Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Armadillo Ding Dong

Many of Herself's local friends have scattered in this past week, not only to different Texas cities but also to Points Beyond. Some are attending Junior Olympics; others are conducting field trips with students; still more are traveling to establish new homes or to visit old familiar places. We wish them success, sanity, satisfaction and safety, and ask them to please drive and ride carefully, so that we may hear the tales of their adventures upon their return.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Vacation, Round 1

This weekend, the Family and I made our first excursion of the summer with the camper-trailer.

The RV park was one mile from Timberon, New Mexico, AKA The Cell Signal Abyss, as it was so remote that it is doubtful even the wild could make a call. Nevertheless, it was near some very interesting locations:

The trip was deemed a "fail-cation" by the Offspring, due to a myriad of minor mishaps and various petty irritations. Furthermore, the much-anticipated hiking was minimal because of thunder, enormous raindrops, and a virulent thorde of deer flies. Despite everything, the Family members retained mostly cheerful demeanors, and there was humor and consuming of treats.

For your enjoyment, the highlights of the trip are herein presented in a baker’s dozen of haiku, punctuated by occasional photographs.

1 -
Inauspicious start
Forgot to check the linens
Only one towel

2 -
Studying the map
Lincoln National Forest
Hiking trail – where’s that?

3 -
Risqué bug attacks
Flies right down Herself’s cleavage
Help! Save the ta-tas!

4 -
Rangers’ station fun
Taxidermy and crayons
Prevent forest fires!

5 -
Roasting marshmallows
Flaming sugar-laden treats
Blackened but tasty

6 -
Odd sign in Cloudcroft
“Dave’s Café – Try My Willy”
No thanks, I just ate.

7 -
Look out for squirrel
Running across the road – ACK!
Whump, bump. Buzzard food.

8 -
Bloated deer carcass,
Flies a’plenty buzzing ‘round,
Waves of deathly stench.

9 -
Beloved Husband
And Offspring the first have found
Underwhelming stream

10 -
Very reclusive
Second Offspring emerges
To hike in the woods

11 -
Youngest of Offspring
With picturesque waterfall
Alas, no fishing.

12 -
Wild elk call at night
Distant and haunting echoes
Thank goodness, no bears.

13 -
Torrential downpour
Disappointingly hike-less
Let’s just go home now.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Bon Voyage

Astonishing how much preparation is needed for one small excursion. Remarkably, there has been very little shouting or crankiness... so far. At the rate we're currently progressing, we may never actually leave the front yard. If we do, I'll provide details upon our return.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Linear Waterfowl

I'm helping to get the ducks in a row so that the family can take a short trip this weekend. This will be my first excursion outside of El Paso, and I am eagerly anticipating a change of scenery.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Quoth the Raven

I've been corrupted by modern television, because the one phrase that pops to mind here is: "Eat my shorts."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Sometimes, we are blessed with an epigrammatic expression that splendidly encapsulates a sentiment. Today's adage applies to parenting of Offspring the third.

Offspring the third is a bright, tender-hearted and extremely sensitive child who is prone to frustration, anger and anxiety. Even when he was just a wee person, it was sometimes possible to see the weight of the world on his tiny shoulders. His school teachers have consistently referred to him as an "out-of-the-box thinker," and there have been many moments when he has required out-of-the-box solutions to his difficulties.

Whether the tincture of time, the teachings of tae kwon do, or some mysterious inner development has aided him, Offspring the third has made immense progress of late. He has learned to look for shades of gray instead of viewing the world as black or white. He is able to accept correction without disintegrating. He recognizes when he is on the verge of meltdown and can enlist assistance. Most beautifully, he has made friends.

Now that her mission of raising Offspring the third is no longer obscured by quotidian struggles, Herself can truly relish his quirks, and enjoy his unique perspective. She is relieved and newly optimistic. Though she knows that the future will likely contain occasional challenges, when they arise, she will recall:

When you're up to your eyeballs in alligators, it's hard to remember your first objective was to drain the swamp.

