Wrangling with B.O.B. (Garage Gym workout!)

A minor stress-related autoimmune flare has kept me out of the gym these last two days, but the garage saved me from inactivity in the meanwhile. The ironic thing is that working out is my therapy to help reduce stress, but if stress gets to me anyway, I’m sometimes unable to do my normal workouts! I know that those of you with autoimmunity issues know exactly what I’m talking about.

In the garage yesterday late afternoon, I wanted to challenge myself in ways that wouldn’t aggravate my right shoulder. I set B.O.B. to a greater height than usual, thinking I’d try to work with the height differential.

A sampling of screen shots from my workout with a 6-foot, 290 lb. dummy:


1). I started with a jump-rope cardio blast to get warm, jumping rope in 3-minute rounds to music from Disturbed’s The Sickness album.


Cardio: jumping rope


As usual, there’s nothing to see here, really. You can’t see the rope when it’s in motion.


The rope.


Moving on! Here’s the height differential I had before me:


Me vs B.O.B. (height differential)


I’m 5′, 4″ and 115 lbs. In this case, B.O.B. is 6′ and 290 lbs (fully filled with water)


Me vs B.O.B. (height differential)


2). I threw some kicks to see where they’d land on someone who’s six feet tall.


Side kick (placed and held)


I have short legs and I’m not flexible, so this is as high as it’d get. This is not what would happen in reality. If you’re taller than me, I’m much more likely to blow out your knee or your family jewels.


3). I tested my left back fist (leaving my right arm out of it). It was indeed a reach to get 6-foot B.O.B. in the face. In actuality, a person of this height would get throat-punched.


Back fist


4). I tried out some knee strikes on 6-foot B.O.B.


Pulling B.O.B. down for a knee strike


Knee strike


In my current condition with my right side, I can pull all day long, but pushing overhead or straight-arm lifting/extending are a problem. I did a lot of pulling in this work-out.

For these knee strikes, I jumped in to grab B.O.B. by the base of his skull, jumped back in my stance to pull him down toward me, and then came up to land a rear knee. Unfortunately, it only got to his chest. Haha. Again, in actuality in a street situation, my knee would end up lower. That’s fine. A hard knee to your solar plexus will knock the air out of you.


5). I found out right away that a standing rear naked choke was not going to happen on 6-foot B.O.B., so I just grappled him as best as I could, really testing my strength more than anything. In real life, I’d have to get him to the ground in order to choke him.


Using B.O.B.’s base to step up and get my arm around his throat


Even stepping up, I couldn’t twist my arm around to get a proper grip, so I just did this. (My right shoulder was fine with this.)


Pulling him back by the throat from the other side (sorry we went out of frame)


This kind of wrangling with B.O.B. made for a pretty good strength-training, pulling workout (so back and biceps, I guess).

I did a little more in the way of conditioning exercises…


6). Speed punches for muscle endurance:


Speed punches


Again, you can’t really see anything, but there was some speed happening in these rounds of speed punches. The goal is to stand close and hit fast, not hard. This is like sprinting in place with your upper body.


7). Jumping-in planks:




I kept a little bend in my elbows to avoid stressing my right shoulder.


Jumping in (then back out, repeat)


(I suppose all of this counts as knuckle-conditioning, too, since I’m always on my knuckles.)


8). For abs, I just did some crunches.


Lying on the floor (doing crunches), ha


9). I finished up with some stretching.


A few stretches at the end


I forgot to take a post-workout selfie, so here’s a screen-shot of one of the times I turned to face the phone:


(you get the idea)


That was it! This was a fun garage gym session. I got to sweat a little, and the whole thing was pretty instructive, too. I’m not done working with B.O.B. set to this height.


Just don’t answer the door. (Another story-time post!)

This is more a cautionary tale than a story-time post.

“If a stranger knocks on your door, don’t answer it.”

Almost 10 years ago, I was alone at home when there was a sudden and violent knocking on the door. The guy on the other side was shouting for “Anna.”

For some reason I’ll never know, I did the really stupid and uncharacteristic thing and answered the door. The guy got into my face and pounded out the questions: Where’s Anna? Are you Anna? Are you sure you’re not Anna? Is Anna there? [**looks over my shoulder to see if anyone’s there**] No Anna lives here? Are you sure? Do you know where Anna lives? […]

He went on for probably a full minute while I simply stood and asserted that I was not Anna, that there was no Anna on the premises, that no one called “Anna” lived there, that I did not know of an Anna who’d ever lived there, that I was the only one there and the only one who lived there. (<– I still can’t believe I said that!)

