PSA: Thou shalt not put in the lung what belongs in the stomach.

I’m back with another Public Service Announcement personal-experience post, because when I manage to run afoul of some innocuous thing, such as a door, I feel morally obligated to share. You can learn from my follies and foibles. At any rate, it’s good to maintain a level of wariness when it comes to hidden dangers in your own environments.

In case you missed them, here’s:

the time I almost amputated my foot with a steel security screen door,

the result of my subsequent failure to go to the E.R. for stitches, and

the time I walked off a loading dock without realizing that it was a loading dock.

(I also wrote about the time I tripped and fell on the sidewalk, but that’s not weird. Everyone trips and falls on sidewalks at some point.)

Anyway, if you’re curious about this latest fiasco, fix yourself a drink or a cuppa and settle back to read my tale of woe. Some of you… maybe especially you who’ve known me the longest… are going to laugh, or eye-roll, or facepalm, or all of the above, and I’m okay with that. I’m right there with you. I believe I’ve outdone myself this time, friends.

Yeah. Really. [25 May 2023]

At 10:15pm Wednesday, May 10, I took a vitamin, the same one I take every night… only this time, instead of going down my esophagus into my stomach, the vitamin went down my trachea into my lungs.

And now I have multifocal aspiration pneumonia. Yeah. I have pneumonia as a consequence of taking a vitamin.


Aspirating that vitamin took considerable talent, my friends. It was a horse pill. I’m not even sure how I did it. Of the various mishaps I’ve experienced over my lifetime, one of them has to be the weirdest, and this is it… the weirdest of my weird mishaps.

If you’re wondering what it felt like in the aftermath, imagine someone setting fire to your lungs. I’m trying to think of another time I’d characterize pain as “burning,” and I can’t recall a burning pain instance that could rival this one. It was ghastly.

At the E.R., I was examined and reassured that I wasn’t going to die. I was skittish when the Lidocaine appeared before me in a little paper cup. It would numb my throat, they warned, and that made me nervous. I declined. I went home. But the pain worsened until I had no choice but to go back to the E.R. – it was 3:00am, and I was in agony. I went in with my proverbial tail between my legs and begged for the damn Lidocaine cocktail.

I expected the Lidocaine to taste vile, but the reality is that nothing is truly vile if it extinguishes fire in your lungs and throat. It was thicker than the thickest paint, and it tasted like paint, too, but the relief was immediate. It cooled the inferno in my chest cavity.

We got home just after 5:00am. I called in to work, fell asleep, and woke up at 11:00am with an intense headache and a fever of 100.6. But the pain in my lungs and windpipe was gone!

My fever fluctuated all day, up and down. The next morning I felt like I should go to work, so I did. I thought that that was the end of it. I thought that the crisis was over. When a nurse called from my primary care physician’s office, though, she said that because of my fever, I should go back to the E.R. to get checked out.

The next day was Saturday. I felt worse… coughing, wheezing, feverish. Short of breath. Exhausted. At the E.R., I was diagnosed with aspiration pneumonia, which you can get when a foreign object invades your lungs. Of course.

There commenced, over the next two weeks, several daytime stays at the hospital. I.V. antibiotics. I.V. fluids for hydration. Breathing treatments. Numerous vials of blood for testing, several chest X-rays, two contrast C.T. scans, and even an E.K.G., for some reason. At some point, the word “multifocal” was added to my diagnosis, because they found pneumonia in two different parts of my lung (both the middle and the lower right lobe). The doctors – my primary care physician and pulmonary specialist – extended my course of antibiotics, and also put me on Prednisone (steroids).

Be patient with your recovery, they cautioned, because multifocal pneumonia is generally more severe than pneumonia that affects only one part of the lung lobe. (This has already been my experience. The first and only other bout of pneumonia I had – back in 2020 – involved just one part of my lung, and this time is definitely worse.)

Two days ago, I went back to work after two weeks out. I’m still wheezing, wet coughing in the morning and dry coughing during the day, short of breath and using the Albuterol inhaler. But my blood oxygen levels are great, and all of my other symptoms are gone (for the most part).

I’m well on my way out of this mess, but it’s going to take a while for my lung to return to normal. I’ve been warned that relapse can occur and the pneumonia can come back full-force if I overdo it before full recovery, so I have to resume my normal activities slowly. Lightly. I felt worse when I woke up yesterday morning; it wasn’t the best idea to do a full 8-hour workday my first day back. I should’ve started with a half-day. Somehow, that didn’t cross my mind.

It’s just hard to remember that while the acute phase is over, I’ve not yet recovered. Full recovery from multifocal pneumonia will take three to six months. I have to keep reminding myself of this. (The first time I had pneumonia, it wasn’t multifocal, and it took five months for my chest X-ray to clear).

I have to be mindful of my physical limitations, which is hard, as I like to be active and do things. I can’t move quickly, can’t lift. I need to continue “taking it easy” until I’m fully recovered, because to do otherwise would be risking relapse.

As for my 2023 fitness journey? HA HA HA! This is what I was talking about when I said it was “start and stop” in my last post. I can’t work out again until I get exercise clearance from my doctor, and when I do, I have to keep the duration and intensity level of the workouts to 50% at the most… and I won’t be able to get that clearance until I see my primary care physician in two weeks.

So this is the PSA part:

–Don’t aspirate foreign objects into your lungs.

–If you do, take the Lidocaine cocktail when they give it to you at the E.R.

–If you develop a fever following the incident, do not go to work the next day! GO TO THE E.R. ASAP.

–When you do go back to work, don’t jump in with a full day. Start with a half-day. When the doctors say “ease back into it,” do.

And that’s the story of the last few weeks. Of my latest ridiculous freak accident. I have upcoming appointments with Primary Care and Pulmonary as they monitor my progress. I’m happy that I can sleep lying down now (I couldn’t before, because lying down caused coughing fits), I can speak full sentences without running out of breath, I can taste things again, and I have an appetite. At the beginning of the pneumonia, all I wanted to eat was fresh watermelon, pineapple, and popcorn. I still crave those things and eat them every day – I am blessed – but now I’m able to eat other foods.

I can’t say enough how much I appreciate the doctors, nurses, technicians, and staff at the Phoenix V.A. The Phoenix V.A. takes a beating in the media, and it’s undeserved. The health care I receive there is wonderful!


Be careful out there, friends.

May the Fourth stretching session. (Fitness updates!)

Hello, friends. I was going to tell you the story of what’s been going on with me this last week – since last week Wednesday night – but I stopped mid-draft and set it aside for the time-being. I don’t have all of the clinical information yet, and I’d rather tell you a complete story than a Part 1. A Part I leads to a Part 2, and I don’t wish to write about this (latest awful and weird – insert eye-roll) incident more than once.

So instead, I come to you tonight with a post I drafted a couple of weeks ago. I’ve got some (dubious) pics of a stretching session I did here at home on Thursday, May 4, and I thought I’d share them with you fitness enthusiasts. There’s honestly not much to say about the stretching workout, itself, except that I went into it with the intention of doing actual yoga. Beyond that? It just felt damn good to get down onto the yoga mat and stretch out my limbs, back, shoulders, chest, pretty much everything.

I said they were “dubious” because getting the pics turned out to be somewhat of an adventure. My new living room configuration has me working out between the back of the couch and a wall, leaving very little in the way of photo ops at decent angles, distances, and lightning. Working out behind the couch is fine, but grabbing footage/pics back there is another story. I’ll figure it out!

As for my plan to do more stretching, I’ve got an eye on Les Mill’s BodyFlow program. I figured I’d just try it out, see how it goes, how I feel about it. I find that I benefit the most from guided workout sessions, and Les Mills On Demand is the absolute business in that arena.

My main interest in incorporating dedicated stretching sessions into my workout routine is stress-reduction. Inordinate stress can wreck the body. It’s been doing a number on mine, let me tell you. 2023 has been challenging. There’s been a lot in the way of stress and distress, and my body’s shown textbook signs of it. I’ll spare you the rundown of the medical shenanigans that’ve gone down over the last few months. Suffice it to say that I’m now taking action at the root of the problem.

Bottom line: It’s in my power and it’s on me to do something to manage my stress levels. I need to sleep adequately, stretch my body regularly, and engage in a meditation practice in order to invite equilibrium and balance back into my being. A moving meditation practice such as yoga can strengthen the mind/body connection, and that’s what I need.

So here we are at the pics, friends. As I’d said, I just got down and did a few basic stretches, and I’m sorry that it escaped me that doing stuff on the floor in a cramped space would present a problem with photojournaling. The pics are pathetic in terms of, well, you can’t really see what the hell I’m doing. Again, I’ll experiment with the camera situation so I can put up decent fitness posts again.

There are just a few, and they’re from last week Thursday, May 4.

Here’s Yours Truly behind the couch:

Stabilizing in a side plank.

Working on my forward stretch/arm flexibility.

I’m not flexible at all, friends. That is literally as far up as I can raise my arms with my hands clasped behind my back.

Stretching hips and triceps.

I have to figure out a better way to place my phone to capture shots for my living room workouts. You can’t see what I’m doing with my lower body in the above pic. It’s a hip stretch.

Attempting an upper back stretch, again the best I can do with limited flexibility. I know I can achieve improvement. Give me a few weeks of self-discipline in a guided yoga program, and I’ll come back with a progress report!

(This is my attempt at a cobra pose, by the way. It’s okay if you’re laughing. I am.)

