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!

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:


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!
More is not enough.

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


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)

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)

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.


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.

Geronimo blowing bubbles through his nostrils in the water

Where are we going, Geronimo?

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
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!
Hello Hello Hello
Those Geronimo moves!
Hello, yummy grass.
Hello, yummy weeds.
Heading in for a nap….

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!

Owls can’t attack stars. (Salem’s memorial.)

Still losing track of days over here. All day Thursday I thought it was Friday, and Friday morning the alarm went off and I thought I was going to work out. But it wasn’t Saturday. This morning I awoke into panic thinking that it was Monday. It was 8:15am. Disaster! I had to convince and reassure myself that it was Sunday.

Three weeks ago today, I woke up and went out to give Salem her breakfast and she wasn’t there and she never would be again, but I didn’t know it at the time.

Salem at home.

I haven’t spent any significant time outside since. My backyard feels unfamiliar now. It’s different. It’s going to take some time. I have to learn the new terrain out there, the one devoid of the little feline being who brought such joy and who only wanted to be with me. That was all she wanted, ever.

Salem was innocent. She was happy and sweet and full of love and light, and she did not deserve the horror of what happened to her.

Be that as it may, it happened, and nothing is going to unhappen it.

Establishing a memorial site for her felt tremendously important and it took some meditating, but seven days after her death, I knew that the answer was in the stars. Salem and I had our special heart-bonding time late at night, under the splendor of the cosmos. She knew about the elements, and the moon and the stars and the planets I was connecting with as well as the asteroids, as I explained everything to her. She and I were energetically one with each other and with the cosmic bodies, and so I decided to create a memorial site for her up above by registering a star in her name.

Salem, a star in Leo.

In the process, I saw that you can choose to register twin stars. As twin stars, Salem and I can go on being together in the cosmos! Her star is named for her, and mine is called “Skye,” my cosmic name. I chose twin stars in the constellation of Leo because the lion is Salem’s kin.

Twin stars

In Remembrance of Salem, beloved cat of Skye
died: June 27, 2021
Together Forever

(What the inscriptions read at the bottom of the certificates.)

When I received the certificates in the mail, it was like bringing a little wooden box of Salem’s ashes home from the vet. And as I would set a wooden box of cremains on a shelf, I put her star certificate in a frame (alongside mine) and hung it high up in a corner of my office, next to my desk wall.

Because my desk wall, itself, has also become a memorial site for Salem. It was already painted black, so I arranged my blue string lights over the night sky canvas to create a starscape, and while I was at it I designed Salem’s very own constellation for her.

Salem’s constellation

The five circles that make up the constellation’s point stars are Salem’s picture that I cut from the “lost cat” flyers I’d made before I knew that her body had been found.

My little star.
Our twin star certificates hanging high in the corner by Salem’s memorial wall.

StarRegister also sent maps that show the locations of our stars. Salem’s star is the circled dot. Mine is the very close-by bolded dot diagonally down and to the right of hers. I have a map with my star circled, too, but I just wanted to post hers:

My little girl in the cosmos

It’s comforting to know that an aspect of Salem’s energy has a forever home in Leo, and that I’m there with her. I feel that somehow, on some level, in some dimension, Salem knows it, too. And she knows how much I love her and miss her, and how sorry I am that I couldn’t protect her.

Leo was present above the horizon at dusk yesterday, in the west, just after sunset. Venus and Mars were stationed in it. Through SkyView, I could see the location of Salem’s memorial site:

Mars and Venus in the constellation of Leo (Venus is the smaller planet, as Mars is highlighted by the SkyView app)

I like to think that Salem is being guarded by Regulus, Leo’s alpha star. Regulus is shown as the bright white dot as highlighted by SkyView:

Regulus, Leo’s alpha star.

As well, Salem is being looked after by Asteria, Goddess of the Stars. This artwork of Asteria leans against Salem’s wall:

Asteria, Goddess of the Stars, Astrology, and Prophetic Dreams

Finally, I found this patch that I’ve had for almost a year that I hadn’t decided where to put. It’s a black cat constellation! I’d forgotten that I had it. I could not have imagined how meaningful it would be one day. Now I see Salem when I look at it.

Black cat constellation – my Salem in the palm of my hand.

I’m not sure when I’ll get back out there to stargaze. Next week Saturday the 24th will bring July’s full moon in Aquarius, and I would like to celebrate her. Maybe that will be the first time I venture out to connect with the cosmos… on the onemonthversary of Salem’s death.

I hope you’re all well, my friends. Thank you for being here, as always.


I recently (last week) decided that I want to start wearing dresses again after decades, like, just casually around town, so I picked one out at the Goodwill that I thought was cute and out of my gothy comfort zone because I thought it would be fun and brought it home to try on after washing it, and the try-on started out okay as I slipped the dress on over my head with my arms raised up so the sleeves could fall over them and the right sleeve went on first but then my arm on that side got stuck while the left sleeve was halfway on and also getting stuck at the top of my left forearm so then I had one arm completely stuck and the other arm halfway stuck as my upper body was contorted due to my upper back and shoulder also being wedged tightly at an awkward angle into the upper body part of the dress that was made of 100% polyester with no give in the fabric at all and thus ensued my frantic attempt to escape, and I live alone so there was no one there to help as I blindly wriggled and careened around the bedroom trapped in a dress with my arms in the air and my head covered and my upper body twisted and bent, thinking of how I was going to die and this was how my body was going to be found and I wasn’t even wearing nice underwear.

When I finally got out of the dress I tried to take a deep breath but it hurt so I couldn’t and I realized that I pulled a pectoral muscle on my right side, and all night it hurt to breathe and I couldn’t take a deep breath and the discomfort reminded me that I actually injured myself trying to get out of a dress I probably had no business putting on in the first place, and then I thought of the movie Slaxx about the jeans on a killing spree and I was thankful that the dress didn’t murder me, because it could have.

WAY more out of my comfort zone than I’d thought it’d be.

I’m taking it back to the Goodwill this weekend.

The big brown wall: Inside an Arizona dust storm (aka Haboob).

Me at 4:00pm yesterday: I wonder which stars will be visible later tonight?

The sky at 11:00pm last night:

Late-night dust storm in NW Tempe (Phoenix), July 9, 2021

Yes, my friends. It’s that time of year! A fantastic dust storm, aka haboob, rolled in late last night, and Yours Truly stepped out into it, as I like to do before things get too crazy. There’s something strangely mystical about dust storms. They don’t come empty-handed. They bring with them a special, wild energy. I took pics and recorded for almost a minute, and I’m posting the video here in case you’ve ever wondered what the world looks like inside of a dust storm.

