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We are three adults living in a polyamorous triad family. The content here is intended for an adult audience. If you are not an adult, please leave now.


Washer and Dryer

Teresa and I got a great Christmas present this year...  a new washer and dryer pair.  Our old set had been with us for a very, very long time.  They have run a bazillion loads of laundry over the years.  There were only some heat cycles that still worked on the dryer, and the washer tub was rusted and raggedy around the edges.

Our new, bright, shiny pair are large capacity and low water use.  They have settings meant to conserve energy.  They can run a load of wash and get it dried in less time than it used to take to just run a load of washing.

Romantic!  Maybe not.  But it sure is nice to be able to do the family wash without having to wrestle the equipment first.  Loving it.  The gift that keeps on giving.


I Have a Cold

There is something so enticing about the winter break.  For people who teach, wholeheartedly and full out as I do, the winter break is a time to rest, relax, catch up, enjoy having a personal life, relishing all the leisure moments that are so rare in the whirl of teaching.  And I am jealous of that time.  I need it and want it.  I look forward to it.

I've been off, on break, since the 20th.  Classes resume on Thursday.  For the last six days, I have been a mess -- sick with a nasty cold, and sinus infection.  I saw the doctor on Friday morning, and was given a prescription antibiotic and an inhaler.  Both have worked to make me more comfortable and less miserable.  Today, I feel better than I have in just days...  but, I am still not well.

Just a few days left, and then it will be time to head back to school, and all the lovely, free, unscheduled days will be gone.  Days that might have been fun have been dedicated to being sick and pathetic.  It sucks.  I don't like it.  I'd stomp my foot and pout and insist that "it's not fair!" but to what end?  It is what it is.  One more reminder that looking "forward" is a silly waste of time and energy.  Better to take and enjoy whatever I can from each day as it comes.  After all, tomorrow, I might have a cold or worse...


Lessons Learned

I’ve no idea how exactly this will shape up in time, but then, I never imagined the way The Swan’s Heart, or The Heron Clan evolved over the years.  And maybe that is the beginning bit of “wisdom” earned in the passage of years:  The future is impossible to see or predict.  Whatever we might hope or plan or wish for, life will carry us on currents not of our making.  We float; tiny motes; on a great ocean.  Energy expended in an attempt to control the path forward into the unknown future is a waste.

So, I am just going to begin right here in this time and this place with what is on my mind tonight.  The year is coming near to its end, and it is customary to make resolutions for the new year.  I have never been one for the making of resolutions.  Promising myself that I’ll do better for myself in the coming year than I did in the year just past seems an odd mental construct.  I’m pretty sure that I have done the very best I could over the course of the years.  Likewise, I am fairly certain that I’ll continue to make choices I can next year.  So no resolutions.  Instead, I find I am in the mood to enumerate the things I have learned, for me.  And that is important -- I’m not here to judge or advise.  If there is anything I have learned to this point, it is that people choose for themselves regardless of what others might think of those choices.  I could make a very long list of times in my life when I ignored (and often resented) the well-meaning advice of friends and family. So, take it all for what it is worth.  

