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

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

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

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

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

Hibiscus after a rain

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

May this find you all doing well, my friends!

The night I was held hostage by a roach.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy weekend eve, Everyone!

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

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

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

Salem at home.

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

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

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

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

Salem, a star in Leo.

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

Twin stars


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

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

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

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

Salem’s constellation

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

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

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

My little girl in the cosmos

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

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

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

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

Regulus, Leo’s alpha star.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dressxx.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The sky at 11:00pm last night:

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

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

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

The video:

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

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

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

Be well, my friends.

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

Hello, my friends.

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

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

1). The Ice Road (Netflix)

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

2). Katla (Netflix)

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

Now for the consumables!

3). UpTime White Peach Lemonade Energy Drink.

UpTime White Peach Lemonade Energy Drink

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

Next, meet my favorite raisin bran:

4). Uncle Sam Skinner’s Raisin Bran.

Uncle Sam Skinner’s Raisin Bran

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

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

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

5). Peanut Butter Cookie Lara Bar.

Larabar Peanut Butter Cookie

INGREDIENTS
Dates, peanuts, sea salt

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

6). Back to Nature Harvest Whole Wheat Crackers.

Back to Nature Harvest Whole Wheat Crackers

INGREDIENTS
Whole Grain Wheat, Safflower Oil, Sea Salt

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

7). Cherries and Santa Rosa plums.

Santa Rosa plums; dark cherries

Also, it was/is artichoke season!

Artichoke

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

8). Living Intentions Activated Superfood Popcorn Salsa Verde.

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

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

9). Coconut Bliss Ice Cream Dark Chocolate.

Coconut Bliss Ice Cream Dark Chocolate

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

I love the vanilla one, too!

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

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

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

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

Not to be abrupt, but… The End.

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

Good night, Salem.

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

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

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

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

But she wasn’t there on Sunday night.

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

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

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

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

I felt sick.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was like Salem had been dropped from the sky.

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

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

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

She replied:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now I know.

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

My sweet Salem (? – June 27, 2021)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ready for some mundanity? Let’s go!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Ate a peanut butter cookie Lara Bar.

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

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

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

I love this cover of Mr. Sandman

-Ate a plum when I got home.

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

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

-6:28pm: Called Mom.

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

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

-Watched an episode of Katla on Netflix.

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

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

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

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

Have I mentioned how much I love SkyView?

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

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

-Came back in and took a shower.

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

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

Have a lovely rest of your day, my friends.

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

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

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

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

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

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

And we have a shot.

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

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

The Moon on Strawberry Moon Eve

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

Happy Strawberry Moon, my friends.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wreath for Litha/Summer Solstice 2021

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

Blessed Be, my friends.


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

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

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

Our conversation went like:

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

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

ME: O
M
G

HER: Right?

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

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

ME: OK

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

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

[A minute passes]

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

ME: O
M

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

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

HER: What is happening Kristi!!!!

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

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

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

Further down in our conversation, she said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEMINIS!

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

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

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

MERCURY RETROGRADE

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

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

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

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

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

JUNE 10, 2021 ANNULAR SOLAR ECLIPSE

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

NORTH NODE IN GEMINI

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

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

THE NODES OF DESTINY (KARMIC NODES)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At any rate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vega, appearing blue for my phonecam!

I love my stars.

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

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

Blessed be on this Friday eve!

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

Greetings, friends!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Onward, then!

WINTER:

Gemini (the winter constellation Gemini)

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

Pollux (in the winter constellation Gemini)

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

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

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

SPRING:

Arcturus (in the spring constellation Boötes)

Arcturus is Boötes’ alpha star.

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

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

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

Spica (in the spring constellation Virgo)

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

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

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

Regulus (in the spring constellation Leo)

Regulus is Leo’s alpha star.

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

Gemma is Corona Borealis’ alpha star.

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

Cor Caroli is Canes Venatici’s alpha star.

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

SUMMER:

Vega (in the summer constellation Lyra)

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

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

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

Altair (in the summer constellation Aquila)

Altair is Aquila’s alpha star.

Antares (in the summer constellation Scorpius)

Antares is Scorpius’ alpha star.

Deneb (in the summer constellation Cygnus)

Deneb is Cygnus’ alpha star.

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

Ras Algethi is Hercules’ alpha star.

AND FINALLY:

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

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

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

First roach sighting of the year, check.

I saw a roach on the back patio the other day. It was early in the morning, and I spotted it through the sliding-glass door as I was about to step outside to feed Salem. It was at a glance and without my glasses, but there was no mistaking the narrow, orangish-brown oblong shape on its back with its legs tangled in the air and long antennae flat on the concrete. The sight of it threw me into a panic. I wouldn’t be able to avert my eyes. I wouldn’t be able to walk around it and pretend that it wasn’t there. It was right in front of Salem’s bowl. It was exactly where I’d have to crouch down to scoop out her food.

Here in Phoenix Metro, this is how we know it’s officially summer. It gets hot, and the large roaches come out at night. This one was dead because I have Creepy Crawley come out regularly to spray. Not that it matters. They freak me out when they’re dead as much as they do when they’re alive. As far as I’m concerned, roaches are nature’s abomination. Something has to be, right?

