Today, we spent four hours between an unanticipated airport and an unanticipated airplane, so here’s an unanticipated travel pic in an unanticipated post:


cakes on a plane


Apologies, friends. I had to amuse myself somehow on one of those planes.

My plan to post here at a reasonable time today fell through when our airline changed our returning flight to Phoenix. Everything is fine! We had an amazing time with family, and we’re home now, but I missed Blog Friday. [insert sad emoji]

Watch this space for a proper post on Tuesday!

Looking forward to fall!

Summer is fading, and I can totally feel it, even though it was 105 degrees yesterday. The sun is rising a little later, setting a little earlier. People are getting their fantasy football teams together. The snowbirds from up north and back east are preparing to migrate to Phoenix Metro. Soon, we’ll see them on their jaunty walks in their shorts and t-shirts (while we desert denizens put on light jackets.)

I love summer giving way to fall. We do have seasons here in the Sonoran Desert part of the Land of AZ… maybe not in the traditional sense, but we do. The desert just expresses itself differently. The desert is a season-rebel. It does not conform to the norm. You have colorful fall leaves? We have colorful, blazing sunsets. You have chilly, moist temperatures? We have perfect temperatures… dry temperatures in the 70-80-degree range.

I love the heat, but hospitable temperatures make certain things possible. At some point in the late summer, I start anticipating aspects of the fall, as I know everyone around here does. Some of them can’t come soon enough. Here are 10 off the top of my head:

1). Garage gym workouts.

Cooler weather will put our garage gym back into the equation of my combat-sports fitness training.

2). Opening the front door.

Sitting in the living room at dusk with the fall breeze coming through the screen door is one of my favorite things. In the world.

3). Roasting veggies.

Brussels sprouts. Broccoli. Sweet potatoes. Purple Peruvian potatoes. Onions. Garlic. Fall in our house smells delicious.

4). Pears.

We eat pears year-round, but they come into season in the fall, and they are rapturous.

5). Pomegranates.

Pomegranate season! The flavor of pomegranates also signifies fall to me.

6). This is Us (Sept. 26) and Stranger Things (Oct. 27)

This fall, the two T.V. series I’m anticipating are This is Us and Stranger Things. I’m seriously emotionally invested in the family members of This is Us, and, like all fans, I’ve been waiting forever to find out what happens next in Stranger Things.

I would normally look forward to American Horror Story, but its early start this year puts it more in the summer than in the fall, as far as I’m concerned. Homeland is another fall series that isn’t starting in the fall this time around. Seems that the new season won’t be out until spring.

7). Candlelight writing in the early morning.

There’s something about writing in the early morning dark with just the glow of a candle flame to illuminate what needs illuminating.

8). Fall cleaning.

I’m more eager to deep-clean the house in the fall than in the spring, and the house feels so good after it’s done!

9). Creative inspiration.

Maybe it’s from a lifetime of “back-to-school” mental conditioning, but I’m more inspired, motivated, and revved-up in the fall than at any other time of the year. This is especially good this year, as I’m working on the toughest part of my book right about now. The fall magic will arrive just in time.

10). An extra cover on the bed.

For me, a heavier cover at night somehow leads to a more satisfying sleep. (By “heavier cover,” I mean the bathrobe I throw over just my side of the bed at night.)

Nenette shares my enthusiasm. Earlier this morning, I talked to her about fall, and she looked out the window like “Where is it?”


Late summer Nenette, awash in the early morning light.


Happy weekend!


About the rat’s nest on my head. (My gym pet peeve.)

Most gym pet peeves have to do with people being rude: hogging the equipment, leaving sweat on the equipment, resting on the equipment between sets, leaving weights lying around instead of re-racking them, talking on the phone or texting while chilling on the equipment, etc.

None of this is cool in my book, either, but I only have one major gym pet peeve, and that is my own hair. My scalp releases loose hairs that sabotage my workout. Who else has this issue? If there’s a solution short of shaving my head, I want to know.

My hair gets on my nerves more than anything else at the gym. It literally gets on my nerves. I try not to let it, but it’s easier said than done. When a hair falls out and lands on me, it hijacks my sensory nervous system so the strand of hair is all I can feel. It’s hard to ignore.

The problem is that my hair is a rat’s nest, more at the gym than anywhere else. Here’s my hair after my workout yesterday morning:


Post-workout, 8/10/2017


If my hair only looked like a rat’s nest, I wouldn’t care, because I don’t care what I look like when I go to the gym in the morning. I put on sunscreen, lip-gloss, and clean clothing, and I’m good.

The problem is that my hair behaves like a rat’s nest. It doesn’t stay together. It gets pulled apart simply by existing. At some point during the workout, people will see me doing stuff with one hand while I’m frantically clawing at my face with the other hand. Usually, the hair lands in my mouth or in one of my eyes. I sometimes find the hair plastered across my sweaty cheek.

This happens every time I work out. Without fail. No matter what I do. I will spend long minutes beforehand sliding my fingers through my hair and removing loose strands. I’ll do up my ponytail and repeat the process, also removing loose hairs from my bangs and the sides that don’t get pulled up.

Nothing works. Headbands? I wish. I’ve tried. They don’t stay on, and then I have two problems.

I know this is petty and ridiculous. I AM grateful to have any hair at all, but having hair doesn’t make me immune to annoyance when the hairs try to blind or choke me!

So my hair is a rat’s nest at the gym. It gives the term “gym rat” a whole new meaning. Fine. I just need for the nest to hold together until I’m done with my workout.

[/shallow rant of the day]


Happy 4th of July! Happy adoptversary, Nenette!

Important things happened on the 4th of July. The U.S.A. gained independence 241 years ago today. Also of note: Nenette found us two years ago today.

So first things first: Happy 4th of July, fellow Americans!


Stars and stripes forever!


And Happy 2-year Adoptversary, Nenette!


Impromptu (hence the blurriness) mother/daughter selfie I took the other day (June 28)


The camera was so close to the window when I took this, it was practically resting on the glass. Nenette was up in her crow’s nest looking out at her hummingbirds.

This girl knows how to avoid getting her picture taken, and usually she does… but she allowed the intrusion this morning. I woke up and found her lounging on the dresser across from me, and she just stayed there while I took pics.


Unusual early morning photo shoot tolerance.


July 4, 2017. Two years with us!