  • I’ve learned to stop apologizing all the time.  I think it is important to take responsibility when I’ve made a serious mistake.  In that case, the best, most sincere apology I can muster is appropriate -- and then I try hard to fix the mess I’ve made.  I’m all for stepping up and apologizing when it is appropriate, but I’m done with apologizing over and over for the same thing, and I’m really determined to lose that female cultural norm, “I’m sorry” that my generation learned to offer for just being and breathing and thinking.  If I’ve done no harm, I’m not apologizing for thinking and doing what I choose.
  • I’ve learned that there is no value in comparing my real life to what I can see of anyone else’s life.  Whether I know you in person or via some sort of cyber connection, I know that I can only know the parts of your life that you choose to share.  Because I share bits of myself with friends and colleagues, I am very aware that we filter what we offer to others.  Those boundaries are there for a reason -- or maybe for a number of reasons, and whatever those might be, the fact is that we cannot see to the insides of one another’s lives.  My life is mine.  It is constructed out of the choices I’ve made at every juncture along the way.  I believe as I do, and I think as I think.  What I can see of your life, of anyone’s life, is only a series of fragmented snapshots.  Because I can’t see clearly, I cannot reasonably compare.  And so I simply refuse to do it.  I will rejoice in your joys, hold you close in your sorrows, offer my hand in friendship and support if it is wanted.  I’ll be glad for those who can do the same for me.
  • I’ve learned that guilt and regret are emotions that produce no benefit.  I’ve tortured myself with regrets and guilty feelings for far too many things over the years (blame my Catholic upbringing for that one).  I’m not perfect, and I’ve made some stupendous mistakes.  I’ve hurt people and done the wrong thing -- and not just once.  There are no do overs.  If I could fix those blunders, and save the hurts, I would, but those moments have floated past me and into the story that lies behind me.  It is time to let the feelings of guilt and sorrow go, too.
  • I’ve learned that I need to pay attention to the things I want and need.  I’ve come to understand that it is OK to say “yes” to those things in my life.  Putting my desires on permanent hold isn’t good for me, and it isn’t doing anyone around me any favors.  I’m not about to turn into a self-absorbed, greedy, inconsiderate twit (I hope), but I think it is time to allow myself an afternoon out with a friend, or to refuse an invitation to an event that I’d rather not be part of.  Taking care of me is a good and healthy thing.
  • I’ve learned that I ought to love this body that I inhabit.  I think it is pretty common for women to denigrate our looks.  We are all confronted with the impossible beauties paraded in the media, and we learn, at a very early age, that we should have perfect hair and perfect teeth and perfect nails and perfect clothes.  We learn to blame ourselves for the shortcomings we perceive in our physical bodies, and we become convinced that if we only figured out how to subsist on the correctly restrictive diet, if we only managed to make time for that hour or two in the gym each day, if we only learned the intricacies of applying makeup or choosing the right accessories, then we too would be “good enough” to stand in the ranks of THOSE women.  Well, I’ve spent a lifetime trying to make the body I was given fit that impossible image, and I am done.  This body, these curves, this height, these teeth, this voice, this hair, these legs and shoulders, these scars and saggy places -- these are mine and I claim them.  This body has carried me this far, and I trust it to take me the rest of the way on this life journey.  It is mine and I will love it as it should be loved.  
  • I’ve learned that I am an accomplished, skilled, intelligent, capable person.  I tend to hold back and stay out of the limelight.  I am not an attention seeker, especially in my professional life.  I know the quality and value of the work I do, but I am pretty quiet about it with others.  I think it might be time to let that part of who I am to show more, shine more.  I’ve got skills and talents and experience to share.  There are no goodie points for being unnecessarily humble or modest.
  • I have learned that I am sometimes a little “crazy.”  Heck, there might be times when I am more than a little “crazy.”  I can get all the way to fucking nuts, and that is just the way it is.  Deal with it.  I am tired of feeling like my emotional reactions are somehow inappropriate, and I am done accepting the negative judgement of those who want to use that label, “crazy,” to make me back away from where I am in the moment.  I manage to take care of the things that need taking care of.  I play an active role in my community, family, and workplace.  Clearly, the crazies of which I am sometimes capable don’t keep me from being there for all those other folks, so on a day when I am feeling wobbly, I am going to insist that the world will not come crashing down if I just take a little time to unravel for a bit.  It might look messy to the rest of the world, but I’ll pull it back together.  I always do.
  • I’ve learned that everybody’s sexual choices are theirs to make, including mine, and it isn’t anyone else’s business how those choices are made.  I don’t want anyone judging my sex life, and I don’t think it is my place to judge anyone else.  Consent matters.  If everybody involved is fully and freely consenting, then it isn’t my business.  No slut-shaming. No gay bashing.  No “my way is better than your way.”  
  • I’ve learned to say what I think.  Once.  Mostly, I don’t argue anymore.  Winning the point isn’t the point in most circumstances.  Whether the conversation is between colleagues, family members, friends, or social media connections, there is seldom a need to reiterate anything I’ve said once.  Clarify?  Maybe.  Sometimes.  But, in my experience, the repeated effort to get heard, understood, and most of all, agreed with, just leads to conflict and feuding.  I don’t need it.  If I have something to say, I’ll offer it.  That’s it.  Take it or leave it.  It is what it is.  
  • I’ve learned that it is usually better to look for what makes me happy.  I am capable of feeling sad about things, but wallowing in sadness is yucky feeling.  Better to sing, hum, smile, and hug.  The world is full of sadness.  It is also filled with beauty and wonder.  I have learned that it is best to look at the lovely bits when I can.

Voicing the Crone

The new year approaches, and I look back and know how quiet this place has become. I've been mostly silent here as I have waited to know what it was that I might actually want or need to say.

What was, in the beginning, a "sex blog," of sorts is not that anymore.  The inevitable slide into aging is well begun for me, and the truth is that there is little that is sexy about growing older.  There is, perhaps, wisdom of a sort, but nothing juicy or sloppy as there might once have been.

I worried about the descent into crone-hood as I struggled in the weeks and months after my hysterectomy.  That was eight years ago, and I live more easily with the body I was given in the surgical suite that day.  It doesn't bring me ecstatic, orgasmic, eye-popping moments of wonder anymore (at least not very often), and I'd be lying if I claimed to be happy about that shift, but that might have come to pass in these years anyway.  The passage from fertile, sexy, vibrant woman to dry, seasoned, lined, and brittle old woman has little to recommend it, from my perspective.  Still there is no avoiding the inevitability of it.  We live.  We age.  We die.

I am not dead yet.  But this is no longer a "sex blog."  I am not willing, any longer, to put myself and my family here on display.  We are here and together and as fine as may be, but what is revealed in the archives here is part of our history and not part of our present.  I do not believe that my loves still read here, and I am quite sure that they will not write here anymore, much as I might wish otherwise.  So this place falls to me.  That being the reality, I want to retake this space for myself.  There are things that I think, and words that I would write, given space to do that.  And so, the new year will be my time to begin voicing the Crone.