Then he stopped shouting and looked at me, and just as I was realizing that he was looking at me with too much intensity, he said something like, “Okay, if you ever do find out about an Anna who lived here, you can give me a call.” He sounded more reasonable and less loud, which I appreciated.

He produced a business card and a pen. “I’ll give you my cell phone number.”

He scribbled on the card and handed it to me, repeating that I could call him. I had the impression that he would be interested in me calling him for personal reasons, not necessarily for Anna.

After he left and I closed the door, I looked at the business card. The name of the business strongly suggested that he was a bounty hunter… a conclusion backed up by his behavior. Poor Anna, I thought to myself, though the entire incident sort of amused me. This is a first. Also, bounty hunters have business cards?!

Fast-forward past a decade to last week when I found the business card in a pile of old business cards. Out of curiosity, I went looking for the “business” online. A URL and a phone number were printed on the card.

  • No business by that name exists on the internet.
  • The URL for the business contains the name of the business, but it pulls up a different business. Since it’s the same URL, the same person or people must be behind the two businesses, I guessing. Also, the phone number for the different business is the same as the one printed on the card. It was like they changed the business, but put the site under the same URL and kept the phone number, too.
  • However, the name of the new business seems to have nothing to do with bounty hunting.
  • But it also has an eyebrow-raising name. (I wish I could tell you the names of these businesses.)
  • When I searched for the person listed on the site, I found his arrest record and mugshot.
  • When I searched for the other guy (who’d pounded on my door), I came up with his arrest record and mug shot.
  • More sleuthing revealed that the name of his current workplace is very similar to the name of the business printed on the card – it does not appear that he works at the business whose site lives at the original URL.
  • When I searched for that business, I came up with a page showing that it exists, but with no information about what sort of business it might be.
  • After my interest in the whole thing dwindled, my brief investigative efforts left me at this bottom line: the two guys had done time for violent crimes (the charges are listed on their arrest pages) – both the guy at my door and the guy connected to the business that lives at the URL printed on the business card.

All of this to say, Why the hell did I answer my door?

Maybe I got lucky. Maybe, had I responded to his intimidation tactics, he would’ve capitalized on my visible fear, as people do. He could’ve shoved past me, busting in and doing any number of unpleasant things. Or maybe he was genuinely looking for Anna and would’ve left as peacefully even if my reaction had been more than a non-reaction.

In any case, because of this experience, I’m here to repeat the general wisdom and common sense regarding strangers at your door: “Don’t answer the door.” You never know who’s on the other side!

[I would insert an image here, but I don’t have one; I’m not going to post the business card!]

I hope you’re all having a great week so far.

When historical energy lingers. (Story-time!)

I don’t usually come at you with far-out stories, but I read something interesting the other day, and I had to share it. It’s kind of a weird story:

The first night Callaghan and I spent in this house, we both dreamed about Nazis.

We were both in each other’s dream, and our dreams were similarly, unusually detailed and eventful, marked by a sense of vivid awareness. “It was so real” – that kind of dream awareness.

Within minutes of waking up, we told each other what we’d dreamed. We woke up and said, “I dreamed about Nazis,” and then found out that the other one did, too, and not only that, but we were in each other’s dream, and the story-lines of our dreams overlapped.

Of course, we were kind of creeped-out to learn that we’d basically had the same dream. About Nazis.

In Callaghan’s dream, he and I were with a hundred other people engaged in some sort of battle at a Bavarian castle, and only 10 of us made it out alive. The Nazis, he said, were turning into actual demons.

My dream picked up where his left off, but it branched into another direction: the two of us were running through a horror camp outside of the castle, trying to find a way out, except we were already on the outside, and we were trying to find a way in.

Totally over-the-top, right? As in, the brain takes something random yet specific and drops it into LSD before releasing it into your dreams… that kind of over-the-top.

Totally over-the-top, totally out-of-the-blue. It wasn’t like we’d recently seen a movie or anything on T.V. about WWII, either.

So what could have caused us to both dream about Nazis? And why on our first night in this house – and only then?

Maybe, we speculated, a Nazi lived in this house at some point. The house was built in 1958; it was possible, though unlikely, we thought, that a German war criminal lived here in Tempe, Arizona.

