“She is ball of energy. She is fire. Holding her back will leave your hands burned.” (October self-portraits.)

There are three aspects of fire: The smoke. The flame. The ash.

And they’re all powerfully magickal.

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve gotten down to taking selfies, and since I usually do a selfie photo-shoot sometime in October with respect to Halloween season, I decided that yesterday was the day. Last night, rather. I took these pics at around 8:30pm, sitting at my desk and doing what I do. Being myself. Over the last year I’ve healed and grown and journeyed my way into my potential, sliding consciously into the reality in my blood, and I discovered that it’s fire… and that it was fire all along. I just needed rekindling. I’m sure that my fiery Aries moon helped a lot. It was a culmination of realizations earlier this month that brought me here.

Speaking of Aries moon, did you see the incredible Aries full moon that rose last week? I still intend to resume writing lunar event posts. I’ll likely get back to it in January. New year, fresh start.

[23 Oct 2021]
[23 Oct 2021]
Selfie-ing for the first time in a while. [23 October 2021]

I’m never going to get better at this. My selfie photo-shoots are time-consuming because I take 5,000 pics in order to give myself a better chance at finding ones that please me, and then I take those and re-size them, and that’s it; after all this time, I still refuse to learn how to do things in photoshop (I don’t even have photoshop), and I don’t use filters. I will, however, sometimes set a lamp in front of my face, as I did in some of these pics. I find that I can’t really alter my expression while I’m taking pics. It is what it is. (Props to Instagram people who know how to do things and do them so well that it becomes their main source of income!)

At some point, I stopped “posing” and just took pics unselfconsciously, freezing still in my casual activity for the second I’d want to snap a pic.

Intentions. [23 Oct 2021]

I pushed away from the desk. I sang a song, as I do.

Raising energy. [23 Oct 2021]
The flame. [23 Oct 2021]
The smoke. [23 Oct 2021]

Blessings to you all, my friends.

Also, HAPPY HALLOWEEN WEEK EVE!

Short Horror October will resume with my next post. Apologies for the lack of a horror short this weekend. This will give you a chance to catch up, though, for any of you follow and fell behind.

Now THIS one scared me. “Hello?” (Short Horror October, post 6)

My friends, I’ve watched more horror short films than I can count over the last three-four years, but I never came across one that chilled me as much as this one did. This horror short left me with my nerves in absolute shreds. Everyone is different, of course, so that which scares me may not scare you, but if nothing else, you can appreciate Hello as an all-around excellent production of a short film.

Sit back (in the dark, if possible!) and enjoy Hello – Gore score: 0. Run-time: 18:07.

On that note, I wish you good tidings. Carry on! Until the weekend, then.

“Sonant” (Short Horror October, post 5)

Good morning, lovely darklings! The way Short Horror October works is I watch horror shorts over time – over the year – and save the contenders in a draft post to review at a later date. This one that I’m posting today is a film that I added to the draft about five months ago. I just re-watched it and remembered why it landed on the consideration list. I’ll now leave it to you. You’re next. Heheh.

Here’s Sonant – Gore score: 0. Run-time: 15:59.

Have a splendiferous spooky day… night… as the case may be.

“Making Friends” (Short Horror October, post 4)

Hello! I’m back to post this mid-week’s selection for Short Horror October. If you missed last night’s Halloween decor tour post and would like to check it out, you can find it beneath this one. I’ve been doing these little bonus posts lately to keep regular life content out of the SHO posts (though I did ramble a bit in one of my recent SHO posts).

At any rate, tonight we’re getting down to business with Making Friends – Gore score: 1. Run-time: 9:49.

Enjoy!

A happy end-of-week to you all!

Spooky Bathroom tour!

The hallway bathroom, my friends, is in dire need of renovation. For one thing, I would like to be able to soak in the tub. The bathtub/shower is old. Flakes of rust pollute the water when it’s run for a bath, and the glass doors are stained with soap and hard water from years of neglect before I bought the house. I’ve tried to clean them, but they always look gross. I suppose I could spend a whole day with a bottle of chemicals, but… nah. Instead, I slapped a dowel up there and hung a shower curtain to hide it.

This year, I decided to transform the room in the spirit of spooky season, and what a joyous undertaking it was! I ran around the house choosing what I wanted to put in there. I have spooky things all over the place, including some items that were still in my closet. It was a super fun decorating project because I didn’t have to buy anything or otherwise wait for anything to arrive. It was just a gathering of things.

So here we are at Halloween decor tour 2021, hallway bathroom edition!

Welcome.
Candles in the corner above the sink.
A silky thrifted scarf.
Glass shelves above the toilet.
Top shelf
Middle shelf
Toilet tank
Cabinet by the door. “We are the weirdos, Mister.” (From The Craft)
On the cabinet – favorite old books I’ve had for ages.
On the side of the cabinet – Trilogy of Terror!

I mentioned recently that my favorite horror films are Halloween (1978), Candyman (1992), and The Ring. I forgot to include Trilogy of Terror on that list!! How could I forget it? This movie is the only movie I kept from my old VHS collection. Karen Black is the OG Scream Queen. Trilogy of Terror is a classic I can re-watch until the end of time.

At the base of the cabinet – the spine sword that was a part of my Halloween costume in 2018, I believe.
The shower curtain – hidden or lost constellations, I think it’s called.

Look at the details! It was made for me:

Shower curtain detail – Black Cat constellation!
Shower curtain detail – Reptile Matrix constellation!

As a cat mom and a reptile mom, I approve of this shower curtain.

I’m thinking I may keep this decor scheme year-round.

I’m also thinking that I need to start getting ready for bed. I sometimes miss my 10pm shut-down time, but I manage to keep with my new and improved sleep schedule nonetheless.

Tomorrow night: Short Horror October, post 4!

Feeling fine, and “Feed Your Muse” (Short Horror October, post 3)

Just to state for the record: I feel so incredibly good today. After a long summer of an odd assortment of discomforts, I’m having a blessed moment of comfort in my body, for nothing hurts (sleeping incorrectly; minor torn meniscus), and nothing itches (contact dermatitis; mosquito bites). My digestive tract feels serene. My feet feel invigorated. I don’t have so much as a painful hangnail. And in my lifetime of living with chronic illness, pains related to such are far at bay.

Emotionally, I’m still working through grief. I’m not as raw now as I was in the immediate weeks after Salem was killed at the end of June, but it’s still very much a process. I’m getting through.

All in all, it’s a fresh, clear, sunny early fall day, and I’m feeling fairly balanced. It’s bliss, my friends, and I hope that you’re all feeling good, too.

Moving on to today’s pick for Short Horror October, then, here’s Feed Your Muse – Gore score: 1.5. Run-time: 16:10. My fellow writers and artists will particularly enjoy this one, I think!

Blessings to you all, my friends!

“The Trunk” (Short Horror October, post 2)

Good evening, my friends. The bone dust has settled from last night’s post, and I’m back with this mid-week horror short. For an optimal (ahem) viewing experience, watch this one full-screen with the lights out. For even more of an impact, watch it right before going to bed, like I (unwittingly) did.

Without further ado, then, here’s The Trunk – Gore score: 1. Run-time: 6:17.

On that note, Merry Friday/whatever day it is for you!

Michael Myers Brings Halloween to My Yard.

Why hello there! In case you’re wondering why “Short Horror October” isn’t in the title, it’s because you’ve stumbled into a bonus post. I’ve been decorating for the season, you see, and I did promise that I’d share! I’d rather not mix “decor tour” with Short Horror October, though, so I decided (at the last minute) to post the decor tours off-schedule. Welcome to Halloween decor tour 2021, front-yard edition.

It’s very simple.

You might remember that Michael Myers appeared in my front yard last year. WELL HE’S BACK. I hauled all of his parts onto my patio and put him back together last Friday, October 1st, and let me assure you that he fought me every step of the way. He’s heavy and awkward and difficult to dress and maneuver – it’s impossible to dress him in his suit after assembling him; you have to dress him during the assembling process, I learned the hard way, and it’s quite a tricky business – and he’s a lot larger than I am, as you’ll see in the pics below. I’m not an extremely small person, mind you. I recently found out that I’m somewhere between 5′, 3″ and 5′, 4″ these days. (Remember when I was 5′, 5″? Yeah, so do I.)

Then I hauled him over to this year’s spot at the front of my driveway. His iron base is heavy, but still, I weighed the plate down with a set of 30-pound dumbbells.

October 1, 2021: The Day He Came Home
[pic taken on October 3, 2021; photo credit: Kyle Schobloher]
NOTE: I’m on his left. His eyes are looking to the right.
NOTE: Two days later, I’m on his left again as I take his picture. But this time, his eyes are looking… directly at me.
At. Me.

Tell me that doesn’t look like an actual person in there!!

I don’t know what sorcery this is, but it’s something, because Michael Myers, himself, hasn’t moved. His head and face are positioned just as before. His eyes behind the mask, though. GAH!

