Monday, January 30, 2012


There are eight million tiny things to do every day. 

Last week, in the interest of seeing where her time went, Herself recorded all that she did in a day.  Or rather, she tried to do so; after midafternoon, though, she gave up trying to write things down.  Granted, it was a particularly busy Tuesday.  Would you like to see? 

Sometime last night: let ailing dog out to pee three or four times.  Morning: get up.  Wake up Offspring the Third.  Take baby dog out. Feed baby dog. Feed guinea pig. Take all dogs out again. Provide breakfast for Offspring the Third. Put away the two loads of laundry. Make bed. Check FaceBook.  Make bag lunch for Offspring the Third. Provide him with water bottle and send him off to school. Empty the dishwasher. Load dishes that wouldn't fit last night. Check e-mail. Check list of work projects. Answer a few work e-mails. Put in load of laundry. Make breakfast for Offspring the Second. Make bag lunch for Offspring the Second. Prepare chicken and lentils for lunch. Clean kitchen. Take Offspring the Second to school. Go to physical therapy for hip. Receive call from vet while waiting to pay for physical therapy. Write down instructions for type of insulin and type of syringes, and make appointment to learn how to give shots to dog. Go to car. Cry three tears. Pull self together. Go to pet store to get bedding for guinea pig; to pharmacy to get insulin; to grocery to get oatmeal for Beloved Husband. Go home. Feed big dogs. Fold laundry from dryer, put fresh load into dryer. Do Work work. Warm up lunch for Beloved Husband. Make phone call to resolve medical billing error. Look up driving directions to attend doctor's appointment with extended family member the next day.  Do more Work work.  Greet Offspring the Third and provide post-school snack. 

That was from about 6:30 AM until 3 PM that day.  The rest of the day was a similar blur of activity.

Herself does not (usually) mind taking care of all the little things.  Looking after the household is what she enjoys the most.  She needs fuel, though, to motivate her and to keep her moving.

What is that fuel?   Adult companionship.

Herself has never been particularly a 'people person.'  She dislikes large groups, crowds, social functions.  Nevertheless, she does require interaction:  ten minutes' undivided attention from Beloved Husband; a telephone call with her lovely sister; a bit of talk with another adult at the gym; a text or e-mail conversation with a friend. 

Logistics oftentimes impede matters, though.  Beloved Husband is extremely busy and often exhausted. Herself's sister is occupied with her own children and complex life, and is too far away for spontaneous get-togethers.  The schedules of the adults at the gym vary, and there are days when none are there except Herself.  And texts and e-mails are only checked periodically; people all have their own lives to manage.

There are days -- sometimes several in a row -- when some kind of communication with the world beyond the walls of the house is sparse. Or nonexistent. Herself starts to flounder.  She becomes angry at herself, both for what she perceives as her sloth as well as her weakness.  Yet she hesitates to reach out, lest she inconvenience her friends or loved ones. Or worse yet, reveal herself to be needy.  

Apathy sets in.  All the things that need to get done do not get accomplished.  She does not care.

What is it about loneliness that keeps her from mopping the floor or dusting the shutters?

Sometimes, it is the seemingly tiniest of things -- a short text; a humorous e-mail message; an invitation for a walk -- that keeps her from feeling as though she might wither away completely.  The outside world has reached in to her and held out its hand.  She is grateful.  She has more fuel once more, and can start anew on the next eight million things to do.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


A walk in the dark restores my balance and strengthens my roots.  The wind blows, but I am strong.  I may bend, but I will not break.

Picture Copyright 2012, Mediocria Firma.


She was becoming sad. There is no joy involved in following others' expectations of yourself.
- Miriam Toews

Picture Copyright 2012, Mediocria Firma.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


It's always a bit of a struggle to get the words right, whether we're a Hemingway or a few fathoms below his level.
-- Rene J. Cappon

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Christina Perri - A Thousand Years.

Even though this song is associated with the Twilight series of books and movies -- which Herself eschews for a variety of reasons -- it nevertheless speaks to Herself. 

