A poem by George Trakl on Veterans’ Day.

Friends, on this beautiful moonlit night in the early hours of November 11 – Veterans’ Day here in the States – I opened Selected Late Poems of George Trakl, and my eyes fell on his poem “In The East.”

Allow me to share:

In The East
by George Trakl*

The grim anger of nations,
Like the wild organ-sounds of the winter storm,
The purple wave of battle,
Stars that have shed their leaves.

With shattered foreheads & silver arms
Night calls to the dying soldiers.
The spirits of the battle-dead groan
In the shadows of autumnal ash.

A desert of thorns surrounds the city.
The moon chases the terrified women
From steps that are bleeding.
Wild wolves have broken through the gate.

It is Veterans’ Day in America, and Trakl’s haunting lines of verse give me pause. I feel more reflective this Veterans’ Day than most, and I’m not sure why. If I were to attempt to listen and characterize the energy of the American people right now, I’d say that we are anxious, restless within our borders, like dogs straining forward at the ends of our leashes.

My cat sleeping on the chair next to my bed calms the world… I’m convinced of this, and I’m grateful. It’s always the little things.

Happy Veterans’ Day, my fellow veterans. Thank you for your service.

*George Trakl was a German poet who served in the army during World War I. He died of suicide at the age of 27. He’s one of my favorite poets.

Desert Wanderings.

It’s been a month. It’s been a good two months. I don’t know about you, but on my end, life has mimicked a fault line in constant tremor and sudden change and general chaos where there used to be order (a workplace moving into a new building will accomplish the latter pretty well). I missed you last week when another circumstance arose out of nowhere. But we’re here now.

And the desert, my friends. The desert can always be relied upon when you’re in Phoenix or anywhere else in the magickal Land of AZ in which I’m so blessed to live. Last weekend I escaped into nature and did some magickal grounding with the Earth.

This was a mere just-over-two-miles in, but you don’t have to go far.

The healthiest ocotillo I’ve ever seen, lush and alive in the wild after a series of rains.

Into the distance…

The sky was wild that day.

November on the verge.

Yours Truly looking shaggy in the days leading to a much-needed haircut. I trimmed my bangs and cut two inches off this mess.

Sacred scenery.

Every direction you turn looks different.

To wander is to live.

A perfect view. My perfect view, anyway.

One wants to wander forever.

And ever.

Boots tossed to the side. Feet buried in the sand after a meditation. Grounding.

Scenery along the way.

The magick is real.

Communing with nature always brings me back to center.

Friends, I hope this finds you feeling well under our gorgeous waxing gibbous moon. May your days be full with splendors.

The End… but not.

Today’s Short (SCI-FI) Horror October offering: “Laboratory Conditions” (with Marisa Tomei and Minnie Driver)

Short SCI-FI horror, that is.

I’ve found this well-paced, well-written short Sci-Fi horror that I thought I’d share for anyone who’s interested. It stars a couple of faces that may be familiar to some of you – Marisa Tomei and Minnie Driver – and the writing’s quite nice. Furthermore! In discovering this short film! I stumbled into a YouTube channel that specifically features short Sci-Fi films. You know I’m all in over there, and I will certainly bring some of my favorites to you.

On another note, I received a lovely comment from one of you yesterday. To your kind expression of appreciation, I say thank you, as well, and indeed I will keep writing. I’ve somewhat fallen out of a groove here in the last year, but grooves are designed to get back into (please forgive not only the cliché but also my ending that clause with a preposition), and I look forward to doing that.

All of that said, please enjoy Laboratory Conditions at your leisure:

A fine and enjoyable day or night to you all!

So now I’m the mother of a mystery.

Greetings, friends.

So where was I when I left off two weeks ago when I wanted to post but needed to sleep so I didn’t and instead greeted you from a far-off half-awake place in my brain in a way that I hoped was somehow coherent but I have a feeling that I wasn’t and I’m too embarrassed to go back and look at what I wrote to confirm my suspicion but now I’m awake enough to return to the topic?

