True facts about werewolves (and other monsters)

We were watching the part in Hemlock Grove where Roman’s thirst escalates into despair when we paused the episode to get refreshments, and as I grabbed the bottle of apple cider vinegar, I thought – in my deep thoughts way, you know – I can see feeling that way about apple cider vinegar.

What would you call a vampire who needs apple cider vinegar rather than blood? I realize now that the question sounds like a joke asking for a punchline, so of course Callaghan would reply with pommepire (“pomme” being French for “apple”). And of course at the time I was engaged in the delicate operation of pouring the vinegar into the spoon to deposit into my flask, so when I burst out laughing, the vinegar went everywhere. Note to self: don’t ask farcical questions out loud while performing tasks with precision. It will never end well.

There’s a fine line between a farcical question and a joke.

Hemlock Grove brings up other very serious questions. For instance, how does a werewolf get its human eyes back after they pop out during transformation and its wolf-form eats them, along with all of its other human parts? I suppose everything just regrows. Hemlock Grove never shows us that part… at least it hasn’t so far.

This is one of the many interesting things I’ve learned about werewolves from Hemlock Grove: during the “turn,” the person’s human body tears apart as the wolf emerges. The fully transformed werewolf devours the pieces, shreds, eyeballs, and organs of its former human shell. (CGI has done wonderful, gruesome things for the cinematic arts.)

For some reason, it’s the eyes that interest me the most in this process. Turning back into a human automatically generates a new human form, and it’s the same form you had before… but is it? You may look like a carbon copy of your former human self, but is your body the same body you had pre-werewolf? The eyes. If you needed glasses before you turned for the first time, did you generate a set of 20/20-perfect-vision eyes when you turned back? Or did your eyes regrow with the same vision deficiencies?

Of all the mysteries in the universe.

Sometimes, I’d rather spend moments pondering imaginary monsters than the real ones on two feet who impact our lives… and of the latter, I mean the ones who are not serial killers.

It’s like how an ambulance quietly rolling up the street and stopping before a house is more chilling than an ambulance screeching around the corner with alarms blaring.

Friedrich Nietzsche said: “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”




I took this selfie yesterday in the slight chill with its sunny, windy haze. As usual, the pic’s untouched. I love the way the crystal pendant around my neck pulled the sunbeam down into it.




“I should” (Sharing an original poem.)

I knew. I heard you. You’ve been wanting a poetry post!

For something different and heretofore unseen in this space, I’m posting a form poem. That’s right: for today’s dug-up offering, I’ve got this poem I wrote in a grad school forms course. There’s actual rhyming in this poem, which most post-modern poets wouldn’t deign to write… they didn’t back in the early aughts, at least.

One of our assigned tasks in the forms course was to write a sonnet, and I do mean the standard English kind (iambic pentameter, 14 lines, three quatrains and a couplet).

It’s more difficult to do than you’d think.

I ended up with a sort of dark comedy in sonnet form. There’s something about a sonnet that brings out a degree of elevated language in conjunction with a built-in silliness, which I blame on Shakespeare. I thought I’d share this “gem” with you today. Also, I recently learned how to single-space within a WordPress post, which makes me wont to post more poems. Aren’t you lucky!

This one is called “I Should” ~Enjoy.

I Should

have known… when music caught my dream about
the street whose light emits from your garage.
When burns exposed the candlestick in house
arrest and prison sentence – more to dodge

– and stands of trees between o’clocks unpinned
themselves from dark alarms of your “awake.”
The only songs beneath the violin’s
remains are moments – those I need to take,

my blindfold off in order to see clear
the ash I’d presupposed, botanical
and all. Smoke that disappeared
before the instrumental, vagrant lull
resurfaced, asking for a newer room…
as I have wanted back the winter moon.


the end.

Mayhaps I took a small liberty or two with the form, but that’s what we’d call “creative license.” Or something like that.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!



On new or revisited territory. (Answering the 2019 bucket list question!)

