Friday, September 30, 2011

Tree Song (Remember Me Songs, 7)

Herself's father has always been a very busy and hardworking man.  Nevertheless, when she was a very wee little girl, he would take the time to sing her a tiny song at bedtime.  I have just learned that the song is, in fact, a Mr. Rogers song.  Tree, Tree, Tree. 

Tree, tree, tree
Tree, tree, tree
Tree, tree, tree
Tree, tree, tree

I love you
Yes I do
Yes I do
I love you.

Herself also sang Tree, Tree, Tree to the Offspring when they were very small.  Offspring the Third was particularly fond of this song.  Now, though, Offspring the Third mock-screams whenever Herself sings and asks her (politely, mercifully) to stop. 

How time has flown.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Grandma Song Two (Remember Me Songs, 6)

Grandma S - Herself's maternal grandmother - made a tasty apple pie.  The crust was so beautiful, and it even had a small apple-shaped decoration in the center of the pie.  It was the tallest, fluffiest pie Herself has ever seen.

Grandma S and Grandpa J lived in a humble apartment that smelled of Grandpa's pipe smoke and Grandma's cigarettes.  Grandma S had a dollhouse in her bedroom; it was for decoration, though, not for playing.  Herself loved to look at how Grandma S had so carefully arranged the tiny furniture. 

Grandma S was a marvelous seamstress.  She made Halloween costumes for Herself and her siblings - Herself's was a cat costume in a deep shade of green, as she specifically requested.  Grandma S also made Herself's junior prom dress, which was a garment so exquisite, with such immaculate stitching, that it made Herself joyous to wear it.  There were also small suitcases of charming doll clothes with little snaps and bows. Though Herself did not particularly care for dolls, it was worth playing with them on occasion just to dress and re-dress them in the beautiful clothes. Grandma S also crocheted lovely quilts for everybody.  Herself has three Grandma S quilts stored away, and hopes to present one to each of the Offspring someday. 

Herself's senior year of high school, Grandma S had a massive stroke. As part of the aftermath, Grandma S's language faculties were extremely affected, and she was reduced to four words:  "Yes," "No," "Why," and "Jesus."  It was remarkable how much intonation she would use, and how much she could convey, with solely those words.  When Herself would visit Grandma S in the nursing home, they would have lively (albeit rather one-sided) conversations in which Grandma S would often use "Jesus" as an expletive, not as a prayer. Always feisty, was Grandma S.

Grandma S passed away in the midst of a chilly New England winter.  Herself wore a furry hat to the graveside service.  She was certain that Grandma S would have approved.

Nobody Knows It But Me (Tony Rich Project) was released that cold season.  Herself remembers driving to work, thinking of Grandma S, when the song came on the radio.  A very light snow began to fall, and Herself was comforted, knowing that Grandma S was at peace at last.

Grandma Song One (Remember Me Songs, 5)

Grandma J - Herself's paternal grandmother - was a teeny little woman, always beautifully and classically dressed, with immaculately coiffed hair. Grandpa H was a tall, bald and handsome man who smoked the occasional cigar and would find coins inside the grandchildrens' ears.  Grandma J and Grandpa H lived several states away, and it was always an adventure to visit them, for it involved a rare and exciting plane trip. 

Their house was small and immaculate and their standard poodle, Peppy, was grey, polite, and carefully avoided children. The guest bathroom always smelled lovely and had a fascinating little gadget that dispensed tiny paper cups.  There was a rather dull park down the street, and Herself and her siblings would walk down and hang upon the few monkey bars for a bit, after listening to grandfatherly warnings to be careful, lest they fall down and break their necks and "have to walk like this for the rest of their lives" (with a demonstration of a cocked-head gait).

Though Herself  has always been an ugly duckling, when Grandma J and Grandpa H would pat Herself's head and call her shaina maideleh, she believed them, for they made her feel special.

Grandma J was the epitome of kind.  She always looked for the best in every person; an unpleasant word never once passed her lips, nor did she ever raise her voice in the least. When Herself had to write an essay describing a person she admired for a college application, she wrote about Grandma J.

