Years and years and years ago -- before we even moved to this desert land -- we lived in a lovely little townhouse with a tiny Offspring the First and an even tinier Offspring the Second. I loved that little townhouse, and sometimes dream about it, still.
In the living area downstairs, we had a cabinet with the television and the stereo. The stereo had, somewhat inexplicably, come with a microphone, presumably for karaoke. The wee Offspring found the microphone fascinating; we, however, kept it relatively hidden, lest we be subjected to hours of toddler karaoke.
One afternoon, though, we had opened the glass door behind which the stereo sat, and they spotted the microphone. "Look, the saxophone!" one of them exclaimed. "It's not a saxophone, it's a microwave," the other one corrected.
Hee. We still laugh about it, even now.
I thought of the microphone this past weekend, when I discovered that the microwave had suddenly expired: without warning, it stopped heating things. It was a mere 7 years old. Alas, and egads -- how could I warm dinner for the (spoiled) chihuahuas?
Since Beloved Husband was out of town, I took it upon myself to handle this appliance matter. I removed the face plate behind which the defunct machine was ensconced, wrestled it out (it weighed approximately 8,000 pounds) and measured it carefully; went to the home improvement store and identified an appropriate new microwave; wrestled it out of the store, into the car, out of the car, and into the house; installed it (with much sweating and a wee bit of cursing, since it too weighed approximately 8,000 pounds); and reinstalled the face plate.
It is shinier than the old machine, which is distracting. (I thought that perhaps stainless steel would look nice -- meh. Yet, there it is.) Nevertheless, it works. HUZZAH.
In another 7 years when it must be replaced again, I will enlist some help to wrestle it, though. Doing it by myself this once was enough.
A phenomenon I shall never understand: mums and garters. They appear to be a Texas Thing, and more specifically a high school football-related Thing, for homecoming. (I still do not quite understand the HUGENESS of high school football here. 'Tis a mystery.) Girls have mums, boys have garters -- typically given to them by their date for the homecoming dance. Garters and mums can be ginormous and even include small stuffed teddy bears or other items, in addition to the streamers and ribbons and bells on strings and whatnot. They are carefully prepared and intricately arranged, and are as much for show for the person who provides the mum or garter as for the person who wears it -- rather like offering a multi-carat engagement ring.
They're a bit... much. Still, they are pretty. And if I had attended high school in this state, heck yes, I would have worn one. (If someone had given me one.)
Behold, Offspring the Third's garter, carefully prepared by his friend who attended the dance with him ("as friends," they were careful to point out). She selected the ribbons and bits to contain themes that are important to Offspring the Third. It was a very thoughtful composition, this garter. I am glad that he has such a good friend.
It is no surprise, really -- although his exact age was uncertain, what was known was that Peacock was older than Offspring the Second (who can legally purchase alcohol at this point). Adding to that Peacock's history prior to when we obtained him, put him at a minimum of about 23-24 years of age. Lifespan in the wild is 10 to 14 years; and in captivity is about 16 to 25 years (thank you, Wikipedia), and so, Peacock had reached a very ripe old age -- and passed, quickly and quietly, late yesterday.
And then he greeted Death as an old friend, and went with him gladly, and, equals, they departed this life. - J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Peacock has been such a fixture in the household: he has, it seems, always been here. I will always remember how he would chirp delightedly when the door between the house and the garage opened and shut, signifying Beloved Husband's arrival home; and the short song he used to sing, the same few notes: tweet TWEET tweet TWEET tweet TWEET; tweet TWEET tweet TWEET tweet TWEET TWEET TWEET. TWEET!
Last night I had a dream about him; though he was dead, I could still see his shimmering spirit -- much like a Hogwarts ghost -- there in his cage, and could still hear his song. I opened the door of the cage for him, and encouraged him to fly out, and then held the screen of the back door open as well so that he could go. He flew out into the back yard; hovered; and then was gone.
Godspeed, Peacock. Thank you for your time with us.