It always starts with one of these blaring on one’s phone:

The video:

We didn’t get any rain with the dust storm last night, at least not where I am, but some fleeting monsoon action kicked up a little while ago tonight: thunder, lightning, strong blowing dust, and rain. It lasted for, I don’t know, 15 minutes? 20? That’s been it so far, but there’s still time for the monsoon to return. I hope it does. Monsoons bring the drama, and it’s the good kind.

Well. I must say that I had quite a time trying to get this video to display in a reasonable size, and while it’s still large, it’s the best I could do… and now it’s glitching! I’m going to post this now before anything else can happen. I hope it shows up and stays in place at this size. Sheesh!

(I do love an opportunity to use a vintage exclamation.)

Be well, my friends.

May/June Favorites, 2021 – not too long ago.

Hello, my friends.

I’m still raw with the loss of Salem and my sorrow for her for the way that she died, but I wanted to post my “favorite little things” list from May/June. Please to forgive me my brevity of commentary in this post. Suffice it to say that if it’s on this list, I’m a true fan.

Netflix provided an action/thriller film and a Scandinavian Noir series that I enjoyed:

1). The Ice Road (Netflix)

Employ massive suspension of disbelief to enjoy this film, and you will, if you’re into action/thrillers. The filmmakers stuffed as many disasters as they could fit into one hour and 49 minutes, and it’s ludicrous, but you should have a fun time. I found that all of my eyerolling was worth the shenanegans involving Liam Neeson pissed off and on a dangerous mission that becomes personal.

2). Katla (Netflix)

A Scandinavian Noir series centered around a volcano as the main character + changelings is the series I never knew I needed. It’s in Icelandic with subtitles. Like most in the Scandinavian Noir genre, Katla is slow-paced and dark. Just something to know going in.

Now for the consumables!

3). UpTime White Peach Lemonade Energy Drink.

UpTime White Peach Lemonade Energy Drink

It’s very rare that I drink an energy drink, and I hadn’t had one in years. Then I drove to the V.A. one day after work and starting falling asleep at the wheel. Alarmed, I went straight to the hospital retail store and bought this sugar-free white peach lemonade energy drink so I could get home without killing myself and others. I was amazed. Firstly, it was delicious. Secondly, it woke me up instantly. It’s yummy and it works!

Next, meet my favorite raisin bran:

4). Uncle Sam Skinner’s Raisin Bran.

Uncle Sam Skinner’s Raisin Bran

Whole Wheat Berries, Raisins (Raisins, Sunflower Oil), Salt, Barley Malt Syrup

I’ve been eating a lot of this raisin bran lately.

Moving on to my stand-by favorite Larabar of years, which saves the day every day. This bar is nothing but peanuts, dates, and sea salt. It does taste like a cookie:

5). Peanut Butter Cookie Lara Bar.

Larabar Peanut Butter Cookie

Dates, peanuts, sea salt

I tried out these Triscut-like crackers and discovered that they’re spectacular with Trader Joe’s Mediterranean hummus, though they’d be great with any hummus, or any kind of dip, for that matter. I love how crunchy and thick these are:

6). Back to Nature Harvest Whole Wheat Crackers.

Back to Nature Harvest Whole Wheat Crackers

Whole Grain Wheat, Safflower Oil, Sea Salt

It’s stone fruit season, and the stone fruits have me enraptured, as always:

7). Cherries and Santa Rosa plums.

Santa Rosa plums; dark cherries

Also, it was/is artichoke season!


I tried out some new snacky vegan items that are wonderfully simple and delicious. This activated superfood popcorn is a surprising flavor explosion. First, the salt. Then the grassy, earthy hints from the greens, along with the zestiness of the nutritional yeast. Lastly, the heat kicks in, a pleasant yet insistent burn in the mouth. The flavors play well together, and it’s overall redolent of taco sauce to me. The popcorn itself is fluffy and light. I love this popcorn:

8). Living Intentions Activated Superfood Popcorn Salsa Verde.

Popcorn*, Sunflower Oil*, Himalayan Crystal Salt, Nutritional Yeast* , Spinach*, Spirulina*, Chlorella*, Garlic*, Dill*, Cumin*, Lemon Peel*, Freeze Dried Kale*, Fermented Black Garlic*, Onion*, Black Pepper*, Turmeric*, Chilies* and Thyme* *Certified Organic

I tried out a brand of vegan ice cream that takes the words out of my mouth, it’s so creamy and rich:

9). Coconut Bliss Ice Cream Dark Chocolate.

Coconut Bliss Ice Cream Dark Chocolate

Coconut Milk* (Water, Coconut*, Guar Gum*), Coconut Syrup*, Coconut Cream*, Cocoa*† (processed with alkali), Vanilla Extract*. *Certified Organic †Fair Trade

I love the vanilla one, too!

Finally, the only product(s) on this list:

10). Pacifica Lavender Moon Body Lotion and Lavender Moon Body and Pillow Mist.

Pacifica Lavender Moon Body Lotion
Pacifica Lavender Moon Body and Pillow Mist

For me, these products truly sooth as I give in to sleep. I love this fragrance, in and of itself. I wish they’d make a perfume out of it.

Not to be abrupt, but… The End.

Happy New Moon eve, my friends. Stay safe! And thank you for being here, as always.

Good night, Salem.

My friends, thank you all so much for your outpouring of love and support regarding my last post. Your comments, messages, texts, and phone calls have meant more to me than I can say. This last week has been a total nightmare, and today has been particularly brutal. I woke up crying, cried through most of my workout, and cried on and off throughout most of the day after that. In the middle of the night last Saturday/Sunday, sometime after I last saw her at around 1am, my Salem was taken from me. She was taken and killed by a Great Horned Owl.

I didn’t think too much of it when she didn’t come to eat her breakfast on Sunday morning, but I grew worried when I didn’t see her lounging in the grass in the afternoon… and more worried yet when I took her dinner plate out that night and she still wasn’t there. She wasn’t there when I went out at midnight to connect with the stars, either. I couldn’t concentrate on the stars. I came back in quickly, distressed by Salem’s continued absence. That was when I got really scared.

Salem loved our nighttime bonding more than anything. Every night, she sat by the sliding glass door eagerly waiting for me to go out. It was her favorite time, because it was our time, just the two of us. (She never had to share me with Geronimo at midnight.)

It didn’t make sense that she wasn’t there. She wouldn’t miss our midnight mommy/daughter stargazing adventure for the world! We had a whole ritual! She would wait for me by the door, and I’d go out with her bag of snacks… but instead of running to her dish, she’d run to the gravel, throw herself down, and roll around in happiness. I’d sing her favorite song to her, and then I’d step out to meet with the stars and planets. I’d sing more songs. Before going back in, I’d sing Salem’s favorite song to her again. She loved it. She loved all the songs, all the stars, all of the time I spent out there with her. She was so happy! She was in absolute bliss.

