“Do you hear the snow against the window-panes, Kitty? How nice and soft it sounds! Just as if some one was kissing the window all over outside. I wonder if the snow LOVES the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.” ~ Lewis Carroll

Bethlehem, Pennslvania by cornersoftheworld

 

“Here
I’m here—
the snow falling.” ~ Kobayashi Issa

Lost in Winder by aL-baum on deviantART

Boxing Day, home, early evening.

It’s 28° F and dropping. This winter, I am perhaps more grateful for one thing above all others: the return of central heat to our house—a luxury too many of us take for granted. My hope for today? That those without, those facing the elements without the warmth of a coat, or hat, or gloves, those without shelter, those without a hot meal—those much less fortunate than we will be able to find a place to sleep tonight that offers some semblance of comfort.

We are currently experiencing one of the worst snowstorms to hit this area in many years. Earlier today conditions were classified as “near-whiteout,” reminding me of our 26-hour road trip to Ohio last  holiday season in which we found ourselves driving through a blizzard with frozen windshield wipers, and eventually, a flat tire. So glad we aren’t on the road today.

That being said, Corey did have to be at work at 7 this morning, and when he finished his shift at 3, it was snowing harder. For some reason, few snow plows are out (actually, not too surprising as Norfolk probably owns maybe two plows for the entire area), which mean that most major roads, let alone backroads in neighborhoods, have yet to be cleared. Right now Corey is scheduled to be back in at 6 a.m.; the forecast is calling for snow throughout the night, wind, and falling temperatures, which means ice.

People in Hampton Roads cannot drive in snow under the best conditions; give them ice, and driving becomes bumper cars. Not pretty.

“Today on the way home, it snows. Big, soft caressing flakes fall onto our skin like cold moths; the air fills with feathers.” ~ Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye

Winter Morning (Pixdaus)

Originally, Corey had been scheduled to work yesterday morning (Christmas), but fortunately the yard to which he was supposed to report closed in the wee hours, so he was home with the family. Eamonn came over on Christmas Eve to finish his wrapping, and he spent the night here so that he could be home for Christmas morning. It was lovely.

Then yesterday was another day of running around, more so for Alexis, Eamonn, and Brett than Corey and myself. The kids had to go to their dad’s house, and then their grandfather’s house, then to my mom’s for Christmas dinner, then to their other grandmother’s for dessert. Afterwards, Mike and Alexis decided against their final three stops; Eamonn went to a friend’s house for the remainder of the night, and Corey, Brett and I came home and vegged.

Christmas dinner was wonderfully uneventful this year. Last year’s fiasco with the restaurant was not repeated. Instead, we decided collectively to eschew a traditional dinner in favor of Filipino food, so we had pancit, lumpia, rice, and tuppa. The only nod to westernization were the Pillsbury crescent rolls with fresh butter.

Everyone had their fill, and the aftermath of a big holiday dinner was greatly alleviated by fewer large dishes as well as far fewer leftovers. Admittedly, I had a bit of wine to help me get through the stress that arises whenever my mother’s house is filled with people who are all talking at once, something that tends to wreak havoc with my nerves. Of course, my mother had to comment about me being a wino, which is a hoot since I have gotten to the point at which I may drink a glass of something four times a year, two of them being Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Whatever. 

“Only a house, quiet as snow, a space for myself to go, clean as paper before the poem.” ~ Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street

Winter-Licht by Michael Jotze (Pixdaus)

Today was blessedly quiet, with a few exceptions. I could not get to sleep last night, so I visited a few fellow bloggers until I felt my eyes getting heavy around 2:30 a.m. I awoke at one point with Shakes sitting on my chest making hacking sounds like he was about to throw up.

Someone (who shall remain nameless) thought that it would be a wonderful idea to buy all three dogs big beef marrow bones as part of their Christmas. All three dogs took turns throwing up yesterday and into last night. Let us just say that this bad decision shall not be repeated next year.

Anyway, Shakes did not throw up on me (thankfully), and he went back to sleep. I did not, so it was another restless night for me. Which means that I was so glad that my mother called at 10 a.m., asked me if I was still asleep, and then tried to have a conversation with me. I did manage to get a few hours of sound sleep between 10:30 and 12:30, so I’m not completely sleep-deprived.

Everything outside looked so beautiful from inside the house that I decided to snap a few pictures from the doorways (hope to post tomorrow). The big Camellia bush directly across from the kitchen window was almost completely covered and resembled an huge snowball. I then opened the front door and stuck my head out to take some shots of that area. Tillie, who had been waiting for someone to take her snowplowing, immediately gamboled out the front door and sank. I wasn’t worried about her running away, and she had a great time as I clicked away.

However . . . the two Jack Russells got wind of the fun being  had without them and came from beneath whatever covers they had been snuggled in and made a mad dash out the door. When they sank up to their bellies, I thought they would turn around and come back in, but nooooo. They made a run for it. It would have been funnier if not for a few things: Brett got really nervous, and I suddenly realized that if they went into the street, no one would be able to see them (good thing few cars were out and about). So I pulled some boots on over my flannel pjs, put on a sweater and coat, and went in search of the bad boys.

