There will come a night When I am able to sleep Uninterrupted Alas, not last night: Wheezing whining trampling dogs Take up too much room The pillow is wrong Where are the decongestants Too hot and too cold I need a nap now.
Today, we are listening to P!nk We admire her: her music, her non-conventional beauty, her sense of irony, and her capacity to poke fun at herself and at the conventions of the entertainment industry. Her un-self-consciousness. Her ability to be herself.
It is warm today. Sunny. The grass is beginning to grow. The trees are starting to put forth tiny leaves hither and yon. Spring is in the air, and spring, always, reminds us of Love. Today, we think about Love, in the words of Gerald G. May:
There is a desire within each of us, in the deep center of ourselves that we call our heart. We were born with it, it is never completely satisfied, and it never dies.
We are often unaware of it, but it is always awake.
It is the Human desire for Love. Every person in this Earth yearns to love, to be loved, to know love. Our true identity, our reason for being is to be found in this desire.
Love is the "why" of life, why we are functioning at all. I am convinced it is the fundamental energy of the human spirit. the fuel on which we run, the wellspring of our vitality.
And grace, which is the flowing, creative activity, of love itself, is what makes all goodness possible.
Love should come first, it should be the beginning of, and the reason for everything.
When we went for a stroll in the Guadalupe Mountain State Park a couple of weekends ago, there were ants on the hiking trail. Herself did not notice them until they were pointed out to her; and then she noticed them with an astonishing regularity. They moved across the path in their busy little lines, doing whatever business needed to be done. To and fro, separate yet together, like a Borg collective.
We do not often see them -- and yet they are always there, working, striving, surviving. Do they find satisfaction in their tiny Ant Tasks? Joy? Are they pure instinct, motivated by genes and pheromones and an inescapable drive? What is it like, to be an ant?
Be humble as the blade of grass that is being trodden underneath the feet. The little ant tastes joyously the sweetness of honey and sugar. The mighty elephant trembles in pain under the agony of sharp goad. -- John Ruskin
Tiny dog had surgery today to fix her luxating patella. So pathetic. So sad. She's on highly restricted movement or the next three days, and then we will start working with her to learn how to use that minuscule leg all over again. It's quite a strain on the other leg - let us hope that one cooperates and bears the necessary portion of her 4.3-pound load adequately while she recovers.
Poor tiny dog. We shall do our best to take care of her.
Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.
Some days, we dream of a time when all who depend upon us -- all the people and all the creatures -- are safe and content and without worry; when they can fully care for themselves and/or have others who don't hesitate to come to their aid whenever and however necessary; when they need nothing from us. Then, for just a few moments, we will enjoy the strange and uncomfortable freedom of looking after solely ourselves.
And perhaps, if we are very, very lucky, someone else will look after us for a little bit, too.
Fly without wings; Dream with open eyes; See in darkness.
― Dejan Stojanovic
You can say any fool thing to a dog and the dog will just give you this look that says, 'My GOSH, you're RIGHT! I NEVER would've thought of that! -- Dave Barry
Ah, the trials and tribulations of pet ownership.
Ottoman-shaped dog is beginning to lose the hair on his tail. Herself mentioned it to the vet at yesterday's appointment to check his blood sugar, and a decision was made to check his thyroid levels. The results came back fine, which means we don't know why his tail (and in fact, the backs of his legs as well) is starting to bald. The hair loss could simply be related to his diabetes; alternatively, he may be developing Cushing's disease (hyperadrenocorticism) -- the overproduction of the hormone cortisol by the adrenal glands. Cushing's does happen in conjunction with diabetes. The symptoms of diabetes, low thyroid, and Cushing's all overlap, so it's a complicated picture. There's a more specific blood test for Cushing's, but it costs a couple hundred dollars, so right now the decision is to wait just a bit and see how ottoman-shaped dog fares. If he shows more symptoms, we shall run that test.