In her early 90's, Grandma J took up painting. Herself has a Grandma J original work in her bedroom - flowers in a pitcher on a blue and green background. Simple and lovely.

Bridge Over Troubled Water (Simon and Garfunkel) always reminds Herself of Grandma J.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Stereo Song (Remember Me Songs, 4)

When Herself was a very young teen, her parents bestowed a stereo upon her.  It was probably reasonably technologically current at the time, although it seems archaic now:  it played records and also had an 8-track cassette player.  Nifty!  She can still picture the stereo clearly in her mind's eye.

At the time, Herself had not yet become accustomed to listening to the radio, and was only allowed to play classical music on the piano; and so, she did not know of any particular artists to request.  Her parents selected and provided a few albums and 8-track cassettes for her.  One of the cassettes included a song by Seals & Crofts - Hummingbird.

She does not particularly care for Seals & Crofts now.  Every once and a while, though, she enjoys listening to Hummingbird, and thinks fondly of the way the cassette player would "ku-klunk" as it changed tracks. Ah, the stereo - a magical piece of equipment that brought new varieties of music into her life so long ago.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Beloved Song (Remember Me Songs, 3)

There are many songs that remind Herself of her Beloved:  the songs that kept Herself company during the three years of their long distance courtship; the songs played at their wedding; the songs that have marked various trips, occasions, and moments throughout the twenty years of their marriage.  Nevertheless, one song stands out most of all.

Herself's junior year of college, she had become acquainted with her Beloved, and they were beginning to become friends. She had stopped by his dorm to chat with him, and he offered to play his favorite song for her. She was curious - what could it possibly be? She listened closely.

When Marty Robbins warbled out the first strains of El Paso, Herself was confused.  Was her Beloved joking?  She did not think so. Yet why on earth was this foreign, slightly odd, and not particularly musically interesting song his favorite?  She spent a great deal of time later trying to imagine why this would be.  And she looked up El Paso on a map.

Gradually, she learned of the importance of her Beloved's home town to him:  it is in his blood, he needs to be here.  She does not quite understand, still, for she is not tied to a particular place.  Nevertheless, she promised her Beloved long ago that they would make their life together in El Paso.  And so, here they are, in this desert they call home.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Offspring Songs (Remember Me Songs, 2)

Herself has different songs that remind her of each of the Offspring. 

Offspring the First:  Love Is (Vanessa Williams, Brian McKnight).  Released shortly before Offspring the First's birth, this song seemed to capture the essence of the imminent changes in Herself's life.  She had no idea what the journey of motherhood would be like; she knew, though, that her heart would be broken wide open by the arrival of her first child.  And so it was. 

They say it's a blessing, they say it's a gift
They say it's a miracle and I believe that it is
It conquers all, but it's a mystery
Love breaks your heart
Love takes no less than everything....

Offspring the Second:  One (U2).  Herself remembers listening to this song while heavily pregnant with Offspring the Second.  She would watch the bump of an elbow pass across her abdomen from the inside, and he kicked quite vigorously.  Pregnancy was always so fascinating - how strange, to be carrying a separate soul within Herself.

One love
One blood
One life
You got to do what you should
One life
With each other
One life
But we're not the same
We get to
Carry each other....

Offspring the Third:  Angel (Sarah McLachlan).  We have written about this song before.  Offspring the Third's entry into the world was shadowed by an incomprehensible loss - when Herself was midway through her pregnancy with Offspring the Third, one of Herself's closest loved ones tragically lost a full-term baby due to a cord accident.  Herself's last trimester was filled with grief and helplessness at being so far from her loved one and being unable to determine how to console her, as well as with worry and anger at the vagaries of fate.  When Offspring the Third was in danger during his difficult delivery, the fear was numbing. 

Blessed child, delivered safely.  Some would say that Offspring the Third had a guardian angel looking over him. 

You are pulled from the wreckage
Of your silent reverie
You're in the arms of the angel
May you find some comfort here.

Lovely Offspring.  I hope you find your own treasured music throughout your lives.