Conveniently, Nenette’s owl was lying behind her; I slid it over when she started to get restless.


With her owl, her favorite toy


That’s all I’ve got for today! Callaghan is home, I knocked out an awesome BodyPump workout this morning, and, unfortunately (“one of these things is not like the others”), people are already out there driving with questionable ability. Let the SAFE holiday shenanigans begin!

[June Favorites coming at you this Friday.]

Looks like it’s officially off-season in the garage.

Here’s that (promised) status update on the garage gym: it’s not happening this summer. A/C installation, I mean.

We’ve had A/C and insulation professionals come to evaluate the situation, and after looking at their estimates – the total cost of the cooling project – we decided to hold off on it this year. We figured we’ve put enough into the house in 2017, and we still have some costly, out-of-the-ordinary agenda items on the books for the summer. For one thing, we’re going to be chasing that eclipse in August, a pursuit that will take us out of state. Surely some moola will be involved there.

So that’s that! It’s fine, of course. Talk about a first-world problem. We have a roof over our heads and A/C in the house. We don’t take that for granted here in the Valley, where it’s already been so hot that numerous flights had to be canceled this week. We live 10 minutes away (if that) from Phoenix Sky Harbor airport, pretty much under the flight path, and it was eerily quiet for a day or two. It was like someone shut off the volume switch in the sky.

There may be a garage gym post yet, though, before October! Certain types of workouts will be safely doable in there if done very early in the morning, workouts that don’t involve much movement. Knuckle-conditioning… I could document a Part 2 of that. Stretching, maybe. We shouldn’t do more than that, even if early. After all, one wall in there is the metal garage door, which transforms the garage into an oven.

Happy Friday, All!

Change of scenery. (Writing life updates.)

I figured it’s time for a writing update!

Since last time, the writing life action over here has mostly involved changes in the house… namely, the migration of my office again. Some rearranging’s been done chez nous.

I’m now set up in Callaghan’s former office/current art and supply room. Callaghan is still in my former office – basically, we’ve switched offices. The dining area has resumed its original purpose, but The Americans poster still hangs on its wall. We’ll leave it there for now. The house is having an identity crisis. In the midst of the room-switching, we painted the kitchen wall red (no more graffiti wall – all good things come to an end). After that, we ripped out the carpet from the living room and hall and installed flooring. Then we painted the large, main wall in the hallway bathroom black.

As for my writing progress? I’m currently working on chapter 18 of the project. I’ve got about 200 pages and 45,298 words. The writing is on hold until Monday, but things are moving along!

In the most frivolous of writing news, I took the customary selfie at my desk on my first day in my new office:


May 3, 2017 (first day in my new office!)


The main thing to note here is that the lighting is better than it was in the dining area. As usual, there’s no filter or other shenanigans going on with this pic; the lighting comes from the window on the west wall to my left. This makes the room a wonderful place for writing. It isn’t aggressively bright – no direct sunlight – but my laptop sits in the path of the illumination, and it’s perfect. Funny how little things like that make a difference!

The most important part of the office-switch, though, is that now I’m in one of Nenette’s favorite rooms, so she’s in here with me pretty much all day! Furbaby in the office – ideal office.

Happy weekend, All!

In other news… (random updates and my current source of motivation)

What’s been going on around here? Nothing earth-shattering, but here’s a brief, topical run-down in “In other news” format:

In other news, Callaghan has been sick with the plague. (Poor guy! The virus has passed through his system, and he’s feeling better now. So far, I haven’t caught it.)

In other news, I haven’t worked out for over a week because of an injury… a minor injury, but enough of one to keep me on my ass for a while. Tomorrow will be my first day back to working out.

In other news, we binged on Santa Clarita Diet. Pun not intended.

In other news, I have a new sidekick who lives next to me on my writing table:





(I named her “Thomasina” and she’s a succulent, an aloe, I guess. I’ve never met an aloe with such dark green spears.)

Sidenote: My writing table is getting cluttered, and that’s okay. I think.

In other news, my writing is going well.

In other news, I’ve decided to prepare for an apocalypse, because you never know. I’ve been putting together a grab-and-go apocalypse bag.

And lastly, in relation to my whole existence, I’m currently obsessed with this video I’m sharing here. My continuous cycle of musical phases begins and ends with Stevie Nicks. When I reach this part of the cycle, I watch this video every day, sometimes several times a day, starting with first thing in the morning.

Stevie Nicks has been my role model badass since I was 20 years old. I listen to all kinds of music, but it all starts with her.

I wish I could explain how Stevie’s live performance of Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon” (1976) motivates and inspires me. There’s just this progression, and I’m fascinated by her mastery of it as she carries the song up to its powerful end.



Have a great Tuesday!

Bloggy maintenance.

Totally hypothetical question: What would you do if at 4:00am you heard a very loud, repetitive noise that sounded like someone attacking a car with a sledgehammer, but when you rush to the window, you see it’s a half-naked guy violently slamming his head repeatedly onto the trunk of the car parked across the street? Would you think flakka? Would you call 911 even if his buddy is there with him?

Just wondering.

The semester has begun. More than 51,000 students are enrolled at the university down the street. To my knowledge, flakka hasn’t yet been reported in AZ, but thousands of out-of-state students have arrived this month. You never know.

That aside, I’ve got some bloggity administrative updates for you today. Riveting, I know, but I’ve made some changes, and what’s the point in doing that if there’s no memo to go with it?

Mainly, the sidebar here got an overhaul. I uncluttered it by way of removing categories, consolidating other categories, and reducing my external link list by more than half. At the same time, I added a Facebook module for my writerly FB account. Even with that addition, the sidebar has been shortened and simplified. That was the goal.

So, on the right, from the top down, you have:

–Welcome pic of Yours Truly… same one that’s been there since 2014.

–A button to subscribe to TALC.

–A Facebook app connected to the FB account I created for writing-related posts, which can include goals, progress, and miscellany. Once or twice a week, I’ll go to one of my bookshelves, select a book at random, and pull out a quote that inspires me or gets me thinking in a different way. Hit the “Like” button to follow that Facebook page, if you’re so inclined.


Living room bookshelf, in disarray, as usual.

Living room bookshelf, in disarray, as usual.




–Garage Gym pic, below which I’ve put the module for my martial arts & fitness category. The pic is just there because I wanted it to accompany the category, but I can’t embed it into the module.

