Maitri Libellule

It has b
een a very quiet, serene day at the cottage. There is something about being not quite well, at a time when there are huge and heavy things going on in your life, and you find yourself having a day that seems like a break in all the clamor, the worries, the fears, and a deep calm comes over you, and you just kind of glide. That has been my day...

The parrots, the pugs, and Big Dog Moe felt it too. They have been very quiet and peaceful and sleeping a lot of the day. We all seemed to be in a dreamy sort of place, and I found myself feeling free of everything outside of my own body and my own little home. A gentle release. One of those times when you realize that your whole body is tense and then you consciously relax from the top of your head to the tips of your toes, like at the end of a yoga class as you lie on your mat perfectly still with your eyes closed, just breathing. That's the kind of day it's been.

It is been a day of silent prayers and waves of love going out to everyone I know, to my dying mother, to my children, and their spouses or partner, my grandchild, friends, and somehow I felt connected to the whole world without sorrow, or worry, or pain, or grief. It has been, really, a miraculous day, a day after so long, so many months and longer, of feeling so much pressure from so many directions I felt as though I were being flattened and could barely breathe. Today my breath is rhythmic and relaxed, I listen with a soft smile to my sleeping pugs snoring all around me, and every once in awhile a little flutter of wings as a sleeping parrots settles himself in a different position without waking up. I am happy, it is a day of grace.

It is the kind of day that you can't plan for, and you can't make it happen, and you don't know why it happens, but you are grateful for the gift of this soft space to rest in. There is no big news here, I just wanted to share it with you. Maybe if we know these kind of days exist we can consciously watch our breath and remember to relax our bodies, consciously let go of tension, let it flow out of our bodies and feel, even if only for a moment, like a swath of silk blowing gently in the breeze. I always think, on these rare precious days, that I feel like a frog on a lily pad in the middle of a stream just resting and watching as the rest of the world goes by. Maybe I am a frog today. Maybe this chair is my lily pad.

I don't know why but all day long I have been thinking about writing this quiet little post, just to share the gentleness of this day with you, maybe, I thought, I could send little waves of peace and kindness, love and compassion, tenderness and grace out to all who stumble across this blog, at least that has been my intention in writing it, and surely I have been doing it, sending out ripples of stillness and hoping it can bring you back to your center if only for a single moment, to hear the still small voice within, to witness your own life, and all of the people, places, and things in it, and for once just let it exist, and be, and glow softly, like the one light I have on here as I write, in a mostly dark room, with all of the animals sleeping around me, no television, no music, no sound save the soft whooshing sound of the air purifier and a humming inside my body that you only really feel when you are very still and very quiet, at peace with yourself and the world, no matter what it may bring, I have this moment, I have had this whole gift of a day, and I believe I will sleep smiling, feeling the soft air from the overhead fan, and I'd like to think that this day will soften the days ahead, and as I meditate I will feel myself here, I will try to carry it with me, like a magic elixir, and drink from the tiny bottle that I carry in my pocket, just a sip, to help me let go of worry and fear, to remember that such a day can exist, and if a single day can be this way, so too might it spread through our lives if only we allow it.

Of course we forget, and then we remember, and when we least expect it a soft quiet day slips into our world and we wake up feeling it from the start. This has been my day. I wanted to share it with you, and send you love, and wish you peace...

Maitri Libellule

I have received a lot of notes from people saying "Don't Discontinue Mysterious Mondays!" in response to my saying "Mysterious Mondays Are A BUST!" in yesterday's post. I should have worded that better. What I meant was that what with the shingles I hadn't been able to do "Serene Sundays" and you could just forget "Mysterious Mondays" (from ME for now) until I feel a little better!

So no worries folks. I love "Mysterious Mondays" even though with the things that are going on in my life MM have been a little funky and cattywompus! Mysterious Mondays are here to stay!

... still trying not to scratch!

Maitri Libellule

What a few days it's been... The tense over-riding fear as my mother's death grows closer, so many changes happening faster than the speed of light and more, the stress finally got me in a physical way. I have a whopping case of the Shingles and I am in pain and exhausted. I want to touch base and explain what happened to the Sunday and Monday memes. It seems that life just will happen, and there's nothing you can do about it.

And the trouble is that I am in the contagious phase, so no one can come around me, and it's on My back and moving around under my arm. Itches like mad and if I try to scratch it ever so lightly pain shoots through me like a lightning bolt (I don't think that's fair play. It should either itch OR hurt, not itch so bad you think you will go insane and then the least little scratch sends shooting pains that seem to go through your back and out the front.) Be careful, don't let it land on you!

So if I don't write for a few days you'll know why, and I wouldn't want you to get too near me and get some horrid disease because I would feel guilty for the rest of my life and frankly I've got more than a lot going on. (Shrug...)

So take care of yourselves, stay out of trouble, don't go near contagious people, just knit or watch a movie or something. I'm self-medicating with movies. Good Lord, I tried to watch the Tom Cruise movie "Vanilla Sky" and I nearly went insane. Watched it over 2 nights and just couldn't go any further. I felt like I must be on some bad acid trip and I've never done drugs! Maybe it was the shingles. No, I think it's just a weird movie. I think I'll crochet a little and hope tonight's movie is better.

I'm about to get out my little violin and sit on my pity pot so I think I'd better go...

... itching, but not daring to scratch... sigh..

Maitri Libellule

Well, you see, here's the thing. If I have any wisdom at all, I have encountered one little fragment in the last 24 hours, just a bit of wisdom, and I think it's something about taking care of yourself.

You are not a slave to your memes (Or anything else for that matter.). I love the ones that I set up and they are very special to me but when your mother is dying and your life is topsy turvy and you are in a bare subsistence mode in a place you're absolutely certain the health department will come in in any minute and shut down, and you are absolutely vehement that the animals are to be taken very good care of but you don't do the right things to take care of yourself because you are mostly found either curled up in a ball in your over-sized "womb chair" either crying, depressed, frozen and unable to move, breathe or think, or just a blob of leaking matter making a mess of the only piece of furniture in your little place filled with old furniture that you truly love.

And so what I am saying is that yes, I love this Meme and shall continue to do it as I may. The time ahead is iffy at best, and when the worst happens, I will be very gentle with myself and allow myself to let everything go. It is a very surprising thing that the world can get on without you. I shall likely be a ball in a chair for some time. So I do the best I can, I give all I can, and I simply won't apologize for not being what people expect me to be.

This is wisdom too. Be good to yourself. Take precious care of yourself. Learn to say no, and remember that no matter how caring a person you are, you can't give from an empty well. That is one of the basic teachings of my ministry, The Maitri Ministry, which is not based on my name but on the teaching of maitri which was my impetus for changing my name legally to Maitri 5 years ago. Maitri is not only the teaching of loving-kindness and compassion, but it is first and foremost the teaching that you have to take care of yourself, you have to have compassion towards yourself and love yourself and fill that empty cup inside of you before you have anything to give to another. We are not slaves to life. We are participants in it, part of a larger world. And as everything and everybody change in every moment of the day, when you need to pull back to nurture yourself, there is someone else who has just filled his or her cup and is ready to go out and share that love with the world. Your day will come again.

So I am not so much doing Wisdom Wednesday as I am putting a stake in the ground with a rainbow ribbon on it and saying, "This is where Wisdom Wednesday takes place. The three memes in all each have specific days in which I might get the job done on time, but if I can't, I can't.

