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I Have a New Bike Seat

I haven't been riding this summer.  Other things have taken up my energy and attentions.  Still, the wonderful bike sits in the garage; a silent reminder of possibilities for the future.

Tom's knee is coming along right on schedule, and once all the rehabilitation work is done, He will be ready to ride again in earnest.  Already, He is riding a stationary bike as part of His physical therapy.  He is driving all His health care professionals nuts about returning to His riding routine.

I want to be His riding partner when the day comes.  And that is a problem...  because, remember that I had huge trouble with bike saddle induced pain in my "lady parts."  Not just a little ouchy either; I'm talking excruciating, debilitating, I cannot ride because I cannot think PAIN.

The nice, eager, young guys who work at the bike store want to be helpful.  They really do.  But they just don't know what to make of me and my "problem."  After all, in their experience, women who ride are almost all 20-something, slim, boyish-figured waifs who mostly have not birthed babies or passed through menopause.  They do not have the same sort of female anatomy issues as I do.  Have not even contemplated the possibility of arriving where I am today...  So, I've been doing research on bicycle seats designed for women, and specifically designed to reduce or eliminate pressure on the perineal nerves and tissue of the perineum itself.  I've read and studied and waded through review after review, until I finally settled on an interestingly designed seat made by a company called ERGO.  I ordered it online and it arrived in yesterday's mail.  Today, I took it to the nice, young, bike guys and they installed it for me.  I brought it home and took it for a short spin, and...  I think I LOVE it.  No pressure at all on the area in question.  Today was just a short ride, but I think I may have this problem licked.

And -- Drum roll, please...

He couldn't resist the temptation, and took a trial ride Himself -- and did just fine.  Not ready to ride more than a few minutes yet, but able to pedal and able to dismount.  A really good start.



Summer Surprises

For the second consecutive summer, we approached this annual break in my school routine with very limited expectations.

Last summer, our focus and energies were all about Tom's total reverse shoulder replacement.  We understood, from the start, that the recovery and rehab from that surgery was long and complicated, necessitating a long period of immobilization followed by a year long rehabilitation course.  We spent our summer running between the doctor and the physical therapist.  For weeks and weeks and weeks, He could neither bathe or dress without assistance.  Every single moment of every day was filled with shoulder-related work.  And... last summer, we were still very early in the recovery journey.  Emotions were raw.  Anger was pervasive.  Fear and confusion infused our every interaction.  It was a tough summer.  For us both.

Knowing that He needed to have His knee replaced, and knowing that the recovery from that surgery would require full use of His arms, that shoulder replacement was part of our "plan."  So, with a fully recovered shoulder, we came into this summer of 2012 with our sights set on the knee replacement surgery.  Everything went exactly as planned, and we settled in for what we expected to be weeks of surgical recovery, rehabilitation, and all of that stuff.  Except for the first two weeks after school was out, when we simply enjoyed our time together, neither of us looked forward to much "fun" during this summer vacation.

So, we have been surprised and delighted as, this week, He has progressed to the point that spanking play is, once again, part of our days.  He can do it.  I can enjoy Him doing it.  More though, we have found our way to a gentle, soft, youthful--feeling shared love that we could not even imagine or dream of a year ago. There are long stretches of time when we simply sit, or lie together, wondering at the magic of what we've been given.  Second chances are wonderful things!

I still have about 4 weeks before school starts again.  We'll take a week to travel out to Denver and visit my "kids" and the grandson.  We have a weekend workshop on shamanism.  Beyond that, though, He and I sleep late, enjoy yummy French toast for breakfast, tend to whatever appointments appear on the calendar, and on many, if not most days, find time to play together like youngsters again.  I walk around with a tender backside, enjoying the memories it evokes.  He marvels at how good His shoulder feels, and begins to imagine what will be possible as the knee gets stronger and stronger.

A good summer after all.



Therapy and Soul Retrieval -- Too

Writing about the path I've followed to recover my lost sense of sexual self, I outlined and tried to describe the big pieces of what has been an almost five year journey.  Master and I have been sort of quietly amazed and delighted by the rejuvenation we can see happening.  He read my post, and then asked if I thought that maybe some of it was the result of my soul retrieval.  "Yes," I told Him.  "I do think that is a real part of what has happened."  He told me He thought I should write about that here, too.  He's right; I do need to include that part of the story, but I find it more difficult to articulate and analyze.  Still, as His comment on my last post pointed out, the work done in traditional therapy over the last year, and the soul retrieval have radically shifted my world -- and made a big difference in just about every way, including sexually.

Therapy made a difference.  I am almost ashamed at how reluctant I am to acknowledge that fact.  I do not like or enjoy participating in "talk therapy."  It is a kind of intimacy that I find very difficult.  However, even I have to admit that the time spent with "the world's most amazing therapist" changed my life.  She worked hard to help me define, validate, and then move forward from childhood traumas.  More importantly (I think), she took me into and through my expectations and beliefs and fantasies and desires and willingness and points of resistance related to my relationship with Tom.  It wasn't easy.  I was determined that nothing could change; that nothing would ever be alright again; that there was no chance of happiness or emotional wellness, and that I was doomed to either endure a lifeless vanilla relationship, or walk away from the love of my life.  With enormous patience, and a remarkable lack of judgement, she walked me through the intricacies of power exchange -- helped me to see the less radical, less extreme possibilities.  Slowly, slowly, slowly, I came to understand that there were parts of my life and my happiness that were MY responsibility.  More, I started to realize that if I assumed responsibility for those parts of my safety and my happiness and my own pleasures, it did not have to undermine my relationship -- might even work to make it better and stronger.