I stayed in the house and thought about what to do, and then I braced myself to carry out my plan, which would be to sweep the roach away from the area without looking at it. I knew that some amount of looking at it would be necessary, but I figured if I could glance down quickly, just once, just enough to position the broom where it needed to be, then I could follow through with the sweeping motion without looking.

It’s internal chaos with this paralyzing phobia. I could feel my heart pounding my stomach into knots as I stepped outside. My lungs were afraid to breathe, and the crawling sensation on my lower legs made it hard to move. But my baby was hungry, and I had to get ready for work. There was no time for messing around.

I gripped the broom with both hands and stretched my arms out to their fullest extent so I could stand as far away from the roach as possible, then glanced down quickly, lowered the broom to where I thought it needed to be, and swept. It didn’t work the first time, but the second time, I stepped back and bent forward to get a better reach with more accuracy (should I take up golf?) and executed a more forceful sweep. The roach went flying out of the patio area and onto the path leading to the back gate.

Sitting off to the side, Salem, who’d been watching me intently, followed the roach’s trajectory with her eyes and pounced on it. This actually gladdened my heart. Another sign of Salem’s transformation from feral to domesticated! She’d been playing with her toys in the laundry room for months. I’ve found them all over the place, even outside of the laundry room, but for her to actively engage with me while playing would be taking it to the next level. It would be another milestone in her development!

With this thought in mind, I was able to feed Salem with a little happiness to take the edge off the horror. But dismay lingered in my mind for the next few days as I contemplated the issue of roaches outside on the hot summer nights.

Because my habit is to go out to the backyard every night to be with the stars and the moon and the planets. Going outside at night to gaze at the celestial bodies while bonding with Salem is the highlight of my day. How was I going to manage it with the roaches out there, too?

At first, I thought I’d just have to stop doing it. I couldn’t see bonding with the stars and the moon and Salem AND THE ROACHES. The idea of standing out there with roaches skittering around was pure nightmare fuel.

But in the end, I was not going to let the roaches keep me inside and away from my beloved night sky and sweet daughter of the night. And that is why there’s now a pair of combat boots in the basket by the sliding-glass door. I have an official uniform for summer nighttime skygazing: jeans tucked into combat boots with whatever t-shirt. It makes me feel safer.

Salem seemed disappointed when she found a roach rather than an actual toy, but when I got home from work that day, the roach was gone. Either she’d deigned to play with it, or a bird had come to take it away. Either way, good riddance.

This Wednesday’s (tomorrow’s) SUPER FLOWER BLOOD MOON (May’s full moon + total lunar eclipse!)

My friends, the lunar event of the year is nigh, and I’m so excited for it. I’m talking about this month’s full moon. On Wednesday, May 26th, May’s full moon will rise to its peak as the flower moon (as Native Americans have named May’s full moon), a supermoon (the largest and brightest of the year’s two), and a blood moon, on account of the total lunar eclipse that will be taking place… the only one of 2021.

Whew! GET READY.

With this moon positioned closer to Earth than it’ll ever be this year, we’re in for amplified power of the already powerful full moon. With this full moon also being a blood moon because of the total lunar eclipse, we’ll experience yet deeper potency of the full moon’s effects on our lives. We’ll feel these effects whether we’re thinking about the moon or not.

The eclipse will occur at 7:14am EST here in North America, but those east of Mississippi likely won’t be able to see it. West of Mississippi and east of Texas, I believe, folks will be able to see a partial eclipse. Here in the west, we’ll be able to view the total eclipse. I’ll be getting up early-early-early, because EST eclipse time translates to 4:14am Arizona time.

This full moon is rising in Sagittarius as the sun is positioned in Gemini. I’ve been studying the planetary positions and transits and everything taking place around this full moon, and I don’t even know where to begin with it all… but now, I just want to hurry and post this in case you haven’t come across news of this event elsewhere!

In short, this is a time to ask ourselves whether we are where we want to be, and if not, why. Could it be that there’s something negative in our past, literal or karmic, that we no longer need? That’s holding us back, perhaps?

This is a time for cleansing.

This is a time for cleaning house in every sense of the term. Cleaning our physical spaces is the easy part. Cleaning house in terms of getting our shit together in our daily lives is a bit more difficult. In a broader, metaphysical sense, we face a most difficult and uncomfortable sort of housecleaning: in order to clean house, we need to go inward and engage in honest self-evaluation.

Because this is a time for letting go. And we’re lucky, because Jupiter sitting in Pisces right now emboldens and inspires us to do it. Jupiter rules Sagittarius, the sign in which this magnificent Super Flower Blood Moon is rising, as I’ve mentioned. Jupiter is happy-go-lucky (emphasis on both happy and lucky). It’s optimism and adventure. It’s forward-moving and expansive and free… and it’s carrying its multitude of possibilities along in the watery vibes of Pisces. It wants us to go with the flow. It does not want us to be held back.

Letting go is painful, but now is a good time to do it. The cosmic circumstances of (and surrounding) this full moon are creating an anesthesia for us so we can unburden ourselves and move forward and thrive in the joyful, optimistic energy of Sagittarius. This is a transformative time!