So those my thoughts for my day late and dollar short meme. I have three memes who each have a state of free-flowing, in the moment, on the right day and the right time sort of thing going on. Oh, they'll be here, and will make every effort to use the day of the week it has been set up for, know that it's going to float a little. And you know what? That's just fine with me.

The greatest wisdom of all is to listen to your own heart and intuition and never stray from it. If you don't learn anything else, learn that. It will save your life...

It is essential that you only register your link here if you are an original content blog that plans to participate in the meme and not just try to advertise your blog. Also no blog will be accepted with sexual or other questionable content. The blogs are checked constantly and those who do not comply will be eliminated with no further comment. We appreciate your understanding. This is for fun and friendship, not promotion. Blessings to all...

Maitri Libellule

When you feel as though you've lost your footing in life, when you need to ground yourself, when you need a practice to set you straight, reclaim your life and your presence upon the earth, or simply need to check in with yourself, write, "At this very moment..." and keep going. It doesn't matter what comes up, or if it makes any sense. Don't judge, just keep writing.

I have been a journal-writing teacher for over 30 years now. I have taught in churches, colleges, women's centers, in the offices of therapists, ministers, to AIDS patients, to pregnant women, in person and online, large groups and one on one. These are only a few of the mediums I have taught in, as well as writing circles in my very own living room. I write very detailed classes with new material for every class. They run roughly three hours long and may contain up to a dozen writing exercises, but the most important one, an exercise used in many journal and writing classes, is "At this very moment..."

As a student of Buddhism for thirty years as well, I constantly practice mindfulness. It is a never-ending practice because you keep falling away from the present moment into outer space and get lost in your very own life. You can become agitated, depressed, anxious, or at "loose ends" causing you to become very nervous. It's an important thing to practice mindfulness and meditation, coming back to the present moment, but it is even more important to write it down, to ground yourself in words. Black words on white paper is something with weight. You can touch it, feel it, you can breathe and relax once more because you have placed yourself back in time and space and are tethered to the ground. I do this exercise very often, even in my mind driving down the road, but it is best done on paper.

I need to do this right now because my Circadian rhythms have gone all askew again. From the time I got up this morning (yesterday morning!) until I went back to sleep in the afternoon, I could barely keep my eyes open. I took care of all of my animals but I didn't even have the energy to make coffee. I kept falling back to sleep, or dozing off. I finally gave up about 1:30 p.m. and went to sleep and slept until late afternoon. I was disoriented and off kilter. I got up, got the dogs out, took care of the parrots, and then walked out across the way to get my mail just to help me wake up. I gathered up and took three bags of trash out. I made coffee. I had my morning coffee at 6 p.m. It is now 4:05 a.m. and I am wide awake. I am drifting because I am at odds with the world. I need to do this exercise so I won't drift right off of the edge of the planet. I need to try to figure out where I am and what I'm doing. I need answers to questions, and I need to write stray thoughts down so that I may gather them up as if I were carrying a basket over my arm picking apples. If I gather them up like this they won't run about all asunder. And so I shall begin.

At this very moment... I am sitting in my big over-sized chair with my feet up on the huge ottoman. I am covered with a cherry red fleece blanket and have 2 huge pillows on my lap which are a substitute for a desk. My velcro pug Sampson is asleep on the arm of the chair. The arms are very large and wide and soft and a perfect pug size. I have his flannel blanket on the arm of the chair and eventually he will slide down against me as we curl up together to go to sleep. Sam is my living teddy bear, or puggy bear as it were. I am not afraid of the dark, afraid to go to sleep when my body is ready, with Sam near. I haven't slept in my bed in so long I can't remember when I did. This is because of a childhood of night horrors, that led, as an adult, to my bed not being a safe place. This chair is a cocoon. I am in my cocoon with my soft, warm, snoring teddy bear. I am typing this to you, whoever you are out there, and mostly just for me.

At this very moment... I am comforted by a number of stones, different stones and crystals that I use for healing, wearing some, and having laid a few carefully picked stones on my chest and belly so that as I sit here I can write feeling protected. I am a stone healer. They are living, vibrant beings, and they do heal. I don't practice this on anyone but myself, but it works and is very comforting. My energy is lifted, in this moment, by peridot, angelite, prehnite, aquamarine, morganite, several "aura" crystals -- aqua aura, rose aura and ruby aura. Amazonite, clear crystals, amethysts and lepidolite. At this very woman I am a healer, and I am being healed. By stones and snoring pugs and stirring parrots who sometimes talk in their sleep.

At this very moment... I feel my book moving about inside of me, the one I have been writing for a decade inside my organs with dangling participles hanging off of my ribs, metaphors floating through the four chambers of my heart, sentences going straight down my legs bumping into muscle and bone, and whole paragraphs nestle in my belly. This book has been like a very long pregnancy, the gestation period needing lots of space and time for a book to grow, one ten year marathon to live through, and now, now I am about to cross a threshold and then, and only then, will I be ready to give birth to the book. I have done a lot of writing through these years, but it wasn't the book. At this very moment I am collecting syllables so that I can put them together like puzzle pieces into words. It is now 4:25 a.m. and the pages of the book are fluttering about so that I feel like I need to take alka seltzer, but I don't have or take it. I don't drink soda and I don't have any bubbly seltzer water. I hope those pages don't get caught in my throat when I go to sleep, just before I have to get up to get the dogs out in a couple of hours...

At this very moment ... I am wondering what you are supposed to do with your time when your mother is about to die and she waxes and wanes and almost drifts out to sea and then the tides push her back up on the shore and on it goes. It is a time out of time experience, and I feel myself floating out to sea as well, trying desperately to hang onto something, anything, a piece of driftwood, so that I might have a chance to live through all of this and make my way back to shore intact. I am using this time to do simple tasks and to try to finish things. I keep updating my blogs because I feel better when I write and it's not time for the book. It is still growing appendages and at this stage it would be a premie and might die if born too soon. I rest and elevate my legs so the book won't slide out before it's time. That could be the death of both of us.

At this very moment ... I have just realized that the cord has fallen out of my laptop and I hope I can keep writing awhile before I have to fish it out of wherever it is. The computer wants to go to bed but I am not ready.

At this very moment ... I am longing to get myself back into my art. It has taken the hardest hit these last several months when my mother's decline has, after 4 1/2 years, picked up it's pace so that something in me froze up and my crochet hooks, knitting needles, spindles, Navajo weaving tools, beads, buttons, stones, feathers and hatforms, and vintage dressform and more have all frozen in time. They are deep in a block of ice the size of an apartment building, and they won't start slipping out of the melting ice until my mother has passed.

I don't know why but I can't get to it no matter how hard I try. I have my 10' by 10' project in my large carpet bag that I always keep near me, just in case, along with my hand-carved wooden crochet hooks that I showed several entries back. They are life-like and keep whispering things to me. "You'll feel better if only you would just start..." Maybe when your mother is about to die you are not supposed to feel better. Maybe you are just supposed to float and drift and sleep and cuddle pugs and watch your spider sister, a banana spider you've named Bella who is the size of your palm as she weaves her web so big it stretches between bushes and all the way up into the limbs of the tree above and down farther than the eye can see. She is getting ready for new life, the time when her spiderlings will hatch. I am preparing for death, for the time my mother drifts through the portal and out of this world to the one beyond. Will she be sitting "up there" on a cloud strumming a harp, or will she be in some crystal lined holding cell waiting to slip through the "veil of forgetfulness" into another life when she is someone else living a life I can't imagine and don't know.

