Friday, March 21, 2008

In Which I Write About a Very Serious Danger!

Many people who work in offices can attest to the peculiar fact that when one woman shows up in the office and announces she is pregnant it is merely a matter of time before two other women show up and announce a pregnancy.

These things seem to come in threes. I can attest to this as I have three children myself. And I was only pregnant twice! My son, Marc, who is still living at home, announced to me yesterday that he will be moving out on the first. No, this is not an April Fool's Day joke. In fact, he has empty boxes and showed me the floorplan of his new dwelling. (Which is walking distance, or so I am told, from my favorite gift/bookstore!!!)

Before anyone begins to believe for even an instant that this means I will finally be able to say that all three of my children have moved out let it be known that Joe is planning to move back in on the same day that his brother Marc moves out. There is an incredible irony in this because for years I warned the boys that, because they are twins, I could very easily remove them and nobody would know. After all, Clark Kent and Superman were never in the same room for decades and nobody really noticed so I was pretty sure I could get away with it.

I guess the laugh is on me for they have seen the loophole in my logic I had not foreseen and now I am paying for my rather dark sense of humor.

But today is Friday, the day on which I should be writing about puppies so without further ado, I present the conclusion of my "these things come in threes" warning.

First there was Romanov, a lovely purebred Siberian Husky which I bought for Rob as a Christmas present in 2000. We brought him home for the first time in 2001 and when I announced my engagement to Rob a few of my friends intimated that the only reason I was marrying Rob was for his dog. Who am I to argue with such excellent logic?

Then there was Snowdoll whose owners must have recognized a kindred spirit in either Rob or
Romanov or both. The truth is I never knew a dog more perfectly suited to the insanity that is our home. She torments us all and then kisses us with such cuteness that we all end up puddled at her puppy paws. (Besides, look at how she manages to twist and wrap herself in the most seemingly uncomfortable positions as she sleeps!!!)

And then there was Bandit who is not, I repeat NOT, a member of our family but the new member of Shay's family. Shay is the lead singer and guitarist for the Blackheadz, a friend of the family, and the loving father of a son and a puppy.

I want to laugh (mauhahahahaha!) at Shay for his naive adoption of a Siberian Husky but who am I to laugh? After all, one could argue I started it all.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

In Which I Ramble About Randomness

This is the most comfortable sofa in the world. It can be found in Dr. Knauer's waiting area. If you are in the metro-Atlanta area you simply must go and sit in this sofa. Or, if you know where Rob and I can purchase this sofa please tell me where that would be because we would very much like to have a sofa this comfortable in our home. If you do this you have an open invitation to drop by and take a nap whenever you like!

We need to buy all new furniture and we were discussing doing so before I came down with vertigo. We were even occasionally looking at pieces we liked. But then I got vertigo and was unable to work and . . . we became prudent, wanting to wait before we invested in new furniture. Which, as it turns out, was a very good thing because Snowdoll is a teething puppy and she managed to have fun in the great room at our sofa's expense. (She has not yet learned to hide the evidence and left a toy behind as evidence.)

In the meantime, the nest that was outside our door has not been expanded upon nor has any bird laid an egg in it so I believe that we will not have to worry about any further conflict where the birds' rights and our own collide. That is a huge relief.

Not so huge a relief is the various disappointments I have experienced lately. However, it has been an impetus for me to do some serious housecleaning which is not yet done. I've been rather ruthless about removing email addresses, tossing away old letters and such, and creating space in my life and in my heart for what truly matters. I feel light and full of peace. And, as hard as it is to believe within the circumstances, I feel sincerely joyful.

Maybe I'm just crazy.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

In Which I Finish a Book

The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret & Science of Happiness by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche is perhaps the most lovely and powerful book I’ve read thus far this year. Yes, I realize that it is only March and yes, I have been reading a lot of fluff of late but I would be honestly surprised if this book didn’t prove to be the one I most remember and recommend by the end of the year. Okay, this and Have You Found Her? by Janice Erlbaum. (Hmmm . . . I’m just noticing that both are nonfiction. Interesting.)

Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, as a participant in the Mind and Life Institute research and conferences, is well versed not only in the Buddhist meditation teachings in which he was raised but also in scientific research in how the brain works, throwing around neurological terminology that perfectly complements the more homely stories he shares from his tradition and his experience. He presents his information in a charming tone reminiscent of Thich Nhat Hanh and humbly qualifies many of the more technical information with a confession that he understands little of what science has begun to explore.