Brett pulled on his boots and ran out sans coat or hat and immediately spotted the two dogs that I hadn’t managed to find yet.  It was only amusing in retrospect. 

“It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily.
“So it is.”
“And freezing.”
Is it?”
“Yes,” said Eeyore. “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.” ~ A. A. Milne

Winter Dreams by Mikhail Tkachev (Pixdaus)

All in all, it was a fairly relaxing Christmas. I did start to go into overdrive on Christmas Eve until Corey reminded me that we had actually done pretty much everything that we needed to do. We had a nice meal, a few nice visits, and the kids got some things that they needed and wanted (the wanted was from relatives other than us).

My special present was that Corey picked up the ring that I had taken to the jeweler’s over two years ago and then forgot about; when I did remember that the ring was there, there was no money to pick it up, and then I convinced myself that they no longer had the ring and was too afraid to call them to find out the status.

Let me back up a second, the last Christmas before everything changed in our house Corey and I were both still working. He had bought me a right-hand ring that I absolutely love. Unfortunately, I didn’t really pay attention to the design until the ring broke at a stress point that was pretty obvious after-the-fact. That’s the ring that I finally took to the jeweler and promptly forgot as things like life took over my mind.

But now I have my ring back, and it’s better than new as the jeweler reinforced the stress area. So good times.

I’m going to close with a passage from James Joyce’s short story “The Dead,” which comes from his Dubliners collection. I did a Joycean seminar in which we studied Dubliners, Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, and Ulysses—all in four weeks. If you know anything about Joyce, then you realize what a grueling proposition this was (I was unaware when I enrolled). At the time, I didn’t have a real appreciation for “The Dead” as I was still trying to come to grips with Joyce’s transitional epiphany style as well as the lack of final literary resolution to which I had become so accustomed at that point.

Years later, I can appreciate much better Gabriel’s epiphany and the overwhelming subtlety of the snow as imagery for both life and death, paralysis and change.

“A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland . . . It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.” ~ James Joyce

More later. Peace.

Music by The Weepies, “All that I Want’

“Agreeable friends—they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.” ~ George Eliot on Dogs

Lab nail polish

Wegman’s World Poster featuring Fey Rey, by William Wegman

 

“They (dogs) offer, if we are wise enough or simple enough to take it, a model for what it means to give your heart with little thought of return.”~ Marjorie Garber

“Both powerfully imaginary and comfortingly real, dogs act as mirrors for our own beliefs about what would constitute a truly humane society.” ~ Marjorie Garber

I had just begun writing my post for today; I was going to do a new Grace in Small Things. However, things change, and in this household, it’s usually within the blink of an eye.

Tillie had another seizure today. I heard Corey running from the living room and knew that something was wrong. Tillie’s last seizure was in May, and that one racked up a hefty vet bill that we are still trying to pay. This time, we knew that we did not have to take her to the vet. But still, it’s a hard thing to watch: the obvious fear in her eyes from not knowing what is happening with her body is probably the worst part. Thankfully, this one did not last long, and she seems to have suffered no long-term effects as she was ready to go outside and play ball with Corey within an hour of having the seizure.

I’ve been doing some reading about dog seizures, and of course, opinions vary from article to article. One common thread seems to be a deficiency in B6 and Magnesium.

One article in particular was very graphic in its disparagement of commercial dog foods, even relating how California pounds sell their euthanized dog and cat carcasses to dog food processing plants. I’m not sure how much stock I put into that, but if it’s true, it’s horrible.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that the term “meat by-products” is a euphemism for what’s leftover from the parts people can eat. I remember as a young girl being horrified when someone told me that old horses were used to make dog food. I would always get a lump in my throat whenever my mother would make me open the cans of K-Nel Ration (don’t even know if that brand exists any more) for the Yorkshire Terriers that we had. I was certain that I would smell horse when I opened the cans. I took me forever to get over that one.

We buy Purina  Beneful for our dogs. The Jack Russells have been on it since they were puppies, and Tillie has been eating it since she came home with us, first the puppy food and now the healthy weight maintenance formula. Apparently there is a mineral called phylate that leeches the vitamins from dog foods, causing a vitamin deficiency that can lead to seizures in some pure bred dogs, Labrador Retrievers being one of those breeds.

I checked the contents on the Beneful bag, but I didn’t see phylates listed. Who knows what to believe? I did look up phylates and confirmed that the mineral does cause depletion of vitamins. Whether or not it’s in the dog food is anyone’s guess. I just know that we are going to look for a vitamin supplement to give the dogs with their dinner in the evening. Two seizures within five months is two too many.

“One reason a dog can be such a comfort when you’re feeling blue is that he doesn’t try to find out why.” ~ Author Unknown 

Im ready for my close up
"I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille"

Tillie may feel fine, but I’m wiped out, and my headache that was gone for most of yesterday is creeping around my skull at the moment.  Oddly enough, I was speaking to the woman from the Social Security administration this morning about my migraines. She had called for some follow-up information: how often? causes? symptoms? Did I mention stress?