–Next: Pop culture. I consolidated two categories into one module. Opinion posts about movies and television are mostly my non-review reviews, and Reacher ramblings are my obsession-fueled posts about Lee Childs’ Jack Reacher novels.

–Next: What I’m digging right now, aka monthly favorites posts, wherein I share things I enjoyed in the month that just ended. Mostly, this consists of discoveries in the vegan processed food world. I am a fan of fresh, whole foods, but I’m also partial to processed crap, and that’s the stuff I usually like to share. I do read labels and look for the healthiest crap I can find. Also, I’ll list favorite T.V. series and movies from the month, if any. Occasionally, I’ll talk about cruelty-free products and other random things I’ve found.

–Next: Links… my list of links to cool people who have sites for their art, business, passion, etc. The list has been truncated by a lot, since most of what was there before was obsolete. Yeah, this clean-up needed to happen. The links list will be expanding soon; it’s a work in progress.

–Below that, a list of recent posts.

–Finally, the copyright blurb.

That’s all I’ve got today! Until Tuesday, then.

Selfie-centered post.

For this post, I’m blaming the Facebook “post a pic of you and your spouse every day for seven days and tag two of your friends to do the same” meme. I was tagged for it and thought it would be fun, so I ransacked my flash drives in search of pics of Callaghan and me over the last six years.

(On June 14, we celebrated six years together and five years married, but we didn’t mention it on FB this year… so if we’re FB friends and you’re wondering whether you missed it, no, you did not.)

Among the plethora of pics I found was my first attempt at a selfie taken in the mirror, the most common type of selfie I see and the type I still can’t manage to take.

I remember this first attempt. We were living in this apartment building in Nice where Callaghan was undertaking renovation work for an extended period of time (the pic was taken in one of the apartments); I had this camera that was an actual camera, and I was frustrated to the point of sweating in my effort to get this ridiculous selfie:


August 29, 2012, Nice (France)

August 29, 2012, Nice (France)


My mirror selfie game hasn’t improved one bit since then. Here’s the latest one, taken in March this year:


March 21, 2016, Tempe (Arizona, U.S.)

March 21, 2016, Tempe (Arizona, U.S.)


Other people take awesome, effortless mirror selfies. You can see exactly what they want you to see without the camera being in the way. I have no idea how they do it.

I fished out the remaining four of the six mirror selfies I’ve taken in my life:



July 20, 2014, Tempe (Arizona, U.S.)



May 24, 2015, Tempe (Arizona, U.S.)


June 4, 2015, Tempe (Arizona, U.S.)

June 4, 2015, Tempe (Arizona, U.S.)


October 15, 2015, Tempe (Arizona, U.S.)

October 15, 2015, Tempe (Arizona, U.S.)


See? I looked pissed off in every single one. Or frustrated, at least. The tank top one was sad and frustrated because I was trying to show the Ronnie James in memoriam paw print tattoo I’d just had done on my wrist. It was 10 days after he died.

Honestly, I don’t know how these kinds of selfies work. It’s an art form notably perfected by gym selfie people and Outfit Of The Day people. It’s a genre of contemporary photography that I’m content to admire as an onlooker, because I have no aptitude for capturing my image in the mirror without looking like I’m having a miserable time ranging from “I’m coming for you mo-f*cker” to “WTF am I even doing right now.”


Speaking of Outfit Of The Day, I have a story for you about how I found Callaghan on the back patio in his underwear the other day, but I’ll save that for another time.

The state of the kittyverse chez nous.

I’ve accumulated some furbaby pictures over the last couple of months, so I thought I’d post a few, along with some intelligence from the home front. I’m mainly talking about Nenette, who has been making tentative strides in her transition to life with a family who actually cares for her and adores her, in a house in which she’s free to do what she wants and go where she pleases. We get the impression that this wasn’t the case before.

Nenette has come a long way, but there’s a final frontier: our bed. She’s reposed on the bed on several occasions, during the day, when the bed is made, but she’s afraid to go near it at night when we’re in it. It seems likely that at her former residence, she’d been chased off the bed and menaced away from it.

If we pick her up and gently place her on the bed at night, she’ll leap away like we’d set her down on a bed of hot coals. We’ve been working on it, and we’re happy to be seeing some progress now. Last night, she stood on the bed for a good minute. We watched her and saw the wheels turning (it’s funny how you can see this little girl’s mind working) as she surveyed the landscape and studied Nounours, who was asleep on the blanket at the foot of the bed. It was like she assessed the whole situation and thought about it before she left.

This morning, I woke up to find her sleeping on Ronnie James’ barstool near my side of the bed, which she’s been doing lately – another good sign. If she’s not sleeping with us on the bed, she’s at least sleeping near us. She’s gaining confidence!

Nenette hit her three-month-versary with us three days ago. She’s put on a little weight, she’s learned her name, she’s become significantly more comfortable with us, and, most recently, she’s started to play with Nounours, which is the best thing of all. Managing that situation has been another challenge, though, as Nounours is much larger than Nenette… and Nenette being declawed means that they can’t play on equal ground. He can actually hurt her and not get hurt back. We keep his claws trimmed. We keep an eye on things as they chase each other around, and if they start to tussle the way cats do, we firmly assert the need to play nice if it starts getting too rough. (In French… Nounours knows “Gentil!” better than he knows “Be nice!” Nounours is a French cat.)

So, pics, starting with Nounours.

This is the one that would mortify him if we were to show it to his girlfriend, if he had one:


Nounours hugging his toy, asleep with his mouth open.

Nounours hugging his toy, asleep with his mouth open.


Just to show that I’m not a totally mean Mommy, here’s a more dignified one of him:


Nounours, the teddy bear lion who was made to be hugged and assaulted with kisses.

Nounours, the teddy bear lion who was made to be hugged and assaulted with kisses.


Well, almost dignified. It’s not MY fault that he decided to lift his leg at exactly that moment.

Here’s Nenette:


Little Nenette, aka Bunny-Butt.

Little Nenette, aka Bunny-Butt.


This one’s from August:


Nenette and her toys and her necklace of informative hearts.

Nenette and her toys and her necklace of informative hearts.


And here they are together! This was a case of Instagram saving the pic from its bad lighting:


Nounours and Nenette, as close as we've seen them so far.

Nounours and Nenette, as close as we’ve seen them so far.


