OCTOBER office updates tour! (HAUNTED CATHEDRAL)

Many changes took place in our house over the summer. It’s basically a different house now, in more ways than I care to describe at the moment. This moment is the moment of my office, and it’s about time!

When my office had brown walls, brown carpet, and a brown ceiling fan, I loved having my plant family as my only décor. My desk was in the center of the room, facing the window. I was surrounded by greenery. It was earthy and calming.

After we re-carpeted the bedrooms, re-painted the walls, and replaced the ceiling fans, we had gray carpeting, white walls, and white ceiling fans. Gone were the cozy earth tones that yet made the house feel smaller and my pictures look strange with inconsistent lighting.

Facing the blank slate of my office inspired me to rearrange the furniture, and also to decorate. The changes put me in the mood to create a theme!

I had nothing particular in mind when I happened upon this framed black-and-white print of England’s Canterbury Cathedral at the Goodwill. I was elated. This is a gorgeous interior shot, and I found the picture to be in excellent condition.


Canterbury Cathedral print


Print detail


I carried the $5.00 print to the check-out thinking of the spirits that inhabit the famous Anglican cathedral in Canterbury. I thought of my old copy of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. I had all kinds of ideas in mind.

Canterbury Cathedral is a stunning monument of Gothic architecture, so all things considered, the vision came easily: “Anglo-Saxon Ecclesiastical Gothic,” or “Haunted Cathedral,” to get more to the point. The theme also pays tribute to my English side. I’ve recognized my Japanese side in past décor themes, but never my English side.

[My French husband has no comment. He’s always joked that he “only hates half of me” – the half that isn’t Japanese. He’s a bit miffed now that there’s an Anglo-Saxon-themed room in the house, but it’s my office, after all.]

It was early in July when I found this print. I slowly began to collect things. My “Summer office updates” got pushed into the next season, but it was worth it to wait for stores to fill up their “occasion” aisles with Halloween décor. I’m glad that I waited, too, because I was able to find that mysterious antique mirror on Craigslist. The Gothic design-inspired mirror works beautifully in this theme. It matches the architecture of Canterbury Cathedral.

Canterbury Cathedral is haunted by the ghost of Archbishop Thomas Becket and those of several others who were murdered there, but I did not create a murder scene in my office.

I do believe that the antique mirror is haunted, though…. (More on this later.)

The first item I picked up for my theme was this cathedral stained glass tapestry from an artist on Etsy. I’ll take you around the office from there, starting with my desk corner and going clockwise around the room. Enjoy!


Cathedral stained glass tapestry


Desk corner


(I stacked my two low bookcases to make a hutch behind my desk. The décor you see here is on the hutch part.)


Desk-facing wall


Relevant texts


(A few of the English literature textbooks I’ve refused to let go.)


Literary skulls


Area behind me as I sit at my desk


Desk corner wall, right side


Antique trunk


(I got this trunk in Germany back when it was West Germany, but we’ll just pretend that I got it in England.)


Skull and crow


Green bat bottle and icy purple pumpkin


Antique mirror with black roses


Clock and more plants


A better look at the clock – 2:45am


(I took this pic at almost three o’clock in the morning. I was still up because I’d decided to make a pie in the middle of the night. I’d just finished it.)

(Also, this was a plain, white clock. I arranged a black satin ribbon around it and made the pendulum with a couple of fake roses.)


Shirt and gargoyle


(This t-shirt currently up on my closet door is one of two departures from the theme. It’s just the message I need to see in my office right now.)


Gargoyle (Grendel)


(The gargoyle above the t-shirt, though, is Grendel from the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf.)


Buddha fountain


(Buddha fountain – the second departure from my theme.)


Hats and bags, behind-door hooks


(The two bags between which I’m currently alternating.)


Cat doorknocker


(This brings us back around to the tapestry in my desk corner.)


Desk wall with doorknocker (night)


Center of the room (night)


Desk wall at night


Desk at night


(The only picture I took of my actual desk, I realized!)

This is where I’m sitting right now, and we’ve arrived at The End. I hope you enjoyed! Let me know if you’re interested in where I got some of the décor pieces. It was all very affordable.

Happy Friday Eve, my friends.



Neuropsych eval? What neuropsych eval? (I’m a ditz.)