Performing a hamstring stretch.

I have one leg bent at the knee in front of me, and the other leg stretched out behind – though that back leg is supposed to be bent at the knee, too – and I’m holding that pose while leaning down toward the floor.

Holding a triceps stretch, both arms overhead, left handing grabbing my right elbow and pulling it toward my head.

(I remember that I wore those pants to work that day; I just changed my t-shirt when I got home.)

There you have it, my friends. If anything, I hope you got from this that if I can do any kind of exercise in a cramped space, then so can you!

Dealing with my current ridiculous (soon to be explained) situation, I need to recover adequately before hitting the floor for more working out. My 2023 fitness journey has been a start-and-stop endeavor, but you know what? Listen to me, 2023: I get knocked down, but I get up again, you’re never gonna keep me down.

That’s my theme song of the year. I’ll leave you fine folks with the video.

I hope you’re all doing well out there, wherever you are in the world. I love and appreciate that you’ve stuck with me despite my inconsistency here. Thank you.

On doing the work.

Hello, friends. I’m sorry for my inconsistancy here… still. Again. You know. But I am, really.

We had a houseguest all last week, so that and related festivities took precedence. This week, I’ve been trying to get back into a schedule. Work has been busy, and good, and I do not feel inclined to get online when I get home.

I’m not going to lie: I’m still working through grief from events of a few months ago: two people very special and dear to me passing away within weeks of each other. To say that we were close is a massive understatement. They were two of the most important people in my life, one since the 1990’s, and the other since before I was born.

There’ve been other ongoing situations, none of which I’m at liberty to divulge, I’m afraid. And that’s the thing: I’m not used to having compartments of life that need to stay locked when I’m here to share with you.

Certain aspects are sharable, though. Fitness. Spiritual practice, to an extent. Fur- and scalebaby updates. For these… at least for the first and last of the above… I will want to include visuals, which means taking pics. Posts about mental health and wellness, not so much.

This brings me to the point in the morning where I start to get ready for work; it’s Friday. I’m still so grateful to have a job that I love. My job is like pain medication for heavy life events. I go in with a purpose, mentally focused and out of the dark part of my head that wants to wallow, and that probaby would wallow were I to sit at home. Work is a balm. Leaving at the end of the day with a sense of accomplishment helps to combat the lows.

Here is my secret to achieving that sense of accomplishment and doing my job with joy: My Dad. He’d said to me that he’s proud of me for working hard, and I want to always know that he would be proud, every day. Every day, I check in with myself periodically, self-evaluating with questions like, Would Dad be proud of me right now? Is my work performance today making Dad proud? Would he be proud of me if he were here? If the answers are anything but Yes, I assess and make adjustments in whatever way I’m falling short of his (and my own) expectations as I continue on. Sure, there are days that it’s a bit of a struggle. On those days, it’s enough to know that I tried, because he would know that I made 100% effort… and that would make him proud.

That’s my advice: Work like someone who matters to you is watching.

With that, I’ll say good-bye for now, my friends. Until next time!

Pumped-up thoughts. (Fitness updates!)

It’s very early morning here, and I come to you from my kitchen with a huge mug of hot Pike coffee sweetened with monk fruit extract and lightened with soymilk, and isn’t it true that if you drink coffee, there are few moments in a day as satisfying as this one?

Hello there, old friends, and welcome, new friends! You latter bunch seem to mostly hail from fitness communities, so I thought I’d speak to you… and you, and you, and you, meaning those of you who aren’t from fitness communities, as well. Many of you folks have been here for years. Thank you for hanging around all this time!

Well, I’d set several goals for the new year, and I’ve yet to reach the one where I get back into a consistent blog-posting schedule… or the one where I regularly check my email… or the one where I check messages on social media, or the voice mails on my phone, for that matter… (I’m really the worst at staying connected, and not proud of it, let me assure you)… or the one where I get more sleep!… but I have managed to dial back into my committment to fitness. I can now report that I have arrived. I have reached my destination. It was the last turn on the left, three months down on the right, and I’m here to stay for as long as circumstances allow. Life does happen. There may be more hiatuses in the future, but it’s humbling to know that I can get back into the groove when I set my mind to it. I never feel right when I take extended breaks from fitness. Returning to it feels like returning to myself.

So, having finally integrated a training regimen back into the rhythm of my mundane day-to-day and week-to-week, and feeling that it was such a momentous feat, I thought I’d share a little aspect of it. I mean, it’s a great feeling to get back into the fitness game after months of sitting it out. Along the way I’ve been reminded that muscle memory isn’t a myth. In a short period of time, I’ve regained what I’d lost, and I can see a clear fitness path to a place beyond where I was before.

(I still have a Planet Fitness membership, but it’s been all Les Mills On Demand these last six weeks. BodyPump and BodyCombat are my main fitness jams. The love is real.)

Getting back to my point: The aspect of fitness I want to share is thoughts... because working out is mind over matter, and so on and so forth, and while such adages seem stale, they’re quite apt.

Now, physical training has always served as a form of moving mediation for me, a meditation that includes the mental challenge involved in making it through a tough workout. Just as in traditional meditation, my mind tends to wander. When I want to direct my brainwaves and focus inwardly, then, where do my thoughts land? Here are some of the things that pass through my mind while working out, things that seem random, but actually apply directly to my efforts as I struggle to maintain my form and keep up the pace while strength-training in, say, BodyPump:

I think of this formidable deity, and I imagine that he’s got my back. He lends me fortitude.

Archangel Michael.
The divine warrior, flaming sword in hand. I don’t have to request his presence to help me through a tough workout. He’s always there. When my thoughts turn to him, I feel his strength.

Rhythm in percussion and bass is always a driving force.

The elements:

Being rooted, grounded.

Swiftness and weightlessness, imagery that actually helps me to lift heavy weights.

Blazing energy.

Fluidity in movement.

A part of the joy of working out is the elation I feel when I persevere through physical challenge to make it to the goals that I set for myself during that workout. The euphoria is both physical and emotional, coming through in brain chemistry and the feeling of accomplishment. It’s more than a rush. It’s being high on achievement, and I’ve found that my thought processes during my workouts amp it all up. They help me to work harder and go the distance. I feel stronger in my body, more energetic the next day, and I sleep better. The benefits of exercise can’t be overhyped, and every time I return to the fitness life after being away for a while, I can’t imagine how I’d managed in the interrim.

With that, I’m drinking the last of the coffee before getting ready for work. I wish you all the wondrousness you find in your efforts, whatever they may be!

What is my “Wellness Routine”?

Tonight, the moon is three days old. There’s something about this particular moon – waxing crescent – that makes me want to pull weeds under her light. It’s the strangest little hum of an urge and I don’t think I’ll ever do it, but I enjoy thinking about it.

(The moon that set approximately six minutes ago.)

It came to my attention that a famous actress has been mocked and lambasted for her “wellness routine,” which she divulged to the public recently. The ruckus led me to reflect. How would I sum up my own wellness routine?

My wellness routine includes body lotion after a lavender aromatherapy shower every night; working out and focusing on my mind/body connection while performing the exercises; eating nutrient-dense, high-vibration, delicious food; bonding with my animal babies; listening to music; engaging in my spiritual practices; writing; tending to my twice-daily skin care rituals; making space for my creativity; and being in nature. It’s all divine, all devotional. I’m grateful.

Bonuses to throw in: work, where I (still!) love to go to do the job that I (still!) enjoy. Movies and streaming T.V. shows, which intrigue, delight, horrify, and amuse. Cooking and baking, especially baking. These days it’s healthy quick breads, muffins, and scones.

Family and friends… I would call those blessings.

I still aspire to getting more sleep, as it’s critically important, but my return to working out 4-5 days per week has been the greatest. At home, I’ve dialed it in with Les Mills On Demand Pump and Combat. At the gym, it’s traditional weight-training and the treadmill. Re-establishing my fitness routine, dedicating time and care to my physical fitness has been – I mean, it’s been absolute sorcery, what it’s done for my spirits. A recent double loss plus a harrowing time for another loved one has amounted to too much tragedy in too short a span of time, and my fitness discipline has helped immensely.

But sleep, now. Sleep is the final piece of the wellness puzzle. It’s the most challenging for me, and I should finish this post on that note. It’s time to focus on sleep and really make an effort, and I should start this very second! I wish you all a good-night (or day… or whatever it is for you).

Until next time, my friends. Take care and stay safe out there!

Experiment (Babbling Brooks, and all that Scheisse.)

A magnificent thunderstorm rolled over the Valley last night, with dramatic winds and violent, cold rain. Tempe got pounded. The air smelled so fresh and crisp in the backyard where the creosote shrubs grow. Creosote is to the Sonoran desert what eucalyptus is to the Bay Area, where I grew up, and what plumerias are to Hawaii, where I spent my childhood summers. It’s funny to think that I have a longer history with creosote than I have with eucalyptus and plumerias. I moved out of California decades ago, and I’ve only been to Hawaii a handful of times since Grandpa died. That was at the end of the last millennium.

I’ve been feeling contemplative of late. A little saddened. As I’ve mentioned over my last few posts, there’s been death again in my small world, the deaths of two people whom I loved, and who loved me. They passed within weeks of each other. I’ve been thinking about death and deceit, and about how nice it would be to jump into a post-apocalyptic world in which everything mattered. In the post-apocalyptic world I imagine, nothing that is said would be anecdotal. Every utterance would carry weight… healthy weight… and ethics would be built into the structure of existence out of necessity, as in the new world of opposites, people would simply look out for each other, politics be damned.