But she wasn’t there on Sunday night.

The dread in the pit of my stomach deepened when she failed to appear for her breakfast on Monday morning.

Monday afternoon, I was intent on pulling myself together and thinking positively. I tried to convince myself that Salem had done something highly unusual, like take an extended hike somewhere. She’s fine! She’ll come home eventually! But I couldn’t make myself believe it. Salem was not the kind of “feral” cat who did things like that. For a while now, she’s been a most “unferal” feral. Salem had become 100% my cat, and she was a homebody. She never really went anywhere. If she wasn’t here in the yard, she wasn’t far, and she didn’t stay away for long. There’d been times I’d thought she was out somewhere, only to discover that she’d been here the whole time.

Monday evening, I fed Geronimo flowers while crying, because another one of Salem’s favorite things was to be with us when Geronimo was out. She was fond of Geronimo, too, and she enjoyed being a part of Geronimo time. If she could have been there, she would have been there. What was keeping her from being there?

After nightfall Monday night, I knew in my heart that Salem was never coming home. I felt in my core that I would never see her again. I wasn’t hungry, didn’t want to cook, and could barely eat, but I managed a bowl of cereal, because I knew that I had to eat something.

I felt sick.

At that point, all I wanted was to know what had happened, because I knew that something happened. Something happened between 1am and 8am Sunday morning. What could have happened to Salem in the middle of the night? In despair, I kept the last pic I took of her up on my computer screen and stared into her eyes intently, pleading with her through my tears. Tell me what happened to you, Salem. Tell me what happened. Please just tell me what happened. I need to know.

The next day, Tuesday, Salem did tell me. She told me through two angels on Nextdoor.

I posted about Salem on Nextdoor after work and almost immediately received a message from a woman who said that there’d been a post two days earlier from someone in the neighborhood who’d found a deceased cat matching Salem’s description and photo. She said that she would contact that person. Within 30 minutes, that person, Becky, messaged me. It turned out that she’s a neighbor who lives in a very close-by apartment in the complex behind my house.

On Sunday afternoon, Becky said, she found Salem’s body next to the apartment complex laundry room, which is across from my backyard.

When Becky met me at my back gate so she could show me where she found Salem, I collapsed, bawling in the arms of a complete stranger, because just the fact that she was meeting with me made everything real. This was no longer a nightmare from which I could wake up. Becky was there to show me where she’d found Salem’s body.

Salem’s final resting place was a mere 15 feet away.

Becky told me she knew when she saw her body that Salem wasn’t a stray, because Salem was a bit plump. Salem looked healthy and well-fed and well-kempt and clean, clearly someone’s beloved furbaby who was missed, and that was why Becky posted on Nextdoor. She wouldn’t have posted on Nextdoor about a homeless stray who wouldn’t have anyone looking for them.

Becky showed me exactly where she found Salem, and she described how Salem had been positioned. There was a small pool of dried blood where her head had been. That was it. There was no other sign of anything. Salem’s body was completely intact, Becky said; the only sign of anything wrong was dried blood matted on her belly. She had no visible wounds. There was just the blood on her belly and the blood on the ground beneath her head.

It was like Salem had been dropped from the sky.

I told Becky how the last time I saw Salem was after midnight Saturday, near 1am Sunday morning. In turn, she told me that a few hours before that, at around 10pm Saturday, she’d seen an enormous owl on the apartment rooftop. She’d never seen it before.

Several more breakdowns later, I finally came back into the house and sat down at my computer to look up owls in Phoenix. I found an article called “The 13 Owls of Arizona.” The Great Horned Owl is on the list. Twelve of the owls on the list have wingspans measured in inches. The Great Horned Owl’s wingspan is three to five feet.

The next day, I texted Becky and asked her to describe the owl again. About how large was it? Did it have tufted ears on top of its head?

She replied:

“It definitely was a HUGE owl, I heard it flapping and land on the roof of the apartment. I saw it Saturday night because I was walking back to my apartment from the pool. I definitely saw ears. I wish I had saved the Snapchat I took of it. But yeah scared me bc it was just watching me as I walked by. I’ve never seen an owl like that before. And must have been around 10pm?”

Three hours after Becky’s encounter with the owl that night, I’d spent my usual time outside with Salem as I bonded with her and the stars. As usual, the last thing I did was sing Salem’s favorite song to her before going in. I left her happily rolling on her back and twisting and stretching out on the gravel in the center of the yard, which was her favorite place to sleep on summer nights. We exchanged eyeblink kisses. And that was the last I saw of her. Salem would stretch out on her side and fall asleep.

On the other side of the fence was the apartment rooftop where the Great Horned Owl sat while watching Becky walking back from the pool.

With Salem’s body being where it was and the way it was, and with the huge owl watching from the rooftop that night, it was clear what had happened. Becky and I are sure of it:

At some point after I went back into the house, the owl swooped down over Salem while she was sleeping, sank its talons into her exposed belly, carried her away over the fence, and dropped her, probably because Salem was struggling and putting up a fight. There was blood on the ground beneath her head because her skull probably broke on impact. The blood matted on her belly with no visible damage indicated puncture wounds from the owl’s talons. Judging by the pool of blood where her head had been, it’s more likely that she died from the fall.

My friends, I cannot express the horror and anguish I feel when I think of the way Salem died. My heart is in pieces thinking that her last moments were made of unspeakable terror, pain, and violence. I can’t understand why that had to be her fate. Why did that have to be her death? Why my baby??

This is not a rural area. This is downtown Tempe. I thought that Salem was safe and protected because she was smart, fast, and very cautious, and she mostly stayed here in her yard. I never would have thought that a huge raptor would glide down into an urban neighborhood to hunt small animals. Salem had no inkling of such a danger, either. Sleeping out in the open yard the way she did, she had no chance against it.

Cats get hit by cars in urban neighborhoods, I figured, or they run afoul of dogs or malicious humans, or they die of infection from contaminated water or food or some microbe in the dirt, or they die of thirst. They do not get snatched from their backyards by Great Horned Owls… except, apparently, they do. I read this morning that Great Horned Owls can be found in both urban and rural areas, and that they’re the most common owl in America.

Now I know.

This is the last pic I took of Salem. I took it a week ago Wednesday, not knowing that 13 days later it would be used to identify her body:

My sweet Salem (? – June 27, 2021)

If there’s one thing that comforts me, it’s knowing that Salem went down fighting. There’s no doubt in my mind that she fought like hell until the owl was forced to drop her. That owl did not get far with Salem! It dropped her next to the apartment complex laundry room, which is close enough to the house that I can smell it (that sickly sweet dryer sheet scent) from my sliding-glass door. She wasn’t even disemboweled in the attack. Her belly was bloody, but intact.

