers" - because common touch has been lost from our communal vocabulary.

There are times when I am very cognizant of having to avoid touching someone else, even though my first instinct is to reach out my hand. I am stifled. Or rather, I stifle myself. Because it is Not Done.

Alas.

It does not seem right to me.

This adorable puppy pile was found here
https://www.ecotools.com/blog/2012/10/12/feel-good-friday-puppy-love-adopt-a-shelter-dog-month

Monday, December 21, 2015

Ugly Boy

Elderly three-toothed dog has taken a shine to Offspring the First, and begged to sit in her lap yesterday. She kindly obliged. Then she took a closeup of his wee little face.

Oh, dear. That tongue, in particular. And the photo doesn't even include much of the one permanently crumpled ear.

Tio, you are not handsome. Despite that -- or partially because of that? -- we are particularly fond of you and your funny-looking mug.


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Just, NO

Really? No. Jeez Louise.
Available at the store today:


Friday, December 18, 2015

Family Game

Beloved Husband, Offspring the First, Offspring the Second, and Offspring the Third played a game of Scrabble, while Herself worked on various kitchen- and holiday-related activities. There was much laughter. It was Very Nice, indeed.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Ambiance

EXTRA ambiance.

(I always thought it was spelled "ambience." Apparently it can be written either way. And now that I've typed it, both look funny.)

Regardless: fancy!


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

10,000

The marvelous Subaru has hit 10,000 miles. 

It makes driving a pleasure, and I am very happy to have it. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Huron

Today's earworm: Ends of the Earth by Lord Huron. (With thanks to Beloved Husband, who first introduced us to the song.)

It might be a sad song; I haven't learned all the lyrics yet. Still, it is lovely.

I hope you enjoy.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Santa Tio

I know dogs shouldn't wear clothing. I couldn't help myself.


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Phenomenological Difference

There is a phenomenological difference in experiencing pain yourself and sharing someone else's pain and suffering. Your own pain is involuntary; you feel overwhelmed and have no control. When feeling the pain of others there is an element of discomfort, but there also is a level of stability because you are voluntarily accepting pain. It gives you a sense of confidence. - His Holiness the Dalai Lama

I was not entirely sure, at first, what the Dalai Lama meant.

First, I looked up "phenomenological" -- "relating to the study of the development of human consciousness and self-awareness."  Hmmm. That seems to require a million more words before I begin to comprehend.

Second, I looked up "confidence," for it seemed oddly out of place in the quotation. Confidence: "a feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something." In this context, what does that indicate? That one has a feeling or belief that one can experience pain and suffering well? That doesn't make sense.

Let's just look at the middle part:

Your own pain is involuntary; you feel overwhelmed and have no control. When feeling the pain of others there is an element of discomfort, but there also is a level of stability because you are voluntarily accepting pain.

This part, I understand.

When I feel my own Darkness descend, I do feel overpowered and helpless. Afraid. I have to hold tight to myself and wait for it to pass.

To hear and acknowledge someone else's Darkness, though, does not frighten me. To bear witness to another's Darkness is to willingly take on a piece of it for oneself. It is to light a beacon for those in the Darkness. And sometimes, it is just to sit in silence in the Darkness, together.

This, I can do.


Saturday, December 12, 2015

Prodrome Gremlins

It's one thing to read about the phases of migraine: prodrome, aura, attack, postdrome. (And I recommend you do read about the phases; it helps to understand that a migraine is not just a bad headache. No, indeed.) It's another thing entirely to live the phases of the migraine.

I'm currently in prodrome. It may not yield a full-fledged migraine -- sometimes things ratchet back downwards. Still, it's unpleasant: irritability, cravings for sugar, sleepiness; everything is too loud, too bright, too scratchy or too squeezy, too salty, too much. This phase includes watchful waiting for aura: nausea, dizziness, pins-and-needles, and then a run for medication when the aura kicks in.

(I would medicate earlier, during prodrome, but sometimes the ibuprofen can increase nausea/stomach pain. It's a delicate matter, pain relief.)

The hardest part about prodrome: the gathering of the Darkness in my head.

The Darkness seems to be a desolate fog, yet it is populated with ugly little gremlins who congregate and whisper and draw strength from one another.

There are gremlins of frustration and sadness: they shine a painful light on all my responsibilities, causing them to telescope unnaturally in length and grow in weight. There are gremlins of despair and yearning, who remind me about the things I want that I cannot have. Accompanying them is a small throng of gremlins who join forces to drag out bitter remembrances of exhaustion and loss and heartache.

And in the center, one particularly cruel gremlin stands solitary, arms crossed, and roars with a vindictive stare that I am completely alone, that no one will help, that no one cares -- and that if I ask for help I will be rejected, laughed at, abandoned.

This is the gremlin I fear the most.

