First monsoon activity of the year. (Desert tortoise update!)

Our desert is a flashy drama queen in the summers, and it never fails to delight me. Late this afternoon we had a sudden burst of weather, classic Arizona: dramatic wind and blowing dust with thunder, lighting, and rain all at once, the humidity pushing the heat down into the upper-90’s. The rain really started pouring down a minute after I got home – fortunate timing for me – and that was when I looked out and saw Geronimo walking across the yard. I’m convinced that few creatures on Earth are happier than desert tortoises in the summer rain.

So of course I took a few pic to share with you.

Rain parade!

As usual, Geronimo took me on a tour of the backyard. He always does this as if I’ve never seen the place before.

Where are we going, Geronimo?
Snacks.
Fresh flower snacks!
Dried flower snacks!
DRINKS ARE ON ME.
(He wears a crushed flower poultice on his mouth like lipstick.)

My beautiful boy.

I missed you last week, friends. Stuff happened, mainly a water heater leak that flooded my laundry room. I’ve since managed to clean up completely in the aftermath, and now I can take pleasure in going out to the laundry room to admire my shiny new water heater. This has to be it for a while, though! Sheesh.

I love my house, but it’s old, you know? Things happen. It’s normal.

May this find you enjoying a peaceful Friday eve, or whatever it is where you are.

Mask meditation.

Greetings, friends. Erm…

I thought it would be fun to come at you with a Post-pandemic/New Normal/Whatever We’re Calling It These Days post, because I was washing my masks yesterday evening and I suddenly realized that I was performing a task that I never would’ve thought could become a regular part of my chore routine.

Yes, I hand-wash my masks.

Yes, I still wear a mask every day at work and when I go out.

No, I’m not planning on stopping. I’ve become fond of wearing a mask. There are several advantages: I don’t have to breathe in dust; no one tells me to smile more; I feel protected from viruses of all sorts; my seasonal allergies are negligible when I’m wearing a mask; my facial skin is shielded from the sun; and I don’t have to deal with people thinking that I’m irritable because of my resting bitch face.

Though I do own a few fancy masks, my everyday mask uniform is basic black. I have 16 of them, all the same.

Pic taken today: dusty dirty work-worn end of the day mask.

I wear a fresh one every day and let them build up in the laundry. When I’m down to one, or even none, I wash them all by hand. It’s the most pleasant and calming chore that I do. It’s a moving meditation, washing them in the bathtub and then hanging them on the rack to dry.

Masks on a rack.

Yesterday evening I took my speaker into the bathroom with me and listened to my favorite old Reiki track as I did the mask-washing. There’s a particular song that I love that’s not available on Spotify, so I dug out the CD from my ancient German trunk of treasures and snapped it into my even more ancient external CD player.

I can’t explain it, my friends, this pleasure I take in hand-washing masks, of all things. The whole deal just feels like a divine activity. I’m so grateful to be able to feel this way. Sometimes I think that I take more pleasure in the mundanity in life than in the major exciting spectacular events.

I like the way John Rhys sums it up:

I have decided on a place to eat in at midday, a

place to eat in at night, a place to have my drink

in after dinner. I have arranged my little life.

On that note, I’ll wish you all a good end-of-week… if your week is traditional like that, of course. Otherwise, I wish you a good next few days.

Stay well, my friends.

Scorpion Season 2022! (Joy in the Land of AZ.)

Hello, friends. How has your week been? How have your last two weeks been?

Last night I watched a space video on YouTube called “The Most Horrifying Planets Ever Discovered,” and at the end of it I was left thinking that our planet has all of them beat. Our beautiful planet Earth, which won’t poison us or vaporize us or hurl shards of glass at us, is yet the most horrifying of all to me at the moment. Why? Because Earth hosts a terrifying life-form: Us.

But there are millions of creatures on Earth, and most of them aren’t heinous. They go about their meaningful lives. For me, getting outside and connecting with nature inspires wonder and joy and gratitude for the existence of the innocent wild, especially in the thick of unspeakable tragedy.

In these particularly dark days for the human race, then, it was with much anticipation that I went over to my hiking friend’s house with the intention of trekking out into the surrounding desert after nightfall. We would admire some intriguing and elegant creatures out in the wild. Beautiful, even. It’s scorpion season here in the desert!

We first noted some scorpions on the backyard wall before starting out on our walk (you’ll see those wall pics further down in the post). 11:30pm turned to midnight as we walked over two miles into the desert, scanning the ground with our black lights so as to illuminate the scorpions, who glow in the black light when it’s dark. Our lights revealed quite a few of the little guys. They were mostly off to the side, though there were a few in our path.

I took pics with my phone – no flash, so you can see the scorpions as they appear in the black light – while my friend took pics with a camera using flash, so the scorpions can be seen in the flesh, so to speak.

No-flash pics first!

Beautiful scorpion.
Elegant scorpion.
Scorpion looking ready to… pounce?
Scorpion in hiding… poor thing.

This is the thing, isn’t it? We think that we’ve adequately concealed sensitive materials or information or ourselves, but there’s always going to be those people roaming around with the black lights that reveal us to the world.

I love the way the black light makes the desert floor resemble the ocean floor.

Now for my friend’s pics, taken with flash:

Scorpion (on the backyard wall)
Scorpion (on the backyard wall)

I love their structure and their muted desert colors, their sweet alien faces and their ingenious design.

Scorpion…
Scorpion eating a roach…??! (On the backyard wall.)
Scorpion eating a spider…?!

It was a splendiferous night with the scorpions aglow on the ground below, and the stars aglow in the sky above. (Yes, I did get to find my favorite alpha stars: Arcturus, Vega, and Antares.) Interestingly, Antares is the alpha star of the constellation Scorpious, which resembles a scorpion.

I wish you peace and love and safety, my friends. Take good care. And thank you for being here.

All hail Gluteus Maximus. (Living room gym post!)

My friend and I were talking the other day about each other’s physiques, and he noted that I have “a big butt for my frame.” I replied that my glutes are simply developed from working out, which prompted him to ask what I was talking about, to which I explained about the muscles that comprise the butt: Gluteus (glutei?) Maximus, Medius, and Minimus. When he opined that those are ridiculous names, I informed him that they’re Latin words, and don’t they sound like Roman names? And he couldn’t argue with that. “Yeah it sounds like a Roman emperor.” And I concluded, “Roman emperor Gluteus Maximus. He was an ass.”

Which brings me to this workout that I did a couple of weeks ago, as it’s lower-body intensive. We’re talking Les Mills Body Pump 118 Metabolic Blast, my friends. This particular workout is my current favorite way to hit my major muscle groups in a mere half-hour. It’s also great because it’s a rare Body Pump workout that doesn’t require a bench, as there are no chest presses in the routine. You don’t need more than standing space with just a few feet around to step one foot back for lunges – or you could opt to do the exercises as squats rather than as lunges. You can live in a closet and do this workout. No excuses.

I set up my phone to film the 30-minute workout, then did the usual screenshot snapping, cropping, and resizing to end up with some (bad) pics to share with you who are here for fitness posts. Also – I’ve said this before, and this will always be the case – posting pics of myself working out is just a solid way for me to critique my own form so I can know what needs improvement.

As always, I must plug Les Mills On Demand+, as without Les Mills’s awesome streaming workout service, I wouldn’t be working out at all. For Body Pump I’m still using the dumbbells that I had pre-pandemic, rather than springing for a barbell set. Barbells are fun, but it’s not necessary to have one to do LM Body Pump classes. In fact, you don’t even need weights at all, as everything in LM Body Pump workouts can be done isometrically.

Without further ado:

Getting started.

All the time spent in a wide squat stance at the bottom of the movement contributes to glute work. This workout has a lot of that.

Bottom of the squat.
Squat, wider stance.
Squat, top of a pulse.
Suffering through squat pulses.

For the posterior/athletic chain portion of the workout, the routine incorporates single-arm rows, dead lifts, and clean-and-presses.

