Tuesday, April 29, 2008

calling all dog names

I need a dog name.

Two syllables.

So there's your answer to the ethical dilemma, we're getting the dog.

We still don't know if it'll be boy blue or green boy, it turns out that a "repeat" owner (who wants to show) gets first choice. I don't mind much, which surprised me. I realized I didn't want the "responsibility" of choosing between the two. I prefer the "given" in this instance. [step away from the parallel question of choice and genetic engineering. . . .]

Did I mention that we'd driven the 100+ miles to meet these dogs? No?

Turns out that boy blue shows a lot more personality. Greenboy looks like he is going to be the larger of the two - so he may have just been busy growing into himself to let personality show. I'll be happy with either one.

I'm busy reading about puppy training and trying to find a good name. Today I came across Argus - a mythological "watcher" - a giant with 100 eyes.

Any suggestions?

Monday, April 28, 2008

sign posts

One of the writers I read identified shampoo and tortillas as the agents that brought it home to her that her husband would really be gone - deployed - within a set period of time.

My husband isn't deploying. But he is going to lose one of his teeth, and I'm unaccountably depressed over it.

The fact that my brother is deploying - on Friday - might have something to do with it; I don't know. That, and the fact that I've realized that - after 50 - you have to make the conscious decision to stand upright, or you gradually don't stand upright anymore. You slowly slide into a slump.

I've been in a slump.

Funny how certain things just hit you up the side of the head and can send you sprawling. It is the king who has been suffering from tooth ache - not me. But I'm the one who's all depressed about it.

I don't get it.

I need some sleep.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

pain in the tooth

The king is afflicted.

Life here has been a bit frazzled. For some reason, he resists taking pain medication until the last possible moment when he reaches the "I wish I were dead" stage.

Food has been impossible - rather, chewing food has been impossible - for him so I have been concocting a succession of as-nutritious-and-delicious-as-I-can-possibly-make-it soups, pureed by my trusty stick blender. Last night was a bacon, potato, garlic, roquette (aka arugula/rocket) and cheese concoction. Today, he had to resist assorted chilis - at a chili cook-off we had already committed to. That, and the overkill at an Italian two-year-old's birthday party. Yes, that was family.

Today is his birthday. We are meeting close friends we [nonetheless] have not seen in a long time.

"I can drink, but I can't eat." the king said, setting up the date. "I have surgery the next day." [can you say "root canal"? eek.]

"You're kidding!" was the retort, laughing.

"No. Not kidding."

"Drink, but not eat?!"

"Yep. Drinking is good. At the moment. That, and the narcotics."

Hoo boy. I can hardly wait for life to be back to normal. Meanwhile, we have a date up at the local pub for a couple of pints, by prescription.

Happy Birthday to the king!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

thought: theory vs. practice. . .

Be not too hasty to trust or admire the teachers of morality; they discourse like angels but they live like men.
Samuel Johnson, lexicographer (1709-1784)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

the lesson for today

Brought to you by Air France (motto: "If we haven't lost your luggage, we haven't done our job!"), by way of The Happiness Project and Homefront Six.

On our recent journey to an otherwise undisclosed overseas location, Air France did its job and lost my luggage. The French-speaking customer "service" rep (in an English-speaking country) managed to convey that the luggage was inexplicably unaccounted for, but that it would undoubtedly arrive later that afternoon.

Eet weel be saint to yuehr ohtelle tuehmohroh.

"Tomorrow? Why not toDAY?"

It appears that it is too expensive to send luggage on to my ohtelle whenever it appears Air France is done with losing my luggage. Instead, they "batch" the lost bags, and do one big delivery the next day.

Ownlehss yueh arrr beezinesss klass? Yueh arrr beezinesss klass, pehrhaps?

"Does that make a difference?"

Yes, that does make a difference. Then, apparently, they send your bag straight away. But I wasn't business class. Still, the customer service rep said he had good news for me: there was a bag they would give me at the ticket counter desk that would contain everything I needed until my bag arrived.

"Does it contain pajamas?" I asked. No. No pajamas. No face cream or make-up or a change of clothes. "But it does contain a T-shirt" I was assured. Great. Fifteen hours of travel and I have a T-shirt to tide me over till the next day.

I picked up the thing, which you see pictured above. Inside (going from memory here, as I promptly ditched the contents) was a tiny toothbrush with vile-tasting paste, a little plastic container that looked like a pill-box, but which proved to be deodorant (sticky and smelly, and difficult of application, as it kept falling apart), a small plastic bag with 2 cotton balls and 2 Q-tips, a Barbie-doll sized "travel" brush, some horrible smelling liquids claiming to be all-in-one soap/gel/shampoo and a matching "lotion", a single-blade non-safety razor, and the promised T-shirt.