Therapy laid the foundation.  Soul retrieval gave me the life and vitality and energy to build something wonderful and mysterious and beautiful on that foundation.  I don't know yet, exactly how it works -- how it worked.  I know that when I am in my body, feeling hot, feeling sexy, feeling joyous, it is as if some long forgotten "self" is informing those feelings.  I believe that I lost that "self" in the aftermath of the surgery, and that soul retrieval gave her back to me.  I know that as a reality in some way that I cannot explain.  My scientific, linear, analytical mind will not wrap itself around any of that, but my experience of it is just so true that I must affirm it as fact for me.  Mysterious doings...



Learning About My Own Sexuality

Jojo wrote an impassioned plea in a comment about my "realizing" that I'd finally recovered from the mental and emotional and sexual impacts of my hysterectomy almost five years ago:

"Numb and miserable. I know that feeling. How, swan? How did you find the path? What did others try to tell you that you couldn't hear? I am listening because I so need to find the path to sexiness again. I am too young to have lost it but it is so hard to overcome drastic body changes that come as the result of surgery. Teach me!!!"

I don't know what I have to teach here, or how I might go about that teaching.  Still, I remember that same plea echoing in my head for all these years, and I remember the desperate wish that someone could tell me what I so clearly did not know.  I do not feel up to the task, but I also feel that sharing what I've learned is important -- especially if it might help someone else.  What I have, mostly, is a narrative of the subtle shifts in my thinking and my perceptions.  Most of what has evolved for me has crept in slowly.  Very little of this has been fast, or earth shaking, or even entirely noticeable in the event.

The beginning for me was simply time.  It took me a long time to heal and regain physical wellness following my surgery.  Corollary issues including anemia knocked me down, and my recovery was much longer than I anticipated.  Six months after the surgery, I was "healed" from the surgical wounds, but far from well.  I was weak, tired, worn out, and with a real lack of vitality.  Because I didn't anticipate all of that, I was impatient.  I desperately wanted the promised benefits of my surgery, and it did not materialize as promised.  I grieved what had been lost.  I mourned for the woman that I would have been if I hadn't been the woman I was.  I grieved.  I mourned.  I was inconsolable.  I don't think there is any way to speed up that initial process of physical healing, and I believe that each one will grieve as they must.  I have wondered if it would have been different if I'd been forewarned, but I imagine that the individual reactions are so unique and so varied, that there was no way to predict my particular set of responses.  I needed time.  Lots of it, and looking back, I don't think there would have been a single thing that would have made that passage go more quickly.    

Following the immediate recovery phase, I entered into a long, long, long period that was characterized by anger.  I was angry with my surgeon.  I was angry with Tom.  I was angry with every still sexually whole woman in the world.  Mostly, I was angry with my own body.  I felt betrayed by my body.  I hated what had happened to me, and it seemed to me that the root and beginning place of the harms I'd suffered was, in the most immediate sense, my own female anatomy.  My rages burned so brightly, searing all my relationships -- and then turning itself back on me.  In the end, I was the one that I blamed.  It has taken me a very long time to come to some sort of forgiveness and compassion for myself in all of this.  Now, five years later, I am coming to hold myself with some gentleness and softness and kindness -- I do not forgive quickly it would seem.  That forgiveness and compassion, as it turns out, has been critical to my path through the darkness.  

When I thought about my body, after the surgery, the image that I held in my mind, was of a dark, dingy, dirty basement; filled with cobwebs; lit by bare bulbs; broken pipes hanging from brackets...  A dismal and empty space.  I have been certain that my insides were somehow like that mental basement space -- empty, broken, dark, dismal and ugly.  Nevermind that doctors assured me that it was all secure, healed, and quite healthy, I was sure that my female anatomy was a cobwebby mess.  It has taken me years to begin to envision something other than that dark basement.  I've had to clear it out and envision something new and remodel and redecorate (metaphorically, of course).  I've needed to work some sort of mental feng shui transformation on my inner space, and when I began to get that I could choose to "see" something sweeter in my mind, things began to change.

Surgery changed my body in profound ways.  The visible scars were not significant, but the internal changes were enormous.  The hormonal sunset, brought on by the removal of my ovaries, was devastating and utterly irreversible.  I'd never realized how much of the sensation of an orgasm was a function of contractions of the uterine muscles.  Damage to nerves during the removal of my uterus, limited the sensitivity of my vaginal wall.    The vaginal lining began to thin, and my natural lubrication began to dry up.  In the months right after the surgery, I was anxious to be able to resume sexual activity -- and then when I got that medical clearance, nothing happened.  Nothing.  My responses were just gone.  I was still interested in sex; still hungry for sex; still horny as hell -- but I couldn't achieve orgasm.  I'd get all hot and bothered and then my lady parts would just lay there, inert.  