Approaching 5 a.m. your thoughts are airy and floating around you and through the house. They slip out of a window or door to get some fresh air and you begin to make less and less sense. At least to other people. At least I do. But it all makes perfect sense to me.

At this very moment I am becoming very tired. Writing has once again become the sedative I needed, because it emptied my mind and put all my words in a little block in an imaginary world where people I shall most likely never meet might read in the days ahead. Or not.

At this moment I just found myself stopping and rubbing my eyes and going into that place that has no name when we are not awake and not asleep but definitely heading in the direction of the latter. So in the next few moments I shall brush my teeth and ready myself to sleep with a snoring teddy bear of a boy, with a chorus of sleeping pugs all around the room snoring off key, just what I need to to lull me into a few hours sleep, if I am lucky, before it all begins again...

... yawning ... and ...

Maitri Libellule

I think there is something we were meant
to learn about Mondays, and it may be one
of the most important lessons of our lives...

You know, long before I was a 55 year old woman, living in a little cottage with parrots and pugs and Big Dog Moe and all the other little creatures who just will show up here, way back when I was a little girl, I realized that Mondays were special. No matter how your weekend went, you got a fresh start on Monday. If the week before hadn't gone well, Monday heralded a chance for a new beginning -- "Once more into the breech!" -- as it were. And have you ever noticed the widespread phenomenon when people try to do something like lose weight, stop smoking, etc, they always start on a Monday, and if they "blow it" through the week, they don't dare start again until the next Monday. Some people find this kind of lame or lazy. Not me. I think it's magic, and it surely is mysterious.

I think there's something buried deep in the twenty-four hours that make up a Monday that propels us on to greater things, and continually comes around every seven days to keep encouraging us. To start diets, to have a better week at work, at school, with the kids, with anything that we chucked aside in despair. Mondays bring with them good cheer and an air of hopefulness. I almost breathe a sigh of relief that the weekend is over and I'm back securely into the routines of the week. Of course I am a rather odd person and cling to my schedule like a limpet on a rock, and the weekends, though usually wonderful in their way, can also leave me in a state of free-floating anxiety when nothing is as it should be, anything might happen at any time, someone is liable to ask you to do something that they would never ask you during the week, and you feel oddly off-kilter even when you are having a good time. I don't get my sea-legs again until Monday and I move about quite cautiously until I am firmly footed in Monday morning. Anchor dropped, coffee made, a new week begun, phew!

Of course not everyone is as peculiar as I am, thank God, but I think most people, if they are honest, will admit to having a good little feeling inside when Monday rolls around again.

I wanted to make this piece impressively scholarly, so I went to Wikipedia to look up Monday and fell, like Alice down the rabbit hole, into a whole world of things that just made my head hurt. If you can make anything of this page, more power to you. It near startled me half to death right off as I opened up the page expecting to find all sorts of interesting facts about Monday, and the first word I saw was DOOMSDAY, and somewhere they called my precious Monday "Noneday," and then I had to take an aspirin after 15 minutes of trying to figure out what in the world they were going on about with their Gregorian calendar, the Julian calendar, math, astrology and solstices thrown in, and just as I was gasping for air and hoping there might perhaps be something like the Mayan calendar (which never showed up) I tripped over a ghastly thing called, "Poem Explaining The Doomsday Rule,"
and like some dumb cluck (now, I don't even know what that means, but I've heard it all my life...) I clicked on the link and was tossed out of the rabbit hole and went down with the Titanic.

I don't want to know any more. I don't want to be the least bit enlightened about any of that mess, and I don't want anyone messing with my Mondays and using Doomsday in the same sentence, shudder, as my favorite day of the week. I am simply aghast, exhausted, dismayed, and I think the color has drained completely out of my face (or perhaps it's just my usual ghostly white skin which I've got enough sense not to look at in the mirror and so I forget.).

As it stands, I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date (Putting the parrots to bed and making dinner.) and I should most surely rather be doing those things than looking up anything more about Mondays. They are too mysterious, and now I'm frightened.

...who shall undoubtedly sleep with a passel of pugs
tonight and stay away from Wikipedia forever...

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Maitri Libellule

There are serene Sundays that were meant to recharge our batteries and prepare us for the time ahead. They are days that we lay low. They are the days that are the calm before the storm. That's what this Sunday has been for me.

I've talked to my mother 3 times in the past 2 days. She is slipping away faster and faster. She will be gone soon. Somehow, even though she was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma over 4 1/2 years ago and given a very short time to live, she has been hanging on, even as she went blind, and her health declined and declined, and we went through numerous times of being told "this is it," and still it wasn't, and still she's hung on until now she is continuously in pain, and the great divide is getting wider and wider. I thought I knew. I thought I understood. But I didn't until I heard her voice this weekend. And when I got off the phone I wept like a baby. All night long, last night, I was shaken to my core. And then I got up today, and it was Sunday, and a sudden calm came over me.

When something first hits us our instinct is to fight it, to try to stop it, and from that vantage point we will never win. We have to let go. We have to breathe our way through it, we have to free-fall through time and space with our arms wide open, we have to glide to safety, even as tears fall from our eyes.

When a sailboat goes far out into the sea, where land cannot be seen in any direction, and there is no wind, and the water appears still like glass, and there is no movement, it is called a dead calm. It is a time of suspended animation. Nothing moves, until the winds pick up again.

I think grief must be like that. We are suspended in still waters. We must wait it out. It can be very frightening. But if we let go we can relax and be still and feel it, feel all of it, lie on the deck and feel the boat rocking on the water. Soon the wind picks up again and there is movement. But we are changed for having been through that time out of time experience, and we can carry it with us as we move forward. The next time it hits us we know we will survive.

My time is coming. I am in a dead calm. I know the seas ahead of me will be choppy and my very life will feel close to the edge from grief, but I know that I will make it to the other side, and life will start once more. I will never be the same again after my mother dies, but I will go on living.

Sometimes you need a calm, serene Sunday to think of these things so that you might face them when the time comes. All the way through the minutes and the hours I have concentrated on my breathing, on relaxing every muscle in my body. Only then can the knowledge that I will survive, arrive.

It reminds me of what happens here every summer. I live in an old town by the ocean. Every year warnings go out about the rip tides and what to do when you get caught in one. People panic and in their panic to swim in to shore they drown. But, as we are reminded, a rip tide is only a short distance and so you must swim parallel to shore, not straight in, not until you pass the rip tide, and then you can swim in to safety. How often in life do we know the safe way, and yet die, in one way or another, because we move, out of panic, in the wrong direction, even when we know better?

Sundays seem made to think about these kinds of things. I just stopped and thought about what I've written here, and I know that I've been talking in circular patterns that may make no sense at all. Maybe it just makes sense to me. I think I just had to write it.

My mother is dying. There is no way to stop it and no way not to grieve. I am just trying to prepare myself, inasmuch as I can, to survive the time ahead, and swim parallel to shore until the rip tide passes.

These kind of thoughts were made for a Sunday...

Serene Sundays...

Sundays are a day of rest, a day far away from the madness of the world, for most of us, although now with everything open seven days a week, not so much for everybody. I have always loved Sundays, and thought that this might be a quiet gentle thing for us to share. So share with us your peaceful Sundays, tell us what you do, even little things. Tell us what "Serene Sunday" means to you, and what that means in your life...