Stance for single-arm row.

(If it looks like I’m knock-knee’d, it’s because I am.)

Single-arm row – you straighten back up to a standing position after each rep.
Stance for dead lifts.
Dumbbell dead lift.

The dead lift prepares your body for the clean-and-presses.

Dumbbell clean.
Dumbbell press.
High pulls.
Stretching: child’s pose.
Stretching: cat.
Stretching legs.
Stretching legs, focus on quads.

These pics are poor in quality, I know, but hopefully they can give you an idea of the effectiveness of the workout. Les Mills is my jam, and you may find that it’s yours, too. Regardless of the type of fitness program/non-program you do, happy working-out to those of you who commit to keeping your bodies in shape!

On that note, I wish you all a happy Friday/weekend eve, my friends. Rock on.

Once… twice… three times a (Desert tortoise update – out of hibernation!)

The first time Geronimo emerged from hibernation this year, he looked around, said “eh,” and went back to sleep. That’s how it went down, my friends. It was March and he was unimpressed with 2022.

The second time he came out, he stayed out for a few days. I tried to soak him, but he wasn’t having it. He clambered out of his large plant saucer and made his way across the lawn, bee-lining to his Preciouses, the hibiscus bushes.

A few days later, the weather turn a turn for the cold, and I saw no more of Geronimo until the cold lifted.

By mid-April, he was out and cruising the perimeter of his yard, eating everything in sight, it seemed. He ate wild grasses, a variety of young spring weeds, hibiscus buds on the ground, and hibiscus flowers from my hand. As far as he was concerned, it was a smorgasbord for all of the divine in the Universe!

I don’t see him nearly as often as I’d like, but we do walk around together and get some mommy/baby bonding time, especially over the ruffly petals of pink and red hibiscus flowers. He gets cuddles and back-rubs, too. I’ve been accompanying him here and there, taking pics while I’m at it, of course. It’s good to finally share some of them with you. Consider me to be that eccentric lady whipping out a picture card-slot accordion out of her wallet in order to get everyone’s eyes on her beloved child.

And Geronimo loves it.

Beginning:

Why hello.
Hello.
Hello.

(He’s still saying “Hello” all over the place, yes.)

Going…
Going…
GONE.
Hello, other kind of hibiscus.
Hello, hibiscus leaves.

Then:

FOOD COMA.
And lots of pets and scritches.
Hello! I’m hot, are you?
Look at my pretty toenails.
Look at my pretty scales.
Hello hello hello.
Hello!
Hello.

Of all the cute things he does these days, I think the cutest thing is napping with his face on the wall in front of his burrow.

Hitting the snooze button.
Good-bye.

I’ve been taking pics for a second desert tortoise play post, so look out for those in one or two months!

Have a wonderful day or night wherever you are, my friends. I’m sending out some gentle Geronimo good-wishes vibes to encompass all of us. I don’t know about you, but I feel that we need it.

Until next time, then.

Weed salad.

Newsflash! Dandelions are in season here in the northern hemisphere, my friends. They’re weeds. I picked some up from Sprouts a couple of weeks ago and got down on some weed salad. If we are what we eat, I’d be a bitter green; I love them so much.

Big bowl o’weeds. What we’re looking at here is a pile of dandelions with pumpkin seeds, olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and coarse sea salt.

I’m just here to rave about noshables tonight, apparently, because this is the time of year I’m the most excited about food. Along with delicious weeds, many other leafy greens are fantastic right now. Artichoke season has arrived, and stone fruit season is nigh. I’m impatient for all of the latter… cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums, and apricots.

(If I was a stone fruit, I would be a Santa Rosa plum… the ambrosia of my childhood.)

Everything is about refreshment and balance. I’m convinced that Humanity couldn’t exist without either of those things.

But back to tasty news: I’ve returned to drinking my favorite fizzy fruity probiotic drink on a fairly regular basis, and I’ve also kicked up my near-daily sparkling water habit – plain, as I’m not fond of flavored sparkling waters – to where I bring one to work every day. I have to keep bringing them on account of the fact that my sparkling water at work provides free entertainment.

It’s become a running commentary that my afternoon sparkling water translates to an actual commercial break for my co-workers because the water “seems so refreshing when I crack open the can and tilt my head back to drink.” Who am I to snatch that away?

Here’s the thing: I have certain duties and responsibilities at work that are of great importance; however, this one duty of providing my co-workers with a sparkling water commercial break is the most critical. I’m thrilled to provide. Who could suspect that there’s so much joyful good power in the cracking open of a can? It makes people happy. That’s real. And I love that I arrived at this place here tonight… happy people.

I hope this finds you experiencing some degree of happiness that registers on the happiness scale, my friends. Because you – we – all deserve it.

“Watch this space”

Step aside!

Hello, my friends. I’m sorry that this is a “watch this space” post. I’m here and I’m writing, but my schedule’s still thrown off. Thank you for your patience as I continue to work on it. Getting my shit together was never my strong suit, as some of you already know.

But I have plans, oh yes. In the near future, I’m going to resume my Tuesday/Thursday posting schedule. Let’s see if I can make it happen starting next week.

Meanwhile, I hope this finds you well!

“Eve, Less One Decision” (Sharing an original poem.)

Greetings from the dead of night, my friends. Tonight, I have an old poem to share, for those of you who may have an interest in readings such things. It just occurred to me that I haven’t shared original work in ages, and I know that some of you are subscribed here because of my poems. This one’s for you! (And you, and you, and you.)

I wrote this short poem in 2002.

Eve, Less One Decision

She looked to see if her reflection was chance.

But the stillness was there –
she bent to take a drink.
Above the agitated circles of his vision
there was the sleek tube of scales
sliding near, and she, the skeptic,

named this for her own doubting mind,
said, Viper, return us as leaf shadows
on tin awnings, crisp and certain;
or as the sky in rust, defined as the cracked
blood on the ground. Return us
as rain.

Such precision could cast us back in.
It could revolutionize everything.

(the end.)

Happy Friday Eve, my friends.

Past life regression experiment results: I had cool hair in another life.

Well, friends, I did some dabbling recently. I ventured into the “woo-woo” territory of past-life regression, which was a thing I’d heard a lot about, though I’d never given it much of an actual thought.

Probably I just did it because I was curious to see what would happen. I actually did two past-life regression self-hypnosis sessions.

I found a video on YouTube and got all comfortable on my back on the floor here in my office. In my first session, I saw, as if on a projector, an old-fashioned black and white film strip with perforated edges advancing quickly at irregular intervals. When it stopped advancing, the grainy still image looking back at me was a witchy headshot of a dark-haired woman with pale skin. Her hair was worn in a jaw-length 1920’s bob cut with bangs. Either during the hypnosis or immediately afterward, I knew – how, I don’t know, I just did – that she was a flapper. The perforated black-and-white film rolled through two more times, each time stopping on the same image. So that was what I saw: what looked to be an old negative film stock photo of a flapper, a 1920’s party girl. I suppose, since I saw this in a past-life regression hypnosis session, this might mean that that was me in one of my past lives.

(I don’t go around with the Roaring Twenties on my mind, ever, so I can trust that my imagination did not conjure this up.)

In my second past-life regression hypnosis session, the only thing I saw was my own feet as I was standing still. On my feet, I wore some sort of sandal or footwear made of leather. Beneath my feet, I saw wild grass. I also caught a flash of the hem of the dress I was wearing. And that was it: I was just standing on wild grass looking down at my leather-sandaled feet, clad in some sort of long dress.

In the present.

So that was my experience with past-life regression self-hypnosis. It was underwhelming. I guess I was expecting to have a whole experience as many people report they’ve had. Mine did not deliver much in the way of concrete information. I don’t have cool stories to share with you about who I might have been in a past life, but I was fascinated by that which I did see, and I do plan to do it again!

