Thursday, December 3, 2015


We pray and pray, or we say we do, for Colorado, California, Sandy Hook, Paris, Boston, the Sudanese, the Iraqis, for our leaders, for our troops, for our country, for the mentally ill, for the poor, and I'm wondering exactly what form these prayers are taking. In the words of one of my most favorite priests ever, Fr. John Amankwah, "If someone tells you prayer doesn't work, they lie!" Good enough for me. So, I believe prayer works.

But it doesn't seem to be doing a lot of good. I like praying. Fr. John is right; it does work. I pray to be more patient. I pretty much need to pray that every moment of the day. It helps. I pray to be a better person, mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, school-mom, parishioner, and citizen. I'm still something of a hot mess but less so year by year. Okay, there are some occasional dips but the overall trajectory is still upward.

I pray to be an agent for God and that, I think, is a pretty efficient prayer. Help me do good. Help me be better. Help me serve you by serving others. Help me improve myself to help me better represent and act for you.

So, I need a prayer for myself that actually helps get something done. I can't say, "God help those poor people" and ignore the call to help. I cannot expect God, whose expression of perfection is very much the physical world that we live in, to wave a magic wand and make bad things stop happening. Why would God do that, when he peopled the earth with his agents. That seems like something more inline with the flying spaghetti monster (haha! Atheist joke. No offense.).

God gives human kind equal capacity of high and low I think, opportunity for great and wondrous deeds but also the free will to ignore the call of God. I think God is also the pull to do what is most good and right and that the distance from God, that which is most good, in how we act and who we are, is how I think of sin and to a greater extent evil. But what I think is really scary is how unsinister this distance from God can appear and how I may fall prey (forgive me for what I have done and failed to do) to this distancing from God.

Cause and effect is as much a part of God as the story of Moses in his basket (God is "I am who am!"). What can I do to stop these things from happening again? What is preventing me from action? How can I help fill the world with more love and mercy (the year of Mercy!). How can I help people from needlessly dying, disease, violence, and suffering oppression in such horrible numbers? How can I offer comfort to those whom have already suffered so much?

Dear God,

Help me to open my heart to others, those who are like me and those who are not. Help me to love more those who are close to me and those who are not. Help me keep judgement out of my love. Help me love more both those who are easy to love and those whom are difficult.

Help me open my mind to productive thought that leads to action. Help me generate positive ideas and concrete steps to take to help others. Make real to me the importance of a humanity that respects the sanctity of all human life (the good, the bad, and the ugly), all life, that respects the sanctity of the earth and the divine importance of taking our stewardship seriously. Help me listen to the ideas of others without undue bias so that we can join together to help orient the world toward the goodness of you.

Help me be bold when necessary or meek as the circumstances may dictate. Keep my fear and pride from directing my decisions. Help me hold accountable those in positions of power who do not hold the common good as their guiding principle. Help me hold the complete goodness of the will of God in all of my intentions and actions as much as I can.
This I pray,

Monday, January 26, 2015

Three Pounds, One Ounce

I had such grand plans; I always do.  This time, I was going to fill a journal with loving notes documenting the mystery and magic of growing a human life and all the personal wonder that entails (Not in too much detail!  Even I have limits.).  I should know by now that my ideas are way bigger than my britches.  I'm now officially in my third trimester and this, coupled with my earlier mentioned goals, leads me to believe I can handle but one creative endeavor at a time.  So, I shall try and remedy that now.

First off, let me apologize to the soon-to-be-born offspring who is already starting to suffer the slings and arrows of neglect often lobbed at the younger sibling in so many stereotypes.  Your sister has been keeping me very busy.  Irish dance class, social engagements, ferrying to hither and yon, packing lunches, and bane of my existence, math homework.  Spelling and reading are generally no biggie, but I have prayed more than once, that you will be a natural at math.  Is that wrong?  No pressure.  But please, I beg of you...