As always, the list will be closely monitored. Please only sign up if you intend to participate. Do not sign up just to promote your blog. Thank you.

Maitri Libellule

Okay, so here we go. It's Wednesday and I'm here ON time, on the ACTUAL day. Whew! The way my days are going it might be any day at all so I'ma thinkin' that if I set up a meme for each day of the week it might help me remember what day it is and while I'd love for people to join in and have fun with me, I can play all alone if I have to. I have been demoted to first grade again and it seems I am just learning the days of the week. But as I am babysitting my 5 year old grandson, I'm fairly certain that he can help me if I get stuck.

And while I'm on a theme, and here at my daughter's (Said grandson is watching something his mother allows him to watch on PBS so I have to be quick because when it's over, so am I. Here, at least.), I thought I might share some wisdom I've learned from my grandson, or some thoughts I've had related to how young children think and act as opposed to we grown-ups who have pretty well fallen out of the magical world of childhood and into the box society puts us in so as to make us all Stepford Wives, or Robotic Human Beings who act, dress, work and eat by pretty much the same code. My grandson, at 5, is still in that Magical Child phase when all things are possible, trees can be colored purple with orange polka dots and nothing seems strange about it, and they pretty much say anything that comes into their mind without filters. This can get sketchy, but mostly I find it charming, adorable, or outright hysterical. For example...

We were all over here at Rachel's, my daughter's house, with she, her sweet husband Jeremy and the "baby" (Man, you'd better not call a 5 year old THAT!) as we all must come here because the rest of us have dogs and this poor wee little boy is so allergic to everything, especially dogs, and has such terrible asthma, that we congregate here for holidays and such.

Well here sat Grandma (That would be me.) on the couch and Lucas came over, climbed up in my lap, and squeezed me very hard and told me he loved me the muchest in the whole wide world. I smooched and squeezed him so hard it's amazing his head didn't pop OFF. Well, he got nice and comfy and was all snuggled up to me and suddenly he sat up, looked me directly in the eyes, and said...

"Grandma, you're fat..."

I saw my daughter's look of horror as she came running but I was laughing. I mean if an adult had said this I might have blacked their eye if I were a violent person, which I'm not, just overly sensitive, so I probably would have made a fool of myself and cried. Lucas had a very serious look on his face when he said this, as if there were far more behind it, and then he looked and me and said...

"I'm so glad Grandma, everybody else is all "straight up and down" (thin) and you're the only one that's really comfortable to sit on. "

That just about tickled the Granny Drawers offa me!

For almost 4 months now I've been on Nutrisystems which I love and which is the only eating plan I have ever been able to stay on in my whole life. In less than 4 months I've lost 40 pounds and counting. I simply adore it. So I walked in here to babysit today and my daughter gave me a big hug and said, "MOM, you're really losing weight. 40 pounds is GREAT!"

Lucas looked at me askance. Then he kind of muttered, "You're not going to get TOO thin, are you?" He looked worried. He might lose the only soft lap worth sitting on.

I smiled, and said, "No, not too thin." I mean, on my best days at my best weight I looked like I should have long yellow braids and be working in a German beer garden. I'm half French and half Polish. The polish side mainly wins out physically, and my backside has won trophies in the "Biggest Polish Arse Hall Of Fame." No, I'll be curvy, but not skinny. Ever. Which is fine by me (and Lucas).

The Fact is...


Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, and those that don't appreciate our beauty are also missing all the beauty that lie inside. (Not to mention the soft lap.)

Here's to soft laps and beauty everywhere, both inside and out...



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Maitri Libellule

Well, this is my lame attempt, and tonight will be brief, to toss out a few thoughts that should have been on Monday's meme-ish sort of day, but as I was late and may be again I have devised my own back up system (Inotherwords to cover my butt, and for those who wonder, it is quite fine for a minister to say "butt.") so that in the future if I am running late I shall have a back-up plan...

Okay, here's a few things that I was thinking might be kind of mysterious, given that the last meme for Mysterious Mondays probably wasn't mysterious at all, just plain peculiar....(shaking head sadly...).

* You would have to read my blog Unimaginable Dreams Made Manifest to understand at all where I'm going with this, perhaps, but then I believe that this is a bit of a universal experience that sadly, all too many people have had.

Okay, there you are, all excited. You know you have to take your time and be reasonable about looking, don't jump at the first thing you see, and if an owner or a real estate agent (other than your own) is around, you kind of move slowly, conjuring up a very concerned expression, and make lots of notes in a notebook you carried in with you. It's okay if it's your grocery list. THEY are going to think you are making a list of things you DON'T like, or feel unacceptable, or at the worst might have to be fixed. Yes, buying a house is psychological warfare, and woebetide the owner or seller who doesn't know how to play the game and gives too much information away. You might as well just tear up the contract, apologize, and say that you screwed up and you know it, and walk out. Of course this could work too because sellers these days are SO desperate that that they are practically giving houses away so they might run after you, fall on their knees, and beg. Pitiful really, but if it works, so be it. All's fair is love, and war, and buying houses.

Ok -- now hold on to your horses, I'm getting there. Sheesh, everybody is in such a rush these days... Ok, now here's the kicker. You and your realtor spend so much time online and otherwise looking for appropriate houses to look at, and in the pictures that they show up you ooh and ah, and are CERTAIN that THIS is the house you have been looking for all of your life.

(Note, having had a terrible experience with this sort of thing last Friday, which you can again read about on my blog Unimaginable Dreams Made Manifest and even SEE some of the houses we were looking at, you will understand what I mean when I say that they take pictures that make it look all warm and cozy or like a palace, and when you get there your heart falls down to your feet and out of your toes before you are even out of the car.

The little blue cottage of my dreams, built in 1910 and remodelled in the 70's that after I wrote the piece about it and included the picture, hordes of people wrote in to say, "OH, that's just the kind of little cottage I've wanted ALL my life. You're so lucky. I hope you get it. " I so appreciated their kindness and support, but believe you me, if they saw it they would run for their lives.

We were so excited we went there first. There was no front yard, it fronted on an alley, and we had to park the car on a concrete slab. This did not bode well. Still, I was not giving up on my dream. We went inside. First, we were nearly knocked over by the stench of mold, mildew, and I'm sure I don't want to know what else. Everything was falling apart at the seams. I gasped in horror and I would have leaned against the wall but I was afraid to touch it. The arched window I fell in love with outside were supported by rotted wood with the paint falling off, and when Jeff walked out the rear and said, "C'mere a minute Maitri." I knew it wasn't going to be good.

As we stood precariously on the wee bit of back porch, Jeff pointed out quite a number of holes. Honey I'm talkin' holes that went all the way through the walls and let the rain in. I'm sure the rats had a ball, but I was horrified.

We walked around the house with great difficulty. I mean it when I say there was NO yard at all. AT ALL. And what little was there was weeds, broken glass, and worse.

What I'm getting at -- and I do have a point in all of this -- when Susan and I went today to look, the house we thought we wouldn't care for was the house we loved, and the house we thought would be a dream was a bust, and it all came down to the pictures in the catalog. So herein lies The Mysterious Monday part of it... (Anybody who says "A day late and a dollar short," is going to get knocked on his or her keester!)