Anyway, the episode is over. Corey is mowing the yard, and Tillie is sleeping on the couch. Brett is still upset because he thinks that he should have noticed sooner that something was wrong. I told him that no one is to blame, but we just need to keep a closer eye on Tillie. The fact is, she may have had more seizures when we were asleep, but I don’t think so.

I am very attuned to the dog’s movements during the night and early morning. The dogs usually get my attention by shaking their heads and making their collars jingle. I wake up as soon as I hear that sound. They have me trained well. My own Pavlovian bell. So I think that I would have noticed if Tillie were in distress. At least, I hope so, but there is no way to know for certain.

“I love a dog.  He does nothing for political reasons.” ~ Will Rogers

Do you need a wrench
"Do you need a wrench?"

So much for the Grace in Small Things entry. I wasn’t doing too well with it anyway. I only had one thing down and was struggling to find four more. The past few days have been like that. Yesterday, I began an entry that I just deleted. My heart wasn’t in it, and it showed. Hence, no post yesterday, which breaks my attempt to post everyday in October.

I could touch on the abysmal governor’s race in our state, or the latest dubious proclamations from Glenn Beck about the POTUS being like Chairman Mao (oh, pleez, you moron), or how the Obama White House is wasting time on getting into a pissing match with Fox News as reflected Communication’s Director Anita Dunn’s comment to CNN about Fox News being a “wing of the Republican Party.”

I mean, the phrase Fox News is an oxymoron. There is very little news involved in the news arm of Fox Media. How about when Martha MacCullum of Fox News used a clip of VP Joe Biden on the campaign trail? Biden was quoting John McCain in saying that the “economy is basically sound.” MacCullum used that edited clip to say that the VP was one of many who were proclaiming a rebound in the economy. Say what?

Fox news is biased, not well researched, strongly conservative, and filled with lunatics like O’Reilly and Beck, but the acknowledgement by the White House just seems to be giving them more fodder for their misspeak. I say, treat them like the misbehaving children that they are. Ignore them and send them to bed. Blowhards feed on attention—positive and negative. Just consider bully Rush Limbaugh if you want proof.

Perhaps tomorrow I will be more inspired. For now, though, just not that much going on in my brain, at least, nothing very noteworthy. Just the usual: bills, mortgage, money, bills, money, health insurance, bills . . .

More later. Peace.

“Half the fun of the travel is the esthetic of lostness.” ~ Ray Bradbury

Kayaking at First Landing State Park by Karen Roberts

Kayaking at First Landing State Park by Karen Roberts

“When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money.  Then take half the clothes and twice the money.” ~ Susan Heller 

Well, this is the latest on our planned trip to Ohio: Corey bought the new tire today and had all of the tires rotated and balanced. The Trooper is still acting funny, which gives all of us a warm, happy feeling.

I think that we are going to try to change the brakes and fix the one window while we are in Ohio and Corey can get some help from his brother and his cousin, both of whom know a lot about cars. At least, that was the plan yesterday.

We both tend to get a little anxious and testy before these trips because it’s not just a three hour trip to D.C. It’s a good 12 hours in the car, through mountains. While the Trooper is a very comfortable SUV that does reasonably well on gas, she’s been driven hard for the last few years, and she just isn’t what she used to be. I’m hoping that this will be her last long trip.

“And that’s the wonderful thing about family travel:  it provides you with experiences that will remain locked forever in the scar tissue of your mind.” ~ Dave Barry

Pew Island Trail
Pew Island Trail at Indian Lake, Ohio

We’ve decided to get a motel room  in Sidney, which is outside of Bellefontaine (a lovey French word which is pronounced Bell Fountain in Ohio???). It will be easier for everyone because our arrival is supposed to be a surprise for Corey’s dad, and while Chad, one of Corey’s brothers, had invited us to stay in his house, it’s really too much for the three of us plus Tillie to show up at his house, which is not any bigger than ours, and his girlfriend’s kids have all been bitten by dogs, which makes them dog-shy.

Tillie wouldn’t bite anyone, but try to get a child who sees a big black dog to understand that. It’s simply not fair to the children.

So we’ve found a fairly inexpensive hotel that is pet-friendly and is on the way to Indian Lake, which is where we are supposed to meet everyone on Saturday. 

In spite of all of the pre-travel stress, I know that Corey is looking forward to seeing all of his family and spending some quality time with them. I’m looking forward to exploring more of Indian Lake as the last time that we were there, I was unaware that there was a nature trail. I’m also hoping to rent a kayak.

I haven’t been kayaking in years, but it is not terribly strenuous to do. For a while, I harbored a desire to own my own kayak and taking it out on the Chesapeake Bay. Ah well. So much for that.

“What do nudists wear on casual Fridays?” ~ A.J. Esther 

So those are the big travel plans. Eamonn’s job will be to look after the two Jack Russells, who are staying home, and to take care of the house. I don’t anticipate any parties, but with Eamonn, I would never try to predict.

Aside from the upcoming trip, there really isn’t much to talk about. Corey and I spent hours yesterday doing laundry, getting caught up with all of that as Brett informed us that he did not have any shorts. He has shorts, but they were all in the dirty clothes hamper.

