Monday, March 31, 2014

A Deflated Water Balloon

When we fetched the venerable cavy, Moose, out of his housing to clip his nails yesterday, we noted that he is looking Quite The Elderly Pig. He's a bit lighter than he used to be:  whereas once he felt remarkably like a well-filled warm water balloon, yesterday he felt slightly deflated. He has no bumps or lumps or obvious physical issues, though, which is good.  It also seems that he isn't taking as good care of his fur (which appears to be turning gray/losing its color) as he used to do -- his ears were a wee bit dingy and his back legs were a bit ruffled.

Herself opted to give him a bath.  Although he shook his head a few times when the water was too close to his face, he made no effort to climb out of the sink or to even escape Herself's hands. In fact, he tweeted and chirruped rather amiably, and sat comfortably on the towel while the warm water washed over him.  Since guinea pigs can catch cold quite easily, Herself wrapped him up carefully in a towel and had Offspring the Third hold him while she tidied up his habitat.  She opted to put a towel/blanket under his house rather than solely wood chips; if he is a tad bonier than he used to be, a softer bed will be more comfortable to him.

He waddled around his habitat later in the evening, and consumed a pile of lettuce with enthusiasm.  He followed his lettuce with some hay and a few pellets, too.  He's always been quite the eater -- his appetite is undimmed despite his abundance of years.

We do not know precisely how old Moose is.  He arrived in our home six years ago this forthcoming August -- an adoption through Craigslist of him and his companion, James, as their human girl was going away to attend college -- and they both seemed to be full grown at that time.  Our best guess is that he is between 6.5-7 years old, and probably closer to 7.  Depending upon the source of information, the average lifespan of a guinea pig is allegedly between 4 and 8 years (or 5 and 7, or 4 and 5).  At any rate and by most scales, though, venerable cavy is Pretty Darn Old. 

Age is inevitable, for all of us.  It's hard knowing that Moose will likely cross the bridge sooner rather than later.  We'll do our best to ensure his twilight months are as comfortable and vegetable-laden as possible.


Sunday, March 30, 2014


Taiko is an ancient Japanese form of percussion using large drums. The drums range in size from roughly a snare drum ("shime"), to drums as large as a car (the "o-daiko"). The most common drum size in taiko is the "chu-daiko" which is the size of a wine barrel. 
-- from "What is Taiko," found at  

An awesome combination of physical sport and music. Outstanding.

The taiko group Kodo performing, here:

Saturday, March 29, 2014


Tiny Dog enjoys sitting in a spot of sunshine.  She surveys the domain, which is uniquely hers now.  She is In Charge.  She is Top Dog. Alpha pup. Life is good.

Herself thinks about a companion canine for Tiny Dog.  She worries about Tiny Dog's heavy dependence upon her -- recollecting ottoman-shaped dog's heartbreaking habit of perennially waiting by the door whenever Herself left the house -- and it would be good if Tiny Dog could depend on another from her species for company when Herself is not available.  

On the other hand, though, any auxiliary dog will need to have a personality that meshes with the strong personality of Tiny Dog.  Second dog must be a beta dog, willing to let Tiny Dog be in charge.  Perhaps an older dog?  Or would that too quickly yield the health issues of a middle-aged-or-older animal?  Or the heartbreak of having to say goodbye again, so soon?

There is the advantage of the ease of travel and care for only one very small pet, too. Herself feels disinclined at the moment to take on an additional creature which she must tend.  That might be selfish.  Or it might just be sensible.  Grief from the loss of the two big dogs still pops up unexpectedly from time to time.  It's best to wait, Herself thinks.

Perhaps someday the time will be right.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Music Muggle

Herself and Offspring the Second visited the local music store yesterday because Offspring the Second needed new drumsticks. Herself perused the piano music section before joining him in the drum department.  She read anew the signage explaining the characteristics of the various wood types and the sound produced by the differing stick head shapes. The sticks also vary in length, thickness, and finishes, and there is a complex system of numbers and letters that appears to designate the approximate dimensions of the sticks.  Herself has yet to discern, or remember, the pattern of the system. Furthermore, sticks of the same number-letter combination may still vary slightly between manufacturers. Oh, dear.