Your journey in many ways has been quite similar to that of your older sister, who will soon be dragging you around like a life-size doll: a pregnancy wrought with  nervousness, anticipation, many-many heparin injections, and paper cut-outs of family names being shuffled around the dining room table to ensure you have a fighting shot as President of United States.  Again, no pressure.  But the retirement home your father and I have chosen is quite pricey, and did I mention the injections?

There have definitely been some considerable differences in the gestation period between you and your sister as well.  I barfed with her only a couple of times and morning sickness was moderate light.  You only made me toss my cookies once.  Oh, you're the good one, right?  Guess again.  I was nauseated non stop.  I did not get hungry, I just got more pukey feeling: morning, noon, night, no reprieve.  Did I mention that pricey old folks home yet?  Totally not a joke.

I felt kind of tired with your sister.  With you?  Three hour naps in the morning after I would drop off your dad and sibling at their respective destinations only to later nap again in the carpool lane at school pickup.  I can only hope that the soft-top on the car was enough to muffle my snoring.  As for the open-mouthed drooling part, I now see the benefits of tinted windows.  Sadly, we don't have those.  I can't believe those other parents have not completely shunned me.  A small miracle, really.

Now, there is something that may just earn you a 10% discount on your "fund your parents' retirement" bill.  So far, I've gained less weight with you.  You totally get points for that.  A couple of times, when wearing black, I've been able to convince my self that I don't look pregnant at all...  Until I turn sideways and that fantasy is blasted clear out of the water.  But overall, I can't complain, which is definitely saying something seeing that complaining is one of specialties.  And you are a kicker, for sure, without a doubt.  You deliver the kinds of kicks that make me screw up my face in public leading perfectly congenial strangers to wonder if I'm giving them dirty looks.  But I love feeling you kick, so that's just fine.  In fact, I'm used to strangers (and those that know me well) thinking I'm crazy.

There you go.  A quick summary to get me off the hook for the lack of careful diary making I had in mind for your future reading, in addition to a warning to start your financial planning early.  My old-folks home will have a golf course I think (actually, I plan on talking to them soon to get them started on construction).  Of course, if this blog post is in an indicator of parenting to come, you might have some substantial therapy bills to pay for.  It will probably be a wash.  So let's just say this, little squirt...  I love you and we're even.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Don't Bug Me

I have a seriously uneasy relationship with bugs.  Bugs...  That is not a word I use flippantly.  I use it in the inclusive sense that garners membership from the like of arachnids, insects, and whatever you call those monsters with more than 10 legs.  Honestly, live shrimp weird me out, too, and really, there are some freaky crabs at the aquarium I could do without as well.

I wonder occasionally what childhood experiences led to these uncomfortable (and sometimes freakin' terrifying) relationships with bugs.  When I take the time to reminisce, there is no shortage of mental fodder.   

It all started when I was three (I think).  My mother and father had just returned to moderately rural Kentucky from Alaska after my dad was discharged from the army where they settled into a rental house owned by my grandfather and grandmother.  Considering the absurdley young age that I moved into that place, I have a nutty number of memories from there.  For now, I'll concentrate on those of the bug variety.  

My first traumatic bug memory is somewhat convoluted as is the prerogative (thanks for that word, Bobby Brown) of a three year old.  My mom swears it was a hot coal from an ash dump after a grill out that I inadverntly stepped on in the yard and yet I swear it was a bumble bee.  Chances are, I suffered through both, but I remember pain, a swollen foot that wouldn't accomodate a shoe and a lingering reticence to ever walk barefoot in the grass, yet another thing that made me a statistical outlier in the rolling hills of NKY (Northern Kentucky for those who are bigger outsiders than me...)    

But it wasn't just the smokin' hot bumble bee that messed with my psyche, because you see, it was also during that small window of time that my first nightmares started to arrive.  And the one about the walking sticks still haunts me to this day.  

Chapter 1.5 

The Walking Stick Dream...

Not much too it really, in the telling in any case, but oh how it has stayed with me.  