Why, oh WHY, do the people who take the pictures of the houses for the catalogs and whatnot of these houses put pictures at odd sneaky angles and write a charming descriptions, causing you to drive all over creation, only to find out that is is a dump and nothing LIKE the picture.
I know this is mysterious. I believe that this is a crime against humanity or at least homebuyers. I don't care how great the pictures and descriptions are, I'm telling you that you need to go look, be prepared for it not to be what it seems, pray tell DO look, because you might be surprised, but know that there are some shady realtors out there who will cheat and get you to go look at a dump. But to what end? You're GOING to see it. YOU'RE going to know. Why all the subterfuge, lost time, and in today when gas prices are ridiculous, you are going to waste a lot of gas tracking down shacks.

I find this mysterious. Why do they do this?

Finally, I was going to tell you how I can read fortunes in the latte foam, but I'm just going to save that for the next Mysterious Monday which I hope really comes out on Monday for sure...

... who hopes to heaven she made up for the muck
and the muddle of Mysterious Mondays anyway...

Maitri Libellule

I don't know what happens to Mondays...
They're slippery and they can get away
from one before they know it, sneaking
from Sunday to Tuesday in the blink of
an eye...

I began to write this last night almost on Monday, sigh, it's was actually about 12:30 a.m. I thought maybe I could sneak it in and pretend like I wrote it on Monday. (Oh NO you did NOT say that Maitri. You're a minister for goshsakes....) Well the thing is, I was in my big comfy chair, pug snuggled into me, laptop wide open on an enormous pillow on my lap (my comfy chair desk) and I was JUST going to rest my eyes for a minute, and the next thing I knew it was TUESDAY.

Now that's mysterious...

And just after I updated my Maitri's Heart blog on Sunday about having been in a fugue state for a few weeks and now things were much better and normalizing, darned if my Circadian rhythms didn't go all wonkified again and have me up half the night (I think that's curious if not mysterious...) and so tired I'm not even human the next day. I get up and down and up and down getting dogs out and in and in and out and out and in from 6:15 on (When you've gone to sleep at 4:30 you are sleep-walking at 6:15...) and they get treats the second time and breakfast between 8:30 and 9.

The six parrots need fresh food and water, and still kind of sleepwalking I get that. I go back to sleep. Finally about 10 the animals have had enough. I kind of open one eye and see Moe's big black nose in my lap (He's the only dog in the house with a real nose, the rest are pugs.) and he stares at me making me feel all guiltified (I know it's not a real word but I'm using it anyway. I make up words...) and so I get up, kind of off-kilter and staggering about, the dogs start jumping about all happy and excited, "MOMMY'S UP!!!) AND Petey, (Hahn's macaw) and Solomon (Blue Crown Conure) start hollering at the top of their little voices, "Good morning, good morning, good morning!" I moan and mutter and stand there for a moment, stupified, wondering where I am, and then lean against the kitchen counter staring at the espresso machine for awhile. It looks back at me. I think it laughs like Vincent Price.

I'm pretty sure that's mysterious. Espresso machines are not supposed to stare back at you and make you feel guilty because you're late. Geez, I think Moe was talking to him. (The espresso machine. His name is Othello. I name everything, and no, if that's some horrible Shakespearean name so be it. I'm so old I forget most of Shakespeare except for Romeo and Juliet, and A Midsummer Night's Dream just left me baffled. My brain is so jumbled up and cluttered these days I'm lucky to put my shoes on the right feet. I've been a published writer for 30 years but I have trouble with Shakespeare's English, and you can just forget Chaucer. Poo. Might as well be trying to read Chinese -- nothing against the Chinese which I'm sure is a beautiful language but I stand on my head trying to read those columns of little pictures and it just leaves me mystified and makes my head hurt.). (I also write more and longer asides than anyone in the history of the universe ever has, but that's kind of the way I think and talk, and talking in a circular pattern might be due to my bi-polar disorder, but I can't really tell because now that I'm medicated and so much better I can't be sure.)

I think that's mysterious. When you're bi-polar everything is pretty much mysterious. I wonder if all bi-polar people lose Mondays?

Well, gosh darn it, It's 7:15 p.m. on Tuesday night. I am embarrassed and I haven't even had my morning latte. I'm going to make it now. I'm going to pay for that later. You see I was being picked up by a realtor at 10:30 a.m. and I did well to take care of the animals and get a shower and dressed in time, and I rode glassy-eyed down the streets grateful that she was driving. With no coffee and very little sleep, you don't want me to me behind the wheel of a car. That's not mysterious, it's just kind of pitiful, or sad, or scary, or all of the above.

Well, tomorrow is Wisdom Wednesday, and I think I'll manage that just fine, not being a Monday, that's if, having had a latte at nearly 8 p.m. I sleep at all.

Pray for me will you? Wish me luck. I'm just hoping I don't wake up tomorrow and think it's Monday. I'm beginning to think all of my days of the week got put in a huge container, shuffled around, and I pick one out each day not having the least idea whether it's really that day or not.

Now I think that's at least a little bit mysterious? Isn't it? If it isn't don't tell me. Be gentle. I'm confused enough as it is, and you'll just confuse me more...

Almost, hopefully, just a little bit...

Note: If you sign the Linky List below, it is assumed that you will take part every Monday (or close to it) and if you don't you will be removed from the list. This is simply to keep an active group and you are always welcome to come back and sign in again if you can't keep up now. I will not delete you if you miss one Monday. I have been bumped from these sorts of things when I couldn't keep up which has been a lot lately due to family issues. But if you are signing up just to promote your site and it's obvious that you don't have the kind of site that participates in regular original postings and is not here to participate, you will be removed permanently. Thanks for your understanding...

Maitri Libellule

All throughout the day today I was thinking what a serene day not only this day today is, but how Sundays are usually very serene days for me and for others as well. For some people it is their church day, for some, a day off work, for others, a quiet contemplative day, and for many, a kind of reverent hush falls over the day that is not conscious, but is felt. A day of rest, a day far away from the madness of the world, for most of us, although now with everything open seven days a week, not so much for everybody. I have always loved Sundays, and thought that this might be a quiet gentle thing for us to share...

So share with us your peaceful Sundays, tell us what you do, even little things... do you drink coffee or tea, watch the birds at the feeders, read the paper, attend a church or spiritual service of any kind, and what does that mean to you?

As always, you can share "notes, quotes & flashing thoughts," those things that flit through our brains (often in the midst of our writing something else) and seem insignificant, but can be a very powerful sharing and really touch someone else.

So I shall share a few of my Serene Sunday thoughts for today, and I will look forward to hearing about yours too...

* One thing that has been a long-standing Sunday activity is to begin reading my Sunday New York Times, (It's so big I read it all week and only get it on Sundays...). It is not only a real treat but I save The Book Review for last, like dessert! Also, I save the papers because there are a world of things to cut out for collage and art projects.

*After reading a bit of the Times, with about 1/2 of my latte left, I head outside with the dogs and check the garden, do a little deadheading, maybe cut a few flowers for a bouquet, and visit Bella, my Banana Spider whom I wrote about several entries back. Her web is now absolutely huge and she is a very busy little mama, getting ready to lay her wee little eggs from which the spiderlings will hatch. I am fascinated by her, and I say, "Ciao, Bella," as I pass...

* Sundays have also always been days for classical music, fiber art, meditation and prayer, and other contemplative tasks, even some housework. I love spinning yarn on Sundays, or weaving, or working on any new project, often shuffling several at once as the muse moves. Chop wood, carry water, as the saying goes. The wheel keeps turning and the household must too.