Every time she stands in front of the rack of drumsticks, Herself imagines that her perplexity must be similar to that of a muggle standing in Ollivanders Wand Shop. Fortunately for wizards, the wand chooses them.  It would no doubt be simpler if the sticks chose the drummer as well.  Perhaps they do -- Offspring the Second knows exactly which types of sticks work best for him.  Herself secretly admires his vast accumulation of knowledge regarding All Things Drums. Self-taught, self-studied. Even though their musical tastes differ, Herself can recognize the technique and speed with which Offspring the Second plays.  It's quite impressive.

Good for him.

This collection of drumsticks was found at Black Crown Music, 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Bottoms Up

Though I don't pay a great deal of attention to the blog traffic, I was idly perusing the statistics provided by my Stat counter, and noted that one reader came to the blog through the following search:

bottoms up brantly gilbert

I was a tad perplexed.  I had no idea what the relationship between these four words could necessarily be (although I was reasonably certain that the "bottoms" and "up" went together), and so I searched the terms myself.  Apparently, it relates to a song, "Bottoms Up," by a singer named Brantley Gilbert.  It's not my cup of tea at all -- musically rather plain, a video showing copious consumption of alcohol and hints of violence. Nevertheless, readers, I see and I provide, just in case this is that for which you searched. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Thy Will Be Done

We found By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept, by Paulo Coelho, at the bookstore at last. It's lovely.

Thy will be done, my Lord.  Because you know the weakness in the heart of your children, and you assign each of them only the burden they can bear.  May you understand my love -- because it is the only thing I have that is really mine, the only thing that I will be able to take with me into the next life.  Please allow it to be courageous and pure; please make it capable of surviving the snares of the world. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Sierra Blanca

Yesterday, Herself and Beloved Husband shared a meal with her parents and his parents. At one point, the discussion turned to pets.  Herself's mother mentioned that she was always terrified of one particular pet Herself and Beloved Husband had had.  She recounted that when she babysat for the Offspring, the dog in question would look at her with ears flattened, and then would hide in the bedroom.  Herself could only state that the dog had never bitten anybody and was a good dog.

This is that dog's story.

Herself speaks.

Years and years and years ago, before there was Tiny Dog or Ottoman-shaped Dog or Giant Cheerful (who eventually became Aged and Decrepit) Dog, there was White Dog.

Named after a local mountain range with white stones, White Dog came into our lives at the time when the Offspring were very, very small.  She was our first dog.  Beloved Husband carried her into the house, a small round bundle of white fur with a pink nose. Sweet, sweet puppy, who grew into a thin, energetic, beautiful dog.  Her only issue was separation anxiety:  she would become tremendously upset away from the family.  Since I telecommuted and was otherwise at home with the young Offspring, it was not much of a problem; someone was almost always nearby.  She did fine then.

One Thanksgiving when White Dog was no more than two or three years old, I and Beloved Husband and the Offspring went to a family reunion in California.  We dropped White Dog off at the kennel recommended by the veterinarian and went on our way.  When we returned a few days later, there was a voicemail message from the kennel.  During the night, White Dog had scaled an eight-food chain-link fence and escaped.  She could not be found. White Dog was the only dog ever to have broken out of the kennel. The kennel workers were horrified, apologetic.  So sorry.

The kennel was in a desert area, with junk yards and a few commercial establishments nearby.  Beloved Husband and I looked and looked for White Dog. Every plastic grocery bag caught on the desert scrub caught our eyes -- was it White Dog?  No.  We put up fliers.  While the Offspring were at preschool and grade school, I would drive back to the area, hoping to catch a glimpse of her.  I had no success.

Eventually we had to stop looking. She was nowhere. She was gone.

I like to think that perhaps, just maybe, someone took her in and gave her a good life.  It's a fantasy, probably, but it's better to think that than to contemplate White Dog running, panicked and searching, in the dark and in an unfamiliar area, until she....