It was a beautiful day (much like today's weather in fact which is certainly why I felt compelled to write this whole thing just now) with azure blue skies and rare whisps of the odd spare cloud.  I was at the south end of the yard near the black barn letting the wholly indulgent and delicious sunshine and breeze of what could only be a May afternoon riffle through my hair and whole being when suddenly...  I felt a tickle.  

There I was, a beacon of childhood happiness, when suddenly an ominous skitter of what could only be a 6-legged tap dance of sorts started hopping like popcorn through my favorite lemon yellow snap-up jumpsuit with the rainbow collar (thank you so much 1979).  It became overwhelming to such a point where a so-so modest kid felt the need to rip apart the snaps to reveal...  

At least 50 WALKING STICKS marching across my milky white pre-prepubescent torso!  GAH!  And they were huge!  I blame my first visit to the zoo for my intitial rememembered burst of nightmares, and I'm sure the insect house was due to bear a good chunk of the blame.  I have more stories for a later time that orients around bears and snakes, but like I said, for another time.  

But that was just the beginning of my bug issues.  I had to stay home from school one day in first grade because of a spider bite that left a knot on my arm the size of a highly tradable marble.  My cat got fleas once in second grade, and I quickly came to understand the value of complete immolation (yes, I was pretty sure we should burn the house to the ground), and bees and mosquitoes have alway  sought me out like a delicacy.  That whole "don't bother them and they won't bother you" is the biggest load of nonsense I have ever heard in my life.  

And then there were the cicadas.  That is a story I will DEFINITELY leave for another time.  Shudder.  Let's just say it leads to an 8 week future vacation plan in some glorious and culturally rich location that has yet to be determined which is certainly FAR AWAY FROM HERE!  But for now, we shall wait.  

So when you see me scream, dance and wave my arms around my head on the soccer field like a charming yet seriously mentally ill individual, you'll know that there is a history there-- one that you've only heard a tiny bit about.  And if it's not me...  Well, now maybe, you'll be a bit more sympathetic to that crazy lady you see.  :)

Friday, May 16, 2014

Cake Booth!

I made a cake for the cake booth for the parish festival.  Hm.  Who could have predicted (a loaded question no doubt)...?  In any case, here are some photos of the adventure.  You see, I tied my card to the cake box and this way, the winner will have a little slide show documenting the origins of his or her cake.  And for the record, the recipe I used is essentially the Joy of Cooking recipe with some extra butter and sugar.

I'm nervous about the cake.  I tried extra hard, and I think it turned out well.  Is it wrong that I think cakes are a big deal?  I do.  They are!

Red Velvet Cake



Baking powder
Baking soda
Cocoa powder 

Cream cheese
Powdered sugar

Monday, May 5, 2014

Note to Self

Jonathan, the Director of Religous Education,  gave me a sheet of paper and an envelope from the parish stash of stationary and told me to write my future self a letter reflecting on my 7 month long RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) experience.  In 10 minutes.  By hand.  Um...  I thought he would have known me better by now.

My experience entering the Catholic Church was so many things: intense, beautiful, fun, stirring, humbling (which is saying something), enlightening, challenging...  I'll stop but I could go on.  And on.

It's hard for me to get past this recurring feeling of having been unzipped right down the middle and having my soul, heart, and mind exposed for all to see-- flayed, dissected, and discussed at length. These people, the RCIA committee, who started as virtual strangers (perhaps a familiar face here and there) became the ensemble with whom I discussed why I now believe in God and why I once did not, my feelings and experience with death and life in the most intimate of ways, my obligations to my fellow man and I how I both fail and succeed at meeting them.  Heavy stuff.

Then there were sessions with the priest who, when striking on a topic of particular favor (Mary, the nature of love, religous art), would speak with such intensity that it required my full (and I mean full) conentration such that it made me dizzy.  I mean this quite literally and positively, but he would speak with such focus of his own that in me trying to match his concentration, the walls and background behind him would start to grow fuzzy, and I would feel a little faint.  I'm not used to that sort of mental tasking, but it was kinda cool.