I’ve been all over the place today, but I landed here eventually!

A few weeks ago, a few of you asked about any “bucket list” or “heart goals” I might have for 2019. One of you made this suggestion: “Try doing something you’ve never done before.” I love the wording of this. The idea is intriguing. What have I never done before that I’d want to do?

Thinking about it, it strikes me that bucket lists often revolve around travel/adventure/outdoors… places in the world to visit, daring outdoor escapades to try. Buckets and buckets full of adventures, wonders, and thrills.

If I had one, my bucket’s contents would be more of the indoor variety… indoor adventures, wonders, and thrills. I would plan consecutive stays at different haunted hotels and hunt for ghosts. I would sign up for a few sessions with a personal trainer, mostly just to see where I fall on the fitness scale and where I might go from here. I would get a percussion keyboard and get back into making beat-driven music. I would seek the services of a hypnotist to see what personal insights might be gained. What would be scarier – finding ghosts in hotels, or ghosts within myself or in my past?

I like to be scared in some ways. It makes no sense to deal with PTSD and search after fear at the same time, I know. I’m just curious… what’s my threshold of terror? Of pain? Who or what could help me to discover this?

What if my bucket list is all about facing personal so-called demons and confronting PTSD fears? Could I place a roach in my bucket and force myself to confront it? Could I go to Costco, or return to the sensory deprivation tank, or get into a helicopter… a medical one?

What have I never done before that I’d want to do?

At the end of my life, would I be more likely to lament, “I wish I’d taken that trip around the world,” or “I wish I’d faced my fears”…?

[With any self-exploration I do here in TALC, there’s this notion that some of it might be relatable to you… if only to one of you. That some of it might be helpful… if only to one of you, whether by epiphany or by inspiration.]

Joy and hope can be encountered and celebrated in the dark as much as in the light.

Now for those of you who inform me regularly that they love when people post gratuitous selfies, I’ve got one for you today. I have it because I posted it on instagram recently. The point of this odd pose was to demonstrate that I’ve gotten back into polishing my nails.


Gold polish for the new year.


…and I just realized that this post is more a string of questions than answers to yours. Maybe I’ll do a “bucket list” part two post soon.

Happy Wednesday Eve, everyone!



Road trips.

We went on a road trip yesterday.

Road trips, man. I thought I’d have a road trip story for you, but I do not. There’s really nothing to tell.

We all know what a road trip really is, right? It’s an extended niche in time where healthy eating habits go to die, along with insects who meet your vehicle to commit suicide on the highway. By the time you arrive at your destination, you’ve consumed an entire bag of jalapeño potato chips while sitting on your ass for almost twelve hours, and your windshield looks like a murder scene.

You walk into your house feeling immense and sullied. You swear you’ll never sit down again, but the first thing you do is sit down, and then you don’t want to move. You pep-talk yourself into getting up to unload the car, and you succeed.

After the car’s unloaded, you, who’d also sworn to never eat again, start thinking about what’s for dinner. All you know is that you want something with chlorophyll. You’re craving chlorophyll like it’s a fix you’ll die without. Your favorite chlorophyll-rich food is brussels sprouts. You open the freezer, find a steam-in-the bag package of brussels sprouts, throw it into the microwave, and devour the whole thing by yourself. Plain. Without salt. Because you never want to see salt again.

The next morning is Thursday. You go to Body Pump and wonder why there are 20 sets in the chest track instead of the usual three or four. The chest track doesn’t end, but it’s your fault because that morning, the morning after the road trip, you decided that you’re going to do all of the push-ups on your toes on account of a YouTube video you saw. The guy in the video provided compelling evidence that push-ups on your knees are mechanically different than real push-ups, so the push-ups you’ve been doing in Body Pump all this time were fake, and you can’t get this information out of your mind, and you’re never doing push-ups on your knees ever again, even though in Body Pump you have to do them at 50 miles per hour, which was why you started doing them on your knees. You do the proper push-ups in a modified position and still only make it halfway down on each rep. You imagine your drill sergeant screaming at you to keep your head up and lower yourself all the way down or it doesn’t count. You inwardly shake your fist at the Les Mills D.J.