I can't even finish that sentence.  Dehydration. Coyotes. A truck. 100 possible terrible ends for White Dog.

I am sorry I was not there for you, White Dog.


Life is a complicated, intricate, ever-branching pathway.  I know that in all likelihood, I would not have had any of my other much-loved dogs had White Dog not been Lost. I am tremendously grateful for my time with them, and cannot imagine things any other way. It is still terribly sad, though, to remember that the gain of my other dogs was borne of the loss of my first dog.

Perhaps, if the Universe is kind, she will somehow, somewhere, find Daisy and Thorbert, and she will be comforted, knowing that she is once more part of our pack.

Rest in peace, Sierra Blanca.

Sunday, March 23, 2014


Although I profess to be an eminently practical person (and am, in fact, such a person), I do harbor a tiny molecule of romance deep down inside. John Legend's All of Me appeals to that hidden mote.

You're my downfall, you're my muse
My worst distraction, my rhythm and blues
I can't stop singing, it's ringing, in my head for you

My head's under water
But I'm breathing fine
You're crazy and I'm out of my mind

'Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I'll give my all to you
You're my end and my beginning
Even when I lose I'm winning
'Cause I give you all of me
And you give me all of you

We've found the sheet music.  We shall work on this song. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Hens and Chicks

Spring appears to be here. Huzzah!

We have obtained a few plants for the yard, including the Sempervivum succulents so quaintly named "Hens and Chicks."
We shall see whether they will grow for us.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Space: The Final Frontier

Personal space: the final frontier of my human understanding.

It's a complex thing, human touch. Whether physical contact with another human being is acceptable depends so much on each moment of contact.  It's a delicate dance, and the music includes the people present and the time of day and the place and the emotions of the moment and one hundred other factors.  Let us try to parse a few of the details.

Everyone has their own sphere of personal space.  Some spheres are small; others are gigantic.  The diameter of the sphere varies depending on who is nearby -- it tends to expand when strangers are adjacent, and can contract or even momentarily dissolve when familiars are present.

Sometimes even familiars can invade one's personal space, though.  That's an especially tricky situation, since emotional requirements also come into play. Whose needs come first?

Herself remembers when the Offspring were small and enjoyed (even needed) a great deal of physical contact.  Herself carried them, nursed them, rocked them.  She held their hands when crossing the street and sat them on her lap for story time. She kissed them goodnight. It was all good. Still, at the end of some days, she felt all "touched out" -- she needed a respite from the constant physical contact. It's bittersweet for her to remember those times now that the Offspring are all nearly adults and eschew parental hugs in favor of those from their peers. In deference, Herself abstains from touching them except briefly in passing or in their times of emotional distress; her wish to hug the Offspring should never supersede their wishes.

Herself also thinks about a close female friend who, for various knotty emotional reasons, is uncomfortable with physical contact with her mother.  The friend is thoroughly conflicted -- how does she define her duties towards her mother and bring them into synchronicity with her own feelings and needs, particularly in view of her mother's openly expressed (and sometimes passive-aggressively stated) desires to receive hugs and kisses? She must either sacrifice her own needs for the sake of meeting the wishes of her mother, or take a stand against physical contact even though that might hurt her mother's feelings and result in additional emotionally-painful conversations.  Her friend can't win.  Herself wishes she could help somehow. She imagines being with her friend to provide a follow-up hug of reassurance; she thinks a positive touch could erase the negative contact somehow. Perhaps someday.

Even when touch is normally comfortable between two people, there arise situations that require a further assessment:  for example, when one individual is in physical discomfort, such as with an illness or an injury, others must tread even more carefully than they would normally.  Some people derive comfort from touch; others find any further physical sensation to be intolerable.  What to do?