If you’re held underwater by an anchor roped around your boot, you’d pull your foot out of the boot so you can rise to the surface, right? You’d leave it behind so you can live. You don’t need it, anyway.

Blessings to you under the Super Flower Blood Moon of 2021!

Bringing it inside, keeping it inside. (Living Room Gym WORKOUT! Les Mills BodyCombat!)

Hello! I’d originally planned to write about our upcoming total lunar eclipse, but I figured it would make more sense to offer that post closer to the event, as in, the night before. Look for that post on Tuesday night!

Today, I’ve got a workout post that’s long overdue. I’d intended to do this about a year ago. I believe that I did post some sort of living-room workout before that, but I can’t find it now! As I recall, the notion was “this is to give you an idea of it, but I’ll come back with a real living-room workout post soon.” By “real,” I was thinking “with five thousand pics.” So here, finally, is that workout post.

We have NutritionalDirect to thank for this, as they featured one of my garage gym posts on their site last week. It was the nudge that I needed. I was reminded that many of you are here because of the garage gym/fitness/martial arts aspect of my blog, and I apologize for my neglect in this vein, my friends. This post is for you, as well as for anyone else who may be interested.

I got right to it. I saw my post on NutritionalDirect on Monday, and on Wednesday, I set up my phone to record my Les Mills BodyCombat workout.

The thing I’m happiest to show with this post is the sort of workout that can be done in a small space. BodyCombat is a dynamic, varied, and fast-paced workout, and it requires no equipment other than a yoga mat (if you have a hard floor). I do the full one-hour version in this little space between furniture and the window wall – we’re talking a 9′ x 8′ space, roughly.* I do have to make modifications when advancing in any direction, but that’s totally inconsequential. Anything that involves advancing to cover space can be done just as effectively in place!

*Granted, I’m 5′, 4″. A taller person would have a harder time in this small space, to be sure.

Please pay no mind to the wild fluctuations in lighting throughout the hour. I do not have an actual camera or lights for filming, so I’m working with daylight and my overhead light. Light fades in and out. The lower I am to the floor, the darker it gets.

Let’s get into it!

shoots (MMA)

knee strikes

(between strikes)

side kick (Why do I never pivot my standing foot enough?!)

squats

running – high knees

some kind of plyo – I think this is just leaping up from a shoot

sprints – impossible to capture in a still from a video, but for what it’s worth!

jump kick in process – limited by space overhead (ceiling fan) and in front (wall), but still.

ginga (Capoeira)
Muay Thai

Muay Thai

Muay Thai

still Muay Thai, I think

elbow strike (Muay Thai)

[NOTE: my guard in all of the above Muay Thai pics is WRONG! I know better. It’s good to review my form like this every once in a while]

running man knees (lame-ass pic, I know, but that’s what was happening here.)

push kick (still Muay Thai!)

more running

push-ups
C-crunches

back lifts/raises/supermans/whatever they’re called

Jumping in to switch legs during the stretching

cool-down kata

quad stretch

OG readers, remember “walking-off” pics at the end of garage gym workout posts? This is the living-room version, I guess. I didn’t have far to walk!

If you’re interested in doing this Les Mills BodyCombat workout (this one was release #64) or any of the other hundreds offered by Les Mills, click here to explore Les Mills On Demand. Les Mills’ workouts are world-class. They are amazing. Every workout I do is on this app!

Happy new week to you, my friends!

Apologies for my eyes (that won’t stay open).

Nah… let’s not blame my eyes, which are innocent. It’s me with my terrible time-management skills. [::shakes fist at self::]

In lieu of a post tonight, I thought I’d drop in with an apology for not having a post tonight. I know I’ve been delinquent in getting my mid-week posts up, and this is not how I would like for things to be. Lest you think otherwise, I do plan to continue with the mid-week posts!

I had one planned for tonight – a much-requested and long overdue “garage gym” (read: living room) post – but it’s not going to happen until next week, unfortunately.

This Saturday, now! I’m beside myself with anticipation of next week’s lunar event, so I’ll be writing about that for Saturday night.

A sneak peek:

–Next week, on Wednesday, May 26, May’s full moon will rise in Sagittarius while we are in Gemini season.

–It will be the second supermoon – and the last – of 2021. This supermoon will be slightly more “super” than last month’s; it will be the largest, brightest moon of the year.

–It will be the Flower Moon.

–And it will be a Blood Moon. Why? Because we’re going to have a total lunar eclipse. The supermoon will be reddish in color.

It will be an ideal time for us all, if we are mindful of the opportunities for growth the cosmos is going to set before us. The total lunar eclipse Super Flower Blood Moon in Sagittarius during Gemini season promises to be one of the most spectacular celestial events of the year, if not the most, not to mention one of the most powerful times!

There’s so much going on, and I can’t wait to get into more detail when I post this weekend. For now, though, I’m going to crawl into bed. This is where I call it a night.

I hope this finds you all well!

Sociopaths: Stigmatized into the shadows. (On Antisocial Personality Disorder.)

Greetings. It’s been a while since I’ve written a mental health-related post, mostly because I’ve been blessed to be in a good place for such a sustained period of time.

