Sunday, July 31, 2016

Last Time

Herself speaks.

I filled out the paperwork to enroll Offspring the Third into the local school system -- for the very last time.

The paperwork was, as always, complex, repetitive, and annoying. Yet -- this was the very last time. At least it was online, instead of actual physical paper (as it was in the early days of Offspring education). Fewer trees perish for the paper of enrollment these days, and that is good.

Enrollment was bittersweet in a way.  (And made all the more poignant when I had to remove Cherished Friend from the list of emergency contacts. Alas. I would say, "I wish he still lived here," but really, that is selfish. I wish, above all, that he finds his contentment, wherever that may be. I do miss having him nearby, however.)

It is hard to believe that the time of school is coming to an end.

Suddenly, I feel old.

Yet also, I feel closer to having a wee bit less responsibility, as I work to hand over to Offspring the Third, the reins for his education. He will do well, wherever he goes. He is a Very Good Egg.

One more year. And one step at a time.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Neville

Today is Neville Longbottom's birthday. Happy birthday, you marvelous fictional character, who showed us that even those who seem to be untalented, awkward, and even clumsy, can nevertheless -- with a little faith from friends -- blossom into marvelous, magical, enchanted-snake-slaying heroes.
-----

We have reached the "Harry Potter point" in the summer.

I remember that whenever I would read a new Harry Potter book, I would wonder why Harry bemoaned the length of the summer so much; it was just two months for him, and yet he would nevertheless sink into despair after just a few weeks with the Dursleys.  Geez, Harry, be patient. Get a grip.

And then invariably, every summer, I would stop wondering and completely understand.

We are not sinking into despair here; nevertheless, we now thoroughly long for the routine and predictability of the school year.

I always loved school. And if school had been as marvelous as Hogwarts, I would never have wanted to leave.

Perhaps someday I will go back to school and learn new things. That would be Good.


Neville was found here: http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Neville_Longbottom

Friday, July 29, 2016

Glass Ceiling

Herself speaks.

I know many people feel quite strongly about the presidential candidates this election year, and I am no exception. Without delving into the political fray (or, more properly, morass), I will say this one thing:

This is something that I never imagined: the official nomination of a woman for presidential candidate. It is a great event. The young girl inside me, wearing her SUPER GIRL shirt, is enormously proud of this showing of all the things that girls can do. 

I am grateful to have seen this moment. 

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton hugs U.S. President Barack Obama as she arrives onstage at the end of his speech on the third night of the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., July 27, 2016. © Jim Young

Thursday, July 28, 2016

It is Difficult to Photograph the Tiny Bird

I am what might be considered to be unreasonably happy about the hummingbirds (I believe there are more than one -- perhaps a nesting pair). They are just so wonderful. They visit every morning and every evening, and it is marvelous. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Say Hey

Today's earworm: Michael Franti & Spearhead, Say Hey.

Always guaranteed to make me dance. Dance with me!

I hope you enjoy.


Monday, July 25, 2016

Wee Birds

The hummingbird (hummingbirds?) is a regular visitor to the feeder on the back patio.

This fills me with delight.

I will try to take some footage of it/them, if I can. In the meanwhile, do enjoy this person's hummingbird bonanza.

(Not my cup, nor my birds; yet, still marvelous.)

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Precision of Words

Today's earworm: Kiss Me, by Ed Sheeran. 

I have a question about one phrase in the lyrics:
Kiss me like you want to be loved

I wonder - does this mean:
1. Kiss me in the manner that you want to be loved;
or
2. Kiss me as though you want to be loved.

It's a subtle difference, but a difference -- I think -- just the same.

I do enjoy precision of words. And I hope you enjoy the song.


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Wonder

Herself speaks.

A trailer for Wonder Woman is out.

Ah, Wonder Woman. When I was a child, I always thought she was so remarkable: independent, smart, capable, and alluring. I didn't want to be her, exactly, but I thought she was just nifty, and held a secret longing in my child-heart: to be as cool as Wonder Woman.

I hope the movie delivers. For in my child-heart -- deep within my adult-heart -- I still long to see, to be, a woman as cool as Wonder Woman.


Friday, July 22, 2016

Help

I am returning to a theme from nearly a year ago: words I have chosen from Consolations, by David Whyte. Today's word is: help.

Help is strangely, something we want to do without, as if the very idea disturbs and blurs the boundaries of our individual endeavors, as if we cannot face how much we need in order to go on. We are born with an absolute necessity for help, grow well only with a continuous succession of extended hands, and as adults depend upon others for our further successes and possibilities in life even as competent individuals. Even the most solitary writer needs a reader....

