A little bit of this, a little bit of that. (Happy smatterings inside.)

Spring! Spring! A glory to bring! My spirits waft high… as high as our new ceiling. A glory.

Other wondrous things at the front of my mind:
–That the palo verdes – green-trunked trees native to our desert – are in bloom, lavishing us with their beauty (albeit their pollen, too). We have two in our front yard, and I’m admiring them right now from behind my desk.
–That I have an excellent, thorough, and caring rheumatologist at the Phoenix V.A., and today started with a phone call from her… and that we had an actual conversation, which I routinely enjoy at the V.A. (and have never had with civilian-sector doctors).
–That tomorrow morning – morning! – I’m going to my first Body Combat class at my second gym.

At the gym earlier this week, I spoke of getting my bangs trimmed and was met with immediate demands requests for a blog selfie. You guys crack me up. (You know who you are.) I’m happy to oblige, but I apologize in advance for this awful pic:


[17 April 2019]

I, for one, don’t like this picture of me. I look like the bent-neck lady. We can thank my insistence on attention to background, because apparently, the thing to note here is how I’m ducking beneath the moon phases. Forget the hair! I must capture the moons! This tapestry behind our bed finally replaced our forest tapestry a few months ago, and it was a delight to find that the moons glow in the dark. Have I mentioned how I drink in the luminescent moons rising above the bed before falling asleep? I framed the tapestry with string lights to illuminate it all evening, and then the lights go out and the moons glow soft and pale green on their own. They are calming.

[Sidenote: those are my new glasses, which I’ve had since February; I don’t believe I ever got around to a selfie featuring them.]

I do have a second pic here. In this one, I leaned rather than ducked. This one also captured the moons, but the angle didn’t get the tapestry all the way up to the ceiling.


[17 April 2019]

Meanwhile, our aforementioned new hallway ceiling is the eighth wonder of my world. It’s a full foot higher than it was before, so now it’s the same height as the ceiling in the rest of the house. The hallway feels strangely spacious and hollow. It is splendiferous.

This concludes today’s blog post o’randomness. Happy Friday Eve, all.




Next in A/C news… (ROACH edition!)

Welcome to a new week! I hope you all had a good weekend. I’m continuing to update on our A/C saga, as some of you are interested… and on that note, I’m still taking requests for posts here. Just a reminder!

When Callaghan says that I’m fearless – he says it’s the quality about me he admires the most – I think about it, and I get why he sees me that way. I seem to have a high threshold for fear; a lot of what’s traditionally scary doesn’t break me. I’m not a fearful person, but as many of you know, I do have some irrational fears (aka phobias). This brings me to I FOUND A DEAD ROACH IN MY SHOWER on Sunday night.

I was just about to get in when I saw it. It was lying on its back, which to me is just as horrifying as a roach racing around with its spiny legs making those demonic scratching sounds on the floor.

  • It’s rare that we find roaches in our house… rare as in four roaches in four years. In our old area of town, that’s rare.
  • Our warmest day this year so far didn’t qualify as AZ-caliber hot. Not even close.
  • Neither is it monsoon season, when roaches are most active and visible.
  • This roach wasn’t huge, but it wasn’t small, either.
  • How is a roach in dry, not-hot April already that big?
  • Where is it hot around here, and how would a roach get in?

The attic. The attic is hot, and it’s open to the hallway on account of WE HAVE NO CEILING.

What evidently happened was the roach came down from the attic through our ceiling-less hallway and went into the master bathroom shower to die. I’m glad I saw it before I stepped into the shower, or I would’ve died, too.

The A/C guy said that the attic is hot because that’s how attics work when it’s merely warm outside. Our pest control people confirmed that dampness in the attic would create a hospitable environment for roaches, even though roaches don’t usually inhabit attics. (Thank you, swamp cooler of yore.)