She listens to it, and the music momentarily erases the grind of the ten million little things that have weighed so heavily upon her of late.  Sorrow, concern, despair, worry, frustration, longing -- all dissipate.  She lets go of the difficulties of the moment, and instead, acknowledges what is truly important:  the people she loves.  She sees them with such clarity.  So wonderful, they are. So perfect, even in their human imperfection.  Lucky is she to know them. They are the pieces that complete her heart.

I have loved you for a thousand years.  I love you for a thousand more.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Not Enough

Sometimes, the millions of words in my head fail me.  Abysmal as I am in putting together all the necessary words for a spontaneous conversation, I must often resort to writing down what I would like to convey. Even then, sometimes the portrait I have constructed with my words -- despite the hours I have invested -- is woefully inadequate.  My story, my correspondence, my simple sentences:  all, not enough.

There are times when I wish I had the ability to communicate, with a simple gesture or a touch, what is in my thoughts and in my heart.  How frighteningly powerful that would be.  How dangerously raw, too.  It would likely be too much for another person.  Some things are best left unsaid.

It would be easier with animals, for they are free of the constraints that hinder human beings.  No societal conventions, no misunderstood language, no hidden messages.  No baggage of history.  They are in the moment, and the moment is all. Simple.

Today, I wish that I could convey to our Ottoman dog, Thorbert, how much we care for him, how grateful we are that he is with us, and how we are trying to help him.

He's a smart dog.  He might already know.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pity, Party Of One, Dismissed by Man Up

I turn the blog over to Herself today.

I had just finished physical therapy for my hip today, when my phone rang.  It was the vet, confirming what we had suspected:  Ottoman-shaped dog, Thorbert, has diabetes.  His excessive thirst, his need to be let out several times a night, his sudden loss of his normally prodigious girth:  all the hallmarks were there.  We had needed only the lab results to be certain. 

The vet queried:  "I need to ask:  are you willing to treat the dog?"

How could I possibly say no?

I know it's likely that I will be asked about the cost of the insulin and his treatment.  Really, that's like putting a price on his head:  he's worth X dollars, but not Y dollars?  I cannot get rid of a pet who has been with me for 8 years just because he has incurred additional expenditures.  Yes, it'll cost money to treat him.  Fortunately it's not prohibitively expensive, as far as I can tell; likely it won't cost much more than the regular heartworm tablets, or the pills for his sister-dog's kidneys.

I know there might come a point when treatment options for him -- or any one of the pets -- would be excessively expensive.  I'm a sensible person (I think); I'm not going to break the bank to prolong a pet's life, particularly at the expense of pressing household needs.  I also know I'm extremely fortunate in that the family has sufficient income to treat him. 

I need to bear Thorbert's well-being in mind, too:  I will not attempt to extend his life under the guise of "I want him to stay alive for me" if it's clear that his quality of life isn't good.  That's cruel.  We shall see how treatment goes.

I was told by an acquaintance, "Well, at least it's not one of the children."  Well, YES, of course, I am incredibly grateful it is not one of the Offspring.  Nevertheless, it is an unrealistic burden to require that I always have to be happy that things aren't worse.  I think that I am allowed a moment to feel bad for my dog, who currently looks like Death Warmed Over, and for myself.  Yes, things could be worse.  They could also be better.  I cannot be relentlessly cheerful all the time.  Surely I can be upset on occasion?  Or is that just selfish behavior on my part? 

I was not sure that I would be able to give Thorbert a shot.  The vet provided me with a crash course in the needles, the dosage, and the technique for injection.  I felt faintly nauseated with the anticipation of having to poke my dog with the needle.  I teared up just a tiny bit when it came time for me to make my first attempt, because... well, because I am human.  (Pity party of one, your table is ready!)

I will say, the vet telling me at that point:  "If you don't do this, he will die," was not particularly helpful.  I am well aware that untreated diabetes is a death sentence.  I just needed a moment to let go of my expectations of health and well-being of my dog, and become accustomed to the idea that he has a manageable, though life-threatening, medical condition. 