I think that was it.

Like I said, I threw everything out. Except the little bag. That almost went, as well, but I was fascinated by the logo.
Caring More About You
Just think of it. This is something they have given to someone whose luggage they have lost. Someone who is inconvenienced; maybe even mad.

This is the message they want to give me? That they are "caring more about me"?

How about: "We're sorry you can't be using your own cosmetics and brush, but hey - here! - please use these instead while we do our best to find YOUR BAG so you can throw this out right away."

Or "Please take this as a memento of how horrible our service smells."

With "caring" like that, I'd like a little less caring.

ANYway, today, I read the posting above, from the Happiness Project - a bit of a self-rah-rah place by a woman who's got a publishing contract to write a book about happiness, and is already pre-marketing it. She's got some interesting thoughts on occasion, though. The post in question challenges us to examine our "heuristics". . . . by which I take it she means our unspoken assumptions and even prejudices.

One of my underlying operating criteria is "Actions speak louder than words".

I think that's why I was so taken with this stupid little bag that proclaimed great care, but symbolized negligence and resulting injury, unrepented of. The actions drowned out the words. I was fascinated with it.

Second, Homefront Six talked - among other things - about it being our choice: better, or bitter, and that we could either bitch about a problem or (quoting Ghandi) be part of the solution.

I liked that. I tend to bitch about things. It is not something I admire in myself. But my lesson today was that I do have a choice. I was pleased to see that I had chosen to move on to better. Instead of choosing to harbor resentment against Air France, I've converted their ridiculous little bag into my travel snack bag: one compartment for the pistachio nuts, the other for the shells, once the nuts have been eaten. I took it to Florida last week.

One day - too - I imagine I'll be able to look back on the whole episode with amusement. For now, I'm learning to be pleased at having found a positive use for the ill-conceived 'proof-of-caring' bag.

the piano

This is a stunning movie.

Beautiful music.

When we finish the house, I hope to buy a piano if only to learn some of the melodies in this movie. Sheet music available here.

on the road

Florida, this time.

This, looking down the fairway of the 17th hole, I think it was. Dusk. Over time, three planes entered the same space and - but for time - would have collided. Instead, they left a lovely crossing star.

The king golfed. I read. Cesar's Way, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (Kate Dicamillo), and His Holiness (Carl Bernstein and Marco Politi).

I re-read a story I had written to the half-way point about a year ago. I still like it. Perhaps it's time to finish it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

old music

from yesterday

From yesterday, I did not get to the garden store for pots. So, neither blue nor green pots arrived - and hmmm, yellow, too, Lee Anne? That does sound pretty!

Neither was the complaint written, but I have the forms and the release of lien was done.

It's a start.

We're entertaining today - six for dinner - which I hope will not mean that I get absolutely nothing else done. Further to the 'work like an ant', I should like to add an unshakeability, a casual easiness to hospitality that I don't always manage to pull off. It is not the same thing as negligence, mind you, where carelessness is renamed a lack of fussing. I've noticed, however, that overdoing things can become oppressive. The ten different cheeses instead of one - or two - nice ones, and choice of 3 different desserts and unlimited aperitifs, is just too much.

My goal is to be ok if we run out of food. Not that any of us is in any danger of starving to death. . . . thank God.

Hospitality is such a strange thing. It's another one of those balance points that you can miss on opposite sides: the too little as well as the too much. I tend to miss on the too much side. . . . which causes me to hesitate inviting people over (because it's such a lot of work), which flips me back over to the too little side. Jack [C.S. Lewis] was right when he said we're like drunkards who fall off one side of a horse, only to climb back up and fall off the other.

Here it is 10:30, however, and I have yet to stir towards tackling any of my ant-tasks of the day. Time to move.

Monday, April 14, 2008

work like an ant - reprise

I've written about this before: work like an ant.

One thing at a time, one little bit at a time, over and over again, over time, and it's amazing what you can accomplish.

I keep forgetting that, and trying to do everything all at once. I want to write the 'perfect' article, the perfect song, book, poem. . . . I want to knit the sweater at one go, in one sitting. I want the house all organized, right now, and I won't even bother starting because I know I can't get it done before the king comes home at 3 or 4 and chances are things are gong to look a whole lot worse before they start looking better.

I even put off washing clothes, because I know there are 3 sweaters to handwash, let's say, and I might only have time - really - to get one done.