It may be that the ability to know the necessity for help; to know how to look for that help and then most importantly, how to ask for it, is one of the primary transformative dynamics that allows us to emancipate ourselves into each new epoch of our lives. 

Here's to Help. May we learn how to seek it, and may we find it, when we are most in need.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wipeout

This morning, the doorbell rang, and elderly three-toothed dog and tiny dog both galloped towards the front door as usual. When I arrived in the front hallway, however, elderly three-toothed dog was on his side by the door, looking exactly like an overturned turtle -- twitching his legs, yet unable to right himself. He must have slipped in his haste to bark at the offender who had rung the bell.

I picked him up and carried him about for a few minutes, until I was certain that he had not injured himself.  That one back leg which occasionally bothers him is still clearly a bit troublesome, but all in all, it does not seem as though he hurt anything other than his tiny canine pride. 

My brave and fierce elderly three-toothed dog. We'll take care of you. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Fortress

And the news continues to be terrible: targeted shootings of police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; a quashed coup in the country of Turkey; and now, the Republican National Convention, a scene of such vitriol and incessant criticism and bloviating, that I cannot even bear to look.

More than ever in these times, it is important to have a Happy Place -- a mental space of safety.

I am constructing a new Happy Place. It is slowly clarifying itself. Try to imagine it:

We will call it the Fortress. It is a stone structure, and yet, there is no indication that it was built by human hands. Rather, it appears to have been called into being by a vital, tremendous soul that has collected the stones and formed careful, thorough walls around itself. There are mosses on the some of the base stones; the mosses do not make the walls fragile, however -- instead, they are a sign of the willingness of the Fortress to bond with the terrain. The landscape is, as yet, undefined; I imagine Scottish moors.

There is no ceiling on the Fortress -- it opens to the sky. This is not because the Fortress is a ruin; instead, it is how it has been designed, to allow access to the stars and the cool winds and the calls of the night birds. Though roofless, it nevertheless provides comfortable alcoves of safety within.

Only the spirit of the Fortress lives within its walls. The Fortress stands tall, a little proud, perhaps, in the nebula of its environs. It does not seem particularly inviting at first. Nevertheless, it is a Safe Place, a place where -- if one finds the well-hidden entrance -- one can rest in companionable silence with the spirit of the Fortress. Gently, respectfully, place a tender hand on the walls. And in the quiet of the stones and the moss and the Milky Way, one can find peace.

It is a Good Place.

I should like to visit for a little while.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Hunger

Herself speaks.

A lovely woman, whom I have gotten to know through the marvels of the internet, sent me an article:

Hunger Makes Me.
(You can find it here: http://hazlitt.net/feature/hunger-makes-me)

How to describe this article? In many ways, it was like looking into a mirror; or perhaps, it was, at long last, having someone explain so clearly, so beautifully, why things are the way they are.

Women are often on a diet of the body, but we are always on a diet of the heart.

This is how it is.

Women talk ourselves into needing less, because we’re not supposed to want more—or because we know we won’t get more, and we don’t want to feel unsatisfied. We reduce our needs for food, for space, for respect, for help, for love and affection, for being noticed, according to what we think we’re allowed to have. Sometimes we tell ourselves that we can live without it, even that we don’t want it. But it’s not that we don’t want more. It’s that we don’t want to be seen asking for it.

How many times have I thought: if I could only eliminate my wants and my needs -- erase myself entirely --- then how much easier, how much better, things would be. No expectation, no anticipation; whatever was given, would be more than enough.

This is why Abnegation in the world of Divergent is so appealing. 

Asking to be thought of, understood, prioritized: this is a request so deep it is almost unfathomable.

And yet: it is part of what it is to be human. 

What would it take to feel safe being voracious? What would it take to realize that your desires are not monstrous, but human?

I do not know. 

Perhaps the first step is to Ask.

I do not know how to Ask.

Perhaps I need to learn. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Terrible

Herself speaks. 

Terrible things happened in Nice, France.

One man, with a large truck and a gun: 84 people are dead, including ten children. At least two of the victims were Americans -- a man and his son, from my home state, who had just recently visited Pamplona and Barcelona (just as Beloved Husband had; they were, in all likelihood, all in the same cities at the same time). Somehow, that makes it ever so close to home.

Running with the bulls: hazardous, to be sure. Yet ultimately, animal animus is far more comprehensible than human behavior. A bull is acting for survival, and is not malignant in thought or in action. People, on the other hand....

We are not safe, anywhere we go.

Reading the news becomes an impossible task. One cannot -- should not -- feel the terrible cumulative pain of individuals, of nations: it is too big. And yet to harden the heart against the pain of the world is to become less than human -- and thus, one step closer to the Demons who perpetrate the horrors.