Poor Brett. Eamonn manages to acquire clothes that aren’t his on a continual basis, so every once in a while, I take Brett in Eamonn’s room (when Eamonn is gone, of course) and ask him to look through the clothes to see if anything is his. I must clarify, though. Eamonn acquires clothes from everywhere. We have strange things show up in our laundry all of the time—by strange, I mean that I know with certainty that I never purchased these clothes and that I have never seen them before.

blue heron
Blue Heron at Indian Lake, Ohio

My mom used to hate that when I was in school. I would come out into the living room wearing a shirt, and she would say, “Where did that come from?” The answer would usually be Sarah. But mom would go on a rant about how I had plenty of clothes of my own, and didn’t she buy me enough clothes, and what would people think?

I always loved that one: what would people think? Like the guy at the mall was going to know that the shirt I was wearing wasn’t mine? I dunno. My mom had some major quirks about clothes and jewelry. I suppose that she still does, considering that she always has a kind word to say about whatever I happen to be wearing, which is really annoying because she is always trying to give me an outfit that she bought for herself that doesn’t work.

Consider: My mother is about five inches shorter than I am. Her tastes run to fancy t-shirts. She tried to give me an ecru shirt and pants with some kind of embroidery on it and then became really pissed when I told her that I cannot wear ecru becase it makes me look yellow. She said that the set was beige and had never heard of people who can’t wear certain colors.

This is my mother, who has witnessed certain colors of clothes turn me a wonderful shade of jaundice.

I think not.

“When in doubt, wear red.”~ Bill Blass 

I really wish that I had some chocolate to sweeten my disposition because right now, I’m feeling pretty gnarly. Not happy. Not angry. Just gnarly. Only way I know how to describe it.

I’m pretty sure that a chocolate shake from Sonic would help the situation. That or it would give me a headache. Ah, life’s choices. The rich pageantry.

More later. Peace.

I wrote this post last night but forgot to post it. Amazing. Don’t know where my mind is. Then realized that once again, a paragraph had disappeared from my earlier version. My computer has a ghost.

“Dreams are answers to questions we haven’t yet figured out how to ask.” ~ The X-Files

gustav-klimt-water-serpents-ii-c-1907-detail

“Water Serpents II” by Gustav Klimt (detail), 1907

Random Thoughts On Nothing At All

“I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.” ~ Vincent Van Gogh

Saturday: The rain subsided today, for a while at least. I just saw on the TV ticker that severe storms are on the horizon—lightning, heavy rain, winds up to 60 mph. Can I just say that as much as I love a good storm, this whole rain thing is really getting old.

Last night (early morning), I fell asleep to the sounds of a major thunderstorm. When Corey and I first saw the bright flashes, we turned off all of the computers as we did not want a repeat of what happened a couple of years ago when a major portion of our electronics were fried in a storm. The insurance covered it, but there was a hefty deductible.

“Dreams say what they mean, but they don’t say it in daytime language.” ~ Gail Godwin

Thunderstorm from Albany University
"Thunderstorm" from Albany University Dept of Atmospheric and Environmental Science

I had the strangest dream last night. Apparently, I was supposed to be getting married. One of the strange parts was that I was wearing a wedding dress around town to do my planning for the wedding. None of my friends thought to point out that this was a mistake as I had not pulled the train to the dress up, and consequently, the dress was getting filthy.

The wedding was the next day, and I had a filthy, torn dress. I went into a what was supposed to be a tailor’s shop, but the people in the shop just looked at me as if they had never seen a needle and thread. They suggested that I try the tailor down the road. Now, in those lovely leaps of logic that a dream takes, as I was going to the next tailor, I suddenly realized that the previous tailor’s shop was a front for a drug cartel, and I decided that I needed to spy on them. None of the friends who were with me disagreed with my decision, so we circled the building and snooped.

At this point in the dream, my white dress turns black, solid black, and I begin to realize that it doesn’t mattter if my dress gets a little dirty because it’s black. In the meantime, I still haven’t bought the invitations to the wedding or picked out the flowers.

All of my friends want to go to lunch, and I agree, but I remind them that we only have a few hours left to accomplish everything, at which point they remind me that it’s my own fault for procrastinating.

That’s the dream. Way too much symbolism for me. I just know that I awoke with the headache creeping around the outside of my skull, preparing to take residence in my eye.

“What I take from my nights, I add to my days.” ~ Leon de Rotrou, “Vencelas,”  (translated)

As a result, I have spent another day lying on the bed in the fetal position, whimpering, while my two Jack Russells view this as an opportunity to cuddle around me, making me too hot. Let’s face it—I’m in for the long haul with this headache. The dogs may not mind, but as with the rain, I am so completely over it.

I had wanted to begin reading Bruce Hood’s book, Supersense, but the headache is preventing any reading. I know that I have mentioned Bruce’s site and his book before, but if you have never visited and are interested in quirky topics, just click on the Supersense link under my Recommended Reading list. Trust me, it’s a great site for people like me who question everything. I’m hoping that tomorrow can be a reading day, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

I do have a couple of draft entries that I had wanted to finish and post, but they require real thought, rather than meandering around my brain and putting down whatever happens to wander by. Sometimes, though, meandering can be quite interesting, especially when your thoughts land on something that at first appears to be a complete non sequitur, as in ‘where in the hell did that come from?’