Now we have the following lined up for the next two weeks, starting tomorrow: contractor to re-build the ceiling, A/C guys to finish the A/C, pest control to dust the attic, insulation guy to blow in new insulation, and roofing guy to patch the roof. Suddenly, I’m 100% okay with all of it. No complaints! If none of this ever happened, we never would’ve discovered roaches in the attic. I don’t think we’re talking full-blown infestation here, but a few roaches are a few too many.

Within an hour of finding the dead roach in the shower, Nenette found another roach. This one was alive. I was sure that if there were two roaches in the house at the same time, then there would be more, and guys, I would rather face Freddy Krueger in my dreams than wake up to the real nightmare of finding a roach in the house.

So the next day, with some much-appreciated help, I cut open some 45-gallon plastic garbage bags and taped them up over the exposed attic. The contractor was supposed to come the following day, but he canceled due to family emergency. He’s rescheduled for tomorrow. It’s going to be great to have a ceiling again!

Let me tell you, I seriously considered sleeping in jeans and combat boots on Sunday night so I wouldn’t feel phantom roaches (much less real ones) skittering up my legs. I’d occasionally crash for naps with my boots on in the army. It works just fine.

Since I’m not about to search for a roach pic, I’m giving you Freddy Krueger, instead.






More blah-blah-blah about our new air conditioner.

Someone asked me today if we’d planned on replacing the A/C in advance, or if the whole thing started as an emergency project. I answered, and then I said I’d explain it to you faithful readers, too, since I never got into how it all began. We’d plotted to replace the A/C. We did not plan on the saga it became.

It’s been one week exactly since the crane dropped the new A/C onto the roof. I’d thought that the work would be finished by the end of the day.

When the A/C crew came back yesterday to complete the job after we had our ceiling taken down on Tuesday afternoon, I thought for sure that everything would be done.

Therefore, I have no reason to assume that it will be done after the A/C crew comes back for the third time, which will be next week Tuesday.

This pic of me leaning against my office door frame yesterday sums up my week:




The hallway ceiling had been comprised of plaster layered over drywall, and underneath that were the two-by-fours and metal paneling you see here. It was not clear that “take down the ceiling” included taking down the two-by-fours and the metal paneling. We did what the A/C guy said, which was to “take down the ceiling.” Because of this “miscommunication,” I had to replace our handyman with a general contractor, who’s coming on Monday morning. He’s going to remove the beams and the panels, and I think he’s also going to heighten the ceiling while he’s here. This means that the replacement of the ceiling will happen before the A/C crew comes back to finish the job. That part hadn’t been clear, either. The A/C guy refers to all of this as a “misunderstanding,” but I’ll throw in an adjective and say that it was a gross misunderstanding. It was a $2,000.00+ misunderstanding.

But it is what it is.

Returning to the picture, I’m going to leave those sheets covering the floor and the furniture over the weekend, since various workers will tramp through here next week: the contractor to do the ceiling/drywall work on Monday, the A/C crew on Tuesday morning, the roofing guy on Tuesday afternoon (because of the rotting part of the roof that led to the breakdown of our A/C), and the insulation guy on Wednesday.

At some point after Wednesday, the roofing guy will come back to do whatever needs to be done to fix the roof. Yes, I’m bracing myself for the announcement that we need a whole new roof.

None of this should be that big of a deal, right? An A/C replacement job turning into a full-blown construction job? Maybe a big deal, but not surprising, since house stuff often takes these kinds of twists and turns.

It’s a big deal for me, though. I’m trying to maintain some measure of mental equilibrium throughout all of this. PTSD doesn’t mesh well with upheaval and chaos, especially in one’s home environment. Home is supposed to be a sacred, dependable place.

I was going to come up with something entirely different for this post, but in the end, I just regaled you with this ongoing story. Some of you might be bored. Some of you might be able to relate. Either way, if you’ve read this far, thanks for bearing with me!



Who loves obstacles? Geronimo does. (Desert tortoise update!)