* Funny things... Sundays are usually the days I cut and color my hair (Yes, I buy my hair color for $3 at the Dollar Store,) and do a facial mask and maybe a homespun pedicure. No polish, just soaking and sloughing and buffing and cutting nails and massaging the feet. Your feet are so important to your well-being and are so often forgotten, just something down there that we walk on. Of course I wear wildly attractive shoes. I have worn Birkenstocks for 30 years, and the last year or so have gone WILD for Crocs. Here's one pair. I have them in several colors and have never had anything more comfortable on my feet. Of course after 2 foot surgeries wherein I couldn't walk for a year, and then several years later, shattering both of them (The doctor said, "Honey, you didn't break your feet, you shattered them..."), needing 2 casts and a very long recovery period, not walking unaided for another year (Talk about foot karma???) I didn't think I'd ever find something that felt good on my feet EVER. Here, I proudly present my wonkified feet in their favorite shoes...

Yes, I'm the woman outside with five dogs -- four puglets and Big Dog Moe -- carrying around a plastic bag for "Poody Duty" and looking about as odd as one can, with a ratty caftan blowing in the wind, my Crocs in a color that just doesn't match (Red, Blue, Purple too. I had an orange pair that I gave to a friend and now I grieve their passing. Likely orange will find their way back into the fold and probably pink too. My Birkenstocks are my "dress up" shoes (Stop Smirking, I saw that!) and I just got a new pair of Arizona's for my daughter's wedding at which I was both the mother of the bride as well as the minister performing the ceremony. "The minister wore an ankle length midnight blue dress and Birkenstocks." Lord, I think I looked smashing! And shocking to a few people too. Crocs are definitely Sunday footwear. And by the by, I buy both my Crocs and Birks on eBay. I got FOUR pair of Crocs in different colors on eBay for the price of one! In my Bigfoot size even. Just paid $40 for a brand new, tags on, in the box pair of $125 Birks.

I'm sure this must be a Serene Sunday topic somehow. At least it started out to be...

* Sunday is also a day to write and call dear friends, to share the love and touch base. My sweet mother, in her final days, told me today she wanted me to always have close friends, and cherish them, and make an effort to keep in touch. She said that keeping up with friendships can take some effort, but oh, what a pay-off. I told my mother she'd better be talking to me from "up there," and she said she would. I will always need my mother's wise counsel. But I hope she doesn't notice my footwear. She wonders where she went wrong as a mother that I would end up wearing such footwear, and she gave up bringing me nylons when she came to visit after realizing that all I used them for was the outside dryer vent, help on by rubberbands. Boy was she miffed. But at least I didn't get any more nylons...

And so dear ones, those are a few thoughts from me today, what are your Serene Sundays like? I'd really like to know. Sign up even if you can't start until next week. I'll look forward to seeing you..

... with a serene snoring pug on her person...

Maitri Libellule

Well, I've had this set up at Mr. Linky and deep in my heart for the last few weeks but they have been wearisome at best and I've been slow going (... not to mention last week when I got fouled up on my days and missed Mysterious Mondays altogether... sheesh...). What I find, during these trying times, is that blogging and being in contact with my blogging friends is one of the best heart-healers and soul-soothers I have found (Plus my Facebook and Twitter Friends!) and to prod myself along I am going to create these little meme's and in this way prod myself to at least update this blog a few times a week which delights me no end!

I am just giving you a head's up here so maybe you can join in in time for the first week and be a part of the fun from the beginning, and I just love the idea of this one.

You see, it occurred to me that in this time when so many have lost track of the way they were raised, of "The Golden Rule," or just plain and simply helpful advice perhaps handed down from grandparents, parents, teachers, friends, our own children (very often) and much more, it would be nice to share a little list each week as a reminder. So I have created Wisdom Wednesdays.

You can list short lessons, long teachings, stories that inspire, quotes, anything that speaks to wisdom that guides us in our lives. I think (God help me and the saints be praised, as my little Irish Catholic aunts used to say!) I have it set up so you can put the meme on your site if you want to so we can all join in on each other's sites, but this is the main site here.

So stay tuned, join in, and share your wisdom...


Maitri Libellule

Well, ahem, you see, the thing is...

I am one of those people who are completely flummoxed by three day weekends and keep getting the days confused and I thought all day long yesterday it was SUNDAY. (One dear participant of the Mysterious Monday Gang wrote to me to tell me that she'd gotten her first piece up. I thought, "Well isn't she the anxious little chickadee. It's only Sunday." Talk about the joke being on me.) Truth be told, I was rather busy. I think I was...

... Chatting up my friend Tallulah,
who is, yes, a street-walking sheep,
but times are hard for sheep too, so
I wouldn't be too quick to judge...

and playing with my toy chicken...

while waiting for my facial mask to dry...

... which is surely a very Sunday thing to do.

Well, you just can't imagine how embarrassed I am. But I will be back NEXT Monday to provide you with yet another dazzling list of mysterious things that happen round here, and I know you are waiting with baited breath, but perhaps you can give yourself a facial mask while you wait...

A very peculiar and lopsided...

Note: If you sign the Linky List below, it is assumed that you will take part every Monday (or close to it) and if you don't you will be removed from the list. This is simply to keep an active group and you are always welcome to come back and sign in again if you can't keep up now. I will not delete you if you miss one Monday. I have been bumped from these sorts of things when I couldn't keep up which has been a lot lately due to family issues. But if you are signing up just to promote your site and it's obvious that you don't have the kind of site that participates in regular original postings and is not here to participate, you will be removed permanently. Thanks for your understanding...

Maitri Libellule
It's always the innocent looking ones that are the sly ones...

Harvey, 9 years old. Meek, mild, innocent,
timid... and sly!

Everyone knows that I live with a bevy of munchkins. Well, 4 munchkins plus Big Moe. We'll get to Moe shortly. And this, of course, doesn't count the six parrots. As an interfaith minister with an outreach ministry based on loving-kindness and compassion, animal welfare is one of my most important and passionate missions. Hence, I live in a cottage full of little hooligans, and I wouldn't be without one of them.

Harvey was the last of the pugs to come. He came a year ago this month and the other three came the year before in August (Babs, who is now 14, blind and deaf...), September (Sampson, now 10, my velcro pug.) and November (Coco, now 13, and deaf when she wants to be.). Big Moe came from the Humane Society when he was a wee tiny puppy, 15 years ago, and is a Lab/Doby/Perhaps a little bit of Shepherd/And likely a sprinkling of this or that, for good measure sweetheart of a boy. He was always so laid back, submissive, and sweet, a big lump of love, at least he was until the third pug came, and after that he started trying to eat them and I had to go all Dog Whisperer on him. Sigh. Gentle, but to the point. Finally he settled down and stopped trying to eat puglings for snacks, but before he could catch his breath, in came Harvey.

Harvey is so timid, shy, and sweet that I wanted to wring Moe's neck when he attacked him, but I was always there to go into Dog Whisperer mode and stop the fracas. Harvey was never hurt but it scared the poop out of him, almost, and sometimes, ahem, literally. Finally, about 3 months ago Moe gave up. There were pugs everywhere and the best he could hope for was that there would be no more. He can rest easy because this Senior Citizen Home For Puglings is full at the present, and I can't walk into my shoebox sized kitchen without tripping and plunging headlong into the sink and almost out of the little kitchen windows for all the food and water bowls.