Tonight, however, I’ve got a specific mental health topic on my mind. I want to talk about sociopaths; that is, people who are diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder. I’d actually planned to post along these lines last Wednesday/Thursday night, but I found myself blocked and floundering in my attempt to shape my thoughts around my feelings. I didn’t know how, exactly, to say what I want to say.

I guess I’ll start with the basic idea that society has determined that it’s okay to openly abhor and malign sociopaths. We perceive them to be less than human because they lack empathy and can’t feel guilt or remorse. They’re seen as a danger against the general public, and against us as individuals. Thus dehumanized and diagnostically relieved of any benefits of the doubt, sociopaths are open for castigation from all angles. (Okay, that might sound a little dramatic. What I mean is that at the least, there’s a general consensus that sociopaths don’t deserve kindness.)

We don’t consider what we’re doing to be a vilification. We consider sociopaths to be villains by definition, so we can’t be vilifying them, right? Neither do our societal rules against hate speech apply to them, because hate speech is only hate speech if it’s directed at humans, not at monsters. And so we will say that sociopaths are demonic. We will suggest that sociopaths should be rounded up and deposited on an island, just as lepers were shipped off to the Hawaiian island of Molokai in the 19th century… but you can bet that there wouldn’t be a Father Damien for the sociopaths on the island.

Reaching further beyond hate speech, there are books written matter-of-factly about how to detect “the sociopath next door,” and how to arm yourselves against them. Such literary material encourages us to become armchair psychologists while seeding fear and perpetuating the stereotype of sociopaths being monsters walking around in human suits, one-dimensional and beyond hope, help, or understanding.

So here’s what I’ve been thinking (and I know that this may be an unpopular opinion): Empathy, while important, is overrated.

People with empathy can and do engage in gaslighting, manipulation, and verbal/mental/psychological abuse. People with empathy can and do commit murder, premeditated and otherwise. In fact, only people who have empathy can commit “crimes of passion,” some of the most violent and gruesome murders, because these crimes are emotionally driven. Sociopaths don’t act out of emotion. Where is the book warning us about the person next door who might have empathy?

The fact of the matter is that high-functioning sociopaths can be morally good people. They can be morally good because there’s nothing stopping them from having a moral compass based on ethics.

I’ve been pondering this for a while, too, the relationship between empathy and ethics. No matter how I look at it, I see that ethics is intellectual reasoning and empathy is emotion and the two things are unrelated. Sociopaths don’t have empathy; we act as if it’s impossible to be morally good if you lack empathy. I just don’t think that this is the case. Ethics is what’s behind our ideas of right and wrong, not empathy.

I find it sad that in all the talk I hear swirling around the importance of destigmatizing mental illnesses, sociopaths are left out of the conversation. Antisocial Personality Disorder simply isn’t up for discussion, because we see sociopaths as unfixable and unworthy of medical attention. All we’re taught about sociopaths is that they’re ruthless fiends who should be avoided at all costs. We (the ones who have empathy!) treat sociopaths as “other” so we can’t be accused of hypocrisy when we speak of accepting all segments of the population – including those with all varieties of disabilities – while maligning them, the sociopaths.

It’s not just sociopaths, either. Antisocial Personality Disorder is one of the four cluster-B personality disorders, the other three being Borderline, Histrionic, and Narcissistic, and all are highly stigmatized and well-maligned (though none more than the antisocials/sociopaths).

I could go on and on, but I’m going to stop here to present this YouTube video. This is Kanika Batra, a diagnosed sociopath and narcissist making videos on YouTube to humanize, support, and advocate for others suffering with the same (and all cluster-B) personality disorders.

For me, a layperson with no formal background in psychology, Kanika’s video is an eye-opener to the notion that sociopaths can feel empty, lonely, depressed, and suicidal because of their inability to relate to others. Making things even more difficult is the fact that many mental health professionals refuse to work with them. Many sociopaths know that they’re broken, and they want to get better, but they have nowhere to go for help. They are shut out, stigmatized and stereotyped “into the shadows,” as Kanika words it.

Elsewhere on her channel, Kanika points out that you don’t need to have empathy in order to have compassion, to value human life, to know right from wrong, and to have a need for community. Her videos are fascinating and important, I think. Go check out Kanika’s channel! There’s a whole lot in the way of informative material in the relatively few videos there. (Kanika started her channel not even a year ago.)

With that, I’ll bid you a merry week ahead, my friends. Thank you for reading this far!

On the inside, looking out. (Missed Connections Exquisite Corpse, 11)

Friday morning, a screw fell to the floor when I opened my front door to leave the house. Saturday morning, I sent a couple of texts. Hours later, a person came over and took some measurements. Long story short: My new front door will be ready for installation in about four weeks.

Meanwhile, the door person will come back on Monday to fabricate a temporary fix on the door frame, enabling me to not only close the front door, but to lock it, too! Brilliant!

Because currently, the door doesn’t close. It can’t, because there’s nothing on the door frame to hold it in. The door frame is cracked and warped and crumbling. The part where the locks would bolt to hold the door shut look like they’ve been chewed up by rats. The screw fell out because the thread by which it’d been hanging finally broke.

So I’ve got dumbbells to equal 150 lbs (all I have in the house… there are more in the garage) strategically placed to keep the door closed and to make a potential intruder work for it at least a little. Thank the divine for the security screen door on the outside!