Lightning struck my crossroads last night. That was interesting.

The downside of the rain is the humidity. It’s a psychological closing-in, and at the superficial end of the spectrum, I have to say that “founding father” is not a good hairstyle look on me.

That said, I’m grateful. Above all, I’m so very grateful.

17th-century magistrate hair.

That’s going to do it for now, friends. Have a grand time in your daily adventures until next time!

Confessions of a (former) Gym Snob: I joined Planet Fitness, and I love it. (Fitness updates!)

I went to the gym today. And yesterday, and the day before, and four days last week. I’m hanging on to my Les Mills On Demand subscription for home workouts, but recently I’ve added an actual gym component back into my fitness routine. I’ve returned to my old habits, my friends, and I feel so much better! I’m eating 98% high-vibration foods and lifting weights and doing cardio and feeling strong and energetic and good in my body again.

In my car in the gym parking lot before heading in to my workout.

I can feel my renewed commitment to my physical well-being benefiting my mental health, as well. I experienced two losses last month that both cut deeply, pretty much back-to-back. My cat has been sick. A close family member has been struggling in ongoing crisis. It’s been stressful, and I very much needed to return to gym therapy. When I finally did, I joined… Planet Fitness.

Now, fellow gym rats, I know what you’re thinking. I know because I used to be right there with you, mocking and ridiculing Planet Fitness. It’s the gym notorious for kicking people out for wearing spaghetti straps, for sounding a “Lunk Alarm” when someone commits the crime of grunting while lifting heavy weights, and for lacking an Olympic barbell.

Lies. Lies, my friends.

Well, the 45lb Olympic barbell part is true. There isn’t one at Planet Fitness. But that doesn’t seem to discourage seasoned strength athletes and career gym rats from working out there.

I mean, even two weeks in, I go to the gym and look around in bewilderment, because I still don’t recognize the place. I know that I’m in a Planet Fitness, but… am I?

I don’t recognize the women in the short, tight gym shorts and sexy sports bras and nothing else, because those women in those outfits aren’t supposed to be there… yet they are, and no one says anything.

I don’t recognize the guys in bodybuilding muscle shirts and the kind of tanks that have wispy straps of fabric looped over their shoulders and armholes so long, the guys might as well be unclothed completely. Those guys aren’t supposed to be there, either, according to Planet Fitness lore. But they are there, and no one cares.

Neither do I recognize the super built, ripped folk walking around in skin-tight microfiber t-shirts and weighted vests, because Planet Fitness is a “beginner’s gym” – so advanced athletes aren’t supposed to be there, either.

Or any of the serious strength athletes – of all ages and genders – focusing intently on their training.

Oh, there is indeed a “Lunk Alarm” warning banner up on the wall in the free weight area, but it seems to be there for entertainment purposes, because the Lunk Alarm isn’t sounded when people audibly exert physical effort. My trainer said that they only time the Lunk Alarm is used is at the end of days that have closing times, as a way to alert people that the gym is going to be closing soon. (The gym is open 24/5 and has closing hours on the other two days.) Even in that case, he’s only seen it done once or twice.

What else? Little pleasant surprises, like the electronica music they’ve got playing overhead. I guess I was expecting standard pop music fare. Silly me!

I wasn’t expecting the gym to feature a spa with cutting-edge equipment. Apparently, some people join Planet Fitness just for the Black Card spa. They don’t go to work out. They go for the Total Body Enhancement red light therapy capsule booth, the HydroMassage lounge seats and beds, the various tanning technologies, and the massage chairs.

I certainly wasn’t expecting unlimited free personal training with my $10.00/month no-commitment membership! That’s right… personal trainers are included in your classic membership, which sets you back TEN DOLLARS each month.

It’s solid good training, too. My trainer sat me down to discuss my goals, and the next time I went in, I found he’d created a custom workout for me based on a four days/week schedule… and he trains me during the workouts. I still can’t believe that a custom workout plan and unlimited personal training is included in the Planet Fitness Classic membership. Ten dollars a month, friends.

(I called EOS, my former gym, to compare. At EOS, one 30-minute personal training session costs $36.00 on top of your membership fees.)

You do have to pay more if you want access to that Black Card spa, though. In order to use that spa, you have to spring for the pricey Black Card membership, which is… $25.00/month.

Looks like the whole time I was laughing at Planet Fitness, the joke was on me.

On that note, have a wonderful day, friends!

Excitement comes in all forms.

Good morning, friends. Thwarted by technical difficulties and nearly all manner of peripheral distractions, I come to you with only a wish for a good end-of-week, if your schedule makes you a traditional weekendist, or, if not, a good two days to come.

My weekend plans involve working out, doing taxes, cleaning and picking up around the house, shopping for flooring for one of the bedrooms, having dinner with Boyfriend’s mom, playing with cats, and secret plotting. A movie will be watched. A music playlist will be completed, and another one begun.

It’s exciting stuff, and I’m not being facetious. It’s the little things. Little things are the tendons and ligaments that hold life’s big things together, the connective tissues without which we couldn’t function. Out of little things comes daily moments of joy, revelation, and feeling of accomplishment, as well as learning that leads to inner growth. Stresses and sorrows teach gratitude. Challenges encourage innovation. Creative endeavor promotes mental and emotional wellness. Big plans are thrilling, but the no-plan plan can be a balm.

Mundane is good.

I hope you’re all enjoying a magickal turn of season, too, wherever you are in the world. Until next time!

Geronimo’s hibernation adventure and BURROW RENOVATION. (Desert Tortoise Update!)

If you’ve been following along on Geronimo’s (desert tortoise) adventures, you may have noticed the absence of any kind of hibernation post this hibernation season. In fact, the last time I wrote about Geronimo was on June 23, 2022!

I haven’t provided updates since then, but now I can share the reason: Geronimo out-adventured himself almost to his demise and has consequently spent the winter hibernating in a large Rubbermaid container, which has now come to rest in the (outdoor) laundry room. Of all the things I could image Geronimo would do, the idea of hibernating artificially never entered my mind.

The short version of the story is that Geronimo’s continuous digging landed him in an underground garbage heap wherein he got himself into all sorts of trouble, and the vet condemned his burrow.

The long version, for any of you who are interested, is this:

In my last Geronimo post, I wrote about our first fancy monsoon storm of the summer, and how I looked out and spied Geronimo walking across the yard. What I didn’t tell you was that:

1). I was greatly relieved to see Geronimo, as he’d been MIA for nearly three weeks. It was worrisome. Desert tortoises do shelter in their burrows much of the time during the hot months, but Geronimo usually came out in the very early mornings and/or at dusk to graze. He needed to eat. He needed water! I was thrilled to finally see him out when the storm started.

2). There was something trailing behind Geronimo as he trudged forward. Actually, I saw the thing first, and didn’t realize that it was attached to Geronimo until Geronimo emerged on the other side of the patio. The thing was a very long piece of fabric, and it looked to be heavy, as Geronimo wasn’t sprinting along as he normally does – especially in the rain.

I went out to him immediately and found that the thing was made of stretchy brown nylon, kind of like pantyhose, but coarser, and it was shockingly substantial. It was at least six feet long, and the entire length of it was bunched-up and thick. It was indeed heavy, as it was soaked from the rain and coated in mud.

Geronimo was dragging it behind him because it was wrapped around his neck.

The fabric was caught in the crevice under his chin where his under-shell connects to his body, wedged so deeply in there that I had to tug and pull with effort to extricate it. Long, heavy, weighed down with dirt, and jammed into that space around his neck? He could only have gotten himself tangled up in it in the depths of his burrow… and that explained why I hadn’t seen him for almost three weeks. It was the force of his innate desert-tortoise need to be in the rain that saved him, I believe. The call of the storm aroused his will to live, and somehow (the vet was amazed) he managed to turn himself around down there in that cramped space with that thing attached to him.

He could have been strangled. He could have eventually died of starvation or dehydration, because who knows for how long he’d already struggled to free himself? But Geronimo is a survivor.

With this revelation came a realization: the tufts and balls of white fluff (like cotton, but not) I’d seen in and around Geronimo’s burrow – since the end of the previous summer – came from the same place as the thing around his neck. The constant appearances of these fluff balls had been an aggravating mystery that had me on the phone with the vet earlier in the season. I even took photos and sent them to the nurse, who confirmed that the cotton-like balls of fluff that I kept finding packed into Geronimo’s feces was synthetic stuffing. When I took Geronimo in to be seen by a vet following the incident with the thing, I brought in a sandwich bag full of some of the stuffing and Geronimo’s feces. The vet examined it and pointed out that in addition to the synthetic upholstery stuffing, there was also part of a thin sheet of foam of the sort that was used as padding beneath wall-to-wall carpeting.

“Looks like he dug himself into a pile of trash buried under the yard. He’s surely dodged some bullets. Keep him away from that burrow.”

We left the vet with artificial hibernation instructions in hand; thus commenced Geronimo’s extended stay in the house for the rest of the summer. He never set foot in his burrow again. We fashioned a makeshift crate out of a large plastic bin on its side, keeping it filled with hay. Geronimo chilled in there during the day, and he got set outside at dusk. I wanted to keep him on a schedule that would kind of mimic what his in-and-out burrow schedule would be.