Sometimes it was like a college class where we got to discuss the importance of recurring symbols like breath and air, water (one of my favorites), fire (not always a bad thing), and the like.  Considering notions such as the "Prime Mover," you know, like, who set off the "Big Bang," and the notion of the Trinity was fun and challenging in a way I haven't experienced since my time at UC.  

The RCIA team was a very special group of people, each one bringing their own perspectives and spiritual (and regular old human-type) gifts.  Storytelling, critical thinking, life experience, formal religous education, or simply a steady presence: all of these talents and traits and more were brought to the table and all freely shared.  And did I mention that for about 1/2 the sessions, I was the only catechumen in the class?  Chuck, the other guy, was there when his work schedule allowed. 

They led me through classwork, they taught me prayers and how they pray, they impressed the wonder of the Holy Eucharist upon me, and told me what a tabernacle is.  They tried to explain how to pray the Stations of the Cross, but I think I'll need to revisit that topic.

They, along with the priests and deacon, introduced me to the church.  I got paraded up and down that aisle so many times AND had to sit front row center!  Talk about pressure.  It got easier, and now I recognize so many more faces.  I get congratulated and welcomed.  They recognize me and I recognize them.  It's really neat.  

And on Sunday mornings I sit with my family and listen for God, consider my role in the world, my duties as a human, give thanks for the good luck that rains on my head, and sing a few hymms with the scent of annointing oils and incense floating through the air.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Um. Um...

I'm having one of those little mini crises where I seem to be noticing an uptick in the death of my brain cells.  Other than having slacked off in my exercise pseudo-regimen (not completely but just about), I can't really point to an external set of influences that would cause this slide in IQ or mental acuity, if you will, but I'll be darned if my brain isn't considerably more dull these last couple of months.

Now, my natural inclinations would suggest that I would attribute this lull in thoughts to a rare, incurable, painful, and certainly fatal neurological condition-- probably one that only 100 people have ever been diagnosed with (thanks for that, Google).  But my hychondria prone self is not going there.  I do, however, believe the cause of this mental funk can be attributed to yet another one of my less attractive tendencies.  Laziness.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not sitting around eating bon bons (unless those are actually Dove dark chocolate Easter eggs) watching soap operas (unless you count that Once Upon a Time show while I fold laundry)...  Wait a minute, let me start this again.  Okay.  Seriously though, I'm getting stuff done. I'm volunteering, running people around to practices, school, job, etc., keeping the health department and child protective services off my doorstep, trying to keep a wide network of friends and family properly attended to while not ticking them off (#fail), etc., etc., etc.  

I have been slacking, though.  I have not been writing.  I have not been reading.  I haven't been doing a stellar job of keeping up on current events but having seen what CNN and the like consider to be breaking news, I don't feel too bad about that slip-up.  Still though, my brain has been seriously neglected.  

Sometimes, when my brain is working effortlessly (hey, it's happened) ideas just pop into my head, I go sit down and write, and voila!  It's done.  But there have been no precocious ideas bubbling their way to the surface, maybe a transient "hm...  That's interesting," but then it's gone and frankly there wasn't much there to begin with.  

So then I am faced with a dilemma, you know, like a fork in the road, sort of.  Do I let my brain go and just start a weekly habit of sniffing the peanut butter jar to self test for alzheimers ( or do I do something about the possibility of mental decline, something more than Candy Crush?   Hopefully, this post indicates I've already chosen.

I will not let my brain snore loudly into that good night, but fight and rage and all that other stuff, I hope. So, I will finish "The Goldfinch," (which I highly recommend; it's really good!), and I'll write more regularly, and I'll engage with ideas and art and all that jazz (yes, Pinterest counts) so that my brain won't bore me silly.  After all, one's mind should be an interesting companion for one's self.  Does that sound wise?  See, I'm getting smarter already.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Telling Time

My daughter came home from school the other afternoon with a folder full of completed and not completed papers covered in tally marks, paste, cut-outs, and empty clock faces needing to be adorned, blank like a packed up Mr. Potato head waiting to have his nose plugged in.  After a shuffling of coat, backpack, gloves and pencils we cleared a corner of the table to get started on those blank clock faces so as to get on with the more fun aspects of afterschool relaxation (the iPad).

