Gratitude day, gratitude night.

Nenette comes bearing this gratitude post tonight:

Thanksgiving 2021

I’m thankful for you, my American friends and friends in other countries. I’m thankful for so much, but tonight I just wanted to tell you again how much I appreciate you and the connectivity I feel that we have.

May this find you doing well! [::HUGS::]

From dream to dream and desert life.

This morning I woke up at 7:30, because my alarm told me to. I’d slept for just over seven hours, but my mind-body needed more. I went through the house opening the window blinds to meet a world blue-grayish with breaking dawn, fed my cat, reset my alarm for another hour and ten minutes. Climbing back into bed and pulling the covers over my head, I encased and delivered myself back into the darkness of previous hours, and it was like the first alarm never happened. Immediately my brain’s dream center drew me into stories vivid with color and adventure.

The first dream was inspired by my chronic fear of oversleeping on work days, drawing on the only source of stress in my daily life, which is that of being late. In my dream-panic, I threw together a sandwich for lunch with the first accessible ingredients: either peanut butter with mint jelly, or mint butter (?!) with jelly; in any case, the open-face sandwich was a beautiful, creamy mint green color. Through my stress, I laughed and exclaimed how weird it was. It was white bread, which I never eat. It was mint, which is pleasing to me, but which I’d never enjoy in a sandwich.

The second dream was inspired by a video of a woman’s solo performance in a pole-dancing showcase, which I’ve been watching repeatedly in sheer awe of the athleticism that goes into the art form of pole. In my dream, I watched as an unfamiliar female athlete went through practice routines of an art-sport pole-dancing/extreme obstacle course, as in American Ninja Warrior, moving through a series of course settings of increasing structural difficulty. She was vertically navigating an enormous green structure in the shape of a star whose multidimensional steampunk aesthetic lent it challenges nested within challenges when my second alarm went off. I heard the alarm as she was attempting to leap from a moving gear, and I woke up laughing. “I wanted to finish that dream,” I told my cat. “Now I’ll never know whether she made it.”

But I felt awake and refreshed this time, happy to get up into the room now bright with morning sun. From the quiet kitchen window I watched four species of birds hopping lightly through the branches of bougainvillea thickly shrouding my patio in a tangle of vines, green leaves and clusters of bright fuchsia, flitting occasionally to the nearby watering hole and back again. More birds came to the watering hole from other directions. Watching the birds in the bougainvillea around the patio, the birds in the watering hole, the small desert cottontail rabbit – a permanent resident who ought to be named at this point – also at the edge of the patio, up on his hindlegs reaching for bougainvillea branches, I felt immensely grateful to live in this tranquil downtown neighborhood.

Now, sitting in my office writing while listening to the front patio’s bronze soleri windbells that I’d brought home from Arcosanti, I think of how the bells’ unique sound help to form my definition of life in the Sonoran desert: the sound of these bells, the scent of creosote giving away a rainfall, our treacherous yet somehow captivating dust storms (haboob), and our monsoon seasons’ spectacular electrical storms. I never tire of it. I left it once, but the desert called me back; it felt like a longing seeded in my blood.

A person who lives in California asked me recently, after remarking on our legendary heat, “How can anyone live there? How does anything even grow in Arizona? How do you get your fruits and vegetables?” Taken aback, I realized that this must be a common outsider idea of Arizona: too hot to be livable, too barren to be beautiful, too absent of “seasons” to be interesting. I reassured her that things do grow in Arizona. I did not ask her how anyone would want to live on the San Andreas Fault.

(Sonoran desert farming dates back to the time of the ancient Hohokam, who lived here and developed extensive irrigation canals along the Salt and Gila rivers.)

I feel fortunate. If you love where you live, you’re as lucky a person can be on this planet.

Kitchen window view
Saguaro at the Desert Botanical Garden

The Desert Botanical Garden is near my house.