The amazing thing? All this 'putting it off' doesn't help me focus on getting just one thing done, it somehow enables me to find myself - 4 hours later - with nothing done. Just a whole lot of stress over what still needs to be done, and guilty annoyance that I have somehow been tricked into wasting a whole lot of time doing God-knows nothing of much import.

So. Today: one sweater is handwashed and drying on top of the dryer, into which one load of laundry has been deposited. Two handbags have been emptied and put back into the handbag rotation pile next to the sweaters. One magazine I haven't read for almost a month has been filed in the garbage can. And this posting will be filed, sans picture, with no further ado. I have several scarves to put away, and then I have to walk up to the law library, so that I can get a complaint drafted and a release of lien form. I've been carrying those to-do items till they've practically poisoned my outlook.

Then, for some fun! I've also been putting off gardening excursions. Here's the decision to be made for today: green enamel pots, or blue?

A prophet's work is never done.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


A friend of mine once said that, in music, the silence between notes is just as important as the note.

I have learned the same to be true with words.

Not that you have to have a set amount of silence in between each note or word, but that the absence of a certain word or note can be just as important as the ones that are there.

You gotta pick and choose.

I tend to work [in words, anyway] in the 'more is merrier' mentality. Part of it is undoubtedly that I like to think out loud. The journey is the important part to me - not the conclusion, once I've gotten there. Otherwise, it's like wrapping up the whole of Cinderella with . . . .and they lived happily ever after. "Happily ever after" isn't really relevant - or even interesting - until you've gone through all the twists and turns first.

But that takes time, and words.

In the last week, however, I've come across a couple different challenges to try and summarize a bit more. One, a one-sentence journal, in which you write every day. One sentence. Whoa! That's tough. Which segment of the day do I highlight? The particularly yummy spring rolls from House of Hunan last night, my concern that the king's driving is getting more aggressive (and should I say something?), or the delight at seeing the brick details out at the house we're building, on a 70 degree day, in which I spotted a Woody Woodpecker look-alike off the back porch.

Then, there was a 'meme' (and what is that, please?): My Life in Six Words.

Six? Why not seven? Yeah. . . . six is the 'number of man', and most people seem to sum up their lives - in six words - by what they "do"; their "job"; their "title"; their "function".

Would "PhD" be more descriptive of me than the fact that I think heaven smells like alyssum? Is "lawyer" more apt than "romantic" or "ruthless"? Is "childless" as important as "mother" - or does the absence of 'mother' in an exercise like this state 'childless' as the only logical alternative? What space is there for including things like being a good friend, crying over sad books, and skipping through meadows, talking to squirrels?

My Life in Six Words.

I refuse to do that. There.

That's six words. [I would have preferred to say "So there." Oh well. You live and edit.]

Friday, April 11, 2008

verbal arsenal

I've posted about A.Word.a.Day before. Here, here, and here.

This week, Anu (the guy who writes it) put together a lovely selection of people-descriptives:


This, in an effort to reduce the high incidental use of such placeholders as "good" or "nice." (although these words don't mean 'good' or 'nice'. . . .)

Pavid and piker were new - although when I read the definition of piker - "A stingy person, a cautious gambler, or one who does things in a small way." - I recalled having heard it used in that context by British-speaking English users.

Pavid, now, is an entirely new one for me. "Timid and fearful." Pavid.

I like it!

I also like the heavy weaponry of being able to call someone a pusillanimous piker.

Then I can imagine the road to hell - or perhaps war - paved with pavid intentions. . . .

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

American Idol in the 19th century. . . .

Men are idolaters, and want something to look at and kiss and hug, or throw themselves down before; they always did, they always will; and if you don't make it of wood, you must make it of words.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., poet, novelist, essayist, and physician (1809-1894)

Interesting. First, we worship what we can build. Then, what we think (in particular words). Now?

. . . . presenting Kelly Clarkson?!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Perhaps you noticed I was gone?

Well, I'm back.

This is where we were.

Amazing, eh? I never tired of photographing it. Here's another shot, in sunlight.

In the morning sun, storm having passed.

Storm threatening; evening.

Flat light after afternoon walk - with guard-cat in middle ground.

Way sunny, through oaken fingers.

The side view is just as beautiful.

Especially when the sun shines on it of a morning. . . . the stern gray clouds notwithstanding.

And finally here: what I saw from my front bedroom window in the morning. That would be from the top two windows on the front right hand side, as you look at the other pictures.

It was a wonderful time away - but I won't have time to write more about it until later!