Herself thinks about the kidney stone bonanza of last year. It was a humbling, terrifying deconstruction of the Superego, a shocking retreat into Id.  Through it all, the only molecules of consolation she could find lay in the hands of those around her.  Even the smallest of touches -- a pat on the arm by the nurse who placed the IV, Beloved Husband's hand holding hers, the technician gently assisting with her placement into the CAT scan machine -- gave her a focus, a grain of positive physical sensation within the ocean of the pain. She could not think clearly enough to ask for the physical contact, and yet it was magically provided. It helped. She is grateful.

When her loved ones are suffering, Herself's first instinct is to reach out her hands to them. Sometimes she is hesitant, though, not knowing whether they are in a state where they would prefer to withdraw from physical touch, or whether they would somehow benefit from some physical contact.  She does not want to cross into their personal spheres in an unwelcome manner. Yet she wants to help. And thus, the delicate dance of human touch continues.

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares. ― Henri J.M. Nouwen, Out of Solitude: Three Meditations on the Christian Life

NuSTAR Hand of God Nebula, found at 

Thursday, March 20, 2014


We are well into the second week after the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.  It's tremendously perplexing.  Despite data from a variety of sources and help from more than a dozen nations, no one seems to be closer to determining what happened to the flight, other than "it went missing."

We can well imagine the distress of the families and friends of those on board.  They are powerless to help with the search, and must entertain an ever-dwindling hope as well as an ever-growing despair.  They cannot determine whom to blame, from whom to seek consolation. They can rage at technology, or the pilots, or the airline, or faceless terrorists, or impotent government officials who have no answers. They are shouting into the wind.

Not knowing is a terrible thing.

What of the two hundred and thirty-nine souls on board?  We admit our fear: in all probability, they are lost. They leave in their wakes untied strings, desks with crumpled papers, piles of laundry. Milk spoiling in the fridge.  Bills to be paid.  Celebrations that will never occur, milestones that will never be reached.  Unfinished business. Unfulfilled pleasures.


Those left behind, though not lost, are bereft. There will be no last words, no last kiss, no apologies for things said and unsaid.  A void of regret, anger, broken hopes, and love -- in the shape of a 777 airplane. 

I am not yours, nor lost in you,
not lost, although I long to be.
Lost as a candle lit at noon,
lost as a snowflake in the sea.
You love me, and I find you still
a spirit beautiful and bright,
yet I am I, who long to be
lost as a light is lost in light.

― Sara Teasdale, Love Songs

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Scientific delight:  a 1,500-year-old moss has sprouted.

According to Scientific American:

"[T]he researchers punched into the permanently frozen soil beneath the living moss, removing cores that contained frozen soil, ice and plants. To prevent contamination, they quickly wrapped the mossy cylinders in plastic and shipped them back to Britain at freezing temperatures. In the laboratory, the team sliced up the core and grew new moss in an incubator, directly from shoots preserved in the permafrost. They also carbon-dated the different layers, which provided an age estimate for revived moss shoots.

The oldest moss in the core first grew between 1,697 and 1,533 years ago, when the Mayan empire was at its height and the terror of Attila the Hun was ending in Europe and Central Asia. In the lab, this moss sent out new shoots from its rootlike "rhizoids," the researchers report. Because the growth comes directly from the preserved moss, and is the same species, it's unlikely that spores from elsewhere contaminated the samples, Convey said. (Antarctic mosses don't make spores.)"

That's mighty fabulous.  Yet one more reason why we find moss so fascinating and delightful.

Picture from Oskin et al., Scientific American (March 17, 2014), retrieved from

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Music Lover

When she was in grade school, Herself took cello lessons.  Her instructor held the lessons at the local high school. Amazingly, the instructor drove a Volkswagen beetle, and Herself wondered how exactly the instructor could possibly pack the cello into the vehicle when lessons were finished.  When her mother picked her up from her lesson, Herself would keep her eye on the Volkswagen as they drove away; unfortunately, though, Herself never did witness the instructor stuffing the instrument into the car.

Herself would wait for her lesson in the hallway beside the door to the music room.  The high school students -- who seemed very mature and tall at the time -- would occasionally pat her (and her instrument) on the head as they walked by between classes.  That was probably the best part of cello lessons.