Man Up Time.  I pulled myself together and gave Thorbert a shot for the first time.  It was not as dreadful as I'd feared.

Thorbert will receive injections twice a day for the rest of his life, along with special food (which Thorbert indicated was quite delicious).  The vet said that as long as Thorbert does not go blind (cataracts are common with diabetes), and as long as we can maintain a good weight, that is all we can do. 

Thorbert, you are a faithful dog, a constant companion, a cheerful and devoted soul.  You deserve every effort to make your life, however much or little remains, as pleasant and healthy as possible.

I will do the very best I can for you.

Monday, January 23, 2012


What a piece of work is a man, How noble in
Reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving

how express and admirable, In action how like an Angel!
in apprehension how like a god, the beauty of the
world, the paragon of animals. and yet to me, what is
this quintessence of dust?

- Hamlet, Act II scene ii, William Shakespeare

The miracle of complex life:  thousands and thousands of tiny cells working together, their sum far greater than their individuality.  Neurons, epithelium, endothelium, sensory, stem, immune system - I cannot properly pick even a few examples of the more then 200 types of cells within a single organism.  And the building blocks for the cells - DNA, RNA, ribosome, protein, endless complex machinery to maintain.  It is no surprise when things go wrong.

The fat dog of the family, Thor, has suddenly and quickly become noticeably thinner.  The vet suspects diabetes.  Pancreatic islet cells failing, going awry.  We will know more when the lab results come back.  Oh, Thor, you are stalwart, unwavering in your devotion, a loving furry soul.  We will do the best we can for you.

A lovely woman, very close to Herself's heart though distant geographically, got a call after her first mammogram because of a 'suspicious area.' Follow-up tests appeared to indicate papilloma, likely benign.  Nevertheless, there will be biopsy and lumpectomy to be sure.  Herself is worried; so often are women defined by their biological attributes that even a likely harmless aberration of cells in a breast strikes fear into every female heart.  Lovely woman, you are a beautiful wife, mother, friend -- all that Herself aspires to be -- and you are in our thoughts constantly. 

An extended family member who has recently successfully undergone cancer treatment has received some disconcerting follow-up lab results.  Biological markers raised.  What could those cells be doing?  We cannot even begin to speculate.  Kind, patient, marvelous man -- our prayers go with you through every upcoming test.

Please, Universe.  Help us to do what we can for those in need.  Give us strength to face what we must.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Another Toy of Yore

Happiness is a warm blanket. - Linus (Peanuts)

Herself had just read the above quote, and was contemplating the Peanuts gang -- she has always loved Snoopy -- when she had a sudden recollection of one of her favorite childhood toys:  the Snoopy's Beagle Scouts Colorforms Stand-Up Playset. Pure unadulterated happiness in a box.  Through the marvels of the internet, she searched and found pictures of the playset:  there it was, exactly as she remembered it.  Magnificent.

What was it about that playset that made it so incredibly marvelous?  The simple beauty of the colorforms, with their pure colors and soothing shapes; the three-dimensionality of it that so wonderfully folded down into the storage box; the smoothness and coolness of the colorform pieces; the slightly rough feel of the edges of the characters and the trees; the scent of the plastic and the laminated cardboard. 

If she closes her eyes, she can almost feel the shapes between her fingers.  Aaaaaah.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


To take upon the suffering of others -- that is the practice of compassion.

To give others your own joy and happiness -- that is the practice of love.

- His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Friday, January 20, 2012

Cosmic Hangnail

It seems to me that the problem with diaries, and the reason that most of them are so boring, is that every day we vacillate between examining our hangnails and speculating on cosmic order. ~ Ann Beattie

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Amon Amarth

Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas. Herself, the menfolk (her Beloved, Offspring the Second, Offspring the Third, and Cherished Friend) and I reached its apex midday on Sunday. The view was astonishing. All of Texas laid out before us. Undulating hills, winding roads, magnificent earth and sky as far as the eye could see.

I cannot truly express in words our experience of climbing this mountain.