What can we do?

The world is becoming a terrible place.

Who will save it?

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Go

I confess: I have downloaded Pokemon Go. It is entertaining. I do not know how I will fare with training and fighting the creatures (I don't like confrontations!), but I am enjoying roaming the neighborhood, collecting things. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Spot

Elderly three-toothed dog has enjoyed the nights that Beloved Husband has been away, because that marvelous Spot on that side of the bed was all his during that time. He will nevertheless be glad to see Beloved Husband (as shall we all), though, and perhaps won't mind the foot of the bed too much, since it will mean that more of his Pack is home again.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Waiting, Again

Today's earworm -- better waiting than yesterday's earworm. Do ignore the world's worst lip-syncing in the video, for this is a classic song, and somehow is always comforting:  The Rolling Stones, Waiting On A Friend.

I hope you enjoy.




Saturday, July 9, 2016

Waiting

Today's earworm; Turn Me On (Norah Jones), because today, I am lonely, and it seems as though I am forever waiting. Sing the story, Norah.


Friday, July 8, 2016

All the Pieces

For the first weekend in I-don't-know-how-long, there is nothing on the agenda.

I shall work on learning some new music.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Music Box

Today's earworm: Frank Mills, Music Box Dancer. 

This is one of the very few 'pop' songs that I was allowed to learn as a youth (I was trained with classical music - Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Haydn, Hanon, Schubert, and such). It was one of my very favorite pieces. I hadn't thought of it in eons, until last weekend.

I hope you enjoy.


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Servitude and Self

Herself speaks.

This is an absolutely magnificent piece of writing:
http://velamag.com/mother-writer-monster-maid/

It encapsulates so much of the quintessential struggle: the perpetual dance to balance family, work, self.

And in this era of competitive self-effacing motherhood (and by association, wifehood), it boldly proclaims the true need for more:

"I found myself, as I crammed my thighs into my shapewear, saying, “Oh, well, I love my husband, he is the perfect man for me and it was love at first sight, but I would never willingly enter into this state of servitude again.”

"I had not known that I felt that way until I said it. It frightened me that I said it. That night at the party, I kept thinking about it, and on the flight home, I kept thinking about it, and no matter how I looked at that phrase I couldn’t make it any less true."

Yes. That. We have an eternal, visceral love for husband and children; we would, without hesitation, make any and all sacrifices for them; and nevertheless, during the mundane, quotidian activities, we struggle with our personal goals and dreams. It is daily, tremendous, internal tug-of-war, in which we run the risk of disappearing from ourselves. 

There is the spectre of invisibility:

"My job when I am with my children is to have as few needs as possible so that I can meet theirs.... It is my job to be invisible to him.There are other ways too in which I am invisible. I often feel that the work I do around the house is the work of an invisible person."

We are the house elves of the world, tending to all of the little things, out of sight of those who benefit most from our silent unseen activities.

The author further mulls over the conflict between the need to care for others, and the need to pursue one's passions: 

"I will say this: it is probably easier to be an artist and an asshole. It is probably easier to get the time you need to work if you don’t care how it affects the people around you. It is easier to focus on achieving one thing than achieving two things."

It is contrary to our invisible tasks of love, to shine the spotlight on ourselves and what we want for ourselves. And yet, perhaps motherhood/family and pursuing one's creative passions are not, in the end, exclusive. We can try. The greatest challenge is keeping oneself whole, in the midst of it all. 

"There is no surer way to locate your self, if you have misplaced her for a moment, than to ask yourself what you want."

If you have the time, I recommend that you read the whole article. It is magnificent. In the meanwhile, I will be asking myself: "what do I want?"

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Dory

Warning: spoilers for Finding Dory ahead. You have been warned!
Herself speaks.

I found Finding Dory to be nearly unbearable.

You surely know the overarching plot -- Dory, with her omnipresent (and enhanced-for-plot-purposes) Short Term Memory Loss, begins to remember her parents, and goes on an "epic adventure" to find them. And eventually, she does. Happy-ever-after all around, with her parents, and Nemo and Marlin, and other new-found friends, all returning to the sea and living together in harmony.

So why was it nearly unbearable?

The last straw for me was near the denouement: Dory once more finds herself alone, in a dark and grim part of the ocean, with naught but a murky, fishless kelp forest nearby. She calls and calls for someone to help her, and no one answers. And so she talks herself into helping herself, finding the safety of the kelp forest, looking at the sand and acknowledging how she likes sand because it is squishy, looking at the shells that remind her of her parents.

And the shells. Radiating paths of shells, more and more paths, so that she might see them from any direction -- paths built, in hope and love and pain, a radiating yearning for she who was lost, in the hopes she will be found again.