I’m devastated by Salem’s death, but I’m grateful to know what happened. I’m grateful to Nextdoor and to Lara who connected me to Becky who ultimately delivered Salem’s message to me, and who held me while I cried. I wanted to know for certain that I would never see Salem again so I could stop calling for her, waiting for her, canvassing the neighborhood searching for her, and expecting to see her. Thanks to the angels around me, I have the closure that I wanted, and now I’m left with my grief.

Right now, everything just hurts. Every little thing. It hurts unlatching the sliding-glass door, because the sound of that lock would bring Salem running from wherever she was. If she wasn’t there on the patio, I would unlatch the door and wait, and she would appear.

Just walking by and looking through the sliding-glass door is painful, because Salem very often just sat there in hopes that I’d notice her. Sometimes, I’d sit at the end of the dining table facing her, and she’d settle into a comfortable meatloaf position, happily blinking her eyes at me. She loved just being near me. That was all she wanted.

Salem made my world fuller and brighter. Now, everything feels empty when I go outside. Everything feels wrong, in general. I feel alone just knowing that she isn’t there, and never will be again. Salem was my special baby and my sweet daughter of the night. Salem’s reaction when I’d start singing her song was precious and priceless, she was just so happy.

I always imagined that she would live a long life and gradually become ill with something natural, and if I wasn’t able to touch her by then, I’d at least be able to touch her when I’d take her to the vet to be euthanized. I would have her in my arms while she passed away, and her passing would be peaceful. There was no room for a fatal owl attack in my vision of Salem’s last moments.

My heart is broken, but I know that it was an honor to have been chosen by Salem, and to be loved by her.

A Day in My Life. (LJ throw-back post!) Saturday, June 26, 2021

Early this morning (as in last night but so late that it was actually today) I watched a video on YouTube that reminded me of the classic “A Day in My Life” (ADIML) posts of LiveJournal yore. These posts were so enduring on the platform that they were more of a style than a trend (LJ friends, you know what I’m talking about) back in the 2000’s.

Anyway, my mind thrown back to those ADIML posts got me feeling all nostalgic-like, and I thought I’d do one about the day that’d just passed, so yesterday, now. It was a mundane day, as most ADIML posts are. I love the mundanity of them. It makes the posts feel intimate. It’s like I’m peeking into your lives and also hanging out with you and getting to know you.

An old LJ friend reminded me (without knowing it) that photographed time-checks and other pics throughout the day are a key component of the ADIML post, as these pics show where/what’s happening, and when. Alas, I don’t have those important visuals, since I decided to do this post after the day was over.

I did take some pics yesterday that I can use here by happenstance, though. I’ll plug them in. One of the pics even has the time in it, so there’s that! And if I do remember any actual times, I’ll state them.

Ready for some mundanity? Let’s go!

A Day In My Life – Saturday, June 26, 2021

-6:30am: Woke up, looked at the clock, remembered that I wasn’t going to do a workout that morning, went back to bed.

-8:00am: Got up for real, brushed teeth, made bed, fed cats, went to get a bowl of cereal.

-8:30am-ish: Sat down with my cereal, took a spoonful, and almost spat it out. Something was horrible! It wasn’t the cereal. It was the milk. It was almond milk – not my favorite in the first place, but I have it because someone gave it to me – and it was VANILLA FLAVORED, which I didn’t know. I was already prepared to like and not love the cereal because of the almond milk, but I wasn’t prepared for the milk being vanilla-flavored.

[ASIDE: I love vanilla everything except as a flavoring in milks… not even in soy milk (my favorite). It’s weird. I love vanilla ice cream! I guess I just don’t like sweetened, flavored milk in my cereal.]

-Fleeting internal debate about whether to commit the sin of tossing out the whole bowl of cereal and preparing a new one. I have plain, unsweetened almond milks, too, given to me by the same person. (I didn’t buy more soy milk when I ran out because I knew that I had these almond milks to use up. I’m now planning to get soy milk, anyway. I can’t stand almond milk anymore, for some reason, and I really love plain, unsweetened soy milk.)

-Decided to go ahead and prepare a new bowl of cereal with the plain milk. I didn’t see the point in choking down the first one. Felt like a terrible person for wasting food.

-After eating, got ready to get into the shower to wash my hair so I could color it the next day (today).

-I was 98% undressed when I got distracted by something (don’t remember what) online, so I sat down in front of the computer and thought I’ll just sit here for a minute with this. Which I did, but then my eyes landed on the little blue work notebook that I was in the process of transcribing into a new, identical little blue workbook (because the old one was crammed full of notes and disorganized and also mangled for having been through the wash as I keep it in my back pocket and forgot to take it out one day.)

-Decided to take “just another minute” to copy a few more bits of info into the new notebook.

-10:05 am: The doorbell rang. I jumped in my seat and looked at the clock. It was after 10am. When did that happen?! GAH! Creepy Crawley pest control was at the door, and I’d totally forgotten that they were scheduled for a 10-12pm window. I was sitting at my desk IN MY UNDERWEAR.

-For the first time in my life, I had to do the ridiculous cliché and run to the door and shout JUST A SECOND! I’M NOT WEARING ANYTHING! (Yes, I had to explain why. It was hot outside; he had to know why I was leaving him standing out there in Arizona in late June.)

-Ran to throw on jeans and a t-shirt and almost didn’t take the time to put on a bra but then remembered that the problem with small boobs is nipples like headlights so I ran back to the bedroom to put one on. (I was wearing a fitted, pale t-shirt. That was not going to be okay.)

-Ran back to the door and felt like a terrible person again, this time for keeping the Creepy Crawley guy out there on the patio (though it was probably for less than five minutes in actuality).

-Chit-chatted with the guy as we walked through the house, then again on the back patio.

-Creepy Crawley Guy left. I looked at the clock and saw how much later it was and remembered that someone else was coming over between late morning and early afternoon, and so now didn’t have time to wash my hair. I did my face and skincare routine as usual and decided to put off the hair-coloring to next weekend.

-Put in a load of laundry. Cleaned my bathroom and started to dust and wipe down furniture in my bedroom and re-organize the things on my dresser and in one of the drawers.

-12:15pm-ish: Stopped to eat lunch: a big plate of nachos followed by a bowl of fresh cherries. (Nachos: blue corn and flaxseed tortilla chips with Daiya (vegan) pepperjack shreds and sliced jalapeños.) Watched a Stephen Colbert video on YouTube as I ate.

-The doorbell rang again: friends arriving with houseplants to leave with me to babysit while they’re away.

-After they left, I cooked the three fresh ears of corn they’d also brought. Ate one immediately.