Monday, June 22, 2009


Delicious and nutritious!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

In Tents

I took the day off yesterday to provide moral support for Herself and the Offspring, who had belt testing in tae kwon do. It was a success. I'm very pleased for them.

Yesterday evening, the Offspring decided to put up various tents in the back yard and spend the night there, to test the possibility of truly camping elsewhere. Survivalist Offspring (the second) chose the wee camouflaged tent. Offspring the third selected the practical, easy-set-up blue tent. Offspring second and third kindly set up an enormous tent for Offspring the first, and big clumsy dog dutifully stayed with her to protect her from any insects.

Everyone was quite cheerful this morning and I am optimistic that we can all camp together this summer.

Friday, June 19, 2009

What's with all the muffins, anyway?

I have begun to take cooking lessons from Herself. Her specialty is muffins. She has at least a dozen well-established recipes, and has attempted some new varieties in the past few months. They’re usually painfully wholesome (AKA “brown and scratchy”): all whole wheat, minimal sugar, vegetable oil in lieu of butter. Nevertheless, they also include ingredients such as chocolate chips, fruit, cream cheese, or honey, so they’re usually palatable despite being nutritious.

Herself frequently bakes muffins for people at the tae kwon do gym. Most often, she proffers muffins when she learns that they are tired, or stressed, or unhappy. Sometimes, she provides muffins for no specific reason. She also seems to enjoy dispensing muffins to all of the children at the gym, particularly because they are always so very pleased to have a muffin.

What is the root of her muffin enthusiasm? Is there a secret message in the muffins?

After several months of observation, I have concluded that there is a simple explanation:

She loves these people.

Herself is inherently a serious, solitary, slightly awkward and somewhat melancholy creature. Nevertheless, the people at the gym make her feel welcome. They cheer her when she is crabby and encourage her when she is unsure of herself. They bring her packages of oatmeal they have canned themselves. They tell her about their personal histories, invite her to swim in their pools, and share their families. They teach her new skills. They show her their pictures, their playlists, their iPhones. They good-naturedly tolerate her occasional breaches of social etiquette, and are very kind when it’s clear she is outside of her comfort zone. They are good to, and patient with, her Offspring. They are complimentary about her Beloved. They make her laugh again, and again and then again, until her face hurts. They are her friends.

She, in her immense gratitude, wants to return these favors. But how can she possibly convey to them all they mean to her?

She cannot. The best she can do is to touch them, and make them muffins.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Eyes Have It

Herself has just acquired contact lenses. They will be quite useful for tae kwon do, as it has been difficult for Herself to ensure that her glasses are positioned properly under her sparring headgear.

She confesses that she feels a bit naked without her glasses, as if she’s missing a piece of her personal armor. The window frame through which she has viewed the world is absent. It must be an odd sensation. All the same, I know she will enjoy a new freedom.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What to read

Although C.S. Lewis is among my favorite authors, his writings are exhausting. It is discouraging to need a dictionary more than once or twice per chapter. Nevertheless, I slog through, knowing that there will be some mote of wisdom within the words, and that I will be edified.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Why Kwon Do

As a Ninja, I have cultivated a great love for the discipline of martial arts. It pleases me mightily that Herself, along with all three Offspring, are training in tae kwon do. On the suggestion of a Learned One, I will periodically report on developments in this worthwhile endeavor.

Herself has recently begun attending sparring classes on Friday afternoons. The only person more astonished than I at this development is Herself, herself. If anyone had asked her, even six months ago, whether she would willingly subject herself to a sparring class, the answer would have been a stony silence accompanied by a look of incredulity. Yet now, she returns home Friday evenings quite satisfied, covered in perspiration and blossoming purple marks.