This brings me to the weird part: The other day, I stumbled upon this bit of trivia on the “interesting facts” page of “things to do in Arizona” (last bullet point):

The largest escape from a U.S. Prisoner of War camp during WWII occurred in the Phoenix area at Papago Park POW camp. 25 German prisoners escaped.

Papago Park is a five-minute drive from our house.

Our house was built in 1958, 13 years after the war, but being in the vicinity of the POW camp, we’re thinking it is possible that a Nazi or two (or 25) made their way across this land. We’re thinking that it’s maybe more than likely, because we did both dream about Nazis the first night we spent in this house.

It’s just too uncanny. It seems to me that we picked up on some sort of residual historical energy that first night here.


Anyway, apropos of nothing, here’s a gratuitous selfie I took for no reason at all except that I was outside (yesterday) and felt like taking pics:


(07 Feb selfie for no reason at all)


If you will, please admire that gorgeous fence behind me (on the left side of the pic), as Callaghan has worked hard building it! He just finished it. This weekend is going to be all about building a kick-ass tortoise burrow. I ordered two tons of dirt to be delivered tomorrow. Exciting times!

Keeping history. (Minimalism, post 8.)

In terms of minimalism, I’ve been thinking about the difference between historical value and sentimental value in objects. I’ve been focusing on sentimental value – I’m enjoying lightening my life, but practicing the discipline of physical non-attachment to things is the real spiritual “work” behind minimalism for me.

Parting with items of historical value, though, is something that I don’t consider, apparently. (Luckily, we don’t have too much in the way of such objects!)

This train of thought began when I was getting ready one morning and my eyes fell upon an object that I’d found in a box of things. I’d set the knick-knack on my dresser without a second thought. I didn’t ask myself whether I wanted it, or whether I needed it, or whether it filled me with an overwhelming sense of happiness. I just set it out and forgot about it.

I only thought about it when I really saw it that morning. I saw an object of historical significance, made in a place that doesn’t exist anymore. It’s a relic from a past era; somehow, that saves it from minimalism… in my version of the practice, at least.


“Made in USSR”


My first minimalism sweep included objects that brought me great joy at one time, some that I still liked, even. It felt good to part with them. I’m just not keen on getting rid of something that says “Made in (insert name of place that no longer exists)” on the label. For me, sentimental attachment to objects is one thing. Desire to remember history is another.


First Favorites of 2018! (January Favorites)

January was interesting… it seemed to go on forever, and yet it was a great month!

Without the usual blathering, may I present some of the “little things” I enjoyed in January:


1). The Florida Project



You may already know how I feel about The Florida Project if you’ve read my “non-review movie review” about it. If you haven’t, and you’d like to, it’s here. We found this to be Just a wonderful film, with the best acting I’ve seen from Willem Dafoe (whose acting I’ve always enjoyed, anyway). I highly recommend it!


2). Sumo – January 2018 Grand Sumo Tournament (Basho)

Sumo, Japan’s national sport, is one of my favorite martial arts/combat sports to watch. There’s a Grand Sumo Tournament in Japan every other month, and we watch them all – the “Grand Sumo Highlights,” that is. There are 15 days in the tournament, and we watch each day’s Highlights (on YouTube). Some tournaments are more enjoyable than others. We didn’t much enjoy last November’s tournament, but January’s was amazing… it was probably my favorite of all the tournaments I’ve seen!

Early on in the 15-day tournament, we were impressed with the rikishi Tochinoshin – one of our favorites – when he came out looking like he’d been training hard. We rooted for him to win the championship (Emperor’s Cup), and win it, he did!

For those who don’t know, this is Tochinoshin, the first European to win a Grand Sumo Championship since 1972!!


Tochinoshin receiving the Emperor’s Cup (January 2018)


Tochinoshin is Georgian. His actual name is Levan Gorgadze.


Tochinoshin (January 2018 Grand Champion)



3). Glitch (T.V. series)



Thanks to Netflix, we have access to all kinds of wonderful international T.V. series, and this is the latest we’ve started. Glitch comes from Australia with a great cast and an intriguing sci-fi mystery storyline. There are two seasons so far, and we just started the second.


On to food…


4). Cherry Pie Larabars.