It’s a rare opportunity to get a shot of them together, but we’re getting there!. One day, I’ll be able to post a pic of them snuggling together… on the bed.

Chili Pete strikes again.

Our trip to France gave me a good opportunity to strengthen my French a little. I enjoy learning new words, slang words, like “la thune” (money) and “les potes” (friends). I’d already known those two particular words, but it was cool to hear them in the flow of other peoples’ casual conversations.

Speaking of French slang, right before we left for our trip, Callaghan had a dubious moment of discovery about his online (Facebook) identity. He was talking to one of his French clients on the phone and hung up with a strange look on his face. His expression fell somewhere between chagrin and despondence.

“What’s the matter?” I asked.

“I just realized something,” he said. “I was talking to Patrick at the bug shop, and this other guy Marc was there, and Patrick told him that if he’s looking for me, he can just look on Facebook for ‘Chili Pete’ – ” He paused.


“He said ‘Chili Pete’,” he repeated, exaggerating the “Pete” part.

But he pronounced it the way it would be pronounced in French: “Pet.” Because “pète” is, in fact, a French slang word, and Patrick is French, so when he sees “pete,” of course he’s going to say it the French way. “Pet.” Even without the accent. Which means –

“Chili farts,” Callaghan grumbled. “‘Chili Pete’ means Chili farts in French!”

That would be “farts” as in the verb. Poor Callaghan… he looked like his world crumbled with the realization that his Facebook username is “Chili farts” in French, yet he laughed with me when I busted up laughing, so obviously he wasn’t too upset about it. And that was good, since I was the reason his name got changed to “Chili Pete” in the first place. (It’s a long story that some of you may remember… it started because of an inside joke about a mistake in an ophthalmologist’s notes.)

Just out of curiosity, I went to and plugged in “pete,” sans accent. I wanted to see if it would pick up the slang, and it did:

Incidentally, “pete” was also a slang term I’d heard before, but I didn’t know it was spelled like Pete. Now I know!

Callaghan's Facebook banner.

Callaghan’s Facebook banner.

ALSO, while we’re looking at Chili Pete’s Facebook banner, I should just add that he loves taking pics of the word “bite” whenever he sees it, because it’s French slang for “dick.” Usually, the word “bite” appears on food packaging and advertisements in grocery stores, which creates rich hunting grounds for linguistic dick jokes.

On that note, now that I’ve somehow managed to touch on both dick and fart jokes in French, it’s time for me to turn my attention to work. Happy Friday, all! =)

Today is March 6th, and this is significant.

Good morning! I have a few announcements.

One: Next week’s posts will come at you from a different time zone, as we’ll be visiting family and friends in France. I plan to post on Tuesday and Friday at around the usual time, so we’ll see how that works out. Also, I’m thinking there’ll probably be more images here than writing next week. I’m not anticipating having much time to write while we’re overseas, but I know a lot of pictures will be taken!


My hats from France, collecting dust on the back of a door, as black hats do.

My hats from France, collecting dust on the back of a door, as black hats do.


Two: Today is my brother’s birthday. Happy birthday, Bro! (Trivia: Callaghan and my brother are the same age almost exactly. They were born in the same year, 10 days apart.)

Three: Today is also the 17th anniversary of the opening day of The Big Lebowski in the United States.


17 years ago today, the Coen brothers introduced Americans to The Dude. Can you believe it’s been that long? I can’t.

“The Dude abides.” That three-word quote is genius. The Dude’s paramount personality trait is being laid-back to the point of almost-apathy, but rather than being apathetic, he’s just free of constraints (especially self-imposed ones)! He does care, in his way. He teaches us how to live in moment, and how to prioritize. For example, getting thrown into a police car is secondary to the more immediate and pressing concern of the beverage in his hand that’s in danger of spilling in the process. It’s easy to see why some of The Dude’s admirers would take it upon themselves to create a religion (Dudism) after the sub-cultural icon who embodies “go with the flow” to the point where he simply abides.

I’m not cool enough to exist in a perpetual state of moment-by-moment abiding. In addition to roaches and Costco, my two legendary hang-ups, I can think of several things by which I cannot abide. In honor of the Dude, He Who Has Been Abiding for Seventeen Years Today, I will present you with those things.

I CANNOT abide by:

1). Dubbed movies.

2). Celery.

3). More than two consecutive days of overcast weather.

4). Doing the ginga to Thai music instead of to Afro-Brazilian capoeira music. (This is my only Les Mills annoyance. Would it be so hard to throw a birembau into that Body Combat music tracklist, Les Mills?)

5). The little “silica” packets you find in such things as new bags and outerwear pockets.

And on that note, I’ll wish you a Happy Friday!

Question: What’s left in the brain after a week of Mondays?

Answer: Nothing.

I had an idea, and then I didn’t. Then I thought I would wake up early this morning with that same idea or some other idea circulating through my brain, but alas, it didn’t happen. The waking-up early part almost-but-not-quite happened, but the idea part didn’t, and that, unfortunately, was the critical part. I’m idea-less. It’s been a long week, and ALL THE IDEAS have left the building. I got nothing.

Or so I thought. One thing I did want to mention is that Ronnie James’ girlfriend has returned, to our relief. You see, she’d disappeared sometime early Halloween week, and you know that long-rampant (albeit probably untrue) rumor about how so-called devil-worshippers swoop through the neighborhoods around Halloween and abscond with outdoor cats – particularly the black ones – to use for “rituals”?  So I’d been a bit nervous for her, she who roams the ‘hood with no fear. By Wednesday last week, Ronnie James (le pauvre petit Wrah-Wrah! as we like to call him) could be observed at any given time draped forlornly over the table in front of the window, his dragony yellow eyes half-closed and scanning the street horizon in search of his little lady. And finally, two days ago, she made her first post-Halloween appearance.

She returned just as spry and adorable as usual. We wondered whether her Mommy or Daddy (we believe that she’s someone’s kid, and not just a stray) deliberately kept her in during Halloween week, a thought that warms my heart. Even if those black cat rumors aren’t true, there’s a lot to be said for peace of mind. I mean, anything could have happened. She could have been hit by a car or something.

So that’s the report from the neighborhood, folks. All is well.

For a flourish of a finish today, you get a couple of kitty grams:


What? I'm the Wrah-Wrah.

What? I’m the Wrah-Wrah.





Happy Friday, All!

Halloween Festivities!