-Finished cleaning/organizing the bedroom. Finished the laundry. Put together my meds and supps for the upcoming week.

-Ate a peanut butter cookie Lara Bar.

-4:45pm-ish: Fed Nenette. Looked out at the backyard and didn’t see Salem, so covered her prepared dish in plastic wrap.

-5:12pm: Went to Tempe Marketplace to pick up one thing at Ulta and two things at Target; was proud of myself for picking up those exact things and not a single extra thing.

-5:34pm: Drove home. Took a quick pic of my dash at a red light because Spotify started playing this cover that I love, and I wanted to be able to quickly find it again to add to my current playlist. Surprise time-check!

I love this cover of Mr. Sandman

-Ate a plum when I got home.

I ate cherries and a plum yesterday. They’re divine!

-Fed Salem and rinsed out/refreshed her watering hole.

-6:28pm: Called Mom.

-Ate a bowl of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit.

-7:15pm-ish: Decided to do a late junky freezer clear-out dinner: vegan chick’n tenders and sweet potato fries with Trader Joe’s jalapeño sauce. Didn’t really want it, wasn’t really hungry, but I needed to make space in my freezer!

-Watched an episode of Katla on Netflix.

-Watched the YouTube video (don’t remember what it was) that reminded me of these ADMIL posts; started writing this post.

-Shortly after midnight: Went out to the backyard to stargaze, as I do every night. Bonded with the stars Vega (of Lyra), Deneb (of Cygnus), and Altair (of Aquila) – they comprise the glorious Summer Triangle – as well as Arcturus (of Boötes), Altais (of Draco), Antares (of Scorpius), and Polaris (North Star and Alpha star of Ursa Minor). Bonded with constellations Scorpius, Ursa Major, and Capricorn (my constellation)! Also connected with the planets Jupiter and Saturn.

I took pics of Jupiter and Saturn on both my cell phone camera and through my SkyView app. I take pics like these frequently, so it didn’t occur to me at the time that I could use them in this post. Surprise!

The bright point of light just left of center is Jupiter
Jupiter as seen through SkyView
The point of light above and to the left of the moon is Saturn
Saturn as seen through SkyView. The moon is now actually in Capricorn! The full moon was a moon “in Capricorn,” but due to degrees, it was actually in Sagittarius at that time.

Have I mentioned how much I love SkyView?

Drawing down energy from the Summer Triangle and Jupiter and Saturn has become the highlight of my summer nights. I can’t wait to get out there at around midnight to view these and all the other splendid jewels of the cosmos!

ETA: Salem stayed with me as always, rolling on the gravel. My midnight backyard visits are my special bonding time with her, too.

-Came back in and took a shower.

-1:17am-ish: Went to bed.

And that was it! Nothing special happened yesterday, but it wasn’t a typical Saturday, either. A typical Saturday would start with a workout, and it wouldn’t include Creepy Crawley coming over, or people with houseplants.

Have a lovely rest of your day, my friends.

Tomorrow night’s Strawberry Moon, June’s full moon! (in Capricorn!)

Native Americans dubbed June’s full moon the “Strawberry Moon” in recognition of strawberry season. From where I’m sitting (with my strawberry-stained fingers), this naming could not be more apt. The strawberries are scrumptious right now!

The big cosmic player in this full moon event – besides the moon, of course – is literally big. It’s JUPITER. Big ol’ jovial, honest, expansive, and lucky Jupiter. Jupiter is the carefree optimist of the Zodiac, and Jupiter is greatly influential during this full moon phase. Jupiter is going to sextile the full moon in Capricorn. (If your mind jumped into the gutter just now, don’t worry about it. Jupiter would just laugh.)

This aspect makes for a happy, feel-good full moon, which is especially welcome considering the jagged edges of the solar eclipse’s aspects we endured a few weeks ago. The friendly exchange of positive energy between Jupiter and the full moon softens things up nicely, lending us optimism and encouragement.

This is the adage that comes to mind when I think about our Strawberry Moon in Capricorn:

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

And we have a shot.

This full moon invites us to go for it, whatever it is, even if it seems unlikely or out of reach or damn near impossible, because Jupiter’s harmonious position in relation to the full moon makes for possibilities. Let us rejoice! We deserve it.

I took this backyard pic of the near-full moon tonight:

The Moon on Strawberry Moon Eve

The intensity of this full-moon energy will last for about two weeks. Do with it what you will!

Happy Strawberry Moon, my friends.

Celebrating the Divine Masculine. (Litha/Summer Solstice 2021!)

The Wheel of the Year has turned again. From the wee hours of June 20, 2021, I’m here to wish you a merry Summer Solstice!

This sabbat (holiday), Litha, is one of my favorites. I love the summer, and I love observing Summer Solstice. On this holiday, the year’s longest day and shortest night, we celebrate the Divine Masculine and masculine energies, in general, as this is the God’s most powerful day. Masculine energies are at their strongest on this day!

(Just when new-agey culture had you thinking that Wicca and neo-paganism were all about the Goddess and the Divine Feminine. They’re not. In these nature-based religions, the God rules the Sun, and the Goddess rules the moon. The two hold equal importance.)

Summer Solstice is a day for giving special thanks to the Sun for his life-giving energy, for here on Earth, the Sun gives us life. The Sun is so powerful, he can give life to the inanimate, too. I’m grateful to the Sun for all that is solar-powered, all that runs on solar energy.

Speaking of giving thanks for and celebrating masculine energies and the Divine Masculine, HAPPY FATHER’S DAY to all of you Dads out there, including Dads of fur/feather/scale/fin kids! I love that Summer Solstice and Father’s Day fall on the same day this year.

For me, personally, there will be morning Sun salutations, the solar-charging of crystals, and the making of sun water, among other things. On the cosmic side, I’ll be working with the Summer constellation of Aquila, The Eagle (whose alpha star, Altair, is one of my favorites)!

Sharing a passage from Sandra Kynes’ Star Magic (“Aquila: The Eagle/Power of the Sun”):

As a symbol of the sun, the eagle embodies the spirit of summer. It is one of the most sacred of animals to Native Americans. In Celtic lore, the eagle is one of the oldest and wisest creatures, and it is associated with prophecy and power.

I’ve had my wreath for Litha/Summer Solstice on my door for several weeks now in anticipation of this day:

Wreath for Litha/Summer Solstice 2021

One needn’t be a follower of the Wheel of the Year to celebrate Summer Solstice. If nothing else, Litha is a wonderful call for a cook-out. It’s the longest day of the year, after all!

Blessed Be, my friends.

Sixth sense from outer space. (Eerie experience with my friend.)

Hello, my friends. I have a weird little story that I want to share with you.