Then you go to the car wash to deal with the insect blood and guts plastered onto your windshield. The car wash guy asks you if you came to Arizona to go to school. You’re confused at first, then you remember that you’re in a university town and you now have out-of-state plates, and the guy must have figured you’re a student because you don’t strike him as a snowbird, which leaves you feeling slightly flattered.

The car is clean and you head next door to Target, where you paw at the salad mixes because you’re thinking about dinner again. You carry out your bag of butter lettuce, spinach, and grape tomatoes feeling like you’ve recovered the holy grail.

You get home in your clean car with the out-of-state plates.

Road trips, man.

Plain, steamed frozen brussels sprouts are delicious.





What supplements am I currently taking?

Coming at you early today because this afternoon I’m slipping into a wifi-less vortex, where I shall remain until tomorrow night. There may or may not be an account of this circumstance in Thursday’s post.

It’s been an unusual week, in general – since last Thursday, I mean. On Saturday morning I went to the gym on less than four hours of sleep. I took a nap in the afternoon, which I almost never do. Also rare, my two-hour nap encapsulated a dream heavy with detail and texture pulling in all five senses, complete with a plot and two sub-plots, a story with a beginning, middle, and end. It spooked me, terrified me in some places, and otherwise held me captive with its ghosts, foreboding, mystery, and urgency. It felt more like a foray than a dream. As if that wasn’t unusual enough, I found myself feeling refreshed when I woke up. This is the opposite of what usually happens when I nap, which is why I avoid doing it.

It was like my mind wandered off to another dimension while my body recovered from the week’s workouts. I was as sore as I was sleep-deprived on Saturday morning. Body Pump felt like a clumsy muddling-through, and then I just sort of passed out that afternoon.

Getting on to the subject of this post, though! One of the requests I’ve had more than once in the last few months was to talk about the dietary supplements I’m currently taking. For those of you who’d asked and for anyone else who might be curious, here you go.

I hauled the lot out to the backyard yesterday for a cheerful group photo:


Current daily supplements (Jan. 2019)


Don’t they look happy?

Starting from the top row, L to R, these are my current daily supplements:

  • probiotics
  • calcium citrate
  • multivitamin
  • algae oil
  • green tea
  • vinpocetine
  • reishi mushroom
  • maitake mushroom
  • folic acid
  • collagen

Broken down into specifics, including links:

1). Probiotics (gut health) – Garden of Life Primal Defense Ultra Ultimate Probiotic Formula

My first consideration when choosing my probiotic was, of course, that it’s vegan. I’ve been taking this probiotic from Garden of Life for at least a year now… probably longer. It’s basically made from soil rich in active probiotic agents in organisms found in it. It’s true: vegans eat dirt. Haha!

Vitacost’s brief overview of probiotics:

“Probiotics (“Pro” means Positive and “Biotic” means Life) are living mircoflora that play a critical role in maintaining good health. Present in many live foods, but destroyed by heat and processing, live probiotic cultures populate the intestinal tract where they play a positive role in digestive and immune system health.”

2). Calcium citrate (bone support) – Solaray Calcium Citrate

I’ve been taking calcium citrate since my surgery ten years ago (see my multivitamin item just below). Hitting several risk factors – I’m female, Asian, thin, over 30, surgically menopausal, and have chronic illness, including thyroid disease (autoimmune hypothyroidism) – I’m prone to bone density issues. I do indeed have such issues, so I take calcium citrate in addition to consuming calcium in the food I eat. The weight-bearing exercise I do also helps. I used to be on Fossamax (I was diagnosed with osteoporosis years ago and my recent X-rays still show deterioration in my spine), but I only took it for a short time before I dropped it.