I mean, you can see in these pics that he was looking to the right when I was standing on his left, and then to the left when I was still on his left when facing him. I guess he was designed with a clever built-in optical illusion aspect to make it appear that his eyes are following you…? It works. Wherever the camera is, that’s where he’s looking. He’s always watching you.

Later, I was on the phone with Mom, trying to explain Michael Myers to her, and I finally summed it up by saying: “Long story longer, he appears in the yard and just stands there and stares, and that’s why it’s creepy having this mannequin dressed up as Michael Myers standing in my yard. He stands there and watches you.” Because for me, the creepiest scenes in the 1975 classic Halloween are the ones wherein Jamie Lee Curtis looks out the (classroom; bedroom) window and sees Michael standing in the distance, just staring at her while the Halloween theme song plays.

As far as I’m concerned, the essence of Halloween is Michael Myers.

And that’s why I love having him here. What’s the point in being the neighborhood weirdo cat-lady if I don’t have Michael Myers standing in my front yard during Halloween season to re-create that chill?

Good night to you – or good day! – my spooktacular friends.

Oh! I almost forgot to post this pic of the other Halloween decor I’ve got going on in the front:

The wreath of the moment courtesy of the Goodwill, plus this skeleton/ghoul dude I’ve had for years. See? Simple.

Okay, now I’m out. Until tomorrow, when I return with Short Horror October, post 2!

Welcome to Halloween Season 2021! “Emma” (Short Horror October, post 1)

Greetings to you on this marvelous second day of October, my precious ghouls! After eleven months of waiting, Halloween is finally a day on our current calendar pages. I’ve changed out my honeysuckle-scented cleaning supplies for my apple cider-scented ones – the dregs of last year’s, anyway – and the décor is going up inside the house and outside. I’ve decided on my Halloween costume, and that’s coming together, too. Muhuahahaha! I’ll post pics of both the décor and the costume in due time.

I’m also excited about the spiritual significance of this very special season (alliteration not intended) soon.

For now, I’m just here to kick off SHORT HORROR OCTOBER with you. Each day this month, I’ll present at least one horror short each time I post. We’ll start with this little gem I found called Emma, just to whet our horror appetites.

And I’ll leave you to it. No witching-hour shenanegans on this end anymore, I’m afraid. (My mind-body thanks me for the discipline, though, so it’s actually amazing.)

Without further ado, here’s Emma – Gore score: 0. Run-time: 4:03.

Happy October 2021, friends!

A timely post. (+Desert tortoise update! – sort of.)

I have nothing, and yet, I have everything. If I have nothing to write about, I have, at least, the means to write. I have this laptop. I have pens, pencils, paper. If I have “nothing to eat,” at least I do. If I have “nothing to wear,” well, same… I do. If I have “no time” to work out, I actually do. There’s a big difference between mismanaging time and actually having no time. I’ve found that there’s a bizarre little trick to this: If I pay attention to time and maintain motivation, I do have time. I can make anything happen! It’s like magic!

I’ve been motivated to get to bed earlier, so suddenly, I have time to do whatever I was doing or wanting to do… tomorrow.

In a few weeks, an annual project will start at work at the same time it did last year, mid-October. The project involves extended work hours for a couple of weeks. I was thinking “I won’t have time to work out,” but then I remembered my knack for mismanaging time and thought of a workaround: come home, eat dinner, work out before bed. I used to work out after dinner routinely. It wouldn’t be unheard of. It would be a temporary return to that schedule. I just have to be motivated to do it, right? (Last year, I worked out when I got home, I believe, and just ate dinner super late. I’m not doing late dinners anymore.)

The annual project, though, means that I truly will not have time – here we’ve arrived at the Geronimo part – to see Geronimo during the week. I simply won’t be here during his weekday waking hours! The sun will have gone down by the time I get home, and Geronimo will be tucked away for the night. I realized the other day that this was the reason why I missed the last part of his pre-hibernation last year. By the time the project was over, he was already hibernating, and I didn’t even know it. I missed it completely.

Geronimo is so social and affectionate; he so looks forward to spending time with me. Through the window and the sliding-glass door, I’ve seen him going around the yard and the patio looking for me. I’m guessing that he went into hibernation in October last year instead of in November, as he’d done in previous years, because he had no interaction with me or with anyone at all in those mid-fall days. It was like he figured there was no point in staying out. I wasn’t there and I kept not being there and so he had nothing to look forward to.

I remember checking the weather forecast (after the project ended last year) as I looked around the yard for Geronimo, thinking it hasn’t dropped below 56 degrees three nights in a row yet, so he can’t be hibernating already! I just keep missing him.

But it didn’t matter that nighttime temps were still above 56 degrees three consecutive nights. What mattered was that Geronimo was alone for five consecutive days. He’d aligned his hibernation schedule with a social interaction barometer, not a weather one. And realizing this made me sad, because the same thing could happen again this year. I won’t see him for days on end… except for the weekends. I’ll be here on the weekends.

I know that I spent weekend time with him during the project last year, but I can’t remember whether I spent every possible weekend moment with him. So this year, I’m going to try to do that. And I’m going to ask him to please wait for me while the project is in progress.

A few pics from last Saturday:

Cuddles!
On the path home.
(Imagining that this is his last return home until spring and feel strongly motivated to basically live outside with him during the weekends)

All of this winding around to say that this year, I’m going to be keenly aware of time this entire upcoming month and throughout the duration of the extended work project. I’m going to manage my weekend time to the fullest extent possible to spend many moments with Geronimo, and I’m going to plead with him to understand that Mommy will be home on the weekends.

I just want to be able to tuck him in this year, as I’ve done every year before last year. I want to know that he’s gone in to settle for the winter, and I want to be able to wish him a good night.

On that note, good night, my friends. It’s past my new getting-ready-for-bed time!

MALIGNANT. (A review, of sorts. No spoilers.)

I love horror, in part, because of the adrenaline jolt I get from it. It’s my expectation and desire going in, and it was with anticipation of such that I went to see Malignant with my friend Caroline yesterday. If I fully watched the trailer beforehand, I didn’t really remember it, so I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that the film was polarizing, and I guess the most gratifying thing about my viewing experience was that I left the theater knowing why.

That sounds dismissive and harsh, I know. It’s probably unfair, because I didn’t hate Malignant. It just wasn’t a satisfying watch for me.

Malignant is difficult to pin down. It’s a vaguely Giallo-flavored horror that I viewed more as a fun action movie with a twist of fantasy with horror elements, specifically body horror. It’s like a superhero movie without a superhero, but there’s a supervillain with super powers, straight out of a comic book. It’s a creature-feature. And now I’m afraid I may have divulged too much in my “spoiler-free” reaction to this film, so I’ll stop with this line of musing.

Allow me to say, though, that I find it interesting that Venom: Let There Be Carnage was one of the trailers that prefaced the movie. Trailers in movie theaters seem to be selected, generally, from the same (or similar) pool as the featured film. Venom: Let There Be Carnage is a supervillain movie. To be a true opening act for Malignant, though, the superhero/villain trailer would’ve come from the gritty, dark DC universe rather than from the more family-friendly Marvel universe, in my opinion.

Yes. I can totally see the villain in Malignant in a DC universe picture, and in that context, I love it. I’m a huge DC Comics fan.

But I digress.

Malignant, now: James Wan (director) wanted to do something different within the horrorsphere, and I think it’s worth mentioning that he’d recently come off of making Aquaman (DC Comics!) before he started on Malignant. If you go in thinking James Wan: Insidious and The Conjuring, you’re going to be disconcerted, if not disappointed. It’s like expecting tea when you take a sip, but ending up with coffee in your mouth, instead. And that was my problem.

Here, I should add that ghostly jump-scare films aren’t the only horror fare that appeal to me. My top-three favorite horror films are the original Halloween (1978), the original Candyman (1992), and The Ring (2002).

Considering it in all fairness, I didn’t think that Malignant was a terrible movie. It just didn’t scare me at all. I never felt spooked or horrified. I never felt tension. I never held my breath. I was never “on the edge of my seat.” It just didn’t do it for me. That doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t do it for you, though, so definitely check it out if you’re interested. I suspect that Malignant is a film that either works really well for viewers, or it really doesn’t. Like I said, it’s polarizing.

Nor did I dislike everything about the film. For one thing, the supervillain being named for an archangel strikes me as deliciously twisted. The cinematography is outright spectacular, and I love the sound design in Malignant, as well, though both the cinematography and sound design make me think even more of a superhero action flick. There’s a fight scene in which the stunt actress pulls off astonishing feats, but again, in my view, it’s a fight scene that belongs in an action movie more than in a horror movie. I appreciated the dash of gore toward the end, but its context makes it more redolent of the gore you’d find in medical T.V. dramas than in horror films. I thought that the casting choices were good, but the acting in the film seems off in places, and there’s very little in the way of character development.

I’m realizing, unfortunately, that almost all of the positive points I’d coming up with are followed by “but” or “though.” It’s like I almost really like this film as a work of horror. It just wasn’t what I was going in to watch. And I did not realize that I had so much to say about it until I sat down to write this. If I truly didn’t like it, this would not be the case. James Wan indeed created a complex, layered, thought-provoking picture that clearly made me feel some kind of way.