It is somehow a relief when a migraine slams with its full force. It obliterates everything -- even that solitary demon -- and I am left in the soft light on the shore, soaked, shivering, and happy to be alive.

-----
You know: if I could vanquish that solitary gremlin, I think I could banish all the others, too.


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

Friday, December 11, 2015

Words

How odd I can have all this inside me and to you it’s just words.
― David Foster Wallace, The Pale King

Sometimes, the words bubble up and out. Some distant emotive precipitation -- whether a quiet rain or a fierce hailstorm -- carries the words underground, a silent spring, until they find a point of access into the world and pour forth in all their multitude. You can almost smell the creosote in the soft humidity that breathes across the land.

It still surprises me when the word flood yields no verdant growth. No sprig to gain purchase in the newly-moistened soil. No small desert flower. Perhaps it is too much all at once, and the seeds of dialogue are washed away.

I gather the word water back into myself, then, and await next time.

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

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Fixer-Upper

We are having the hail damage to the house repaired. There has been a swarm of pleasant, capable, and very busy workers all over the inside and the outside of the house, fixing the garage doors, painting things, repairing the damage from the roof leak and the window leak. Poor Tiny Dog is quite agitated at having SO MANY STRANGERS in and directly outside of the house. (Herself is a wee bit agitated. She does not care for strangers in her Space. Nevertheless, these are polite and hard-working strangers, so they get a pass. Plus, they are incredibly tidy. That makes Herself happy.) It's always Good when work gets done in a swift and efficient manner. Bravo.





Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Wizard Majority

Herself speaks.

Flashback: wee Offspring the Third, in his little bear hat, with his pacifier, tucked warmly into the baby sling. We were at Carlsbad Caverns, one of my very favorite places. I carried you throughout. Sweet baby mine, grown up now.

Today, Offspring the Third has reached the age of majority in the wizarding world: 17. These seventeen years have passed in the blink of an eye, and he has matured into a lovely young man: kind, funny, philosophical, warm-hearted. Bless you, marvelous child. I hope that the future brings you All Good Things.




Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Winter Sun

Elderly three-toothed dog likes to keep me company when I use the elliptical trainer. Sometimes, the sun shines in just right, and he can enjoy the rays on his cushion nearby. 

Ottoman-shaped dog used to do the same thing. 

Thank you, Tio, for taking on the canine role of exercise supervisor.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Winter Roses

A few of the rose bushes in the yard are still blooming. Nice.


Sunday, December 6, 2015

I'm an Old Fart

Heard a very catchy tune yesterday:  Let's Marvin Gaye and Get It On, by Charlie Puth, with Meghan Trainor. I watched the video, and realized that I am an old fart.

The following were some of my thoughts during the video:

1.  The video is set a high school dance. Target audience therefore is high school students. OK then!

2.  How old is Charlie Puth? Good heavens, is he even out of high school? Babyface. (According to Wikipedia, he is 24. Still, LOOKS SO YOUNG.)

3.  How many high school students these days even know who Marvin Gaye was or how groundbreaking his music was? Would they know know that the song referenced is Gaye's Sexual Healing?

4. LYRICS ISSUE 1: "We've got this king-sized to ourselves/Don't have to share with no one else." Well, I would hope not. Unless you're in to that. Oh, dear.

5. LYRICS ISSUE 2: "Don't keep your secrets to yourself/It's kama sutra show and tell". Does the intended audience know that the kama sutra is and ancient Indian Hindu text that not only discusses sexual positions, but also provides information about virtuous living, and the nature of love, family life and other matters?

5.  LYRICS ISSUE 3: "You've got to give it up to me/I'm screaming mercy, mercy please." Erm, no. One never need give in sexually because one's partner says one has to do so.

6.  You know, I don't  actually need to see a closeup of any couple open-mouthed kissing. Ever.

7.  The chaperones: well, she looks appropriately mildly disturbed by the wave of teenage sexuality that has washed over all of the attendees at the dance. He, on the other hand, looks like the sort of man who is dressed up to be nerdy but really isn't, and is rather a lothario who is looking for his own opportunity.

8.  Meghan Trainor has SUCH a round behind. She's a lovely girl.

9. There's a guy feeding a girl a strawberry while she's lying down across the refreshments table: that berry looks rather large for him to be cramming it down her throat that way.  

10.  Well, by the end of the video, it's practically an orgy. Assorted couples all over the dance floor, the tables, in the bathroom stalls, in a car and in the janitor's closet (at least those couples attempted to find some privacy), everywhere. And I'll point out that on the floor of the gym, most of the couples have girl-on-top positions. Not sure if there's a message there -- perhaps it was just more visually appealing, since the girls' dresses and legs are more interesting than the back of various suit jackets would have been.

11.  Kudos to the video-makers for being all-inclusive; the players were various ethnicities, and among the standard heterosexual couples, I also spotted lesbian and gay couples, couples that included larger-sized individuals, couples of mixed race, and even more than one menage-a-trois, Oh, and an 'old' couple -- the chaperones who were similarly, um, overcome by the song.