The Best Christmas Card -- Ever!

I am not a fan of Christmas cards, generally.  They mostly seem like a waste of time and money.  Up until now, I'd have told you that my favorite Christmas card of all time was one that looked kind of like this --

But then...  Today, I got my very first ever Christmas card signed by Xander, himself.

And I am pretty sure my point of view on the subject of wasteful Christmas card exchanges has been forever changed...  <3 p="">


The Grandma Who Sends Boxes Full of Books

Ever since my young grandson was born, I have struggled with how I can be a presence in his life.  At the age of 4-1/2 years, he lives across the continent with his parents; a 1200 mile (2 long days) drive.  For the past year and a half, he has lived in the home of his "other" grandmother, and while she finds spending time with him annoying and unnerving, she has plenty of money and is able to regularly shower him with things.  There is no way that I can compete with that.  In fact, there is no way that I WANT to compete with that.  I am not interested in being the person who buys him stuff.  So... what to do?

Christmas is one of those times when I am challenged to find an appropriate gift that I think he will like, and that I like sending to him.  When he was very young, it wasn't hard.  There were lots of cute, fun, educational toys -- and I enjoyed finding something unique and interesting to give as a gift.  This year, it seems harder.

All of the toys that I find for boys his age seem dull and unimaginative; or they simply offend my sensibilities for one reason or another.  And yes, I am prone to not supply toys that I find "offensive" on whatever level.  Ask my own children.  They will be happy to tell you how they suffered through childhoods without toy weapons of Barbie dolls or video games that included violence.  Poor things.

Anyway, somewhere last summer, I began to gather a collection of interesting, fun, and beautiful children's
books -- until I came up with a significant pile of very nice books:

And then I finally figured it out...  I will become the Grandma that sends boxes of books!  I will hunt down neat and interesting and beautiful children's books, and I will send them off to my sweet young grandson.  They will be presents, but they will also give the two of us something to talk about.  As he grows, I'll find books to send that match his interests (like pirates) and others that might expand his interests.  All those fancy toys will have their day, but they will eventually fade away or fall apart.  I am hoping that the books will become good friends and treasures to be visited over and over and over; enjoyed and cherished well past his childhood; perhaps tucked away to be given someday to another generation of young ones...  my great grandchildren.  

It all makes me happy.



The Season

The little tree is up, lights twinkling.  Every year, as I put it up, I have mixed feelings...

It is such a homely little thing; all scraggly branches that are squashed and pitiful when I first pull it out of the box.  The little old tree looks just about as bedraggled as I feel as I stumble along toward the holiday season.

The transition from pathetic little fake evergreen to sparkly, quirky display of well remembered bits and pieces happens slowly -- so slowly that I hardly notice it at first.  I got new lights this year.  The old motley collection of various kinds of twinkly lights had really seen better days, and it was time.  I actually decided that last year when I took it down and put it all away.  I tossed out the old lights, promising myself that I'd get new ones for this season.  Of course, by the time I was ready to go this year, I had totally forgotten that.  I got the tree out and all the branches on it and sort of fluffed up.  Then I pulled out my boxes, and started hunting for the lights...  Hunting and hunting and hunting...  What the heck????

Yeah. Slow on the pick up.  I have CRS (Can't Remember Shit).

So.  The naked, pitiful tree sat there, on its little table for a couple of days until I could get out and buy some lights (because I REFUSE to enter into the Thanksgiving Day / Black Friday Shopping craziness).  With its bright new lights, that sort of look like the old-fashioned lights I remember from my childhood, the little tree was ready for decorations.

My ornament collection is "eclectic," to put it kindly.  There are ornaments that I painted by hand as a child.  There are cookie-dough ornaments that I made and painted with my own small children one year long ago when we had no money at all, and nearly everything was made by hand.  They are all dated and signed on the back; humble, sweet, silly little lumps of memory.  There are bright yellow and orange yarn pom poms that I made with my college roommate when we were both freshmen.  Living in a dismal old dormatory that had been converted from and old, old, old fraternity house, we were determined to have a Christmas tree that year.  We pooled our money and bought a long, skinny, very tall, but very sparse pine tree.  We hauled it back and propped it up in a bucket full of rocks.  We decorated it with those silly little, handmade yellow and orange yarn fluffs, and then strung popcorn and cranberries to make garlands to string on it.  It was a sight, but we loved it anyway.  Years later, long after I was married and working to raise my little ones; long after she'd gone on to become a wealthy engineer married to another wealthy engineer, A small package came to my door.  Inside were those same old silly decorations with a note:  "How many memories come tied with orange and yellow yarn?"  There are the shiny, gold, abstract angels; each with some sort of unidentifiable musical instruments.  They are tiny; only an inch and a half tall.  I have half a dozen of them; all different.  They were given to me by my brother, Gregg, who somehow thought that they were "queer."  "Just like me," he told me with a mischievous wink.  Gregg's angels fly proudly around my tree each year, and every year I keep the promise I made him as he lay dying -- "I will never forget you..."  And so many little oddities that have come, over the years from students.  I hang them all and remember Katie and Jacob and Samuel and Tim and Barby and Shelly and ...  So many young lives that have touched me along the way.