Last night, I was browsing through space videos on YouTube, like I do, and I landed on one that featured the sounds of the planets in our Solar System. I’d just finished the video, and Saturn’s eerie demonic screams were fresh in my mind when my friend texted me out of nowhere. She was freaked out.

Our conversation went like:

HER: So I just heard a noise coming from outside. It sounded like squealing tires, but it was a long duration, so it could not be squealing tires. After a while it sent chills down my spine. Maybe someone was playing with the sound system by the pool area. It sounded like a banshee

[I shivered, because she was describing exactly the sound I’d just heard in the video. The sound of Saturn. Not only that, but I’d just thought to myself – I kid you not – Saturn sounds like a wailing banshee.]


HER: Right?

ME: Just now, literally, I was listening to the sounds of planets in our solar system (on YouTube)

HER: Share
So I can see if it matches what I just heard


HER: Did it sound like squealing tires on the road?

ME: I’ll send you the video link, go immediately to timestamp 3:09 to hear Saturn

[A minute passes]

HER: F*ck!!!!
That is it!!!!


HER: Why did I hear it????
[four screaming emojis]

Because I was listening to it!!!!
[four screaming emojis + smiley]

HER: What is happening Kristi!!!!

We’ve gone over it and over it since then, and we can’t think of any kind of logical explanation. The leap from “It sounded like squealing tires” to “It sounded like a banshee” in the same text doesn’t make sense. Those are two random and yet very specific similes, and together, they aptly describe the sound of Saturn in the video.

I’d thought that the sound was eerie, too, but it was creepier for her. I heard it because I was watching the video, so I knew exactly what I was hearing. She heard it coming from her balcony all of a sudden, with no context at all.

There’s no way that this “sound of Saturn” incident was a coincidence. There’s simply no rationale for it other than we have a sort of ESP connection between us, which we already knew. We have other shared ESP incidents in our friendship history that connected us in totally “unexplainable” ways before.

Further down in our conversation, she said:

“I thought it was playing over the speakers outside… I kept waiting to hear the crash sound… thinking it was tires screeching… But then it kept going and then this feeling came over me… I was going to go to the living room to ask (her husband) if he heard it”

She also commented that when she heard it, she thought that it might be “connected to aliens,” and that “it sounded other worldly.”

Another minute later, she reported that she just asked her husband whether he’d heard the sound. He told her that he did not.

It was just so weird that after I listened to Saturn, she texted to tell me what it sounded like, because she heard it too. She’s nine miles away, and we weren’t texting before that. She had no idea what I was doing at the time. I know that I’m repeating myself at this point, but it’s still new, and I can’t get over it.

But wait… here’s the kicker… this just occurred to me now: It was Saturn that was making the sound in question. Saturn governs Capricorn. I am a Capricorn. She heard MY planet and texted ME when she heard it with her sixth sense. She is an Aquarius, the next sign over. In the video, the planet after Saturn is Uranus, her planet. We’re closer neighbors in the Zodiac than we are on this physical plane, but we’re very close friends here.

I don’t care what anyone says. There’s more to our reality than this one dimension, this one plane.

Okay, I have to stop thinking about it now, before my head explodes.

Actually, though, I think it’s kind of marvelous.

On Gemini’s New Moon Solar Eclipse, Mercury Retrograde, and the Cosmic Nodes of Destiny.


If you were born between May 20 – June 21, you’re a Gemini, as you’re probably well aware. We’re happy to be in your astrological sign in the Zodiac right now. We’re in the thick of Gemini season!

A little Astrology 101, for those who don’t know: In terms of the elements, Gemini is an air sign (swift, cerebral, communicative). In terms of the qualities, Gemini is a mutable sign (adaptable, agreeable to change, easily go-with-the-flow). Gemini’s governing planet is Mercury, the planet of communication, information, intellectual curiosity, and learning.

Gemini is a brilliant sign, and Geminis are some of my favorite humans. They’re quick-thinking, bright, and interested in everything. They’re likable people, and they’re fond of people, themselves. They’re keen observers and good conversationalists. My Mom is a Gemini!


In the zodiac, Mercury is currently stationed in Gemini… and it happens to be in retrograde. Mercury retrograde can be annoying, but it’s such cosmic shenanegans that make things interesting and instructive for we Earthlings. Retrograde is a time for us to review, reflect, reassess, and recalibrate, and we are wise to take the opportunity.

Regarding the retrograde, though, what is it, exactly? What is Mercury doing? It’s orbiting the sun, like we do here in our solar system, but it’s eased up on the accelerator. It’s slowed down, so from our viewpoint, it appears to be moving backwards. Mercury retrograde is a circumstance that impacts us here on Earth. This tomfoolery occurs about three times each year.

I mean, other planets go retrograde, too, and they all have an impact in one significant way or another. Saturn and Pluto are also in retrograde right now!

But Mercury retrograde is the notorious one. It’s the one that we notice, because it messes with our daily lives on a topical level. It’s the one that causes our technology to go haywire in any number of ways. Right now, with Mercury being the planet of communication and the planet that rules Gemini, and this being Gemini season, and Mercury retrograde happening in its home sign of Gemini, we may be feeling the retrograde’s effects more intensely than usual, especially with technological snafus and user-error mishaps related to communications. Communications programs and devices glitching and crashing. Texts and emails sent to the wrong person by mistake. Replying “to all” by accident. Phone connections dropping and notifications settings mysteriously turned off, causing us to miss calls and texts. Message transmissions delayed. Internet connections slowed down, or otherwise disrupted.

Mercury retrograde drama isn’t limited to communications technology, though. Basically, it’s open season on any kind of technology or machinery. I personally know four people who’ve had to deal with car problems since Mercury went Retrograde on the 29th of May. Thankfully, Mercury goes Direct again soon, on the 22nd, the day after the Sun moves out of Gemini. Mercury basically spent its entire time in its own zodiac sign in retrograde. I’m sorry, Geminis.


Now, about that slinky, glamorous solar eclipse that just occurred on the 10th. (Which I did not see, by the way.) While we were focused on the “Ring of Fire” eclipse, the event was, first and foremost, a New Moon. It was Gemini’s New Moon. (Solar eclipses happen on the New Moon, while lunar eclipses happen on the Full Moon.) New Moons mean new beginnings and fresh starts, renewed resolve, setting intentions, and getting action plans underway. Eclipses amplify all of this and clear the path for big changes. Our Gemini New Moon was supercharged by the eclipse!


For me, though, the most interesting factor in the picture of the Gemini New Moon Solar Eclipse was that it was a North Node eclipse… and that the North Node is also currently in Gemini. (Clearly, Gemini is having a moment.)