HELLo! This image-centric post is brought to you by one of America’s favorite holidays, Halloween, which is TODAY. Yay!!

This is just to say Happy Halloween, and here are a couple of pictures I took of creepy sights around town, and here’s another one of Zombie Callaghan, and here’s one of our jack o-lantern (not in that order), and hey, here are a couple of pics of the cake I made last night – the cake that I’m bringing to our Halloween potluck at work today, because I love my co-workers so much!

As for this evening? After celebrating Halloween pretty much all month, Callaghan and I are going to enjoy a low-key night at home. We’re going to watch this week’s episode of American Horror Story and hand out candy to trick-or-treaters. THAT IS THE PLAN, STAN, and we’re sticking with it. =)

Let’s start with home…

We decided to go with a fake jack o’lantern this year.


Then to the Melonhead Foundation’s Drag Bingo charity bash!


Remember when I was escorted to Drag Bingo by a jovial French zombie?

Remember when I was escorted to Drag Bingo by a jovial French zombie?


I don’t exactly have coulrophobia (a pathological fear of clowns), but still…


Earlier in the month, I spotted a random clown tucked into a hallway near the entrance of a Wal-Mart.

Earlier in the month, I spotted a random clown tucked into a hallway near the entrance of a Wal-Mart.


And in our neighborhood, this house always catches my every-horror-tuned eye…


The sequel to the sequel to the sequel of "The Amityville Horror" is going to be called "The Tempe Horror." It's the windows under the peaked roof that do it.

The sequel to the sequel to the sequel of “The Amityville Horror” is going to be called “The Tempe Horror.” It’s the windows under the peaked roof that do it.


And for work today, I made this cake, a tradition I’ve done for Halloween potlucks for years:


The return of the litter box cake, just for my co-workers!

The return of the litter box cake, just for my co-workers!



Ronnie James approves.

Ronnie James approves.


Happy FRIDAY Halloween, Everyone!

This and That

I have nothing to give you today, due to the fact that the saga of my new computer took up every last second of time between Friday and 11pm last night (when we weren’t gallivanting at Drag Bingo or working out in Body Combat class or doing laundry or actually working, that is). Guys, to give you an idea… a new episode of Homeland is available, and we haven’t watched it yet! That is our NUMBER ONE show this season, we’re utterly enthralled, and it’s been driving us crazy that there’s an episode just sitting there, unwatched. But we’re going to watch it tonight after grocery shopping (didn’t even get that done over the weekend) after work, so I get to look forward to it all day.

I’m extremely happy – I would even say thrilled – with my new computer (and this is the second one since the saga began – I had to take the first one back because of major issues), but I haven’t really used it yet. My amazing brother remoted in from California last night to help me set it up, and since then, I’ve been busy sleeping (a scant five hours) and showering, and now I’m sitting here with a cup of coffee and Callaghan next to me and the lights on in the deliciously dark early fall morning and the sound of the sprinklers on the lawn and kitties running around.

Speaking of kitties, have I mentioned that Ronnie James has a girlfriend? She’s an outdoor neighborhood kitty, and she’s adorable. She comes and sits on the table under the window, and she and the Wrah-Wrah gaze and bat at each other.

Aren't they a cute couple?

Aren’t they a cute couple?

Also, here’s a photo from Drag Bingo, which many of you have already seen on facebook. This was actually taken right before we left the house:

Callaghan and I didn't quite coordinate our outfits for the soiree.

Callaghan and I didn’t quite coordinate our outfits for the soiree.

Have a great Tuesday, All!

Blustery weather and popcorn don’t mix.

You know that moment you’re sitting outside with a baggie of popcorn, eating it on autopilot, pinching clusters of popcorn from the bag, tilting your head back and dropping the popcorn into your open mouth… and one of those times, when the popcorn is in mid-air between your fingers and your mouth, a gust of wind suddenly whips through and blows the popcorn off-course? And the next thing you know, there’s popcorn in your hair because the wind also blew that everywhere, and then, right at that moment, some people stroll around the corner to find you frantically trying to finger-comb the popcorn out of your hair, and when you realize you’re being watched, you realize you probably look like that gorilla in the zoo you’d observed picking things out of his fur and eating them?

So do I.

But I still ate it all.

But I still ate it all.

“Poor Baby… you’re like a gorilla in the fog,” said Callaghan when I relayed the story to him. Eh. Fog, mist, whatever, it’s all the same when you’re wearing your snacks in your hair.

So, that was yesterday. This mini-edition of Embarrassing Story Tuesday was brought to you by Monday.

La Fin.

An Introvert Dines Out (A Mock Restaurant Review)

There was no “Please Wait to be Seated” sign – it was a “Seat Yourself” kind of place.

I seated myself at a round stone table near the edge of the balcony. The patio was empty, but that detail appealed to me greatly.

There was no server, but I had a cloth bag containing the lunch menu du jour, or, shall we say, du mois: a peanut butter and blackberry jam sandwich (peanut butter: 365 creamy; jam: Kroger’s Just Fruit; bread: Dave’s Killer Blues), which appeared alongside a Ziploc baggie of popcorn (plain, lightly salted). I’d already partaken of an appetizer… the roasted walnut halves and pieces provided a preliminary protein boost. The beverage accompanying the main meal was filtered water on the rocks in a tall, insulated glass.

I’d give it an “A” for atmosphere. In the aftermath of an almost-hurricane, what would have been the third in a string of unusual, late-season tropical storms, the temperature was mild and pleasant, neither hot nor cold, humid nor dry, windy nor stagnant. The sky was clear, bright and blue.

The view was splendiferous.

The view was splendiferous.

My dining companion was a guy on the phone whose French accent I might have pondered had I been paying closer attention to accents. I was more interested in the mundane details of what he was saying – that his vegetable stir-fry was even tastier than it had been the previous day (aromatic leftovers), that the Wrah-Wrah was fine after two asthma attacks (and being extra-cute), that the new Indian deli’s Grand Opening is on the 23rd (free food!), and that a client would incur additional charges for extra technology work (business as usual).

Outside of the conversation, the soundscape featured the periodic splashing of a waterfall on asphalt, and airplanes cruising overhead, descending for landing every five minutes or so. More distant, the sound of people talking and music playing filled in the void that asked for white noise.

It was a good patio-dining experience. I’d give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

(Alternately titled “I ate a sandwich by myself on the patio, and I enjoyed it” in 331 words.)