Tom found the very best medical people; found a specialist in women's sexual health -- and He was a fierce advocate with the doctors we saw.  I endured months and months of testing and a complicated scheme of hormone therapies.  Nothing worked.  My migraine headaches got worse than they had ever been before, but my sexual response was just as absent.  

I wanted Him to fix things for me.  I wanted Him to work some sort of magic and restore my sex life.  I was convinced -- utterly certain, that there was some thing He could do; some trick that He ought to know; some sexual alchemy that He would pull out of the hat for me.  When that did not happen, I blamed Him.  Not directly, not openly, not in so many words, but just as surely.  I imagined that what I needed was a "real" lover -- that fabled prince charming who would touch me just so; play with me just right; charm the orgasms right out of my recalcitrant body.  It wasn't that He was unwilling.  I know, with a sure certainty, that Tom would have done anything I wanted sexually.  He was more than willing to do whatever would work to help me find my way back.  If I could have told Him exactly where to touch; exactly how hard and how fast -- then He' d have been delighted to take care of things.  The problem was that I had no idea.  I was lost, with no map to my own body -- and I desperately wanted someone to guide me home to myself.  It turns out that I was that guide ... I just didn't know it in the beginning.  When everything was said and done, I had to be responsible for my own sexual pleasure.  I had to do the exploring.  I had to learn what felt good ... and what didn't.  I had to listen to my own stories and fantasies, and I had to give myself permission to indulge and enjoy the pleasures that only I could stir up in my loins.  I figured out, finally, that all sexual pleasure is good.  I stopped ranking and rating the various sensations and experiences.  I learned to enjoy my enjoyment.  If I managed an orgasm during good old fashioned boy-girl sex with Tom, then that was something to celebrate.  If I worked my way to an orgasm in the dead of the night, using my trusty Wahl vibrator, that was good too.  If, in the middle of a spanking, I can catch on and ride it out to that delicious, lusty, writhing hunger, then good for me.  I've gotten greedy about sex; demanding about sex; serious about sex.  What I took for granted, before my surgery, I now know to be a pure gift, given for some undefined bit of time.  I thought I'd hit my end point, and I was wrong.  I do not intend to waste any of the good times that I may have left to me.

Jojo, I don't know what, if any of that, you can use.  I do know that your story and your challenges are different than mine.  I hope that there may be some bits there that you can use for your own benefit.  All the best ~~



People I Miss

I started blogging at The Swan's Heart in December, 2004.  I've never been an everyday blogger.  The pace of my days tends to determine how frequently I show up with something to say.  Too, when life gets very, very intense... I can go quiet.  Blogging helps me to process how I'm feeling, and clarify what I'm thinking -- but sometimes there just are no words... or maybe it is just that there are no words that I can find and assemble in any sort of orderly fashion.

Bloggers come and go.  Things happen, people change .  Life carries us each along on our separate currents. I've "met" some amazing and wonderful people through this medium, and every now and then, I stop and remember the ones who shared their lives for a time -- and then faded away; people that I miss:

  • Malcolm, who was my very first commenter; who often offered words of comfort and wisdom.  I wonder about Malcolm, living so very far away in the Phillipines with his lovely wife and young son.  He was a fair bit older than me.  I have not heard from him for a very long time.  I wonder.
  • Paul, who for many years was a regular visitor.  He always had some kind word to offer.  Something strange happened with Paul at some point, and I never really understood what.  I still see him around here and there, but he doesn't visit here anymore.
  • Magdala, who was a remarkably eloquent writer.  Magdala could discuss the merits of a new coffee pot and make it sound fascinating.  In fact, I seem to remember one blog post that was exactly that -- a discussion of a lovely red coffee machine.  I hear from her privately now and then, and I know that her life has had its challenges.  I miss her voice.
  • Algor, my bright, eccentric, poly friend from Nebraska.  He has offered me interesting points to consider on more than one occasion, and was one of the positive and affirming voices as I struggled after my hysterectomy.  Maybe I just wore him out, or maybe life just pulled him in some other direction.
  • M:e, was always a thoughtful and gentle soul, and I valued her insights.  She knew, as very few do, the vagaries of trying to live inside a relationship that was not the traditional couple.  Health challenges and personal challenges have rendered her quiet in the last year or so, but her voice lives on in my mind and heart.
  • Caitlin, was my slave friend.  She and I shared a bond that I never really understood entirely, but I loved her sweet nature and her fierce spirit.  Her sudden death was a horrible blow to her Master and her son.  There have been so many days in the last couple of years when I have dearly wished I might call her up and just talk it over with her.  
  • Gabriel and kaylem were my frequent correspondents in the early years.  They were bright, warm, adventurous people, and I loved the thoughts they shared.  They had trouble with being out here in public, and in time they simply faded away from the blogging circle.  I don't blame them...
  • Grumblin and minionette were frequent commenters in the early days.  He was a plain spoken and funny guy and she was just a wonderful, lively, delightful presence.  Theirs was a trans-continental love affair, and I do hope they somehow managed to find a way to bridge the gap between them.  
  • Jo (aka searabbit) was a friend from France.  She struggled mightily with mental health issues, and her own relationship was rocky and unsetteled.  She didn't always understand what it was that we were up to here, but she was kind and gentle with us.
  • Tangerine would probably qualify as a "vanilla poly" friend (although I think that is a contradiction in terms).  She is local here, and we've socialized with her and her partner on several occasions.  They are busy people, and our schedules don't easily mesh.  I wonder if they wonder what to say after all that has happened.  I probably should try to call her.  
  • Lynlass has often been around with good advice and words of encouragement.  She tends to come and go, but for now, she seems to be gone.  I hope someday she'll come back.
  • Greenwoman, a mystery and an enigma and a fascination.  She was a friendly voice who also lived a poly life.  She had other blog personnas, and she came and went in her Greenwoman guise... until, finally, she went and did not reappear.  I hope she is well and happy somewhere.