Yesterday, I went to the high school football game, in order to watch Offspring the Third in the marching band. (Side note: I am tremendously proud of him. He gets up in the wee hours of the morning during the week for band practice, and then carries around that gigantic drum. How he does it -- the early waking, as well as the marching backwards and playing that drum, while not stumbling -- I am not quite sure. Yet he does. Good for him.)
Since Beloved Husband is out of town, I went by myself. I opted to walk down to the school -- it is just over one and a half miles -- rather than to try to battle the parking and potential traffic. It was a lovely night, perfect for walking. I am in the middle of listening to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in audiobooks, and the soothing voice of Jim Dale was my companion for the walk.
I paid for my ticket and entered the stadium; I had to pause because I was not sure which side was the "home" side. A gaggle of teenage girls, sporting the high school colors and with paw prints of the school mascot painted on their faces, passed by and headed to the right. Ah, that way.
As I followed them towards the stands, I noticed that they were all holding hands.
It is hard to describe how this is important, or why it is marvelous. It seemed like a comfortable, intimate friendship; whether it was a long-term friendship, or one recently borne of school spirit and youthful exuberance, I do not know. I was happy for them, though. I hope they carry memories of these moments of togetherness with them, always.
I was hoping that during the time away, I would be able to sort out all of my feelings; to contemplate Life and The Big Picture at length; and to find resolutions for the matters that make my heart ache.
Alas. I have not quite figured everything out yet. I became a bit stuck on Things: Things That I Cannot Have, Things That Will Never Be, Things That Have Passed Me By. Even though there is not much use in examining such Things in detail, sometimes they fall out of that box in the corner of my brain and need to be considered before I can put them away again.
Still, I have learned one thing: I can be sad/angry/frustrated and do nothing, or I can be sad/angry/frustrated and do Something. So I shall, going forward, focus on the Somethings that I can do.
I am going to take things a bit easy here -- no strenuous posting, until I am thoroughly ready. Yet if I can find some small happiness or point of interest worth sharing, that will bring me a wee bit of joy. And that will, for now, be enough.
The moon has been just lovely lately. This morning, as I took Offspring the Third to band rehearsal in the very wee hours of the morning, the moon was just rising, giant, muted, and full, over the horizon. Beautiful.
I and the blog are going to take a few days' off. I am struggling with things over which I have no control, as well as with an inability to help those whom I know are struggling, too. I need a bit of time.
Know, though, my intrepid reader, that while I am away, I will nevertheless be thinking of you, with love.
There is a deep, desert-y arroyo on my walking route in the neighborhood. We suspect that the deer use it to come down from the foothills of the nearby mountain, since we occasionally spot a doe or a small-antlered buck grazing in the park at the entrance to the neighborhood. In the mornings, the birds swoop and chirp and echo across the arroyo. It's a lovely spot.
Here it is in the daytime:
In the nighttime, the arroyo is very different. The bottom is impossible to see. The air is quiet, but not still -- the cool air that pools at the bottom of the arroyo slowly seeps out over the edges and onto the sidewalk. It's a little mysterious, and fascinating, this nighttime arroyo.
Sometimes I wonder whether The Void -- which I have been toe-ing, although I have not yet fallen in -- is like the arroyo. It wouldn't be so bad, then: it is a marvelous sliver of the desert, this arroyo. There would be places to explore and creatures to seek out, and interesting plants and rocks to examine. It would be a place of quiet contemplation. That would be satisfying.
I like the arroyo.
I do not like The Void.
Perhaps, if the Void is inevitable, I can re-envision it like the arroyo.
Sometimes I worry about things over which I have virtually no control: like climate change. Poor Mother Earth, saddled with too many humans. We are slowly, inexorably, poisoning her systems and overusing her resources and creating garbage that cannot be destroyed. My turning off unused lights and recycling plastics has an infinitesimally small impact. Alas. What can I do?