I’m going with continued calcium-rich food choices (tofu, soybeans, seeds, beans, kale, broccoli, etc.), calcium supplementation, and exercise as my osteo-therapy. Yes, my doctor has approved.

3). Multivitamin – Rainbow Light Menopause One

Having been in surgery-induced menopause since 2008 when I had my ovaries and everything removed, I take a menopause support-formulated multivitamin in addition to hormone replacement therapy via estrogen patches. Multivitamins are self-explanatory, so I’ll let the internet describe the Rainbow Light Menopause One multivitamin in detail:

“Menopause One Multivitamins provides comprehensive daily nutrition for menopausal women in just one tablet a day. Specially blended superfoods, essential nutrients and botanicals nourish and promote relief of menopausal symptoms. Menopause One is iron-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, lactose-free, dairy-free, wheat-free and yeast-free. It is 100% natural and contains no artificial flavors, sweeteners, preservatives or additives. Plant-source enzymes ease digestion, making it gentle on the stomach.”

4). Algae oil (omega-3 fatty acids) – Nested Naturals Vegan Omega-3

These vegan omega-3 capsules serve up daily doses of marine algae oil. Algae oil is 100% plant-based. Fish that are high in omega-3’s are such because they ingest algae (indirectly, via krill); vegetarians and vegans can get their omega-3’s directly from the plant source that fuels the fish. Non-vegans, you might appreciate algae oil, too, if you’re not fond of the fish-oil burps you endure because you take fish oil capsules for your omega-3 supplement.

5). Green tea (antioxidants) – Solaray Green Tea

Green tea with its antioxidant superpower has been a staple in my supplement diet for so long, I can’t remember when I started taking it. I’m also drinking green tea now instead of coffee in the morning, so I’m getting even more of it. Not too much, I hope.

6). Vinpocetine (brain support) – Source Naturals Vinpocetine

There’s been some debate over whether vinpocetine is a supplement or a medication. Here in the States, you get it over the counter in the supplements section. I wasn’t able to get it in France, because over there it’s only available by prescription. I take vinpocetine to help mitigate the autoimmune brain fog that often clouds my mind.

7). Reishi mushroom Solaray Reishi Mushroom

I’m a big fan of medicinal mushrooms. The description in the “Reishi mushroom” link I provided above describes this particular mushroom and its possible side effects. (I, myself, have not experienced side effects.) Here’s a snippet from the article:

“According to the book “Herbal Medicine: Bimolecular and Clinical Aspects,” reishi mushrooms have been studied, with some intriguing results, for their health benefits, including antioxidant properties and improvements to blood sugar, blood pressure, immunity and liver health. Reishi mushrooms have also been studied for their anticancer activity.”

8). Maitake mushroom Solaray Maitake Mushroom

From the livestrong article linked above:

“’Maitake’ means dancing mushroom in Japanese. The mushroom is said to have gotten its name after people danced with happiness upon finding it in the wild, such are its incredible healing properties.

This mushroom is a type of adaptogen. Adaptogens assist the body in fighting against any type of mental or physical difficulty. They also work to regulate systems of the body that have become unbalanced. While this mushroom can be used in recipes for taste alone, it’s considered to be a medicinal mushroom.”

I’m going to be adding Solaray’s Shiitake Mushroom to my mushroom collection, as well. It’s en route from Amazon as we speak, as I haven’t been able to find it in stock locally.

9). Folic acid – Natural Factors Folic Acid 1000 mcg

I wasn’t sure whether to include the folic acid, since it was prescribed to me by my rheumatologist for the express purpose of warding off methotrexate side effects. It’s standard procedure; methotrexate and folic acid are typically prescribed together. I decided to include the folic acid here because it’s a supplement, regardless of why I take it.

10). Collagen (connective tissue support) – Reserveage Nutrition Plant-Based Support Collagen Builder

Connective tissue support is particularly good for people with connective tissue (i.e. autoimmune) diseases, but I also consider it to be a part of my skincare routine. I swear by this particular collagen supplement!