So the season has begun and, even better, today was a snow day.  No school.  We are home, tucked in warm and safe, with the cats and the trees -- watching the snow fall outside our windows.

Wishing you all the best of the season, Friends.

The Monster

Here it is -- "The Monster!"  Tom worked for two full days this week to unpack and dispose of packaging materials, and then assemble this beast.  It looks so charming and friendly, sitting there with its infrared heater and cheerful fireplace thingy.  Who would ever guess that this Monster nearly killed us both?

It really is nice to have, and we are enjoying it, but oh my ... what an ordeal!  I guess the truth is we need to keep in mind that we've arrived at "a certain age," and need to be more realistic about what we can and cannot do.  At least, we got this done before we reached totally decrepit old age :-)


Gravity Works!

Tom and I went out after the football game on Friday evening, and purchased a new media center with an infrared heater/fireplace insert.  The thing came in two GIANT boxes.  The bigger one of the two measured about 6-1/2 feet long, 2 feet wide, and 1-1/2 feet deep.  It barely fit in the back of our vehicle, even though we had the passenger seat pulled all the way forward as far as it would go.  The second box was smaller by comparison:  probably 3 feet by 2-1/2 feet by 2 feet.

The loading guys helped us get it into the car at the store, and I scrunched into the itty bitty space in the passenger seat so that Tom could drive us home.  We put the car in the garage and figured we would wrestle it all into the house on Saturday.

The biggest of the MONSTER boxes felt like it weighed about 500 pounds.  We rolled our sturdy little handcart out to the driveway and began trying to pull / drag / tug the monster box out of the back end of the car.  Luckily, there was a handy-dandy handle place right in the end of the box.  We grunted and pushed and pulled, but just couldn't budge the thing.  Finally, I grabbed hold of the handle in the end of the box with both hands, and gave it a determined tug.

The Monster box?  It hardly moved.  The little cardboard handgrip place tore completely apart, and I went tumbling backwards, swan wings flailing, and landed with an impressive thump on the concrete driveway.  I smacked my hip and my elbow pretty soundly, but fortunately, I managed not to hit my head.  I sprawled there for a few minutes, trying to catch my breath and gather my wits.  I think I scared Tom half to death.

No serious damage.  I spent the afternoon awash in the alluring aroma of Icy Hot, and completely whacked out of my mind on muscle relaxants.  When we woke up on Sunday morning, I was surprised to find that I really didn't feel too bad.  No ugly bruises, and only some minimal stiffness.

He wondered if it was maybe not a good idea to spank me under the circumstances -- maybe it would cause my muscles to spasm (ya think?).  So...   We got up.  We had breakfast.  We watched football.  It was a pleasant day, and a nice end to the long holiday weekend.  I felt disappointed about the not spanking, but also felt loved and cared for.  Funny how that works...



Word From The Philippines

I've kept a candle up here since shortly after Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines.  Today, I heard from Malcolm that he is safe along with his family.  

At his suggestion, I've put the candle at the top of my sidebar, and will keep it burning for the 11 million that the United Nations estimates have been impacted by this storm.  Many remain homeless, and desperate for the basics that I take for granted:  food, clean water, shelter.  I cannot imagine the suffering and struggle.  But I am willing to be reminded.  And so the candle will stay...



Tacloban and Calbayog City

From my earliest days of blogging, when I was just beginning to write at The Swan's Heart, I have had a steadfast friend and commenter -- Malcolm.  Beginning with my very first blog post on December 21, 2004, Malcolm has been there with me.  We haven't always seen eye to eye, but we have shared a unique friendship that I have valued.

Malcolm and his wife, Rose, live in Calbayog City, Philippines.  As I look at the map of that archipelago, I can see that they are only just a tiny little bit of distance north of Tacloban, the city that bore the brunt of Typhoon Haiyan.  The news that I have been able to get about the storm's impacts is very unclear about the areas outside of Tacloban, so I really cannot tell what might have happened to Malcolm's home city.  I am worried for him and his family.

Probably, there is damage to the infrastructure that would allow the sort of communication we all take for granted.  Electricity?  Who knows?  I just hope that they are safe.  I hope that they have food and water and decent shelter.  I am selfish, but I want the best for my friend.

So, tonight, I am putting a candle up on this blog.  I will leave the candle burning for my friend, Malcolm, for Rose, and for all of those who are suffering tonight in the Phillipines.  I invite you all to join me.




As long as I have worked as a teacher, I have maintained that, before parents send children off to their very first day of school, they ought to make sure that the little ones have mastered "basic German Shepherd."  Which is to say that, by the time your youngster hits the classroom, they should have a clear understanding of those one-word commands that nearly any dog can grasp:  Come.  Sit.  No.  Go.  Stay.

It is that "Stay" that I seem to be contemplating these days.  Just stay.  Of all the things that I have done in the service of this relationship, and in service to this Man, it seems that, for now, the best I can do; the only thing that is wanted; the only thing left to offer is the act and choice of staying.  Here.  In this place.  Without demand and without expectation.  Keeping the long ago promise of always, and all ways.