It’s trivia hour! Did you know that when a ceiling is torn down, it sends a thick cloud of white dust and bits of plaster and old insulation throughout the entire house? Including in the rooms whose doors were closed? Including underneath the things that were inside the closet whose door was closed? I didn’t know this until two hours ago. I’m that much more knowledgeable now! The next thing I want to learn is why a person tearing down a ceiling wouldn’t seal off the area with sheets of plastic or something. Even the burners on my flat-surface stove are barely discernible beneath the layer of ceiling dust. Everything in every room in our house is coated in dust, and it was just the ceiling in the hallway that came down.

ANYWAY, that’s all very topical and in-the-moment. I come to you like a phantom passing through a veil of fog, you see. My fingers on the keyboard leave prints in the dust. May I reiterate that my office door was closed when the hallway ceiling was coming down.

Ah, well.

So here we are, and I’ve got worthier matters at hand: the following moments captured in pics and a video. I wasn’t going to present a Geronimo update this week, but I happened to have my phone with me yesterday when I went out to spend some time with him.

Sonoran desert tortoises have long legs for climbing, and Geronimo does love to climb! He tries to climb everything. We leave beams of wood and bunches of branches laying around just for him.

I don’t think I’ve yet shared this pic of him from March 6:


See bench. Must climb.


Geronimo has been climbing over my outstretched legs since Day 1, when we had to babysit him indoors because we rescued him during hibernation season and he couldn’t go outside. You don’t know a restless tortoise until an active desert tortoise lands in your house during hibernation season, by the way.

I sat against the back fence yesterday afternoon, and Geronimo got to climb my legs over and over and over as he walked his laps along that straight line. This adorable little dinosaur is tireless.



He also loves to cuddle, which involves getting as close to me as he can and stretching out his neck to rest his head on my leg. Yesterday, I finally had my phone with me to capture it.




This guy is too sweet and cute. I can’t deal with it.


Never thought I’d melt into the eyes of a reptile.


Geronimo’s been enjoying more of his hibiscus flower dessert as the days get warmer. He loves the flowers from budding to blooming.


Hibiscus flowers: candy for Sonoran desert tortoises.


We’re thinking of putting together some kind of climbing tortoise playground for Geronimo. Geronimo enjoys the challenge of obstacles. I want to be like him when I grow up.



High-priority. (Isn’t that an oxymoron?)

This week, I’ve done the best procrastination of my life.

I knew that the high-priority pile of paperwork on my desk wasn’t going to do itself, but I could only get through a few pages before I thought of something else that had to be done. I’d been warned about this paperwork (a 45-page questionnaire), so I was ready to receive it, but man, they weren’t kidding. It was tough.

My initial rush of enthusiasm for the challenge went up in a vapor of dismay when I flipped through the packet and skimmed over the questions. I went to remarkable lengths. First, I ignored it completely. A week went by before I started filling in the answer bubbles. Then I found a podcast I’d been wanting to check out, and I had to listen to it before I could do anything else. I also remembered that I had phone calls to make, loose ends to tie up, and details to annotate in my planner and other notebooks. I had some binders to organize, accounts to check, and lists to make.

I baked banana bread because immediate action had to be taken regarding the bananas decomposing on my kitchen counter.

At last, I got through the first 20 pages of the questionnaire. Good job! I said to myself as I set the rest aside for the next day. The next day, I found a documentary I had to watch.

At the same time and in other news, the house needs urgent attention, too, and it all began this week. The operation had been scheduled: the entrails (ducts) of our attic were to be yanked out along with the diseased organ (air conditioning unit). A crane arrived before 6:30am yesterday morning (sorry, neighbors I forgot to notify) to transplant the new A/C. The crew returned early this morning to continue the work. They’re coming back to finish it next week. We have a hallway ceiling to be removed before they return, and then we have to have a new one put in place.

After the A/C is in and the ceiling is finished, the insulation people will arrive to re-insulate the whole top of the house. They’re also going to insulate the laundry room out back. The laundry room insulation will require more drywall work before and after that part of the operation. After all of that, the roofing people are coming, because it turns out that the house’s original swamp cooler (OG urban desert life) had leaked and rotted a part of the roof beneath the band-aid of the new roofing someone later applied, and that is our A/C’s official cause of death as noted on its death certificate.