Herself's cello was never quite in tune, even though she attempted to tune it at home in between lessons. The horsehair of the bow would break here and there, and she would have long strands hanging, waiting to be removed.  Sometimes even a string of the cello would snap.  Herself could never quite coax a pleasant sound out of the instrument, no matter how she tried.  When Herself practiced at home, the family dog would insert himself between her feet and the instrument and howl when Herself drew the bow across the strings. During lessons, the instructor clearly was dismayed; no doubt she understood the sentiments of the family dog.

Herself gave up the cello, and concentrated on the piano instead.


Many years later, Tiny Dog has thoughts about Herself's musical instrument as well.  When Herself plays the piano, Tiny Dog either makes a nest in her bed nearby, or flings a toy around the room. It appears that Tiny Dog enjoys -- or is at least not bothered by -- the music.

Tiny Dog's preferences are made clear whenever anyone other than Herself sits at the piano bench.  Tiny Dog then leaps to attention, stands on her back legs, and barks furiously if a key on the piano is pressed.  Apparently she's guarding Herself's piano from interlopers.

Silly Tiny Dog.  Your devotion is endearing.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Four Leaf Clover

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

This marvelous piggie was found at Guinea Pigs in Hats (

Sunday, March 16, 2014

All The Good Letters

Behold yesterday evening's Scrabble board.  The game was complex and competitive; though Herself had a rather sizable lead in points at the beginning of the game, the difference between the scores lessened and then was flipped on its head by a few deftly placed words. So close!  Herself does indeed enjoy the intellectual challenge, even when she does not win.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Kissing on the Internet

There's a short film flashing like wildfire across the interwebs.  Entitled First Kiss, it begins with the statement: "We asked 20 strangers to kiss for the first time....".  People are hailing it as moving and surprisingly beautiful.  It's a novel concept, certainly.

Who are the strangers?  They're all relatively slender, attractive, youthful.  According to other sources, the individuals involved are actors, musicians, or individuals otherwise in the entertainment industry.  The strangers are paired up two at a time in front of a camera -- and with a tip of the hat to non-heterosexual couples, one of the pairs is two women, and another two men -- and after a few awkward moments, they kiss.  Some of the kisses are chaste, hesitant, respectfully brief; others are lingering, open-mouthed, and seem to involve the whole body rather than merely the lips.

I'll not delve into a discussion of what kind of people were selected for the project, since the internet has parsed in detail the issues surrounding a young, hip, relatively ethnically homogeneous group of individuals. That aside, my impressions of the video are as follows:

It left me cold. And feeling a bit squeamish.

Perhaps it is old-fashioned to consider kissing beyond a simple peck to be an intimacy that should not be part of such a voyeuristic project. What is it about kissing? To me, kissing on the lips is an introduction. A prelude. A step down a path. It is a question and an answer; an ending and a beginning. It's not always to be taken lightly, nor always to be taken seriously.  And certainly, it's not to be performed with a stranger for the entertainment of others.

I want to see you.
Know your voice.
Recognize you when you
first come 'round the corner.
Sense your scent when I come
into a room you've just left.
Know the lift of your heel,
the glide of your foot.
Become familiar with the way
you purse your lips
then let them part,
just the slightest bit,
when I lean in to your space
and kiss you.
I want to know the joy
of how you whisper

― Rumi

Friday, March 14, 2014


Book discussion. No spoilers, really. I thought I'd mention it, though, just in case you want to avoid learning anything about the book before you read it. 

I read Divergent.  It is well-written:  it flows well, with a good use of language that is neither too simple nor needlessly complex.  The story is based on activities of teenagers in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic society. There is a strong female protagonist -- always a pleasure -- who is resourceful and independent and unfortunately (though perhaps somewhat realistically) a bit dim when it comes to her comprehending the motivations of the young male protagonist who is attracted to her.  There are overarching political ideas as well as a general theme of "a few brave and motivated youths must save the world from itself."

The previous paragraph could have described any of a half-dozen currently popular books (see, e.g., The Hunger Games). What is it that makes Divergent different?