I guess these shenanegans make for good practice, right? After this, I’ll be a seasoned pro when it comes to shoring up for the ol’ zombie apocalypse.

Speaking of zombies, let’s talk about corpses. Exquisite corpses, that is. The exquisite corpse! A collection of lines of poetry, each one written by a stranger. It was February – Valentine’s Day, to be precise – the last time I posted a Missed Connections Exquisite Corpse poem. The people writing in Missed Connections these days have not let me down. I love the way the subject lines work together! There are 21 lines in this poem, meaning that it was written by 21 strangers who had no idea that they were writing poetry when they filled in those subject lines.

[On a technical note: I’ll sometimes add punctuation as I arrange the Missed Connections subject lines. This time, I did not. No punctuation.]

Without further ado, then:

Missed Connections Exquisite Corpse, 11

I enjoyed our conversation
Girl with the pinecone necklace
Green top, black leggings, brown dog

Metaphysical section at Barnes & Noble
The Nonfiction Section
From a wise human being to another
your energy is beautiful
My Daytime Goddess
Forest nymph
Star child
My sky
when I left your dog followed me

Hocus pocus

We vibed to your music
I should have told you I loved you
I’m always looking for you
Years not months
Walking down the highway
Waiting for the rail

With that, I wish you all well! Until we meet again, my friends.



I was just passing by… (and feeling blah)

Today started strangely, with my brain enmeshed in fog. When I left work an hour early with stomach cramps, nausea, and other intestinal discomfort, I thought it was possible that the brainfog was related. But I believe that it was something I’d eaten at lunch… maybe a bit of bread that’d gone past its time. It wasn’t anything as dramatic as food poisoning, but it was definitely a stomach-disagreement situation.

I can power through colds and even pneumonia, but I crumple when it comes to gastrointestinal maladies, no matter how mild.

So I came home early, and the afternoon turned to dusk. I wasn’t hungry until I was, and then, with my sour stomach, all I could think of eating was bland crackers. Luckily, I had some on hand (for just such occasions). Then I began to crave peanut butter and jelly and more peanuts and also dates, so I ate all of those. That was dinner. I recoiled at the idea of anything salty, oily, or acidic (e.g. my favorite things). No salt, olive oil, tart fruit, or apple cider vinegar? Yeah, something was off.

The obvious downsides of feeling unwell included having to skip my workout. On the up side, I got to see Geronimo and spend a good amount of time with him. I usually just miss Geronimo when I get home from work at my normal time!

Now it’s super late, but I’m feeling better. Hopefully, it was all just a reaction to the bread. I think that it was.

Speaking of bread:

Nenette being a loaf in an actual bread basket…

…on the dining table, where she’s not supposed to be. This was a first! I put a firm end to it. Well, what I actually did was put something uncomfortable in that basket. That solved the problem nicely.

Happy Friday and weekend, my friends!

Beltane blessings! (May Day!)

Greetings to you on the 2nd of May!

Yesterday was a holiday. It was Beltane, the last of the spring celebrations in the wheel of the year. It’s all flowers and maypoles and passion and honeybees… and, above all, fire. Beltane is a fire festival. It is the fire festival. There’s usually a bonfire somewhere in Beltane celebrations, but any fire will do if a bonfire isn’t possible! I kept candles burning all day.

A bit of background, for anyone who’s unfamiliar: Outside of the religions of Wicca and Paganism, Beltane is celebrated as May Day on the 1st of May, just as Samhain is celebrated as Halloween on the 31st of October. Beltane and Samhain are the two times of year when the veil between worlds is the thinnest, so both holidays involve traditions around protection from spirits… the spirits of the dead at Samhain, and the spirits of nature and the Fae at Beltane. The two holidays are not only direct opposites on the wheel of the year, but they’re also opposites in essence: Beltane is about celebrating life and fertility (of all beings, and of nature), while Samhain is about honoring death.

A part of my Beltane celebration was spending time outdoors in nature with Geronimo and Salem. Another part was baking. It was while I was baking that a bird hit the living room window. Again.

I hurried out of the kitchen to look through the guilty window, and I saw the little gray bird lying on his side on the patio, struggling. I didn’t know what to do. I went back into the kitchen, then returned to the window about 15 minutes later. There was no movement that time. The bird’s spirit had left his body. Suddenly, my day of celebrating life had been punctuated by death.

I felt responsible. (Why did I ask for a picture window in that huge window space?) It wasn’t the same kind of sad as Salem’s dove kills in the backyard. I wasn’t facing the disposal of days’-old, torn-apart pieces of large bird remains. It wasn’t nature that killed the little bird in the front yard. It was my window.

At dusk, I went out to the front yard and dug a tiny grave about a foot and a half deep. I tried to collect the bird gently, but his little head was stuck to the concrete with his dried blood… I believed that he’d broken his skull. I had to slip my fingers beneath it and work a bit to loosen it. (Yes, I was wearing disposable pandemic gloves.)

When I laid him down to rest in his grave, I said a prayer before covering him up, telling Mother Earth that I was returning to her the body of one of her children.