Teeny tiny dog has been limping very pathetically because of a luxating patella. She puts almost no weight on that leg except when she tries to run - and then she falls over. She wins the prize for being Pathetic. She seems to be in less pain at the moment because of high-powered pain medication -- that's good. The pain medication, unfortunately, has the side effect of clogging up the works a bit -- that's bad. A judicious tiny spoonful of Vaseline has helped with that for the moment. Again, pathetic. Teeny tiny dog will have that knee surgically repaired Monday. Expensive it is; yet it is necessary for her quality of life. Once the joint is fixed, she will do much better.
Owning a dog is slightly less expensive than being addicted to crack. -- Jen Lancaster, Bitter is the New Black
Elderly oafish dog, knock wood, seems OK. Her digestive delicacies appear to be under control (even though she occasionally declines to have her breakfast), and her cough has lessened. Let us hope she continues to do well.
All three dog spend a great deal of time these days sleeping. They periodically rouse themselves, find the nearest human and wag their tails cheerfully, and then reposition themselves elsewhere for another nap. It's not a bad life.
Herself is fatigued by juggling the vet appointments and the rounds of medication for all of the mutts, as well as the strain of trying to determine what is a worrisome canine health issue and what is solely an age-related decline. Not to mention, the financial strain. What else can she do? They all have good quality of life. There will come a time when it is not so. When will that be - next week? Next year? How can we know?
Still. They are the dogs. We do the best we can for them.
No matter how close we are to another person, few human relationships are as free from strife, disagreement, and frustration as is the relationship you have with a good dog. Few human beings give of themselves to another as a dog gives of itself. I also suspect that we cherish dogs because their unblemished souls make us wish - consciously or unconsciously - that we were as innocent as they are, and make us yearn for a place where innocence is universal and where the meanness, the betrayals, and the cruelties of this world are unknown. -- Dean Koontz, A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog
Herself has an acute sense of smell. When she was young, certain smells would cause a physical reaction: for example, the "new car" scent of a rental automobile while she and her family were on vacation would invariably induce significant nausea and occasional vomiting. Even now, the odors of new bicycle tires or fresh plastic will give Herself a headache. She also dislikes a heavy scent of cooking oil, and finds floral perfumes to be rather suffocating. Too thick an odor -- whatever its source -- is intolerable.
On the other side of the coin, there are good aromas: the scent of fresh aspen chips for the guinea pig; the smell of the scruff of the tiny dog's neck; the odor of creosote, indicating that rain is falling in the desert. The smell of baking bread or of winter stew or of pie. Wood varnish of her wand or her tiny toys. Pine needles. Carlsbad Caverns. Campfires. Lovely.
Herself has noticed lately that the Offspring have acquired their own personal scents as they have grown into young adults. Offspring the First is always delicately, femininely scented; when Offspring the First has been home from college for a few days, the tiny dog takes on her aroma and smells similarly like wholesome beauty products. Offspring the Second has a masculine, slightly musky scent that reminds Herself of his drums and his black clothing (to which his aroma still clings ever so slightly while Herself folds the clean laundry). Offspring the Third does not yet have a distinctive scent; sometimes he smells of taekwondo gym, and other times he smells of pubescent, in-need-of-a-wash boy. His specific aroma will develop over the next few years, and we wonder exactly what it will be like.
Sometimes other people's scents inadvertently transfer to Herself. Offspring the First's perfume stuck to Herself's T-shirt when they recently hugged farewell at the airport. After Beloved Husband kisses Herself goodbye in the morning, his aftershave occasionally lingers on Herself's cheek. A borrowed pillow delivered a friend's scent to Herself's hair, where it remained for a time even after Herself rose from her nap. Herself finds a quiet joy in such happenstances, for it is a reminder to her of her good fortune in having these people in her life.
If she concentrates hard, Herself can bring specific scents to her mind. While music or pictures conjure up complex moments and remembrances, scents are straightforward, pure recollections of the spirit of a person or a place or a time. Scents can bring happiness, joy, comfort, consolation. Fascinating, the impact of a scent.
Herself and the full complement of Menfolk visited one of Herself's favorite places this weekend: Carlsbad Caverns. They took one of the milder guided tours and saw some areas of the cave that they had not viewed before. Excellent. How we love love the Caverns.