I hope this finds you well, my friends. Thank you for bearing with me these days as I continue to work on my footing.

Found my fuel. (Living room gym post: workout therapy!)

When a shadowy face of evil looms ahead of someone you love, littering their path with the equivalent of mental nuclear waste fallout every step into the future until their last breath, there’s only one thing to do: join the fight.

A person I love has been compromised as such. They fell through the trap door laid before them, experienced the false nirvana within, and eventually found escape to be impossible. Now they are infected with demons, and I am livid.

Thus, I threw down a particularly intense workout on Monday in the late afternoon. Les Mills Body Combat, my friends. I’ve been raving about Les Mills since 2014, as some of you may know, and I will always rave about them. Les Mills is fantastic, and Body Combat was my first Les Mills workout love. It’s more than cardio kickboxing. It’s cardio kickboxing, cardio Karate, cardio Muay Thai, cardio capoeira, cardio Tae Kwan Do, cardio Brazilian Ju-Jitsu, and cardio Kung Fu.

For you who’ve been wronged: Your fight is my fight.

So on Monday after work, I hit “play” to begin 55 minutes of Les Mills Body Combat.

And I had the above-mentioned person in mind for my target. A name, only. A face I’d seen in photos, only. A willfully duplicitous person whose trespasses on the innocence of someone I love (and others, no doubt) feel unforgivable because of the havoc they’ve wreaked.

Fury in unflattering light is the best kind.

Fitness updates on my end:
I’ve just started up with my workouts again since my long hiatus pre- and post- hand surgery. So far, so good.

The last time I worked out with weights (dumbbells) was on December 11; after that point, the pain in my hand became too extreme to tolerate it, and it just got worse and worse up to my surgery on February 14. I’m well past surgery recovery and feeling normal again, but I still haven’t gotten back to weight-training. It’s been over four months. Literally the only thing keeping me in shape is my job.

So it’s back to regular Body Pump. Back to regular Body Combat. Monday was great. I kicked serious ass with the image of the evildoer’s face emblazoned behind my mind’s eye. I mean, I was feeling the fury in any case, so it was just as well that I also had a workout to do.

Happy Friday Eve, my friends. Blessings to you on your fitness journeys!

Phenomena: Music.

Hello, my friends. Tonight I’m listening to a playlist I’m putting together on Spotify, and I’m so overtaken by the project that I wanted to try to describe it to you… “it” being the way – one of the ways – in which I experience music. I believe I’ve tried to do this before, but music is such a personal experience, it’s difficult to get the feeling across to others. Thank you for humoring me here. I know that many of you will be able to relate.

For example, then: When I’m sitting here blocked in my aura or my mind, maybe half-blinded by the dryness of my eyes, likely sleepy from night after night of scarce sleep, and there’s a faint, low echo of a howl on the wind so muted it’s almost imaginary… it’s in that moment that I can click “play” and rock out, loudly, carving from a chaotic soundscape a juncture in time that both divides and joins my light and shadow aspects. It’s when I turn the nothingness of the edge into the blessed oblivion of everything, a shift of energy that’s dramatic in execution but subtle in effect, from a stagnant void into the vibrancy of nirvana.

In other words, I love music beyond description (as you’ve been warned).

At the moment I’m sitting in the blue light of my office listening to thrash metal.

Right now. [07 April 2022]

I listen to music as I get ready for work in the morning, and I listen to it in my car on the way in, but I don’t bring my music in with me. I get too mesmerized by it. I enjoy my co-workers’ music, then go home and get lost in my own again.

It’s like that. And it’s:

The way that Tears For Fears saved my life when I was 15.

The way that I feel indescribable longing when I listen to Canteloube: Chants d’Auvergne: Pastourelle (as sung by Dawn Upshaw).

The way that The Piano became one of my favorite movies because in it, the piano is Ada’s voice.

And does it even need to be said that music can elevate a workout from good to world-class?

I hope you’re all doing well, my friends, and listening to something truly perfect for the moment that you’re in.

“Like a starfish that drifts in with the tide.”

My friends, I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t scrambling to get my shit together over here. What I mean by this is that I’ve been failing you by slipping up where my posting schedule is concerned. I’m considering altering my schedule to “early in the week” (Monday or Tuesday) to “later in the week” (Thursday or Friday).

I’m okay, though. Life is happening but it’s going swimmingly; I’m just finding that I need to switch up my footing right about now. There’s a seasonal shift taking place, and I’m lagging a bit, like I got left behind in a different time zone. When I keep waking up an hour later than it is, it’s time to re-set. I’ve hit the re-set button several times here in TALC over the last ten years.

It’s been ten years?!

Probably as theatrically angsty as I could get in a selfie.

In upcoming news, Geronimo’s been out of hibernation for a few weeks, and I do have pics forthcoming, along with his own updates. I’m looking forward to sharing those with you!

I hope this finds you all doing well, friends. April blessings to you!

Sharing another cooking video! Cuisine from Pakistan.

Hello, my friends. Tonight, I come to you bearing a video from a YouTube cooking channel with which I’m mildly obsessed. I’m especially excited to share this with you as the last cooking video I posted from Pick Up Limes (Afghani cuisine) was so well-received. You know that when I find something of great interest to me, I want to share it with you!

I stumbled upon this YouTube channel that features a young man and his mother (I believe that she’s his mother due to comments I’ve seen from people who appear to know them In Real Life) as they prepare food at home. They live in Pakistan and cook their meals in the Old Ways, and that latter bit is the reason why I love this channel. The channel is called Secrets of Gilgit, and this is the first video of theirs that I watched.

I thought I would share one of their lovely dessert videos, as well. This is one that I particularly enjoyed!

I don’t know about you, but these videos make me want to be a better preparer and enjoyer of food.

Goals.

A blessed weekend eve to you, my friends.

Teachiai. (An ode to tea.)

Combining the characters for “stand” and “meet,” “tachiai” is the term for the initial charge that gets all sumo bouts underway.

(Credit to John Gunning and The Japan Times for the paraphrased quote above.)

Hello there, my friends. Let’s talk tea… literally. No spilling!

Somewhere along the way, I went from coffee-drinkerism to tea-drinkerism, a conversion that started to brew five or so years ago when I experienced an odd occurrence of coffee-induced nausea during a bout of the common cold. It was a note-to-self moment, don’t drink coffee again until the cold’s run its course, and somehow, the moment never ended. It just so happened that I never got back around to drinking coffee. It was an incidental quitting rather than an intentional one.

Maybe it was because I wasn’t missing the daily jump-start into the morning that I didn’t make a special note of it.

I didn’t miss the coffee jump-start, but now that I’ve made a new morning ritual of matcha-mushroom tea – a concoction I started drinking in the third week of last October, so four months ago as of this writing – I’m enjoying a different kind of daily morning boost. A cup of matcha green tea has the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee, but its caffeine delivery is a mellow slow-release. Where coffee roars, matcha green tea purrs. It’s a sustained purr that carries on for hours and hours.

The energy I get from matcha is significant yet quiet as its wonderfully juxtaposed calming effect is the opposite of the coffee jitters I remember too well. I find the whole experience of drinking this magickal beverage in the morning to be incredibly soothing, and I get to work with just the right amount of energy. With matcha green tea in my system, I hum along rather than bounce off the walls. There’s no crash-and-burn.

Mixing medicinal mushroom powder into the tea simply carries it over into another realm of goodness.

At night, I’ll sometimes indulge in another tea beverage: A Bengal Spice (Celestial Seasonings) soy milk latte. Celestial Seasonings crafted their Bengal Spice tea to be a caffeine-free chai, so essentially it’s a chai latte that can be enjoyed at night. I steep the tea for 5-7 minutes, covered with a cloth (so the brew is deep and intense in color and aroma) before filling the remaining 1/4 of the mug with soy milk. Those are my chai tea latte proportions of preference: 3/4 tea, 1/4 soy milk.

Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice soy latte.