Just a short post for now. More later. Peace.

“And they were canopied by the blue sky, So cloudless, clear, and purely beautiful . . .” ~ Lord Byron

yellow-lab-goes-sailing

Blue Skies and Smooth Sailing

“Green calm below, blue quietness above.” ~ John Greenleaf Whittier

sunny-day

Today was a good day. Nothing at all special happened, which is part of what made it a good day. The sky was an amazing, cloudless blue, not hidden by any haze. Temperatures were in the mid 70’s, and a light breeze was blowing.

These are the kinds of spring days that we have too seldom in this area as early spring tends to jump straight into summer, with hot, humid days and hazy sunshine. So on a day like today, I took advantage of the gift nature had presented me, and I sat out in the back yard in the warm spring sun. I took a book, but will admit that I didn’t read many pages.

Brett, too, joined me outside, as did the dogs. Corey seemed more relaxed as he sat in a chair outside talking to his mother, something that always seems to calm him. I took the portable CD player outside and put on some tunes, making for an altogether laid-back afternoon.

I will admit that I spent much more time gazing upwards and daydreaming than I did concentrating on my book. If I had to tell someone exactly where my thoughts wandered, I would be hard-pressed. It was the kind of day-dreaming that has no rhyme or reason to it. I just let my thoughts float on the breeze and go where they wanted.

“I never get tired of the blue sky.” ~ Vincent van Gogh

Granted, the morning did not begin quite so peacefully as today was opening day at the park that lies directly behind our house. I was awakened at 8 a.m. to sounds of horns as people vied for parking spaces. Then the PA system came on, and the realization of what day it was hit me right behind the eyes.

I know. If any of my children were playing in the league, I would be full of excitement at the prospect of opening day. However, since we have lived here, opening day has become something to dread: cars parked haphazardly in the park’s lot and up and down the streets, litter in the front yard from people who have no consideration for other’s property, and lots and lots of yelling of  “go, go, go, go.”

You might think that after all of this time I would be used to the clamor, but somehow opening day always seems to impinge upon my reality in the most unpleasant way. Today it was blaring horns early in the morning.

Eventually, the police will come by to ticket the people who seem oblivious to the fire hydrant in the corner of our front yard and the no parking signs on our side of the street. When I try to warn people, they think that I am just being nosy and ignore me, so you’ll have to forgive me if I take some small amount of pleasure when they finally get their tickets.

” . . .the blue sky, it seems so deep, so peaceful, so full of a mysterious tenderness . . .” ~ George MacDonald 

But back to my day: mysterious tenderness . . .

FSE009

We sat there in companionable silence, all of us, lost in our own thoughts. I looked around the yard and realized that the gardenia bush would be in bloom soon, and thought about the lantana that needs pruning in the front of the house.

The Jack Russells spent a lot of time with their noses turned toward the heavens, their eyes closed. I remember when we first got them, as small puppies they would sit in the backyard with their snouts turned upwards and move their heads back and forth slowly, almost synchronized. Their noses would twitch as they caught different scents on the wind.

In our house, we call that action being “sun puppies.” Tillie, however, has not quite mastered the Zen of being a sun puppy. She can remain still for a minute, maybe two, before she is off, ferretting out a ball for someone to throw. From experience I know that few Labradors tap into their inner Zen until they reach about three years old.

My old lab Mokie used to love to sun herself, and in the winter, she would take naps against the sliding door whenever the sun was at its brightest on the rear of the house. Once or twice I have found Tillie by the glass door, and it is a sweet reminiscence.

“Darkly, deeply, beautifully blue” ~ Lord Byron, Don Juan

Later, after everyone had come inside, Corey and I were talking, and our conversation drifted to the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. Even though he spends his professional life on the water, and he loves to landscape and garden, I told Corey that I thought that he was more of a fire element, not just because he has a fascination with fire, but because of the qualities of fire: it warms; it is unpredictable and passionate; it can mean death, but at the same time, it can bring forth new life, renewal by cleansing an area for new growth. Fire is an element for those who constantly seek change.

earth-air-fire-and-water

Although my star sign is Aquarius, and I love the sound of water, I think that I am more closely allied with air. Everything about the sky amazes me: the creatures that soar and move through the air, the clouds that can occlude or refract, the night sky with all of its stars. I have even put glowing stars on the ceiling of my bedroom so that on the darkest of nights, I still have the heavens above me.

I find tremendous peace in all of those things, but the one thing that I love to behold in the sky is the mixing of my elements: a thunderstorm in which the rain pours down, the sky is back lit by shooting spears of light, and the air moves through everything, causing the trees to sway, the leaves to turn inward, and the earth itself to run in rivulets.

“I believe that if one always looked at the skies, one would end up with wings.” ~ Gustave Flaubert

wings-in-flightAnd now that evening is here, I find that I still have a smile on my face, something that has seemed to elude me for forever, it seems.