I stand by my recommendation. In fact, now that I know what to expect, I would even consider watching Malignant again. For one thing, I wouldn’t mind taking in that incredible accomplishment of a fight scene a second time.

I’ll leave you with the trailer, if you haven’t seen it already. Enjoy!

Equinox greetings – and hello, Halloween season!

Exciting times! It’s fall, it’s autumn, it’s Mabon (if you follow the Wheel of the Year). I wanted to post here yesterday when it was officially the first day of the new season. It was the start of the dark months – for those of us living in the northern hemisphere, anyway. But this transition being an equinox means that in both the northern and southern hemispheres, whether we’re moving into the dark months from the light, or into the light months from the dark, we’re all balanced at the edge of one as we move into the other. I love this. I love the equinoxes.

For me, personally (and somehow in the fall more than in the spring), the equinox is a time to energetically perceive and appreciate the balance of light and dark… and so it’s a time that has me feeling an especially deep connection with the divine in nature. I think this is because the temporal balance between the light months and the dark ones inspires me to examine what’s balanced in my life; I find myself in a place of introspection where I can evaluate what changes I need to make in order to achieve balance as a whole. I know that I’m imperfect and I always will be, but still, I try to be a better human being as I walk this Earth. The angst that comes with surviving the trials of this mortal coil comes to light as the year turns dark, and I look inward in search of ways I can even it all out. It’s like a sort of quieting-down as I assess and reflect.

On a different note, there’s another hallmark of this equinox that has me all excited: Halloween Season!! All things horror! We’re coming up on SHORT HORROR OCTOBER, my friends. I’ve been viewing and vetting tons of horror shorts so I can share my favorites with you every day that I post in October. I can’t share my favorites if I haven’t seen them ALL, now, can I? But to watch all of them is an outright impossibility. There are thousands.

Not going to lie. I put this little living-room corner together the day after Summer Solstice. Haha!

The End, and the beginning. Happy new season to you!

A snowball has frozen in hell.

BECAUSE, my friends, I’ve managed to stick to my new nighttime routine. I think it’s been two weeks now? Or going on two weeks? That I routinely shut everything down at 10pm and start getting ready for bed. I have a whole routine, and it takes a little time. Here’s what I do:

–Any cleaning up in the kitchen that may still need to be done (usually not a lot, if any).

–Make my PB&J (peanut butter and jelly sandwich) for the next day’s lunch.

–Do the other things needed to get ready for work: fill my water bottle/put a clean mask in my bag/set my shoes and tool belt (if I brought it home, which I usually do, because I use my box cutter here, too) by the front door. I still love my day job, so it’s a pleasure getting ready for the next day, rather than a chore. I remember all my years of working in offices and dreading going in. Never again. I am blessed. The accident of getting my job was the happiest accident ever!

–Set house alarm system.

–Take a shower. I take cold showers now because they’re so incredibly refreshing with my tea tree soap.

–Nighttime skincare routine: either retinol cream or high-potency vitamin C serum, depending on the night (I alternate). When I use the serum, I let it dry down and then apply a hyaluronic acid and peptide complex cream to calm down the stinging. Eye cream goes on last. Lip balm.

–Gather up Nenette and put her on the bed, if she isn’t already there.

–Go in heavy with the super thick and moisturizing balm on my hands.

–Set my alarm.

–Triple-check doors to make sure that they’re locked. I finally have my new front door! What a relief to have a sturdy, tightly sealed one with a peephole and solid hardware that locks properly and securely.

Yes, this is a big deal. Would you like to know the saga of my front door situation? If yes, keep reading. If no, I don’t blame you. What’s to follow is a long, dry run-down of the events leading up to the installation of my new door, and let me tell you, it is riveting.

First, the backstory: One morning, in either April or May, I tried to lock my front door, and the mechanism fell off. It could not be fixed. The wood inside the lock aperture looked chewed-up and rotted away – that’s how old it was. I couldn’t lock my front door, but at least I had my good ‘ol steel security screen door on the outside. (The one that tried to cut off my foot.)
Secondly, I noticed a person who appeared to be staking out my house, being weird in his car and doing things like coming to my door, ringing the doorbell, and going immediately back to his car at the curb (not even waiting for me to answer the door) and sitting and staring at my office window before slowly driving away.
And then I noticed that the two padlocks on my two back gates had been turned upside down and left that way, keyholes pointing up to the sky. No wind could do that. The locks fit snugly, and they have to be wrangled with to even remove them and put them back in, much less turn them completely upside down.

SO:

–On May 8, the person who’d done my sliding-glass door came over to look at the front door (which was super old, anyway, and didn’t seal properly – it needed to be replaced for pretty much every reason) and give me an estimate for getting a new one installed.
–He said he’d send me the estimate in a few days, but he didn’t.
–We’d set a date set for him to come back and do a temporary fix on my lock, but he was a no-call/no-show.
–After several days of trying to reach him (his voicemail inbox was full and he wasn’t replying to texts), I finally got through. He said his truck had broken down, and that was why he didn’t show up.
–He said to find the door I wanted online and text it to him.
–I didn’t bother asking him to reschedule the temporary lock fix. I figured that my very sophisticated system of piling dumbbells up in front of my door at night was good enough.
–Found the door I wanted and texted it to him as requested. I bought new hardware (top-quality, tamper-proof lock set, because I am SERIOUS) for the new door.
–Never heard from him again. It was strange, because he’d been so friendly! I didn’t take it personally, though. I hope he’s okay.
–Contacted an actual door company to start all over with them. The manager came out immediately to take measurements. She was efficient and we had an effortless back-and-forth throughout the process from estimate to ordering to putting half down. We set a date for the install: August 16.
–Within a week of the install date, she called to say that the door wasn’t finished yet. We rescheduled for September 1st.
–I took September 1st off as a vacation day because she’d said that I had to be there all day. I had another (phone) appointment scheduled for the same day, so it was going to be a good use of a day.
–But at the very last minute, the door lady called to say that my door wasn’t going to be installed that day, after all, because IT HAD BEEN LOST. Those were her exact words: “Your door has been lost. We can’t find it.”
–She said that ten other peoples’ doors had been lost along with mine. The doors had been lost at the distribution company. (My day off worked out well, anyway, because in addition to my phone appointment, I also spent six annoying hours on and off the phone with the IRS, which had to happen but could not have happened had I not taken the day off from work – but that’s neither here nor there.)
–She stayed in contact with me every other day to update me on their progress in finding my door. At one point she called with good news: the door was going to arrive on the truck the next day! We rescheduled the installation for that Saturday. They were making an exception with the Saturday install because she knew that I wasn’t about to take another vacation day for it, and they felt it was the least they could do, anyway.
–But then she called to say that my door (along with five other doors) had not been on the truck. Later that day, she said she found out from the distribution company’s manager that my door hadn’t even been painted yet.
–She called again two days and a weekend after that to let me know that another truck was coming on Tuesday. Instead of telling me that my door would be on it, she said, “Let’s keep our fingers crossed that your door is on it, because they promised that it would be painted by then.”
–On Wednesday, she said that my door had arrived! It was actually in front of her eyes.
–Yesterday was Saturday, and they came early in the morning to install the door. It did take all day. It was a huge job. It’s perfect!


So finally, after five months, I have a new front door. The only thing left to do is paint the interior frame (or have the door company guys come back out to paint it; the door lady and I are going to discuss it tomorrow). But that’s cosmetic. I can now secure the house.

Here are a couple of pics of the long-awaited front door that had been on such an adventure, I’m surprised it didn’t arrive with exotic stamps and destination stickers all over it:

I finally have a peephole! And the little black things on top of the frame are pieces of black obsidian for added protection.
Security that also completes the room.

Between routinely getting ready for bed early (for me) and getting my new front door installed, that’s TWO snowballs frozen in hell! Also between the two of them, plus sleeping without a pillow, I’m sleeping better than ever.

Have an amazing week ahead, my friends.

My pain is gone, and (Missed Connections Exquisite Corpse, 12)

I had updates for you tonight, the main one being that my back & shoulder & neck stopped hurting when I stopped using a pillow, but… actually, yes, that is something I want to share. At the height of that whole ordeal with my upper back, the pain grew so terrible that it woke me up one night, and I intuitively pushed my pillow away. I was more than half asleep and hardly realized that I was doing it, but in the morning, my pain was mostly gone, and then I saw that I’d slept on the flat mattress and my pillow was way off to the side and I remembered what I’d done, and it was A Moment of understanding. I’ve been sleeping pillowless since then, and my pain is completely gone!

So I guess that’s all it was. My body (dramatically) rejected my pillow at the same time that it rejected the body products I was using. Now I’ve changed everything, and all of that discomfort has gone away. But man, was it intense and awful. Sincere thanks to you who offered suggestions in messages.