On that note, my friends, I’ll wish you all a good night, this being later at night on my end. Translate this to “Good (whatever-applies-where-you-are).” Truth be told, writing about tea is making me want to get to bed earlier so that I can wake up sooner to my morning matcha-mushroom brew.

Until mid-week, then.

Early to grow. (Merry Vernal Equinox!)

Hello, my friends. I’m interested in knowing what the weather’s been like where you are. Here, a wild desert wind’s been blowing in gusts on and off for about a week now. I’ve perceived it with all of my senses; I’ve swayed in it. I’ve gone metaphysical off-roading with no say in the matter, except for the fact that I do, in fact, have agency and can go in any direction I choose. What I need to do is regain my footing. I mostly wasn’t here last weekend, and so I missed you again. And I’m sorry, again.

Weather is majestic, though. To me, it’s the opposite of fodder for small-talk. I think of a storm as an orchestration and a feat of nature comprised of powerful expressions of the four elements: Air (wind), Fire (lightning), Water (rain), and Earth (receiving and absorbing it all), and if there’s mundanity in the discussion of that, then I can’t see it. I’m not great at small-talk. I actually enjoy talking about the weather.

And I love storms for bearing the message that nature and her elements are in charge on this planet. Storms want it known that to respect nature is to respect ourselves, because everything we do that negatively impacts nature and her elements creates an effect with which we beings on Earth will have to reckon at some point. Our lives are affected by our actions toward nature whether we want to admit it or not.

In Sedona: A tree leans into me. I lean back. [19 March 2022]




“In every walk with nature one received far more than he seeks.” ~John Muir

Tonight, in these new hours of spring in the year 2022, I’m feeling in awe of our energetic connections with all sentient beings on Earth, with the Earth, herself, and with the Cosmos. Of how we’re affected by the Moon in her various cycles. Of how we’re tuned in to the rhythms of nature through the energy centers in our bodies we call chakras.

In the Sedona vortex the day before the vernal equinox last weekend, I leaned into the tree and felt the thin, faint vibration of nature chime in with my pulse. It was a lesson in listening. It was invaluable.

Merry Vernal Equinox to you all!

When all is still while the world shakes.

I don’t know what to say, friends. I’ve been blocked since it all began. I haven’t spoken to anyone but my shrink about it. My throat chakra – the energy center of communication, spoken and otherwise – is knotted up.

My shrink tells me that many of his PTSD patients are experiencing higher levels of anxiety with the atrocities taking place in Ukraine, and I’ve found this to be true for myself. My known triggers have become hair-triggers. I bowed out of a work happy hour get-together tonight because it’s St Patrick’s Day (which was the point of the gathering). The consequential vibe on the streets would potentially have amounted to the effect of a bad acid trip.

I don’t know.

If there could be a made-up monster as vile as the human one responsible for this.

If there could be some academic way to run toward light from darker places.

If the collective conscience cracking like old ice beneath the weight of the evil in the world could be more palpable.

I’ve found that staring hard at anything else is the only way, and yet it’s inescapable… as well it should be. One way to help support the people of Ukraine is to simply be with them.

My “commute” to work is less than ten minutes down surface streets, but it’s enough time for a vehicle with “Pray for Ukraine” spray-painted across its back windshield to get in front of me, and then I arrive at work in tears.

At the same time, I’ve been experiencing a joy that hasn’t visited me in years, and I’ve been focusing on enjoying and nurturing that. I have much for which to be thankful. And I am. I am blessed here in this dusty little speck of a large world.

The End.

It’s late, but my hair is clean.

I’m going to escape into nature on Saturday, and I can think of few things more profound than the making of that sacred connection.

For Ukraine, I say prayers at the end of the day, which is all that can be done to help the wounded, the suffering, and the bereaved. At the end of it all, the survivors will become the Earth’s newest generation of living scars.

Yikes, my friends… I’m drifting off. I hope this finds you safe and well.

10 years later, the real Jack Reacher finally stands up. (A review, of sorts. No spoilers.)

My friends, I want to apologize for my absence this past week. In the ten years I’ve been writing here in TALC, I think I’ve only gone MIA two or three times. I was just as disappointed in myself this time as I was those few other times. I feel like I stood you up. I am sorry.

But let’s now talk Jack Reacher, shall we?

Amazon Prime Video came out with an original show called Reacher, and with its eponymous protagonist being my all-time favorite male fictional character, I have some things to say.

The mythical figure of a lone wanderer passing through town, getting embroiled in whatever shitshow’s going down, and rendering justice before moving on, is a timeless one. With his creation of Jack Reacher, author Lee Child fleshed out such a knight-errant character – one who’s armed with a military background – in whose shadow the evilest of villains cower. There’s more to this shadow than size, though, and the first screen-version of Reacher didn’t have it. Any of it. Tom Cruise was wrong for the role in every conceivable way. Tom Cruise will be right for the role of Reacher the day crunchy, bitter, watery celery can satisfy your intense craving for rich, sweet, dense Black Forest Cake, and that day would be Never, my friends. Never.

And so Reacher’s showrunners got to work on this streaming series under considerable pressure: In addition to the usual challenges for the usual reasons, they had to placate the thousands of Reacher fans, including Yours Truly, who lamented the film’s unfortunate casting choice.

With this challenge built into the project, the team went into the making of Reacher with guns blazing and fists flying. They threw their entire arsenal into it, with Mr. Child closely involved every step of the way. The result? A Jack Reacher show with heart. Sterling, gargantuan heart. As Reacher famously “says nothing,” Child and the production team held back nothing. This time, they were able to freely and relentlessly accentuate Reacher’s physical and behavioral presence, as described in the novels. Because of actor Alan Ritchson’s physique and stature, the writers were able to emphasize how Reacher stands as a massive Goliath of a human. If Child felt that he had to atone for the casting of Tom Cruise – and I believe that he did, from what I’ve seen in interviews – he certainly accomplished that and then some with Reacher v. 2.0.

I’d suspected that the show would exceed my expectations when I discovered who’d been cast to play Reacher, but I couldn’t have known exactly how ideal Alan Ritchson would be. As already asserted, there’s more to Reacher than his size. There’s also attitude and demeanor and body language (including facial expressions) and just general Reacher energy all rolled up into the package, and Ritchson embodies the whole damn thing. The casting team could not have done better.

Alan Ritchson as Jack Reacher.
And that would be him again on the right.

It’s not necessary to have read the books to appreciate this series, but I do know that for we hardcore Reacher fans, this show is a profound treat. By the end of the first episode, all of the boxes had been checked, starting with “Reacher said nothing.”

Reacher said nothing.
Reacher has no middle initial.
Reacher has a minimalist and slightly acerbic and biting sense of humor.
Reacher carries a folding toothbrush and a passport and not much else.
Reacher buys a set of clothes and throws his old threads into the trash.
Reacher sits in a diner and orders coffee and pie.
Reacher loves dogs and has little to zero tolerance for their mistreatment and neglect.
Reacher schools the local authorities on the details of their own investigation, casually and authoritatively up-managing along the way.
Reacher sniffs out the person on the local force who has a military background and recruits him accordingly.

Reacher is structured to follow the story of one novel per season, so each season is a new adventure in a fresh setting. Season 1 follows the story in Killing Floor almost perfectly – so perfectly, it’s like a video version of an audiobook. I found the acting and directing to be impressive, and the fight-scene choreography brings to life Reacher’s signature style of punishment delivery, which was enjoyable to watch (especially the fight scene at the end of episode 6, I believe). The writing is clean and peppered with a few well-timed, well-placed anachronisms, with pop culture references (Harry Potter, Settlers of Catan), and tech culture (smartphones/texting, GPS) to bring the character into today’s world, speaking to the timelessness of Reacher’s fabled existence.

Reacher is a triumph. What a come-back! 10 years later, Jack Reacher rose from the ashes of one screen to spread his wings on another, renewed and resplendent. It was worth the wait.