I can provide a few of the mundane details: the day was chilly and periodically overcast; the wind was ever-increasingly gusty as we ascended; a third or more of the trail was covered with snow that varied from hard-packed and slippery to well over a foot of crunchy and treacherous covering; and there were seemingly endless switchbacks and occasionally gut-wrenchingly frightening cliff edges.

The further we ascended in terrain resembling Hithaeglir, even as we joked about finding the entrance to Khazad-dûm to use its shortcuts to the top, we could feel the burden of our quest for the summit weighing ever heavier upon us.  During the four hours it took us to reach the peak, we were required -- over and over and over again -- to draw upon patience and perseverance that we were not sure we had. The gathering of the necessary strength of will and determination to continue was far more exhausting than the significant physical exertion itself.

Herself's greatest motivation?  Her role as Samwise Gamgee.  It was solely through her attempts to encourage and assist the Frodos of the group when they were in need, that she was able to maintain the wherewithal to reach their destination herself.  Her own arrival at the peak was secondary -- even irrelevant -- in comparison to ensuring their successes.  If they made it there, so would she.

She is incredibly proud of the menfolk for conquering the mountain.  Even more:  they conquered themselves.  That was a much quieter, though far more noteworthy, achievement.  She is honored to have been witness to it all.

In a tiny way, she has been forever changed by this journey.

Will we ever climb Guadalupe Peak again?  I do not know.  Perhaps.  Perhaps not.  Many other adventures await, too.

Monday, January 16, 2012

To The Peak

Courage can't see around corners, but goes around them anyway. 
~ Mignon McLaughlin

Friday, January 13, 2012


Only eight of the twenty-six things on the To Do list have been accomplished so far today.  EGADS. 

Offspring the First has been put on the plane to go back to college.  It was lovely to have her at home for a while.  It is bittersweet to see her go, for though we miss her, we know she is happier there than she is here.

Onwards.  Herself is gearing up for a couple of days of hiking and camping/RVing with Offspring the Second, Offspring the Third, Beloved Husband, and Cherished Friend.  Delightful.  We will tell you all about it upon our return.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


You will recall a bit ago when Herself was contemplating old scars and new wounds. A person had provided Herself with some information that appeared quite clearly to indicate that person had previously had an opportunity to come to Herself's aid in a time of great need, and yet had failed to do so.  Herself took the news hard.  With time, though, and with the help of those close to her, she assimilated the information and built the necessary protective wall around herself.  She moved on.

Yesterday, that person made some statements that directly contradicted certain of the statements she had made previously.

Herself was, briefly, beyond perplexed.  The new statements did not ameliorate or remove the betrayal Herself felt before.  Yet, it was as though a giant chunk of a puzzle dropped off of the table.  There was no longer a cohesive picture. It made no sense.

Quickly and decisively, though, Herself has come to the conclusion that the person in question has been seeking to create a bond based on some kind of sympathetic commonality of experience.  To do so, though, a different assessment of past events was required. It was not necessarily lying, per se - it was a reformation:  the person uses words and statements to unravel the fabric of history and reweave it as she would prefer it to be.

I am sure that we all at one point or another try to justify ourselves or to paint our view of our experiences in a way that puts us into the best -- or at least a better -- light.  When there is a common history with such vastly different viewpoints, though, it is easier to see when things are amiss. 

Herself is surprised that she is so at peace with the situation.  The walls she built have served their purpose:  she is protected.  While there will no doubt be other moments, right now, she has a glimmer of understanding.  That is good enough.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ducks, Ducks

There appears to be some kind of warp in the space-time continuum.  Time moves slowly, then much too quickly, and not everything that should get done, actually does get done.  Herself feels once more as if she's being pecked to death by ducks.  Many blunt beaks, all at once.  PeckPECKPECKpeckitypeckPECKpeck.

On the horizon, though, are things to which she looks forward.  Details will follow soon.

Monday, January 9, 2012


Herself has started physical therapy to address the issues she has been experiencing with her hip.  She has been thrice now; first, for an initial evaluation, and then for two separate sessions.  So far, so good. She is pleased that activities like walking, using the elliptical trainer, and even rolling onto her side when sleeping are now relatively comfortable.  It is good to be on the low end of the pain scale.  Kicking in taekwondo is still throbbingly painful, though, particularly when there is any pivoting involved, and that is quite frustrating.  It is clear that further improvement will take quite a bit of time.