When the time to hibernate drew nigh, we took Geronimo to my boyfriend’s parents’ house, as my Ex was going to come for 17 days to collect his stuff (there would be a lot of activity in the garage). The timing of this event worked well, as within a week, I heard from the Ex that he would arrive in a few days for an impromptu, preliminary stuff-gathering two-week visit. (I mentioned in a previous post that I spent much of November and December living out of suitcases. That was why. I stayed elsewhere while the Ex was here. Between those two visits and my trip to Utah with my boyfriend and his family, I barely saw the inside of my own house during those months.)

And so it was that Geronimo began his hibernation elsewhere in Phoenix. After the Ex left (for the last time) in the third week of December, we brought Geronimo home, where he’s finishing out his hibernation in the laundry room.

Geronimo’s burrow was history. The canopy over the burrow had disintegrated into tatters, and I didn’t have to deal with it. Heavy early-winter rains caved in the entire back of his burrow, and I didn’t have to deal with that, either. (What a bullet that would have been to dodge if he had been in his burrow when it collapsed.)

What I did have to deal with was the construction of a new burrow for Geronimo. Spring would arrive, and Geronimo would need a home-base after coming out of hibernation!

The Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Desert Tortoise Adoption Program offers instructions for three approved burrow styles. I decided to go with the 5-gallon buckets style, which consists of two 5-gallon buckets joined together with the bottom cut off of one. The idea is to create a large pipe with a dead end. The whole name of this new burrow game is “Geronimo Shalt Not Dig Beyond the Burrow.”

For this project, I went to TaskRabbit, and I was fortunate in hiring someone who turned out to be perfect for the job. His name is Vidal Curiel, local friends. If you’re considering adopting a desert tortoise and you live in Phoenix Metro and you need someone to dig you a tortoise burrow, Vidal is the man!

Burrow demo and renno went down last weekend. I took pics of the process, of course!

I went to Home Depot and picked up two 5-gallon buckets. An employee in the lumber department agreeably sawed off the bottom of one of them.

Funny story: When I explained what I needed done with the buckets to the first employee (who escorted me to the guys who could help), the older gent asked, with grandfatherly warmth, “Is this for a school project?”

I also got super-serious duct tape, which we used to join the two buckets together.

After filling in and packing down the caved-in back part of the burrow, Vidal set the conjoined buckets inside the old burrow’s existing external structure. In accordance with the instructions, he measured the depth of the back end to make sure that it would be 16 inches deep. The buckets had to slope down at a 20-degree angle.

Geronimo won’t be able to dig further, nor deeper. The back of the bucket is the end of the line!

You can’t see it here, but we set the old burrow’s sheet of plywood over the cinder blocks to make a roof for the buckets before piling on the dirt. Vidal made sure to pack dirt around the buckets, underneath and on top, as well, to insulate them and make sure that they wouldn’t move.

He also packed dirt into the buckets to fill them half-way, as directed by the instructions.

We needed a minimum of eight inches of dirt on top and around the whole burrow, so…

…Vidal took some dirt from the other end of the yard. Eight inches of dirt all around and on top of the burrow is a lot!

He stamped down each layer of dirt to make sure he was building a solid structure, and I sprayed the whole thing down with water in between layers, as well.

Getting there!

Here you can kind of see the opening of the bucket.

As well, we purchased a new pavilion for the burrow to help shade it, as the old one was trashed. Vidal helped with that, too! He followed us to Lowe’s to pick up the pavilion, and the three of us put it together.

Finished product – Geronimo’s new crash-pad, comfy and cozy!

Aaaand, it wouldn’t be a Geronimo update post without a pic of the little dude himself:

“Hello!” ~This was when the weather had cooled down enough to move Geronimo from the house to a box under a table on the patio.

That’s the story, my friends. This is where we are now. Geronimo will come out of hibernation, go to his burrow, and get pissed off (he’s going to hate it at first), but he’ll be safe, and that’s the important thing.

I’ll be sure to post more Geronimo updates as the season changes! I’ll report on his reaction to his new burrow. Heheh.

With that, I wish you all a good day or night. I hope this finds you all doing well!

Life in a Snap: Bedroom Wall. (Alternately, Magickal Moments and Other Miscellany on a Thursday.)

The wall I’m facing as I sit on my bed.

When a co-worker told me that he would occasionally take a photo and post it online with a lengthy caption, I knew that I wanted to follow suit, because I loved the idea of it. I, myself, enjoy a peek into the lives of others. It’s the connectiveness, the feeling of sharing in an experience, whether superficial or internal. An unremarkable snapshot in the course of a day or night. A letting-in.

This is my first “Life in a Snap” post. The scene: the wall in front of me as I sit on my bed, cozy in the warmth of the electric fireplace.

My thoughts scatter like stars as I look at the fireplace and the dresser and the moon phase calendar and the white cat statue; namely, they scatter into constellations of magickal moments.

Because there’s more to a magickal moment than gazing at an electric fire and a moon phase calendar and a cat statue.

Headbanging to the Arctic Monkeys’ earlier albums while rolling through the psychedelic auto car wash is a magickal moment.

Climbing into bed fresh and clean after a hot shower, stretching out, and breathing deeply of aromatherapy while falling asleep is a magickal moment.

Getting out of bed in the morning is a magickal moment, especially when it happens without pain.

Caring for the body is a magickal endeavor… nourishing it, exercising it, giving it enough sleep. (I know, I know! Still working on it. Still failing at it. But still trying.)

Nesting in the home is magickal.

Simple, tasty foods: roasted, salted peanuts in the shell; whole wheat crackers with hummus; steamed leafy greens; pumpkin seeds; dried apricots; brown rice, and dark chocolate.

Things that make me feel magickal: the smell of fire; a charged deck of cards; wearing or carrying a crystal; practicing daily color magick; tracking moon phases; journaling my spiritual workings; music; sleeping; the desert; candles; Stevie Nicks; being underwater, nature, weather; animals and their rights; cooking and baking; poetry; plants; incense; cats.

Learning from mistakes and not making them again is magickal. The splendor of personal evolution is magickal, and also blinding, sometimes, in the best of ways.

A smile shared with a stranger is a magickal thing.

Human stories about real humans with real struggles, humans with all of their faults and foibles… magickal. Not a one amongst us is perfect or without problems or flaws. The human experience is too far-ranging and varied for judgement to collapse itself into the big picture of it, and yet we all judge, whether we know it or not, want to or not. That’s why I feel that…

…open-mindedness is one of the most magickal traits that an individual can possess.

I’m stopping here on account of sleep-deprivation-induced rambling, friends! I love that you’re here, reading thoughts that emerged from a photo.

Have the loveliest of days and nights.

Let’s try this again, shall we, 2023? (Fitness post!)

Here’s how 2023’s gone down so far in terms of working out:

On the Monday of the second week of January – the 9th – I did an hour of Body Pump (Les Mills On Demand), and it was swell. I felt the effort intensely over the next few days, of course, because my muscles had pretty much atrophied after so long of not working out. And that was great! I felt awesome getting back to my fitness routine.

Three days later, I overworked my forearms at work to the point where I aggravated my old tennis elbow weakness on the right side, and I knew that I had to avoid using that arm as much as possible until it was healed… and, somewhere in that same time-frame, I managed to aggravate my chronic lower back weakness to the point where the pain became nearly incapacitating on some days. I actually had to leave work a few hours early one day because the pain was so bad, I could barely stand, walk, or sit. The only position I could be in without excruciating pain was lying down on my side.

As well – this was the most frustrating one, because it wasn’t an old injury acting up, it was just plain stupidity – I found myself dealing with pain in my ribs on my left side on account of my slamming myself into the edge of a wall of boxes in order to grab one that was lying just out of reach. There was no reason that this had to happen. I 100% did it to myself in a moment of foolish over-zealousness, which was why I was too embarrassed to mention it to anyone. I did my best to work through the terrible pain of breathing while hiding it from everyone over the two weeks it took to heal. (I probably just separated a rib rather than fractured it, I’m guessing).

So I spent all of January Week Three and most of Week Four recovering from these shenanigans; e.g. I did not work out.

At the very end of January Week Four, on Saturday the 28th, I did 30 push-ups in three sets of ten over the course of five hours, and it was hard, and I wept inside.

February Week One? Zilch.

February Week Two? That would be this week, and I this morning, I did – because I was off today due to medical appointments at the V.A. – the same one-hour Body Pump workout I did on January 9th. Despite my right forearm (less than 100% recovered). Despite my lower back (better, but threatening revenge if I dared to make it work in any way). My ribs have completely recovered, which is the main reason why I felt good about venturing back into my gym shoes.

Here’s the deal: The separated rib thing was a consequence of something I did, but the aggravated forearm and lower back injuries were a consequence of something I didn’t do. I didn’t keep myself in shape. I’m convinced that those injuries only resurfaced because my fitness was poor. On a daily basis I was doing as much as I usually do, except my body wasn’t equipped to do it thanks to my negligence over the last six or so months. I unloaded a shipment with my mind and dragged my body along with it, and my body said fuck you, and I deserved it, and here we are.

So today, my friends, my ass was home in the morning, and I told my forearms and lower back to just let me know if I needed to adjust anything during the one-hour workout, because I was determined to do it, and they had to meet me halfway, at least. And they did.