So Moe finally calmed down, and Harvey noticed. For awhile he would go upstairs and sleep on a bed I made for him on the little landing because he got tired of almost being eaten alive and was afraid of Moe. After Moe settled down for the most part (Praise the Lord! I thought the day would never come... Phew!) Harvey started getting bolder. He tiptoed down and would sleep almost on the bottom step. For some reason the carpeted stairs are one of Harvey and Coco's favorite places to sleep. They like to watch out the front window at the bottom of the stairs and bark like mad and pretend that they are the size of Great Danes and could take any neighbor or UPS man that came near the door. Of course the fracas of five dogs hurling themselves at the door and barking as loud as they can turns anyone's hair white as they run for their lives. The UPS man practically hurls a package at the front door and sprints back to his truck posthaste.

From the bottom step Harvey moved to the spot in the hall just outside of the kitchen where there are three cushy fluffy beds and he started sleeping in one of them with the girls next to him. Moe sleeps next to me on the floor and Sampson sleeps ON me wherever we are, so Harvey wasn't about to get that close. At least not yet.

Came the day that Harvey moved straight down the hall and lay down on the other side of the chair opposite Moe's side and I got him a bed for that spot (No one, man nor beast, has had as many beds at the same time as Harvey.) and he sleeps there rather smugly. At first Moe would inch around and sleep in front of the ottoman and stare at Harvey and a few times tried to eat him (Man I was getting tired of putting on my Dog Whisperer suit...). Harvey would run off and then Moe would look smug. Then came the day Harvey stayed on his bed on the left side of my chair and kind of stared Moe down. Moe shrugged and gave up the ghost and went back to his bed on the other side. We have had only one or two incidents since when Moe tried to eat all the pugs at once because they came too near him when he was NOT in a good mood. The last time, as I was separating them, I was almost laughing because as Moe tried to eat them, Sampson, Coco and Harvey all went after Moe and ganged up on him. Between my heroic attempts to stop Moe while trying to shove the pugs out of the way, hollering (just a little bit) "You idiots, get off of Moe or take the consequences." They backed off, Moe laid down on his bed in kind of a stupor, and I collapsed in the chair and watched Coco and Harvey retreat and go to their own beds. Sampson, of course, jumped up on me. I am his bed.

Lately -- and I can't help but snicker a little -- Harvey wants to be the first one out the door to potty, and he almost rushes in when Moe goes out and heads straight for Moe's bed so full of attitude it's positively hysterical. And he will keep sitting there -- quite a bold move if you ask me, given that Moe has almost taken parts of his body for souvenirs on a number of occasions -- even as Moe comes in. By now Moe is simply worn out by the whole thing. He sits there looking kind of dumbfounded as this little pug, about the size of Moe's head, sits smack in the middle of his bed and won't move. Moe stares. Harvey stares. Moe gives up and lies down where he is, and when Harvey has made his point, he trundles off, pug-like, to his bed on the other side of the chair. Talk about bold. We've come a long way in a year!

Big Moe who hardly tries to eat a pug
anymore. Hardly...

Coco, who is always half asleep somewhere,
and can't be bothered by everybody else's
shenanigans. She just wants her treats, her
meals on time, and some comfy place to
sleep. Stairs by day, bed by night...

Then there is precious little Babs...

Babs, who is actually wearing that hat,
which I made for a funky little handmade
doll. Babsie is the tiniest pug here, and
is grouchy a lot, and for all that - she is
completely blind and deaf - you could
skip your alarm clock if you have to get
up for work. She awakens us with loud
barking every morning at 6:15 a.m.

Then there is Sam. Sammy. Sam the Man. My velcro pug, my love pug (Note the heart on his forehead...) and who, in this picture, as he often does, sneaks down off the big arm of the chair just where I was sitting, re-arranges the pillows, slobbers on one until he gets comfortable, and then starts to doze off. This is a bit irritating when I have only gotten up for 3 1/2 seconds to get a glass of water. I have to hoist him back up on the big, soft, wide arm of the chair, fix up all the pillows (We are pillow people here.), and settle myself back in, at which point he snuggles over, puts his head and front paws on my shoulder, and goes to sleep. This makes us both feel like everything is in it's place and all is right with the world.

I talked to the dogs one day and told them that some people actually have no dogs. They were shocked. And when I told them that some people actually had cats, they shrieked, all of them, with horror. I said, "Count your blessings, I love cats, I'm just highly allergic to them, or you'd have furballs batting at you and, all superior like, wondering how in the world the household ended up with a bunch of low-life idiotic dogs. They might even smack you around a little and then take your favorite places to sleep." I stopped there because the poor pugs were nearly having strokes or heart attacks, and it's hard enough to give all the old folks their pills and medicines and whatnots without calling Pug-911 and having the little white pug ambulance pull up at the door.

Finally, with Sam snoring so loudly on my shoulder that a friend could barely hear me over the din, above said friend said, "Why do you have all those old dogs. The mess in the house, they snort, snuffle, snore and need all manner of medications, and well, they are just a lot of work. If I had dogs that pooped and peed on my carpet, I'd get rid of them."

(I had to take a deep breath and calm down so that I might be able to be civil as I answered. Even ministers get riled you know.)

Once calm, I said, loudly, over Sam's snoring, "You know, some day you're going to be old, and maybe in a nursing home. You will undoubtedly, and, full of shame, wet your bed or worse. You will hope and pray, at that time, that your caretaker or nurse will be kind and gentle with you, treat you with respect, and love you all the same." My friend did not say another word on the subject and I'm not sure if it's what I said or how I said it, but if you knew me you'd know that I barely ever get angry. And when I do, I speak softly, with a firm tone in my voice. That will surely stop the offender in their tracks far more quickly than if I were shouting, and shocks them to see me in this state.

I will not bear someone harming or being cruel to a child or an animal. It should go without saying that no one should be unkind or abusive to anyone, human or animal, but the little ones, the innocent ones, need protection, and I'm telling you I have no compunctions about stepping in to stop that kind of thing instantly. I might not shout, but I make my point just the same. I won't abide it, and people get that pretty quickly.

It is now after 1 a.m. Everyone, dog and parrot, are asleep. All the pugs are snoring in various different tones and remind me of the frogs or crickets you hear outside at night. Sitting here this late it is comforting and soothing. I love these wee little creatures so much I don't know what I'd do without them. The have given far more to me than I ever could for them. I think dogs are the only unconditional love we will ever know.

Today was pug-squishing day. That's when you grab a whole pug and squeeze them, squishing (ever so gently) their soft wrinkly faces, and kissing the wee little almost-noses all to pieces. When a new pug comes in they have to get used to this right away. At first they are horrified, and then they kind of take it, but with a stiff upper lip and a sigh of relief when it's over, but now they just kind of let themselves be squished and kissed and I think they're grateful that there are so many of them since that shortens the length of their squish time.

Moe is too big for serious squishing, except for his nose. He's the only dog in the house with a real nose. I squish it (very gently) and give him lots of kisses on his face, head and snout, not to mention his little black rubber ball of a nose, and he tries to look dignified, but truth be told, I think he's embarrassed in front of the pugs. We all have our trials, I tell him, but he is not quite convinced. Being the only big dog surrounded by a herd of puggywumpers is no easy task, and aggravating at the very least for a dog who was once an only dog. I see him smiling in his sleep sometimes, and I know what he is dreaming about. He is lost in the past when there were no midgets without noses all over the house. But I think he's gotten used to them, even when Harvey sits smack in the middle of his bed and won't move. I think maybe he even respects Harvey a little bit more, or he's just too tired to care. Me, I'm just glad that they are all here.