Interior of a dwelling at the Desert Botanical Garden

And if you love where you live, you’re living a beautiful dream of a life.

Blessings to you all heading into a new week, my friends.

Geronimo’s gone into hibernation, but before that, we had an impromptu professional-grade photoshoot! (Desert tortoise update!)

My friends, you know that I’m wont to take pics of Geronimo with my phone cam and then impose them on you. You’re very gracious about it. They are not good pics, but they’re the only ones I can offer… usually. Until today. Because today, I can show you some professional photos of my scalebaby, along with a few of us together!

And when I say “impromptu,” I do mean “totally unexpected.” I knew that these family friends were coming over, but I did not know that Kyle was bringing his camera. Thanks to him, you’ll finally be able to fathom the extent of Geronimo’s handsomeness and adorableness!!

May I present my darling majestic spectacular reptile kid:

(Photo credit: Kyle Schobloher)
(Photo credit: Kyle Schobloher)

Amber nebulas in his green eyes. I can lose myself in the wonders of them.

This next photo, now: If there’s a mother/son photo in existence that’s more adorable than this, it must exist on another plane of reality:

(Photo credit: Kyle Schobloher)

I mean, are you kidding me?! He’s looking at me and smiling! I’m beyond grateful to Kyle Schobloher for capturing this moment for us. There really are no words.

Geronimo isn’t smiling in this next photo, though. This was several hundred shots later, and he’s over it. He wants to get down so he can resume eating and being loved on by everyone. He was such a good sport during the photo-shoot. He just loves company, this one.

(Photo credit: Kyle Schobloher)

Here he’s emerging from his burrow after I coaxed him out:

(Photo credit: Kyle Schobloher)

Then we have a vanity shot of Geronimo’s exquisite scale pattern.

(Photo credit: Kyle Schobloher)

His gorgeous shell:

(Photo credit: Kyle Schobloher)

Hibiscus blooms were no longer in season, but Geronimo loves hibiscus leaves, too!

(Photo credit: Kyle Schobloher)
(Photo credit: Kyle Schobloher)

This next pic is kind of strange and wonderful. We were trying to get my face closer to Geronimo’s, so my head was tilted down toward him as I tilted him up toward me, and the result is Geronimo looking like a cobra with his face appearing at the top of his under-shell. You can also see what a wide Humvee of a guy he is. My knees fit beneath him with his legs on either side. Haha!

Proud little dinosaur! Stately winsome cobra! (Photo credit: Kyle Schobloher)

</photoshoot>

What makes this photoshoot especially meaningful is the fact that this day (October 3rd) was the last day that I got to spend time with Geronimo this year. I wasn’t able to catch him while he was out after that. Toward the end of the month, I assumed that Geronimo had gone into hibernation.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I received this text from my neighbor’s father (who was rebuilding the fence that divides our yards):

“I saw ur tortoise from 11:00-2:00. He was all over the yard foraging. It was hot that day… fast little guy”

The first thing I thought was, It’s not just me! Other people can see how fast Geronimo is, too. The second thing I thought was, Oh. He hasn’t been in hibernation all this time. I’ve just been missing him.

Thus, my neighbor’s father got to be the last person to see Geronimo this year. That would’ve been on Monday, October 25th. Perhaps that was actually Geronimo’s last day out.

Now begins the longest time of the year… the months spent waiting for Geronimo to emerge. I know it’s just 4-5 months, but that’s a long time under the circumstances. I’ll survive. [::flails helplessly::]

Happy Weekend Eve, my friends!

death in the garden.

Greetings, my friends. This post was very long, and I decided to cut out 50% of it and turn it into more of a reflection, because ultimately, that was where it was leading. It was a whole lot of narrative, so this is me attempting to make a long story short.