I didn’t film the workout for a living-room gym post, but I did take a post-workout selfie:

Post-workout [7 Feb. 2023]

The thought behind this expression: HA. I DID IT. I lifted light weights for an hour (no more than 10-lb dumbbells), and I feel damn good.

The End, but the beginning, I hope.

p.s. It’s Tuesday. I plan to attempt a Thursday post at a reasonable time, and also I would love to make a Tuesday/Thursday posting schedule happen again, so we’ll see how that plays out. Things are settling and getting back to normal! I have stuff to share. I’ve missed it. I’ve missed you. I’ll be back! Take care, friends.

(Recent) Favorite Little Things!

Well, it’s been roughly 5,000 years since my last “favorite little things” post, so I figured that now would be a good time to share a few favorites since then. We’re one month and two days into 2023 paradise, after all. Thought I, why not share some of the things that I discovered in recent months of the former year?

Without further ado, then. Let’s get to it!

1). Film: Smile

Of the horror movies I’ve watched in recent years, this one creeped me out the most. I’m not saying that it’s the best movie I’ve seen of late, horror genre included, nor was it my favorite. I just found it to be the most effective solid scare of the lot. I felt obliged to share.


2). T.V. show: The Last of Us

Ah, The Last of Us! Both seasoned and uninitiated fans recommend reading the book and/or playing the video games before getting into this new post-apocalyptic horror action series. I, on the other hand, recommend that you watch the delightful documentary Fantastic Fungi on Netflix as your preparatory material. That’s all I’m going to say about that.


3). T.V. show: Taboo

If you like your revenge salt and peppered with treason, incest, and explosives, this series is for you. True story anecdote: my bio-father in England – who had no idea what I was watching or that I was even watching anything, and who, himself, doesn’t watch anything – phoned me while we were in the middle of an episode, and he randomly lectured me on the three main components of gunpowder. Coincidentally, that very topic crept into the remainder of the episode after we hung up, and the story widely revolved around the making of gunpowder thereafter, with the explosives expert character describing its components almost exactly the way bio-father did on the phone. I mean this literally. The series is British and takes place in England, so my British bio-father in England calling and educating me on the components of gunpowder right in the middle of it was uncanny. (My boyfriend assured me that the FBI definitely listened in on my phone conversation after that topic came up.)


4). Pre-prepared meal: Urban Remedy Organic Macro Bowl Salad.

I super-enjoy this salad. Whole Foods carries Urban Remedy refrigerator cases in their stores (the ones here do, anyway), and the offerings include a number of delicious salads. This one contains beets, and yet I love it. Beets, my friends. You heard me right.

5). Sumo citrus (Mandarin/orange).

Sumo citrus

Back when my boyfriend and I were in denial about our feelings for each other, he dropped off a sumo mandarin along with the grapefruit he offered to bring me when I was coming down with what might have been (but wasn’t) Covid. It was the beginning of last year’s January. When citrus season came to a close, we spent the rest of the year looking forward to the return of this spectacular winter fruit. Needless to say, our 2023 paradise has been gloriously citrusy.

6). Garden of Life Organic Plant-Based Performance Protein Bar.

Like my old favorite Clifs Builders bars, this one contains 20g of plant protein. Unlike Clifs Builders, the Garden of Life bar is not a glorified candy bar. It’s not particularly scrumptious, but I do like it, and it’s filling enough to serve as an effective meal-replacement bar if I find myself without time to make a sandwich for lunch. It takes precisely one second to throw one of these bars into my bag.

7). Drink: Steaze Antioxidant Brew Organic Green Tea (Zero Calorie Peach Mango).

I mainly drink water, water all day long. I have a large coffee in the morning. I enjoy Pure Leaf plain, unsweetened iced tea. And when I tried a Steaze Peach Mango organic iced tea, it immediately became my go-to flavored iced tea. I find that it’s scented somewhat of guava juice, and tastes a little bit like it, too! It is heavenly.

8). Starbucks Pike’s Place Roast Ground Coffee.

I mentioned that I’d started drinking coffee again, right? Starbucks’ Pike Place Roast is my jam, and…

9). NuNaturals Pure Monk Fruit Sweetener.

…NuNaturals Pure Monk Fruit Sweetener is what I put into it (along with plain, unsweetened soy milk).

10). Flatiron Pepper Company Four Pepper Blend (arbol, ghost, habenero, and jalapeño peppers).

Because why use crushed red pepper when you can coat your pizza with a crackly, fiery blend of four peppers, including ghost peppers?

11). Purrfect Bistro Chicken Recipe Pâté.

Nenette, my feline daughter, is now taking kitty Prozac, and Purrfect Bistro Chicken Recipe Pâté landed on this list because Mommy loves that she loves it. She loves it so much, I can mix her powdered medication into it daily, and she doesn’t notice. I warm it up slightly, mash it into a paste, and mix in the contents of one of her capsules. Thank you, Purrfect Bistro, for making a food that my very picky cat likes so much, she laps it up without a clue that it contains her medication.

12). Skin care, body: Alba Botanica Very Emollient Body Lotion Maximum. (Vegan and cruelty-free)

I’ve tried for years to get into a routine of using body lotion nightly. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon this lotion of Alba Botanica’s that I succeeded. It’s just so good! I use it on my arms and legs after my shower. It feels amazing.

13). Skin care, face: Derma-e. (Vegan and cruelty-free)

I’ve used Derma-e here and there in the past, but this last year I started using Derma-e products on my face almost exclusively. My skincare arsenal has gone from a hodgepodge to 99% Derma-e. It’s not cheap. (Fellow skincare junkies, you get me.) I use too many products to list – I have a morning routine and a night routine, both with their own products. That’s a lot, so I’m just dropping the entire brand into this space for you to explore at your leisure, if you’re so inclined. I could not recommend it more highly!

14). Make-up: e.l.f. Monochromatic Multi Stick in Sparkling Rose. (Vegan and cruelty-free)

This one cosmetic item cut my daily make-up routine down to seven minutes, my friends. I adore it to the point where I stocked up in the event of discontinuation. I use it on my eyelids and on my cheeks, and on the weekend, I wear it as lipstick, as well.

15). Soothing Touch Vanilla Chai Lip Balm. (Vegan and cruelty-free)

This lipbalm is so good!! I have a different lip balm in every room, and one of them is this one by Soothing Touch. I plan to replace the others with it so it’ll be the only one I use.

The End.

I hope this finds you all well, my friends. Thank you for being here.

2023 and me.

My favorite thing about the new year so far is that I haven’t dragged anything old or unwanted into it.

2023 feels like a prairie scented with clover and bluebell and violet, subtly alive with faery rings and grasses brightly animated in sunny breezes. Fresh. Magickal. It’s January and therefore mid-winter here in the Northern Hemisphere, but my world beams from within as springtime energy pierces the cold nights and dark mornings. Perhaps the exceptional rainfall we’ve had here in the desert this winter speaks to the illusion of spring, as well.

(Or, too, it’s my candlelit inner world, dusted and brilliant.)

I made moon water under the light of the year’s first full moon, the Wolf Moon, on the 6th.

The moon right now is a sliver of a waning crescent, my favorite moon phase. (Blessing and bane grow on the same stalk.) The new/dark moon will rise in two days, and I’m eager to work with her energy. My new year’s resolution is to get more sleep. It’s been a joke thus far. The new moon will help a lot.

Because as always, really the only thing standing between me and a solid seven to eight hours of sleep is my 10:00pm burst of energy, which no amount of fatigue can squelch. I’m tired and then instead of winding down, I come alive. It’s difficult to get yourself ready for bed – and then actually go to bed – when your internal wind-down mechanism goes haywire and does the counterintuitive thing, night after freaking night. I know that some of you can relate, as surely I’m not the only night owl attempting to riddle this out. Don’t get me wrong… I love my late-night drive to do things… it just doesn’t work when you have to get up at 5:30am.

New Year’s, though. It’s special. It’s actually unfathomable to me, the power that we create together in welcoming and celebrating the new year. Can there be a more potent time in the energy than at the turn of the calendar year when millions of humans are setting their intentions all at once? Millions of people getting that energy of determination out there into the Universe can only be a powerful thing. It’s a mass-scale charge of energy, an energy of hope, and let’s face it, it’s a great opportunity. What a shame it would be to waste it, right?! We ought to make an effort… at the least, join in with the intention-setters. At the most, show up for one’s intentions. And at the best, continue pressing forward. This is what the new year asks of us, I feel.

Oh! I celebrated my birthday a week before the new year. I can’t begin to express my gratitude. I’m 54, my friends. I never could have taken this glorious age for granted. One never can; one’s life can end in an instant, without warning. I’m simply in awe that I’m here to roam the Earth beyond half a century. I love to reflect and marvel at world events that’ve taken place during my stay here, and I anticipate witnessing more. I’m here for it all, the good, the bad, and the proverbial ugly, despite my occasional grumblings about the absurdity of the human condition and how it sometimes makes me want to stay in bed forever.

On a more mundane and superficial birthday note, I feel obliged to report the usual; e.g., nothing has changed: I’m still not wearing granny panties, still haven’t had anything “done,” and still have yet to field a midlife crisis. I’ve experienced various other manner of crises, but none of the midlife sort. Perhaps my version of a midlife crisis is a rebirth. If that’s the case, I’ve arrived, I suspect. (I turn 54 and life is a magickal prairie.)

Methinks that this is a good spot for the obligatory birthday selfies, so have at it!