The only thing that is missing now is the sound of the water gently flowing from the pond, but if I am patient enough, that too will happen. Today is the kind of day that so many people take for granted, but I am learning to appreciate better as a result of the greyer days of the past. Tonight I am will lay my head on the pillow and give up my destiny to the fates.

I can feel my steady heartbeat in my chest. I can content myself with the steadfast love of the man beside me, the family around me, and the friends who keep me close in their hearts.

Perhaps tomorrow my worries will return with the force of a tree bending under the weight of winter ice, but that is tomorrow, and I am not going to spoil this day with troubles that I cannot change in the space of one day, one week, or possibly, one month.

I will leave you with the words of the amazing Carl Sagan. There will be more later. Peace.

At a few hundred kilometers altitude, the Earth fills half your sky, and the band of blue that stretches from Mindanao to Bombay, which your eye encompasses in a single glance, can break your heart with its beauty. Home you think. Home. This is my world. This is where I come from. Everyone I know, everyone I ever heard of, grew up down there, under that relentless and exquisite blue.

~ Carl Sagan

Expanded Grace in Small Things

wind_chimes1

Wind chimes in the Garden

“Train yourself to listen to that small voice that tells us what’s important and what’s not.” ~  Sue Grafton

” . . . to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not, rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly . . .” ~ William Henry Channing

I’ve been pondering the small things in my life that bring me joy. This is not exactly a Grace in Small Things, but more of a contemplation of  several little things in my life and why they bring me such pleasure.

Here goes:
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  • I love my Cuisinart Coffee On Demand coffee maker. It’s the model that holds the coffee in an internal bucket and dispenses it from a spout. The coffee stays fresh and hot for two hours. The flavor doesn’t get that aged taste because the coffee is protected from the air. Granted, this is the most that I’ve ever spent on a coffee maker. My last one was a GE that I had for years and years. But I waited for just the right model and just the right sale price. It has been worth every penny.
  • My huge, flat computer screen is twice the size of the old behemoth of a screen that I had on my old computer. This size allows me to work without my glasses, which I find keeps my eyes from getting as tired as they used to when I was working on the computer. The resolution is incredible, and I can adjust the brightness to accommodate my headaches.
  • Media player is a wonderful thing to have on a computer when you also have Bose computer speakers. Again, I never invested in good speakers for my computer, just the $15-20 sets that you can pick up at Kmart. The difference in sound quality is incredible. I have compiled six different play lists for my computer. The most extensive one will play for 12 hours. I created a sleep list that I like to turn on with the volume fairly low after a stressful day and let play into the night. I used to fall asleep to music all of the time with my old clock/radio. I would hit the play button, and the radio would stay on for an hour. I would usually have it tuned to the local classical station. But this way, I have a nice mellow mix with a wide range of styles, everything from some tracks from the movie The Piano, to some  Beth Orton to Van Morrison to Vanessa-Mae, a violinist that Corey introduced to me. 
  • I love my little workspace in the corner of the bedroom. Granted, it’s a small space, but it’s mine. Corey calls it my “office.” It will be nice once we finish the house renovations as we hope to have a small room for office space, but for now, I enjoy my little corner of the world. Whenever I’m on the computer, Shakes comes and settles at my feet and goes to sleep. 
  • We have wind chimes scattered around the house. I really enjoy it when there is a soft breeze, and all of the chimes are moving. They all have different tones, and it’s so interesting to hear the combination of sounds and textures: shells, bamboo, hollow metal tubes, copper. It’s my natural symphony. 
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    Tiger Swallowtail on Lantana by L. Liwag
  • In the late spring, our butterfly garden begins to bloom. We have lantana, rose of sharon, roses, mock orange, heather, rosemary, Hawaiian white ginger, several colors of bearded irises, and a few other plants. I wish that I had the variety of butterflies that Janson Jones has posted on his site, but I am content to watch the monarchs, painted ladies, tiger swallowtails, buckeyes, and hummingbird moths. We also get big fat bumblebees. Between the amazing color of the different flowers and herbs and the array of hues of the visiting winged creatures, the garden is one of the best things about spring and summer. 
  • We have a 16-foot round, four-foot deep, above-ground poolin our backyard. Because our house is on a corner lot, we have a large front yard and a smaller backyard. The pool takes up a lot of room, but it’s worth it. In the summer, there is nothing that I like better than floating in the pool while reading a book, that is until the dogs jump in. Both Shakes and Tillie love to play ball in the pool. Next year we hope to get an elliptical-shaped pool, which will fit in the available space better and still leave some room. The other good thing about an elongated pool is that I can swim short laps and get some exercise. As it is now, I have some foam weights designed for resistance water exercises. 
  • Speaking of dogs, one of the best things we ever did was to adopt Tillie from a shelter. She is an absolute sweetheart, as most Labradors are, but she is such a daddy’s girl. I suppose that’s because Corey picks her up like a small lap dog. Tillie loves to give hugs, and she has finally realized that she is bigger than the Jack Russells. She no longer lets them intimidate her. In fact, sometimes she bullies them by not letting them on the bed, which really bothers them. But one of the sweetest sights I know is when Tillie is sleeping right next to Corey in the bed. She actually puts her head on his shoulder or drapes a paw across him. She does the same to me when I’m the only one in the bed, but between the two of us, she definitely loves Corey more, which is fine because I’ve been able to prove to him that Labradors are the best dogs in the world. 
  • My new red wallet was a great find. Even though I mourned the loss/theft of my black Kenneth Cole wallet, I believe that this new wallet has filled that void quite nicely. I did order a Kenneth Cole black wallet on line that appeared to be exactly like my old one, but when it arrived, it was different, and I just couldn’t bring myself to use it. I plan to send it to Mari as I know that she loves Kenneth Cole leather as much as I do. That being said, my new wallet has just the right amount of pockets and holds all of my miscellaneous items without being overstuffed. It’s also the perfect shade of red, and nothing beats a good red, except black, of course. 
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    Sony Cybershot DSC-H2
  • I finally got the Sony Cybershot (DSC-H2) digital camera that I had been wanting before we went on our cruise last year. Now that I have time, I’m starting to shoot more pictures, which is something that I have always enjoyed. It has so many different settings and a 12x optical zoom so that quality of the shots that I am taking is incredible. The only thing that I need to do now is go through all of the pictures that I have taken, clean up the ones that I want to print in Photoshop, and then save them on a disk so that I can get prints. We don’t have a photo printer, but the cost of single prints at Costco is so reasonable, I think that it might be a better value than having to buy cartridges for yet another printer. 
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    California Cara Oranges
  • Part of my nighttime ritual is to have a cup of hot peppermint tea around 11 p.m. The peppermint is very relaxing, and it helps with my finicky stomach. It also doesn’t hurt that Corey fixes the tea and brings it to me. He likes to pamper those he loves; that’s one of my favorite things about him as I have never had the pleasure of being pampered. 
  • Right now, I am on a binge for juicy oranges. I must be deficient in Vitamin C because I have been craving oranges like mad. Corey has been buying cases of big California Cara oranges that are incredibly juicy and delicious. I’ve been eating two a day. So good. 
  • And finally, I’ll close with my appreciation for broadband Internet access, which enables such quick searching capabilities as well as speeding up blog surfing. Corey set up an in-home network for all of the computers. I don’t know how I ever lived with dial-up.