Pleae write your name at the top of your paper.  N-a-m-e.  So far so good.  Please write the numbers on your blank clock (she like's to play school during homework time.  Works for me.) Then the first question came.  

"Mommy.  What are clocks for?"  

"To tell time, sweetie."

I answered that one like a champ.

"Mommy?  What is time?"

"Uh...  A series of moments?"

"What's a moment?"

"A snippet of time?  Here.  Have a juice box.  Mommy needs to think."

I don't know what time is.  I know lots of people have very grand notions that involve space and energy, distance, matter, things that are linear and non-linear and stuff like that, measuring of change, maybe?  Most people, I imagine, are happy to merely (not that it's a bad thing) think of it as distinct measurable and constant units that come one after another like the ticking of a second hand on a meticulous Swiss watch or maybe the predictable passing of the seasons.  Of course, I can't even put that into a simple sentence.

What is time to a kid?  It's certainly different for them than it is me.  Christmas takes eons to make its return visit in their little kid worlds.  I, on the other hand, feel like it's been nothing less than a hot second since vaccuming up the last ornament hook before it's time to drag the boxes of decorations out yet again.  Birthdays, appointments, annual events, final Fridays, second Sundays feel like they are falling all around like a waterfall of moments that drain away before I've had a chance to catch my breath, whereas for her, Halloween beckons from a distant shore seemingly unreachable-- a future Disney princess costume taunting her from so far away.

I read a study once (or maybe it was NPR) that said when you're in you're in your 20's, 30's or somewhere aroung that time, you can most accurately judge a true second (1 Mississippi).  When you're younger, you count them more quickly (I thought an hour went by!  Nope.  20 minutes).  And when you get older, you count them more slowly (Didn't we just have the Winter Olympics the year before last?  Guess again.).  

But even that's not constant.  I know that I can savor an instant.  I can stretch out those delicious little moments that seemingly exist outside the ticking of the clock-- watching your daughter sleep before it's time to rouse her from slumber where you watch the steady rise and fall of her chest and count the freckles on her nose realizing that next year, the count will be different all the while knowing it's a moment you'll never get back.  But you have it now and roll it around in your mind before it too falls away but you've made it last longer than the same instant that occurred with almost identical similarity the day before.  Some moments, even little ones, are bigger, longer, than others.  

Or what about those little micro-naps that you may have experienced (*cough-guilty-*cough) in an overly warm class room where you suddently are unsure if you've been asleep for 3 seconds or 30 minutes.  While it may not be a winning argument with your boss on why you were late, I think that the perception of time is important to its definition.  

"Mommy!  Please, will you tell me what time is?"

Then my best answer came to me.  

"You can ask daddy when he gets home.  But now it's time for a snack."  

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Crack in the Silence

Miscarriage and stillbirth suck.  I know from experience regarding the stillbirth end of things as my son was stillborn at 37 weeks.  I was a broken, shaky, raw-nerved, post-traumatic-stressed mess stumbling through the public sphere like a ghost, perfecting the art of crying while driving as a mundane daily habit, and periodically collapsing on the floor in tears and howls convulsed by sobs. This went on in varying degrees for two years.

When I found out that my baby had died and yet was still in my womb, I didn't even know what that was called.  Was I having a miscarriage?  No.  In the United States, a situation such as mine is considered a stillbirth after 20 weeks.  I had no idea.

I had assumed, like most I imagine, that once I was past 12 weeks it was all smooth sailing and I could confidently shout my announcement from the roof tops.  Sure, I'd have to pass my glucose test (which I did) and jump through a couple of other little hoops, but surely I was golden. Obviously, I was not.  

That happened about 8 1/2 years ago, and my experience opened my eyes up to the huge population of women who have gone through heartbreaking experiences trying to grow and get a healthy baby: not just stillbirth, but miscarriage, and infant loss, one twin lives the other dies, emergency hysterectomies, tenuous preemies...  I had no idea it was so scary out there!