At any rate, I was just going to write about this conclusion to my pain ordeal, and then I decided to open my Missed Connections document to revisit the gems I’d stored away over the last few months.

For you who don’t know, what I do is I collect the (Craigslist) Missed Connections subject lines that strike me as I’m browsing the list of posts, and after a while, I put them together to form a poem. I present the poem here so you, too, can marvel at the random things people write in Missed Connections subject lines. I’ve based this series of poems on the Surrealist game called the “Exquisite Corpse” in which each player writes one creative line based on the previous line written by the previous person. At the end of the game, all of the lines are revealed, and the poem emerges.

Likewise, this poem that I’m sharing tonight was written by random strangers, one line per person. This particular “Missed Connections Exquisite Corpse” poem is exceptionally short. It’s just a little lyric, and it’s one of my favorites. I just think it’s really sweet and sad and current and profound, and all of the credit goes to the anonymous writers of the Missed Connections posts. I didn’t add or take away any punctuation this time, as I sometimes do.

Without further ado, may I present:

Missed Connections Exquisite Corpse, 12

I gave my best smile
To the moon
Three or four years ago
The truth
Your cat’s name was Misty
You needed a basket at Trader Joe’s
I’m sorry I gave you the virus

Have a wonderful week’s end, my friends.

Geronimo’s milk mustache. (Desert tortoise update!)

If you’ve been reading here for a while, you’ll have guessed that with such satisfying days of rain in our desert this summer, SOMEONE outside has been very happy, indeed.

Geronimo closes his eyes when he’s happy. We have this new thing where I kiss my fingertip and put it on his nose. He loves it when I touch the tip of his nose!

Fingertip-to-nose kisses after the rain.

He’s been blessed with plenty of opportunity to drink rainwater this summer. I love to watch him drink from cracks in the walkway, but my favorite thing about this pic is HIS SWEET LITTLE TOES.

Drinking in the rain!
Rain time is the best time!
SNACKS.

It wouldn’t be a Geronimo post without a hibiscus pic, now, would it?

I’m full. I’ll just have 5,000 more.
(Must not forget to patrol back here.)
All clean from the rain!

And after the rains, the weeds go wild, the backyard alive with various types in patches on the gravel and in the lawn. They’re an important part of Geronimo’s diet, and he loves most of them. It’s been a grazing party out there!

His favorite weeds are the soft, delicate, milky ones, like these:

GOT MILK??

He keeps his head down as he chomps on them, then comes up with a milk mustache. Geronimo loves plant milk as much as I do. (Like mother, like son, as they say.)

Why hello.
Milky weeds all day!
Hello.
More is not enough.

And then he goes around the yard with weeds, milk, and flowers plastered all over his face.

TIRED NOW.

Going home.

It’s grown hotter again as of late, so I still only see Geronimo very early in the morning and late afternoon/dusk. We’re fast approaching the time he’ll be out more during the day, though. Pre-hibernation season is afoot, and Geronimo will be out there chowing down in preparation for his long winter nap. I can’t believe it’s this time of year again already!

Merry new week to you, my friends!

Only fools rush in. (July/August Favorites!)

Hello, my friends. It’s the ninth of September, and it’s high time I post my list of Favorite Little Things from July and August! I have some good things to share with you today.

As of this week, I’m doing this weird new thing of shutting everything down at 10pm to get ready for bed (!!!), so let’s get right into it, shall we? I’m keeping my commentary to a minimum, but I’m including trailers and ingredients lists for your discovery and information. It goes without saying that I recommend everything on this list!

1). The Night House (in theaters at the time of this posting)

The Night House is a current horror flick. I ventured out to the theater (for the first time since 2019) to watch it with my friend Caroline. It was a Very Good Choice… spooky, layered, thought-provoking, poetic.

2). Sunshine (Hulu)

I finally watched Sunshine, a sci-fi flick long on my list. Two things drew me to it: John Murphy’s Adagio in D Minor (“Surface of the Sun”), and the fact that it’s a space movie. The scene accompanied by the Adagio took my breath away. I loved this movie, and I’ll likely watch it again.

3). Reservation Dogs (Hulu)

Reservation Dogs follows the adventures of kids being kids, humans, friends, and Native Americans living on the Rez. The largest Native American reservation in the country – the Navajo Nation – is here in Arizona, and I have several friends who grew up there, so I especially appreciate the insight offered in this FX dramedy series. I enjoy its comedy aspects and its occasional merging of legend with reality. Or are they one and the same?

4). Brand New Cherry Flavor (Netflix)

In case you’re needing some creeptastic weirdness in your life…

5). Val (Amazon Prime Video)

Maybe it was because I knew about Val Kilmer’s current health challenges that I found myself misty-eyed and speechless ten minutes in, but I suspect that audiences unfamiliar with the actor would also be moved. In recovery from throat cancer, actor Val Kilmer shares his own, personal archival footage – from childhood on – to tell the story of his life. Thus begins an incredibly brave autobiographical film about an actor’s lifelong journey in his development as an artist.

6). Clickbait (Netflix)

I always appreciate a tense crime drama with a twist. This one’s premise is based on social media, and I found it to be original. At least, if there’s anything else out there that’s based on a video gone viral with user views as the murder weapon, I’m not aware of it. I mean, did the butler do it… in the library… with views? Nah.

7). Only Murders in the Building (Hulu)

In this comedy series, Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez team up to make a true-crime podcast in their (Upper West Side) New York City apartment building. It’s funny and witty and delightful. Steve Martin still does it for me with his comedic timing and talent. I find myself laughing out of nowhere!

8). The Republic of Tea Emperor’s 100% White Tea bags.

After about five years of drinking no coffee or tea, I started drinking tea every morning again. I’ve been enjoying white tea, specifically. I have a cup of this Emperor’s White Tea every morning.

9). Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Flourless Taco Size Tortillas. (Vegan)

INGREDIENTS
Organic Sprouted Wheat, Filtered Water, Organic Sesame Seeds, Organic Sprouted Soybeans, Organic Sprouted Barley, Organic Sprouted Millet, Organic Sprouted Lentils, Organic Sprouted Spelt, Organic Wheat Gluten, Sea Salt.

I love Ezekiel breads, and these tortillas are no exception. See my next item for my current favorite way to eat them:

10.) Steamed purple kale, white sweet potato, and hummus tacos with Kalamata olives. (Vegan)

I threw this combination together one day and loved it so much that I kept making it. It’s just steamed purple kale, steamed white sweet potatoes, organic hummus (chickpea spread/dip), and Kalamata olives on those Ezekiel 4:9 flourless sprouted grain tortillas. It’s all the macros I need in a day on one tasty plate.

11). No Evil Foods Comrade Cluck “No Chicken” plant meat. (Vegan)

INGREDIENTS
Filtered Water, Vital Wheat Gluten, Organic Soy Sauce (Water, Organic Soybeans, Organic Wheat, Salt), Organic Chickpea Flour, Nutritional Yeast, Organic Garlic Powder, Organic Onion Powder.

I’m not huge on meat substitutes, but I decided to try this No Evil Comrade Cluck no-chicken “chicken” one day. I sautéed the whole package at once and was somewhat turned off by the sight of the little pieces. They looked like dog kibbles! They taste like jerky, though!! They’re totally like jerky in how they taste and how much chewing they need. Chicken jerky, I guess. I’ve kept a bowl of sautéed No Evil in my fridge since then. They’re wonderful as a snack. I grab a handful and it’s delicious and it’s pure protein with no animal fats and…. You can see from the ingredients list above that they’re not highly processed. They contain 100% pronounceable ingredients in a short list.

12). Wholesum Poppies Organic Cherry Tomatoes.

Another favorite snack from the last two months: these cherry tomatoes! Wholesum Farms is here in Arizona, in Nogales, on the Mexican border. These tomatoes are out of this world. I have to ration them out to myself so I don’t tear through half a container in one sitting.

13). Dr. Bronner’s Hemp Tea Tree Pure Castile Liquid Soap. (Vegan and cruelty-free)

July and August were rough. One of the misadventures was my body suddenly reacting adversely to just about everything, and one major thing I did to resolve the matter was I tossed out all of my beloved scented body washes from The Body Shop. I had five of them. Luckily, they were all almost used up, so I didn’t feel that I was wasting the products.

I replaced them with this one great big bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Hemp Tea Tree Pure Castile soap. I love it. I am CURED of my addiction to The Body Shop! I especially love washing with this product in cool water. I close my eyes and it’s like I’m out in nature, it smells so fresh and green and crisp. It has a squeaky-clean feel in the shower, rather than a silky, softening feel, but after I get out, my skin feels super soft. I also use it as a shampoo when I’m just washing my bangs. It’s a wonderful healing product that’s kind to animals and good for the environment.

And there you have it! That’s all I’ve got, friends. Here’s hoping this finds you well.

I went to The Original Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit, Phoenix

The Original Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit is here in Phoenix through the end of November, and I went yesterday morning with my friend Caroline. Last weekend we went to a horror movie, this weekend, Van Gogh! These were my first social outings since the beginning of the pandemic.

