Today, I addressed errands/tasks for three of the four other people in the household, plus one of the dogs: the bank, a series of onerous phone calls, the pharmacy, and the vet's office. Tomorrow, I will tackle an errand for the fourth person in the household, plus follow-up on some of today's tasks: a different pharmacy, a different bank, more phone calls.
I do not undertake these chores for my household members begrudgingly. As the person who pays the bills and keeps track of medical information (both human and canine), I am best suited for these tasks. And I do, truth be told, derive a certain sense of satisfaction in being helpful to my Important People. Can I ease someone's burden by undertaking a chore for them? I am all over that.
I confess, though:
I wish I had someone like myself to undertake onerous tasks for me.
And I wish I were comfortable asking someone to undertake such onerous tasks.
The people nearest to me are all limited in their own ways -- time, availability, other Valid Reasons for being unable to assist. I do not hold it against them. They help when they can, if I ask: the floor gets mopped, the dishwasher emptied. I still must conduct the organization and the delegation. Someone must keep track of It All, and I am that Someone.
Just the mental labor is tiring. Yet, it is all part and parcel of being a responsible adult.
Sometimes, I wish for a reprieve from being the responsible adult.
Somewhere, in some mythical land, there is someone -- a house elf? -- who anticipates what needs doing, and handles things quietly in the background, and lo and behold things would get done without my assistance or direction. It would be a magnificent relief not to have to keep track, to plan, to make lists, to point out what needs doing, to follow through. Aaah. That would be lovely.
Perhaps I should check the wardrobes for doors to Narnia. One can always hope.
This past weekend, Cherished Friend, Beloved Husband, and I took a very pleasant hike in the nearby desert. So refreshing to be out in the open air, with the ocotillo and the rocks and the blue sky. We spotted a very nice lizard, and also a beautiful snake warming itself on some rocks. Nice.
I put on sunscreen before we left, and again halfway through. The sun is bright, and I am a pale person; also, I had scheduled my annual visit with the dermatologist for the day after the hike, and did not want to arrive at my appointment with a sunburn. That's just wrong, somehow.
The physician's assistant is a kind and gentle-spoken woman who never makes me feel self-conscious about skin aberrations. I brought to her attention that one spot -- near the tip of my nose, of all unfortunate places -- that I've been watching with a little bit of trepidation. I'd had an actinic keratosis (AK) in that location a few years ago, addressed by liquid nitrogen. (I'm becoming rather used to the occasional freezing-of-problematic-spots at the dermatologist's office.) The spot was, somehow, once more not quite right. It was subtle, but it was noticeable, both to me and to her under her hand-held magnifying light. Recurrence of the AK? Or something else?
She recommended biopsy. And so that's what we did. It will take a week to ten days to get the results, and then we will know whether another MOHS surgery will be necessary. If I had to guess, I think it's likely.
I am trying to remain sanguine about the situation: best to tackle things now, before they get worse. I'm not particularly vain -- much too old for that nonsense -- yet having a surgical scar right across my nose will be... unsightly at first, to say the least. Alas. But what else can I do?
We shall see what happens.
Oh, to be a snake, who can sun herself without fear.
I was going to sit down yesterday and write about the pleasant weekend, but was sidetracked by a call from Offspring the Third.
"I'm OK, but..."
Before I could even imagine which particular terrible thing would follow the but, he continued:
"There's an active shooter on campus, and we're on lockdown."
I knew, based on his call and his indications of exactly where he was and what security precautions he had in place, that he was safe for the moment. Nevertheless, what we did not know was: who was the shooter? How were they armed? Who were the targets? How much danger was there, really? How many of Offspring the Third's fellow students were in danger? And what of the conflicting reports that were coming out -- was the shooter near the dorm next to Offspring the Third's, or near a farther-away building? Both were reported to the students. Better safe than sorry, to give those near either building more motivation to move quickly and a better chance of finding safety.
News services were slow to pick up on the story -- most likely, because it developed so fast, and then was handled expediently. We got most of our reports when Offspring the Third notified us by text each time they got word from the campus emergency services:
Update one officer killed. Mobile command center deployed. So far the SWAT team and all kinds of other police have rolled up. Right now I am still in my dorm with all the lights off. For now he has not been caught but a suspect has been named.
Then, about an hour after his call:
Update the shooter has been apprehended and the all clear has been sounded. Right now it's still recommended to stay indoors which is what I'll do.
He said later that he was "jarred, but would be OK."
I don't have words for how dismayed I am, that this has become the reality of everyday life.