Unlike many books on meditation, the author manages to explain several meditation practices which do not require keeping the book open before you. So many books have lovely but inaccessible guided meditations and if no companion recording of the cds is not available I confess to feeling frustrated with the pointlessness of the suggestions. But when Rinpoche describes how one can use scent or audio stimuli to facilitate meditation it isn’t impossible to close the book and sit immediately with the suggested practice. (This is something that Thich Nhat Hanh also does which is perhaps why I love his books so very much.)

There is a bit of redundancy in the text as the same ideas are reiterated. Perhaps this is done for emphasis but it is not very effective. Far more effective is how the book, itself, is organized. Beginning with a section that explores some of the meaningful scientific research that is being done, the first part lays a foundation on which the second part of the book builds. In the second section, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche describes some of the problems people experience while meditating, alluding to such things as monkey mind and breath work in a fresh way so that even readers who are already familiar with these ideas will not feel condescended to as they read yet another approach to these concepts. The third part ties it all together, reinforces the suggested connections between research and practice.

I have so many quotes I could share but I recommend that anyone interested in learning more about the why and how of meditation to read this wonderful book. Full of quotes from Buddhist literature, the information is dense without making the reader feel weighed down with too much information. Above all else, I drew tremendous encouragement in reading from a master of meditation that it is normal to have intrusive thoughts, to presume that meditation is not working because instead of the mind becoming more quiet it is becoming more distracted, and that it is better to meditate for less time than you can so that you want more rather than pushing yourself to meditate more and ultimately exhausting the desire to meditate at all.

Thank you, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche. Namaste.

Monday, March 17, 2008

In Which You Take the Good With the Bad

Although this is NOT the building in which Rob had been working, the new job he was able to find was in a building which sustained significant damage due to the weekend's storms. In other words, Rob is hoping that the company through which he gets placed will find a new location to use him because the sooner they do the better for us all.

That said, there is some good news which has caused a bit of conflict within the family. You see, we have a wreath on our front door. A wreath of black velvet roses. It makes me very happy. The other day Rob noticed something odd about our wreath. A closer look revealed a very important surprise.

A bird has begun building a nest in our wreath. People are going to crafting stores, buying materials, to add a fake bird's nest to their wreath and we have a pair of birds who have boldly begun building their own nest in our wreath. They even wove through some little white flowers which makes the nest extra pretty. (If the white flowers don't show up, blame it on my camera phone.)

Rob and I are bickering over the nest. I say that if the birds lay eggs in the nest then we must use a different door to get in and out of the house. Hello! We have FOUR doors. We can easily use another one! Rob says that it is Darwin's principle that we continue to use our front door regardless. I say it's good karma to let the nesters have their babies and suffer for the few weeks it will take before the nestlings fly from our front door.

The truth is, I highly doubt that the birds will go so far as to lay their eggs in the nest. By now they have likely noticed that their location is not as secure as they had hoped. They will never know how much delight they have given to me and how much I smile every time I see the intrusion in my wreath

May St. Patrick guard you
wherever you go and
guide you in whatever you do--
and may his loving protection
be a blessing to you always.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

In Which I Finish a Bit of Fantasy Fluff

The Shape Changer’s Wife by Sharon Shinn is an unsurprising and, therefore, unremarkable book. By the end of the second chapter I had already figured out the plot twist that was to come and hoped that the climax would offer a surprise. However, it did not. I will commend the author for bowing to tradition in what comes off as almost an homage to the genre over all but I would have preferred something a little more groundbreaking. Was it the names which give away so much? Even too much? Was it my own appreciation of archetypical patterns within the fantasy genre? Who knows? Who cares? In the end, this is an easy read, a light breeze through what could have been a very interesting novel and ended up being merely another debut novel which has left me not especially inspired to read more by the author. And that is okay. I needed a bit of brainless fluff to read and this book qualified as such if nothing more.

(Afterthought: I did not realize that this book is by the same author as Archangel which I reviewed last year. Apparently I don't like Shinn's later work much more than her earlier work so I guess it is safe to say that if you like one you'll like the other but I seem to have been disappointed by both.)