Feeling salty.

Good day or night, my friends. Today I’ve got some updates of the medical/health variety. (Greetings and gratitude to you who’ve been asking in the after-aftermath of my minor hand surgery!)

It was last week when I went to the VA for a couple of appointments. The first was to Ortho to have my stitches removed. My hand was sprayed with a freezing liquid to numb the area and while that probably helped a lot it still hurt like a mofo when the stitches were removed, but it went superfast. I’m supposed to continue avoiding lifting, pushing, and pulling more than five pounds with that hand for an additional two weeks.

Then I went upstairs to my next appointment – the Endocrinologist – and came out with the best doctor’s orders I ever received, or ever heard of anyone receiving: Eat more salt.

The Endocrinologists are thinking that my hyponatremia (low blood sodium) is due to a combination of Sjögren’s Syndrome-related dry mouth, which can cause excessive thirst, and a possible side effect of one of my psych meds. They’re looking into modifications that can be made to those treatment plans to get my thirst under control. Until then, eat more salt.

So I did what any good patient would do: I immediately went to the Patriot Store on the other end of the hospital, where I picked up a bag of peanuts coated with Tajín Clásico seasoning (chili peppers, sea salt, citric acid, dehydrated lime juice). 360 mgs of sodium in a 1/4 cup serving size. Doctor’s orders!

They can take their time figuring out my new treatment plan, as far as I’m concerned.

I’ve always been more of a salt person than a sugar person. The amount of salt I normally consume is already considered to be “too much” by traditional standards, so in order to eat more, I’m counting my sodium intake. Here’s what I’ve eaten today so far:

1,445 mg sodium. I counted.

The sodium is in the multigrain pita chips, sea salt Popchips, Tajín Clásico peanuts, hummus, and pickles. A friend at work suggested the Popchips because they’re ridiculously salty, he said. They’re not bad. They’re not saltier by my normal definition of salty, but they’re pretty good little vehicles for salt, which is all white potatoes are to me, anyway.

Meanwhile, as I wait for the all-clear to work out again, I’m feeling myself melt uncomfortably into a shapeless puddle of wasted energy, consumed calories roaming in my body all dressed up with nowhere to go. For some mysterious reason,* the doctor doesn’t even want me doing Body Combat (cardio kickboxing/fight training) for another two weeks. I’m sitting on my desk chair with that sensation of my ass spreading over it, as one does when sedentary. I remember this feeling from my office-job days. Is this it for me for the rest of my life? Is this going to be my day-to-day until I depart this Earth? At the job I have now I take more than 10K steps every day, Monday-Friday. I am blessed.

End of updates, and this should do it with mundane medical happenings for a while. I’m looking forward to coming back with another home workout post. You who’ve jumped here from my Funk Roberts MMA workout post: I see you. Thank you for being here despite my scant offering of workout posts!

Have a wonderful rest of your day or night, my friends. Until mid-week, then!

[ETA: Just looked out at my front yard and remembered that I have to get out there to pull the roughly 20 million weeds that’ve sprung up out of nowhere. I suppose that’ll be a decent stand-in workout.]


*Okay, maybe not so mysterious. When I told him that the Body Combat workouts include things like push-ups, burpees, sprawls, and mountain-climbers, he said don’t do those things, and I stupidly said that it would be hard to not do them.

From my food dream diaries: Afghani food.

It’s been one of those weeks yet again, my friends, time-wise. Luckily, I have another gem of a YouTube video to share with you. Last week it was Leon the lobster. This week, I’m sharing a video that readily captured my interested in the area of food and cooking.

Sadia is an Afghan-Canadian woman whose parents fled Afghanistan to Canada to start new lives, and Pick Up Limes is her plant-based food-centric YouTube channel. I watched her video about some of the traditional Afghani foods she grew up eating, and my mouth immediately started watering. You know I’m planning to make all of the recipes in this video. The food looks and sounds scrumptious

Without further ado, may I present Sadia preparing some of her favorite traditional dishes from Afghanistan:

From me to you. If your mouths are watering, too, then my work here is done.

Merry weekend to you, my friends!

Equilibrium. (Mental health check-in! Comfort in the dark: Where I go when wounded.)

Three or four days ago marked the low point of the dramatic ups and downs of last week. That was when I wrote the draft of this post. It served as a kind of therapeutic exercise, and I was going to post it in the mid-week moment, but circumstances had changed in the 24 hours that’d passed, so the post wasn’t applicable any longer. You got Leon the lobster instead. (I’d had it in mind to share him with you at some point, anyway, so I was happy to do it then.) And now I’m reflecting back on the week, as I often do in the quiet moments of the weekend where I sit and ponder this space, and I’m thinking that I want to share this with you even though the moment in question is over. Consider this to be one for the mental health files. You don’t have to have depression or PTSD or any other sort of mental illness to be able to relate to content pertaining to The Downs of life. I could have written this exact same post as a person without depression.

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Tonight, I write to you from a private dark place of mine, the place to which I retreat when wounded in any way. It’s not The Abyss. It’s my comfort zone for situational down times, and it’s soothing. Once I’m here, I’m at ease, despite the dull pain of sadness. (If you’re thinking this is sounding emo, let me assure you that I’m not emo. I found the path to this place back in the sixth grade as the groovy 70’s gave way to the neon 80’s.)

Being here isn’t without its hazards. I’m enticed to find the edge, to get as close to it as possible so I can look down in safety. I push back gently against the desire to visit places I deem to be dangerous, and it’s a resistance that feels good regardless of my degree of success. I get dressed into the self I rarely express to the fullest anymore (mostly due to life – I’m looking at you, COVID). The self-destructive streak that I find to be alluring comes into focus while everything else softens and blurs; I enjoy it, but these days, I’m smarter about it. (Here, I have to check myself and admit that I’m either lying or being pretentious or both. The truth is that I’m smarter about it now because I’ve made the same dumb mistakes countless times, and I’ve finally learned. Or have I…? I don’t know, actually. Maybe that’s too much to hope. Maybe I’m just scared.)

My music here is the biggest comfort. I’m currently obsessed with Angelspit, and at the same time, I’ve revisited my passion for country artist Steve Earle. To complete the trinity, I’ve spent just as much time engrossed in the cozy dark sleeve of classical – specifically the temperamental range of Chopin’s waltzes and all three movements of Beethoven’s Appassionata Sonata, which I play on repeat. Dark electronica (I think of Angelspit as the lovechild of Lords of Acid and KMFDM) and country and classical, my friends. Loving it.

In this dark place I have a vantage point from which I can see irony absolutely everywhere and anywhere. I can cry and laugh (at myself) at the same time and marvel at the brilliant and idiotic fractals that comprise my life. Last night I sustained emotional wounds and went to bed hoping for a diminishing of the pain in my sleep – I don’t know about you, but I would rather wake up from a nightmare than wake up to one. I’d gone to sleep in a strange two-places-at-once, a flashback and a wry look at my life thereafter. This could be translated as self-pity, and I’m not proud of it. I woke up as stunned as I was when I went to bed, cried a little more, and went to work determined to keep the sadness at bay, kicking ass to the fullest extent of my ability – as much as an uncomfortably stitched hand at a hands-on physical job could allow – and I only cried a little bit.

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As mentioned at the beginning, all is well. Within 24 hours of writing the above, I emerged, gathered the pieces on the ground, and put them back together in a new arrangement; equilibrium had been restored. I brought the music out with me, though. That part hasn’t changed.

Thank you for hanging around to read these words, my friends. I hope – I know – that many of you can relate; I appreciate the virtual camaraderie in which we can luxuriate here. Many blessings to you for the new week ahead!

Lobster night.

Friends, circumstances both created and un-created the post I was going to post tonight, if that makes any sense. The last 48 hours have been a whirl.