The most difficult part of physical therapy has not been the stretches or the exercises, though; It has been the close and undivided attention of the physical therapist.  Having to voice aloud exactly what hurts and where is strange to Herself, because it seems almost like complaining, and complaining is Just Not Done.  Having the physical therapist watch while Herself performs the required exercises is quite odd, too, since it goes against Herself's regular assumption that she is invisible.  To have the physical therapist adjust, align, demonstrate exercises, and measure range of motion and strength in Herself's hip also has required the therapist to occasionally lay hands upon Herself.  The therapist is unfailingly professional, courteous, and informative, but there's a few neurons in the back of Herself's brain that periodically shout in alarm, "AN UNFAMILIAR PERSON IS TOUCHING ME." 

Herself idly wonders whether other individuals have this problem.  People interact through small touches every day; surely not everyone goes to Yellow Alert every time a casual contact occurs?  She sighs, and mentally adjusts her personal space sphere.  She can do this.  It will help her in the long run.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


Offspring the Second is rearranging his room with an eye towards procuring a new drum set.  (His passion is drumming.)  To this end, he consolidated and organized some of his possessions and his books, allowing him to move one bookshelf out of his room.  It is now in Herself's room.

Her absolute delight at having a bookshelf is almost silly.  It's just a shelf.  Yet for ages, her books have sat haphazardly cramped like canned sardines either on the bottom shelf of a small table, within the base of her bedside table, or in various piles on the floor.  Now, they have proper places on shelves, and it is most pleasing indeed.

The Harry Potter books occupy their own section; the collection of nearly all of C.S. Lewis' publications shares a shelf with various writings of the Dalai Lama;  Italo Calvino and Kahlil Gibran contentedly share space with the Lord of The Rings trilogy, a few hiking books, log home plans, the magnificent Phantom Tollbooth and few other favorites; and a final shelf holds the miscellany -- tomes on various topics from language to science to religion, as well as some borrowed books that must return to their owners.  There's even a Klingon dictionary there somewhere.

Alas, the shelves are full already.  But they are tidy, and Herself is happy.


Saturday, January 7, 2012


This morning, Herself spent a bit of time reading a short story written by a high school friend.  Her friend described the serendipity that placed her in the right place and at the right time to discover a problem associated with her congenital heart condition, as well as her recent corrective surgery.  With the help of the surgeon's skill and a touch of miracle, her friend is happily on the road to recovery.  Herself confidently and fervently wishes that her friend will grace the world with her warmth, intelligence, and positive energy for many healthy years to come.    

So fragile and yet so resilient, the human machine. So mysterious and so wondrous, the bonds of friendship that connect us over time and distance.  Today, we are that much more aware of the love we hold for our friends, as well as the joy and the comfort they provide for us. Rare indeed is a true friend, and grateful are we for their presence in our lives.

No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other's worth. ~ Robert Southey

Friday, January 6, 2012

Sing, Muse

Herself is on the cusp of writing several things.  One thousand miniscule thoughts -- sentence fragments, blog entries, plot possibilities -- have sprouted in her mind's garden.  She waters them carefully in contemplation, and turns each one toward the sun. She knows they need more time to grow into what they will become. 

It is difficult to be patient, but she knows these things cannot be rushed.  Which ones will bear fruit?  We shall see.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


It is difficult to type -- as well as to orient a picture properly -- when a Tiny dog has wedged herself into one's sweatshirt atop one's cleavage.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Side By Side

Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky.  ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Pile

It's difficult to be tidy when one is young.

When Herself was a child and a teenager, keeping her room clean was a fairly low priority.  She was not sloppy -- no food was allowed in bedrooms, so there were no crumbs or dishes -- but toys or clothes or possessions did not always find their ways back to where they belonged promptly. In high school, her classes were quite rigorous, so organization of anything except for schoolwork took a back seat to studies.