Ah, yes. Here we are.

As I was somewhat/somehow saying two weeks ago, I now have a mystery snail, and his name is Sherlock. Allow me to share details with any of you who may be interested! I’ll tell you up front that this newest addition to my little family is a riot. My kids are little, but they have big personalities. I shouldn’t have been surprised to discover that Sherlock was far from an exception.

Sherlock.

Sherlock was given to me a few weeks ago in a small plastic food container. I knew nothing about mystery snails, much less of proper living arrangements for them, so I asked Google, who told me in no uncertain terms that one mystery snail needs a five-gallon tank, minimum… but I ended up getting him a 3.7-gallon tank. I regret that decision now, of course. One mystery snail needs a minimum of five gallons of water! How difficult would it be to, I don’t know, set up Sherlock’s habitat in accordance with the experts’ wisdom? So now Sherlock is in a tank that’s too small for the maintenance of his optimal health, and I’m not sure what to do about it. (Is it too late to make an exchange? I’m pretty sure that the store won’t accept a return of a used tank, but I can ask. I’m not sure what I was thinking when I got this tank.) Maybe I’ll get a five-gallon tank for Sherlock at some point and just grow plants in the 3.7 gallon-tank.

(Gah.)

Between Sherlock and Geronimo, I have two kids who live in shells and who are vegan. Sherlock’s favorite thing to eat is green beans. It’s fascinating watching him chomp away at the green bean with his tiny alien mouth, but I’m even more in awe when I witness his UFC-caliber take-down technique when encountering a vertical green bean. It happens sometimes that the green bean will land on its end when I drop it into the water, and it’ll stay that way until Sherlock comes along – 0 to 60 when he sniffs out the green bean, which is immediately – to grapple with it. I never knew that grappling could be simultaneously ruthless and elegant until I saw this pretty little snail take down a green bean.

In addition to green beans, Sherlock enjoys climbing up and down the aquatic plants, and also diving down from the surface of the water. At first it was alarming to witness him plunging to the ground from the greatest height he could reach, but it soon became clear that this is his idea of a good time. He always lands on his one large foot. Sherlock is an MMA fighter and a diver. Big personality, I’m telling you.

I’m not sure how long Sherlock will be with me. Mystery snails live about a year; Sherlock was full-grown when he arrived, so he’s already well into his one-year lifespan.  He’ll carry out his remaining months – or weeks, or days, whatever the case may be – eating green beans and gliding around his tank, free-falling and climbing the leafy stalks of his aquatic plants.

The Life Aquatic with Sherlock.
Big foot.
Sherlock and a cross-section of a green bean.
This green bean will be 100% consumed in less than 12 hours!

Peace, my friends. Thank you for being here.

Here we finally are! (Short Horror October: Standing Woman and A Strange Calm.)

Welcome to October, friends. Welcome to SHORT HORROR OCTOBER!

If you’ve been here a while, as in longer than a year, then you know. If you know, you know.

I love film in general, but horror movies are kind of my jam, and horror shorts are often my favorites. The condensed film run-time encourages a tight narrative arc with an economy of film elements. Pacing has to be measured, yet consistent with the story’s own pulse. Technical meets the creative and the playful in short horror films. It’s always a thrill to find one that’s entertaining or engaging with solid acting performances, good writing and cinematography, and finesse on the part of the director. Sometimes there’s no horror, but in the absence of that there’s simply a beautiful or thought-provoking film.

But wait! There’s the other side of the spectrum, too: I sometimes come across a horror short with nothing to rave about in those usual ways, but that leaves me feeling something nonetheless. Sometimes it’s just a guilty pleasure. Another great thing about short films is that if they’re bad, you only wasted 12-20 minutes of your life.

All of that being said, let’s get on with it! Short Horror October here in TALC begins now. Today I bring to you Standing Woman and A Strange Calm. Enjoy, my friends.

Here’s to a lovely beginning of this magickal month!

But I slept.