And so, in lieu of an actual post, I’m going to present to you a YouTube video that I dearly love and have been wanting to share. Circumstances ruined my post, but they created this opportunity! You may have already seen this video, but for those of you haven’t: A guy – Brady Brandwood – purchases a live lobster from the grocery store and makes a wonderful home for him.

This lobster’s name is Leon, and this is the beginning of his story.

As of now, Brady Brandwood has made four videos about Leon the lobster. If you enjoyed this video and want to watch more of Leon’s adventures, do go to Mr. Brandwood’s YouTube channel. I feel like my life is more complete now that I’ve seen and gotten to known this lobster’s personality!

On that note, I’m going to get ready for bed. Merry end of week to you all, my friends.

Fire II. (Fire musing + sharing my Fire altar.)

Hello, my friends. Today is a languid, quiet day, and I’ve spent a good part of it connecting with the fire element. I woke up feeling the call of it. I listen and take action. Fire is about action, after all. Action, transformation, passion, will, courage, among other things. It’s such a gift from Nature to receive the pull toward her elements. Energies unbound in the element are incredible forces.

Fire, to me, is a mysterious and powerful element, the one with which I most resonate. I’m an Earth sign, but my moon is Fire, and your moon sign describes how you express your emotions. Working with Fire energy feels natural.

I love fire scrying in a flame at the end of a long wooden match, then watching it burn itself into nothingness, thin ribbons of smoke unraveling upward through the air, releasing secret messages… a little ritual I do at night when I light the candles on my desk and on the fire altar to the side. Other times, I’ll fixate on an intention burning in my mind while focusing on the flame, and then I imagine it coming to pass as the fire extinguishes, the rising smoke channeling my intention up and dispersing it out into the Universe.

I overdid it with my healing hand yesterday, and today I’m feeling it, so I’m mostly relaxing at my desk. I did, however, remove the items from my Fire altar (next to my desk), clean the shelf, dust each object, and put everything back in a slightly new arrangement. I thought I’d share a pic here for any of you who may be interested in such things. It amounts to most of what I’ve done with this gorgeous day:

Fire altar, current

The colors on this altar are all color correspondences with the element of Fire… yellow, orange, red, gold.

From left: Cast iron cauldron for burning (mostly petitions and woods such as cinnamon sticks); snake plant (one of Fire’s botanical correspondences); yellow and orange votive candle holders – the orange one holds a spool of glittery black twine; tree section coaster holding a red candle and Fire-corresponding minerals of red jasper, Fire opal, carnelian, golden tiger’s eye, and moldavite; a gold bell, and an orange jar holding a wooden wand. The pentagram – which is a representation of nature and her elements, nothing more – holds a yellow metallic votive candle holder, a Fire energy oil blend that I made, a (bowl) bell, a stone/ceramic disc with a depiction of the Sun, the bell’s wooden striking stick, and a glass tube containing paper, herbs, and clear quartz crystals. A brass Sun ornament hangs on the wall next to the snake plant. The Sun is to Fire what the Moon is to Water.

May this find you all healthy and well! Until mid-week, my friends.

Surgery day snafu.

Hi. Not to hype myself up with superlatives or anything, but I’m the worst. I slay myself with my faults and foibles. I have a friend whose face has an imprint of her hand on it because I make her facepalm every day, practically.

Some of my fumbles are mortifying, but others are panic-inducing, like the one that happened the morning of my surgery.

My surgery was scheduled for 7:30am Monday. I had to be there to check in at 6:45am sharp. Between the scheduling and the actual day there were letters and emails and texts and voicemails and in-person reminders, all very strict and adamant about this! I had to arrive no later than 6:45am!

So what did I do? I woke up at 6:50am when the nurse called to ask me where I was. It was five minutes past my arrival time, and I was at home, in bed.

Turned out that my alarm didn’t go off because when I set it, my finger (must have) accidentally touched the “S” for Saturday. My alarm was set to go off in five days.

My friends, it is not possible to quantify the panic that ensued. My check-in was five minutes ago! I’m taking an Uber to the hospital!! I’m going to miss my surgery!!!

Cue the festivities.

Somehow, I reigned in my hyperventilation enough to check my voicemail, because I knew that the nurse had left one. Of course I had 12 new voicemails to get through first! (Why am I like this?!) When I finally dug through the pile and got to the voicemail from the nurse, my hand was shaking and my brain was in a fog of panic and I didn’t have a pen, so naturally I thought, I can memorize the call-back number! No. I couldn’t. At least I’d saved her message, but in order to hear it again, I had to first listen to my two previously saved messages, which are dear to me and so shall remain saved until the end of time. But they are long. When I finally got to her message again, I had a pen, and I was ready to sprint out the door. I’d gone ahead and ordered my Uber, because my plan was to get to the hospital anyway and sit there in hopes of I didn’t even know what, at that point. It was 7:20am. My surgery was supposed to start in 10 minutes. The Uber, which would usually arrive in 2-7 minutes, was going to arrive in 24 minutes because of the 2022 WM Phoenix Open (golf tournament). Sunday was the final day of the tournament, and Monday morning was tournament attendees (aka everyone and their mother) taking Ubers to the airport, of course.

Ten thousand years later, I was able to call the nurse. She was very sweet, calm, and reassuring in the most wonderful motherly way. She said, “It’s alright, don’t panic, everything is fine, just come in as soon as possible.” I was practically in tears. I got to the hospital in jammies with bedhead and unbrushed teeth – fortunately, I was masked – and this, my friends, is me in a nutshell. A veritable mess. If you know me in person and you think I’ve got my shit together, trust me, it’s a facade. Looks are deceiving. Internally, it’s Armageddon, and it is not pretty.

At the hospital at last, forms were signed. There was no wait. The nurses, anesthesiologist, and surgeon were all friendly, relaxed, in good humor. No one was mad at me! It was astonishing, like I’d walked into a Twilight Zone of kindness. I apologized to everyone, and they all good-naturedly brushed it off. I was in shock because when I woke up to the phone ringing, it was like I’d missed a flight, in my mind. I’d missed my flight and the plane was not coming back for me. But the plane was there, the doors were open, and everyone was super nice. They all had a right to be supremely annoyed, but they weren’t… at least, if they were, they didn’t show it.

I’m so grateful every day. The Universe shows me in blunt ways how very grateful I should be, because the more I f*ck up, the more I realize how lucky I am, and I f*ck up a lot.

I’m grateful that the team took me for the surgery, and I’m grateful that it went well. (It was a simple, common procedure for trigger thumb with cyst removal.) I can now look forward to regaining full use of my hand, as the pain in the heel of my hand had cut my capacity by about 50%. I’m grateful for my friend who picked me up from the hospital.

I stayed home from work for the required 48 hours, and I went back in today.

After work, I took a short walk to the Tempe Town Lake bridge that’s behind the Center for the Arts. There was a beautiful ballerina in a single-shoulder pink leotard modeling action shots in a professional photoshoot, leaping and fluttering and displaying impossible feats of flexibility in her pointe shoes on her toes in the middle of the bridge. The bridge trembles slightly when we ordinary people walk across it; when the ballerina leaped and landed, the bridge was still.

I came home and sat down here to take a selfie, because.

End of day hey. [13 Feb 2022]

I hope this finds you doing well, or better, or whatever kind of positive state applies. Until the next time, my friends!

misc. + REACHER on my radar.

You know what I love about my neighborhood? Late at night I can jump into my car and drive two minutes down the street to meet with a friend who needs something, walking through their apartment complex parking lot in my black and red tartan on white oversize sweatpants and pastel lavender, pink, blue, and yellow tie-dye sweatshirt and my faux fur leopard print jacket flung half-on over that – and socks with fake Birkenstocks from Target and my old bent wire “at home” glasses and my hair in more of a tangled mess than usual – and I blend right in. No one cares what anyone’s wearing out in public at 10:30pm. I visit the tiny old tucked-away neighborhood grocery store known only by neighborhood residents, and it feels like home. I give the elderly homeless man out front two bucks and an energy bar and we chat for two minutes like we’re old acquaintances.

