1. The young interracial lesbian couple holding hands at the stoplight and waiting to cross the street. (Some day, couples like this will be commonplace and their small tender gesture -- holding hands -- will be unremarkable. Right here and right now, though, interracial and single-sex romantic relationships are still noteworthy, and outward affection is still brave.)
2. The slightly-more-than-middle-aged woman at the grocery store, wielding the modified cart with the extension designed to accommodate two small children, with a tremendously frail, white-haired, and eagle-eyed elderly person perched carefully in one of the seats. (It is magnificent to see that any sense of embarrassment one might have at needing to use a child-friendly cart as an adult was marvelously put aside for the sake of companionship during a trip to the store.)
3. The broadly smiling gentleman at the Goodwill drop-off station, exuding contentment and happiness and acknowledging his pleasure at accepting donations by requesting, and delivering, a brief hug. (And God bless you too, sir, even though I'm not entirely sure Who God is -- because to you, God is clearly real, and with you.)
Ordinary people going about their ordinary lives, one moment at a time: I see them, and know that they breathe love into the world just as flowers breathe their scent into the wind.
Crocodile, crocodile What is to be done? There's snow on the mountains -- And where is the sun? You might need a heat lamp For comfort and light To keep up your spirits Through cold winter plight And what of Wisconsin? Snow, ice, in great blocks The best I can do then Is send you warm socks. Crocodile, crocodile, No cause to be blue -- For pie and warm wishes Will always find you.
There is a gray place where blackly I in darkness brooded and wrote upon my ashy bones hollow lines of wit. But you, damnit, you snuck in with a rainbow and tied me up, led me weeping to a buzzing meadow, and washed my face with flowers.
–R. Bruce Sundrud
Offspring the Third thrives on interacting with other people. (It's quite a contrast to his siblings, who enjoy fewer people, in fewer numbers and on fewer occasions.) In addition to joining the marching band at high school this year, Offspring the Third also is working as a stage hand for the school theater production. Because of the twofold social circles of band kids and thespians, there are numerous get-togethers and pizza parties and video game tournaments and birthday shindigs and whatnot. He seems to thoroughly enjoy it all. I'm tired just thinking about it.
I'm tremendously happy for him -- after being relentlessly picked on by various horrid little classmates in grade school (those were some terrible, terrible years), he has found his niche. Niches. Bravo, my fine young man, for persevering, for trying, and for putting yourself out there in the world. I am very proud of you.
One of the benefits of this particular desert city is that all of Offspring the Third's classmates live within an easy drive. While Offspring the Third will likely work on getting his driver's license soon, until then, I am more than happy to chauffeur him wherever and whenever he needs -- which is sometimes a lot of to-and-fro. Right now, he's at a birthday party for a friend; since he had theater rehearsal this morning, I went to the mall (ew) to the one store where we knew we could find the gift he wanted for his friend. And it was my pleasure to do so.
When I was in high school, my classmates were widely dispersed; the school (which delivered an absolutely magnificent education, for which I am always grateful) was in the middle of the city, and my classmates and I all lived in various suburbs. It was often a 30 to 40 minute drive, through the city, to someone else's house. I didn't go very often.
I participated in very few extracurricular activities. I worked backstage for the musical productions, though, because the theater director lived in my suburb and could give me a ride home. And I also worked on some occasional theater productions at the brother school; since it was located in the adjacent suburb rather than across the city, it was not nearly as tricky to attend practice regularly. Other than that, though, I did not. I did not want to inconvenience anyone by asking for additional transport. I could not do so. It was Not Done.
I know I missed out on some things. Many things? Things. Water under the bridge, now.
Yet my history has shaped me in a particular way: I willingly take Offspring the Third wherever he needs to go. I never want him to feel as though he's inconveniencing me or being a burden. I want him to have the chance to do the things he'd like to try -- if he is brave enough to try, I will absolutely do whatever is needed to support him. I am glad that I have this opportunity to help him to do All The Things. In a strange way, it redeems pieces of my past. And I am grateful.
Today's earworm: Halo, by Beyonce. I like this song for many reasons, particularly for the sense of safety and protection imbued throughout the lyrics. That's a rare feeling -- particularly in adulthood -- and it's one that I appreciate tremendously when it happens.
If you'd like a slightly different, but quite catchy version, you can try the one by PostModern JukeBox. I've put both versions below, for your listening pleasure. I hope you enjoy.
Although dawn is creeping later and later, Offspring the Third's marching band practice is still at the same very early hour -- and so, we find ourselves going for a walk around the block well before the sun has started to rise over the mountain. It's really a lovely time of day. It is cool and breezy, and cloudy of late. There seem to be more birdcalls now; the night hawks are particularly vocal. The sound echoes around the arroyos in the morning, lending a deep resonance to the calls.
It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding; And to the open-handed the search for one who shall receive is joy greater than giving And is there aught you would withhold? All you have shall some day be given; Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors'.
Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights is worthy of all else from you. And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream. And what desert greater shall there be than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the charity, of receiving? And who are you that men should rend their bosom and unveil their pride, that you may see their worth naked and their pride unabashed? See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and an instrument of giving. For in truth it is life that gives unto life - while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness. And you receivers - and you are all receivers - assume no weight of gratitude, lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon him who gives. Rather rise together with the giver on his gifts as on wings; For to be overmindful of your debt, is to doubt his generosity who has the free-hearted earth for mother, and God for father.
For the past several years, we've been increasingly disappointed, then frustrated, and finally occasionally downright enraged by the quality of the internet service from our provider. (We're not naming names, but it might rhyme with Lime-Corner. Just sayin'.) We've now formally made a change to DSL from cable, and oh, the delight of seeing ALL of the bars of wi-fi signal lit up and ready for action. Huzzah!