Good morning, my friends. I got up with my super early alarm an hour ago to write in this space, but I had to get back into bed due to lack of adequate sleep, and while I’m sorry that I failed to post here, I’m glad that I got in the extra sleep mileage, especially since I ended up having a fascinating dream that I hope to remember. (I should try to jot it down.)

I wish you all a fabulous day or night, wherever you are and whatever the case. I’ll sign off with a pic of my new snail, who I’d planned for you to meet today! This is Sherlock the mystery snail, and he wishes you a good day or night, as well:

Sherlock, my new baby! He’s a mystery snail.

Until next time, then.

Driving into the (Arizona) sunset.

I am where I’m supposed to be.

We’ve had a light and semi-steady rain these last three days… unusual in the desert. A double rainbow appeared in the sky yesterday morning, and yesterday evening the sunset was spectacular. It compelled me to take a photo (which I thought I’d share above). Thus summer winds down gloriously, and I’m looking forward to the new season.

Geronimo has his pre-hibernation appointment tomorrow, so I can see what’s what with the little guy. It’s an exciting time to be a desert tortoise!

On that short note, blessings to you all, my friends. May your days shine bright and your nights shine softly.

The world is a treacherous place.

When you absentmindedly step off of a loading dock and your mistake hits you in an instant not unlike the one wherein a cartoon coyote realizes that the ground beneath him disappeared because he’d run off of a cliff and your immediate physical reflex is to pull up your feet so you can land on the soles of them and you do but then you also fall forward onto your knees because you didn’t have time to re-calibrate your center of gravity before landing and you couldn’t catch yourself with your hands because you were holding something in each one and then you spring up from your hard-impact Olympic-caliber foot/knee-landing combo feeling even more like an idiot than you did at the beginning of the day when you wore your new prescription sunglasses into work and forgot that you had them on and wondered why everything was dark and the whole thing strikes you as an elaborate metaphor but you can’t think of for what and this seems like a part of the problem plus the ramifications of an entirely different flavor of bad decision unfold into the evening and as you slip into the resulting episode of depression you feel that you’d jinxed yourself by writing a positive mental-health post the previous week and the only thing that came of the whole thing was this run-on sentence the length of a long paragraph. This is all I have to offer you today, my friends. I’m sorry.

Here’s hoping that today is better than yesterday (and the day before, for that matter). I’m taking my bruised knees into work along with a Starbucks triple-shot energy coffee drink because I’ve recently fallen into the habit of dumping chemicals into my body first thing in the morning and now I’m addicted, but that’s a topic for a whole different blog post, perhaps.

I hope this find you wrapping up a much better week than the one I’m about to finish. Take care out there, my friends.

(Mental health post.) So I drove along the road

…lined with light-rail tracks this one day, which led me directly to the roundabout I was trying to avoid in the first place. Does that kind of thing ever happen to you? You go out of your way to avoid a situation, then encounter detours that lead you right back to it? But usually, I end up feeling grateful for the opportunity to undertake a navigation situation I wanted to dodge. I always come out fine.

This is going to sound silly, but there was a fire extinguisher that used to present me with a challenge every time I’d encounter it in a certain way. I felt that it was my nemesis. (Even though I believe that comparing a fire extinguisher to the Goddess Nemesis was actual sacrilege.) But those encounters would simply remind me to move cautiously through the world, and that would be lesson enough.

For those of you who don’t know, I have PTSD, OCD, and depression. It’s been a while since I’ve posted about it – I used to do it quite frequently – because I’ve been doing really well. I still am. I just thought I’d pop my head into this space today.

This is an idea of my mental health tableau as it fades in and out on a bad mental health day:

When the air in a room is strange, disquieting in a ghostly kind of way (when the ghost is a stranger).

When a conversation can be more treacherous than a heavy iron bar free-falling in rapid descent toward your head.

When I’m impacted by things that are nothings, like the time I heard an R&B remake of Nena’s “99 Luftballons” and felt that all hope for humanity had been lost.

When I feel that two words that should be added to the English language are “ungood” and “unignorable.”