Speaking of that whole vibe! About the Reacher series that recently dropped on Amazon Prime, since I’ve noticed a spike in views on my Reacher posts since the show’s release (welcome!): I’m having surgery on my hand tomorrow, and the plan for my 48-hr mandatory at-home convalescence is to binge all of Reacher. I’ve been hoarding the show specifically for the occasion. I have the snacks, my friends. Oh yes. It’s going down.

I’m in between places at the moment, so I’ll explain about the surgery later. Suffice it to say for now that it’s a very minor and very common out-patient procedure, and I’m thrilled to be getting it done, finally!

Blessings to you all, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, my friends. Until mid-week!

Missed Connections Exquisite Corpse, 13

You’re at a party, and someone goes up to a blank wall and writes a thought on one line… a thought, an idea, or a picture lyrically or narratively stated. They walk away, and another person goes to the wall. They read the line of text and follow it up with a line of their own, a response. A third person approaches the wall and reads the last line written, just that one line, and then they write a single line in response to that. Finally, you go to the wall. You read the last line only – the one written by the person who’d just left – and you pen your response in a single line below it. Now you’re the last person; someone else will come along and read what you wrote and respond to it in kind.

When everyone at the party has written their line, when there’s no one left to add a new thought, the collected lines are read as a single, complete poem. It was written by each person in the room, line by line. And that, my friends, is how you play the Surrealists’ Exquisite Corpse party game.

Longtime friends in this space, you’ve now seen as many as 12 Exquisite Corpse poems here, and you know that I harvest the lines from Craigslist’s Missed Connections section. I very rarely find myself socializing with a group of people, so I visit Missed Connections online and take liberties, with gratitude: I borrow the entries’ subject lines that strike me in some kind of way, and I arrange them in a manner that pleases me. Then I post them here for you to read, of course.

And now, having arrived at the point, I’ll share the 13th poem in my Missed Connections Exquisite Corpse series. This is also my first Missed Connections Exquisite Corpse poem of 2022! We’re on the cusp of Valentine’s Day weekend, and this collection of MC subject lines allowed me to create a small lyric somewhat appropriate for the occasion – appropriate, albeit sad.

Enjoy this poem of 15 lines written by 15 complete strangers:

Missed Connections Exquisite Corpse, 13

Missed you at the park,
Train ride about six years ago,
Late Happy Birthday.
I know this is wishful thinking,
Just me,
Just a sad sack…
If you missed me, then I missed you,
Heart inside out.
You looked back twice.
I’m not supposed to miss you, but I do,
Singing in the night.
Meant to keep it casual –
What a strange and interesting way,
Entangled in you.
Distractions.

The End, and also the beginning, my friends… of a weekend that I hope will be positively memorable to you, whether related to St. Valentine or not.

My cat died over six months ago, and I’m not “over it.” (What not to say to someone grieving the loss of a pet.)

Hello, my friends. This is a little on the heavy side, but I said that I would post it, so…

I wanted to come back from Salem’s death six months later with an update on how things have shaken out over time, for anyone who’s wondering or who might be on the same path. The update was going to look something like this: I’ve moved through the stages of grief, and now I’m on the other side. Unfortunately, that is not what this update looks like.

My cat died over six months ago, and I’m not “over it.” I shouldn’t have to feel that this is a confession, as if it’s something that demands justification, but I kind of do. In our society, there seems to be a suggested expiration date for grieving the loss of a pet.

Some remarks made to me within two weeks of Salem’s death (not that they would’ve been okay at any other time):

“She was killed by an owl? That’s just nature.” ~My former lunch-break acquaintance across the street from my workplace.

“Just, you know, get over it.” ~A dear friend I’ve had since the ’90’s.

“She was just a cat.” ~The same former lunch-break acquaintance.

Friend from the 90’s: You should just get another cat.
Me: I have Nenette, my indoor ca –
Friend (cutting me off): Well clearly that one isn’t enough for you if you’re still upset about the other one.
Me (stunned):

To be fair, both of the individuals who counseled me with these remarks are over 25 years my senior. They’re of another generation, and they both had rural upbringings. These factors do inform their thinking, I’m aware. I also know that they were well-intentioned; neither of them meant to be hurtful.

But I don’t understand them, these comments. Timing aside, they got me thinking. Here’s what I concluded:

If you wouldn’t say it to a human parent, don’t say it to a pet parent.

Can you imagine saying to a mother that her daughter’s death was “just nature” if her daughter had been fatally attacked by a bear?

If her infant daughter had been snatched and killed by the same enormous and powerfully taloned raptor that took and killed my Salem,* I wouldn’t tell the grieving mother to “just get over it” because it was “just nature.”

And I certainly wouldn’t tell her to “just have another baby” because “clearly your other daughter isn’t enough for you if you’re still upset about this one.”

By the same token, Salem was my daughter. It’s always been this way with my animal babies. My cat and my tortoise know me and love me as their mother, and I couldn’t be more their mom if they were human. Salem wasn’t “just a cat,” I can’t “just get over” her killing, and I’m not comforted when someone reassures me that her death was “just nature.” Neither would anyone else.

Keying out these well-intentioned statements, it strikes me that the word “just” is in all of them, and I realize that “just” is the four-letter word to avoid when talking to someone grieving the loss of their pet. “Just” belittles and diminishes. It implies that your loss is insignificant, and that therefore your lost loved one was insignificant.

I know that Salem is forever a part of the cosmos, a star in the constellation of Leo, and that I’m there with her. When I registered our twin stars, I hoped that knowing this would make for a quicker and easier grieving process, and it has helped. It’s just taking a while. For one thing, I have to be able to move past the fact that she’d fallen asleep out in the open because of me.

So that’s the update, friends. Grief is a personal journey, different from person to person and from case to case. I have a unique grief journey with every loss. It could be a walk down the street, or it could be a walk to the other side of the country. I’m still navigating this one. I’ll get there eventually.**

~~~~~

*Salem was a feral cat who took up residence in my yard and outdoor laundry room. She loved me and interacted with me and behaved as a trusting housecat, attached to her yard and to me, but she remained just feral enough that she wouldn’t allow me to touch her. That was her one remaining boundary, and because of it, I wasn’t able to bring her into the house.

~~~~~

**I’m not over here moping through life. I laugh and have fun and feel energized taking on challenges, and I look forward to things! I may not feel deep joy, but I do feel contentment that comes from a place of gratitude. Gratitude that accompanies heartbreak is a balm. It keeps me grounded in perspective. Poet Henry David Longfellow wrote that “it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all,” and I find this to be such a beautifully stated truth.

May this find you all safe and well, my friends. Until next time!

Brain freeze.

We’re having a bit of a cold snap here in Phoenix Metro, my friends, and of course I only realized it when I got to work this morning and it was too late. I swear I have to laugh. If my brain was the cosmos, 60% of it would be black holes.

Temperatures dropped to near-freezing as I slept last night, and I had no idea. I woke up and blithely got ready for work in the same manner as always. The house felt chillier than usual. I noted this and gave it no further thought. My mug of hot matcha-mushroom tea warmed me in its reliable way, and that was what mattered.

When I stripped to change into my work clothes, I again ignored the biting cold for the warning that it was. As I’d done the day before – for reasons I don’t understand – I didn’t put on the usual winter long-sleeve layer… just the usual work tee over the usual sleeveless tee, and then a thin hoodie beneath my larger, heavier one. I wore chunky long winter socks and my winter hiking (?) boots, again as usual.

Then I got to work.

And I wanted to hit rewind on the whole damn morning.

Specifically, I wanted to go back to the part where I was deciding against adding a long-sleeve layer beneath my two jackets, because that right there was the kiss-of-death decision. But I had an emergency furry vest in my locker, which I put over my thin jacket and under my thick one, and an emergency pair of Hothands, which I activated and put in my pockets.