You can read the story here: http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/09/us/texas-tech-police-officer-fatally-shot/index.html
I think about the slain officer, and wonder what he was like (the officer has, as of this morning, been identified by at least one news source as Floyd East, Jr.). No doubt his family waved goodbye earlier that day, assuming that campus police activities would be relatively safe as usual and that they would see him home later. And kudos to the rest of the officers, who handled such a terrible situation quickly and prevented any further loss of life.
Rest in peace, Officer East. Thank you for your service. I am so sorry that your time was cut short so carelessly and needlessly.
Today's earworm is a classic that first came to our attention sometime in high school (eons ago now) when Soft Cell covered it to great acclaim: Tainted Love. However, it is not the 1980s version that we enjoy most -- rather, it is the Marilyn Manson version, which is somehow much more alluring.
When we go hiking or camping, I feel as though I spend a great deal of time looking up. There is never enough sky in an ordinary week -- it is the house, the car, the road, the office, the store, and reverse to the house again. There is a glimpse of horizon as I drive along my way hither and yon, and perhaps a flash of sunset and peek of sky while I am in the yard with the dogs. That is not nearly enough.
I always feel better with the open sky above. My favorite times for the sky are dawn and dusk, when the sun is a bare presence and the air is quiet. Best of all is a sky with a slice of moon.
It is time to make a point of being out, under the open sky, more often.
Eons ago, when Ottoman-shaped Dog (may he rest in peace) was first diagnosed with diabetes, the vet shaved a small square of fur so that we would have better access to his skin for insulin shots. We dubbed it his "window of opportunity," and drew a heart in it, with Mom in the center, as a pseudo tattoo. (You can see it here.) He was such a devoted companion, that ottoman-shaped dog of my heart.
We felt that Tiny Dog needed a pseudo Mom tattoo in a shaved spot, too. Good girl, Tiny Dog.
I am a kind word uttered and repeated By the voice of Nature; I am a star fallen from the Blue tent upon the green carpet. I am the daughter of the elements With whom Winter conceived; To whom Spring gave birth; I was Reared in the lap of Summer and I Slept in the bed of Autumn.
At dawn I unite with the breeze To announce the coming of light; At eventide I join the birds In bidding the light farewell.
The plains are decorated with My beautiful colors, and the air Is scented with my fragrance.
As I embrace Slumber the eyes of Night watch over me, and as I Awaken I stare at the sun, which is The only eye of the day.
I drink dew for wine, and hearken to The voices of the birds, and dance To the rhythmic swaying of the grass.
I am the lover's gift; I am the wedding wreath; I am the memory of a moment of happiness; I am the last gift of the living to the dead; I am a part of joy and a part of sorrow.
But I look up high to see only the light, And never look down to see my shadow. This is wisdom which man must learn.
Based on the recent ads/suggested posts, Facebook seems to believe that I would like some literature of... questionable quality, with highly specific themes. All of these suggested posts/advertisements appeared within a single 12-hour period.
Egads. NO THANK YOU.
(For the record, Facebook: if I am looking for some kind of "romance read", the story will involve themes such as a gentleman providing a nice meal, undivided attention, and intriguing conversation. Thanks everso.)
And in those quiet, kindly spoken, carefully chosen words, I knew all that I needed to know.
Tiny Dog has dilated cardiomyopathy. It appears to be advancing quickly, given the rapid increase of her heart murmur. She has a new drug regimen which will hopefully buy us some time. The vet indicated that it is possible she will enter heart failure within a few months, and with the addition of further medications, may yet live a bit longer - perhaps a year. So we have a year, perhaps two if we are very lucky, left with Tiny Dog.
My own heart might be a bit broken. Broken for my Tiny Dog, and for Beloved Husband and the Offspring, who love this Tiny Dog. I cannot imagine that day when I must tell them that Tiny Dog's tiny life is folding to a close. (Or, perhaps, I can imagine far too well, but the anticipatory grief is too much yet to bear.)
I know that medical predictions can be an inexact science. She could, after all, defy odds and live a long, happy life yet. Nevertheless, I prepare myself for the careful, watchful waiting -- as I once did with my beloved ottoman-shaped dog -- and will be mindful of our time with her, knowing that our time is short.
It's catchy. The video is unusual for its abundance of glistening, barely-dressed men (unlike what seems to be the vast majority of music videos, which commonly feature gyrating, curvaceous, scantily clad women). None of the men particularly appeal to me -- but the song certainly does.