After that, I did some (alchemy) workings in the Beltane energy, then ate a Simple Feast of (vegan) vanilla cake, fresh strawberries, and ginger ale sweetened with extract from the stevia plant. Stevia.

It was a beautiful and magickal day overall. Even though.

Now, to end on a cheery note, I want to share these pics I’ve taken recently of the flowers in my yards. I’ve got a plethora of them!

First, the ones that are not in my yard:

Gerberas – flowers in the daisy family (which is associated with Beltane) obtained at the grocery store a few days ago.

Beltane colors are fiery and botanical: reds, yellows, greens, colors that happen to be in generous bloom all over my front and backyards.

Starting with Geronimo’s hibiscus! These plants are exploding! I’ve never seen so many blooms at once on all of the hibiscus plants.

Even this one by the back gate is loaded with flowers this year. It’s always been sparsely flowered.
Prickly Pear in bloom in the front yard, which is entirely carpeted in golden Palo Verde pollen.
Back to the backyard! The red hibiscus behind the burrow of a certain desert tortoise that I know.
Desert willow
Ruella
Verbena? Lantana? One of the two. I never know which.
Mesquite
Fig tree doing nicely!
Desert rose also doing nicely!

This desert rose looks like a Dr. Seuss flower, doesn’t it? What a wonderful character it is.

Happy Beltane Season to you, my friends.

March/April Favorites!

As I write this, April 2021 is less than 24 hours away from being over. Unbelievable! 

In Monthly Favorites news, I’m here to share my favorite viewables of the last two months, for anyone who’s curious to know what I’ve been watching as of late. Many thanks to those of you who’ve said that you look forward to Monthly Favorites! I started out the MF year with a January/February list at the close of February, and I thought I’d continue doing these posts two months at a time. Future lists will include food and product discoveries, by the way. 

I’ve been taking in my usual fare of horror, true crime documentary/docuseries, and suspense/thriller/mystery. I’ve got a couple of drama picks on this list, too. 

Getting right into it, then! (In no particular order) 

1). Sound of Metal (Amazon Prime Video)

A heartbreaking, enlightening, and masterfully wrought story of a heavy metal drummer whose sudden hearing loss challenges his identity, sanity, livelihood, and relationship.

2). Minari (Amazon Prime Video)

A Korean-American family relocates to Arkansas from California with hopes of farming Korean vegetables and fruits in the rich Arkansas soil. There are set-backs. There are sweet moments. There’s a feisty Korean grandma who’s a riot. That’s really all you need to know. The film is gorgeous, but the grandma is the reason you want to watch it.

3). Murder Among the Mormons (Netflix)

I tuned into this Netflix docuseries with no idea as to what I was about to watch. There are more twists and turns in this bizarre story than in most fictional thrillers I’ve seen.

4). Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal (Netflix)

In case you’re unaware: some rich people gave big money to a guy in order to fraudulently get their kids accepted to top universities. The scam blew up. Netflix has the story in all of its intricate, obscene glory.

Next up, I have recommendations for a few thriller/mystery/suspense series. Without commentary:

5). Bitter Daisies (Netflix)

6). The Wilds (Amazon Prime Video)

7). Cruel Summer (Hulu, from FreeForm)

And you knew I was going to recommend at least one horror series, and at least one horror film!

8). Creepshow (Shudder):

9). I See You (Amazon Prime Video)

Now, I almost forgot to include this documentary:

10). Seaspiracy (Netflix) – Please watch this one, if you haven’t already:

And that’s a wrap on this list of recommendations. I’m already looking forward to the next one!

Take care and Happy Weekend Eve, my friends.

Tomorrow night’s Pink Moon, April’s full moon! (and it’s a supermoon!)

Here in North America, April closes with the blooming of a tiny, ground-creeping wildflower that covers the ground thickly in a cloak of bright pink. Thus, Native Americans named April’s full moon the Pink Moon.

This year’s Pink Moon will rise on Monday the 26th (or Tuesday the 27th, depending on where you are), and it will round out this month of celestial wonders in spectacular fashion: this full moon will be a supermoon, closer to the Earth than average full moons, appearing large and low on the horizon as it rises. Check your local moonrise schedule to determine when you can expect to see it!

SkyView screenshot I took in the wee hours of the 25th, the day before the full moon

Rising in the constellation of Scorpio (element of water) while the sun is positioned in Taurus (element of earth), this full moon will bring challenges – growth-inducing tensions, let’s say – to us as Taurus’s earthy, grounding energies of the physical, material realm opposes Scorpio’s watery, esoteric energies of the spirit realm.

As a result of this polarity, this particular full moon presents us with a unique opportunity to engage in shadow work, to bring out our shadow selves… our dark selves that we’ve repressed in order to avoid emotional pain. Shadow work involves looking inward with a magnified intuition in search of the root causes of our emotional blocks and drives, whatever they may be.

In other words, this is a good time to address our inner demons, not with the goal of driving them away, but with the goal of acknowledging and accepting them. Rather than fixing our inner demons, we can work with them, and we can work to heal from them.

This is not easy. Shadow work is work. It’s facing ourselves and working through trauma, the toughest sort of spiritual work we can undertake. In my humble opinion, a good way to start shadow work is to work with a therapist, whether a traditional Western therapist, a metaphysical therapist, or a church counselor. We can delve into shadow work as a part of our solitary spiritual practices, certainly, but it’s always good to add in the assistance of an expert, if possible.