So that’s my list of small things, some smaller than others, but all significant in their individual ways. As I’ve mentioned before, it has taken a while to adjust to the major life change of being on full-time disability. But one of the best things about being home all of the time now is that I have more time to stop and smell the roses, literally!

Remember:

Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~ Antonio Smith

More later. Peace.

If you are interested in surfing blogs and increasing your own blog’s exposure at the same time, be sure to visit Conron.us at www.condron.us.

Totally Random Thoughts . . . Just Because I Can

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Love This Color and Would Wear It On My Cupid’s Bow Lips

Luscious Lips, Cowboy Chips, and Delicious Sips

On With the Celebration . . . If We Must

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A Rear View of My Jack Russell Shakes

My mother dropped by to wish me happy birthday this afternoon, and I was still in my pajamas. Obviously she had something cheery and complimentary to say. My reply: “Because I can.”

My dog Tillie is a spoiled brat, but that doesn’t matter because for the 18th year in a row, the Black Labrador Retriever took the top spot as the most popular purebred dog in America according to the American Kennel Club. Pshaw. I could have told them that. However, Jack Russell Terriers didn’t show up anywhere on the list of the top 20. Hmmm. Maybe it’s because when JRT’s get chubby, they turn into Polar Bears. Hmm . . .

Governor Blagojevich of Illinois is a certifiable doofus. The man just doesn’t know when to shut up. Todcowboyay’s press conference included some allusion to cowboys and stolen horses and John McCain and Ted Kennedy. If I read him correctly, six cowboys will attest to the fact that the governor was back at the ranch when the horse was stolen? I think he’s smoking too much oregano again.

So my mother calls me for the fifth(?) time today to give me breaking news. There is a group of doctors called Advanced Pain something and they are looking for people who suffer from migraines . . . I interrupt her to tell her that they are called Advanced Pain Management, and I’ve been seeing them for five years, which, if she ever listened to me, she would know.

My oldest son says this to me this afternoon (swear to god): “Mom, we got you a card or something, but Alexis has it, and she’s not here yet, so I’m going to play basketball. Okay?” Sure, honey. Why not . . . it’s the thought that counts after all.

It’s All In The Genes

So I make no bones about lying about my age. I figure that it’s no one’s business exactly how old I am. It’s up to everyone else to do the math and keep up. Luckily, I inherited those great Filipino genes from my father, which means that grey hair is minimal and can be taken care of every three months or so since it’s only at my temples. I have pretty good skin except for this crevasse next to my left eyebrow. Now, no one else can see it, or so they say. But it’s there. I know that it’s there, and last night I declared that if my Olay Regenerist serum did not do its job and make it go away, I was going to get Botox to make said crevasse go away whether they could see it or not because I know that it’s there. I heard lots of “oh my gods” and heavy sighs, but hey, I’m too young for a wrinkle, and I can be deloooosional just as long as I want to.

goldcuffbracelet2I need a new piece of jewelry. Not want. Need. Look, life seriously sucks right now. The only bright spot is on a national level. I cannot live vicariously through Michelle Obama. I mean, she’s surrounded by Secret Service 24/7. I have no desire to be surrounded by Secret Service. That is definitely not fun. I don’t have a publicist to work with, so I’m not going to be published anytime soon, which means that I’m not going to have the money to fix all of the money-related problems. So what would you have me do? Jewelry. It’s the only answer. Binging on chocolate will give me a migraine and make me gain weight. Drinking too much is bad for me. Sloth? What’s new about that?Obviously I need a trinket of some sort. A ring, a bracelet, nothing too big. I mean, I’m not greedy.