The biggest plus, in my book, is that the better connection may make video calls with Cherished Friend so much clearer. To be able to see his unpixellated face, and hear all the words without gaps, will be most welcome, indeed.
Every time we make the decision to love someone, we open ourselves to great suffering, because those we most love cause us not only great joy but also great pain. The greatest pain comes from leaving. When the child leaves home, when the husband or wife leaves for a long period of time or for good, when the beloved friend departs to another country… the pain of the leaving can tear us apart. Still, if we want to avoid the suffering of leaving, we will never experience the joy of loving. And love is stronger than fear, life stronger than death, hope stronger than despair. We have to trust that the risk of loving is always worth taking. ― Henri J.M. Nouwen
We all need someone who will willingly place a bandage on our heel blister, or provide the pain relievers and a cup of water, or even just pat our heads and tell us it will all work out OK, that we will be OK; that not to worry, they'll take care of that chore so that we can go lie down; that after a snack and a nap, things will be better. They will.
WARNING: TERRIBLE bug story ahead. TERRIBLE. If you have a horror of cockroaches, DO NOT READ THIS STORY. You have been warned! Are you sure then? OK, you've been warned. Herself speaks. -----
Fall is creeping steadily into this corner of the desert: it has been cloudy and damp, with a breeze that ranges from mild to rather surprisingly strong. The night creeps in earlier, the dawn arrives later. Halloween decorations sprout like mushrooms in neighborhood yards. These are the pleasant aspects of fall.
Some of unpleasant hallmarks of autumn are the attempts by various verminous critters to move into the dry, warm house. The most dreaded interloper: the cockroach.
Most of the occasional roaches we find are already gasping their last (we have a Bug Man who visits monthly and treats the outside of the house, so these wretched bugs are doomed from the start). They appear, abdomen up with legs curles and one sad antenna twitching fruitlessly, in the middle of the floor tile or just under the corner of the desk. We shudder, and scrape them up, and are done.
Last week, I had the unpleasant experience of seeing two lazily waving antennae emerging from the overflow drain of one of the two sinks in the master bedroom. (My sink, of course.) I politely requested aid from Beloved Husband, who found something to spray into the sink-holes to dispatch the bug. I then taped up all possible entrances and exits to that sink with duct tape for several days, and followed up with a treatment of anti-roach spray into all the holes for good measure. The sink appears safe. For now.
And then, there was this morning.
It was ever so early -- around 6 AM -- and I was wearing my shorts and sneakers so that I could exercise a bit later. I went to the cabinet to the left of the kitchen sink and fetched a small plastic cup. I then took out the bottle of ibuprofen, since Offspring the Third has had a nasty cold with residual sore throat, and I wanted to make sure he would be comfortable for school. Tiny Dog was my shadow in the kitchen, as always. I felt her ear tickle my left leg. I ignored her and wrestled with the large cotton ball that was blocking the top of the ibuprofen bottle. Tiny Dog's ear tickled my leg again. I wondered why she was begging so early, and looked down. It was not Tiny Dog.
There was a cockroach climbing up my leg.
"AH! It's on me!"
(I kicked it off with my other foot.) "FUCK."
(I looked around on the floor for it.)
"Where is it?"
There it was, frantically running away.
"Dude, get me a flyswatter," I said to Offspring the Third.
He didn't see one. I looked at the plastic cup in my hand, and coverered the roach with it, trapping it.
I could hear it scrabbling inside the cup. I located the swatter, but didn't want to remove the cup from atop the roach, lest it escape into an inaccessible spot in the house.
I retrieved a square of cardboard, slid it under the cup to trap the insect inside (oh, the scrabbling; so much scrabbling), and took the cup/cardboard outside. I put it on the patio. Offspring the Third then removed the cup and beat the roach vigorously with the swatter until the insect was quite thoroughly dead.
All in all, I think I handled it fairly well, particularly since I neither passed out nor just plain dropped dead right then and there. Granted, there was the FUCK that I exclaimed within earshot of Offspring the Third, but I'm certain he'll be understanding of that utterance under the circumstances. Every little itch makes me flinch now, though. GOOD GRAVY.
Is it strange that I feel just the tiniest bit bad for that poor frightened insect, running and scrabbling, doing nothing more unusual than following its bug survival instinct?
We follow many pages on social media - in particular, charities promoting the health and welfare of various types of animals, as well as sites bringing attention to human plights. These sites normally are good ways to keep an eye on the pulse of the world, to see where humanity needs to be (and to do) better.
Well, we followed. We do not follow any more.
In keeping with the tendency towards shrill "news" reporting, the articles and stories have become more and more shocking, complete with photographs of the abused animals and the frightened or dead people. "Click-bait." I cannot see one more helpless injured animal. I cannot read one more sorrowful tale of desperate refugees, of sweat shops or internecine warfare, of school shootings, of pollution and destruction of the earth and deforestation and extinction and global climate change.
I can only do so much.
I cannot bleed for every creature on the planet. Or for the planet herself. It rends the heart.
I need reprieve from Terrible News.
I would like to be in an orchard like this right now.
The chemist who can extract from his heart's elements compassion, respect, longing, patience, regret, surprise, and forgiveness and compound them into one can create that atom which is called love. - Kahlil Gibran
Everyone is away. Beloved Husband is on a business trip; Offspring the Third is at a school function; Offspring the First and Offspring the Second are away at college, as usual; and Cherished Friend is in his own corner of the desert. And much as Herself enjoys a bit of Alone Time, this evening she is particularly acutely aware of The Distances. Alas.
She resorts to tidying closets and organizing things. It's not much comfort, but it'll do.
Missing someone, they say, is self-centered. I self-center you more than ever.
― Saša Stanišić, How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone
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.