Remember Me Songs (1)

When I was reminiscing with Herself about summer camp dances and Three Times A Lady, it occurred to us that there are a great many songs that remind us about particular individuals, locations, or events.  We thought we'd spend a bit of time writing about some of the music that Herself connects with certain people or places, or with specific times.  Let us take a stroll down memory lane, shall we?

First up:  an odd little song - If I Had Words, first heard in the movie, Babe.  When this movie first became available on VHS, the rental store had a large cardboard cutout of the pig to advertise the availability of the movie.  Offspring the First, who was still quite young at the time, loved that cardboard cutout.  There is even a picture of her standing next to it in the family archives. 

The lyrics recite a simple proclamation of love and hope.  It is a song meant to be sung to exhausted babies, to small children who are sad or distressed, or to other loved ones who need comfort and cheering.  Sometimes, we sing it to ourselves. It makes the world seem just a little brighter.

If I had words to make a day for you
I'd sing you a morning golden and new
I would make this day last for all time
Give you a night deep in moonshine.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Thankful Luddite

The family's television had one foot in the grave, and the other on a flounder.  The picture had the appearance of a 3D movie without the accompanying glasses -- colors and forms oddly split -- and the colors themselves were faded and sometimes missing.   The remote control had long since departed and the unit itself sometimes could not be turned off (or sporadically turned itself off).  It was time for a new TV.

So many options:  plasma, LCD, LED.  So many sizes, prices, features.  And what about the other components - the DVD player, the sound system, the present game system?  Herself cringed just thinking about the complexity.  She has a creeping suspicion that she is slowly becoming a technological Neanderthal among the savvy Homo sapiens.  She does not understand these things.

She was enormously grateful, therefore, that her Beloved spearheaded the effort to obtain and install a new television, and that her Cherished Friend so thoughtfully assisted with his knowledge and know-how. The two of them discussed the merits of the various features of the televisions and the permutations of all the miscellaneous components; identified units of appropriate quality; determined what accoutrements were necessary; schlepped all of the many bits home; and put together and installed everything.  All Herself needed to do was inform them regarding the budget, and provide food at various intervals.

The colors! So beautiful! The sound, so marvelous!  The remotes - present and functional!  Fabulous.

We are eternally grateful to the two Menfolk for spending their valuable time, and expending so much energy, to set up an extremely pleasant viewing experience for all of the family. 

Thank you.

Friday, September 23, 2011


Tonight, I am content.

The secret of contentment is knowing how to enjoy what you have, and to be able to lose all desire for things beyond your reach.

- Lyn Yutang

Thursday, September 22, 2011

For Others

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 is also a level of stability because you are voluntarily accepting pain.
- Buddha

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tapped Out

Herself has reached a point at which she feels that her output has vastly exceeded her input.  She has been here before, and recovered; no doubt she will be here again on occasion in the future as well.  Right now, though, she is All Done.  She needs a lengthy hug and an even longer nap.

A little quiet contemplation would be helpful, too.


We all know that Herself is not good with plants:  whether rooted or fresh-cut, most plants wither and die promptly despite her best efforts. She just does not understand plants -- even though, oddly, one of her favorite classes in college was plant biology. 

Recognizing her inability to tend to any kind of foliage, she does not bother with flowers.  She likes flowers very much -- the colors, the smell, the feel of the petals.  It seems a waste of money, though, to purchase them when she knows that they are so ephemeral under her care.

Nevertheless, this morning during one of her frequent trips to the grocery store, she found herself contemplating the flowers.  Perhaps someday she will get some anyway.  They may survive only a short while, but she will enjoy them as long as they are here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


While perusing a local enormous store, Herself and I came across a display in one of the toy aisles, advertising a new set of Barbie dolls.  The tag line:  "There's a princess in every girl."

What does that mean?  Does every girl have a secret longing to be a princess?  Is every girl already a princess, and just needs Barbie princess charm school to bring said princess to the forefront?  And should we be concerned that Herself is not in the least bit princess-y? (She is rather an antithesis of a princess, if you will.)  Should she be searching for her inner princess?  If she cannot find her inner princess, does that mean that she is deficient as a girl?