Immediately after Salem died, another stray cat came to live in my yard, and he died recently. I knew that he was dying the first day he came to live here, so his death wasn’t a surprise. My feeling from day one was that he had some sort of degenerative neurological disease. I’d seen it before: the tremors, the spine slightly twisted, the uneven gait; how he moved along with his body low to the ground, his spine fishtailing slightly back and forth as he walked. The eyes not quite right, his vision seeming impaired.

My resolve to turn away strays after Salem’s death ended when this cat moved in and I saw that he was nearly skeletal. My conscience wasn’t having it, and Salem would’ve been dismayed, too, had I not fed him. I was just riddled with angst over his presence here because Salem’s body was still warm in her grave, so to speak, and the state I was in was one of total devastation. I saw this cat as an intruder and a usurper, but chasing him out wasn’t an option given his plight. Instead, I kept his food bowl filled and the watering hole refreshed, and I vowed to avoid developing any kind of emotional connection with him, especially since I knew that he was dying.

It was mysterious to me that the Universe thought that I was strong enough, in the wake of Salem’s death, to endure another loss, but evidently it did. It went right ahead and moved a terminally ill cat into my care.

I kept to my vow and avoided loving him, but I did become fond of him. I cared about him as well as for him. Like Salem, he wouldn’t let me near him, but he did return my eyeblink kisses a few times, telling me that he could see at least a little bit.

When he arrived, I wasn’t sure that he’d live through the week, but he filled out and grew stronger over time, and he lived for three more months – he died almost exactly three months after Salem did. He’d grown healthier in that he wasn’t starving, and happier in that he wasn’t living his waning life in desperate search of food. His life here was one of contentment. He had his favorite napping spots, sticking close to the patio, the watering hole, and the grass. Occasionally I would see him lounging on top of Geronimo’s burrow. Like Salem, he enjoyed the times that Geronimo and I interacted. He would follow us around the yard and settle down to participate energetically from a comfortable distance.

Over time, I noticed his spine turn slightly more out of alignment, and eventually, he started to limp and then drag one of his legs. Despite his gradual loss of functioning, I never felt that he was suffering or in pain.

One day, he stopped eating. He died ten days later. The last time I saw him was two days before his passing. He was sitting on the edge of the patio near his untouched food bowl, and he didn’t move as I approached and crouched down. I spoke softly to him and blinked slowly, but his eyes were vacant, and I could tell that he couldn’t see much at all anymore, if at all. He died on Thursday, October 28th. I found his body lying next to the watering hole when I came home from work. From the look and feel of him, he’d died just hours prior.

He chose to die out in the open, as if making sure that I’d find him. Cats typically hide when they know they’re about to die.

He looked as though he’d gone to sleep and never woke up, and a part of me was angry. Within days of Salem’s cruel death, another cat was placed in my yard, and three months later, I witnessed him die the sort of peaceful death that Salem had deserved. My inner juvenile wailed and raged at the unfairness of it. Why did my Salem have to die the way she did while other cats were allowed to die of natural causes? I hated feeling resentful and small like that, hated feeling my gut twist with torment over the contrast between his quiet, peaceful death in a sunny backyard oasis and Salem’s brutal killing over an alley in the dark of night.

I was mostly sorrowful, though. I always knew that he was dying, but to find his body just made me so sad.

The next day I went to work dressed up for Halloween and tried to be happy. The weekend took its course and ended with Halloween and flowed on into Monday, as weekends do. I went into work still feeling down, yet again trying to be happy. It didn’t go well. In fact, I felt worse as the day went on. The day felt cold.

I still miss him. I’d come to appreciate his energy and his beautiful spirit in the yard. His death was expected, but still, it was another loss. Nothing like losing Salem, but a loss nonetheless. My sadness was profound… nothing like my grief over Salem, but sadness nonetheless.

This brings me to the contemplative part. This little guy was the fourth cat to come into my life only to die young at the hands of the wild. Ronnie James died from a lung infection caused by ingesting a poisonous spore from a caterpillar in France. Cita died of a skin disease she contracted while trying to survive as a stray. Salem was killed by an owl. Now there was this cat, who came to me as if knowing I’d provide him with hospice. I’m grateful that he was able to pass comfortably on to a better form of existence.