Cherry Pie Larabar


This is getting predictable, I know. I still enjoy those apple pie Larabars – and all the other ones I’ve written about – but cherry pie Larabars are my favorite-favorite so far. They’re tart and just barely sweet enough to be sweet, if that makes sense. I love cherries, but these bars taste more like cranberries to me. They remind me of this cranberry quick bread recipe someone in my family used to make at Christmas. Very festive, Larabar.

Cherry pie Larabars have three ingredients: dates, almonds, and unsweetened cherries.


5). Lifelight meatless pastas (esp. Wild Mushroom Ravioli).


Lightlife meatless pasta (esp. wild mushroom ravioli)


This month’s favorite processed vegan food discovery award goes to Lightlife for their frozen meatless pastas. My favorite is the wild mushroom ravioli… so flavorful and hearty!


6). Baby sweet potatoes.


Mini sweet potatoes


We found that mini sweet potatoes come out creamy – buttery, even – and delicious after 20 minutes in the steamer. They’re a treat hot or cold!


7). Coconut yogurt bowl with berries and seeds.


Coconut yogurt with berries, hemp seeds, and chia seeds


You may have seen this on Instagram when I posted it recently. I’ve been enjoying plain, unsweetened coconut yogurt with a little bit of light agave nectar, hemp seeds and chia seeds (a heaping tablespoon of each), and whatever berries we have on hand. It’s so tasty and satisfying!




8). The Body Shop Oils of Life intensely revitalizing facial oil.


The Body Shop Oils of Life intensely revitalizing facial oil


Being that I’m a skin care junkie and a devotee of The Body Shop, I went a little crazy when said establishment had their Black Friday sale a few months ago. I stocked up on some favorites, and I also ordered some new products to try.

I’ve been using these Oils of Life products since the middle of December, so I’ve had some time to decide how I like them. I like them a lot, as in, “I will re-purchase before I run out” a lot. The two products I use are the facial oil (above, #8), and the night cream (below, #9).

I’ve seen mixed reviews of the Oils of Life line. Many reviewers were turned off by the products’ fragrance, saying that they thought the scent was terrible, overwhelming, or both. This seemed to be the number one complaint about this line.

I don’t mind if skin care products are scented as long as I like the scent, and I love sandalwood and other woodsy, warm notes, so the Oils of Life products appeal to me even more because they’re rich with such a fragrance. Oils of Life, to me, smell like a Buddhist temple. Or like a man who smells great. (haha)

That aside, I’m very happy with the way these products work on my skin. I use the oil twice a day and the night cream at night, of course. I put the oil on first, then layer other products over it. I use an overnight mask over the night cream.

(About the pricing: this is The Body Shop, and The Body Shop isn’t drugstore cheap, but it’s not La Mer, either.)


9). The Body Shop Oils of Life intensely revitalizing sleeping cream.


The Body Shop Oils of Life intensely revitalizing sleeping cream


(See above for the text!)


10). Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus extra moisturizing hair detangler (for kids).


Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus extra moisturizing hair detangler (for kids)


This product for towel-dried hair is just refreshing and pleasant. I found it in the kids’ hair care section at Target.


That’s it for January! Onward with the new year.

Failing at sleep. (New Year’s Resolution progress.)

Progress, of lack thereof.

Here’s one thing I’ve achieved so far in my 2018 resolution to get more sleep: I’ve acquired a fitness tracker with a sleep component that reviewers online seem to like. At the end of Month 1, that’s all I have to report… because I haven’t really used it yet.

I know.

Callaghan gave the tracker to me for my birthday. I wanted one, I said, because the tyranny of a device might be the only thing that can hold me accountable. I need to be able to look at the tracker every morning and be dismayed.

I dawdled, deciding on the fitness tracker gift a few weeks post-New Year’s. (My birthday is at the end of December.) I charged it and looked at it and said “I don’t have time to figure this out so I’m going to exchange it” and then grudgingly put it on last night, and this morning I was, indeed, properly dismayed – though not surprised at all – to see that I only got 4:58 hours of sleep. I know that it’s pretty much 5 hours, but seeing the number “4” makes it worse psychologically.

Ironically, it took me a little longer to fall asleep with the fitness tracker around my wrist. I could feel it thrumming, and from that and the tingling sensation in my wrist and hand came a sudden panic that the tracker was going to electrocute my brain during the night.

This is good. This is what I need. I’m failing at sleep, and I’m counting on this fitness tracker to deny me of my denial.