Others, like kaya and danae, are still out there -- but seldom visit here.  Sometimes the distance is just too great, and the gap is too wide.  I get it.

I am enormously grateful for those who do visit here, comment here, and share the journey with us:  karen, sin, oatmeal girl, morningstar, weird girl, conina, abby, impish, mouse, ana, ordalie, joyce, jojo, Mystress, and Mistress 160.



What I Realized

Spanking can work to focus my mind.  When it is good, it quiets the chatter; brings me into the now; anchors me in my body; and completely alters my awareness.  Yesterday, I wrote that I'd come to a "realization;" understanding something I hadn't figured out before this.  I do my best thinking during spankings -- except it isn't really "thinking" exactly.  It is a mental and emotional clarity that seems other than what I experience in other circumstances.

So.  There I was.  Yesterday.  Bottom up over the spanking pillow.  With my five week long hunger burning.  He was back there, doing His thing -- spanking away with some paddles and a quirt and whatever else...

That's when the realization hit me:  I was turned on.  I could feel the impacts on my butt setting off twinges and tinglings and delicious warm moist squishiness in my sex.  In that moment, in that place, I was fascinated and enchanted -- and completely thrilled and happy to go with it.  I also noted that my insides were relaxed, easy, rocking along to the rhythms of His making.  That's it.  Really.  I wasn't all knotted up.  I wasn't tensed up, trying to protect the empty, gaping places deep in my gut -- those hysterectomy wounds that have lived on in my mind, long past the time when they were physically healed.  I've finally, after five long years, found the pathways back to my own sexuality -- to the sensations that arise in my own woman's body.

Yesterday was sexy.  I was sexy.  We were sexy.  The spanking was sexy.  It was just so good; so simple; so lively and sweet.  I don't know why it took me so long to figure this out.  I don't know why I had to drag myself through so many years of dead, numb, misery -- but I am glad and amazed to have finally figured it out.  I know there were people who tried to tell me.  I know He never, ever saw me the way I saw myself.  I know all of that, and did not know, until yesterday, the fact and reality for myself.



Five Weeks And One Day

His new knee was five weeks old yesterday.  So, today is five weeks and one day.

The first two weeks, He was pretty miserable.  It hurt.  A lot.  I kept Him routinely dosed on percocet and valium, right on schedule, around the clock.  The medications made Him sleep a lot.  When He wasn't asleep, He was hurting -- and pretty well out of it; unaware of much of what was happening.  He needed help to get up from a seated position, and help getting in and out of bed.  He was completely dependent on His walker for mobility.  I worked to keep up with His home based P.T. and nursing appointments; keep Him doing His physical therapy routines; get Him fed and bathed and dressed and iced.  None of it was out of the ordinary for this kind of surgery.

After we saw the surgeon, 13 days after the surgery, we were able to get out and get Him into physical therapy outside the house.  We have, over the years, developed a relationship with an excellent physical therapy practice, and beginning in week three, He has had sessions there three days a week.  Somewhere along the way, between week three and four, He gradually stopped taking the prescription pain medications and began making the transition to over the counter drugs including tylenol, aleve, and ibuprofen.  He also began to make the transition from using the walker to walking with a cane.  Each day He's grown stronger, more mobile, and more comfortable.  Slowly, the effects of all the medications and the trauma of the surgery itself have receded and He's been more and more like Himself.

And so we made it to the five week mark.  Yesterday.  Five weeks.

We've gone through so many surgeries together over the years, and we all understand that there is the fact and necessity of the recovery period afterwards.  Healing takes time.  Recovery takes time.  We're old pros.  But, I always seem to come to a point where I start to believe that it will never end; that things will always be the way they are in this exact moment.  First I get tired.  Then I despair.  Then I just suck it up and go on.

Five weeks is just about time enough for me to have reached the "suck it up" phase.  And that's pretty much where I've been.

But recovery does not go on forever; even if it feels like it might.  Even after a total knee replacement, healing happens; rehabilitation occurs; and life improves.  This time, that happened today -- at five weeks and one day.