What if it’s my karma to care for cats and then endure the loss of them?

I’m convinced that the Goddess Bast sent this cat to me, and that Salem, now an angel in the constellation of Leo, approved.

And so it’s cold at night now, and getting colder; I find myself hesitant to follow through on my plan to pack up Salem’s bedding on the ottoman in the laundry room. Because what if another cat comes to take shelter while dying?

It’s interesting that stray cats don’t congregate on my property, as stray cats often do. My yard is a one-cat yard. No other cat came through in the three months that this cat spent dying.

I have these pics of him:

Sitting on Geronimo’s burrow
Napping on the patio
You can kind of see the deformity of his spine in this pic
Napping on the patio

Again on Geronimo’s burrow.

It seems that I didn’t succeed at making a long story short, did I. It feels good to have written this, though. Thank you for “listening” (reading), as always, my friends. November’s full moon in Taurus with partial lunar eclipse is coming up on the 19th, and I’m going to spend it doing the shadow work begged in light of this experience.

I wish you all a magickal week ahead.

Veterans Day – “Honoring all who served.”

My friends, it was already late when I sat down to write tonight’s post. I spent an hour on it, but now it’s really too late, and it still isn’t ready. I need to take more time with it in order to do the subject justice, and so I come to you now without it.

Today was Veteran’s Day here in the United States. Some very special people wanted to make my day special, and they did. My plans changed at the last minute, but I’m so grateful for it. It was an amazing day, and I am incredibly blessed.

My fellow American Veterans, I hope you had a wonderful day, too. Thank you for your service.

Until Saturday, then.

I quasi-failed at Halloween, but I have costume pics.

How did I kind-of-sort-of fail at Halloween? On the work front, I forgot which day was costume day, so I missed the most important contest, and I disappointed someone, and I hate that. It just wasn’t the greatest feeling ever. I wasn’t alone in dressing up on the wrong day, but still. I also failed to carve a pumpkin for the jack-o’-lantern contest, even though I had good reason not to. So there was that.

I did bake a festive cake to bring to work, though:

My contribution to the Halloween party at work.

On the home front, trick-or-treaters hit up my street to the point where I ran out of candy early and had to turn off my lights! This has never happened before. Last year there were a few, in contrast to previous years in which there were none. I was happy to have had any trick-or-treaters at all.

This year, I had more trick-or-treaters than I could count, but my glee was short-lived. It was especially sad because the last ones I could treat were a group of five, and I only had three pieces of candy left, and I had to tell them that. I never thought I would know the particular feeling of awfulness that comes with having to tell eager children on Halloween that you don’t have candy for them. The two older kids in the back immediately said to give the three pieces to the three littler ones in the front (the five of them ranged from four to ten, I’d say). Really adorable, sweet kids, all of them.

Between the costume fail and the candy fail, it was a bit of a disheartening Halloween, but at least ‘ol Michael Myers out there was a success. All of the parents who came to my door said that he scared them. My work here is done.

And what of my costume, you’ve been asking?

Well, I dressed up as a movie character this year. The last time I did a movie character costume was in the mid-2000’s when I went as the creepy ghost girl in The Ring. This time, I went as the protagonist (both of them, heheh) in Malignant. Basically, I just wore nicer clothing than usual, and a wig – but a wig with a twist.

Front, at home

This is what I look like with an abundance of thick hair, in contrast to my natural thin and sparse (and getting sparser) hair.

Front, at work (the tool-belt was not a part of my costume; it’s a part of my daily work attire.)

There was another person in costume standing next to me in the above pic, but as I forgot to obtain anyone’s permission to post their pics here, I cropped them out and refrained from posting others. All of the costumes were marvelous, though! You can take my word for it.