Changing an ingrained bad habit is one of the hardest things to do. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t have New Year’s resolutions, right? Generally speaking?

Incidentally, I decided to wear the tracker at the gym this morning, just to see. Clearly, I need to do more studying to learn about this device. There’s no way you can burn 852 calories doing a Les Mills BodyPump class, is there? I did nothing else while wearing the tracker this morning. I put it on immediately before picking up my barbell, and removed it immediately after the cool-down. 852 calories doesn’t sound right. The Les Mills website says that you can burn “up to 560 calories” during BodyPump! I don’t know how the tracker is coming up with 852.

That aside (I didn’t get the tracker for actual fitness tracking, though I will wear it to BodyCombat, too, also out of curiosity), I do trust that using the tracker will motivate me to get to bed earlier.

Here’s to the beginning of Month 2!

Meet Geronimo, our new kid. (Sonoran Desert Tortoise!)

Blog-related announcement first: This is my last Friday blog post! For writing-related reasons, I’ve decided to move my second blog post day from Friday to Thursday. Starting next week, I’ll post on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the late-morning to early-afternoon range (MST).

Now for our family news! We’ve had an addition to our family. I recently mentioned that I’ve been distracted by a tortoise, and I wasn’t kidding. 9 days ago (after a couple of days of deliberation and phone calls), an orphaned Sonoran Desert Tortoise came to live with us.

After a few false starts with names, we finally realized that his name is “Geronimo.”

We’ve been working with the proper agency to get him legally registered to us. Adoptions don’t usually take place until April 1st (end of hibernation), but Geronimo didn’t go into hibernation this cycle. We’re doing a backwards adoption process due to the fact that this is a rescue situation. Desert tortoises in Arizona belong to the state of Arizona, as they’re native wildlife in captivity… you have to be an Arizona resident in order to adopt. We consider it an honor to be one of many Arizona families to adopt a tortoise. We love having Geronimo in our family!

What can I tell you… we fell in love with Geronimo the instant he got home. He’s a funny, sweet, and clever little boy, very active and just full of personality. He’s a character, in fact.


Hello, my name is Geronimo.


We love his little face! Here he is in that same corner of our backyard:



We call Geronimo a “kid” because that’s what the vet calls him, but she said that he’s at least 20. He’ll more than likely outlive us.


Geronimo looking enormous. (He’s not.)


Callaghan took the above pic from ground-level, which made Geronimo in the foreground look huge compared to me. (Sidenote: if my arms weren’t exposed to the elements all the time, they’d be as pale as my legs. I don’t use self-tanner. Haha.)


This is better.


This is how Geronimo really looks compared to me! I’ll get some pics of Geronimo with Callaghan, too.


Geronimo gravitating to the site of his burrow.


Last weekend, we prepared the ground – the highest ground in our backyard – for Geronimo’s burrow. We’ll spend this weekend building the burrow. Geronimo made it clear that he approves of the site.


Geronimo pretending he’s emerging from his future burrow.


We bring Geronimo inside when the temps drop below 70 degrees; we have a pen for him in his own room in the house. He needs to be kept warm during the winter!


Geronimo making his rounds along the gravel.


Geronimo is great on guard duty… he continuously patrols the perimeter of our yard. He also walks through it. He leaves not an inch uncovered. He stops to rest for a minute every once in a while, and then he gets right back to his rounds!

Nenette sometimes watches him from our bedroom window sill. She has no idea what he is. He’s not like any cat she’s ever seen.


He likes to eat the lawn.


We have diverse terrain for Geronimo in our large backyard: gravel, grass, sandy dirt, and clay dirt. We have citrus and desert trees, hibiscus and other flowery bushes, bougainvillea, and a variety of cactuses and succulents. He also likes to walk around on our concrete patio.

The vet declared Geronimo to be in good health when we took him to the avian and exotic animal clinic for a well-check earlier this week.

We also talked about his diet. Geronimo is vegan. He loves to eat our Bermuda grass and the dandelions that grow in it (dandelions are his favorite)! He enjoys leafy greens… we can give him romaine lettuce, says the vet, but not spinach or collard greens, as they’re too high in protein for him.


Geronimo at the vet!


Geronimo. [**happy sigh**]

Happy Friday to you all. I’ll see you next week on Tuesday (as usual) and Thursday!