Speaking of chocolate, my triglycerides are, shall we say, in the stratosphere as compared to where they should be. So I accidentally land on this website that has this whole weight loss program based on Acai and body cleansing. So, I’m game. I start reading, especially since it’s FREE! What is this miraculous Acai? Well, from what I can tell, I’m mispronouncing it in my head, and it’s “nature’s perfect food.” If I start on this program, I’ll increase my energy and stamina, lower my LDL cholesterol, strengthen my immune system, fight cancer, and—now this is the big one—lose weight. Hooray!!!

Of course I don’t believe it. And of course, you also have to pair the Acai program with a “total colon cleanse” (how delightful). So I’ll be ordering mine tomorrow once I can put my birthday money on my debit card. What? I’m tired of being plump, especially in my tummy. I love Pooh, but that doesn’t mean that I want to look like him. Besides, it will help my cholesterol levels, which will help my triglyceride levels, which if you had any idea how high they were, you would be aghast, simply aghast I tell you.

Moving right along.

My Lipstick/Gloss Addiction Worsens

I feel the need to assert my position on something: I see nothing wrong with wearing lip gloss in the house. I believe that I have probably mentioned my addiction to lipstick in this blog more than once. I need to have something on my lips at all times; otherwise, I feel naked. In the past year, I have downgraded to lip glosses. However, since I don’t go out of the house very much, I don’t wear makeup as much as I used to, which has its good points and its bad points. But I miss my lip gloss. So when I put in my last order to Avon for deodorant, I just happened to notice that their lip glosses were on sale at a very reasonable price, so I ordered three in light, medium and dark shades.lip-glosses

When Alexis came by yesterday, she noticed the new lip glosses on my dresser and asked why I had ordered them. When I explained my reasoning, she had the audacity to laugh at me, as if wearing lip gloss in the house was an absurd idea. We both turned to Corey, who was smart enough not to weigh in with anything more than a shrug. The truth of the matter is that I actually miss wearing my makeup, not everyday, but most of the time. I like to wear makeup. It makes me feel complete.

I mean, I’ve been working professionally since I was 18. I was working at the newspaper. I left college every day, or depending upon my schedule, I went to work before school. I had to be dressed for work, and I had to look professional. So wearing makeup and having my hair done has been a part of my daily routine for . . . well for quite a while. When I leave the house now, I wear makeup, lipstick, earrings. But some days when I’m not going anywhere, I still feel like moving beyond my normal slothful state. I’m beginning to feel as if Kevin Spacey is going to come after me for committing most of the seven deadly sins all by myself, which wouldn’t be too bad if I were married to Brad Pitt.

My Bad Habits and Those of Complete Idiots

red-wineWhich leads me to red wine. No, there is no connection. It just led me to red wine. Most people with migraines cannot drink red wine because of the tannins (that’s only one theory). I actually appreciate certain red wines. For example, one of my favorites is an Australian Shiraz, which I discovered right before Corey and I were married. Now, if I drank one glass of red wine each evening, it would help me in two ways, it would help to lower my cholesterol and be good for my heart, and it would probably take care of my insomnia. I’m thinking of buying a bottle of Shiraz just to see what it does for my head. I haven’t tried to drink red wine in almost nine or ten years. Corey likes it. It’s one of those damned if I do situations, so I might as well.

And I would just like to say here that if I see one more commercial for “Girls Gone Wild,” which is the type of commercial you see in the wee hours of the morning when everyone else is asleep . . . where was I . . . oh yes, “Girls Gone Wild,” I may have to bang my head against the wall. All right, all of you XY people out there, calm yourselves. Yes, I am quite aware that no one is making these girls participate. That is not my issue. My issue is that these girls are so incredibly stupid as to lift their shirt for anyone, to get blotto on camera and stick their tongues down their best friend’s throats with the least little bit of coaxing . . .

In other words, any iota of common sense that they may have had before they went on spring break was tossed out the window when someone brought out the cameras, and NOW, their fathers, thinking that they are going to see some hot young things, are going to have the surprise of their lives when they see their own daughters and the little girls they’ve known since they were three on the camera showing everyone their thongs. Booyah. You go girlies!

Okay. I think that I’ve covered enough things for now. I think that my birthday is over in all of the time zones, and it’s safe for me to raise my curmudgeonly head again and say thank you to all who sent wishes my way and pog ma hon (thank you Gary Banim) for making me feel older than I feel, which, truth be told, isn’t really possible since I’ve always felt older and looked younger and hated my birthday.

There will be more later. Peace.