It can be a dicey time, but those are also the days on which I can turn a particular dark, tight corner and feel like I’m protected from the world. I learn things about myself that surprise me in positive ways.

Sometimes I pay attention to the sound of my own typing. I tap the keys lightly and rapidly and imagine that I’m listening to rain, or to a drum from another country.

I’m doing well, friends. Monday morning I had an OCD episode that almost made me late for work. (Then I got to work and learned that a co-worker’s car battery died on Friday evening at the same time as mine did, and he purchased his new battery on Saturday morning and had it installed at the same time as I did, as well. What are the odds? But that’s neither here nor there.) …I’m doing well overall.

I know that some of you appreciate reading these posts as much as I feel grateful to write them. This is for us. I know that I can relate when I read other bloggers’ mental health posts, so I’m glad to give back.

Car wash.

Hello, friends. I don’t know about you, but it’s been a weird week over here on my end. For instance, I took my car, Dysis, to the car wash yesterday. It should have been just another visit to the car wash, the same one I’ve gone to for years, but all of a sudden, it wasn’t. It wasn’t the same. It was different.

Instead of standing at the window ledge in the large car wash store – which was gone, the store – to watch my car as she passed through the mechanical stages of the wash, I found myself sitting inside the car as she passed through those stages. They changed the entire operation. You now sit in your car to go through the wash, then pull up where they tell you so you can get out and wait while they vacuum and wipe down the inside and probably the outside, too.

I avoid drive-through car washes because of my high anxiety levels when I’m in them, closed inside of a vehicle with the sound of water and air hitting it and visibility reduced to practically nothing. Now I was there, in it, going through it, beset with alarming neon lights that turned the water into psychedelic rivulets, bright color shooting through the torrents of water. It was all so unexpected and bizarre that I almost expected Nicolas Cage to step out in front of me at the end. Have you ever seen Mandy?

Of course I took pics.

This is what I saw – all I could see – as I sat in my car going through the car wash. Nightmare trip fuel.
A Nicolas Cage moment minus Nicolas Cage.

The disappearing car wash wasn’t the only weirdness of the week, but it was the only one that I could photograph. And nothing was weird in a really bad way. It’s just been a strange seven days.

Take care out there, my friends.

My butt is more talented than your butt.

Greetings from the night of this magickal new moon, my friends. This week’s gone quickly, I feel. Nothing out of the ordinary happened. It was one of those weeks where anything weird that may have gone down was inconsequential. For instance, I had a wardrobe malfunction at work yesterday, but no one noticed, so that was okay. I fixed it immediately and life went on.

One thing I like about wearing our company t-shirts is the uniformity of it. We’re all in jeans and black shirts. The only time that people pay attention to my clothing is when something obvious is going on with it, like my phone’s flashlight is on in my back pocket, which happens a lot.

My phone in my back pocket gets up to all kinds of shenanigans. In addition to turning on my flashlight ten or so times a day, it operates the calculator. It plays songs on Spotify. It turns on airplane mode. It turns on Do Not Disturb. It turns off Bluetooth. It informs me of the current moon phase. And it does call people. And there’ve been times it’s done all of these things at once! It’s aggravating, but I’m kind of proud of it. I mean, does your phone light up your ass like a Christmas tree? Does it perform and solve extended and intricate mathematical equations?

I mean, look at what my butt did with my calculator the other day. I took screenshots. My ass is a goddamn mathematical genius.

I could see it as amusing, but it’s mostly just a pain in the butt to have to undo things it does. If there was a more convenient way to carry it around, I’d consider it.

Like my minor wardrobe mishap the other day, though, my butt horsing around on my phone is pretty inconsequential.

I hope you all have a marvelous day or night, friends. Do something rejuvenating for yourselves as the moon is new.

Nenette on the (pillow) case.