In the society of Divergent, people are divided into five specific groups -- factions -- based upon one overarching characteristic that drives their behavior, their employment, and their way of life. (Each faction has its own manifesto helpfully provided at the end of the book.) They are:

Abnegation - selflessness.
Amity - peacefulness.
Candor - truthfulness.
Dauntless - bravery.
Erudite - intelligence.

(We note that three faction names are nouns, and two are adjectives.  Such it was in the book.)

One can see social commentary within the descriptions of the factions, certainly. It's a novel concept, made even more interesting by the fact that each single characteristic is driven to the extreme:  for example, much as Mr. Spock from Star Trek emphasizes pure logic, the erudite of Divergent believe that knowledge is the only logical solution to the problem of conflict. The website created around the movie based on the book highlights the factions, even providing a quiz to see into which faction one might fall.

To which faction would I belong?  That's a tricky question.  Not all of the factions are equally described in the book -- for example, Amity plays a very small role in Divergent -- so information is incomplete. Furthermore, the extreme bias of each faction's underpinnings turns what might otherwise be a most admirable character trait into nearly a liability. We're fairly certain, though, that it would be one of two. Perhaps we will need to read the next book in the series to glean more information.  We shall see.

Which faction would you join? Why?

Thursday, March 13, 2014


It is spring break.  Beloved Husband discussed with Offspring the Third the importance of being productive even during vacation, and Offspring the Third is thus being required to perform various tasks over this week.  One of his primary chores has been to clean up the yard in preparation for spring.  He has worked at it diligently and without complaint, much to his credit.

Behold some of his handiwork:  he raked the leaves and gathered them into numerous bags.  After he took the opportunity to jump into the pile, of course - it's important to play on occasion, even when one has tasks to do.

Good job, Offspring the Third.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Since I don't go out to the movies terribly often, I have not seen many of the films that were nominated for Academy awards this year.  Out of curiosity, I watched the trailers for those movies that eventually won Oscars.  One of them was described by the pop-culture reference Wikipedia as a "science fiction romantic comedy-drama" film:  Her. In Her, a man falls in love with the adaptive artificial intelligence of his computer.  Eventually, she evolves beyond her current state and leaves him to explore her existence.  It's an interesting story, and perhaps even slightly plausible in this age when advancing technology and increasing human isolation are commonplace.  I can understand why it won the award for original screenplay.  (Nevertheless, I will not see this movie, because stories about abandonment and unrequited love are too difficult for me. Why, you may ask?  I cannot explain.  They just are.)

The premise of the movie reminded me of a poignant passage I read recently while perusing the works of Paulo Coelho -- words both sorrowful and comforting. Perhaps if the protagonist of Her took them to heart, he would find a new, better, and more human pathway for himself.

That is what the forest taught me. That you will never be mine, and that is why I will never lose you. You were my hope during my days of loneliness, my anxiety during moments of doubt, my certainty during moments of faith.
[Y]ou came, and I understood all of this. You came to free me from the slavery I myself had created, to tell me that I was free to return to the world and to the things of the world. I understood everything I needed to know, and I love you more than all the women I have ever known, more than I loved the woman who, quite unwittingly, exiled me to the forest. I will always remember now that love is liberty. That was the lesson it took me so many years to learn. That is the lesson that sent me into exile and now sets me free again.

I will always remember you, and you will remember me, just as we will remember the evening, the rain on the windows, and all the things we’ll always have because we cannot possess them.

- Paulo Coelho, Brida

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


This past weekend, we were perusing the camping/outdoor supply store, and there were two pine cones near a display:  a giant one, and a wee little one.

Conifers are my favorite trees.  I need to find a good guide for distinguishing types of conifers -- pine, fir, spruce, and so forth.  Count the needles, observe the bark and the cones, note the shape and size of the tree. Remember the distinguishing characteristics of all of the species.

I shall study up on the trees.  I will find a tree book to carry with me for reference. Yes. That will be nice.

I feel a need to spend time in a forest, soon.