She wrinkled her brow at the advertisement, and then realized that in all likelihood, princesses do not wrinkle their brows.

She has never liked Barbies.

Monday, September 19, 2011


We have begun preparations for an overnight camping trip.  Herself has waited a very, very, very long time for such an adventure.  Last night, she got out the tent that she selected several years ago, to see whether she even recalled how to put it up.  Success.  The tent setup was remarkably easy; the rain fly was a tiny bit tricky, but she managed, and she might not even need to use the fly.  Next step - unfurl her as-yet-unused sleeping bag to check its condition.  After that - contemplate menus for the weekend.

After we put the tent back away, Herself and I checked the school calendar to verify that Offspring the Second and Offspring the Third have a particular day off from school for the intended long weekend of camping.

No, they do not.

Herself mentally rearranges the plans to accommodate the Offsprings' school schedule.  It can be done, though it will be a bit more complicated.  Nevertheless, the Offspring always come first, and for them, school always comes first.

Herself is a very patient person.  She finds it easier, and more comfortable, to put other peoples' needs ahead of her own.  She far prefers to take care of other people than to ask other people to look after even the tiniest thing for her. 

Every now and then, though, she is fatigued by what seems to be an eternal amount of waiting: waiting for the few things she wants to do, for the few things she wants to have.  She does not ask for much, she thinks.  Yet even that little bit seems to be too much to ask.  And then, she feels selfish for even having those thoughts.

She will not be bitter.  Inch by inch, occasion by occasion, she is, in fact, getting to do some of the things she has longed to do.  There has been much more hiking of late.  There was a long weekend RV trip.  Further plans are being made, too. 

She puts aside the thoughts of the things that cannot yet come to pass.  She must be more patient. Just a bit longer.  Readjusting goals, hopes, dreams. A little longer.
She reminds herself:  I do not want what I cannot have.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tiny Toys

When Herself was a little girl, she was exceptionally fond of tiny things.  Her favorite toys were the miniature ones:  a teeny yellow ceramic duck and a miniscule pink ceramic pig; a very small plastic kitchenette, with cabinets in a strange (yet no doubt popular at the time) avocado color, that had drawers for the wee silverware and coin-sized plates; a little matchbox that contained diminutive wooden animals and a few tiny fences. 

She also had an old coffee can that contained beautifully polished and painted wooden pieces that could be arranged to form a small farm town:  blocks with painted windows and doors; roof pieces; animals; Volkswagon-beetle-shaped cars; fences; farm silos; trees; and so forth.  She still remembers the faint scent of the wood varnish that would escape each time she pried the plastic lid off of the can. (In fact, one of her Favorite Things -- her magic wand -- carries a similar scent.)  Much to her delight a few years ago, she found similar, though much larger, wooden animals and barn pieces.  She keeps them separate from all of the Offsprings' other toys, though she and the Offspring would occasionally play with them together when the Offspring were younger.  

One lazy summer Saturday when she and her family were perusing a decrepit antique store in Maine, she spotted a marvelous item - a carved wooden apple that fit in the palms of her hands.  The apple opened to reveal the components of a little wooden tea set: tiny cups, saucers, teapot, sugar bowl.  It was so very beautiful that she still remembers it over thirty-five years later, even though she saw it just that once.  It looked like this.

Even though all of favorite her tiny things have now been lost to Time, she can still picture them in her mind's eye and recall the feel of them in her fingers.  The memories bring her almost as much comfort as the toys themselves once did.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


There is a calmness to a life lived in gratitude, a quiet joy.
- Ralph H. Blum

Friday, September 16, 2011

Middle School Life

Offspring the Third arrived home a few minutes later than expected after school yesterday.

"Sorry I'm late.  [Girl] was upset because she is getting some bad grades.  She needed reassurance and a hug, and fortunately, I could provide both."

He is such a sweet young man.  It warms my heart.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Dear Universe,

You may have noted that recently, I have been attempting to get out of bed earlier than I am accustomed.  I am sure that you understand that this is quite difficult for me.  I would be most grateful, on those mornings after I have let the dog outside twice in the middle of the night and am nevertheless attempting to awaken fully before the sun has risen fully, if you would refrain from requiring my full attention until I have had sufficient time to put on underpants. 