We woke up this morning, and did what has become our usual morning check in:  "How are You?  Did You sleep?  Do You need medicine?"  And then, wonder of wonders, "I really want to spank you this morning."

WhooHoo!  "Hooray!" I exclaimed.  I was sooooooooo... ready.

But then, there was the question of logistics.  He is still using a cane a lot of the time.  Mostly for balance.  Since it is His left leg that is the surgical leg, He needs to use the cane in His right hand -- His spanking hand. I was worried.  He was determined.  Determined always wins :-)  I got the spanking pillow and got myself all arranged.  He gathered up the things He wanted and started in.  It was clear from the start that He was going to be "efficient," and I figured that He wasn't sure how long He could stand up on that knee.  So, He used the LeatherThorn paddles and the hairbrush paddle and the dressage whip and...  I am not sure what else.  I moaned and grunted, but it was fine -- really good.

He seemed to enjoy it, too.  And...  I came to a realization in the middle of it all; something that I had not understood before.  But maybe I'll just leave this as it is, and get to that tomorrow.



Sigh of Relief

My daughter; my son and daughter-in-law, my nieces -- all live within 20 miles of the Aurora, Colorado theater where this awful shooting occurred last night.  I woke up this morning, heard the news, and immediately felt my heart lurch.  My head told me it was very, very, very unlikely that any of them would have been there, but a mother's heart doesn't always listen to the head.

I worried.  I texted at what, for all of them, is a very early hour -- and mine are all fine and safe.

I am relieved.  Grateful.  I am also mindful that there are mothers, fathers, siblings, spouses ... who cannot say the same thing today.  My heart goes out to all of those.



Healing Into the Future

As I am coming to understand it, the healing effects of the soul retrieval that I had back in the spring should work to help me move forward -- away from the hurts and the traumas of the past.  This kind of healing is not about a continual rehashing of the things that I've been through.  Instead, the way to wellness and fullness and happiness is forward.  Soul retrieval restores power that was lost when bits of my essence "left me" in the midst of physical or emotional trauma.  It is up to me, now that I am back in possession of that power, to build the future that can be mine.

I've done a good bit of reading this summer about the history and practice of shamanism.  I'm trying to get ready for a workshop that we all plan to take in mid-August.  One of the books is called Welcome Home by Sandra Ingerman.  It details tools and practices that can be used to facilitate ongoing healing following a soul retrieval.  I'm not far into it.  There are activities in each chapter.  Chapter 1 suggests imagining the future that you want.  It also asks who defines reality for you.

Imaging the future is an interesting exercise.  What would it look like if there were no boundaries and no limits -- if I could have anything I wanted?

I want us to be "us."  I want us to be together in any future that I can imagine living into.
I want us to be happy and secure and fully alive together.
Our condos are wonderful and comfy, and Cincinnati is not a bad town.  We have everything we want and need at our fingertips, but there is this place on the St. Lawrence, near the town of Massena, NY., and I think it is FABULOUS -- so why not?
Retired, of course, or working at things we want to do; with enough money/income to do as we choose.
Healthy would be good.  Aging is just the way the game goes from here on out, but I'd sure like it if we could do it feeling well.
Political stability.   Progressive public policy.  A return to civil discourse.  An economic system that offers everyone a decent shot.

As for that question about who defines reality for me?  I am struggling with the word "define."  There is reality, and I am working to learn to perceive it accurately.  I suspect that there is a very great deal more to say about that, but I'm not there yet.  I'm feeling more patient about that than I did six months or two years ago.


Dirt Devil

It was March, 2010, when we made the leap and had laminate flooring installed throughout our two condos. It turned out to be beautiful, and our laminate flooring is way nicer in so many ways than our old wall to wall carpeting was.  However, if anyone tries to tell you that laminate flooring is "easy" to keep clean, you should know that said person hasn't got a clue.  Well, to be fair, it isn't difficult -- but it is time consuming.  There is a knack to it, depending on what sort of laminate you have.  And one other thing, laminate (especially the dark wood tones that we installed) is not as "forgiving" as carpet can be.  Every single speck of everything SHOWS on that dark wood.

My usual process, when it is time to "do" the floors is to first sweep up all the dust and crud with a good old fashioned broom and dustpan -- just like the one my grandmother would have used.  And then I get out the bucket and the sponge mop, and I prepare a solution of hot water and lemon juice.  If things are really yucky, I add just a slosh of PineSol.  I mop like a fiend, and voila!  Clean and shiny like the day they were new...  It is some work.

Then, one day a couple of months ago, a wonderful new thing came into our lives  Our old upright vacuum cleaner had died, finally -- refusing to suck anything anymore.   We'd fussed about buying a new one, since all we have anymore are a few area rugs.  We tried to make do with a handheld Dirt Devil, meant for cleaning the inside of your car, and other such chores -- but it was killer.  Finally, in desperation, I went to the discount place, and found an older, discontinued model of a lightweight Dirt Devil upright floor sweeper.  It has no bells and whistles.  It is bagless.  It weighs almost nothing.  I paid less than $40 for it, and put it together in about 5 minutes.