So.

Well.

Is it inappropriate for a high-school aged crowd?

I know that some high school students are embroiled in rampant hormones. Perhaps it's a good thing that sexuality is treated as something about which one need not be ashamed or embarrassed. On the other hand, does it add to the pressure that teenagers feel to be sexually active before they are emotionally ready?

Sex should be taken a bit more seriously, I think. Not so seriously so as not to laugh in the bedroom, of course -- but seriously enough that teenage casual-and-rampant-sexual-activity, as in the video, should not be encouraged.

I know, I know -- it's just  a video. Still. I think that my sentiments on this matter clearly make me an old fart.

Nevertheless, it is a catchy song.


Saturday, December 5, 2015

You Never Know

Today's earworm: Meghan Trainor, Like I'm Gonna Lose You, with John Legend. It's a sweet, melodic reminder not to take the ordinary days for granted.

We hope you enjoy.


Friday, December 4, 2015

Dewclaw Carry-You

Herself speaks.

Tiny Dog snagged her dewclaw on the carpet while running around with her toys. It broke. SMALL DOG BLEEDING, ALARM, ALARM. A minute or two of pressure stopped the flow of blood, but she needed to be kept still for several minutes to make sure it didn't start bleeding or get snagged again. Beloved Husband had just arrived home and needed to go change his clothes; I was in the middle of browning some chicken for Offspring the Third's dinner after theater rehearsal. What to do?

There, on the doorknob to the study, was the baby sling -- I'd gotten it out to show Offspring the First when she was home for Thanksgiving.

I stuffed a small fleece blanket into it, and then tucked Tiny Dog in as well. She was unsure at first, but then settled in comfortably. I could resume my activities and take care of her at the same time. Win!

I won't do it often. Or ever in public. (That's crazy-dog-lady territory.) Still, it was handy. And it reminded me of how very useful the sling had been with the Offspring, so long ago.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

A Terrible Legacy

There was a mass murder in San Bernardino, California, yesterday. Once more we are horrorstruck. So many shootings. So very many. Fourteen people were slain, with seventeen more injured. Unthinkable. And yet somehow unsurprising. Alas.

The perpetrators, a husband and wife, left their six-month-old baby with a relative before committing these atrocities.

The child.

Her parents have left her naught but a legacy of pain.

What happens to her now?  If her relatives try to protect her from learning too young the truth of what her parents did, there will nevertheless be some classmate who overhears the talk of the adults -- for adults often are careless about what is said in front of children -- and who will taunt the child on the playground. Children are cruel, and adults are cruel, too. There will be whispers and subtle (or not-so-subtle) shunnings for this child throughout her life. And perhaps not even whispers. There will be barbed words, or worse, for her: a lifetime of danger, not knowing who might know her parents' history and find her guilty by association.

And if people do manage to keep her history under wraps for a short (or even a longer period of) time: when do they tell her? What do they tell her? How can they possibly prepare her for such a terrible knowledge? "Your mom and dad are murderers." It would be nearly incomprehensible.

What can she do? Will she feel the obligation to atone for her parents' sins? What possible degree of abnegation would be sufficient? Will she find that people expect her to be a rigorously devout Muslim and to show herself to be very different from any radicalized Muslim who has wrought such crimes? Will she find it necessary to take the exact opposite path from her parents and throw herself into a lifetime of activism for gun control or for peace or for some other type of social justice? Will she feel she must deliberately put herself into harm's way, to demonstrate that she is Not Like Them? Or will she give in, knowing that she has been damned by people since her infancy, and follow in her parents' footsteps?

It is a terrible fate.

I am sorry, child, that your parents brought you into this world and then so mercilessly branded you with horror and abandoned you. I hope that as you walk the jagged path that is your inheritance, you will still find moments of happiness.

Good luck, baby girl.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Solitary Bear

Today, I both long for, and am disquieted by, solitude.

There are days when solitude is a heady wine that intoxicates you with freedom, others when it is a bitter tonic, and still others when it is a poison that makes you beat your head against the wall. ― Colette, Oeuvres compl├Ętes en seize volumes

Picture copyright 2015, Mediocria Firma. Used with gratitude.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Laundry Waits

I have finished all of the laundry from the Thanksgiving holiday.

Eight thousand or so dishtowels have been folded and put back where they belong; freshly-made beds are awaiting the next trip home by Offspring the First and Offspring the Second; and Cherished Friend's bedding is clean and carefully stored away until next time on the shelf marked "FUR-FREE LINENS". The Thanksgiving tablecloth is tucked in the sideboard until next year. The fall-themed hand towels are back in the linen closet, and the winter-themed ones are now making their appearance.

I feel as though the laundry is Anticipating. It waits, as we all do, for the Next Time.

Remain patient, Laundry. You will have your turn again.