This helpful cone guide was found at the Texas  A & M Forest Service, Trees of Texas page, "How to ID" (

Monday, March 10, 2014

Iko Iko

I am wandering through my mental forest. I know the terrain -- where the rocks lie, where the good climbing trees are, where the stillness and quiet can be found.   It's a comfortable and familiar place.

Sometimes, though, there are shadows -- an ottoman-shaped log, a birdcall reminiscent of an infant's cry -- and I need to stop and catch my breath.  Other times, I look around and recognize that certain regions are no longer accessible:  the natural erosion of our forest over time has nestled boulders across trails, and the streams have slowly altered the riverbeds. I know better than to try to walk those places again, yet I feel ever so slightly sad when I recall the mosses and the flowers that I once enjoyed there.

There are changes on the horizon. There is always potential for change, certainly, but right now, I see more clearly than before how the trees are bending with the winds.  Even when the changes may be quite positive, I am still uncertain.  I try to parse the nebulous shapes in the mists, but my viewpoint is clouded by hopes and fears and desires.  All I can do is wait and see what transpires.

So I wait.

What to do to keep myself from fretting and flailing?  I dance.

Today, I dance to Iko Iko -- a simple, short, flirty and festive song, traditional for Mardi Gras. It's a perfect escape for three minutes.  Sometimes, three minutes at a time is how I move through the forest.

Sunday, March 9, 2014


When Herself was a youngster in grade school, at arts-and-crafts time she would search the old coffee can that held the classroom supply of scissors, hoping that one of two particular pairs would be available to her: the plastic, vaguely spongy green coating on the handles of those difficult-to-obtain pairs indicated that the scissors were designed specifically for left-handed people.  She was not at all artistically inclined or even remotely crafty (and still is not, to this day), and those lefty scissors helped her to get through the assignments just a little bit easier.

She is fortunate in that she grew up at a time when left-handed people were no longer coerced into switching to right-hand dominance.  It was tricky enough to try to reach the standards for handwriting and other manual tasks, without being required to use the clumsy right hand. Though she was a good student, she would regularly receive "C"s in handwriting on her report card.  Frustrating, embarrassing. 

Other projects were even more problematic.  When her mother and her mother's friends held their sewing group and brought their daughters together to learn a few sewing skills as well, Herself just could not understand how to hold the fabric and the needle in the right-handed way she was shown.  Her stitches slanted the wrong way, looping and wiggling as she tried to make them resemble those of the instructor. She received some kind praise from Mrs. K, who saw the efforts Herself was making, and yet also heard the other little girls snickering and mocking her ugly square of sewing.  Herself didn't attend sewing group much after that; there was no point.  Her time was best spent elsewhere, in activities that didn't require a handedness she did not have.  

On the plus side, left-handedness did seem to be helpful when she learned to play the piano.  She loves her piano now, even though she does not play it every day.  It's a musical escape, and her skills are sufficient that she does not feel handedly-inadequate.  

With the nearly ubiquitous use of computers these days, Herself's handwriting and other hand-specific skills are of minimal importance. She's adapted to right-handed objects and habits, and adapts to any inconveniences as best she can.  Nevertheless, she is very pleased when an occasional left-handed tool -- such as the magnificent left-handed can opener -- finds its way to her.  And sometimes, science provides marvelous information that puts handedness into context beyond ordinary human activities. 

To wit:  birds can be lefties, too: "Birds display lateralization bias when selecting flight paths."


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Mad Women

We don't typically watch much television around here -- there is no cable television or satellite connection; any shows we select are either on DVD or available streaming online.  We still try to keep an eye on what shows are most popular, though, so that we can try them out when the occasion arises and see what the fuss is about.  Beloved Husband has slowly worked his way through the show, Breaking Bad, and has now started upon Mad Men.  Herself is busy with other activities, but cannot help but overhear the dialog from the first episode of Mad Men.

We understand that the show is set in a particular time period when interactions between men and women in the work force were different than how they are now. Still:  the blatant sexism.  So. Very. Uncomfortable.