And so it was that I found myself physically placed inside of a Van Gogh painting. Various Van Gogh paintings, in fact. Some of the environments were bustling with human activity, others were burgeoning with plant growth, yet others were shimmering emergences of faces. We stood inside the enormous 3D virtual canvas to experience the animated creation of some of the most beautiful, evocative, and iconic paintings in the world accompanied by a soundtrack of impeccably selected and created music. At times, we felt as though we were moving when we were standing still. This was The Original Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit. I felt tremendously fortunate to be there. Van Gogh created a world, and the show’s creators allowed us to enter it and experience it as it evolved.

I had a general idea of what to expect, but when I stepped into Gallery 1 and realized what was happening around me, what it was that I’d walked into, I knew that I couldn’t have imagined it. I could not have expected that my first response would be emotional, that tears would come to my eyes and stay there for the duration of the experience, at some times more than others. I say “experience” for lack of a better word. It’s a performance, of sorts. It’s a 2D/3D animated production that’s also an exhibit that’s also a musical presentation that’s also kind of a ride.

It was the best day I’ve had – and the happiest I’ve been – since Salem died.

It would seem counterintuitive to anticipate escaping into the world of another ill-struck mind, yet I found the experience to be humanizing and heartbreaking in the best of ways. It’s not necessary to know the basics of Vincent van Gogh’s life and evolution as an artist to appreciate the experience. You can see that some of his paintings are dark, traditional, studied renderings (i.e. The Potato Eaters; early career in his home country of The Netherlands), while others are filled with color, fluidity, and movement (i.e. Sunflowers, height of his career in France). Another work has a choppy, discordant feel to it, Wheatfield with Crows, which Van Gogh painted toward the end of his short life, when his mental state had deteriorated past a certain point. When the black crows appear before your eyes and take flight in their thick, crude brushstrokes, you feel the artist’s madness and doom on their wings. Van Gogh committed suicide just weeks after he painted them. In the temporal space between the vibrant Sunflowers and the fragile, chaotic Wheatfield with Crows, Van Gogh painted the fantastical The Starry Night as he contemplated the pre-dawn sky he saw through the window of his room in the insane asylum.

The Starry Night, Vincent van Gogh, 1889

The Original Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit doesn’t bring Van Gogh’s original paintings to us, but through the mediums of light, color, and sound, the exhibits’ creators bring us a shred of an idea of the mental and emotional space that the artist occupied. We can look at a painting on a wall with admiration and be awestruck by its visual qualities that appeal to us or touch us in some way, and it’s wonderful. We can look at a painting and simply appreciate that it’s a representation of whatever we see there in the style of its artist, whether it pleases us or not, and that’s wonderful, too. Here, we can meet Van Gogh and his paintings, not just see them. It is a novel way to view art and to appreciate it on a visceral level.

To perceive Van Gogh’s emotional connections to his surroundings. To note the importance of his relationship with color. To realize how painfully well he captured the souls of his subjects in his portraits of them, from their eyes to their body language. And to feel the devastation behind some of his self-portraits.

The Original Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit was created and directed by Massimiliano Siccardi and written by Luca Longobardi, Massimiliano Siccardi, and Vittorio Guidotti. Luca Longobardi was also behind the soundtrack (musical concept and composition). Several of the tracks are Mr. Longobardi’s original compositions. I especially love his piece “Narcissus.” Yes, I’ve put together an Original Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit playlist on Spotify.

Though visitors are allowed to take pics with the flash off, I took only one in the exhibit, itself. The few pics I took were outside of the galleries:

The exhibit begins before you enter the building. Behold Van Gogh’s beloved sunflowers come to life!
This hall led to the first of the two galleries
The End. The production ended, simply, with Van Gogh’s signature as the final image. This is the only pic I took in the gallery.
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A room to the side showcases some of Van Gogh’s letters lit up on glass, many of the letters to his brother, Theo. The letter gallery adds further depth and dimension to the Van Gogh experience.
I tried to wait for the space to clear before taking this picture! This was as empty as I could catch it. I’m sure these folks wouldn’t mind, as their faces aren’t visible.
The art continues on your way out, with Van Gogh’s peach blossoms painted on the exit stairs.

The Original Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit is a triumph. It is a must-see. Evidently there are several different immersive Van Gogh art shows running around the country and the world, so if you can get to any one of them, I highly recommend it! If you’re interested in the one that I went to, click the “choose your city” menu tab on the site for The Original Van Gogh Immersive Exhibit, Phoenix.

From sea to rain forest to rain.

You know what I love? Stormy summer nights.

It rained last night, again, blessings upon blessings for we in the Arizona desert whose summers haven’t seen significant monsoon activity since 2018. I was in pain again and decided to soak in the tub before getting into the shower. Despite the urgency of my intention when I received the bathtub liners last Sunday, I hadn’t actually taken a bath yet.

Turns out that the bathtub liners really work! It was strange at first. I thought of Dexter as I lined the tub. I thought of Psycho. Once I beheld the tub that was completely lined in plastic, I was a little creeped out by the idea of lying down in it. It was unappealing, and I wasn’t even sure that it would work, but I carried on with it because I knew it would be therapeutic if it did work.

I didn’t have Epsom salts, as I’d kept forgetting to stop off for them, so I used coarse grain sea salt, instead. The minute I found my comfortable position stretched out in the tub, my trepidation and doubt floated away on the surface of the water.

I’d unwittingly transformed my bath into a warm sea, forming both an enchantment and an elemental connection. It’d been nine years since I’d last taken a bath, so maybe I just wasn’t remembering it, but it seemed to me that the sea salt made the water extremely buoyant, bouncy and substantial like I’ve never felt bath water before. The water behaved like a solid thing propping up and supporting my upper back. Weightless and suspended in the warm sea salt water, I felt no pain. I closed my eyes in the dark, candlelit bathroom with the lingering scent of the frankincense and myrrh incense I’d used to cleanse the room beforehand, and I listened to Panda Bear’s album from 2011, and the whole experience was a mood, a trip, an escape from my body. It was 20 minutes without pain, and it was bliss. I remained motionless in a trance-like state, doing nothing but exist.

Then I got out and stepped into a cool shower to rinse off the salt and get clean. The tea tree oil soap I used is my new obsession. With its distinctive scent and the cool water, the shower fades away and becomes a rain forest. So I went from the sea into a rain forest, and then I sat down at my desk to listen to actual rain pouring down as I worked.

I’m grateful for my cozy haven of an office, especially at night, when I have candles lit.

Desk view at night

On that note, I’m heading off to bed. Have a wonderful day or night, whichever’s the case where you are, my friends.

Blessing and bane grow on one stalk.

Today I didn’t leave the house, which is always my preferred weekend scenario.

But tomorrow I’m going out, because I have an impromptu horror movie date with a friend! It will be my first movie theater visit since 2019, and I’m braving it, for sure. I’m fully vaccinated and I’ll be super careful. I won’t even take off my mask to drink water. Delta COVID is out there, and I’m nervous about it, but I really want to catch this psychological horror (The Night House) in the theater. Not to mention I would like a distraction from the pain I’m still dealing with, if only for one hour and 47 minutes.

I’m thinking I might try to do some yoga in the morning to see whether that’ll help at all. To be honest, though, I’m thisclose to getting a massage somewhere. And unbelievably, I’m in enough pain that the thought of edibles has crossed my mind, but I’m not going to go there because it’s not a good idea to mix that with my psych meds. It’s weird enough that I’m even thinking about it.

It feels like it’s been forever now. The last time the pain was this bad was on Wednesday afternoon at work. Now, it’s even worse. I feel like I’m closing in on incapacitation-level pain.

At this point it’s concentrated itself in the upper left side of my back, between my shoulder blade and my spine up near my neck. It’s ghastly no matter what position I’m in, and it’s aggravated even by the act of swallowing water. It’s so bad, it’s making me nauseous. It’s stretching toward the limit of my relatively high pain tolerance and I’m not a whiner and don’t want to start whining now, yet it’s hard to think about anything else, so I’m going to peace out of here, with sincere apologies.

Before I go, though, a Gratitude list is in order!

1). Nenette.

This was in my office last night. She was too sleepy and content to protest getting her picture taken!

2). My loved ones are healthy and doing well.

3). My life is rich with simple blessings, which are the best kind.

4). I managed to accomplish quite a bit in the house today despite the pain!

5). There are no major stress factors in my life.

6). I recently crossed my one-year aloneversary! [::throws confetti::]

7). With this, I realized that I now consider myself to be my own best friend rather than my own worst enemy.

8). Arizona Monsoon 2021 has been spectacular. Three more days of storms are in the forecast for next week!

9). The moon and stars and planets and asteroids and black holes and all of the wonders and mysteries of the known universe and beyond are still out there, whether I’m outside to soak it in or not. Just the idea of that incomprehensible magnificence makes me ecstatic, and I can tap into that energy as easily from inside these walls.