I attended a baby shower today for a young woman who is part of the extended family. I have avoided baby showers for the past twenty-something years, but felt obligated to go to this one, both to support the hostess (who is an absolutely lovely person) as well as to be kind to the mother-to-be.
I do not like baby showers. In fact, I thoroughly dislike them, for many complex reasons.
There is, first, the strange aspect of self-celebration that accompanies showers (including bridal showers as well as baby showers). I do not understand love of the spotlight.
There can also be a very odd competitive nature to showers: which person can throw the most well-decorated/cutest/most elaborate shower? Which guest brings the cutest/most expensive/most unusual gift? Even when the hostess is a lovely, down-to-earth person, other well-meaning individuals add fancy favors, elaborate decorations, thematic cakes. It can go on and on.
If I were to be honest, I woul admit to the tiniest bit of jealousy: oh, to be young and expectant. It is a marvel of nature to grow a baby, feeling tiny feet wedged under your ribs. Wondering what this child will be like, gathering tiny clothes and sturdy cardboard books, waiting. Alas. My time is past.
The overarching reason I dislike baby showers, though, is not jealousy:
rather, it is fear.
I have written before about Offspring the Third's guardian, Nicholas. When I was five months pregnant with Offspring the Third, the sister of my heart delivered her perfect, stillborn son, Nicholas -- and the fabric of the world was rent apart. Life and death were no longer opposites, but merely opposite sides of the very same coin. I understood with complete certainty that terrible things could happen, and did happen, even to the most wonderful people among us. And that there was no predicting such terrible things. Even after Offspring the Third was safely delivered, with the grace of the Universe (and perhaps with help from Nicholas), I knew that the world would never look the same.
And this is, ultimately, why I dislike baby showers. To assume that all will be well, and worth celebrating now, seems too much like tempting Fate. We should not do so. We must respect both sides of the coin.
Let us hope that today's celebrated baby is safely delivered in due course. Amen.
Two weeks ago, Tiny Dog had her annual checkup. For the first time, the vet noticed a heart murmur. It sometimes happens, especially with small dogs, we were told. We weren't necessarily surprised -- elderly Three-toothed Dog also has a heart murmur. (His is more expected, given his advanced age of nearly 13.) Hers was a grade 2, possibly grade 3, out of six. Not so bad. His has been consistently at a 4 for a year now.
We went in for a follow-up visit this week to check how Tiny Dog is faring on the new heart meds. She outwardly seems to be doing well -- she has her usual pep and sassiness, eats well, barks vigorously, sleeps comfortably. Nevertheless, in the span of the fortnight between the two appointments, her murmur had increased in severity, to a 4 of 6. That's more alarming, especially in a relatively young dog. Furthermore, she had no signs of fever or other illness that would might indicate a viral infection that might temporarily be affecting her heart.
Options presented included: wait and see how much worse it gets; or do some additional testing to see what we are up against. There was no question, really. She will go in next week for the diagnostics.
I think about how much Beloved Husband and the Offspring love this Tiny Dog, and I know they will be devastated if there is Something Very Wrong with Tiny Dog. Because I understand the biological mechanics, I know there are some terrible possibilities, as well as -- have mercy -- some much more benign ones. All we can do for now is to hope that, with some luck and some good medications, we will have Tiny Dog for many years to come.
I read an article the other day that, despite its slightly click-bait-ish title, made some interesting and valid points about the perils and paucity of ordinary physical contact, particularly as it relates to men. The article, "How a Lack of Touch is Destroying Men" is here:
It speaks of the overarching mistrust in American society of physical touch by men -- the inherent suspicion/fear that any man, every man, will revert to sexual touch given the slightest opportunity; and about how as a result, men in general are cut off from initiating any physical touch lest it be perceived as sexual instead of platonic.
What a terrible way to live.
In refraining from contact, men miss out on the small elements of human interaction -- to lean on another person, to put a hand on an arm, to sit so that shoulders touch. Moreover, women are put in the role of gatekeepers, to say "no," to withdraw from or refuse touch, lest a platonic gesture be misinterpreted as having sexual overtones. It is a tremendous challenge -- for men and for women alike -- to try to show a sign of affection or care without it being misperceived. We have only limited success.
----- I was a sophomore in college, and was chatting with a new male acquaintance who lived in my dorm. We'd been talking for a while, and during the course of the conversation, when he made particularly amusing points, I touched him briefly on his forearm as we laughed. The second -- or was it third? -- time I did so, he looked at me and crossly said, "Why do you keep touching me?" That was the day I learned not to touch someone unless we were dating. It took me over twenty years to find peers whom I was comfortable briefly hugging again.