I am your moon and your moonlight too I am your flower garden and your water too I have come all this way, eager for you Without shoes or shawl. I want you to laugh To kill all your worries To love you To nourish you. Oh sweet bitterness, I will soothe you and heal you I will bring you roses I, too, have been covered with thorns.
While viewing the latest James Bond film, Skyfall, we noted a very subtle allusion to Agent 007's interest in beautiful, rich women. It can be heard and seen in the teaser trailer - during a free-association question-and-answer session, Mr. Bond is posed the word:
Agent Provocateur, for those who may not know, is a purveyor of luxury lingerie. Agent Provocateur wares are quite high-end (the word, "expensive," seems too cheap to use in relation to the posh items), and are lovely indeed. Herself had the pleasure of visiting an Agent Provocateur boutique some years ago when she and Beloved Husband took a short trip to Las Vegas in celebration of their 15th anniversary. Such beautiful garments were there.
Even though -- in the words of Offspring the Third -- "Mom's pretty manly," Herself is still very much a woman at heart and does in fact enjoy frilly undergarments from time to time. If she won the lottery, though she would be careful with her new-found wealth, she nevertheless would treat herself to some more finery from Agent Provocateur. Lacy unmentionables would be an enjoyable private antithesis to the rugged, practical outer clothing of the hiking trail or the firing range.
We watched a mediocre movie this weekend: The Woman In Black. We selected it because we are fond of its main actor, Daniel Radcliffe, for his work in the Harry Potter movies. Although The Woman In Black was a rather predictable mystery/drama/mild horror film, it was refreshing to see a movie that relied more on suspense than on gore. It was a tiny bit spooky in spots, darkly filmed. The props department must have thoroughly enjoyed finding and placing all manner of creepy objects on set: weird dolls and taxidermied monkeys and noisy turn-of-the-century toys abounded.
Without revealing too many spoilers, we'd like to mull over one aspect of the story: the idea of a spirit haunting a place or a person. The spirit in The Woman In Black was vengeful; why are spirits so often so? Is it an assumption that the dead cling to this world, rather than moving on into the next, because of anger, hatred, or a desire for revenge? Even in movies in which unfinished business is the reason for the spirit's presence -- the spirit wants to ensure that some act is accomplished (see, for example, The Sixth Sense) -- there are frequently undertones of justice or vengeance, and of hostility towards the living.
Is it because we do not know -- and we do fear -- what happens when we pass from this life? Is it because we would like reassurance that we will still be able to control our destinies and resolve matters in the event that we die before our business in this realm is finished? Is it because we worry that we will eventually be punished for our mistakes or our cruelties, or worse yet, be subjected to someone else's venom or persecution despite our being blameless?
Offspring the Third had an interesting comment: he stated that he would haunt the house in order to clean it for Herself. That was an endearingly thoughtful sentiment. Herself let him know he did not have to stay as a spirit, but could go beyond to whatever awaited him. She hopes he does.
What would Herself do, if she somehow had a choice between remaining in this world as a spirit, or moving onward? On the one hand, it would be frustrating and possibly heartbreaking to stay: she would be unable to help those she loves in the manners in which she has been accustomed, and her presence might be frightening, rather than reassuring or comforting. On the other hand, it would be difficult to leave those she loves behind.
Or would it? Herself is reminded of an episode from one of her favorite television series, Kung Fu:
Before we wake, we cannot know that what we dreamed does not exist. Before we die, we cannot know that death is not the greatest joy. - Caine
We do not know. We cannot know.
Perhaps (as Herself thinks is most likely) after we pass, our contact with the living will be limited to the written words that we leave behind. She thinks it may be time to review her letters to her loved ones that she keeps with her will. Do the letters include enough? Will they bring solace? Will they remind her loved ones of the places they have held in her heart? Will the letters encourage them to live their own lives to the fullest, and to not be afraid to embrace love and heartbreak and adventure and all the thousand mysteries of life? Are they already learning -- have they already learned -- to do so?