10). My four-step plan toward optimal home security will be completed in just a few days, finally! The one remaining action item – getting a new front door – will be checked off the list by the time I come back here to post mid-week next week.

11). The Universe and my spiritual guides are talking to me. I’ve seen the angel number “444” FOUR times in the last four days. I am not making this up.

The angel number 444 “is associated with honesty and inner wisdom. If you’re seeing this, it could mean that your spiritual guides are encouraging you to look inward for answers to the challenges you’re facing. It also is an acknowledgement that you’ve been working hard, so give yourself a pat on the back.”

12). So I’m giving myself a pat on the back, even though it hurts.

13). I have some incredible humans in my life who inspire me to try to be a better human, myself.

14). My bathtub liners arrived tonight, so tomorrow I’ll pick up some Epsom salts (I thought I already had some, but I guess I didn’t), and tomorrow night I’ll be able to soak in hot water! The last time I soaked in a bathtub was in 2012, my friends. It was in France. It’s bizarre to think that it’s been nine years since I’ve taken a bath.

15). I’m grateful for all of you. Thank you for hanging out here with me. It means a lot.

I know I could add more to this gratitude list, but I’m going to close here and get into a hot shower to boost the effects of the ibuprofen I took half an hour ago. It’s starting to take the edge off!

Many blessings to you all, my friends.

The wound is where the light enters you. (Grief update)

Rumi wrote that beautiful quote. [::points up to the title::]

I wanted to write a full moon post last weekend, but I’m still not there yet since Salem’s death, and I’m sorry to those of you who anticipate those full-moon posts. I will start writing them again at some point.

I did marvel in the brilliant full moon on Saturday night, though, from my bedroom window. Jupiter was right there with her, bold and spectacular (the full moon was in Aquarius, which is governed by Jupiter), and the smaller pinpoint of Saturn a little way to the right of Jupiter. It was all quite breathtaking and amazing. I wanted to write about it, but I just couldn’t.

My mundane news of the week is that I’ve been in pain, which is nothing new in and of itself. It was acute, though, and severe. What happened was a knot formed on my back somewhere just below my left shoulder blade on Monday, and two days later (yesterday), I found myself in Level 10 pain. By yesterday afternoon the pain had moved up into my upper left trapezius muscle and deltoids, but I think it was garden-variety upper-body workout soreness from Tuesday that merged into the knot lower down until it was all the same excruciating mess.

My body seems to be sensitive these days, reacting to things (my recently mentioned contact dermatitis – my body suddenly rejecting products I’ve used for years) and holding onto grief. I sometimes cry at the end of my workouts as my mind flashes to Salem, as if the physical exercise loosened up and released knots of grief in my body.

Mind-body connection is real. My system is clotted with heavy emotion that’s gotten stuck since Salem’s death at the end of June, and now, nearly two months later, it’s manifesting in these ways. An itchy rash on the back of my neck. Severe pain knotted into my back. Pretty sure I have more than one knot back there.

Today was less painful than yesterday thanks to the self-acupressure contraption that I used last night and also the hot shower that I took, but it’s by no means gone. I would put today’s pain level at 4, meaning that I could still see straight at work.

I spent a good long moment this evening contemplating the situation. A deep-tissue massage would be truly amazing for working out the knots, and I’d certainly get one had I budgeted for one. What I need, I thought, is to soak in a hot bath with Epsom salts and certain essential oils. What I have, I remembered, is a bathtub that’s unsuitable for soaking, unless I want to add flakes of rust to the salts and oils, which I do not. (Yes, a bathroom renovation lingers somewhere out there in the future.) But what I can do, I realized, is line my tub. I did some research and discovered bathtub liners on Amazon that are $15.00 for 12, and they arrive tomorrow, and I can’t wait.

On that note, I’m going to get into a hot shower right now. It’s been bliss taking nightly cool showers with my fresh hemp tea tree oil soap, but I need the hot water on my back!

I’m grateful for the shower, for the running water, for the hot running water. I’m grateful that someone invented bathtub liners. I’m not thrilled by the idea of soaking in plastic, and I’m concerned that maybe I won’t be able to recycle the giant plastic liners, but for medical reasons I need to soak in something, and the liners are the most doable of all of the options I’d considered. (For various reasons I would rather not have a portable foldable bathtub that can fit into my shower stall.)

So that’s what’s going down this weekend, my friends. A HOT BATH with Epsom salts and some healing essences that can hopefully take away or at least further reduce my pain. Also, I need to get back outside at night to reconnect with the stars and other cosmic bodies I’ve been too afraid to face since Salem’s death. Perhaps that will happen this weekend, too. I feel like once I can get back out there, I can start writing about the moon again.

A merry weekend to you all!

Divine little changes.

Greeting, friends! I’m late again. I stayed up late last night more or less frantically making budget management changes, because once again, my bank is being merged with (taken over by) another bank, and this time, I’m not having it. I’ve gamely gone along with these shenanegans over the last few decades, but with this latest one, the time has come to jump ship. It’s times like this that make me especially grateful for having overcome my negligence in opening my mail. I’m on top of things now, and so I’m free to launch into anxiety-driven midnight quests to stop automatic payments from an account that will soon cease to exist.

In other news of the mundane change variety, it’s been two weeks today that I started using a prescription topical steroid on the back of my neck to treat contact dermatitis, a rash from an allergy I’d developed to the fragrant hairspray I’d used for over a year. I don’t smell like “sugar cookies” or “dessert” anymore, and that’s okay. The part I was less okay with is the consequence of not being able to wear my necklaces anymore, my triple quartz and my black obsidian. They were more about their (magickal) protective and healing properties and less about adornment, but rather than lamenting the situation, I’m viewing it in terms of the gemstone(s) I’m supposed to be wearing at this moment, because that’s what really happened, I believe. My body let me know that I’m meant to wear another stone.

At the same time that the contact dermatitis started, my body developed an allergy to other fragrant products I’d used on a daily basis, so I stopped using everything and switched to just one new thing, and that one thing is a thing (Dr. Bronner’s hemp tea tree pure castile soap) that I love more than all of the old products put together, so that was an amazing happenstance. Tea tree oil is good for healing and for helping to resolve energy blockages, as well as for aiding in banishing negativity.

My body is sensitive these days, reacting to things. It’s serving as a conduit. Nature in its entirety is miraculous!

Back patio, 22 August 2021

A lovely new week to you, friends.

Arizona desert monsoon bliss! (But mosquitoes.)

This year we’ve been blessed with a spectacular magical monsoon in our spectacular magical desert! This monsoon’s brought us the thunderstorms and rainfall we’ve missed in recent summers past, and it’s been fantastic. We had that intense heat wave in June, right around the time other states had theirs (I’m thinking of 119 in Portland, where many people don’t have A/C), but the temps dropped to classic monsoon lows almost as soon as July got underway. We’ve had cool temperatures ranging from the mid-90’s to mid-100s, we’ve enjoyed frequent storm activity (thunder! lightning! strong winds! RAIN!), and yesterday, my friends, I discovered mushrooms growing near the date palm in my front yard.

Mushrooms near the roots of the front yard date palm

Unfortunately, the monsoon’s also brought out mosquitoes with its humidity. And the mosquitoes have kept me from being with my son, who’s been out quite a lot in the early mornings and late afternoons and onward into the night. Yes, my tortoise child has been sleeping under the stars near his beloved hibiscus plants.

23andMe reports that I’m genetically likely to get more mosquito bites than others, which explains my entire life. It has nothing to do with perfumes or other fragrances I might be wearing. It’s not about fragrances. It’s about molecules.

Female mosquitoes have a complex olfactory system that lets them sniff out their food. As it turns out, mosquitoes have preferences! Mosquitoes are attracted to certain molecules in body odor and breath and depending on the proportions of these molecules, some people may appear more delicious than others. But keep in mind that anyone can get bitten by mosquitoes, which can carry disease. So to deter those itchy intruders, the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization recommend using mosquito repellent, wearing protective clothing, and staying indoors during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.

“…staying indoors during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.” – Of course. That’s when Geronimo is also the most active.

I’ve learned the hard way to spend just a few minutes with him at a time, dressed in full mosquito battle gear. I was trying to stay away from chemical mosquito repellants, but after doing some research, I’ve accepted that essential oils aren’t going to be adequate if I want to spend quality time with my scale-kid. It’s one of those things I have to say to hell with and just get the scientifically created repellent. It’s okay. This evening I stood at the window and watched Geronimo playing and grazing and patrolling the back fence, and then I went to my computer and ordered some repellent for curbside pickup. I’ll retrieve it tomorrow after work, so when I get home, I’ll be ready!

I didn’t mean to shift the focus of this post to the mosquitoes, though. It sounds like I’m complaining when really I just wanted to rave about the wondrous, exhilarating monsoon this year.

May this find you all doing well and staying safe!

From all angles.

I would announce that this space is reserved for my upcoming mid-week post because my mind went on vacation this weekend, and I was actually going to say as much and leave it at that, but then I impulsively stuck my phone in Nenette’s face as she was sleeping and caught this pic of her the very second she opened her eyes in annoyed surprise:

She didn’t appreciate this.