There is so little I can do about this ridiculous "Do Not Touch" stance in the world around me, except to try to find a way to somehow couple every small touch with a reassurance of its benign nature. Fortunately, as I age, I am much less likely to be perceived as a possibly sexual human being (for middle-aged women are usually treated as asexual creatures), and thereby I am more likely to be allowed to bestow a platonic gesture of tenderness or warmth.
Perhaps this is one of the benefits of very young, or very old, age -- to be able to touch people, unquestioned.
Although I am not particularly fond of getting older, perhaps this is at least one thing to which to look forward.
Spotted some eight months back in Points North, in an obscure place like a bus stop shelter or a sign post or some such, on a main thoroughfare where such a plaque must be, no doubt, woefully underappreciated.
I confess that I am somewhat bothered by the general lack of depth of posts for the past month or so; with the preparations to ship both Offspring the Second and Offspring the Third off to college, and pressing tasks at work, and general states of clutter and distractedness, it has been somewhat difficult to find the time and energy to sit quietly and focus thoughts sufficiently to write longer and more meaningful posts. Alas. Perhaps, as we settle into the new routine that is the fall, matters will improve.
I confess, too, that there has been an issue dwelling in the depths, one of sufficient importance that light should be shed upon it. For to bring it to the surface will, I hope, ease its impact, and allow me to focus outward instead of inward.
The issue is difficult to put into words, because if precisely the correct words are not chosen, I run the risk of inadvertently accusing other people of a failure which is not, in fact, a fault of theirs in particular, but instead is a flaw that lies within me alone. Let me try these plain words:
I feel insufficiently nurtured.
How can this be? There are several people close to me who love me, and who would like nothing more than to see me happy and successful. And these people would, I think, not hesitate to help me if I told them that I were in dire distress and in need of assistance. This I know. And I do not point a finger at these important people and accuse them of being insufficiently nurturing -- not at all. They all do the very best they can for those they love and for themselves. Of this I am absolutely certain. They are good people.
Despite having these good people in my life, deep in my core there still slumbers a longing that may in fact encompass a Black Hole or a Bottomless Void. It is a primal need for nurturing, and this need is a tiny, fearsome beast, one that I fear may never be content.
The beast both craves and fears attention. It wants to be left alone: I will do it all myself! -- and it longs for companionship and assistance: help me. It does not want to be a burden, or something to be scoffed at or scolded, and so it struggles along alone as best it can, not ever asking directly for any assistance.
I know it is there, and I am shamed by its presence.
Sometimes, it slumbers, and both it and I are at peace. Other times, it howls, and I must try to soothe it. I do the best I can to take care of it, but because it is a Black Hole/Bottomless Void, I cannot ever do enough. I endeavor to keep it content, and to rock it to sleep again. I resent it, and I pity it.
I wonder, sometimes, if my enjoyment of (and drive for) nurturing other people, is borne in part from the presence of this tiny beast in my heart.
Perhaps this acknowledgement of the existence of the creature will placate it. I hope so. I will continue to care for it, for it is my tiny beast. It needs love, as we all do. And perhaps, given more time, it and I will learn to dwell together in harmony in our solitude.
Hurricane Harvey has deeply wounded our home state. We watch the news, see the pictures, read the articles, and still cannot comprehend the enormity of the tragedy.
"Do not attempt to escape floodwaters by going into your attic unless you have an axe to break through the roof."
"Alligators and fire ants in the floodwaters."
Photos of highway signs hovering barely a foot over the water, with the highway itself many feet underwater. Elderly people being rescued from their homes by newscasters. Big rig drivers pulled from their flooding cabs. Strings of tweets pleading for help because 911 is overloaded and cannot be reached. Horrific.
And yet, we cannot fully despair -- for there are heroes among us, and in such dark times, we can still see the good of humanity.
Bless them. Amen.
Photograph credit: David J. Phillip/AP
Found here: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/gallery/2017/aug/27/flooding-houston-hurricane-harvey-in-pictures
During the summer, Offspring the Second's school belongings lived in the area that is normally the wet bar in the family room. (It is an area of the house that is virtually never used; we did not miss the space once it was occupied by Things.) He has returned to Parts West now, and so, the bar is once more free.
All this empty space is rather lonely, emphasizing, as it does, the absence of Offspring the Second.
Good luck this year, our thoughtful, witty, intelligent young man. We miss you already, and will think of you often.
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.