Happy Friday, All! =)

Fun with sleep deprivation.

I’ve been more scarce than usual online these last two weeks, and I haven’t been sleeping as much as I should. This has less to do with the rooster named Moe next door and more to do with the fact that I’m semi-obsessed with unpacking the whole house within a ridiculous (self-imposed) time-frame.

One consequence of not getting enough sleep is a tendency to see things, as in, to look at something and see something else. I’ve been taking quite a few second and third looks lately, checking to see if what I’m seeing is really what I’m seeing.

The other day, I stepped outside and saw this:


Callaghan fiddling with the backyard sprinklers.

Callaghan fiddling with the backyard sprinklers.


After I realized that Callaghan was trying to troubleshoot a broken sprinkler, I went to grab my phone. He was so intent on figuring out the problem that he wasn’t aware that I was taking pictures as he adjusted the stream of water. He thought I was just being weird, laughing for no reason. (I can’t imagine why he’d think that.)


He didn't get why I was laughing...

He didn’t get why I was laughing…


Then there was the time I spotted a questionable box in a jewelry store, tucked away behind the counter. This was on Friday afternoon, when I finally – finally! – had an opportunity to take my watch in to get the battery replaced. (I cannot tell you what an immense relief it was to address this issue. My watch had been dead for almost two weeks, and it was maddening to reflexively glance at my wrist fifty times a day only to see “5:20” every time.)

So I’m standing there and my eyes wander behind the counter, and this is what I see on the floor behind the sales representative:


Alarming discovery in the jewelry store.

Alarming discovery in the jewelry store.


…a box containing a puppy in 14 pieces, “country of origin CHINA.”

The jewelry store lady didn’t see the humor in it, but how was I supposed to know that a jewelry store was using stuffed animals for promotional (or whatever) purposes, especially when there were no stuffed animals in sight?

Then there’s this:


This trio of characters is the first thing I see when I walk into work every day.

This trio of characters is the first thing I see when I walk into work every day.


This scene changes every day, sometimes several times a day. I never know what I’m going to see when I walk in.

Have a great Tuesday, All!

Orange is the New Black, but I’m not the new Asian girl in it.

I wasn’t going to say anything at first, but now I feel compelled to touch on this:

Since Netflix released the second season of Orange is the New Black on June 6, searches for the show’s new Asian character have cascaded throughout the internet in a continuous gush. I know this because all the cascading has landed droves of people upon the shores of my blog.  At first I figured the interest in this mysterious Asian chick would taper off in a few days, but two weeks later, the searches are still going strong. (Mysterious to me, as I don’t watch Orange is the New Black, hence I knew nothing about the girl’s existence until people starting searching for her.)

I’m accustomed to all kinds of bizarre search terms bringing people to (especially porn-related ones – I didn’t realize the magnitude of the Asian girl porn genre until I started my blog), but I have to say, this thing with Orange is the New Black took me by surprise. Two weeks after season 2 became available, my search results summary page held more than 25 unique search terms along the lines of “orange is the new black asian chick,” and many of those were keyed in multiple times (one was keyed in 26 times).

So! If you’re reading this because of Orange is the New Black, I’m delighted that you’re here, but I’m sorry I’m not the person you were looking for.I’m just Kristi, That Asian-Looking Chick. (The other one, haha.)

Of course, all of this prompted me to stalk her myself do my own research.  It turns out that Kimiko Glenn, the actor in question, grew up here in Arizona, in the Phoenix metro area. I did, too, in the sense that I’m a late bloomer and I moved here in my early twenties and therefore did a lot of my real growing up here (to the extent that I grew up, that is).

That makes Kimiko Glenn and I:


Me on the left. Kimiko Glenn from Orange is the New Black on the right. Two Arizonan Asian-looking chicks on the internet = NOT UNLIKE.

Me on the left. Kimiko Glenn from Orange is the New Black on the right. Two Arizonan Asian-looking chicks on the internet = NOT UNLIKE.


…though I actually don’t think we look that much alike.

(New folks, just so you know, these “NOT UNLIKE” comparisons mostly star Ronnie James and Nounours, my sons of the feline persuasion. I’ve never put myself in a “NOT UNLIKE” before.)

The Arizona/Asian/internet crossover is where the likenesses end, probably. I didn’t see a DOB posted anywhere I looked, but I would bet that I’m much older than Kimiko. I’m not even going to try to guess her age. You know how it is with us Asian-looking chicks… it’s hard to tell.

Blog Design Change!

I took a critical look at my blog over the weekend and said to myself, “Self, your blog needs a design overhaul.” I clearly remember sitting in the Little House in the Rhône-Alpes in France back in the fall of 2012, selecting and setting up my first theme and writing my first post. Now it’s 18 months and 161 posts later, and I’m in a totally different place in more ways than one. My blog should reflect that, I thought.

I decided on a new theme, found a dusky photo of Tempe Town Lake I’d recently taken from half-way up “A” Mountain (representing our downtown Tempe neighborhood), and, early yesterday morning, asked Callaghan if he would be so kind as to lend his clicking finger to an impromptu photo-shoot, because what better way to start your day than to go outside and take a million pictures of your overly-detail-oriented partner? (I wanted Virgil’s cute cactus garden in the background!) I also updated content where updates were needed and just generally cleaned things up a bit. We threw it all together last night. It took less than an hour, but the minimal, streamlined result pleases me very much.

So that’s the main thing. The only other thing I wanted to tell you about today was… and this is random (with so much going on all over the place, this week already feels more random than usual, and it’s only Tuesday)…

You know you watch too many horror movies when you hear the low tinkling of a classic lullaby from a back corner of your apartment, and when you cautiously venture forth to investigate, the following dialogue takes place:

“Are you listening to a creepy lullaby?” I called to Callaghan, who was somewhere.

Or it’s the ghost of a child. This apartment complex is probably between 50-60 years old, so a lot could have happened.

“I’m watching sleeping puppies and kitties! Haha! I’m almost done, Baby.”

He was in the bathroom with his tablet, watching cute animal videos!

It was Brahms’ “Lullaby and Goodnight,” and actually, I did have an eerie experience involving that particular nursery rhyme when I was a teenage babysitter. But that’s a story for another time.



Just when you thought it was safe…

Nounours, who gets less screen time than Ronnie James, wanted to wish you a Happy Hump Day, shark style!