It’s been too long since I’ve come at you with cat pics, I’ve realized, so tonight I’m here to remedy the situation. Another thing, my friends, is that my last few cat posts have been dedicated Salem posts. While Salem lived her beloved feral kitty experience outdoors, Nenette’s lived her own truth here in the house. Which is to say that she occupies her space in the loudest quiet way possible, her every soft step deafening in its decisiveness. Even if changing her direction mid-course. Even if startled by the drop of a gum wrapper. Nenette invented the “I meant to do that” save.

She still communicates with a shake of her collar jingling her two metal tags. She still drinks from her little water glass, and she still paws at the floor in front of it before dipping in.

And she still hates having her picture taken. She’s so good at avoiding it that I’d more or less given up on the endeavor. Last night, though, I could tell that she was too chilled out to want to make an escape. I took advantage, and here we are.

This is Nenette waiting for me to get into bed.

Trying to decide whether she should care that there’s a camera looming.
She cares.
A lot.
Everything is fine.
Maybe.
But hey, dinnerz was tasty.
And the bed is comfy.
There’s no such thing as too comfortable though.

My favorite inexplicable thing about Nenette is that she smells like floral perfume. It’s one of the greatest spooky and fun mysteries of ever, and I wish I could share it with you, this fragrance. I’ve long since stopped trying to figure it out. It’s not any perfume that I wear, and she never comes into contact with anyone else, much less someone who wears fragrance. Nenette just smells like her sweet self, which, I guess, is flowers.

As if I could love her more.

I wish you a wonderful day today, or night tonight, as the case may be. Thank you for being here, friends. You are beautiful.

The most horrifying vehicle personalization I’ve ever seen had nothing to do with politics.

Hello, friends.

Question for you: What’s the most disturbing vehicle personalization you’ve ever seen? I’m talking about vanity license plates, bumper stickers, license plate frames, decals, magnets, and the like.

I’ll cut to the chase and tell you about mine, because I still can’t believe it.

[TRIGGER WARNING FOR E.D.]

I’m one of those people who reads everything in front of me while in my car. I’ve seen it all, and I’m here for it, even if I don’t always like it.

I’ve gone through every emotional state looking at other peoples’ personalized vehicles. They make me smile. Roll my eyes. Nod in agreement. Throw up in my mouth a little. Some of them restore my faith in humanity, while others obliterate any hope I had for the human race. I laugh at a lot of them, too. My personal favorite: “Proud parent of a kid who’s sometimes an asshole but that’s okay.” I’ve gone home and Googled musicians and bands and other organizations, or acronyms on vanity plates, just out of curiosity, so I’ve learned a few things from these personalizations, as well. It’s all interesting to me in some way or another.

But then there was the day, not long ago, that I found myself stopped behind a certain car at a red light on my way home from work. Its vanity plate number started with the letters “ANA,” followed by a space, so those three letters stood out… and then a number followed by a capital “K” like something-thousand, and then a final single digit after that. I couldn’t decipher it as a whole, but those first three letters.

I didn’t want to assume what it meant, but of course my mind went immediately to the dark side. Because when I see ANA, the automatic association in my mind is pro-ANA, or pro-anorexia.

It couldn’t be, though, right? Pro-ANA lives online as a dark, shadowy alley of a subculture. Pro-ANA does not drive around town in real-life broad daylight in a pretty little red car.

Unless it does.

I really wanted to think that “ANA” was the name of the car’s owner, but then I noticed the butterfly decal placed with perfect precision at the top center of the tinted rear window, the white of the decal contrasting boldly with the dark window. A cold skeleton finger tapped along my spine when I also noticed that the “ANA” license plate was fitted into an elegant chrome frame, a simple piece adorned only with two butterflies, one at each of the frame’s two bottom corners.

Might it have been a coincidence? So a woman named Ana likes butterflies, I reasoned with myself. Big deal. But the innocuous possibility wasn’t convincing. I couldn’t know for sure, but from where I was sitting, it looked like a pro-ANA car.

I’m familiar with the horrifying online world of ANA/Pro-ANA. If you didn’t know, “ANA” is slang for “pro-ana,” short for “pro-anorexia.”