I took these tonight. [19 January 2023]

My favorite answer to a filter is light in front of my face. I still haven’t gotten onboard with fancy filters and adjustments and what-have-you, but I have a lamp!

(You may recognize that I’m in my office. An office update post may or may not be forthcoming – I’ve indeed changed things up again around these here parts.)

Aaaaand with glasses:

My boyfriend loves this pic the best, so I had to include it!

(Yes, I’m in a relationship. It was a surprise to me, too. I am blessed.)

In New Year’s summary, I’m trying not to ask too much of myself. There are many avenues of self-improvement I need to follow this coming year, but it all has to start with getting more sleep, so I’m leaving the official resolution at that. That’s the intention, and I’m setting it. I have set it. I’m going to show up for it.

I wish you all the very best in 2023, friends. Here’s to 2023 and you!

As yet, Nenette.

I’m just popping in here to insist, yet again, that I’m not abandoning you or this space. I was going to post a post tonight! But then! A trip to the veterinarian emergency room had to be taken, as Nenette, my daughter of the feline persuasion, had been suffering with a severe flare of her Feline Interstitial/Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC). It was a doozy of a flare, poor baby. This time she also had vomiting and diarrhea. We just got home now, and it’s after midnight.

She’s doing much better after several hours in the E.R. She’s been subcutaneously hydrated. She was administered an anti-nausea drip, and she was given a dose of probiotics as well as a painkiller with sedative effects. We’re okay. Tired, but okay.

Somewhat out of it and feeling better.

The best time to capture Nenette in a pic is when she’s taking something.

Speaking of taking something, there was an interesting moment in the waiting room when a vet tech came out with a gray French bulldog and handed him over to the guy sitting in a chair by the door. “Here’s Fester. He’s fine. He’s exhibiting telltale signs that he got into some marijuana. He’ll sleep it off.”

In case you haven’t seen one before, let me tell you what a stoned French bulldog looks like: a French bulldog. It’s the eyes.

And so that’s where we are at the moment. I wanted to talk about the New Year rather than unwell cats and stoned French Bulldogs, but it is what it is.

On that note, I shall leave you all to your days and nights, wherever you are. I hope your New Year is off to a magnificent start, my friends. We all deserve it.

The shake-up.

Hello, friends. It feels odd popping into this space. It feels all of a sudden, though I started writing this post last week. I wrote it with every intention of posting it. I mean, I’m never one to feel like I’ve got it all together – I’ve long since given up on that goal – but these days I’m feeling it more than usual.

Nothing has been “usual,” though.

Firstly and most importantly, I haven’t lived in one place consistently in the last two months. I’m currently (as in again) not living at home.

Me without stability:

I am in no place,
I am in one place, and not another,
I’m not in a place, and yet in another,
I have one foot in one place, and one in the other,


I have one foot in one life, and one in the other.

There. I think I nailed it with that last one. I’m between lives.

I have a life, but.
I have no place.
My head rifles the in-between, looking for… whatever.
Looking for everything.
Looking for a thing, somewhere in the bardo,
The calendar says holidays, and I say what day. What days?
There are no days.
There is one day. A day. Like today. Today was a day.

It might be “fine and well,” which you wouldn’t suspect after reading up to this point. Is it weird to state what I’ve stated above and yet maintain that things are good? I’m happy. It’s hard to explain when I can’t explain what I can’t explain.

There’s no mental or emotional hand-wringing going on here. I just want to find land and then swim somewhere. It’s that kind of go-from-here situation.

Another thing about the last two plus months: I haven’t worked out at all, my friends. This is a huge, HUGE deviation from my normal routine, as many of you are aware, and I’m not okay with it. I don’t approve. I don’t feel good or do well when I’m not working out. The disarray will continue up to the New Year, after which I’ll be able to reinstate my regular workouts in my schedule. Thus I will unwittingly join the ranks of the fitness Resolutioners. The best thing about this prospect is that I’m heartily amused by it.

(I stay strong because of my job, though, so there’s that. I have my functional strength. I just know that I’m not in my usual shape.)

The holidays? I usually do Christmas cards. This year, I’m not.

In the last two-three months, I’ve been erratic here in this space, and I’m not okay with this, either.

There’s just a lot these days. I feel like I’m usually at my worst when I’m living out of a suitcase, but here we are, and to my surprise, I don’t actually feel like I’m at my worst-worst. I feel like I’m okay, so I’m not sure what I’m rambling about here.

Tonight I went to my work’s holiday party and took a pic before leaving:

Tonight, being Not At My Place (undisclosed location). [15 December 2022]

I think the main thing is that I have one foot in one life, and the other in another life, and I can’t talk about either life at the moment. I’m sorry for the vagueness. One day it shall be explained. Just… today is not the day (though today was a day).

At any rate, I hope this finds you all doing well on this beautiful weekend eve. Go in peace, friends.

Off-roading in a Jeep in Moab.

Good morning, boys, girls, and anyone else who may be reading this. I’ve missed you.

It bothers me to go so long between blog posts. I’d gotten into my Thursday posting groove and then suddenly, in the last month or so, everything that happens happens on a Thursday. Seriously! Last week’s holiday vacation included! Oh, but I went somewhere, if you can believe that. I went road-tripping to Utah with a bunch of friends and found myself off-roading in a Jeep in Moab. It was brutally cold and gorgeously sunny and bright and altogether epic, despite the former.

Of course I come bearing pics from that little getaway. I took hundreds of them and decided to deposit my 39 favorites here – memories, you know – so you can hopefully get a feel for the wild and magickal energy of the places we visited (we stopped at Monument Valley on our way back through Arizona).

Without further ado!

Starting with some views from our Jeep and some of the places along the way… we were divided between two Jeeps…

Fun times!

Trekking out on rough and beautiful terrain.

Watching the vehicle in front of us gave us a glimpse of what we were in for…

I wasn’t driving, natch.

This pic is not crooked. We were. In several places I thought we’d flip over for sure, but we were fine.

This is what I look like bundled up in three layers of clothing plus a super thick puffy jacket, hat, and gloves. It was freezing, but 100% worth it!

We often stopped to take in the nature around us.

Love the texture of these rocks…

A little hiking was involved, which made the whole experience even better.

Obligatory selfie. (Ahem)

…and later, we went off in a different direction – not in Jeeps – to do some sight-seeing. It was nature in every direction, my friends, and there were very few people at most places we explored.

(breathless caption)

(breathless caption)

I could feel the presence of deities here, I swear.

It was like being on another planet.

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As in the Land of AZ, the sky was SO beautifully, ridiculously blue. I love the American West.

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Extra-terrestrial rock formations everywhere we looked. I couldn’t take enough pictures.

The way I imagine Mars to be… the sand was so red and soft.

The La Sal mountains in sight all around…

And a lot in the way of balancing boulders.

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Every direction.

Rounded. Cragged. The winds of ancient times carved these gigantic natural artifacts at which we can marvel today.

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Those snow-capped mountains, though!

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This bird was quite large and so blue. I wish he held still enough for a clear pic.


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A watery horseshoe.

Canyonlands as far as the eye can see.

…with dramatic late-afternoon skies.

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I love this tree.

In town, I tried on this sweat jacket and ended up not purchasing it.

Then we stopped at Monument Valley on our way back!

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I didn’t want to leave. It was fabulous getting to get away.

The End… thank you for scrolling through my crazy plethora of pics, my friends!

And thank you for putting up with my recent inconsistencies. I’ll get back into the groove, I promise!

Blessings to you all.

A poem by George Trakl on Veterans’ Day.

Friends, on this beautiful moonlit night in the early hours of November 11 – Veterans’ Day here in the States – I opened Selected Late Poems of George Trakl, and my eyes fell on his poem “In The East.”

Allow me to share:

In The East
by George Trakl*

The grim anger of nations,
Like the wild organ-sounds of the winter storm,
The purple wave of battle,
Stars that have shed their leaves.

With shattered foreheads & silver arms
Night calls to the dying soldiers.
The spirits of the battle-dead groan
In the shadows of autumnal ash.

A desert of thorns surrounds the city.
The moon chases the terrified women
From steps that are bleeding.
Wild wolves have broken through the gate.

It is Veterans’ Day in America, and Trakl’s haunting lines of verse give me pause. I feel more reflective this Veterans’ Day than most, and I’m not sure why. If I were to attempt to listen and characterize the energy of the American people right now, I’d say that we are anxious, restless within our borders, like dogs straining forward at the ends of our leashes.

My cat sleeping on the chair next to my bed calms the world… I’m convinced of this, and I’m grateful. It’s always the little things.

Happy Veterans’ Day, my fellow veterans. Thank you for your service.

*George Trakl was a German poet who served in the army during World War I. He died of suicide at the age of 27. He’s one of my favorite poets.

Desert Wanderings.

It’s been a month. It’s been a good two months. I don’t know about you, but on my end, life has mimicked a fault line in constant tremor and sudden change and general chaos where there used to be order (a workplace moving into a new building will accomplish the latter pretty well). I missed you last week when another circumstance arose out of nowhere. But we’re here now.

And the desert, my friends. The desert can always be relied upon when you’re in Phoenix or anywhere else in the magickal Land of AZ in which I’m so blessed to live. Last weekend I escaped into nature and did some magickal grounding with the Earth.

This was a mere just-over-two-miles in, but you don’t have to go far.

The healthiest ocotillo I’ve ever seen, lush and alive in the wild after a series of rains.