We could all guess at the moment: she follows the nearest path of shells, and finally is reunited with her parents, who have stayed in that one place, building the shell paths, for years and years, waiting for this moment.

I'm not sure which broke my heart more: Dory's calls for help, unanswered; or the painstakingly built shell paths, reflecting the agony of waiting, waiting, waiting, in hope and in fear, waiting, waiting, waiting.

Hopefully Offspring the Third and Cherished Friend, sitting on either side of me, were sufficiently engrossed in the film so as not to notice that single tear that escaped from each eye before I could go elsewhere in my mind and shut mental doors against the horror of unanswered calls for help and of terrible waiting. If they did notice, they were mercifully too polite to mention it.

I know these are some of the most virulent of my Dementors -- and knowledge is power, so I can arm myself accordingly. I have faith and strength. We shall see if I can prove myself to be as brave and resilient as Dory and her parents, when such times come.

I am glad they got their happy-ever-afters.

I cannot watch Finding Dory again.

Baby Dory found here: http://www.ew.com/article/2016/06/20/finding-dory-clip-baby-dory

Monday, July 4, 2016

Anticipation

Herself speaks.

My apologies, lovely readers -- I temporarily dropped off of the face of the earth. I had Weekend Plans.

Part of this weekend was finalizing Beloved Husband's accoutrements for a significant trip: did he have all the proper garments, medicaments, footwear, cash, and contingency plans? Had all Work been handled? Was he All Set? At last, all was ready, and I delivered him to the airport in the wee hours of Sunday morning. Safe travels, Beloved. May you have a lovely time, and return safely home.

The other part of the weekend was a visit from Cherished Friend. Aaah.

Knowing that he planned to arrive Friday, I spent Thursday evening attempting to remove as many dog-related allergens from the environment as possible -- mopping, vacuuming, steam cleaning the carpets downstairs, wiping down the sofas -- in order to ensure that he would be as comfortable as possible. The cleaning was helpful, because it kept my mind focused in the present instead of in the Land of Anticipation.

Anticipation is dangerous. I try not to look forward to things; for to anticipate the pleasure of an event, an activity, or a visit, is to tempt Fate. So many things can happen. So many things can go wrong, so many plans can change. I try not to think of those darker possibilities, either -- to anticipate sorrow or disappointment is to risk bringing to fruition a self-fulfilling prophecy of despair.

Knowing this, I tried not to look forward to Cherished Friend's visit. It was easier to do than usual: at the moment, he is almost a Mythic Creature -- an extraordinary unicorn, my Friend.  Since he is currently without internet, there are no Skype calls for the indeterminate future, and e-mails are kept to a minimum. Without seeing his face at all (other than in the photo I keep with other important photos in my study) and with only the rarest of occasional phone calls in which to hear his familiar voice (I am terrible at talking on the phone, and do not like to impose my terrible conversational skills upon him), our communication is primarily through text, an imperfect (yet better-than-silence) medium. Sometimes it seems as though he is nearly a figment of imagination -- that elusive unicorn, which I know I have seen before, and which I want very much to see again.

Yet to want, is to risk disappointment. And so I do not hope, nor do I anticipate: instead, I wait.

And miraculously, yet unsurprisingly (for he had said he would do so), he arrived -- apparated, as it were -- Friday evening.

He was the same as always. And everything was Just Right.

He seamlessly blended himself into the workings of the household: he interacted with Beloved Husband, Offspring the Second, and Offspring the Third, just as though it had been days, rather than months and months, since they were last together; he provided help and such pleasant company in the kitchen; he spoke kindly to Tiny Dog, who -- although she dislikes almost all human beings -- nearly turned herself inside-out with happiness and attacked his feet with joy at every opportunity.

We played Scrabble. We sat on the patio in the cool of the morning. And we talked, about this and that, about permutations and possibilities, about things and nothings.

I have missed listening to him talk. It was marvelous to do so again.

Perhaps I have learned to appreciate the time all the more, knowing that it is evanescent.

Now that he is on his way back to Points North from whence he came, I am at a loss. I cannot think about the next time he will be a temporary part of my household, for I do not know when that will be. I can reflect upon the happiness of the visit, but that reflection is bittersweet, for it simultaneously must acknowledge that this particular type of happiness, like the sighting of a unicorn, will always be brief. Alas.

Oh, to have a time turner, for just a little while.

Until I see you again -- may the Universe keep you safe and well, my Cherished Friend.


Illustration found here
http://moonlightreader.booklikes.com/post/1267424/illustrated-harry-potter-and-the-sorcerer-s-stone