Eating disorders are fetishized in the ANA community. Members encourage each other in their starvation journeys, giving each other advice, tips, tricks, and hacks. They share pics of themselves, they share thinspiration (“thinspo”) pics, and they watch ANA “thinspo” (“thinspiration”) “role models” on YouTube. They make their own videos, body-checking and showing off their bones. And they’ve adopted the eating disorder recovery symbol of the butterfly as their own symbol.

Now in my view, it’s normal to share your personal and political convictions, beliefs, and ideologies on your vehicle. Festooning your car with the obvious intention of antagonizing people and riling them up is normal. Putting the letters “ANA” with butterflies on your car, however, is not normal. It’s saddening. It’s sick. It encourages like-minded people to their slow suicides. I’m surprised that a vanity plate submission could pass review and make it onto a vehicle at all.

The sight of the car shook me. Five minutes later I pulled up to my driveway feeling unnerved. It was like I’d come face-to-face with an urban legend, and not the good kind.

That was what I wanted to share: that the personalized vehicle that’s horrified me the most was the one with a few dainty little butterflies and three letters that could very well by the car owner’s name. I could be wrong. I hope that I was. But the sight of the car got me thinking.

If you or a loved one are struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders hotline for help.

Thank you for reading and for just being here, my friends.

Today is Work Like a Dog Day,

if you’re one to follow special holidays here in the part of the world where it’s July 5th. How to celebrate? According to one website:

–Take it literally and work like a dog.

–Celebrate someone who works like a dog every day.

–Celebrate your hardworking dog.

–Flip the coin to the other side and celebrate your lazy dog.

Good morning (or evening), my friends. I don’t have an actual post for you today, but I still wanted to say hello, so I’m popping in to do that. I first looked up today’s special holiday, though, and it prompted me to think that it’d be funny to come up with my own special holidays, as in 365 of them. 365 special days!

Maybe I’ll give it some thought here and there. You know I’ll publish the list for you here in TALC if I end up doing it, for anyone here who who’s as easily amused as I am.

Meanwhile, I wish you all a wonderful day today, whether you work like a dog or not.

Until next time, then!

Falling down the rabbit hole. (Or alligator hole, as the case may be.)

When I told my friend that my workplace provides us with Gatorade and Gatorade Zero, he told me that Gatorade was developed at the University of Florida, whose mascot is the Gators, hence the fortified water’s name. The drink was meant to help the university’s athletes, so “Gator aid” was created to help the Gators. Some wise guy on the research team decided to spell “aid” as “ade” – I put it that way because it’s better than supposing that people at the University of Florida can’t spell – and as if this crime against spelling wasn’t enough, when I went online to read about alligators, I discovered that according to Wikipedia, “Louisiana has the largest American alligator population of any U.S. state,” not Florida, so now I was looking at fraud because the Gators being the University of Florida’s mascot is a perpetuation of the lie that Florida is the alligator state. I don’t know about you, but I hadn’t known otherwise. I never associated Louisiana with alligators. And then I thought that if alligators have a beverage named after them, than so should crocodiles. Is there a school whose mascot is the crocodiles? If there was, their teams would beat the Gators’. I watched a documentary on Hulu called Croc That Ate Jaws about alligators and sharks occasionally cohabiting in brackish waters and the giant toothy lizards preying on the giant toothy fishes. Watching it led me to investigate caimans and crocodiles, which was where I learned that the most aggressive member of the Crocodilia Order is the Nile Crocodile, and when I say “Crocodilia Order” I’m including alligators, because they do belong to that club. Doesn’t “Crocodilia Order” sound like a secret society? Is there such a secret society – Reptilians?! Alligators and crocodiles are great big reptiles, after all. (Mental note: ask Google whether alligators or sharks have a stronger jaw, and whether it’s true that alligators and crocodiles can’t turn well, so if you’re running from them, you should zig-zag.) I have so many questions.