Occasionally, the mess of her room would become intolerable to her mother.  And so, when Herself was out at school or outside playing or elsewhere, her mother would go into Herself's room and make The Pile.  Any item that was out of place -- be it book, shirt, toy, or other item  -- would be put into The Pile in the middle of the room.  When Herself would return to her room, she would, without warning, find The Pile.  Her obligation at that point was to put away properly all of the contents of The Pile.

Herself hated finding The Pile.  She always found it to be a tremendous violation of her space and her privacy to discover that her possessions had been moved in this manner, and she no longer felt safe or comfortable in her own room.  She would cry in anger and frustration while she put her things away.  She vowed that she would never use The Pile upon her own children.

Now, so many years later, she has the Offspring.  They find keeping their rooms clean to be a fairly low priority, just as she did at their ages.  Herself reminds them to pick up when the floor is no longer visible, points out specific tasks that need to be done, and so forth.  Unfortunately, the Offspring have packrat tendencies; there are times when their rooms need intervention. 

Herself resorts to very specific sequential instructions.  Sometimes, little gets done. It is frustrating.  It is such a difficult line to walk:  to respect their autonomy and privacy, and yet to help them to figure out to clean and to manage their possessions properly.  Many times, it seems as though it would be easier for her to go in herself and clean up.  Yet what would truly be accomplished then, and at what price?  They would learn nothing. They may very well find it to be an intolerable invasion of their space. It is better that they should accomplish their own tasks. She volunteers to assist, but tries to leave them be when they prefer to do things themselves.

This has, oddly, been one of the most challenging parts of parenting.  Hopefully, in time all of the Offspring will become tidy individuals.  We shall see.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

And The Year Is New

New Year's Eve was everything for which Herself could have wished.  She tidied the house, and then savored preparing a new recipe for dinner and kneading the dough for fresh bread.  She, her Beloved, all three Offspring, and Cherished Friend spent the evening together, consuming tasty things, watching a movie, and enjoying one another's company. Her heart was full. She could not have asked for anything more.             

And now we have landed upon New Year's Day, immensely grateful that 2011 is over and that 2012 has begun. We put behind us the raw sorrows and frustrations and worries of the year, and open our hearts once more to hope for the future. We cross our fingers and dream that 2012 will be better. 

Herself kept one New Year's resolution from 2011 all year long.  She is satisfied with this success, and plans to repeat the resolution for 2012 as well.  She has explained the resolution thus:

Like a lot of people, I struggle with my weight; when I figured out that some days my mood would depend on the actual number of pounds, I decided that my attitude was far more unhealthy than any possible excess weight. I resolved not to look at the number on the scale all year long. I concentrated on trying to eat better and exercise more, and to focus on how my clothes fit and how I felt about my myself. I had ups and downs, quite literally, but in the end, I gained a better control over my self-image and self-confidence by ignoring the number on the scale entirely. 

This morning, she weighed herself for the first time in a year; this will be the only time for another full year that she will do so. So, what did the scale say?

Despite it being holiday season (with its typical bonanza of consumption), and even despite her relative lack of exercise over the past month due to hip-associated issues and illness, a calculation of her Body Mass Index (BMI) using the number on the scale today put her at 22.4, which is squarely within the "normal" range.  A brief search using The Google further reveals that in relation to other women her age and height, she is in the 15th weight percentile -- which means that comparatively, she's maintaining a weight that is less than 85 percent of women her age.  In the grand scheme of things, all the statistics are Good.  Onward!

Her new resolution for this year is simple:  to improve her diet.  She plans to eliminate as many pre-processed and pre-packaged foods as possible, to increase her intake of fruits and vegetables, to cook more often and to watch portion size more carefully.  The results will hopefully be twofold:  one, she will maintain a healthy weight; and two, she will minimize migraine by reducing the number of migraine-triggering foods she consumes.  She can do this.  We will keep you informed as to progress.

My lovely readers, I wish for you security, health, laughter and kindness. May the Universe grant us a bountiful year.  Together, we can conquer all obstacles and find joy.