Nounours on the left. Shark on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

Nounours on the left. Shark on the right. NOT UNLIKE.


We need to get him in on more of the action around here. My new (phone) camera seems to pick up split-second photo ops better than my old camera, so watch this space!

As every writer would tell you: Word Choice. It cannot be underestimated.

Quick – what’s one way to get people to recycle?

Allow me to show you Arizona State University’s approach:


ASU tells it like it is.

ASU tells it like it is.


Employ the power of a visual via the power of language, et voilà! “Trash” is no longer an option. Just guilt. Carry on.

I have to hand it to Tempe… it’s become downright unceremonious around here. With parking meters that read “dead” and “fail” and trash cans labeled “LANDFILL,” the euphemism is going the way of the dodo bird.

(I was amused to see these relatively new trash cans all over campus yesterday… you know I had to share!)

In other news related to sights around town, I realized, on Saturday evening, that there’s a fisheye setting on my camera. We found ourselves attending a get-together on a seventh floor deck, and thanks to my accidental discovery, I got this shot of downtown Tempe:


Downtown Tempe (from the seventh-floor deck of W6).

Downtown Tempe (from the seventh-floor deck of W6).


Happy Tuesday!

PSA. Because an airplane aisle pre-takeoff is like a clogged artery,

and people standing around have nothing better to do than look at what you’re reading. It’s human nature.

I was going to post this Public Service Announcement when I got back from California a few weeks ago, but I forgot and didn’t think of it again until I sorted through my magazines this weekend.


If you seat yourself on an airplane and hurry to re-situate the stuff in your backpack (that you dumped justforasecond on the seat next you), DO NOT carelessly throw down your newly purchased January/February 2014 issue of Shape magazine, because while you’re busy wrestling with the things in your backpack, you might not notice if the magazine somehow falls open to page 146… and the flight attendant helpfully stowing other passengers’ bags in the overhead bin right above you happens to look down – along with everyone around her – to see the “Good Vibrations” article with its glorious display of colorful vibrators splayed out on your lap. Trust me on this and just take the extra second to make sure the magazine stays closed, because no matter how innovative their designs, vibrators are vibrators, and do you really need for everyone clustered around to see that particular article on your lap before you even know it’s there?


You know that people in airplanes check out what other people are reading... especially if it’s you, and this is lying open on your lap, and you're not aware of it. THANKS, Shape magazine. Fitness. Right.

You know that people in airplanes check out what other people are reading… especially if it’s you, and this is lying open on your lap, and you’re not aware of it. THANKS, Shape magazine. Fitness. Right.


You’re welcome.

Blunt Parking Meters in Downtown Tempe

This being a new month, I wanted to stay on trend and post about my favorite things from the previous month, but when I sat down to do it, I actually couldn’t think of anything new I loved in December that I didn’t already love in November. However, it’s only the 8th of January and there’s already a growing list of simple-pleasures things tickling my fancy, so when February rolls around, there’ll be that.

So, what I thought I’d share with you today is an odd thing I never noticed anywhere before. Maybe it’s just me… you know how you can walk by something a million times and never notice it? This might be one of those things: I just recently became aware that some parking meters display messages. That is, they display information other than the amount of money left on the meter.

This, for instance, is a typical parking meter display:


This parking meter has no money left on it.

This parking meter has no money left on it.


This was one of many parking meters in downtown Tempe that Callaghan and I passed as we were walking home one day a few weeks ago.  We were on Ash Ave., talking as we walked, as oblivious to the parking meters as always, having no need to take notice of them, but then Callaghan stopped and said, “Wait! Did you see that meter?” We went back to the meter in question. It said:


RIP, parking meter.

RIP, parking meter.


“I guess that meter is dead,” I said. “How thoughtful of it to let us know.”

Curious, we re-traced our steps to see if other meters would have anything interesting to report. Most of them displayed the -0:00 reading like the first one, but sure enough, another meter down the line read:


This parking meter is FAIL.

This parking meter is FAIL.


Clearly, the people who work for the City of Tempe enjoy this part of the job! Maybe they’ll see this post and know that someone was amused.

Presenting the First NOT UNLIKE of 2014!

It’s Friday, an ideal day for a NOT UNLIKE featuring Ronnie James. (I know – that was just what you were thinking!) Knowing that we were overdue for one, Wrah-Wrah kindly presented us with a great NOT UNLIKE opportunity.

As you may remember, he has a favorite toy featuring feathers. We were using it to play with him the other day, and when Callaghan teased him by laying the feathered part over his head, his resemblance to Andy Warhol struck us at the same time. We laughed about it.

Then it occurred to us: Andy Warhol. Wrah-Wrah. ANDY WRAH-WRAH.


Ronnie James (aka Wrah-Wrah) on the left. Andy Warhol on the right. = Andy Wrah-Wrah. NOT UNLIKE.

Ronnie James (aka Wrah-Wrah) on the left. Andy Warhol on the right. = Andy Wrah-Wrah. NOT UNLIKE.


Seriously, doesn’t his face even look like Andy’s?!

Happy First Weekend of the year!


Ethan 103 played at the Big Fish for their last show of the year, and we were there!

I missed you all here last Friday; hopefully, that absence will translate to a blogging schedule change in the near future. Time will tell, as they say. With 2014 right around the corner, changes are inevitable!

On Friday night, the Big Fish Pub hosted M2N’s annual end of the year PJ party, and Arizona Native American punk rock band Ethan 103 played a set. Front-man Wayne and his wife, Nicky, have been long-time friends, and it was great to see them again after being gone for three years! The band delivered a solid performance, as usual. Good times. Local people, you should check these guys out!

Here are some visuals:


Ethan 103 at the Big Fish Pub, 12/20/2013

Ethan 103 at the Big Fish Pub, 12/20/2013


L-R: Nicky, Wayne, me and Callaghan after Ethan 103's set at the Big Fish Pub, 12/20/2013

L-R: Nicky, Wayne, me and Callaghan after Ethan 103’s set at the Big Fish Pub, 12/20/2013



And on Sunday morning, we found ourselves at (what’s becoming) our usual Sunday-morning haunt:


Why hello, Hayden Mill! We meet again.

Why hello, Hayden Mill! We meet again.


This time, we approached the front of the mill to peek inside.

This time, we approached the front of the mill to peek inside.