Just when you think you only need a new A/C.

The point of this whole mundane story, though, is that our house undergoing extensive surgery made it even easier to ignore the paperwork on my desk.

Not to mention, I also had a cold this week, which made it even harder to work up the wherewithal to fill in thousands of answer bubbles.

But I persevered and finally got it all done yesterday. Truth be told, I’m happy that I had an opportunity to do it at all, much less get it done. The whole thing is rather a priviledge. I’ll photocopy the packet tomorrow before I take it to the post office.

I’m now taking a minute to marvel at the procrastination capability I didn’t know I had. Also, I’m still turning over the information that came out in the questionnaire: Callaghan informed me that I “often punch him in the side” while I’m sleeping. WHAT.


The early bird gets the A/C, because it’s a crane.


On a final note, may I recommend to you this podcast: 30 for 30: Bikram (about Bikram Choudhury, the man behind Bikram Yoga) and this 20/20 documentary: The Dropout (about Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos, her company). These disturbing tales of epic criminal disgrace may not be the cheeriest, but they’re interesting… and they make for some excellent procrastination material.



It was all too cool. (March Favorites!)

I’m back with a “monthly favorites” post, and this time it’s an actual 10-item list and also on the first blog day of the new month – just like old times! I’ve got more food on the list than anything else, along with a couple of products, one random item, and only one entertainment mention. We didn’t get to the theater at all (not to worry – Us is at the top of our list for when we do), and we watched less T.V. than usual. We caught the March Grand Sumo Highlights, but you already know how much I love Sumo. We watched a fluffy streaming series that kept us entertained, but I didn’t feel compelled to include it here.

Without further ado, here’s what I’ve been watching, eating, and using:


1). Hanna (Amazon Prime Original)



I hesitated to include this series because it just dropped, and we’ve only seen the first two episodes. It might’ve been better to put it on my April list, but I’m already so impressed that I wanted to share it now as a recommendation. Hanna is based on the 2011 film, and it brings together one of my favorite T.V. duos: Linden (Mireille Enos) and Holder (Joel Kinnaman) from The Killing.


2). Shea Moisture 100% Virgin Coconut Oil Daily Hydration Facial Wipes.


Shea Moisture 100% Virgin Coconut Oil Daily Hydration Facial Wipes


I ran out of facial wipes for makeup-removal, and I saw these and almost didn’t get them… they’re not the cheapest. I was looking for my usual Yes to Coconut facial wipes when my eye caught on the word “coconut” on this package. Of course, I got them. Of course, I love them. They’re refreshing and wonderful with my makeup removing products, and they don’t feel oily at all.


3). W3LLPEOPLE Bio Extreme Lip Gloss (Berry).


W3LLPEOPLE Bio Extreme Lip Gloss in Berry


Target’s added more vegan/cruelty-free cosmetic lines to their stock! They’re killing it. I picked up this W3LLPEOPLE lip gloss in Berry, and now it’s my new favorite lip product. I love the feel of its formula, its herbal scent, the staying power of the color, and the color, itself.


4). Taylor Farms Sweet Kale Chopped Kit.


Taylor Farms Sweet Kale Chopped Kit


There’s not much to say about this salad mix except I’M HOOKED. It is chopped salad perfection. I’ve been eating this for lunch every day, removing the cranberries from the seed packet and using my own dressing (olive oil and balsamic vinegar for this one) rather than the one included.


5). Dried apples.


Dried apples


Dried apples: a new favorite snack that’s easy to eat while writing. No mess! They’re tart and light and lightly sweet, and the chew is satisfying and not clingy to the teeth.


6). Japanese sweet potatoes.


steamed Japanese sweet potatoes


Here’s another new favorite snack: these tiny sweet potatoes. I steam a whole bag all at once and keep them in the refrigerator. They’re easy to grab and eat, and they’re also mess-free since they’re cooked in water with no oil. So good!