There’s a lot of talk about self-love floating around. The full moon – especially the energetic powerhouse of a supermoon – rising in Scorpio while the sun is positioned in Taurus serves as a reminder that self-love includes love of our shadow selves.

It’s scary making space for our inner demons to breathe, I know! I’ve been working on mine for most of my life. It’s a process that I’ll continue indefinitely. For me, tomorrow night’s rising of the glorious Pink Moon will be a time for quiet celebration, reflection, and gratitude.

Happy full moon-viewing, and merry meet again, my friends.

Love your mother. (Earth Day 2021!)

Happy Earth Day 2021, my friends!

In recognition of Gaia, the ancient Earth goddess….

She is the first Goddess, Gaia,
our mother, Mother Earth.
She is our Ancient Mother, and she needs us right now. This is her time of need! Sadly, it’s been her time of need for a very long time, and she’s worsening.

What, as an individual, can I do for her?

I already recycle. I’m already vegan. I already keep my driving to a minimum. I plan to go solar one day… that’s on the long-term list.

What I can do right now, I realize, is resolve to limit my use of synthetic resources. There’s more to this than bringing reusable bags to the grocery store, which I already do. I mean, I already do, but…
but then I’ll sometimes reluctantly ask for plastic bags, and I’ll put them inside my reusable bags. This is my Earth Day walk of shame for all of you to see, my friends: I ask for plastic bags at the grocery store every so often because I use them for the waste that I scoop out of Nenette’s litter box.

A couple of week ago, my feelings of wrongness regarding this finally got to me, and I purchased a hefty packet of brown paper lunch bags. I didn’t know what else to do. When I looked up “eco-friendly kitty litter bags,” I found bags designed for the purpose. The problem is that I’m not confident that they’re okay. They’re made of plastic, I believe, and technology aside, plastic is synthetic. Maybe I’m not understanding it; I’ll do more research. All I know for now is that I’m using up the plastic grocery bags I have left, and then I never want to see a plastic grocery bag in my house ever again. I’ll use the paper lunch bags until/unless I find a better way.

So there’s my Earth Day confession and intention.

To close, I’ll leave you with my movie recommendation in honor of Earth Day! Allow me to suggest Seaspiracy (Netflix Original Documentary).

The End… but not.

Thank you for reading, as always! Merry mid-week and HAPPY EARTH DAY!!

April is Halfway to Halloween Month!

P.S. from my last post: I kept my senses open wide last week, and on Friday, a week after my ghostly encounter, I felt confident in my impression that the ghost on the premises isn’t a malignant one. I feel that he simply wants his existence to be acknowledged. Noted, ghost. Noted.

This brings me to tonight’s post! This month I’ve been sharing my celebrations of spring with you, and today I’m sharing my celebration of April’s other face: HALFWAY TO HALLOWEEN.

In the full flush of this season of fertility and growth, we meet the halfway point to the season of the spirits and the dead that we honor, and it couldn’t be a more perfect conjunction of celebrations, in my humble opinion.

And so, my fellow spookily inclined darklings, we have before us a magnificent and benignly perverse second half of the year ahead in the arena of entertainment. For one thing, Shudder (streaming service) is celebrating Halfway to Halloween Month with a flash sale: 50% off six months! If you enjoy horrors, thrillers, and suspense and you’re not already subscribed to Shudder, now may be the time to consider doing it. Shudder will hook you up with their vast library of uncut, ad-free popcorn series and flicks, including Shudder Originals that you can’t watch anywhere else.

[This post isn’t sponsored by Shudder, but I would be remiss to keep this sale from you.] 

 

 

In case you’re wondering what to watch on Halfway to Halloween date nights, I have a couple of recommendations. The first is a movie available on Amazon Prime Video, and the second is a series available on Shudder (as a Shudder Original).

1). Movie: I See You (Amazon Prime Video)

2). Series: Creepshow (Shudder Original Series)

I’ve included Creepshow in a “monthly favorites” post in the past. It’s back with season 2! There are three season 2 episodes up so far. They’re all good, but the one I want to recommend to you today is season 2’s episode 1, “Model Kid/Public Television of the Dead.” Creepshow episodes stand alone, so they don’t have to be watched in order. Each episode is a double-feature. You’re basically getting two horror shorts in one episode, each story about 30 minutes long.

With that, I’ll leave you to your day or night or whatever the case may be where you are. It’s Sunday morning here in Arizona, and I know of a sweet desert tortoise who’s waiting for me outside.

Until mid-week!

Paranormal encounter at work? (Possible ghost story.)

Greetings, my friends. I have a story to share with you. I actually meant to post this last night, but I couldn’t stay awake. Typical!

Something unexplainable happened at work last week Friday: I heard footsteps approach and pass as I was fixated on the task before me, and they didn’t sound right. I mean, they didn’t sound familiar, much less right.

(I wish to relay the story without workplace details, so please to excuse the vagueness henceforth.)

The footsteps sounded odd, like a sort of shuffling and gliding at the same time, and they were swift. They were gone within two seconds, as that’s how long it took for them to shuffle-glide past me.