Into the distance…

The sky was wild that day.

November on the verge.

Yours Truly looking shaggy in the days leading to a much-needed haircut. I trimmed my bangs and cut two inches off this mess.

Sacred scenery.

Every direction you turn looks different.

To wander is to live.

A perfect view. My perfect view, anyway.

One wants to wander forever.

And ever.

Boots tossed to the side. Feet buried in the sand after a meditation. Grounding.

Scenery along the way.

The magick is real.

Communing with nature always brings me back to center.

Friends, I hope this finds you feeling well under our gorgeous waxing gibbous moon. May your days be full with splendors.

The End… but not.

Today’s Short (SCI-FI) Horror October offering: “Laboratory Conditions” (with Marisa Tomei and Minnie Driver)

Short SCI-FI horror, that is.

I’ve found this well-paced, well-written short Sci-Fi horror that I thought I’d share for anyone who’s interested. It stars a couple of faces that may be familiar to some of you – Marisa Tomei and Minnie Driver – and the writing’s quite nice. Furthermore! In discovering this short film! I stumbled into a YouTube channel that specifically features short Sci-Fi films. You know I’m all in over there, and I will certainly bring some of my favorites to you.

On another note, I received a lovely comment from one of you yesterday. To your kind expression of appreciation, I say thank you, as well, and indeed I will keep writing. I’ve somewhat fallen out of a groove here in the last year, but grooves are designed to get back into (please forgive not only the cliché but also my ending that clause with a preposition), and I look forward to doing that.

All of that said, please enjoy Laboratory Conditions at your leisure:

A fine and enjoyable day or night to you all!

So now I’m the mother of a mystery.

Greetings, friends.

So where was I when I left off two weeks ago when I wanted to post but needed to sleep so I didn’t and instead greeted you from a far-off half-awake place in my brain in a way that I hoped was somehow coherent but I have a feeling that I wasn’t and I’m too embarrassed to go back and look at what I wrote to confirm my suspicion but now I’m awake enough to return to the topic?

Ah, yes. Here we are.

As I was somewhat/somehow saying two weeks ago, I now have a mystery snail, and his name is Sherlock. Allow me to share details with any of you who may be interested! I’ll tell you up front that this newest addition to my little family is a riot. My kids are little, but they have big personalities. I shouldn’t have been surprised to discover that Sherlock was far from an exception.


Sherlock was given to me a few weeks ago in a small plastic food container. I knew nothing about mystery snails, much less of proper living arrangements for them, so I asked Google, who told me in no uncertain terms that one mystery snail needs a five-gallon tank, minimum… but I ended up getting him a 3.7-gallon tank. I regret that decision now, of course. One mystery snail needs a minimum of five gallons of water! How difficult would it be to, I don’t know, set up Sherlock’s habitat in accordance with the experts’ wisdom? So now Sherlock is in a tank that’s too small for the maintenance of his optimal health, and I’m not sure what to do about it. (Is it too late to make an exchange? I’m pretty sure that the store won’t accept a return of a used tank, but I can ask. I’m not sure what I was thinking when I got this tank.) Maybe I’ll get a five-gallon tank for Sherlock at some point and just grow plants in the 3.7 gallon-tank.


Between Sherlock and Geronimo, I have two kids who live in shells and who are vegan. Sherlock’s favorite thing to eat is green beans. It’s fascinating watching him chomp away at the green bean with his tiny alien mouth, but I’m even more in awe when I witness his UFC-caliber take-down technique when encountering a vertical green bean. It happens sometimes that the green bean will land on its end when I drop it into the water, and it’ll stay that way until Sherlock comes along – 0 to 60 when he sniffs out the green bean, which is immediately – to grapple with it. I never knew that grappling could be simultaneously ruthless and elegant until I saw this pretty little snail take down a green bean.

In addition to green beans, Sherlock enjoys climbing up and down the aquatic plants, and also diving down from the surface of the water. At first it was alarming to witness him plunging to the ground from the greatest height he could reach, but it soon became clear that this is his idea of a good time. He always lands on his one large foot. Sherlock is an MMA fighter and a diver. Big personality, I’m telling you.

I’m not sure how long Sherlock will be with me. Mystery snails live about a year; Sherlock was full-grown when he arrived, so he’s already well into his one-year lifespan.  He’ll carry out his remaining months – or weeks, or days, whatever the case may be – eating green beans and gliding around his tank, free-falling and climbing the leafy stalks of his aquatic plants.

The Life Aquatic with Sherlock.
Big foot.
Sherlock and a cross-section of a green bean.
This green bean will be 100% consumed in less than 12 hours!

Peace, my friends. Thank you for being here.

Here we finally are! (Short Horror October: Standing Woman and A Strange Calm.)

Welcome to October, friends. Welcome to SHORT HORROR OCTOBER!

If you’ve been here a while, as in longer than a year, then you know. If you know, you know.

I love film in general, but horror movies are kind of my jam, and horror shorts are often my favorites. The condensed film run-time encourages a tight narrative arc with an economy of film elements. Pacing has to be measured, yet consistent with the story’s own pulse. Technical meets the creative and the playful in short horror films. It’s always a thrill to find one that’s entertaining or engaging with solid acting performances, good writing and cinematography, and finesse on the part of the director. Sometimes there’s no horror, but in the absence of that there’s simply a beautiful or thought-provoking film.

But wait! There’s the other side of the spectrum, too: I sometimes come across a horror short with nothing to rave about in those usual ways, but that leaves me feeling something nonetheless. Sometimes it’s just a guilty pleasure. Another great thing about short films is that if they’re bad, you only wasted 12-20 minutes of your life.

All of that being said, let’s get on with it! Short Horror October here in TALC begins now. Today I bring to you Standing Woman and A Strange Calm. Enjoy, my friends.

Here’s to a lovely beginning of this magickal month!

But I slept.

Good morning, my friends. I got up with my super early alarm an hour ago to write in this space, but I had to get back into bed due to lack of adequate sleep, and while I’m sorry that I failed to post here, I’m glad that I got in the extra sleep mileage, especially since I ended up having a fascinating dream that I hope to remember. (I should try to jot it down.)

I wish you all a fabulous day or night, wherever you are and whatever the case. I’ll sign off with a pic of my new snail, who I’d planned for you to meet today! This is Sherlock the mystery snail, and he wishes you a good day or night, as well:

Sherlock, my new baby! He’s a mystery snail.

Until next time, then.

Driving into the (Arizona) sunset.

I am where I’m supposed to be.

We’ve had a light and semi-steady rain these last three days… unusual in the desert. A double rainbow appeared in the sky yesterday morning, and yesterday evening the sunset was spectacular. It compelled me to take a photo (which I thought I’d share above). Thus summer winds down gloriously, and I’m looking forward to the new season.

Geronimo has his pre-hibernation appointment tomorrow, so I can see what’s what with the little guy. It’s an exciting time to be a desert tortoise!

On that short note, blessings to you all, my friends. May your days shine bright and your nights shine softly.

PSA: The world is a treacherous place.

When you absentmindedly step off of a loading dock and your mistake hits you in an instant not unlike the one wherein a cartoon coyote realizes that the ground beneath him disappeared because he’d run off of a cliff and your immediate physical reflex is to pull up your feet so you can land on the soles of them and you do but then you also fall forward onto your knees because you didn’t have time to re-calibrate your center of gravity before landing and you couldn’t catch yourself with your hands because you were holding something in each one and then you spring up from your hard-impact Olympic-caliber foot/knee-landing combo feeling even more like an idiot than you did at the beginning of the day when you wore your new prescription sunglasses into work and forgot that you had them on and wondered why everything was dark and the whole thing strikes you as an elaborate metaphor but you can’t think of for what and this seems like a part of the problem plus the ramifications of an entirely different flavor of bad decision unfold into the evening and as you slip into the resulting episode of depression you feel that you’d jinxed yourself by writing a positive mental-health post the previous week and the only thing that came of the whole thing was this run-on sentence the length of a long paragraph. This is all I have to offer you today, my friends. I’m sorry.

Here’s hoping that today is better than yesterday (and the day before, for that matter). I’m taking my bruised knees into work along with a Starbucks triple-shot energy coffee drink because I’ve recently fallen into the habit of dumping chemicals into my body first thing in the morning and now I’m addicted, but that’s a topic for a whole different blog post, perhaps.

I hope this find you wrapping up a much better week than the one I’m about to finish. Take care out there, my friends.

(Mental health post.) So I drove along the road

…lined with light-rail tracks this one day, which led me directly to the roundabout I was trying to avoid in the first place. Does that kind of thing ever happen to you? You go out of your way to avoid a situation, then encounter detours that lead you right back to it? But usually, I end up feeling grateful for the opportunity to undertake a navigation situation I wanted to dodge. I always come out fine.

This is going to sound silly, but there was a fire extinguisher that used to present me with a challenge every time I’d encounter it in a certain way. I felt that it was my nemesis. (Even though I believe that comparing a fire extinguisher to the Goddess Nemesis was actual sacrilege.) But those encounters would simply remind me to move cautiously through the world, and that would be lesson enough.

For those of you who don’t know, I have PTSD, OCD, and depression. It’s been a while since I’ve posted about it – I used to do it quite frequently – because I’ve been doing really well. I still am. I just thought I’d pop my head into this space today.

This is an idea of my mental health tableau as it fades in and out on a bad mental health day:

When the air in a room is strange, disquieting in a ghostly kind of way (when the ghost is a stranger).