Somehow I survived the morning. At lunch I sat in my car (as I do) and absorbed the blessed heat within. This is Arizona for you: our desert sun is so bright and strong, it warms the inside of your car to almost-hot, even in the bitter cold. And at some point in the afternoon, the cold in my workplace eased up, so the day ended up well… at least much better than how it started.

Let me just state for the record that I’m not mad at the cold at work, and I don’t love my job any less because of it. I work in an old-school warehouse (as opposed to a gargantuan bright shiny automated Amazon warehouse), and as such, there’s no heating. It’s the nature of the place. It’s dusty and old, atmospheric like a dimly lit antique bookstore or curio thrift shop… in other words, in the best of ways. We have old skylights; the brightness in the space fluctuates with the brightness outside. We have a ghost. (The ghost would be mad as hell in an Amazon warehouse, let me tell you.)

So I go to work on winter days fully expecting to be cold to some extent. It’s up to me to prepare for the day, and today, I blew it. And I paid for it. BUT NOT TOMORROW, my friends. Oh no. Tomorrow I’m going to conquer the cold, and I’m looking forward to it! Conditions will be the same tonight and tomorrow: freezing. Bring it.

Now I’m in my office with the electric fireplace on and Nenette sprawled out in front of it, and I’m snug in the bathrobe I’ve got wrapped over my soft at-home layers, and the usual candles are lit on my desk, and I took another selfie, because I remembered.

Candlelight is for people who are too lazy to use filters.

I hope this finds you all keeping comfortable in whatever climate conditions you’ve got going on in your lives, wherever you are in the world. Take good care and stay safe, my friends!

Mr. Sandman, shut off that app.

About a month ago I apparently unplugged my phone from its extension cord, a difficult and unnecessary thing to do, while sleeping. An app was playing, so by morning, the battery had run down. The alarm didn’t go off, and I missed my Saturday morning workout.

This is what I’ve been wanting to talk to you about, my friends: sleep apps, and why I’m going to run the other way if one gets near me.

The night of The Unplugging, I’d fallen asleep to the sound of a bonfire on the beach, my favorite selection on the sleep/meditation/relaxation app I’d been playing nightly. Fading out of consciousness to the sound of a crackling fire and waves crashing faintly in the background had been bliss, but there’d been a few contradictory incidents. Sometimes I woke up in the night as if disturbed by this sound that I found so pleasant.

On at least one occasion, I got out of bed and turned off the app, fully aware as I did it. On at least three other occasions, I woke up to my alarm but found that my bonfire on the beach had somehow been replaced by other soundscapes, ones that I didn’t like.

Now there was this strange new twist: Sometime during the night, the phone had been unplugged from its extension cord. How?

How did this happen?

I must have done it, but I can’t begin to guess why. If I wanted to stop the app, well, there are many ways to go about silencing a phone. I could have done it the way I’d done before, which was to simply get up and turn off the app. If silencing the phone was what I wanted to do, then why didn’t I just do that? I also could have:

Hit pause.
Turned the media volume all the way down.
Turned off the phone.
Unplugged the phone from its charger.
Unplugged the extension cord from its easily accessible outlet in the wall.

But no. Instead, I (presumably) went to the wall and placed my right shoulder against it and twisted my body sideways so I could reach down with my right hand into the narrow space between the shelving unit and the wall to grab for the extension cord, pull it up, and unplug the phone adapter – differentiating between the adapter and the lamp plug that was also connected to the extension cord – in the dark of night, in my sleep, using my disabled left hand (that can’t grasp) to firmly grasp the extension cord while pulling the adapter out with my right hand. I woke up with no recollection of having done any of it. All I had was a dead phone, a missed workout, a friend I’d stood up, and a lot of questions.

A tight adapter connection in a tight squeeze of a place.

The idea of having done such a thing in my sleep – with no memory of having done it – is downright spooky, and not in a good way.

I mean, it doesn’t make any sense. As far as I know, I don’t sleepwalk. I find the notion of engaging in the whole operation of unplugging my phone from its extension cord in my sleep to be so outlandish that it’s easy to doubt that I even did it at all. It had to have been me, though, because if not me, than who?

1). Theory one: Nenette.
The chances of Nenette accidentally unplugging the phone adapter from the extension cord are less than 0. I have a better chance of getting eaten by a shark in Kansas.

2). Theory two: Another human.
Someone broke into the house without waking me up, crept into my bedroom, retrieved the extension cord from behind the shelving, unplugged the phone from the extension cord, and left.

3). Theory three: Aliens.
Because when the question is weird tech-related events in the night, the answer is always aliens.

4). Theory four: An energy, perhaps the same one that caused the post-it note to skitter across my desk last week.

It had to have been me.

Thinking back to the times I’d woken up to sounds other than the one that I chose, I have to wonder what, exactly, I’d been hearing at the time that I unplugged the phone. What was it about the sounds that prompted my sleeping brain to get my body up and active in performing the complex series of steps involved in disconnecting the phone adaptor from the extension cord? It would’ve been painful, too, because of my hand. What subliminal messages might the app have been feeding me?

These thoughts sent my mind out on a whole sleep-app conspiracy theory expedition. I didn’t come to any conclusions, but I haven’t used the app since.

In any event, one way or the other, I ended up getting more sleep, and I didn’t further injure myself, as I might have if I’d done my workout. An intervention had been staged in some sort of way. As good of a thing this may have been, I’m seriously done with sleep apps. I don’t know what exactly I’m hearing at night, nor do I understand how the brain takes and processes messages.

On that note, I’m going to bed. No apps will be playing.

Have a lovely night or day yourselves, friends. Stay safe!

The secret lives of post-its.

A strange thing happened about an hour ago: a small post-it note went skittering sideways across the top of my desk, from right to left. It stopped in front of me just to the left of my laptop.

I wasn’t touching the desk at the time because I was sitting back and reading an online article. The room was silent, as I wasn’t listening to anything. Nenette was curled up on my bed in the other room. There’d been no sudden movement, or any movement. There’d been no gust of air. Everything in the room was still. If there had been a gust of air, the post-it would’ve wafted over. When I say that the note skittered, I mean that it skipped along lightly and quickly, on its edge. It made the creepy skittering sound. The spectacle reminded me of how my childhood cat would sometimes run sideways across the yard.

There is absolutely no logical explanation for this, my friends. None. It doesn’t matter how badly you want there to be one; there simply isn’t one. The laws of physics in this dimension of reality were violated. There’d been nothing in this realm that could have propelled the post-it note in such a manner – I’ve never seen a piece of paper move the way this one did, in any circumstance – and so I decided I’d better pay attention to the words I’d written on it:

Essential oil ingredients for the perfume I’m going to make.

This list was on my desk because I only have one of these three ingredients. The note was a reminder to order the other two, and I hadn’t gotten to it yet. I ordered them immediately, because when the Universe puts something like this in front of your face, it’s chop chop. The oils will arrive tomorrow.

This was not what I’d planned to share with you tonight! I was going to post about another weird thing that’d happened, but I’ll regale you with that particular tale mid-week. Weird shenanegans are afoot, my friends. Weird shenanegans are afoot, but I don’t mean this in a bad way. There may not be logical explanations for how things could have happened, but there’s always a reason for them.

The post-it note skittered sideways across my desk before my eyes as if on its own volition; consequently, I’ll have, by Monday night, a perfume oil with a sandalwood base. In terms of spiritual properties, sandalwood brings one closer to the divine, and it promotes mental clarity. Rose essence is a mood-booster. Sweet orange essence brings spiritual awareness, and it’s also associated with abundance. My spiritual guides want me to get on with making this perfume so that I can wear these essences on my skin sooner rather than later, and so they made sure that I will.

I feel blessed to receive such guidance. I am blessed, and I’m endlessly grateful for it.

I’m also glad to have one less post-it note on my desk!

Good night or morning or day, my friends. Until we meet again.