S P O I L E R – A L E R T !!!

If you haven’t seen Malignant and you’re planning to, do not read or scroll past this point.

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Now here’s the back:

Back. As with the toolbelt, the blue notebook was not a part of my costume.

And this is what I look like with an abundance of hair and a sentient tumor-face emerging from the back of my head. Malignant was inspirational! I went as both Madison and Gabriel, Madison’s deranged monster tumor twin who’d been lying dormant in the back of her head until he awoke and burst through to embark on his murderous revenge spree, dragging Madison’s body along as his vehicle. Madison in the front, Gabriel in the back. A talented friend generously sewed the mask onto the back of the wig, in case you were wondering how this came together.

And that was that for Halloween 2021! Michael Myers goes back into his box today. Samhain is over and Yule is the next holiday on the Wheel of the Year, but there’s a whole season of harvesty goodness and vibes in between, and I will be reveling in it. It’s always sad to see the last stone fruit disappear from the grocery stores at the end of summer, but put a fresh, tasty, in-season apple in front of me, and I’m all in.

Have a lovely day and week ahead, my friends.

Cosmic time-out.

It’s late, my friends, late as in (backsliding out of my progress) past-midnight late (slipping).

Just got out of my cold tea tree and hemp shower (have I mentioned that I haven’t taken a hot or even warm shower since sometime in September? Like who even am I?), and I went to glance at the calendar to check for the next day’s color, and I couldn’t help but notice that the cosmos has quite an agenda, quite a line-up of events going on in the next 24 hours. This ephemeral information completely distracted me away from the day’s color (which, by the way, is white).

Look at these shenanegans:

We start out all cool with the first quarter moon stationed in Scorpio (we had that powerful Scorpio new moon last night), and then it begins: we’ve got Venus entering Capricorn at 3:44am MST, the moon going void-of-course at 10:10am, Mercury entering Scorpio at 3:35pm, and finally, the moon stationing herself in Sagittarius at 6:52pm. Yes, the moon will be void-of-course for almost NINE hours, leaving us untethered, as it were.

With all of this combined (especially the moon being void-of-course all day), my plan is to do nothing. I’m going to drive my little ten-minute drive to work praying to Archangel Raphael to get me there safely, and then home again at the end of the workday, and that’s it. I’m not going to do anything, go anywhere, make any purchases, any (major) decisions; I’m not going to spontaneously stop at any store, not going to take risks of any kind, not going to start any projects, nothing. I’m going to lay low until Saturday, when the moon has solidly planted herself in Sagittarius and everyone else up there is in their spots and nothing is happening.

Because As Above, So Below.

On that note, my friends, I wish you all a good Friday!

p.s.
Remember, Remember the Fifth of November.

“The Chrysalis,” “Happy Birthday,” “The Ballerina,” “The Curve,” and “Snake D*ck” (Short Horror October, post 8)

On this night of the season wherein the veil between the worlds (of the living and the dead) is the thinnest, I’m going to stay home with my little bowl of candy for the few trick-or-treaters that may come by. There aren’t many, if any, here in my neighborhood. I’m surrounded by college students on this street; there’s one family at the end of the street, and one on the other side, I think, and those are the only two who came around trick-or-treating last year. Maybe there were three…? I don’t remember now. At any rate, I’ve got the candy.

And it’s a typical Arizona October day, a clear sunny blue sky warm and mildly crisp day, and I’m hoping that maybe I’ll get to see Geronimo, who seems to have gone into hibernation. He’s been known to make surprise appearances after I’d thought he’d tucked himself in for the winter, you see. I’m hopeful. Regardless, I’ll have a Geronimo hibernation update post for you in the next week or two!

Also, I’ll post Halloween pics in the near future, likely the next time we meet here in a few days. Halloween is today, but as it’s the last day of Short Horror October 2021, I’m going to bombard you with horror shorts, instead. I’ve got five to share with you in this post, including a horror comedy bonus. Yes, my friends, this is the end-of-October Halloween Day horror short film extravaganza you knew was coming.