I would ask people, "do you know anyone this has happened to?"  They always said, "no."  I couldn't be the only one.  The internet was proof of that, but what about around me?  The people I was shuffling past at the grocery...  Did they know anyone this had happened to?  I couldn't be the only one.

No one wants to talk about babies dying.  It's horrible of course.  We think that by saying it out loud, we are tempting the fates, drawing a bull's eye on our families, being morbid, or some such thing.  Clearly that is irrational.

While talking about pregnancy/infant loss doesn't make it happen, not talking about it isolates SOOO many moms and dads.  This culture of silence made me feel alone and marked by failure like some sort of scarlet letter.  After all, everyone knew I was pregnant when I lost my son.  There was no hiding it, no safe time to announce my pregnancy-- there was lots of pity and uncomfortable faces that just didn't know what to say.  What do you say?

The onus to break the culture silence surrounding miscarriage and perinatal death is on the parents (particularly but not just mothers) of those who have suffered loss.  I get this.  Clearly we are our own best advocates and we (or I) like to think that our willingness to talk about our experiences helps out others who have gone or will go through something like this feel like they are not alone.

Now, here is where my epiphany comes in.  While this sort of loss is more common than we popularly believe, we (parents of angels, if you will) are still something of a fringe element of the population.  Most women, thankfully, never have a stillbirth, miscarriage (that they are aware of), or have their baby die.  But most women get pregnant, and we are told not to announce our pregnancy before 12 weeks is over as that's when the greatest chance of miscarriage is.

That is the culture of silence!  A major shift in cultural practice like the one I'm suggesting will be most effective coming from the mainstream.  Why are people so offended if you announce your pregnancy early?  Because your baby might die and they don't want to hear about it?  So what!  It's not like keeping your mouth shut prevents bad things from happening.  Aren't you going to want your friends to know why you have no intention of going to that baby shower you were just invited to?  Wouldn't it help to have people know that you are going through something sad and difficult and to treat you accordingly?

Wouldn't you want to know why your friend is withdrawn and doesn't want to babysit your sweet one year old?  You would want to help her, and hug her, and give her space if that's what she needed.  

But no.  We are told not to tell before 12 weeks.  Maybe I'm harsh, but I don't see the need or the benefit in "protecting" those in our lives from possibly becoming aware of our miscarriage.  Sad things happen, and when they do, we need support.  How do you get that support when we have a strong societal rule of keeping it to yourself "just in case."  

Yes, it is very hard to go back and tell people that your baby died or you miscarried or whatever, but these things are hard and there is no getting around it.  But it's better (in my opinion) than cramming all that grief and that whole story into an isolated little pocket in your brain.  And maybe, with this sort of openess, pity changes to empathy, isolation becomes understanding and support, and a greater appreciation for the true miracle that is life can be had by all.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


Some people hate surprises.  They state it as a fact of themselves, like eye color, and say it as both a truth of their character and a halting command to those entertaing any clandestine party designs.  Others say they like good surprises as life offers so few: the unforseeable center of a tidily made filled doughnut, is new baby a girl or a boy, you won the lottery and had the good sense to stay off the news, etc., etc.

Bad surprises though...  Perhaps they don't receive their just due.  It's kind of hard to overcome a p.r. challenge like that.  "Bad Surprise."  It starts with the word "bad" so turning it 'good' is tricky right out of the gate.  I would argue, however, that sometimes they are awesome.

Example!  Oh, lovely day that today was, I found myself navigating through a pesky swarm of missed details that escaped my earlier planning.  A phone call from the saintly grade school teacher reminded me of a club meeting my kid had afterschool that afternoon.   I had volunteered to do something for the meeting but my missed obligation was noticed in time to signal my complete mental slippage and her phone call saved me.  