Thank you in advance.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Camp Dances

The iPod was on "shuffle" yesterday - I had forgotten what a strange mix of music is present in that tiny, fabulous gadget. One song that appeared was Three Times a Lady by the Commodores. Odd. Why is that in there? I inquired.

Years ago (thirty and more years ago - how is that possible?) Herself attended a small girls' camp in Maine every summer.  Three or four times during the camp season, the girls of certain cabin groups -- ages 12 and up -- were allowed to attend a dance at one of the local boys' camps.  Oh, the excitement!

The few days before a dance, in the free time after dinner and before lights-out, the girls would contemplate their few clothing options. What top would show off to best advantage their still-nascent cleavage?  The girls traded polo shirts back and forth.  Even more problematic:  how to arrange one's hair when one lived in a cabin with no electricity?  They managed somehow; there was always one girl who magically produced hairspray from within her foot locker.  Who had the best lip gloss? And was she willing to share?

The evening of the dance, the girls would ascend the hill to the main cabin and wait for to be assigned to one of the various vehicles for transportation to the boys' camp.  Most dreaded of all was the Moo-Cow Truck; a fairly large group of girls would be wedged into the bed of the truck.  It had a lattice covering, but one was nevertheless likely to arrive at the dance slightly wind-blown and with small bits of hay clinging to one's favorite jeans.  Herself was secretly fond of the Moo-Cow Truck, for it was a humbling and humorous vehicle.

Once the girls arrived at the boys' camp, the activity would progress similarly to any other middle-school dance:  girls would stand on one side, boys would stand on the other, and the DJ would attempt to entice some brave couple out to the dance floor by playing one of the most popular songs of the moment.  Eventually there would be some commingling and some awkward dancing. 

Occasionally, a girl who was fortunate enough to be asked to dance early on was granted the privilege of the same boy's attention for an extended portion of the evening. Oooo!  To be special!  Perhaps he would even ask her to take a short walk with him -- carefully dodging the chaperones -- to sneak a few minutes alone together.

Ah, the fraught moments of youth.  While an occasional boy was kind and would ask a girl to be his pen pal at camp for the summer, the majority of these pubescent boys appeared to be interested in taking a walk solely so that they would be able to report back to their peers regarding the degrees of their conquest.  The boys' tactics included aggressive French kissing, a clumsy grab at a breast, and for the more foolhardy ones, an attempt to touch the crotch of a girl's jeans. Third base in under a minute.  The girl in question, stunned by the boy's audacity, would hurriedly claim that she was worried about being found by the chaperones and retreat, rather angry and also ashamed at having been accosted.  The girls would whisper about it later in the security of their bunks back at their own camp.  No doubt the boys did too. 

Towards the end of the evening, the DJ would play a few slow songs as a reminder that the dance was coming to a close.  It was the last opportunity -- and a legitimate reason -- to touch a member of the opposite gender for a few minutes.  The girls knew that on the dance floor, they were protected from the boys' wandering hands by the chaperones' watchful eyes, so couples sprouted like mushrooms during those last few minutes.  One of the favored songs was Three Times A Lady. 

When Herself hears this song, she remembers the tiny flutter of pleasure at being asked to dance, so long ago.  To be held momentarily -- and to be simultaneously free from the danger of other, unwanted contact -- was lovely.  Music, motion, closeness, safety:  together, they are always lovely. 

She still is quite fond of slow dancing even today.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Path of Self-Perfection

In order to relieve another person of suffering one must identify with that person and share their suffering. This very identification is the means of practicing compassion, and the act of relieving others of suffering and giving them happiness is the path of self-perfection.
- Daisaku Ikeda


The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship.
- William Blake

Saturday, September 10, 2011

What If

You're a man haunted by those two most terrible words: What if?
- Morlock to Professor Hartdegen, in The Time Machine (2002)

Every day, we make a million decisions.  While a few may be large, the vast majority are miniscule:  Shall I have cereal or eggs for breakfast?  Should I use this word, or that word, in this e-mail?  Should I watch this movie, or that movie? We ponder momentarily and we select: Option A, Option B, Option R.  Decision made, we move on to the next choice, and so it goes - the next day, the next week, the next year.