There you have it. I should also mention that I drink a protein shake after my Body Pump workouts, even though the protein isn’t a daily supplement. My current favorite protein shake is the Vega Protein and Greens in vanilla. I shake it up with water and guzzle it straight. Vega has dramatically improved on this formula! This new version of it is actually really good, in my opinion. It’s no longer gritty, for one thing.

Perhaps I’ll do a revised supplements post next year, as there will likely be a few changes by then.



Much ado about the usual, but different… (December Favorites!)

We’re here today because, as usual, I’m compelled to share with you some of the past month’s riches. It’s all quite predictable. A movie. Some streaming series. Foods I’ve been eating with great enjoyment all month. A couple of products I’ll definitely re-purchase.

This month, though, I’m going to start with a person. Maybe I’ll make a habit of this!

1). Favorite Body Pump Bitcher and Moaner: RON.



This is Ron. Ron does not wish to be photographed in the wild. Ron’s favorite thing to do in Body Pump is bitch and moan. Ron has an answer for everything. When the instructor says “shoulder rolls,” Ron says “CINNAMON ROLLS.” When the instructor says “you can increase your weights,” Ron says “okay, I’ll decrease my weights.” When the instructor says “moving on to the lunge track!” Ron says “You mean the shoulder track. We already did lunges.” Ron loves lunges the MOST! Body Pump instructors everywhere: if Ron turns up in your class (you’ll know it’s him because he’ll be the one bitching and moaning about lunges before class even starts), make sure to do seven tracks of lunges.

(Thank you, Ron. LOL.)


2). The Possession of Hannah Grace



This film in a few words: spooky, dark, claustrophobic, fantastic. Horror fans, you’ll want to see this one. It’s not the demon-possession flick you’re used to seeing. That’s all I’m going to say.


3). The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina the Teenage Witch (Netflix)



We sprang for this series on a whim, and we’re so glad that we did! As Aunt Zelda would say, “HAIL SATAN.”


4). The Kominsky Method (Netflix)



I also recommend this smart series about a pair of longtime friends and Hollywood legends of yore. We found The Kominsky Method to be surprisingly fresh and delightful considering it features a couple of crotchety oldsters. Highly recommend!


5). Dumplin’ (Netflix Original Movie)



Again in a few words: powerful, moving, funny, sharp. We loved this Netflix film, and it’s not of a genre we usually prefer. The film is sorely underrated, in my humble opinion. I found Dumplin’ to be pretty much perfect, and I would see it again. I recommend that you see it, too!


6). Tinkyáda Pasta Joy Brown Rice Pasta (spaghetti style). (Vegan and gluten-free)


Tinkyada Pasta Joy Brown Rice Pasta (spaghetti)


I swear you’d never suspect that this pasta is gluten-free! You must try it to believe it. It’s amazing.


7). Victoria Vegan Alfredo Red Pepper Sauce. (Vegan and gluten-free)


Victoria Vegan Alfredo Red Pepper Sauce


We tried every pasta sauce in Victoria Vegan’s line, and this alfredo red pepper version was our favorite. To be honest, all of the sauces started out well and then disappointed with their slightly bitter aftertastes, but any bitterness at the end of this one melded perfectly with the sauce, itself. Victoria Vegan’s alfredo red pepper sauce is delicious.


8). Miyoko’s Organic European Style Cultured Vegan Butter. (Vegan and gluten-free)


Miyoko’s Organic European Style Cultured Vegan Butter


Earth Balance will always be a staple, but now we have another buttery spread favorite in Miyoko’s Organic European Style Cultured Vegan Butter. It’s so good!