It is the most amazing little machine.  Easy to use.  But it has a wonderful talent for sucking up cat hair and dust and schnipzels of stuff from the carpets and the laminate.  Easy as pie.  No more brooming.  No more wrestling with the dustpan, which I seem to always leave at the last place I was.  Grrrrrr....

Anyway.  Since I seem to be on a domestic kick these days.  Thought it was important to share a little laminate floor slave secret -- go buy (or beg if that's how it works in your world) a simple, inexpensive Dirt Devil upright.  It will be the best gift you ever got.  I promise.



Enjoy it all...

Joyce, commenting on my "tomatoes" post ended with some seemingly simple advice, that really caught me.  "Enjoy it all," she wrote.

Simple words that seem profound to me.

Enjoy it all.  Why do I have such trouble remembering to just do that simple thing?  There are so many good things that happen through all our days -- surely through all of mine.  If I'd just let go of wishing and fussing, and simply go with the good times and the funny moments and the joyfulness of where we are right now, I'd be way happier.  If I'd use my energies to imagine the life we want to lead, and then work to bring that imagining to life, I'd be way more content with the fruits of my efforts.

That is the trick.  Celebrate what is.  Recognize the good things.  Work for the future that you want to see.  Be glad.  Be grateful.  Be creative.  Be alive.



What's Your Role?

I think that one of the biggest misconceptions; one of the biggest fallacies about the BDSM lifestyle concerns "roles."  We tend to fall into and then perpetuate the foolish notion that people take on or fulfill or live a particular role within their relationship -- and then that's it!  Submissive, Dominant, Switch, Top, Bottom, Master, Slave, whatever; we too often fall into the trap of one word labels and descriptions.  It doesn't work; can't work.  We are, each of us, multi-faceted humans -- and we each play a variety of roles in our own lives and in the lives of those to whom we relate.

I've played lots of roles in 57 years:  child, daughter, first-born, big sister, cousin, classmate, student, best friend, geeky kid, nerdy kid, girl friend, college girl, fiance, lover, wife, sister-in-law, daughter-in-law, bridesmaid, parent, mom, job-seeker, employee, co-worker, boss lady, teacher, grandmother, seeker, divorcee, sister-heart, bottom, submissive, slave, top, switch...  I look at that list and I realize that there are very few of those labels that are a single thing either.  Each of those "roles" contain a whole host of ways of being within that context. Who has ever been just a parent, for example?  Doesn't that one include things like coach, and confidant, and cook, and disciplinarian, and advocate, and tutor, and...?

Yes, I've worn plenty of hats along the way.  Right now, though, as we go through the rehab and recovery from this knee replacement -- I am coach and cheerleader and, let us not forget ... chauffeur.  We think He would be just fine to drive, now that He's off all the prescription pain medications.  His right leg is just fine, after all.  But for now, I remain, as I have been through these last four weeks, His personal driver.  Just call me, "James."



Pretty Little Things

Our condominium homes have just a bit of garden space.  There is a bed in front, between our two front doors.   It is about 8 feet wide and about 12 feet deep -- and it is in the shade most of the day.  We've filled it up with rambling rose bushes and some sedum and blanket flower.  In back, our patios are bordered by planting beds that are about 2 feet deep and about 16 feet long.  The soil is just miserable, even though we've worked with it for all of the ten years we've lived here.  There seems to be an endless supply of discarded building materials buried out there, and no matter what we do, some chunk of concrete or roofing tile is forever floating to the surface.  Blech!

Still, I keep allowing myself to get all excited every spring.  We would really enjoy fresh tomatoes and some cucumbers and peppers -- or so I tell myself.  How hard could it be?  Containers have been my answer to the crummy dirt...  This year I filled up my containers with some cucumbers and peppers, and I planted a pot of strawberries.  Tomatoes?  My best success has come with those funny tubular hanging planters that grow the plants upside down.  I have four of them.  This year, there are two cherry tomato plants and two that will hopefully grow bigger tomatoes.  Usually, the way this works out, I grow a few really yummy tomatoes each year.  Given what I invest in terms of time, effort, and actual money, they are the most expensive tomatoes on the planet.  Sigh.

Anyway, the cherry tomatoes are beginning to ripen.  Here's my first "harvest."  Aren't they just the prettiest little things?




I am not a great housekeeper.  I do not enjoy the daily chores that go into keeping things tidy; and bigger tasks tend to intimidate me into procrastination.  I grew up in a house that was "perfect."  My mother was a neat freak, and we learned early on to pick up after ourselves and keep things in order.  Failure to do those things created firestorms that were just not worth it.  We made our beds, hung up our clothes, cleared the plates, and did the dishes.  There was no question about any of it.  Ever.

And.  I do think that I have a touch of adolescent rebellion with regard to all of that.  All of that cleaning and tidying just does not fire my rockets.  Some people get a kick out of being really good at all that domestic work, but not me.  Not me.

However.  I do get a huge kick out of accomplishment.  When I get myself over the threshold of internal resistance, and get after whatever project is at hand, I can knock things into shape pretty well, and the results just tickle me.  Way more than you would ever think...