Yet even in the face of eventual environmental catastrophe, Nature is still at work on the minute scale. Behold, two of the critters I have spotted while out for a late evening constitutional. It warms my heart to know that despite everything, Nature continues to thrive even in the footprints of humanity.
The wee snake - just over a foot long.
And the tiny tarantula, also taking a late evening constitutional.
I fix them dinner; Then they leave quickly, For activities Away from home. I am left alone, Dishes and laundry Plus two chihuahuas For Friday night. Inertia sets in - Why should I clean things When there's no one here For company? I try to reach out But cannot stretch past The opening void In front of me Desire - to be heard, To be found worthy, To touch, a kind hand Across the void
A visit to the allergist has yielded a diagnosis of chronic idiopathic urticaria. In other words: I itch, for reasons unknown. The doctor was very good: he took a thorough history, asked lots of questions, and explained everything in a manner that was scientific yet comprehensible. Best of all, he was neither dismissive nor condescending (two features of conversations I have had with doctors in years past, that have made me Very Annoyed Indeed). I highly recommend this allergist.
The fun part was the demonstration of concomitant dermatographic urticaria: the doctor took his pen, and with the reverse end -- so that no ink was drawn -- traced two parallel lines on my forearm, and then two parallel lines on one of my shoulders (two lines, two locations, to ensure it was not just a single coincidence). Within a couple of minutes, all of the lines turned red, puffed up, and became wheals. Lovely!
So now I have instructions for the right doses of antihistamines (both H1 and H2 antihistamines), and we shall see how it goes.
While researching chronic idiopathic urticaria, I came across several websites and articles that discussed histamine intolerance and its "H" triad --- hives, headache, heartburn -- and I wondered whether that may also be tied into the chronic urticaria. The science is unclear (and, in fact, I'm not entirely sure whether it is actual science or pseudoscience), but nevertheless, the descriptions all fit fairly precisely what I am experiencing. And so, I shall begin a low histamine diet tomorrow. It should not be terribly taxing: most of the high histamine or histamine-releasing foods are ones I have already identified as being headache-inducing and thus should avoid anyway. I will be interested to see whether strict adherence to such a diet helps.
I am frustrated. Adding another chronic discomfort to my repertoire of chronic health conditions is disheartening, to say the least. Yet, to have some answers is a Good Thing.
I started listening to Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince on audiotape last weekend while driving northward to visit Cherished Friend, and listened to it all the way home, as well as during all my mundane driving errands, and even while doing housework this weekend, until I finally finished it this evening. (There is always a driving force to complete a Harry Potter book, even though we have heard -- and read -- them all before and know precisely what happened; for there are little gems of language, little subtle details, that we find anew each time.)
It was heartbreaking as ever, to listen to the reactions of the denizens of the Harry Potter universe react to the death of such the beloved, brilliant fellow character of Dumbledore. In each of our mind's eyes, we can easily picture the funeral: the merpeople, the centaurs, the students and dignitaries, the White Tomb. We project our own losses -- whether real, or imaginary, or anticipated -- on to the grounds of Hogwarts, and we grieve, too. So very sad.
By coincidence, today I attended the funeral of an extended family member -- an individual who was distantly related enough that we only extremely rarely saw him. I am not even certain that he would have recognized me on the street, although I might well have recognized him in the right context. His death was sudden, though not entirely unexpected because of the illnesses he faced. It was clear that those who loved him, loved him dearly; for their grief was palpable, so very strong that I could feel it myself, even without being closely involved with them. It was astonishing how others' loss could be so palpable, so heartwrenching -- and yet it was.
As I sat in the church, I tried to escape the onslaught of other people's emotions by contemplating one of my favorite books -- C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce -- and its depiction of the Afterlife. In the book, those who are already in the Afterlife volunteer to go forth to greet those who are just arriving. (What a charming thought, to be welcomed by a familiar, loved face, into such a strange new world.) There is one scene in particular, in which one person welcomes another by apologizing for having loved imperfectly on earth, and inviting the newcomer into a more perfect and understanding love.