7). Vega Sport Protein Bar (Crunchy Peanut Butter).


Vega Sport Protein Bar in Crunchy Peanut Butter


Vega Sport’s peanut butter crunch bar is my new favorite way to get in some post-workout protein if I can’t get home right away to make a protein shake.


8). Munk Pack Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Protein Cookie.


Munk Pack Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Protein Cookie


Clearly, I’m eating more sugar these days; I was impressed with the nutrition panel on these protein cookies, so I thought I’d try them. Lenny and Larry’s, move over. Munk Pack’s protein cookies’ nutrition panel looks better, and from what I recall of L & L’s, I like these better, too. I cut them in half and store them in the freezer in individual snack bags, so I only eat half at a time (half = one serving). They’re awesome frozen! I also love the double chocolate ones. I currently have both in the freezer.


9). C-Weed Snack Seaweed Crunch with Almonds.


C-Weed Snack Seaweed Crunch with Almonds


MORE SNACKS. Mom sent two bags of these seaweed snacks from Hawaii. I love seaweed in all forms. I also love almonds. This one was going to make my list without question… I mean, it was going to have to try really hard to not make the list. It’s not just not-horrible, it’s really good. If you like seaweed, you’ll want to try these!


10). Bat birthday card.

You guys, this was a totally random and anti-minimalism purchase. I was looking for a card for a specific person/occasion – not a birthday – and my eye snagged on this one. Bats! I read the outside, read the inside, and felt an uplifting of mirth such that there was no way my depression-challenged ass wasn’t going to bring it home. I love the art, as I said, but the card had me at the incorrect comma, weird/wrong syntax, and the awesome WTF-ness of the punchline. This card with its goofy message and birthday-hat-wearing-bats sits on my dresser and makes me giggle every day. Best four bucks spent in the month of March.


[studio ink another side of hallmark – art by brace]

goofy birthday bats by brace


The artist signed as just “Brace.” Thank you, Brace!

The End… of March.



Geronimo does laundry, part 2. (Desert tortoise update!)

We’re still learning things about our beloved desert tortoise. Last week, I learned that Geronimo has a keen memory. Apparently, he recalls events that happened last year.

Remember when Geronimo trashed our laundry room? (If not, go ahead and click that link to read the story.) He’d gotten himself into a precarious position when he reached the spot he wanted in the room, and he relayed his displeasure in no uncertain terms as he huffed and puffed and stomped back to his burrow after I removed him and set him outside. As friendly and lovable as he is, when a tortoise as expressive as Geronimo gets cranky, he makes sure that you’re aware.

Geronimo remembers that day in the laundry room, and he made sure that I knew it last week while I was doing laundry.

He was on the far side of the yard when I went to put the clean clothes in the dryer, but I found him approaching quickly when I turned to glance through the open doorway behind me. (Have I mentioned how shockingly fast he is for a tortoise?) My heart laughed with joy at the sight of him, but I slipped in an affectionate warning with my greeting: “Hi Geronimo! Are you coming to help Mommy do laundry again? Don’t raise hell in here this time.”

He already knew what he was going to do. He had a plan. He entered the laundry room and walked around the perimeter, wrestling himself between my feet as I stood at the washing machine. Then he crossed through to his spot, sat himself down, got back up, ripped an impressively long, loud fart, and left.

That was how I learned about his memory. That he’s smart and highly expressive, I already knew. He took it to another level with that fart, though.

I guess I can’t blame him. He’d been so proud and happily hunkered down in that spot last year when I extracted him from the wreckage he’d created.

Here’s a few shots of him from today:


Geronimo walking tall.


Geronimo camouflaged. Where’s Geronimo?


And here’s a video clip of Geronimo walking toward me, to give you an idea of how quickly he walks! I actually had to move the phone (camera) back in order to keep up with him, because he was barreling straight for it, and he would’ve head-butted it in no time.





Happy Friday Eve, all!