Then I zoomed in on her eyes and found myself reflected there as a silhouette against the bright window behind me.

Reflections.

And there it is: Proof of my existence in Nenette’s eyes.

More to come in a few days, my friends. Spoiler alert: I binged a series that defies immediate coalescence of my thoughts on it at the moment, but I’m sure I’ll have some collected idle thoughts on it by the time Wednesday/Thursday rolls around, and I’ll want to share them with you, because holy crap.

A wonderful new week to you all!

I was visited by a moth.

Hello there, friends. I have a story to tell you about a moth.

At around noon on Sunday, a small moth came into the house with me through the sliding-glass door. I was surprised. When I say it came in with me, I mean with me, not ahead of me or behind me. Or maybe my surprise was more due to the fact that the moth fluttered in so closely to my face, and I hadn’t noticed it at all when I was outside. It just suddenly appeared as I was coming in from the back patio.

It was a mystifying thing to happen at noon on a bright, sunny day, as moths are nocturnal, for the most part. I couldn’t remember ever seeing such an active moth in the middle of a summer day. Moths are attracted to bright light at night. This moth came with me into the darker house from the bright outdoors.

I’d been doing laundry out there in the (outdoor) laundry room and had just come in briefly to grab something, so a few minutes later I opened the door again to go back out. Again, the moth appeared in front of my face, materializing there and staying with me as I stepped out onto the patio. It wasn’t in a hurry. It simply accompanied me out.

Back in the laundry room, I arranged the laundry in the washer and reached for the detergent and as I was filling the detergent tray, I looked up and saw that the moth was poised on the inside of the washing machine lid, again right there, eye-level. I hadn’t noticed it coming in. It was just suddenly there. I could see every detail of its wing pattern and coloring. A feeling came over me. After this third appearance in front of my face, the moth’s behavior didn’t seem random. It seemed deliberate, because the moth was clearly making sure that I saw it. Like Salem used to do.

It was hours later at around 10:30pm when I stepped into the hallway from my office to go to the kitchen. The hallway leads straight to the living room, so I’m walking toward the far back living-room wall when I walk down the hall. Instead of going into the kitchen to the left of the hallway/living-room juncture, though, I changed course and went all the way into the living-room to inspect that far wall, because I’d noticed a small dark moth-shaped spot centered on it at eye-level, directly ahead of my path. I found that it was the same moth, positioned before me for the fourth time since the middle of the day. Tears came to my eyes as I said, Salem? I mean, I at least had to wonder. In many Native American cultures, it is believed that moths are messengers from the spirit world, especially from those who are no longer with us on the physical plane.

It’s just that Salem was the first thought in my mind when I saw again how precisely and deliberately the moth set itself in front of me, where I’d be sure to see it. All Salem ever wanted was to be able to see me, to be seen by me, and to be with me. She wouldn’t allow me to touch her, but we shared our love and affection through our eyes.

The next night was Monday night. Again, I was on my way to the kitchen when I stopped abruptly at the end of the hall. Directly overhead was the A/C vent, and I was suddenly, inexplicably overcome by the urge to change the A/C filter.

Now, believe me when I tell you, my friends, that I’ve never felt such an inclination. Never as in ever. But in that moment, it was the only thing I wanted to do, even though I was on a mission to do something else and I had several other things that I wanted to be doing at the same time. Suddenly, all I could think about was changing the A/C filter! I often experience sudden bursts of motivation to do random things late at night, but this was a new one.

So I went to retrieve my step-stool and I got up there and unlatched the A/C vent, slid out the old filter, replaced it with the new one, re-latched the vent, stepped down. It was precisely 10:35pm, which I know because of my cell phone call log. My phone rang as I was putting the step-stool away, you see. It rang and it was my friend and I picked it up to answer, and as we spoke, I absentmindedly reached for the old A/C filter from where I’d leaned it against the hallway wall.

Maybe you’ve correctly guessed where this is heading: I turned the dirty filter over to look at the cleaner side that had been facing up into the A/C duct, and there, in front of my face and perfectly centered on the filter, was the moth. It was dead and beautifully displayed. And I started crying, silently, because I didn’t want to have to explain anything to my friend.

The A/C filter is not an insect trap. I’ve never seen insects on the old filters. For whatever reason, insects do not get up there. This was a complete anomaly. If an insect were to get into the vent and die on the filter, it would die on the outside/downward-facing side of the panel, the side on which the dust collects… not on the side that’s facing up into the duct. That filter had been in the vent for over a month and there’d been plenty of time for other insects to get into it, but there was only the moth that’d been poised on my living-room wall almost exactly 24 hours earlier. I don’t even know how it managed to get up onto the top side of the filter. And I can’t imagine why it would. Moths are attracted to light, not to dark A/C ducts.

I couldn’t believe it, quite frankly. I’d been stopped in my tracks and called to remove the filter that held the moth.

I know that this moth holds importance for me. In a span of 36 hours, it made sure to appear in front of my face five times (a significant number to me): coming into the house, going back outside, on the inside of the washing machine cover (front and center), on the living-room wall facing the hallway (front and center), and finally on the clean inside of the A/C filter (front and center).

Of course I carefully transported the moth to my kitchen counter. I’m going to return it to the Earth on Sunday.

August 10, 2021
X marks the moth. (old A/C filter)

Anyhow, I don’t know where I’m going with this, and I don’t have much else to say about it. It was just a strange and totally not random or coincidental thing that I wanted to share. Oh, and today, I opened my mailbox after work and a moth flew out at me, the first moth to fly out of the mailbox in the thousands of times I’ve opened it in the seven years I’ve been in this house. Literally a message in my mailbox fluttering out into my face.

As I’d mentioned in my last post, the Lion’s Gate Portal is open… and when it’s open, there may be messages. I’ve received mine. I’m not sure what it is yet, but perhaps there will be a reveal after meditating one of these days. I would like to think that it’s Salem, so maybe I’ll just go ahead and believe that. It very well could be, at any rate.

On that note, I wish you all a lovely weekend.

When vile is divine.

Here’s a weird serendipitous chain of events:

My body suddenly developed horrible body odor at work on Friday, a very unusual situation for me.

Because of this, I changed my plan to run errands after work and decided to go straight home and run the errands the next day, Saturday, instead.

Consequently, I had to get into my car on Saturday (yesterday).

And my car wouldn’t start. The battery was dead. It took well over two hours for the emergency roadside service person to arrive, and it was three hours total before my car was up and running again.

Thanks to my weird horrible body odor on Friday, I’ll be able to get to work tomorrow morning. Whether it’s the phenomenon of serendipity or a divine arrangement (or both), I marvel at it. If I’d kept to my original plan to stay home all weekend, I wouldn’t have discovered my dead battery until MONDAY MORNING, of ALL the mornings for my car to not start.

At no point did I feel annoyed by the battery situation, either, because it was par for the course. Batteries don’t last forever, and I’d had that one since 2018. Dysis (my car, Goddess of the Sunset) was due for a new battery. Also, waiting for emergency roadside service opened a window of time in which I could get to a few simple tasks I’d been putting off.

I stank to high heaven on Friday afternoon, my friends, and so I got shit done on Saturday, and I’ll be able to get to work on time tomorrow morning.

In other magickal news, we have a very special cosmic event happening today, August 8, in the thick of Leo season: August’s New Moon coincides with this year’s 8/8 Lion’s Gate Portal. Today is a supreme day for setting intentions to manifest our dreams, a day that may well be the luckiest day of the year. This article explains the event very well. I would rather not talk about vile body odor and the 8/8 Lion’s Gate Portal in the same post, so please do check out the short, quick-read article!

Me, I’m off to do some manifesting.

Have a magickal day, my friends.

A claim.

A guy backed into me in the supermarket parking lot yesterday after work and it was a minor hassle with damage to only one vehicle (mine), but I couldn’t be mad because it turned out he was the forty-something guy who’d been in front of me in the check-out line, and I’d noticed that baby wipes and baby food were among the few items he was buying, and I’d thought to myself that his purchases made sense of his depleted energy. He was clearly exhausted, and when I went to his vehicle to talk to him about the accident, his energy was defeated on top of his exhaustion. He apologized and I said nothing to worry about these things happen and we’re not hurt and then we exchanged info while I had my insurance agency on the line. We took pics of the back of his (unscathed) Jeep Wrangler and then went to my (dented and scraped) Honda Accord to take pics of the damage to the driver side rear door and quarter panel and after the guy left, there was this bystander who’d followed us – a glamorous young woman who looked like a human version of a Kardashian – who wanted to be helpful and told me that her friend had a similar dent in her car and was able to pop it back into place with a suction cup and it was super easy, and when I asked, she said this is kind of awkward but she used the suction cup on her dildo, and I said like the kind you stick to your shower wall, and she said exactly, and I said I don’t have one of those but thanks for letting me know. I came home and finished filing my claim online and now I’m impatiently waiting to be contacted about making an appointment for the inspection/estimate because my instant-gratification-craving Gen-X ass wants the car in the shop STAT. I am not interested in suction cups. Also, my car, Dysis (Goddess of the Sunset), shouldn’t be sitting around looking like someone backed into her. If you know me in person you’ll see me driving a rental in the very near future (I hope). I’ll let you know if it’s snazzy or not.