Which all seems to bring me back to another dog metaphor.  There is a lyric, penned by a singer/songwriter that I met years ago at Glacier National Park in Montana.  Jack Gladstone wrote these lyrics to commemorate a herding dog named Old Shep (lessons in loyalty, patience, and honor), and I love the story, but am particularly moved by that "how many nights, how many days..." question:

Not so long ago outside of Fort Benton
Was a tale born of a faithful friend
As the train pulled away from the station
With the body of an old shepherd man
Through his final years on these Montana plains
Over pasture and highland, through hard summer rains.

Old Shep, ran beside him
Tending the flocks, patrolling the range
Old Shep, slept beside him
Ever alert if the silence did change
A thousand sunrises were met
With Old Shep.

The fall came, the light grew dimmer
For the Shepherd man when he reached the town
And Old Shep could sense there would be a long journey
To a meadow space where peace is found.
Down in a bed in Fort Benton he lay
His spirit departed but his body stayed.

Old Shep, walked beside him
As they carried his casket up to the train
Old Shep, tried to climb on board
But they pushed him away to the station platform.
Here a separate trail was met
By Old Shep

How many nights, how many days
Would your partner wait for you?
How many seasons would you weather the storm
If your companion was long overdue?
For over six snows Old Shep waited
And through five springs, there was no return
He met each train that rolled into the station
His faith remained, his candle burned.
Then, on a cold, dark, winter day
Our hero rejoined his best friend.

Now, Old Shep is beside him
Tending the heavens, patrolling the range
Old Shep stays beside him
As the seasons revolve this Big Sky of change
A faithful friend we won’t forget

Old Shep, runs beside him
Tending the heavens, patrolling the range
Old Shep, sleeps beside him
As the seasons revolve this Big Sky of change

A friend we won’t forget
Old Shep
   Old Shep

I'm not sure that I believe that anything will be better than it is this day.  Not in a day or a week or a month or a year.  I am not sure that we will ever do anything more than live quietly together until we reach the end someday.  I have good memories.  I got to live the life I dreamed of for awhile.  I took a chance on this, and I do not regret that.  I've explored the possibilities of not staying.  I know I could go off and find a place, some little studio somewhere, and live on my own.  A quiet life that would be...  But the promise?  I made that promise.  





A couple of posts ago, I posited the possibility of creating and participating in some sort of "email correspondence circle."  It was, at the point where I wrote those words, a sort of throw away, half-formed notion, and I really didn't give it much thought...  But several people have written me privately to express interest in and a willingness to participate in that sort of conversation -- more private, and perhaps, more intimate.

I suppose that we might exchange email addresses, and then begin to write in a "reply to all," group exercise.  I am not sure what sorts of letters we might dispatch to one another, but I think it is an intriguing idea.

I know that I am not willing to get into this with just anyone, and I'd really prefer to have some sort of connection with the people who might join in such an endeavor.  If you are interested, and we've shared some interaction over the years, and you have been on the kind side of the exchange here...  drop me a line.  I'd be willing to see if I can get this going.  Be aware that, in order for this to work, you have to be willing to have your email address shared with the circle.

Shall we "talk?"



October Birthdays

In my family of origin, that was the phrase we always used, "The October birthdays."  The October birthdays were a beginning point for what, in that long ago era, was known as the holiday season.  It was a slower and simpler time, and in those days, the Christmas shopping madness did not begin until after Halloween.  So, the holiday season, began for us with The October birthdays, and then proceeded through Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, The New Year, Mother's birthday, and finally, in February, my birthday.  In my memory, that time of the year was always fraught with a wash of conflicts, and emotions.  It was never a settled time; never easy to navigate.

Next week, on Thursday and Friday, I will mark the passage of The October birthdays...

The 17th of October would have been my Dad's 92nd birthday.  He has been gone twenty-one years now; taken at the age of 71 by the ravages of rheumatoid arthritis.  He was a quiet man; a veteran of the second World War.  Although both of my parents were drinkers, my father tended to be the voice of reason, holding my mother's rages in check.  He seldom raised his voice, but when he took that deep, quiet, serious tone, people listened.  He was my champion and my hero and the deep connection of my childhood.  I spent many happy hours standing on a stool next to him, as he tinkered under the hood of the car.  Although I had three younger brothers, I was the one who went with my Dad to the baseball games he loved.  With him, I learned to rejoice in the double play and the throw down to pick off a runner trying to steal second.