In the face of such uncertainty, the best we can do is to work hard to love, to enjoy, to understand and to forgive while we are here in this realm. If we live at peace in this world, we may ultimately also rest at peace in the next.
But oh! the blessing it is to have a friend to whom one can speak fearlessly on any subject; with whom one's deepest as well as one's most foolish thoughts come out simply and safely. Oh, the comfort - the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person - having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.
― Dinah Maria Mulock Craik
Passion has little to do with euphoria and everything to do with patience. It is not about feeling good. It is about endurance. Like patience, passion comes from the same Latin root: pati. It does not mean to flow with exuberance. It means to suffer.
We have a quiet, thorough admiration for Ben Harper. His Amen, Omen has been one of our very most favorite songs for quite some time now, for reasons that we cannot fully enunciate. It never fails to bring us comfort.
We have a fondness for many of this other songs, too: Beloved One, Forever, Blessed To Be A Witness, Another Lonely Day, I Will Not Be Broken, Steal My Kisses, Happy Everafter In Your Eyes, Morning Yearning, Touch from Your Lust, Waiting On an Angel - to name just a few. He has a soothing, melodious voice that is enhanced, rather than overshadowed, by the musical accompaniment. His lyrics are simultaneously simple and soul-deep. His songs portray love, longing, blessings, despair and hope in a luminous and visceral way. He is occasionally marvelously funky and witty. If we could be singer-songwriters, we would want to be like Ben Harper.
If we could go anywhere -- assuming that all Offspring and pets were well taken care of, and that time and money were no object -- where would we go?
We would visit the Sequoias. Beautiful woods, quiet forest. A landscape in which a centaur would not be out of place. We would spend days hiking, small and insignificant, among the tremendous towering trees.
We would go to Iceland. We would marvel at the glaciers and at the volcanic activity, and sit in the geothermal spas.
We would seek out environments different from this desert land: we would sit by the ocean; contemplate the vistas from mountaintops; watch a storm move over the plains. We would climb through caves. We would cross-country ski through the white silence of snow.
We would experience the wind and the sun and the dark and the wet and the dry and the cold and the heat, each unique to that particular place and time.
First entry contemplating Pull: Questions, as posed yesterday.
We have written before (e.g., Purpose) regarding Herself's love of guinea pigs. She is not sure entirely why guinea pigs are so soothing for her; there is just something about their serene nature, their placid consumption of hay and vegetables, their little silly ears. Perhaps she was a cavy in a former life.
If Herself could do anything, she would work with animals. As a job? As a volunteer effort? Either one. What kind of animals? Oh, that is open. Guinea pigs are endearing, but so are many creatures: bats; sloths; myriad tiny furry animals. Which critters need care? The youngest? The oldest? Just say the word.
Animals live in the moment. They are not embarrassed when a person says the wrong thing or trips over her own feet. They forgive. They do not care how much a person weighs, how much her shoes cost, whether there is gray in her hair. Animal needs are simple: food, shelter, comfort, safety. This much, she can try to provide.
Sometimes when we need an escape, we contemplate: what we would do, if we could do anything? Where would we go? What type of job would we have? What would we do for fun or excitement? Where would we live? HOW would we live?
This coming week, we shall explore all these questions. Right now, let us imagine, for just a few moments, all the possibilities.
Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray. - Rumi
None of us need one more person bashing or pointing out where we have failed or fallen short. Most of us are already well aware of the areas in which we are weak. What each of us does need is family, friends, employers, and brothers and sisters who support us, who have the patience to teach us, who believe in us, and who believe we're trying to do the best we can, in spite of our weaknesses.
Offspring the Second has turned Of Age today. A modest, self-effacing young man, he is an Old Soul, tremendously intelligent and witty, thoughtful and stoic. Artistic, musical, and unusually kind-hearted. Such a blessing, he is.
Happy Birthday, beloved son. Your future is marvelously bright. Go forth and conquer.
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 solely a minuscule middle aged chihuahua and a lovely red fish named Ruth Betta Finsburg. Someday, there will be more critters, for she loves them tremendously.