When a conversation can be more treacherous than a heavy iron bar free-falling in rapid descent toward your head.

When I’m impacted by things that are nothings, like the time I heard an R&B remake of Nena’s “99 Luftballons” and felt that all hope for humanity had been lost.

When I feel that two words that should be added to the English language are “ungood” and “unignorable.”

It can be a dicey time, but those are also the days on which I can turn a particular dark, tight corner and feel like I’m protected from the world. I learn things about myself that surprise me in positive ways.

Sometimes I pay attention to the sound of my own typing. I tap the keys lightly and rapidly and imagine that I’m listening to rain, or to a drum from another country.

I’m doing well, friends. Monday morning I had an OCD episode that almost made me late for work. (Then I got to work and learned that a co-worker’s car battery died on Friday evening at the same time as mine did, and he purchased his new battery on Saturday morning and had it installed at the same time as I did, as well. What are the odds? But that’s neither here nor there.) …I’m doing well overall.

I know that some of you appreciate reading these posts as much as I feel grateful to write them. This is for us. I know that I can relate when I read other bloggers’ mental health posts, so I’m glad to give back.

Car wash.

Hello, friends. I don’t know about you, but it’s been a weird week over here on my end. For instance, I took my car, Dysis, to the car wash yesterday. It should have been just another visit to the car wash, the same one I’ve gone to for years, but all of a sudden, it wasn’t. It wasn’t the same. It was different.

Instead of standing at the window ledge in the large car wash store – which was gone, the store – to watch my car as she passed through the mechanical stages of the wash, I found myself sitting inside the car as she passed through those stages. They changed the entire operation. You now sit in your car to go through the wash, then pull up where they tell you so you can get out and wait while they vacuum and wipe down the inside and probably the outside, too.

I avoid drive-through car washes because of my high anxiety levels when I’m in them, closed inside of a vehicle with the sound of water and air hitting it and visibility reduced to practically nothing. Now I was there, in it, going through it, beset with alarming neon lights that turned the water into psychedelic rivulets, bright color shooting through the torrents of water. It was all so unexpected and bizarre that I almost expected Nicolas Cage to step out in front of me at the end. Have you ever seen Mandy?

Of course I took pics.

This is what I saw – all I could see – as I sat in my car going through the car wash. Nightmare trip fuel.
A Nicolas Cage moment minus Nicolas Cage.

The disappearing car wash wasn’t the only weirdness of the week, but it was the only one that I could photograph. And nothing was weird in a really bad way. It’s just been a strange seven days.

Take care out there, my friends.

My butt is more talented than your butt.

Greetings from the night of this magickal new moon, my friends. This week’s gone quickly, I feel. Nothing out of the ordinary happened. It was one of those weeks where anything weird that may have gone down was inconsequential. For instance, I had a wardrobe malfunction at work yesterday, but no one noticed, so that was okay. I fixed it immediately and life went on.

One thing I like about wearing our company t-shirts is the uniformity of it. We’re all in jeans and black shirts. The only time that people pay attention to my clothing is when something obvious is going on with it, like my phone’s flashlight is on in my back pocket, which happens a lot.

My phone in my back pocket gets up to all kinds of shenanigans. In addition to turning on my flashlight ten or so times a day, it operates the calculator. It plays songs on Spotify. It turns on airplane mode. It turns on Do Not Disturb. It turns off Bluetooth. It informs me of the current moon phase. And it does call people. And there’ve been times it’s done all of these things at once! It’s aggravating, but I’m kind of proud of it. I mean, does your phone light up your ass like a Christmas tree? Does it perform and solve extended and intricate mathematical equations?

I mean, look at what my butt did with my calculator the other day. I took screenshots. My ass is a goddamn mathematical genius.

I could see it as amusing, but it’s mostly just a pain in the butt to have to undo things it does. If there was a more convenient way to carry it around, I’d consider it.

Like my minor wardrobe mishap the other day, though, my butt horsing around on my phone is pretty inconsequential.

I hope you all have a marvelous day or night, friends. Do something rejuvenating for yourselves as the moon is new.

Nenette on the (pillow) case.

It’s been too long since I’ve come at you with cat pics, I’ve realized, so tonight I’m here to remedy the situation. Another thing, my friends, is that my last few cat posts have been dedicated Salem posts. While Salem lived her beloved feral kitty experience outdoors, Nenette’s lived her own truth here in the house. Which is to say that she occupies her space in the loudest quiet way possible, her every soft step deafening in its decisiveness. Even if changing her direction mid-course. Even if startled by the drop of a gum wrapper. Nenette invented the “I meant to do that” save.

She still communicates with a shake of her collar jingling her two metal tags. She still drinks from her little water glass, and she still paws at the floor in front of it before dipping in.

And she still hates having her picture taken. She’s so good at avoiding it that I’d more or less given up on the endeavor. Last night, though, I could tell that she was too chilled out to want to make an escape. I took advantage, and here we are.

This is Nenette waiting for me to get into bed.

Trying to decide whether she should care that there’s a camera looming.
She cares.
A lot.
Everything is fine.
But hey, dinnerz was tasty.
And the bed is comfy.
There’s no such thing as too comfortable though.

My favorite inexplicable thing about Nenette is that she smells like floral perfume. It’s one of the greatest spooky and fun mysteries of ever, and I wish I could share it with you, this fragrance. I’ve long since stopped trying to figure it out. It’s not any perfume that I wear, and she never comes into contact with anyone else, much less someone who wears fragrance. Nenette just smells like her sweet self, which, I guess, is flowers.

As if I could love her more.

I wish you a wonderful day today, or night tonight, as the case may be. Thank you for being here, friends. You are beautiful.

The most horrifying vehicle personalization I’ve ever seen had nothing to do with politics.

Hello, friends.

Question for you: What’s the most disturbing vehicle personalization you’ve ever seen? I’m talking about vanity license plates, bumper stickers, license plate frames, decals, magnets, and the like.

I’ll cut to the chase and tell you about mine, because I still can’t believe it.


I’m one of those people who reads everything in front of me while in my car. I’ve seen it all, and I’m here for it, even if I don’t always like it.

I’ve gone through every emotional state looking at other peoples’ personalized vehicles. They make me smile. Roll my eyes. Nod in agreement. Throw up in my mouth a little. Some of them restore my faith in humanity, while others obliterate any hope I had for the human race. I laugh at a lot of them, too. My personal favorite: “Proud parent of a kid who’s sometimes an asshole but that’s okay.” I’ve gone home and Googled musicians and bands and other organizations, or acronyms on vanity plates, just out of curiosity, so I’ve learned a few things from these personalizations, as well. It’s all interesting to me in some way or another.

But then there was the day, not long ago, that I found myself stopped behind a certain car at a red light on my way home from work. Its vanity plate number started with the letters “ANA,” followed by a space, so those three letters stood out… and then a number followed by a capital “K” like something-thousand, and then a final single digit after that. I couldn’t decipher it as a whole, but those first three letters.

I didn’t want to assume what it meant, but of course my mind went immediately to the dark side. Because when I see ANA, the automatic association in my mind is pro-ANA, or pro-anorexia.

It couldn’t be, though, right? Pro-ANA lives online as a dark, shadowy alley of a subculture. Pro-ANA does not drive around town in real-life broad daylight in a pretty little red car.

Unless it does.

I really wanted to think that “ANA” was the name of the car’s owner, but then I noticed the butterfly decal placed with perfect precision at the top center of the tinted rear window, the white of the decal contrasting boldly with the dark window. A cold skeleton finger tapped along my spine when I also noticed that the “ANA” license plate was fitted into an elegant chrome frame, a simple piece adorned only with two butterflies, one at each of the frame’s two bottom corners.

Might it have been a coincidence? So a woman named Ana likes butterflies, I reasoned with myself. Big deal. But the innocuous possibility wasn’t convincing. I couldn’t know for sure, but from where I was sitting, it looked like a pro-ANA car.

I’m familiar with the horrifying online world of ANA/Pro-ANA. If you didn’t know, “ANA” is slang for “pro-ana,” short for “pro-anorexia.”

Eating disorders are fetishized in the ANA community. Members encourage each other in their starvation journeys, giving each other advice, tips, tricks, and hacks. They share pics of themselves, they share thinspiration (“thinspo”) pics, and they watch ANA “thinspo” (“thinspiration”) “role models” on YouTube. They make their own videos, body-checking and showing off their bones. And they’ve adopted the eating disorder recovery symbol of the butterfly as their own symbol.

Now in my view, it’s normal to share your personal and political convictions, beliefs, and ideologies on your vehicle. Festooning your car with the obvious intention of antagonizing people and riling them up is normal. Putting the letters “ANA” with butterflies on your car, however, is not normal. It’s saddening. It’s sick. It encourages like-minded people to their slow suicides. I’m surprised that a vanity plate submission could pass review and make it onto a vehicle at all.

The sight of the car shook me. Five minutes later I pulled up to my driveway feeling unnerved. It was like I’d come face-to-face with an urban legend, and not the good kind.

That was what I wanted to share: that the personalized vehicle that’s horrified me the most was the one with a few dainty little butterflies and three letters that could very well by the car owner’s name. I could be wrong. I hope that I was. But the sight of the car got me thinking.

If you or a loved one are struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders hotline for help.

Thank you for reading and for just being here, my friends.