People often ask me if I get lonely (meaning my children are all grown and off into their own lives, and I am divorced...) I look and them, look around the room, and kind of shrug and laugh and say, "I might, if I had the time." Lonely, I'm not. Satisfied, happy, fulfilled and well loved, not to mention fortunate, that's how I feel.

Now, it's time for me to nuzzle the muzzle of a snoring pug, cuddle up to him, and go to sleep. I hope you all have a good night's sleep as well, and I hope to heavens you have a warm, furry little someone to cuddle with. You would be so lonely without them.

... with a pug on her person, reaching over to turn out the light...

Maitri Libellule
"The spider has shown up in myth and lore throughout the world. Usually its symbolism has been very similar wherever it is used. In India it was associated with Maya, the weaver of illusion. It has had connections to the Fates in Greek mythology and the Norns in Scandinavian lore - women who would weave, measure, and cut the threads of life. To the Native Americans, spider is grandmother, the link to the past and the future. Spider teaches you to maintain a balance - between past and future, physical and spiritual, male and female. Spider teaches you that everything you now do is weaving what you will encounter in the future. In the tarot deck is a card - The Wheel of Fortune. This is a card that has to do with rhythms - the rise and fall, the flow and flux. It is linked to the energies of honor and fame, and the sensitivities necessary to place ourselves within the rhythm of Nature. Meditation upon this card would be beneficial for anyone with the spider as a totem. The spider awakens creative sensibilities. It weaves a web of intricate and subtle fabric, as if to remind us that the past always subtly influences the present and future. Often the webs will take a spiral shape, the traditional form of creativity and development. The spider found within the web reminds us that we are the center of our own world. The ancient mystery schools had one precept inscribed above their portals: "Know Thyself and Thou Shalt Know The Universe!" Spider reminds us that the world is woven around us. We are the keepers and the writers of our own destiny, weaving it like a web by our thoughts, feelings and actions. The spider, because of its characteristics, has come to be associated by mystics and in mythology in three predominant expressions of magic. The first is magic and energy of creation. It is a symbol of creative power, reflected in its ability to spin a silken web. It is also associated with assertiveness of that creative force, of keeping the feminine energies of creation alive and strong. The third predominant magic of the spider is associated with its spiral energy, the links with the past and the future. The spiral of the web, converging at a central point, is something to be meditated upon by those with this totem. Are you moving toward a central goal or are you scattered and going in multiple directions? Is everything staying focused? Are you becoming too involved and/or self-absorbed? Are you focusing on others' accomplishments and not on your own? Are you developing resentment because of it - for yourself or them? Spider is the guardian of the ancient languages and alphabets. Every society has had myths about how the different languages and alphabets were formed. The Chinese alphabet is attributed to Ts'ang Chien, the god with the dragon face and four eyes. He formed it from the patterns of the stars, the marks on the back of the turtle and the footprints of birds in the sand. The Norse god Odin created the Runic alphabet after hanging upon the great tree of life for nine days and nights. After this time, the twigs fell off and spelled our certain formulas and words. To many, there was an alphabet even more primordial. It was formed by the geometric patterns found within spider's web. To many this was the first true alphabet. This is why spider is considered the teacher of language and the magic of writing. Those who weave magic with the written word probably have a spider totem. If spider has come into your life, ask yourself some important questions. Are you not weaving your dreams and imaginings into reality? Are you not using your creative opportunities? Are you feeling closed in or stuck as if in a web? Do you need to pay attention to your balance and where you are walking in life? Are others out of balance around you? Do you need to write? Are you inspired to write or draw and not following through? Remember that spider is the keeper of knowledge of the primordial alphabet. Spider can teach how to use the written language with power and creativity so that your words weave a web around those who would read them.

Excerpt from Animal Speak
by Ted Andrews

The Miraculous Spinning Of A Spider's Web...

What a time it has been for me. As I am the Phoenix crashing and burning, and just beginning the inevitable rise that comes afterwards, a time when doors are closing and windows are opening, Nature's smallest creatures are coming to me to teach me, to guide me on my path. First, the tiniest of tree frogs, so tiny they could sit on my big fingernail, spoke to me and told me their secrets. I wrote about the frog as totem several entries back.

Now, the spider has come. Several times a day I go outside to look at Bella (I first called her Betty but came to feel that that did not honor her beautiful, mystical place in this Universe. Now, when I leave her to come in, I whisper, 'Ciao Bella,' and I think she understands that I am honoring her, that I love her, that I am trying to protect her, and that I bow to her in gratitude as she has come to me as teaching.
Grandmother Spiderwoman spun the web of the world. Ted Andrews tells us that spiders as totems teach us to spin the web of our own destiny. It's time for me to weave again.

A few years back I was going through a very painful time, a learning time, a metamorphosis. I got out a small hexagonal loom (... smooth worn wood from much use, made in the 40's or 50's. They were made to be potholder looms...). For me, weaving one is part of the spiral journey that leads me into the center of myself and back out again with the answers I seek. Every night I would weave until 2 or 4 a.m. I sang, softly, sacred weaving songs from the Dine (Navajo) from centuries ago. It was a very hard piece to weave, tightly woven and going round and round in a spiral pattern, and by the time I got to the middle my fingers hurt from working the weaving needle in and out and round and round. But as we get closer to our center, the place where the mystery of our being lies, is it not harder and harder the closer we get?

I called this piece Ariadne's Web, and have had many people who wanted to buy it, and while I do sell my weaving, it has become more and more personal to me, so that the lessons I learn with each piece are part of the map of my journey, and the legacy I will leave my children and grandchildren. A story woven for them, how one imperfect woman could make her way through life, acquiring belief in herself, and as she begins the journey into Cronehood, comes to realize all that she is as a woman. I will leave my children, grandchildren and their children the knowledge that it is never too late, and that the effort to achieve your dreams is a thousand fold more mysterious and miraculous than you could ever dream at the outset.

I meditate upon Ariadne's Web, and Bella, my spider guide, right outside my front door, is leading me back into my writing and art after a long dry spell, when I was so frozen by life and grief that I was caught in a web of my own making and could not move. I will cherish this small piece of weaving for the rest of my days. It will have been one of the greatest teachings of my life...

Now, I am working on another kind of fiber work. It is freeform crochet, crocheted with my amazing set of hand-carved and hand-painted crochet hooks by the amazing artist, designer and writer, Noreen Crone-Findlay. These are magical tools, and in it's own way, crocheting in this manner feels very like a kind of weaving to me.

The piece I am working on I started many months ago, but when the gloom descended I was not able to create, and it caused me great pain. This piece is so big it could take me 2 or 3 years because much of my other work will be done alongside it as I create things to sell and write the book I am working on. The piece is 10' wide and will be 10' long. It is enormous, bright, colorful, and it is telling me a story as I go, and helping me working my way, with fibers and wooden tools, into the next phase of my life. It will be felted which will shrink it some, and I call it "The Magic Carpet." It will be part of the new life I will be creating in the little old cottage I am hunting down now. I will have begun it here and end it in the cottage I will spend the rest of my life in, in a tiny sea town on the coast of the Carolinas. It sits folded in a very large, very heavy, Mary Poppins-ish carpet bag. Here are a few pictures of The Magic Carpet in process...

And so the weaver weaves, and the dreamer dreams, and I weave my web where I will sit at the center and plan my new life. Look in your garden. Surely you will find me there.

Ciao Bella...