The day after Dad's birthday, October 18th, was my brother, Gregg's birthday.  He was the middle one of my three younger brothers, five years my junior.  He and I were, in temperament and appearance, like twins.  Except for the years that separated us, we were mirror images of one another; the only two in our family who saw the world in the same ways.  Gregg, who, because he was a colicky baby with a very healthy set of lungs, was dubbed "Moose" by my Dad, was always a bit of a loner.  He was a child who thought his own thoughts and went his own way.  He was the little tag-along behind the oldest of the boys, Hank, and I.  We were forever getting him into one fix or another, and because he was younger and more gullible, it most often ended up with him being injured in some way.  We would take him sledding on "the big kids hill," even though he really wasn't old enough.  All of us knew to bail out before we hit the bottom, because there was a ditch at the end of the run.  None of us thought to tell Gregg about that little detail before we launched him down the hill for the first time.  Our frantic shoutings from the top of the steep slope were useless, and he rode that sled right off the edge and stuck it, like an arrow, in the dirt wall on the other side of the ditch.  He was a mess when we dragged him home.  It was always like that.  The great wonder is that he survived being our little brother.  Gregg was always an odd child, and he grew into an interesting and awkward teenager.  Theater was his passion... and music.  He was a natural born showman.  His attempts at traditional dating, the boy meets girl thing, were just awful.  He was terrible at it.  When he finally "came out," at the age of 19, it was an absolute "Duh" moment for most of us.  My parents, sadly, were appalled, and never, ever came to terms with the truth of who he was.  That rift was painful in the extreme.  For a number of years, Gregg and I worked as a team, speaking and presenting to church groups and others who were confronting the issues of accepting and loving a family member who was gay.  We were a good pair, and we loved doing it together.  I don't know what difference we made for others, but I know it was a time when he and I were intensely bonded to each other -- a bond that I will forever treasure.  When Gregg died of the complications of AIDS, 22 years ago, he was just 31 years old.  It was the anniversary of the death of President John F. Kennedy.  I believe to this day, that he chose that date.  When I arrived at the hospital that morning, he was sitting up in bed, paging with his sardonic wit, through what he always referred to as the "Needless Markup" (Nieman Marcus) catalog.  He was quite tickled by the 24-carat gold, jewel encrusted, Hummer.  That was morning, by evening, he was clearly dying, unresponsive, pale and wasted, just a shadow lingering in the room.  And yet, he would not let go...  Finally, at about 10 PM, I went out to the nurses' station, and begged them to let me bring his beloved dog up to the hospital so he could "say goodbye."  They reluctantly agreed that we could bring her up the stairs.  I called my husband, at home with our two adolescents, and he went over to Gregg's house and got Teela, the golden retriever.  He brought her up the six flights, and we walked her down the dimly lit hallway to Gregg's room.  The dog crawled into Gregg's bed, laid her head on his chest with a whimper.  He put his hand up to pet her head, and was gone.  Just like that...  It has been 22 years and I still see him every now and then -- in the face of a stranger; peering out from an intense and beautiful face.  How I miss him...

So, Thursday and Friday will be days of intense remembering.  Longing.  Missing those parts of myself.


Beginning to Write for Me

It must be obvious by now, that I have struggled to figure out how to write here in the last few years.  
In the beginning, I blogged to make connections with others who lived like I do.  In the beginning, I blogged to help myself sort through my uncertainties, doubts, and struggles.  In the beginning, I blogged so that I could define for myself what it was I was trying to do and be.  In the beginning, I blogged because He commanded it.
I am not driven by those motivations anymore, and still, I find that I need to write here.  I have become attached to this place, and the challenges of writing now, cause me to feel as if I have lost something that was and is important to me.  I don't have any reason to write here anymore, except that I want to.  I considered creating another blog that would be more private, but it just doesn't feel right.  I have also imagined that maybe I could engage with some "friends" in a sort of email correspondence circle, but that feels awkward, and I'm not clear that friends wouldn't find it invasive and exhausting.
So, it is time to redefine this place for myself.  All my writing here has carried within it my intention to write as honestly and openly as I could.  Even when things were painful, scary, and embarrassing, I worked to put the truth out here as best as I could.  I cannot and will not do that anymore.  Things here will be filtered.  It is a necessity.  I have no desire to hurt my loves with what I write here, nor am I willing to do anything that would hinder the healing process for our family.  It is, sadly, a fact that some will respond with judgement and insults when confronted with our more difficult realities and struggles.  I've never understood that behavior, and I've also never figured out how to dissuade those people from indulging their mean streaks.  No.  That sort of writing is no longer an option for me.  
It has also been true that I've always felt that I could count on a degree of anonymity here.  I'm not naive, and I do know that anyone who wants to put just a modest bit of effort into it can, pretty easily, figure out who and where I am.  Still, I figured that my BDSM world and my outside world were pretty much parallel, with no likely points of intersection.  A scare at the beginning of the school year, gave me pause.  Too, there are things that I no longer share here because there is a direct conduit to my adult children because their other parent doesn't seem to operate by the same ideals as I do in that realm.  I try very hard to allow my son and daughter to have their relationships with their father without any interference or influence from me.  I guess that is MY ethical stance, and not his.  Oh well.  It does limit what I will say here however.  
I need and want to write here again; to find my voice here again.
I choose not to expose my loves to the mean, nasty, and judgmental types anymore.
I cannot count on my former spouse to maintain any sort of reasonable boundaries with my adult children.
I've resisted shifting the subject matter here, but it is time to do that.  I am tired of looking backwards and bemoaning the things that cannot be anymore.  I want to focus forward on what is now and what can be.  I am closer to 60 than I am to 50, and the life ahead of me isn't going to be about being fresh and young and full of possibilities.  This is the other part of the story; about aging and decline and, hopefully, about some sort of earned wisdom, and maybe just a bit of grace finally.  I'll be writing more generally, more politically, more spiritually.  I'll be talking more about the books I read and the projects I'm working on.  I'll write more about my hopes and dreams and fantasies.  I may even take liberties with my own artificial rules about this place and post meal plans and recipes, and other sort of domestic stuff.  I have no idea what that will all come to look like or sound like, but I am ready to try just the same.    