Mini Dinosaur in Candyland. (Desert tortoise update!)

‘Tis the time of year my ankles are covered in angry, itchy ant bites and stings, because Arizona Monsoon 2021 is well underway, which means that Geronimo is out quite a bit at dawn and dusk, and I’m out with him (at dusk). Desert fire ants nest here and there in my yard, particularly along the fencing where the hibiscus are lined up. Nuisance they may be, I’m fine with the ants. Fire ant season means Geronimo season, stone fruit season, long-day season, monsoon season, all of the seasons I adore!

I’m filled with gratitude that I can spend so much time with my sweet, scaly baby. Geronimo has taught me to recognize, respect, and cherish the seasons of the desert. I think of them as: hibernation season (no Geronimo), post-hibernation season (lots of Geronimo), heat-sheltering season (scarce Geronimo), monsoon season (lots of Geronimo, depending), and pre-hibernation season (lots of Geronimo).

One thing he does starting in the middle of a good monsoon season is he sleeps outdoors at night, tucked away beneath a hibiscus bush. We’re having such a season this year. Pre-hibernation season will begin in another few weeks, and Geronimo will be even more active!

So I’ve got a plethora of pics that I’ve taken since April, and I’ve narrowed the collection down to around 30. Some of these were taken on weekend late-mornings, and some were taken just after a rain.

Enjoy! As always, Geronimo says HELLO!

Geronimo playtime!

Dirty jeans mean that Geronimo’s already crawled over my legs from both directions multiple times. It’s one of his (our!) favorite games.

Little lap tortoise

Geronimo’s favorite summer treat: cool, crisp, juicy lettuce.

Romaine!
Geronimo blowing bubbles through his nostrils in the water

Where are we going, Geronimo?

Inseparable!
Weeds hanging out the side of his mouth like a cigarette
My beautiful boy
He just loves to be hand-fed!

Geronimo loves to eat of the abundance growing in the yard, but he loves it best when it’s fed to him by hand.

Hibiscus buds
Buds!
Hibiscus in bloom!
Second variety of hibiscus!
Hibiscus drenched in rainwater is the best
He loves to eat from the vines if I hold them down for him to reach!
Flowers and leaves in the same bite, oh yes.
I don’t release the branch until he’s gnawed off all of the leaves. He loves that!
oh HELLO.
Hello Hello Hello
Hello.
Those Geronimo moves!
Hello, yummy grass.
Hello.
Hello!
Hello, yummy weeds.
Hello.
Hello.
Hello.
Helllloo!
Hello.
Hello!
Hello.
Heading in for a nap….
Good-
-bye.

Merry day to you, my friends. Until next time!

A little good-night (with some words about my children).

Well. I’d planned to present Geronimo updates for my mid-week post this week, but I didn’t realize that since my last Geronimo post in early April, I’ve taken, like, 500,000 pics of him. Never fear (I tell myself) – after hours pass of sorting through and deciding upon, it’ll be Saturday, and I’ll have the smattering of pics that rose to the top.

You see, we’ve been enjoying a proper monsoon season for the first time in several years, and Mr. Dinosaur Man out there has been having a blast!

Me, I’m still wading through the new landscape of my daily life without Salem in it. I’m been having a time. I made a major mistake: It was absolutely NOT a good idea to put off going to the V.A. pharmacy and therefore letting my antidepressant lapse during this last month. My idea was that “Some doctor once told me that Wellbutrin stays in the system for a couple of weeks after you stop taking it, so I can coast for a little while.” WRONG answer, my friends. I don’t know what I was thinking. I mean, I’ve been grieving. Maybe the doctor’s words would’ve held true for a few days or even a week, but I procrastinated for almost three weeks. Every day, I got home from work and fell apart. It was only last weekend that it occurred to me that, yeah, maybe I should go get that prescription refilled. I went on Tuesday to pick up the medication, and I swear I felt a little better within an hour of taking it.

Yesterday was the first day since Salem’s death that I didn’t cry at all, but this evening I dissolved again as I spent time with Geronimo in the fragrant cool monsoon breeze at dusk, thinking about how Salem would’ve been so blissfully happy to be there with us.

Nenette still sits in front of the sliding-glass door, wide-eyed, looking for her sister. She’s clearly still confused about Salem’s absence.

I can’t get past the feeling that Salem was only out there exposed and vulnerable that night because I’d been with her until nearly 1am, and when I went back into the house, she simply stayed where she was in the middle of the yard and fell asleep. Salem rolling around happily in the middle of the yard was a part of our little ritual that we did under the stars every night. Have I said all of this before? I can’t remember, but it wouldn’t surprise me if I had. Apologies for any redundancies here.

At any rate, I may have cried this evening, but I’m still feeling a little better overall now that I’m back on my medication.

And I’m excited to post my pics of Geronimo this weekend as I write about his updates!

Merry Friday, all.

(Not a post about) July’s Buck Moon in Aquarius.

After nearly two weeks, the wildfire smoke has cleared over Phoenix, and two nights ago, I was able to view my brilliant summer triangle in the sky again: alpha stars Vega (of Lyra), Deneb (of Cygnus), and Altair of Aquila). Scorpius was also visible again, more prominent than ever, especially alpha star Antares.

-I wrote the above in my journal on June 14th, which feels like forever ago. It’s been a month since I’ve been outside at night! I’m getting there, in my own time. While Salem is no longer with me in this earthly realm, I know that she’s with me in the celestial realm. Our twin star certificates bring me back to this reality, but the absence of Salem in her physical feline form is still fresh. I’m not ready to go out there knowing that I can’t see her and interact with her at this earthly level.

All of this to say, I didn’t step out to admire July’s Full Buck Moon in Aquarius when it rose the other night, though I did celebrate her. As it was, we’ve had monsoon thunderheads covering ours skies, so I doubt that any celestial bodies could have been seen this entire past week.

May I just say that our monsoon season has been wondrous this year!

Hibiscus after a rain

To those of you interested in my full moon posts, I apologize for my lack of one this month.

May this find you all doing well, my friends!

The night I was held hostage by a roach.

My friends, I don’t know how many posts I’ve written about my roach phobia and how I need to do something about it. You OG readers are probably tired of reading about it. But I was reminded of it again during our recent heatwave when I came home several hours after nightfall and it was a refreshing 108 degrees outside. I pulled onto the driveway, turned off the ignition, and was about to get out of the car when I saw something moving quickly and erratically on the front patio. I sat still in a vise-grip of fear-induced paralysis as my brain interpreted what my eyes were seeing. There’s only one thing that can scare me enough to freeze me like that, anyhow.

My eyes had fastened onto a huge roach that was covering my front patio helter-skelter at 500 miles per hour, running, flitting, zig-zagging its way from one end to the other, partway up the side of the house, then down, partway up the steel screen door, back down again, and around and around. There was no way I could get out of my car, much less walk onto that patio and open my door. I was stuck.

I called my friend who shares my roach phobia, and she graciously stayed on the phone with me for 34 minutes. The roach eventually slowed down and stumbled over the edge of the patio immediately to the right of the front door, and there I could see frantic yet static motion. I realized that the roach had crossed the invisible line of Creepy Crawley’s magic potion (laid down around the perimeter of the patio the day before), and so it was in the process of dying. The behavior I was watching was the roach’s physical response to the substance. When I say it’s nontoxic, I literally mean that there’s no poison involved. It’s an agent that instantly dehydrates the insect, sucking the moisture out of it. Death occurs fairly quickly. In the case of a large roach, it occurs after about 30 minutes.

Let me tell you, the turbo-charged panic and then death throes of a huge roach made for quite the spectacle to have to watch, and I had to watch it, because I had to keep track of where it was. I was going to have to get out of my car and go into the house eventually. I had to know the location of my enemy.

At any rate, I won’t bother recounting my eventual entry to my house. You can imagine that I was half-dead before I made it in.

Thus again I feel the need to overcome my phobia, though all the overcoming in the world could never convince me that it’s a good idea to attempt side-stepping a monster roach running amok on the front patio.

Meanwhile, in the backyard, Salem’s absence is allowing birds to eat dying roaches. I had the occasion to witness this ghastly extravaganza one morning as I was breakfasting. Birds that were clustered on the back patio drew my attention to a large roach that had also encountered Creepy Crawley’s solution. It was past the berserk stage and well into the disabled stage, and I couldn’t help but watch as two of the birds took turns pecking at it. The roach got smaller and smaller as bits of it disappeared down the birds’ gullets.

Salem is making sure that I won’t have to see a dead roach on the patio.

And if I ever actually embark on a roach-phobia-curing adventure, you’ll be the first to know about it.

Happy weekend eve, Everyone!