9). Vega Protein Snack Bar (Coconut Almond). (Vegan and gluten-free)


Vega Protein Snack Bar (coconut almond)


Another month, another protein bar, I know. I can’t walk by a vegan protein bar without picking it up. I’ve found a lot of “favorites” in recent months, and I’m still noshing on them all… but this one. This one, guys, is my MOST favorite favorite. I’m borderline obsessed with this bar. I tried a few other flavors in this line, and I found them to be as disgusting as this one is superb. Vega is like that, in general, I’ve noticed. I either hate their products or really, really love them.


10). Alba Botanica Hawaiian Body Oil Deep Moisturizing Kukui Nut. (Vegan and cruelty-free)


Alba Botanica Hawaiian Body Oil – Deep Moisturizing Kukui Nut


Yet another product from Alba Botanica’s Hawaiian line that I adore! My ride-or-die cleansers are still Alba Botanica’s Hawaiian facial cleanser, facial scrub, and plumeria shampoo, and now I’m hooked on their body oil, too. I smooth this on at night, in the shower before I dry off. It’s moisturizing, light, and not the slightest bit greasy.


11). The Body Shop Blueberry Body Butter. (Cruelty-free)


The Body Shop Blueberry Body Butter


This body butter arrived as a free gift with my Black Friday purchases. I’m glad that this was the “surprise” scent they threw in, because I wouldn’t have tried it otherwise! This body butter smells divine. I’ve tried several other body butters from The Body Shop before, and they all smelled delicious, but this one. I’m already almost halfway through the large pot, and it’s only been a month. If The Body Shop expands their blueberry scent into a full product line, I’ll be all in.


La fin! Happy Friday Eve, everyone!



Week 52 fitness self-eval and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

[Disclaimer: In case you didn’t already know, I’m a huge fitness nerd. Yes, I am. You’ll pick up on this as you read this post.]

On Saturday, I worked out for the last time in 2018. This morning, I worked out for the first time in 2019.

Soreness from Saturday’s workout carried over into the new year, so as far as my body is concerned, there’s no new year. My body doesn’t recognize that one year ended and another began.

Regular fitness as a lifestyle habit makes working out a continuous cycle, week into week, month into month, year into year. There’s no “stop” and “re-set” when the old calendar gets tossed and the new one goes up. Resolving to start a fitness routine and then keeping up with it throughout the year means that another resolution to start working out doesn’t need to be made.

Self-evaluation is a different story, though! It has to be done every once in a while, and year-end is as good a time as any. Today I thumbed back through my fitness notebook to assess my performance over the last 52 weeks, and what did I find? That I missed roughly 30% of my workouts. I’ve earned myself a workout grade of C- for 2018, and just barely. Those are terrible metrics. There’s no excuse for missing so many days. The medical off-days couldn’t be helped, but the holidays/out-of-towns/instructor absences/the like? I could’ve made up for those in order to complete my workout week. I did in some cases, but in most, I did not.

I noticed that I did my home workouts on Monday, Friday, or Sunday mornings. I rarely (if ever) make up a missed evening class with a home workout in the evening; the fact of the matter is that evening workouts don’t fit nicely into the rhythm of my work-at-home life. I’ve known this, but I could really see it as I flipped through my notebook.

My last workout of 2018, then, was awesome. Saturday’s Body Pump instructor ground us through release #108 for the second time. It turned out to be an ass-kicking. I’d noted before that #108 is weight-increase friendly (for me, anyway); I increased a lot of my weights and did the workout with my usual approach, which is to listen to the instructor, do what he says, and be in the music. I liked the pain that followed in the next two days. I got what I went there for.

My first workout of 2019 was wonderful, too. I found myself sweating more than usual this morning, so my efforts must’ve been on point! I actually felt it when my heart-rate went up during the back track. I left the class feeling accomplished.

It was a great workout farewell to 2018 and a great workout welcome to 2019, and those classes are still the best mental escape ever. Everything else gets blocked out in that one hour.

In lieu of a pic relevant to this post, have one of Nenette meeting the Buddha for the first time:


Close encounters.


Happy New Year, everyone, and good luck with your 2019 fitness records!