My reflexive glimpse almost missed it completely; it was just at the outer edge of my peripheral vision that I caught an impression of black footwear and dull attire, some kind of pale neutral fabric with mottled dark patches. It looked dirty.

But it was the footsteps that made the back of my neck prickle. The way they sounded. The quick and light shuffle-glide. It was a walking cadence that I hadn’t heard before, at work or anywhere.

A chill went through my body. I had to take a deep breath.

I took a long step sideways to look around the corner, and I saw no one. Then I quickly moved to where I could see the expanse of space between my location and the front. I was afraid of what I would find, but I had to look! Sure enough, I saw most of my co-workers at the front end. Not only were they nowhere near me, but the footsteps had gone in the opposite direction.

Three co-workers were missing from my view, so I thought there was still hope for a logical explanation. One co-worker was on the other side of the space. It couldn’t have been him. Another one was on the side that I was on, but toward the front. It couldn’t have been him. When I ran into the remaining person, he said that it wasn’t him, and I believed him.

None of my co-workers shuffle-glided past me in old black boots and pale clothing dirtied with fading black splotches. Someone did, though.

Now, we all know how I love horror and all things spooky, but I’ve looked at this situation from every objective angle and can’t convince myself that I conceived of it somewhere in my subconscious. I do believe in ghosts and in the supernatual, in general.

Could it have been a ghost? Absolutely, especially since a couple of people had told me before that the place is haunted. I wasn’t thinking of this on Friday morning, though. My brain wasn’t set on high alert for ghosts, and even if it was, my body reacted to the incident in a fraction of a second, before I could formulate thoughts around the lore of hauntings.

And there you have it.

I don’t have a ghostly pic to share, but I have this pic of a spookyish corner of my bedroom:

Cozy corner

Merry Friday and weekend to you all!

When the dark side of the moon is also the brightest. (New Moon!) (In Aries!)

A new moon will rise tonight.

There won’t be a moon to see, of course. The moon is new when she’s aligned herself between the Earth and the sun, with her dark side facing us; new moon night is a dark, moonless night. Planting crops on the night of the new moon boded well for farmers, as the darkness allowed their planting activities to go unseen by plant-eating wildlife. I love this mental image of farmers working in the dark of night, planting their crops in secrecy.

So there won’t be anything to see, but there will be a lot to feel. We have an exciting and momentous occasion with this new moon, because the sun is in Aries right now!

The new moon marks the beginning of a new lunar cycle (there are 12-13 new moons in a year), and Aries, being the the 1st of the 12 astrological houses, opens the new astrological/solar year. The new moon is about goals and intentions. Aries is about springing to action. New moon energy is charged with potentiality to begin with, so imagine the new moon in Aries!

Aries is one of the three fire signs in the zodiac, and it’s the one that means business. This fiery sign is about doing. The new moon is about planning. If you want to change your life, now is the time! The new moon in Aries is the moon that lights the fire under our asses. The new moon is the catalyst, and Aries is the fuel.

We’ve been thinking, planning, preparing. Now is the time to start the doing, to take our plans and set them into motion. Aries encourages us to get out of our comfort zones, take risks, and dare to make changes, large or small.

Common examples:

Quit smoking or drinking or (fill in the blank). Change your dietary lifestyle. Start an exercise program/routine. Pursue new employment opportunities. Open a savings account and pay yourself every month (if you aren’t doing it already). Mark your calendar with the Ironman Triathlon (or whatever event) date and plan your training strategy! Change your hair color, your name; reinvent yourself. Re-decorate your home, or re-arrange your furniture. Start learning the instrument or the language or the (fill in the blank) you’ve always wanted to learn. Start school. Start writing your novel. Start auditioning for roles. Change your career path. Re-locate. Seek out new friends, whether in person or online; socialize more or in new settings or both. Start whatever new habits you’ve had on your “to start” list. Change your relationship status, if you’ve known for a while that you should. Work on yourself. The new moon in Aries is a tremendous time for self-improvement goals, in particular.

Whatever the case, we’re well-positioned to begin working toward our goals with focus, care, and intent.

(Note: If we set goals and intentions during the new moon – any new moon – and apply dedication and drive as we move forward with them, we should see signs of fruition at around the time of the new moon’s corresponding full moon… about six months down the line.)

All that said, Happy New Astrological Year! Let’s make the most of the new moon rising under the energetic influence of Aries!

This should not be allowed. (Criminally cute desert tortoise alert.)

In lieu of a post tonight, I’ve got a pic of Geronimo to share with you. I can’t resist. I took some pics of him on Tuesday, and please just forgive my standing around the digital water cooler insisting that everyone look at baby pictures.

Okay, I’ll just post this one:

The happiest desert tortoise on the face of the planet.

He’s smiling with his eyes closed as he gets his neck cuddles. THIS GUY. Is the cutest. Ever.

Warmest Happy Weekend wishes to you! See you then!

p.s. I’m still trying to figure out the new block editor that WordPress has imposed upon us. I thought I’d sorted out the spacing around the images, but evidently not. Also, kindly note that the line of text immediately below the image is the image’s caption, rather than a line of text in the post.

I hope this finds you as happy as Geronimo!