Hope you enjoy!

1). The Chryslis – Gore score: 0. Run-time: 9:21.

3). Happy Birthday – Gore score: .5. Run-time: 6:36.

4). The Ballerina – Gore score: 0. Run-time: 7:45.

4). The Curve – Gore score: .5. Run-time: 9:51.

BONUS Horror Comedy!! Snake D*ck – Gore score: .5. Run-time: 7:17.

The End.

I mean, the end, the end, for 2021!

Happy Halloween and blessings to you who celebrate Samhain!

“Don’t Peek” (Short Horror October, post 7)

Unbelievably, we’re two days away from Halloween. I feel like I’ve been off my game with the horror shorts this year, but if you were missing Short Horror October selections, tonight, I got you. Sit yourselves back in the dark and get ready for seven chilly minutes, because I come bearing this creeptastic little gem of a horror short called

Don’t Peek – Gore score: 0. Run-time: 6:46.

Now this, my friends, is the kind of horror short I can imagine being developed into a full-length film. I would be the first in line! There’s a territory in horror wherein the supernatural meets technology, like this one, and I’m here for it. I love your standard creepy horror flick setting, but as one who lives more or less dependently on digital technology (how did I ever get to where I was going without Google Maps?), I find good supernatual horror set in such technology to be particularly effective.

With that, I’m off to get ready for bed. I allowed myself to fall behind in my schedule tonight because I’m waking up later than usual tomorrow, but still, I want to try to stick to my discipline!

The next time I see you will be for the last Short Horror October post of the year. I may lump two or three short films into the weekend’s post. We shall see.

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

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

And they’re all powerfully magickal.

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

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

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

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

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

Intentions. [23 Oct 2021]

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

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

Blessings to you all, my friends.

Also, HAPPY HALLOWEEN WEEK EVE!

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

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

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

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

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

“Sonant” (Short Horror October, post 5)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy!

A happy end-of-week to you all!

Spooky Bathroom tour!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Look at the details! It was made for me:

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

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

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

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

Tomorrow night: Short Horror October, post 4!

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings to you all, my friends!

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

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

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

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

Michael Myers Brings Halloween to My Yard.

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

It’s very simple.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy October 2021, friends!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few pics from last Saturday:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I digress.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Equinox greetings – and hello, Halloween season!

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

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

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

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

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

A snowball has frozen in hell.

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

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

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

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

–Set house alarm system.

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

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

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

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

–Set my alarm.

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

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

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

SO:

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


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

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

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

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

Have an amazing week ahead, my friends.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Without further ado, may I present:

Missed Connections Exquisite Corpse, 12

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

Have a wonderful week’s end, my friends.

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

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

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

Fingertip-to-nose kisses after the rain.

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOT MILK??

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

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

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

TIRED NOW.

Going home.

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

Merry new week to you, my friends!

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

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

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

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

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

2). Sunshine (Hulu)

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

3). Reservation Dogs (Hulu)

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

4). Brand New Cherry Flavor (Netflix)

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

5). Val (Amazon Prime Video)

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

6). Clickbait (Netflix)

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

7). Only Murders in the Building (Hulu)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12). Wholesum Poppies Organic Cherry Tomatoes.

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

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

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

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

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

I went to The Original Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit, Phoenix

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

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

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

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

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

The Starry Night, Vincent van Gogh, 1889

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

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

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

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

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

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

From sea to rain forest to rain.

You know what I love? Stormy summer nights.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Desk view at night

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

Blessing and bane grow on one stalk.

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

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

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

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

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

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

1). Nenette.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Many blessings to you all, my friends.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A merry weekend to you all!

Divine little changes.

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

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

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

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

Back patio, 22 August 2021

A lovely new week to you, friends.