The mill suffered a fire or two in the early twentieth century.

The mill suffered a fire or two in the early twentieth century.


Looks pretty haunted to me… and gorgeous. Old, storied places speak to my soul; maybe that’s why I’m so drawn to this mill.

That’s it for my brief weekend wrap-up… I hope you’re all enjoying a relatively relaxed Christmas week!





When Barley Knocks, We Answer the Door

Why hello! It’s Thursday! It’s not Wednesday, nor is it Friday. I’m posting here today because we’re off to California again – flying this time – and I’ll mostly be off-line until Monday (“mostly off-line” meaning I’ll likely check in on Facebook to wish friends happy birthdays, but I’ll be scarce other than that).

This last week saw the end of an apparent cold snap through the relentlessly brilliant, bright blue sky, chilling the apartment just enough to result in two well-furred kitties for winter. Ronnie James and Nounours are all puffed up and ready to go.


Winter-coat-wrapped kitties are well-ROUNDed kitties.

Winter-coat-wrapped kitties are well-ROUNDed kitties.


Speaking of furbabies… two weeks ago, I was leaving a message on a friend’s voice mail when I was comically distracted by some fuss at the door. It started with a scratching, bumping sound, but the commotion really started when Callaghan opened the door and a German Sheppard practically spilled inside! Our door excited him somehow, and his Mommy was there (they live across the way… we share the stairs with them), introducing us. His name is Barley.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I think that “Barley” is just about the cutest name for a German Sheppard that I’ve ever heard. I wish you could meet this dog. He’s a funny, adorable, lovable sweetheart, is what he is.

Barley. I’m thinking of him now because he’s currently alone over there, and I can hear him barking. It doesn’t bother me in the slightest, but it does make me want to go play with him.

What’s the cutest name for a dog you’ve ever heard?

Holiday Spirit in the House

Okay, since my last post, we relented and turned on the heat! We set it to 68F, which is perfect… you would never know that it’s cold outside, especially with the bright sunshine coming in. Also…


Someone thoughtfully put Styrofoam cups on these babies in front of our apartment. Cactuses need cold snap care, too.

Someone thoughtfully put Styrofoam cups on these babies in front of our apartment. Cactuses need cold snap care, too.


(I never say “cacti,” by the way, even if it’s the more accepted plural form of “cactus.” Cactuses! Cactuses! Cactuses! I love that word. I find it more lyrical and adorable and appropriate for their personalities. “Cacti” sounds so coldly scientific to me.)

The weekend was full of things to see and art to admire. The main streets of our neighborhood were closed off for the Tempe Festival of the Arts, an event that happens every year in the fall and the spring. It’s fun, and it presents a great opportunity to purchase gifts from an enormous and diverse gathering of artists.


We weren't allowed to photograph the artists' work, so here's a pic of a fire truck from 1959, instead (in front of the Mission Palms hotel)

We weren’t allowed to photograph the artists’ work, so here’s a pic of a fire truck from 1959, instead (in front of the Mission Palms hotel)


May I just say that I loved that parking wasn’t in the equation this year, since the festival is now just a stroll down the street! We wandered through about half of it, speaking with some of the artists along the way.


Cards from some of the artists we visited at the festival.

Cards from some of the artists we visited at the festival.


Continuing the holiday spirit at home, last night we enjoyed a lovely and unexpected discovery at the bottom of a box that’d been in storage since I’d moved to France – the Christmas wreath Mom had given me! Which I’d thought was long gone. Which had me feeling kind of heartbroken all day the day I’d thought it was long gone. It’s here now, along with some other things I’d thought had gotten lost in the shipping!


Honey, I'm home!

Honey, I’m home!



We hung it on the inside of our front door so we can admire it (and not worry about it walking away).

We hung it on the inside of our front door so we can admire it (and not worry about it walking away).


Happy Monday!

Thanksgiving in California – The Real Thanksgiving!

So, that little stealth mission I’d mentioned in my last post?

On Thursday afternoon, we spontaneously decided to join Mom and Dad in northern California for Thanksgiving. We hit the road at 11:00PM, arrived the next morning (the drive is 10-11 hours) and spent a fantastic weekend with them. It was especially great when my brother and nephew showed up! Thanksgiving on Friday felt so much like the real Thanksgiving that all day Saturday, I thought it was Friday. There’s nothing like family. It had been three years since I’d visited mine in California, so that trip was a long time coming.

We left for Arizona yesterday morning and got home after dark. I thought I’d share a few road trip pictures:


Passing a southern California wind farm.

Passing a southern California wind farm.


We crossed the Arizona border late in the day, just before dusk. The state of Arizona turned 100 last year, and the centennial signs are still up.

We crossed the Arizona border late in the day, just before dusk. The state of Arizona turned 100 last year, and the centennial signs are still up.


You know you're in AZ when you start seeing these helpful DUI prevention signs on the highway... "Drive Hammered. Get Nailed." Oh, Arizona! haha

You know you’re in AZ when you start seeing these helpful DUI prevention signs on the highway… “Drive Hammered. Get Nailed.” Oh, Arizona! haha


Another telltale sign: saguaros, particularly when silhouetted against a blazing sunset.

Another telltale sign: saguaros, particularly when silhouetted against a blazing sunset.






I’m like one of the last people on Earth to discover photobooth

…(on Callaghan’s Mac), so plastering my blog with silly photos seemed like the next logical step. If nothing else, it’s a good antidote to the seriousness of the time. More on this later, perhaps.

We distorted ourselves using Mirror.


In the middle: Headless Callaghan, with hands

In the middle: Headless Callaghan, with hands


In the middle: Cyclops Callaghan

In the middle: Cyclops Callaghan


In the middle: Callaghan as a Double Ear. Or, as he views it, a Floating Vagina.

In the middle: Callaghan as a Double Ear. Or, as he views it, a Floating Vagina.


My turn to be distorted!


In which Callaghan thinks I look like Michael Jackson

In which Callaghan thinks I look like Michael Jackson


(Nothing if not a tribute. I LOVE Michael Jackson.)


In which Callaghan thinks I look like Professor Snape

In which Callaghan thinks I look like Professor Snape



In which I resemble a Monster Seed Pod

In which I resemble a Monster Seed Pod


Then we switched on the Pop Culture filter:


Just us

Just us





Now that’s out of my system! Aren’t you glad?