I was writing all of this and this is where my fluffy post about alligators and crocodiles veered in the direction of a rant, as it’s here that I Googled Nile Crocodile and encountered this article that led to me shutting my laptop, because nothing stirs my ire like stories celebrating the States’ trophy hunters going over to Africa with their privileged American firearm-toting asses looking to murder Nile crocodiles on the locals’ behalf so they can have their picture taken with the crocodile corpse before “sending it on to the purse factory” and coming home as “dragon-slaying” “heroes.”

(The article is a publication of the NRA.)

Nile Crocodile

The End.

But not quite. I want to wish you all a happy next seven days in your various time zones and hemispheres, because new weeks are invigorating opportunities to do better and be better than you were the previous week. That’s how I’m look at it, anyway.

At any rate we’re on the horizon of the traditional Saturday-Sunday weekend and I hope you all have an enjoyable and/or productive one.

Until next them, my friends.

Nothing to see hair.

Hello there, friends. Tonight I’m tired; therefore, I come to you bearing nothing but this selfie I took in the bathroom at work the other day so I could show my Mom my haircut – I got layers – as I’d forgotten to take it the day before. I told her I’d send her a picture, so I was going to take one when I finally remembered to think about it. Here we are! My hair is a sweaty mess, but you can see the layers nonetheless.

(Rhyme not intended.)

So Mom got this pic, and now you’re getting it, too. I used to always post pics after getting my hair cut. I guess you could say that this selfie signals a return to that silly tradition. Why not?

I’m in a mood, my friends. Not a bad one. I think I’m actually just tired.

I’m so glad to be here.

New layered hair!

I hope you’re all doing well and enjoying the splendors of the universe in whatever way means the most to you. In my world, my perfect activities in direct connection to the universe – and my deference and gratitude for it – are looking at the stars and listening to music.

This is my mantra: There’s much to celebrate: all that’s bright, and there’s a lot of brightness.

Many blessings to you all!

When that happens.

Hello, friends. Have you ever sat down to write something only to realize that further investigation on the topic would veer the mood of the post in the opposite direction?

It happened to me tonight. I was writing something fluffy and light and then a little delving-in turned the mood of the post into something somber (or richly empty, or just irked)… that stirred in me the urge to go on somewhat of a rant. And it’s too late at night for me to go there. Suffice it to say that I won’t be posting on this particular topic at the moment. Wait for it, though, if you would! It’s about alligators and crocodiles.

Instead, I’m here to wish you all a merry end-of-week. The power of the full moon in Capricorn still vibrates in the air, lending to us gifts of quiet reflection and self-discipline in whatever ways they’d serve us best. Let’s absorb some of that powerful energy! A moment to sit with closed eyes and a clear mind as we reflect on our usage of time can only bring us back to center in renewed self-awareness. I don’t know about you, but I could use some of this right about now. I should take my own advice.

Until next time, then.

Little life updates.

Here’s a general and random run-down:

–In the last month, the spacious parking lot I’ve enjoyed at work for two years has gradually become more populated by people who work at the dispensary on the corner. Today there were twice as many cars there than the usual. Also, the parallel parking on the street between the dispensary and our warehouse is packed. It’s like all of a sudden a million people are working at the dispensary. But where are they, exactly? And what are they doing there? Mysteries.

–But it doesn’t matter, because my work is MOVING. Soon. And it’s not yet clear where we’ll end up. Adventures are afoot, my friends. Capital-A Adventures.

–I did not observe this year’s “Independence Day” holiday. I haven’t felt “free” since American women’s rights were burned to the ground on the 24th of June. It made me sick. I couldn’t bring myself to turn around and celebrate this country on the 4th of July. The “Land of the Free” is a song lyric, and it doesn’t apply to women.

–Something is up with Geronimo, and I don’t know what. More on this in a future Geronimo post.

–A guy came into my workplace today to do some inspecting, and he said to me, “I can’t see your smile behind that big ol mask.” To which I INEXPLICABLY removed my mask and smiled, and then I immediately cringed at myself as he crowed his approval on his way out. (WHY did I do that???)