Bob and Jan's Collaring Song

Years ago, when my "then" husband and I were still living in Colorado, we hosted a group of kinksters from around the country in our home, and together, the bunch of us spent the weekend at Thunder in the Mountains.  Tom and T were with us that weekend, along with a couple that lived in Toledo, Ohio, and another set of online friends from Eugene, Oregon.  We had people all over the house, and mealtimes were quite the production, gathered around our big table.  We rented a mini-van, and so we managed to shuttle back and forth across town to participate in the play parties and presentations.  It was a wild and busy time.

Part of the festivities of the weekend included a collaring ceremony between Bob and Jan, our friends from the west coast.  We all gathered one evening, before we headed for the play party, to witness to their promises to one another, and to support them as they embarked on a new phase of their journey in their life together.  It was a simple ceremony that included, at one point, a paraphrase of a hymn that they had heard at their church.  At the time, I'd never heard the hymn by John Ball called "The Summons:"

Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don't know and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown? Will you let my name be known,
will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?

Will you leave yourself behind if I but call your name?
Will you care for cruel and kind and never be the same?
Will you risk the hostile stare should your life attract or scare?
Will you let me answer prayer in you and you in me?

Will you let the blinded see if I but call your name?
Will you set the prisoners free and never be the same?
Will you kiss the leper clean and do such as this unseen,
and admit to what I mean in you and you in me?

Will you love the "you" you hide if I but call your name?
Will you quell the fear inside and never be the same?
Will you use the faith you've found to reshape the world around,
through my sight and touch and sound in you and you in me?

Lord your summons echoes true when you but call my name.
Let me turn and follow you and never be the same.
In Your company I'll go where Your love and footsteps show.
Thus I'll move and live and grow in you and you in me.

Now, there is plenty of discussion, within the "church music" types about the relative merits of this song.  Some find it insipid, sing-songy, badly written, and derivative.  Church music people seem to take this stuff awfully seriously.  I don't really care that much, to tell the truth.  I "attend" mass once each week with my Catholic school students, and the music is part of the experience that I can sometimes enjoy, given that I am the resident heathen...

But every few weeks, with amazing regularity, I'll head over to church with my kids, and there, posted on the board, part of the music programme for the service, is "Bob and Jan's Collaring Song."  It always makes me smile...  if they only knew!!!




I keep starting to write this, and then finding myself stuck.  For someone who has the capacity to blather on and on and on, I feel strangely awkward; like a newbie; as if all those many, many years (documented in this blog and The Swan's Heart that came before), count as so much nothing with regard to BDSM play.

The weekend days are so precious, and as I indicated in the last post, my Saturday was spoiled to a large degree by a nasty migraine headache.  If I say the "M" word to Himself, that is the death knell for any sort of spanking play or even plain, old, garden-variety sex.  My headaches are taken so very, very seriously, and He won't do anything to make them worse, or make me any more miserable than I already am in the throes of an attack.  So... that was the story on Saturday.

By the time I got sort of over it, and began to feel better, it was late in the evening.  Too late.  And so, we sat up together, watching football (yes, it is the season), and probably baseball (that season, too).  It was well past midnight when we finally headed off to bed.  And so, we slept very late on Sunday morning.

It was a nice waking up time.  I felt pretty good.  He rolled over and put His head on my belly, and I rubbed and scratched His back.  We talked.  Nothing heavy.  Just chatting -- the sort of drowsy, just coming to awareness sort of back and forth that I've always loved.  Back and forth; sharing ideas and tidbits of our lives.

But then, we get hungry, and given our various blood sugar issues, there is no way to delay that -- when it is time to eat, it needs to happen as soon as possible.  Nothing for it.  I piled out of bed and hustled out to the kitchen to put together some pancakes and scrambled eggs and bacon and coffee.

We ate, and then I got busy doing the various weekend chores:  laundry, school work, baking, cleaning chores, garden stuff...  He gets wrapped up in watching the digital video recordings of the Sunday morning news programs; and then, the Sunday TV sports programs -- football/baseball.  Somewhere along the line, in the midst of all of that, I start to figure that the weekend is basically over, and that, since we tend to only spank in the mornings before we get up, it isn't going to happen...maybe next weekend.  I really try not to get all bent out of shape over that, but I can't claim to be entirely easy and sweet about it either.  I miss that intimacy.

So, I was a little surprised when, after dinner on Sunday evening, He looked at me and suggested that maybe we could set up the flogging frame...   No.  I was not just a little surprised.  I was amazed.  And thrilled.