Summertime tends to be the time when I go after jobs that reach the level of "projects" (at least in my mind). I save the work that requires focus and some number of hours -- work that is going to leave me a breathless, sweaty mess -- for summer breaks.  And then, with a list of such projects that would overwhelm a team of 5 or 6 people, I tick them off, one after one.

I've been a little constrained with what I can go after because Tom has been in recovery mode following His surgery.  While He's been awake, He's kept me hopping getting the things He needs.  Then, when He sleeps, I've been reluctant to make much noise -- for fear of waking Him.  So, it has been a challenge.  But, He's better now, so there's a little more opportunity to get after it around here.

I cleaned and reorganized the refrigerator.  Can I get a "WhooHoo" here?

And closets.  Closets have been a problem for a very long while here.  Our condos are really very nice, but they do not have "a lot" of storage space.  There are good sized closets in the Master bedrooms in both places, and then a smaller closet in the guest room/exercise rooms.  Tom and I have shared one master bedroom closet for years, but it has become more and more and more crowded.  I have done everything I could think of to try and make more space; or make better use of the space we have.  Every single time I'd get in there to try and hang up clean laundry, I'd end up spitting and hissing and swearing because it was impossible to cram ONE MORE THING in there!!!  Grrrrrrr....

And then I had a brilliant idea.  Brilliant, I tell you!  There is a funny little notch in the smaller bedroom.  I imagine it was designed as a place to put a dresser.  Mostly we've used it as a place to pile stuff in the "exercise room."  The stocks were stored there, but then with a fair pile of assorted junk piled in on top of them.  "What if," I wondered, "the notch could be made to work like closet storage space?"  That would provide about four liner feet of additional storage space, and I could move my clothes into that space -- freeing the master bedroom closet for His things.  BRILLIANT!

I hunted for closet storage options.  Didn't want to spend a fortune.  Then, I found this little gem, called a Honey-Can-Do, on, and got it delivered to the front door, with no shipping, for under $70.00.  It took me about a half hour to put it together, and it works perfectly.  I am unreasonably thrilled with the whole business.  So, here are closet pictures.  Try to contain your amazement.



What's the Word for "Doesn't Matter -- Not Important?"

















I've had lots of time for thinking here lately.  Watching someone heal and recover from surgery can be busy by times, but there is also a lot of time to just wait...  I've gone back through the years of archives here and at Swan's Heart, and read a lot of what I wrote way back then.  I've also noticed that, in those earlier days, it was common for posts to draw comments.  Not dozens of comments, but sometimes a half dozen or even a dozen (singular).  And it used to be that the things I wrote about here sparked responses from Tom.  

Now, if I do think of something to say; something that seems to matter to me -- mostly there is no response.  I have, after  all this time, run out to the end of my "useful blogging life."  Things have been too serious here for too long.  We hardly spank anymore, and most often when we do, it is me doing the spanking.  There's the beginning of exploration into shamanism, but that is just weird.  I could put up menus and recipes but that's not what this place is supposed to be about.  Baseball?  Football?  Politics?  Our aging and living and quietly loving as we've come to?  I've just got nothing to say that matters to anyone but me.  

It makes me sad.  I feel lonely.  I wish for the days when there were lively conversations here.  Things change.  Life goes on.  This has been a good place, and I have loved knowing the people who visited here.  Time to move on; draw the curtains on this public thing.




Oatmeal Girl, who writes a lovely, lyrical blog, posted that her partner had declared that passion might be the rarest, most valuable thing he'd introduced into her life:

It's different from hunger.
Different from love.
Different from feverish sexual desire.

Now, as I commented on her blog, this is the kind of thing that gets into my brain, and sits in there, and just tickles at me -- like that cat hair in the back of your throat kind of tickle???  What exactly is "passion," I wonder?  Before this, without giving it much thought, I'd have said, if you had asked me, that I knew exactly what was meant by a reference to "passion" in the context of an intimate relationship, but this has me pondering...  

The word "passion" comes to us from a 5000 year old, Proto-Indo European root, pei, which meant "to hurt."  From there, we can trace it to the Ancient Greek, paskho, meaning "to suffer," and to Old English, polung, which meant "to endure."  It isn't until the 1580s that the word begins to be used to apply to a sense of sexual love, enthusiasm, or predilection.  Interestingly, one archaic use of the word has it as "passive."  The root leads to a number of related terms such as:  patient, patience, passible, passive, compassionate, and compassion.  So there is the surprising (to me) implication, carried deep in the ancient roots of the word, that passion requires one to hurt, to suffer, to endure -- with patience, passivity, and compassion.  Because I love this kind of word play, that all seems very intriguing to me -- forgive me...

Aristotle opined that, "All human actions have one or more of these seven causes:  chance, nature, compulsions, habit, reason, passion, desire."  And that, too, rings bells for me.  How much of my life has been driven by pure chance; by the fires and drives of my nature; by my own obsessions and compulsions; by habits of mind; by my attachment to reason and logic; by passion (hurting, suffering, endurance, and patience); by desires for things spoken and not...?  Who, I wonder, would I be without all those currents and winds pushing and pulling me into my life -- beyond the safety and simplicity of the path that might have been my lot otherwise?