This past Sunday, I was lounging in the bedroom while Herself was patiently attempting to match socks in a massive laundry mountain. Offspring the first joined Herself, pen in hand, and began drawing grimaces on each of Herself’s visible bruises. Each face was progressively more intricate, and each varied in size in accordance with the magnitude of the contusion. We counted over a dozen; some were my size, while others were several times my diameter.

Sparring generates these many little wounds, and as we all are aware, can lead to greater ones. I know she has a significant fear of injury following The Great Ankle Debacle of 2008. She is not old, certainly, but she is not so very young; time and other afflictions have begun to creep into her joints, her balance, her flexibility. She knows this. Furthermore, Herself has always been one to approach life with an abundance of caution – a person who is uneasy with things new or different. Chary. One who flees, not confronts. Rather like a rodent but in human form.

Given all this, I was rather mystified by her attendance of the sparring class. So I asked Herself: Why?

Her response: “Because I can.”

Thus I learned: for her, a bruise is a gratifying sign that she is pushing her own physical and mental boundaries. She is stepping -- figuratively and literally -- outside of her comfort zone. Every ache is its own reward, for it demonstrates that she has faced her fears and her frailty, and she has endured. She has dominion over herself.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Exercise, Part Two

I have found that I am much more motivated to work out if I have a companion who will exercise with me.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Chuck This End

Whence has come this piece of cardboard, and why is it on the desk?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Moment of Zen

This morning I have been meditating in Herself's Zen Garden. It's a peaceful place, with many beautiful stones.

Friday, June 12, 2009


One of my heroes, David Carradine, has gone the way of all flesh. His loss reverberates like waves from the legendary Kung Fu pebble dropped in a pool.

My greatest sorrow at the moment, though, is not his passing, but the sideways-glancing murmurs about the circumstances of his death. The whispers overshadow and threaten to diminish a lifetime of work, of television and martial arts and drawings and music and film, of fans and friendship and family.

Was it suicide? Did he capitulate in a battle with soul-tearing pain that pushed him beyond despair? Or, more likely, was it something… else? “Kinky.” So much implied and unsaid.

Why does it matter if he sought pleasure, or pain, or inner vision, through physical avenues that are not frequently traveled by others? It was a personal quest. If no one else was harmed, then his private activities, even if they resulted in his unintentional demise, should be irrelevant. His death was an Accident.

“People will laugh,” I have heard said. Will they? I hope that those who would snigger, will instead recognize that all individuals have hidden corners, small secrets and private moments that they fervently wish to keep out of the public eye. I do. You do. We all do.

Rest in peace, Grasshopper. I will never forget what you have taught me.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Exercise, Part One

There’s a 2.1-mile stretch of walking path that Herself frequents on weekends. I have been serving as coach/motivator/sidekick during these excursions, with the ultimate goal of prodding Herself into running instead of walking. She demurs when I exhort her to move faster, however, and mutters something that sounds like “ta-tas don’t jog.” Occasionally she will grunt “ANKLE” as well, as if that single word (referring to a piece of anatomy that I obviously lack) will somehow magically convey a wealth of information and elicit sympathy all at once.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Offspring the third has a great love in his heart for all creatures large and small. He is particularly fond of gastropods, and searches for them in lieu of promptly performing his assigned yardwork. Each discovery generates much fanfare, as well as the fetching of the Gastropod Habitat: a plastic bin with a moist paper towel and a chunk of some type of vegetable. Currently, there are seven slugs in the Habitat.

Given the half-concealed look of distaste on her face, it appears that Herself only grudgingly undertakes Slug Husbandry on behalf of Offspring the third. My impression is that Herself suffers from a mild case of "the willies" relating to creatures having legs that naturally number fewer than two or more than four. Fortunately, this condition does not appear to extend to me.

This morning I assisted with the freshening of the lettuce.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Whither Thou Goest

My origins are obscure, and my aspirations are inscrutable. My journey will be chronicled here as I move through this life. If there is a question you would like to ponder together, or a location you would like me to explore, please do not hesitate to let me know.

For now, my compass tells me to scale the paper-mache fruit.