Herself is pleased -- and relieved -- never to have encountered anything other than egalitarian behavior in her professional career. Sometimes it's surprising to think that relatively recently, things were very different -- and that perhaps in some situations, that kind of disparate treatment still occurs. Herself cannot imagine how to handle sexist or suggestive or inappropriate commentary in the workplace (other than with perhaps a withering stare).  With a bit of luck, she never will have to do so.

Friday, March 7, 2014


Thankful am I, always, for the gift of friendship.  

A friend is more than a therapist or confessor, even though a friend can sometimes heal us and offer us God's forgiveness. A friend is that other person with whom we can share our solitude, our silence, and our prayer. A friend is that other person with whom we can look at a tree and say, "Isn't that beautiful," or sit on the beach and silently watch the sun disappear under the horizon. With a friend we don't have to say or do something special. With a friend we can be still and know that God is there with both of us. ― Henri J.M. Nouwen

Thursday, March 6, 2014


We have been watching Sherlock. It's quite an enjoyable show. While discussing the series with a friend, we looked up actor Benedict Cumberbatch  and were quite amused to find that he is occasionally known as "the thinking woman's crumpet."  While he's not Herself's particular cup of tea physical-wise, his apparent intelligence and good humor do render him appealing. We think we'll investigate his other works when we're done with Sherlock.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

To The Future

Our wishes for you:

Joy and health; all the little successes; dreams come true; lucky finds and blessed moments and and happiness, always.

Happy birthday, Beloved Husband.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Today's earworm:  Next to me, by Emeli Sandé.  She's a lovely young woman with a beautiful voice.  We wish for you, all that she sings that she has found:

When the skies are grey and all the doors are closing
And the rising pressure makes it hard to breathe
When all I need's a hand to stop the tears from falling
I will find him, I’ll find him next to me

You can also try some of her other songs, such as DaddyClown, or My Kind Of Love; or a beautifully rendered traditional hymn, Abide With Me; or perhaps, if you'd like, her whole concert at the Royal Albert hall.  

I hope you enjoy.

Monday, March 3, 2014

A Bit Of Life

This past weekend, we went hiking in the desert of the nearby state park.  It was a beautiful day despite a fairly significant breeze, with sun and a bit of clouds and plenty of warmth.  The trail was a tiny bit steep here and there, but was still pleasant.  There were fossils in the rocks that we passed, and the beginnings of buddings of some of the desert plants.  Wee barrel cacti dotted the landscape. There were anthills quietly and steadily growing here and there.  It was good.

At the top of one hill, there was a bench for resting.  As she sat, Herself spotted a couple of butterflies flitting about:  two white ghostly shapes dancing on the breeze, circling one another, investigating this spot and that.  She was reminded of the tales of butterflies being a sign from departed souls -- a visitation of loved ones gone ahead -- and she thought of Daisy and Thorbert.  

Earlier that morning as she lay in bed, Herself thought she heard a noise outside of the bedroom door.  It was very reminiscent of the quiet shuffling noises of one of the dogs waiting for the door to be opened; that was a noise she had heard many times over the years.  It could not be Tiny Dog, though, for she has a louder strategy for asking to be let into the room. 


She waited, and heard it again.  And so she got up, and after hesitating with her hand on the doorknob for a moment, opened the door.  She looked down.  No one was there.  

She quietly spoke aloud:  "Come on in."  She waited patiently a few moments, just in case. And then she closed the door.

She does not believe. Yet, if there is at all a chance that either Daisy or Thorbert might visit somehow, she wants to be sure that they know she remembers and loves them. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Quiet Day

Yesterday was Offspring the Second's birthday.  He is a reserved individual who thoroughly dislikes fanfare, particularly when it concerns himself -- and so, we respected his wishes not to have a celebration.  Nevertheless, we did get him a small gift and made him a cake.  He is one of our favorite people, and we cannot help but enjoy the fact that he has graced this Universe with another year of his presence.

Happy birthday, introspective, witty, and marvelous Offspring the Second.

The homemade ice cream cake - a homely, though heartfelt, confection.