I have thought that what carried me through the last couple of years, through all the struggle and hurt and fear and uncertainty, was some less than lovely brew of stubbornness and determination and tenacity mixed up with hope and dreams and wishes.  I've done what I've done, and called it love; called it service; called it faithfulness and steadfastness -- but passion?  I hadn't seen any of this as "passion;" hadn't felt myself "passionate" in the doing of it.  Maybe though, I ought to rethink those assumptions.  Maybe passion is something other than what I'd imagined.  "Different from hunger.  Different from love.  Different from feverish sexual desire."



Not Quite Apollo 8

It was Christmas time, 1968, when three American astronauts, Frank Borman, James A. Lovell Jr., and William A. Anders, guided their Apollo 8 spacecraft across nearly a quarter-million miles of black void, out of the grasp of Earth, into orbit around the Moon, and back.  It was a first; had never happened before.  At 13 years old, I was among the many millions who listened and watched as the explorers spoke across the emptiness. One thing I remember with almost visceral clarity is the silence that fell each time Astronauts Borman, Lovell, and Anders vanished behind the far side of the Moon, losing all contact with the Earth for 45 minutes on each of the 10 orbits. During the first long silence the black void crackled with tension until Mission Control in Houston reported, "We've got it! Apollo 8 is in lunar orbit."  Jubilation!  With one breath, we who remained bound to Earth breathed a single, universal sigh of relief in that moment.

I was reminded of that moment this morning when, in the darkness of the predawn, Master rolled over, pulled my still sleepy self into a hug, and asked if we could try to make love.  It was, for me, exactly like that exhale I recall after the long, silent wait for Apollo 8 to reappear -- "When will He reappear following the trauma of the surgery?  And, what if...?"  The unspoken fear, guarded closely in the long dark nights of the last three weeks, evaporated early this morning in the simple, often under-appreciated gift of an erection.  Now...I am assured that we are where we should be, safely on the radar, and soon to be headed home to more familiar territory again.  



On The Record

Those who have followed us here for any amount of time know that we are political junkies, and liberals down to our toes.  We realize that, within our U.S. representative democracy, not everyone shares our liberal bent, and that is just fine, but we'll make no apologies for our political views.  So, in the midst of this very, very hot summer, when things are relatively quiet in our personal lives, it seems an opportune time for us to go on record, lest anyone has any doubt ...

We are Obama/Biden supporters.  The Obama first term has not been everything we wished for.  We'd have been happier with less compromise and more fight.  We've been frustrated by the willingness to "play nice" with people who never ever intend to return the favor -- like the Tea Party'ers, and John Boehner, and Mitch McChinless.  The Affordable Health Care Act wasn't all we hoped it would be, and it is our hope that the law can be strengthened and expanded.  We want marriage equality someday.  Things have not moved as quickly as we wanted on that front, but there is some promise.  We want an end to our military involvement in Afghanistan -- bring our soldiers home.  The economy is still not as strong as anyone would wish, but we believe that it is  turning around, and we also believe that there might have been much better progress if Republican naysayers (especially Tea Party Demagogues) had not stood in the way of every single initiative designed to move us out of the hole the Bush team dropped us into.  We are closer to retirement than we once were, and so what happens to programs like social security and medicare matter to us.  More all the time.  The truth is we are too old and too poor to vote Republican, or to survive the kinds of draconian, anti-middle class policies that a Mitt Romney presidency would put in place.

Our declared political stand changes nothing.  For those who have made up their minds, we are either "singing to the choir" or "talking to the wall."  The discourse will be carried out in the media and via the Internet.  Neighbors and friends seldom sit down to try to convince each other of these things these days... it is considered "impolite."  That is sad.  Maybe our political systems would work better if they were more firmly grounded in our own interpersonal dialogs.



One Liners

There is plenty going on in our world, and almost none of it seems to show up in "post" form for me these days.  So, instead, I offer a collection of one liner "snapshots."  It feels like the best I can do.

The new knee is 22 days old.
Himself is walking a bit without the walker AND without a cane either.
He is also getting by with very little prescription pain medication; relying on over the counter products.
Here in the states, we are under a hideous heat wave, and hunting for indoor places to walk.
I have a new teaching assignment starting in the fall, so this is a busy "teacher" summer.
We continue to delve into this "shamanic" whatever it is.
Providing the personal care for His recovery has run me ragged -- and I've lost 10 pounds.
My eldest turned 36 on July 4th -- how can that be?
Tom will mark 18 months of sobriety this week, and that is a big deal for us all.
"Big Deal" is probably an enormous understatement.
We got a letter this week from our therapist, telling us our file is being moved to "inactive" status.
At the halfway point of the baseball season our Reds are making us crazy (perennially).
We saw the movie, Savages, today -- and it was interesting and evocative on a number of levels.
Thought this summer we'd no way get to travel to see the grandkid, but it seems we might yet make it.
Closets are bursting at the seams, and I have to resolve the storage dilemma here.
We seem to be good...  different,  but good.