With billions of individuals going about their daily activities, an astonishing variety of happenstances occurs.  Person One decides to go to the post office before the grocery store.  Person Two decides to visit the post office after the bank.  Lo and behold, Person One and Person Two stand adjacent to one another in line to buy stamps and mail packages.  A chance meeting, a smile or a few words exchanged.  The interaction may be forgotten when each person concludes his or her postal business for the day, or it may be the kernel of a budding friendship that will span years. The possibilities, wrought by all the choices, are many.

What is fate?  Perhaps it is nothing more than a particularly momentous occasion of chance.  All the decisions that are made, large or small, result in a particular confluence of circumstances that significantly impacts the path that we follow.  To be at a certain place, at a certain time, with (or without) certain individuals - it might be unimportant, or it might change everything.

Ten years ago tomorrow, a tremendous, terrifying, life- and history-altering moment occurred.  As the United States as a nation, and the world as a whole, contemplates the attacks the occurred on September 11, 2001, innumerable "What ifs?" permeate so many thoughts.  What if the responsible individuals had been delayed in traffic and missed their designated flights?  What if one person had decided to take a half-day off to attend to miscellaneous matters instead of going as usual to work in the Twin Towers? What if another person had decided not to take a sick day? 

What if Herself's parents had chosen September 11 instead of  September 4 to take that particular flight out of Boston?

The families of those who perished that day, as well as the chance survivors, still are learning to cope with the unique echoes of their individual "What ifs?"  Furthermore, in the decade of aftermath, thousands of individuals in our armed forces have faced their own choices, chances and fates as a result of the "What ifs?" of that one day.  It is almost unimaginable.  It is certainly incomprehensible.

For all those burdened by a "What if?" on this terrible anniversary -- be it related to September 11, or be it your own personal question -- I wish you endurance, hope, and healing.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Bad To The Bone

The ugly dog:  under 4 pounds.  Scrawny.  Naked underbelly.  Big buggy eyes.  Easily breakable.  Noisy - shrill barking and lengthy tweedling. Needy. Prone to trampling her humans regularly.  Occupying a surprisingly large amount of space in the bed.  Standing creepily on her hind legs to beg for food or even to peer out a doorway -- a self-taught behavior.  Weird. 

Yet:  hilarious tail-chaser.  Enjoyer of socks and teeny tennis balls.  Furry ball lap-sleeper.  And, it appears, territorial, for the wee little creature growls and/or lunges at individuals, be they human or other canine, who attempt to touch or even to stand closely to Herself. 

Herself and I were, frankly, displeased at first when this animal joined the household.  After one year, though, we are glad for her presence.  She entertains us and comforts us, and has brought youthful optimism to the dog-pack of the household. 

Happy birthday, Maya.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Angry Bear

Many years ago, Offspring the First came home from preschool with one of her works of "art" - a large construction-paper cutout in the shape of a teddy bear.  The assignment had apparently been to color said bear in the manner that each child saw fit.  It was clear that Offspring the First had been uninterested in the task; the sole decoration upon the bear was a roughly drawn face with  bold eyes and a large, slanting, downturned mouth.  Herself and her Beloved dubbed the project "Angry Bear," for the bear did indeed look quite cranky.  On subsequent days, and in fact, even up until the present, anyone in the household who is feeling out of sorts is referred to as "Angry Bear."

This morning, Herself is Angry Bear.  An uncomfortable night's sleep -- she woke up just after midnight because she was cold -- was combined with an involuntary awakening before dawn, as well as with the premature morning arrival of the Wee Dog requiring attention.  An incipient headache threatens, and the bruise on her thigh from where she inadvertently and rather forcefully poked herself with a kitchen cabinet door knob yesterday is still tender to the touch.  Further, despite her best efforts, the house remains untidy, with the possessions and detritus of various family members scattered about.  She also remembers the Onerous Task which she must accomplish today because the work product is awaited.  In addition, she eyeballs warily the current one hundred small annoyances, too trivial to list individually, yet together serving as the blunt-beaked peckings of a small flock of ducks.