The Moon has two lunar nodes: the North (ascending) Node, and, directly opposite, the South (descending) Node. These Nodes are the points where the moon crosses the ecliptic (Earth’s orbital plane) twice a month as it revolves around the Earth.


From an astrological standpoint, these lunar nodes, which are mathematical points rather than physical cosmic bodies, are called the Karmic Nodes, or the Nodes of Destiny. The North Node is Destiny, and the South Node is Karma. What’s more, the nodes have names: the North Node is Rahu, the Dragon’s Head, and the South Node is Ketu, the Dragon’s Tail.

Our karmic path follows these Nodes of Destiny. When the Moon is ascending toward the North Node, we’re moving forward into our destiny. When the Moon is descending to the South Node, we’re reflecting on the past or even living in the past. (We all have baggage, if not from this lifetime, than from previous ones.) We cyclically move from one to the other, learning and growing and evolving on our journeys in this lifetime, though it’s important to keep a balance between the two. If you have your natal (astrological) chart done, make sure that it includes where the Nodes of Destiny were when you were born. It matters. Knowledge is power, as they say.

Beloved objects on my altar: skull candle, porcelain cat. I always think of skulls when I think about Karma.

The June 10 solar eclipse being a North Node eclipse indicates that we’re looking ahead and moving forward. A North Node eclipse combines North Node energy with New Moon energy, which heightens the emphasis on new beginnings, fresh starts, the setting of intentions, starting new efforts, and so on. That the North Node is currently in Gemini (with the South Node in its opposite sign, Sagittarius), indicates that as a people, we’re moving toward our destiny on the strength of Gemini’s intellectual gifts, those gifts being our purpose. Gemini is about learning, and we do indeed have a lot of learning to do.

This is why I’m most fascinated by the Nodes of Destiny aspect of the Gemini New Moon Solar Eclipse. Thanks to bright and intellectually curious Gemini, we may well make forward leaps toward the betterment of humankind and the health of the Earth, itself. The North Node in Gemini gives me hope. It inspires me to see our destiny as a planet and as a people in a positive light.

This, as someone I know would say, is the Gemini effect!

I tried so hard and got so far. (About that eclipse! Also, changes are afoot.)

I tried to write and post about last night’s Gemini new moon solar eclipse. I cancelled and/or postponed plans with two friends on two different nights so I could focus on it. I skipped two workouts. I stayed up superlate at my laptop. But it just didn’t gel. I studied my ephemeris and online transit calculators and such until my eyes bled, and in the end, I’d gathered so much data that I ended up overwhelming myself. I’m sorry for this!

At any rate.

The eclipse is over, but the magic of it isn’t. New moon energy is here, and I’m finding myself making changes automatically… specifically, changes to my after-work routine in my ongoing effort to get to bed earlier.

The new moon is a time for setting intentions and getting your action plan underway, and this is what I’m doing without even thinking about it. When my behavior naturally aligns with cosmic events without any conscious thought, I know that I’m receptive and balanced; I know that I’m in the right place, on the right path.

Starting today: Rather than waiting until later at night to do necessary things, I’m doing them immediately after getting home from work. Removing my eye makeup. Making dinner (so it’s there when I’m ready to eat it). Making my (PBJ) sandwich for the next day. Filling up my water bottle for the next day. Putting a fresh face mask (yes, I’m still choosing to wear one) in my bag for the next day. And so on.

I won’t sit down to work on blog posts until all of this is done. I’m hoping that relieving myself of the pressure (of knowing that there are mundane things to be done for the next day) will help me here with my writing, and also, of course, with getting to bed earlier.

A non-negotiable in my nightly routine is going out to look at the moon and the stars and any planets I can find. Speaking of which!!! I took a phonecam pic of my beautiful Vega (alpha star in the constellation of Lyra) the other night, and to my surprise, her blue color came through!! I didn’t expect this, especially since Arcturus’s orange color never comes through.

I wish I could get a phonecam pic of Scorpius, as that’s one of the few constellations that I can view almost in its entirety. Scorpius is the first cosmic body that I see when I step outside these nights, because it’s so close to the horizon. Antares, Scorpius’ alpha star, is the front-and-center jewel of the night. When I look higher up and elsewhere, I can see other beloved characters: Arcturus and Vega and Spica and Altair.

Behold Vega looking as blue here as she does in person! I cropped the photo just enough to enlarge Vega for our viewing pleasure:

Vega, appearing blue for my phonecam!

I love my stars.

I added this phonecam pic of Vega to my post about the stars, as well, as I also have phonecam pics of Arcturus and Spica there.

That is all for tonight, my friends. I looked through my THREE drafts of what was supposed to be last night’s Gemini new moon solar eclipse post, and I like a lot of what I’d written. I did a lot of work on that post, so I’m thinking I might go back in and get it together for you this weekend. It’s after-the-fact, but the energy of the celestial event is still with us, and there’s more to the picture than the event, itself. Much more. Stuff we need to know about, actually.

Blessed be on this Friday eve!

Arcturus, my love. (Introducing my crew in the cosmos!)

Greetings, friends!

I thought I’d finally share a certain passion with you… one that’s been a huge part of my life for a while. I’ve written quite a bit about the moon this year, but I don’t think I’ve written about the stars. Not more than a mention, anyway.

I’ve taken my stargazing up a notch in the last twelve months, most avidly since winter, when I’d go out to the backyard to admire the constellation of Gemini in the night sky. I watched with fascination as Gemini and other winter constellations gave way to the spring ones. But it was my adoration of the orange star Arcturus that heightened my already intense interest in the cosmos.

Arcturus here in the northern hemisphere is a commanding star, radiant and bold. Arcturus is 30 light-years away. Night after night, I gaze up at Arcturus with my mind blown as I think about how the starlight I’m seeing emanated from the star back in 1984. The speed of light (in a vacuum) is calculated at 186,282 MILES PER SECOND. It took 30 YEARS of travel at this speed for the starlight to come close enough to illuminate the star for our naked eyes to view from Earth today. That’s how far away Arcturus is. I can’t even come close to fathoming it.

The alpha star in the constellation of Boötes, Arcturus is the brightest star in that constellation, the brightest star in the northern hemisphere, and the fourth-brightest star in the entire night sky. You can’t miss Arcturus if you live north of the celestial equator. Look up at night when the sky is clear and find the large, bright orange star shining down on you!

Another star with whom I feel very closely connected is Vega, a luminous bluish star of the constellation Lyra. Vega is 25 light-years away. Vega’s light began traveling through space in 1996 in order for us to view the star today.

Noting the celestial transition from winter to spring was awe-inspiring. I do miss Pollux and Castor, the bright twin stars of Gemini, but the spring constellations held me – some of them still – just as fast. I’m thrilled anew as we transition from spring to summer, delighted to see the summer constellations array the night sky while some of the spring constellations hang around.