But of course, I didn't think to ask exactly what time this club meeting was over.  Was it 4:00?  Or 4:30?  So, at 3:45, just to be safe, I zip up to a prime parking spot.  A side note.  I have come to recognize that when I come to a planned event and happen upon a glut of premium parking spots, I have screwed up either the date or time of the event in question, and I will have ticked off car companions with whom to contend.  Every.  Time.  So yes, my parking spot was ideal and I was 45 minutes early.

This "bad surprise," that this club meeting was today and I'd totally forgotten, that I'd screwed up my juice box obligation or whatever I'd said I'd do, and then I'd shown up a nice full 45 minutes early, in the end worked out really well.  I got out of a trip to the grocery store that would have been otherwise required for said kid beverages, I got a prime parking spot, and several good karma points after the school administrative assistant talked me into going upstairs to help out for the last half of the meeting.  And after seeing how outnumbered that poor lady was, well, my juice box conscience was clean.

Friday, November 15, 2013


There was an episode of Mork and Mindy, a two-parter no less, where Mork takes aspirin for his headache.  An unforeseen side effect of the aspirin, being that he's an alien and all, is that Mork starts to shrink.  Smaller and smaller he grows until he falls between the threads of the table cloth and lands in a microscopic medieval world.  That's a crazy idea.  Horrifying!  Think of all the worlds and civilizations wiped out in the daily goings on of just one person.  What happens when that table cloth gets washed?

Wow-- tIny little worlds everywhere-- and obviously our world is sitting on some giant's table cloth.  That clearly follows, after all.  Sure, it's an extreme thought experiment, but you know, if you can get big ideas from "Star Trek," then why not "Mork and Mindy?"  

I have noticed some startling things in the bug universe around my house and yard.  And, it could be argued, that's kind of like the mini-medieval land.  All those tiny little creatures with their armies and giant citadel things (I've got a couple of large anthills in the yard), and spider houses like you wouldn't believe-- seriously impressive web work.  Recently witnessed in the basement has been both the cave cricket and house centipede.  Those are carnivores, I think, so what are they eating?  Little tiny things I can't see and don't want to think about.  Dust mites?  Baby spiders.

But sometimes there are large external geopolitical bug forces that come sweeping into the realm.  Outsider bugs who come in large numbers looking for rafters for overwintering (this is all conjecture and misremembered facts from some show I saw 18 years ago on the Discovery Channel).  In my experience, these seasonal residents, are usually some sort of invasive Asian beetle.   

The west wall of the house must be so toasty warm for these little guys.  I don't know if they're attracted to the radiant heat or what, but they love that wall.   The sound of hundreds of little fake ladybugs (harmonia axyridis as opposed to "ladybugus regularis") sounds exactly like you'd think it would-- an assault of tiny little thuds as they fly headlong into the exterior wall with their armored little bodies.  Then begins the indoor march where, if they resist the siren call of ceiling mounted light fixtures, they will be rewarded with sheltered hibernation somewhere in my attic space.  

These were there first visitors that came en masse the first year we lived in our home.  I thought this was as it would be till the end, but no.  Then came the stink bugs.  The two forces encountered one another for the first time about three years ago.  The same west wall, shimmering a promise of rest and warmth for the upcoming season, beckoned not just the orange and black but now the stink bombers as well.  

The violence these two parties met one another with was nothing short of horrific (if you're a bug).  I didn't realize the extent of the carnage until the following spring when closets were cleaned, heavy chairs moved, and window casings vacuumed.  The stink bugs had won.  The dead ladybugs were everywhere but fallen stinkies were in high numbers too-- bodies jumbled together.  

After the reign of the stinkbugs, the fake ladybugs made a return, and powers, as to be expected, have shifted back and forth as the years have passed.  We have an agreement.  Regardless of which side your on, if I can catch you with the vacuum, you are mine.  If I catch you with my hand or a papertowel, I'll take you outside.  I won't squish any of them because even the ladybugs smell bad and it's an sos that signals their buddies to come and help out.  No thanks.

It's an uneasy agreement.  But it works.  And most of the time it's out of sight, out of mind.  But just when I thought I'd discovered the new normal, I meet this...