Angry Bear.

And yet - the weather is cool, quite windy, and rather cloudy.  A lovely change. Perhaps if the weather remains this way, Angry Bear will dissipate.  We can hope.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Backpack (Favorite Things, Seven)

The backpack is a very new acquisition, used for the very first time this past weekend.  Herself had searched high and low for a pack with all the features she would like, including a woman-specific cut to the shoulder straps as well as a proper belt to transfer the load to her hips instead of her shoulders.  Also required, oddly, was a particular color:  notpink.  (The vast majority of packs that are designed specifically to fit women are a shade of pink or include pink accents; Herself, not being particularly girly, usually dislikes pink accoutrements.) 

The maiden voyage for the backpack indicated that it is indeed a worthy piece of equipment. Although there is a touch of slippage with the hip belt's buckle, that appears to be alleviated by adjusting the straps through the buckle a second time. The comfort of the pack is outstanding. The size is perfect, holding all of the necessities (extra layers, first aid, sunscreen, food, water, the required miscellany, and even hiking poles) in a well organized manner.

More than equipment, though, the backpack holds Promise:  Promise of Hiking, of Outside, of Quiet, of Beautiful Desert or Glorious Forest, of Being Away From It All. 

It is good.

Monday, September 5, 2011


Sing, cicada, of summer.

Herself and I spent the long Labor Day weekend with her Beloved, Offspring the Second, Offspring the Third, and her Cherished Friend, visiting the Gila Cliff Dwellings and surrounding environs in New Mexico.  They hauled their trailers up Friday night, and spent the weekend enjoyably hiking, relaxing, cooking and consuming tasty things, and stoking the campfire. The weather was lovely - it even delightfully rained at the tail end of Sunday's hike.  Two and a half days passed in the blink of an eye, and it was time to come home again.  Alas. 

Herself found that she surprisingly woke up quite early every morning. It was very pleasant to take the tiny dog for a walk in the pre-dawn quiet, and then sit in the camp chair and watch the clouds change color as the sun rose. So peaceful. 

There was a plethora of cicadas also inhabiting the RV park.  The insects were shockingly loud; their noise was not the expected whine-buzz, but rather, a rattling of extraordinary volume that began promptly at 8 AM and carried on until 8 PM. Gigantic, ugly, noisy bugs. Fascinating.

Offspring the Second enjoys a visit from a cicada.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Yesterday while waiting to have one of the vehicles inspected, Herself and I had one of those rare opportunities to peruse some "fashion" magazines and other similar rags. The images therein of what constitutes an attractive woman truly are astounding:  so very young; so surprisingly tall; incredibly long legs; wasp waists; exposure of as much of (rather surprisingly small) breasts as possible; flawless skin; mouths moist and perpetually ajar.  Glossy, lengthy, tousled hair. The shiniest of lipsticks. Arched cheekbones.  Eyelashes longer than camels' lashes. Brightly colored, sharpened fingernails somewhat resembling talons.  Clothing that cost enough to feed a family of four for months on end.

Impossible.  No one really is like that, are they?

It's not at all surprising that women in general so frequently despair about their bodies - so few are shaped similarly to the models who are portrayed.  It is one thing to "know" that the magazines show airbrushed, altered, idealistic images; it is another thing entirely to remain impervious to the unrealistic standards that are set forth.  "Never too rich, never too thin, never too young," seeps from every page.  Even the models portrayed in the articles about losing weight are svelte, toned and youthful.

What is a middle-aged, relatively plain, on the shortish- and roundish-side, ambivalent-to-fashion, woman to do?  There's a reason why Herself usually avoids the magazines.  She makes every effort to turn a blind eye to standards she knows she cannot meet.  Ever practical and realistic, she knows that she is as she is, and she does what she can with what she has. She tries to remember Kahlil Gibran's words:  Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.

Still, as she sets aside her bathing suit to pack for a weekend away just in case she feels inclined to fling herself into the pool, she cannot help but wish.  Just a little bit.