Summer constellations I’m currently watching: Lyra (The Harp); Draco (The Dragon); Serpens (The Serpent); Aquila (The Eagle); Scorpius (The Scorpion); Cygnus (The Swan); and Hercules (The Strongman/Dagda and Odin).

Hercules’ supergiant star Ras Algethi is the constellation’s alpha star. Ras Algethi is 380 light-years away. In the year 1641, Ras Algethi emitted the light that we see when we look up at the star. This starlight has been barreling through space at 186,282 miles per second for 380 years in order for us to see the star today… and there’s an infinity of space with myriad other stars and galaxies far beyond that.

Space is unfathomable, I say again. Limitless and unfathomable. This is why I believe in the existence of life-forms outside of Earth. It simply doesn’t make sense to me that in the entire universe, the magnitude of which we can’t begin to comprehend, the only sentient beings are here on our little speck of a planet. Our little speck of dust of a planet in the grand scheme of the cosmos, I should say. If exhaustive study ends up proving that there are no other sentient beings in our solar system, well, our solar system is but a speck in the entirety of the universe, too. Our little solar system is far from the end of it.

I am so enraptured with the cosmos that I’m without words when I try to convey the depth of my emotion. Star energy is powerful energy; I now work with it and with the moon and other celestial bodies almost exclusively. The stars create connection and love as expansive as the universe itself. I go outside every night and look up at the magnificence overhead, and suddenly, I’m richer than I ever thought I could be. There are times that the sight of the cosmic bodies of moon, stars, and planets move me to tears. I may live alone, but I’m the farthest thing from alone.

Carl Sagan said, “The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.” I feel the truth of these words at the very core of my being.

The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us — there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation of a distant memory, as if we were falling from a great height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.

And I can’t think of a material thing in the world that I want more than a telescope.

(There are telescopes that can take pics of what you’re viewing and send them to your computer…?!!)

While I can’t photograph the celestial bodies with my phone, I can at least take screenshots of the stars and constellations as they appear on my SkyView phone app while scanning the night sky. All of the celestial bodies I’m featuring here are those that I’ve been able to view with my naked eye. I have the camera enabled on this app, so you can see my point of reference as I view these stars. (You’ll see parts of my backyard, treetops, any clouds that may be in the sky, etc.) I’ve been using SkyView for several years now, so it’s about time I share some screenshots here, right?

One thing to note: I often can’t view an entire constellation. When SkyView picks up a star that I can see, it lights up with its complete picture.

Onward, then!


Gemini (the winter constellation Gemini)

I had to start with Gemini, of course. I’m so glad that I took screenshots of this constellation, because that was the last night that I could view it. It will be around six months before I’ll see these brilliant twins again.

Pollux (in the winter constellation Gemini)

Pollux is Gemini’s brightest star, but not the alpha.
Castor (in the winter constellation Gemini)

Castor is Gemini’s alpha star, even though he’s the second-brightest of the constellation. Evidently, this designation was a mistake. Quoted from Wikipedia: “Castor’s Bayer designation as ‘Alpha’ arose because Johann Bayer did not carefully distinguish which of the two was the brighter when he assigned his eponymous designations in 1603.”

So Pollux is the brightest, but his twin got the alpha crown by mistake. No cause for sibling rivalry drama there at all. Nope.


Arcturus (in the spring constellation Boötes)

Arcturus is Boötes’ alpha star.

Boötes is a spring constellation, but I’ve been admiring Arcturus since at least winter. Here’s my attempt at a pic of Arcturus with my phone cam:

Arcturus. (The star’s orange color doesn’t show up in phone camera pics, believe it or not!)
Pulcherrima (in the spring constellation Boötes)
Ursa Major (the spring constellation Ursa Major, aka The Big Dipper)
Polaris (in the spring constellation Ursa Minor, aka The Little Dipper)

Polaris is Ursa Minor’s alpha star. Also known as the North Star, Polaris is likely one of the oldest instruments of navigation in the history of humankind. Polaris is the closest star to the North Pole!

Spica (in the spring constellation Virgo)

Spica is Virgo’s alpha star. Spica is one of my three favorite stars (along with Arcturus and Vega). Here’s an attempt at photographing Spica with my phone:

Spica on a cloudy night (last night).
Menkent (in the spring constellation Centaurus)

Centaurus is a southern hemisphere constellation, but if you’re located at a latitude between +30° and -90°, you can view it. Down here in Phoenix, AZ, my latitude is 33°. I can see the northern part of the constellation, where Menkent is situated. It’s the only star that I’ve been able to view in Centaurus. I would love to see Centaurus’s alpha star Rigil Kentaurus (Alpha Centaurus), but alas.

Regulus (in the spring constellation Leo)

Regulus is Leo’s alpha star.

Denebola (in the spring constellation Leo)
Algieba (in the spring constellation Leo)
Gemma (in the spring constellation Corona Borealis)

Gemma is Corona Borealis’ alpha star.

N Hya (in the spring constellation Hydra)
Cor Caroli (in the spring constellation Canes Venatici)

Cor Caroli is Canes Venatici’s alpha star.

**Are you noticing that the stars I’m able to see with my naked eye are mostly the alphas of their constellations?**


Vega (in the summer constellation Lyra)

Vega is Lyra’s alpha star, and she’s my second-favorite star… a very close favorite to Arcturus. Vega is a cool blue-white color, and she is the brightest star in the summer sky. [ETA: Since I posted this, I attempted to photograph Vega with my phonecam… and lo, her blue color came through!! I enlarged this image so you can really see her color.]:

My phonecam picked up Vega’s blue color!
Rastaban (in the summer constellation Draco)
Unuk (in the summer constellation Serpens)

Unuk is Serpens’ alpha star. According to some sources, “Unuk” is obsolete, and the star goes by “Alpha Serpentis.”

Altair (in the summer constellation Aquila)

Altair is Aquila’s alpha star.

Antares (in the summer constellation Scorpius)

Antares is Scorpius’ alpha star.

Deneb (in the summer constellation Cygnus)

Deneb is Cygnus’ alpha star.

Albireo (in the summer constellation Cygnus)
Ras Algethi (in the summer constellation Hercules)

Ras Algethi is Hercules’ alpha star.


Jupiter (with the moon) in Aquarius (~4:35am Tuesday, June 1) (My coordinates are 33° 26′)

This was a magickal early morning! At 4:30am I went out and looked at the moon in the breaking dawn, and Jupiter was right there next to her, large and bright and magnificent. You would think, what kind of a star could be so large and bright in broad daylight? The answer is that it’s not a star. It’s Jupiter.

I hope you enjoyed (or at least tolerated) my geeking out over the cosmos!