How magnificent it would be, I think, if such a thing were possible -- if we could, somehow, bare all and apologize for our human frailties, and extend instead a love free of the earthly failures that plague us in the realm of the here and now. To understand perfectly and unashamedly. To love without condition, without constraint. To shake off old grievances, leave them behind. Free of worry, free of fear and of loss, we will finally have all the time in the world to celebrate the very existence of another person.
That would be magnificent indeed.
Perhaps, in some ways, we are all like the fish of the ocean: we cannot possibly imagine a life beyond the watery world into which we have been born and in which we will one day die. Yet beyond the sea is a tremendous, gigantic, incomprehensible universe -- a world full of creatures and words and strangeness beyond our understanding. What if, in the end, we are brought into the fullness of that new world? How spectacular that would be.
Although Cherished Friend typically spends holiday weekends with other friends, due to various circumstances, we were fortunate to have the pleasure of his company for this Labor Day weekend. (This was Good, because when I visited him in Points North last weekend, I left with the distinct feeling that the time had been Too Short.) We played Scrabble as well as a highly competitive game of Harry Potter Trivia. We sat out on the patio with Beloved Husband and Offspring the Third. And he and Beloved Husband and I went for a rather hot, but otherwise pleasant, hike in the nearby mountains. It was Very Nice Indeed.
After Cherished Friend left this afternoon, I sat down to continue the e-mail correspondence I have with an old college friend (hereinafter, "H") with whom I have recently reconnected. I told H about the weekend, including mentioning that a close friend had visited. I thought about trying to explain succinctly the history of how this person became my Cherished Friend: how Cherished Friend has, over time, essentially become part of the family; how much I enjoy seeing Cherished Friend interact with the Offspring and with Beloved Husband; how valuable his company is to me. It was hard to put into words -- and attempting to do so, made me feel both nostalgic as well as wistful for those days when Cherished Friend was nearby. Alas. All the same, knowing that he is now Farther Away, makes me appreciate the value of his presence during these rare occasions when he is here.
It is remarkable that Cherished Friend, whose mind is constantly busy with a thousand different permutations of a thousand different things, can nevertheless manage to be In The Moment when he is here, and to give his undivided attention to us. It is both kind and personally generous of him to do so. He is, as ever, reserved and non-demonstrative, and so any hug I give him must be brief lest I make him uncomfortable or impinge upon his personal space; I hope, though, that in those few milliseconds, I manage to convey to him the tremendous gratitude I feel, for his being my Cherished Friend.
Elderly three-toothed dog has been with us for two years now. We are very fond of him.
I took him to the vet's for his checkup today. He is doing very well, all things considered - the medication for the inflammation/pain in his back knee is working well and is not harming his liver function, so he can stay on it for an extended period of time. That is good, since he is much more chipper with the help of the medication.
The vet took a much longer time than usual to listen with the stethoscope. I knew then that something was different -- and it was. Tio's heart murmur, which had previously been graded as a three out of six just a few months ago, is now at a four. He is on the road to congestive heart failure. We have started him on a medication in an attempt to postpone that stage. Hopefully it will agree with him and he will fare well.
Every time something happens with this elderly dog, I cannot help but cast my eye on the future, toward the moment when we will have to help him cross the bridge. I hope we have plenty of days left, but I know that time can be short. We never really know when the Three Fates will cut anyone's thread of life. And so, I try not to worry -- for what will happen, will happen, whether I worry or not. In the meanwhile, we will continue to enjoy him, every day.
NinjaHead resides with a muffin-baking woman known herein as Herself. Herself has a Beloved Husband, with whom she shares three nearly-grown Offspring. When she is not writing Things, Herself nurtures a visceral fondness for small furry creatures. The household menagerie, which has varied in size and composition over the years, presently contains a minuscule middle aged chihuahua, a most mild-mannered senior chihuahua, and a very small hamster who, due to the prominence of his gonads, seems to need trousers for decency.