–I have discovered that the road to junk food heaven is paved with Trader Joe’s ridge-cut salt and pepper potato chips.

I’m going to leave you on that note, my friends. If you’re lucky enough to have access to a Trader Joe’s, do yourselves a favor and get a bag of those chips.

You’re welcome.

Middle of the night face.

I love you all. Thank you for being here.

Salem one year later.

Sunday marked the one-year anniversary of Salem’s death, the last Sunday in June. It’s hard to believe that a year ago that day I went outside in the morning and called her for breakfast – it was already strange that she wasn’t sitting on the patio waiting for it – not realizing that she would never come back.

That’s all I can bring myself to say about it right now.

Because two nights ago was the new moon in Cancer, June’s new moon, the dark moon.

And last week we reached the longest day and shortest night of the year, Litha, the Summer Solstice. Here in the desert we’ve had a couple of monsoon storms so far this summer. At work I drink water all day, and it tastes like winter.

My mood is generally good, but sometimes, I move through the world feeling insecure. That’s when the pace of life feels the slowest. I think to myself, if insecurity could be a quick and painless thing, like a perfect death. Instead, it drags forward, forcing me to look at it and all of its facets and dimensions, which are mostly held in shadow. Insecurity is a space in which there’s very little light, and not in a good way. I recognize this feeling as a probable by-product of my depression, but it could also be an aspect of my psyche in and of itself likely rooted somewhere in my past… or maybe it’s just me armchair-shrinking myself, dredging from random articles I’ve read, common beliefs that are perhaps more misconceptions. Stereotypes. In any case, insecurity is a cruel creature. I try not to feed it. It goes away eventually.

But I’m grounded in the structure of my simple routines. Every other day I empty the watering hole in the yard and freshen it, lately inserting myself into the cloud of thirsty bees and wasps – there are both- that surrounds the dish and hovers and drifts upward when I snatch the dish away to rinse it out and refill it. The bees and wasps are very patient with me, as if they know that I’m going to put the dish back filled with fresh water.

Every two weeks I hand-wash my face masks.

Every 10 days I water all of my plants; that’s when I talk to them, kiss them, and honor them to the best of my ability, hoping to adequately reciprocate the blessings that they offer to me. I thank them for their gifts of serenity and affirmation of life. I’m as proud a plant mom as I am a cat mom and a tortoise mom.

There’s more to my contentment than my simple daily personal routines, though. There’s the delight and joy of Geronimo clomping speedily along to greet me on the patio, Nenette napping in her eagle’s nest at the top of her cat tree, on her side, so all I can see of her from my desk are ear-tips and her tangle of front paws splayed out over the edge.

Meanwhile, at night, I have an active dream life that I’m not allowed to remember.

And stone fruit season has finally arrived here in the northern hemisphere, and I love all of its offerings. Cherries are my favorites.

Now.

Thank you for the blessings, my friends. I feel the love. You are loved, too.

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

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

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

Rain parade!

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

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

My beautiful boy.

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

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

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

Mask meditation.

Greetings, friends. Erm…

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

Yes, I hand-wash my masks.

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

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

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

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

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

Masks on a rack.

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

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

I like the way John Rhys sums it up:

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

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

in after dinner. I have arranged my little life.

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

Stay well, my friends.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No-flash pics first!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Without further ado:

Getting started.

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

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

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

Stance for single-arm row.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And Geronimo loves it.

Beginning:

Why hello.
Hello.
Hello.

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

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

Then:

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

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

Hitting the snooze button.
Good-bye.

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

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

Until next time, then.

Weed salad.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Watch this space”

Step aside!

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

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

Meanwhile, I hope this finds you well!

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

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

I wrote this short poem in 2002.

Eve, Less One Decision

She looked to see if her reflection was chance.

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

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

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

(the end.)

Happy Friday Eve, my friends.

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the present.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fury in unflattering light is the best kind.

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

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

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

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

Phenomena: Music.

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

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

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

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

Right now. [07 April 2022]

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

It’s like that. And it’s:

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

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

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

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

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