The flogging frame has not been up since long before His shoulder replacement surgery.  Before the surgery, His shoulder was so painful that there was no way we could contemplate wrestling the heavy top off the flogging frame, and even if we could have managed to get it up, the arthritis in His shoulders would have made flogging just impossible.  After the surgery, the recovery and rehabilitation period extends for a full year.  His shoulder healed perfectly, but by the time He was feeling capable of swinging a flogger, He needed another knee replacement.  That was last summer -- just over a year ago.  It wasn't easy, even as knee replacements go, and the rehab course took longer than we anticipated.  Then, His other shoulder started to hurt...  and so it goes.  We are definitely headed for another shoulder replacement.  It is only a question of time, and probably not a lot of time either.

So...  I was torn.  Of course I wanted a flogging, But things are complicated for us.  There is a tentativeness between us that is hard to navigate.  But, beyond that, I did not want Him to hurt that shoulder.  Actually, I didn't want Him to hurt either shoulder.  Not with the flogging itself, and definitely not with the sheer brute strength required to set up the flogging frame.

We wrangled back and forth, considering the possibilities... until, finally, I suggested that maybe we could use the spanking bench instead of the flogging frame.  THAT was the ticket.  He quickly agreed.  I went and pulled the bench out of the bedroom and into position in the living room.  I messed and messed, trying to remember how to get onto the thing and be halfway comfortable, and He rounded up a pile of floggers... and other things.  Of course.

It was good.  The floggers fell this way and that.  He used His hands and a variety of knives, and had me squirming, feeling sensations that haven't visited this part of the world for a very long time.  From soft, sensuous suede and the heavier buffalo flogger; working up to the sharpness of the kangaroo-hide cat, the flogging was amazing.  There were paddles, of course... and the rattan cane, and one of those birch-rod styled thingys.  All the way along, I was entranced and fascinated by the waves of sensation He was causing to play through my body.  It seems I've finally found my way back to "it."  Finally.  Yeah.

It was good.  Good.


Feeling Pissy

I woke up with a migraine.
That spoils the morning.
Happens more often than not anymore.
Ruins the day.
And having the day ruined pisses me off.
There are only just two weekend days, and my stupid, fucking headache spoiled this one.

And around a migraine, I tend to get moody, angry, fussy, and just generally pissy about everything.  It is just part of the package.  Even when I've started to feel physically better (read:  my head doesn't feel like it is about to explode), I tend to be still emotionally volatile.  Sucks.

So...  In no particular order, things that piss me off:

  • Miley Cyrus
  • I finished reading Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
  • I have to do the laundry
  • There are floods in Colorado where my kids live
  • I've got a boy kid in my math class who simply will not work with me, insisting that he "doesn't get any of it."
  • My veggie garden is almost done, and I have lost the joy of having it since my neighbors have been so ugly about it
  • Every package of strawberries purchased in the last few weeks have spoiled before we can eat them
  • Syria and Obama and Congress and Putin and every single news program that brings any of that up
  • I don't drink Coke anymore
  • My house is a mess
  • I need a shower
  • Need to go make coffee
  • All shoes hurt my feet after awhile
  • Every Fetlife group is contentious and nasty
  • I want a cheeseburger and an ice cream cone
  • DD-er's seem to be swarming over this blog, while no one else even comes to look anymore
  • The baseball season is coming down to the end and the Reds continue to just play subpar ball
  • Football season and baseball season are in that period of overlap
  • The DVR on the TV works by principles I do not fully comprehend
  • It is the season for crazy meetings with crazy parents
  • Gas prices are all over the place

I'm sure there is more, but you get the picture.



It was luxuries like air conditioning that brought down the Roman Empire. With air conditioning their windows were shut, they couldn't hear the barbarians coming.
Garrison Keillor 

The building where I teach is 98 years old.  Built of brick and cinder block, with high ceilings and long, windowless hallways, the place is a sweat box when the temperatures and humidity levels start to climb as they are wont to do here in Cincinnati. There is NO air conditioning.  Oh, there is a window unit in the principal's office, and the cafeteria is a later addition, built with AC, but the classrooms.  Nothing.  Remodeling of the classrooms over the last few years has included ceiling fans, but that's it.  

A first world problem, I know. 

School started for us, on August 20 -- and after what was a remarkably cool and rainy summer, I was hopeful that maybe, this year, we would avoid the sweltering, brain-melting weeks of late summer here in the almost-but-not-quite-south.  Wishing, really.  How does that old nursery rhyme go?  "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride..."



Outside temperatures reached into the mid-90s.  Humidity levels upwards of 50%, the air in the building was soupy at 7:15 this morning.  With the addition of about 130 young adolescents, we quickly advanced from soupy to stifling to utterly awful.  By the end of the day, every one of us was a droopy, drippy mess.  I can't think in that heat, and neither can they.  How am I supposed to convey the wonder and magic of math when the only numbers any of us can focus on are the temperature and the number of minutes until we can escape from the misery?

If I ever, EVER said that hot was, well, HOT.  I didn't mean it.  Not like this.