I had my three-hour neuropsych evaluation at the V.A. last week. As in Palo Alto back in June, it constituted an exhausting mental gymnastics meet from start to finish, though it was even more in-depth. The battery of tests revealed that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with my brain functioning.

Looking at a range of results typical for people my age, I came out average to above-average on every section of the evaluation; that is, my brain performs as average in most categories, and better than average in several others. This is a relief.

It gives me no excuse, though.

Having found that nothing is going awry with my brain in any biological sense, I’ve self-diagnosed: I’m a ditz. I’m sometimes forgetful, sometimes scattered; I sometimes get preoccupied and lose things and lose track of things. And here I thought I only had the hair of a stereotypical absentminded professor!

(This last week, I managed to lose a new box of Kleenex. I remember removing the cardboard tab from the box and putting it in the recycle bin. A little while later, I went to get a tissue, and I couldn’t find the box. Going all over the house in search of it led to nothing.)

My appointment was last week Friday. It was September 20th, but the V.A. was already getting festive, I was pleased to find. I happened upon these skeleton earrings for $8.00 in the V.A. retail store. Of course I had to buy them and put them on immediately and take a pic! Incidentally, I’ve discovered that the best lighting for selfies in my house is in the dining room side of my kitchen.

Skeleton earrings, plus the Marilyn Manson tee you haven’t seen:


Skeleton earrings from the V.A. retail store


(Skeleton earrings – a closer look)


At any rate, the case of my brain is officially closed. This is me wrapping it up for you. We can now forget this ever happened. Knowing me, I’ll have forgotten by the time you read this.

Happy Friday Eve… and hey! I just realized that this is my last post of September. I’ll share my September Favorites list on Tuesday, and after that, it’s SHORT HORROR OCTOBER, my friends. I’ll preface the series with my updated office tour… yeah, the one I’ve been talking about for the last three months… but that’ll be appropriate for the season.



Mundane but significantly awesome. (Updates of the week.)

This week has been satisfying, as in:

…when you have a Body Pump substitute instructor who allows the class to vote out the shoulder track, and your outnumbered ass leaves feeling like you did an incomplete workout, because you did (you didn’t have time to work shoulders on your own), but then the following week’s sub for the same class makes up for it 500% on account of doing the shoulder track and being one of the best instructors ever, regardless.

…when the changing weather brings your scale-baby out of his burrow twice a day, morning and late-afternoon, and you spend as much time with him as possible because mother/tortoise bonding time is important and he needs to eat all of his favorite lettuce and whatever hibiscus flowers can be found on the bushes this late in the season.

—when you’re on a long drive with your friend and your conversation turns to the critical matter of vampires who unknowingly dine on the blood of humans infected with zombie virus, and you debate whether they’re vampire-zombies or zombie-vampires, and you discuss the details of how they’d do life as double-undeads in either case.

…when you’re feeling festive so you dye your hair darker and polish your nails a celestial shade and pick up an antique, haunted mirror and thrift a fake purplish-black pumpkin coated in fake frost that you know will look rad in your office, and it does, in your opinion.

—when you rearrange your favorite soundcloud playlist as appropriate for the season, because summer is officially over in FOUR DAYS, so it’s already Halloween, and no argument is valid.


Ruella, end of summer


Happy Friday Eve!



The mirror came home, and good times were had.

I have an update on last week Tuesday’s post topic! My friend Margaret offered to take me to get the haunted mirror, and so we went… and we made a whole splendiferous day of it. That was Sunday. Now that the mirror is home and the listing has been removed from Craigslist, I can tell you that it was down in Tucson. What casual visitor doesn’t love a Sunday on Fourth Avenue in Tucson? That whole town’s got a great vibe.


Gargoyle above Tucson’s Sacred Art Tattoo on 4th


(No, Mom, I didn’t get another tattoo. Haha.)

Traffic was good, so it took just less than two hours to get there. Tuscon is 101 miles south of my house, and Sedona is 100 miles north, but it takes a little longer to get to Sedona because of the terrain and altitude of the high desert. The drive to Sedona usually ends up being almost exactly two hours long.


Restroom/junk food stop on the way to Tucson


Let me tell you about the mirror, though! It’s a beauty. It’s an authentic antique, said my antique expert friend and partner-in-crime, and I’ve currently got it leaning against the wall on my antique German trunk. I think I’ll leave it there.


“Very old mirror” in my office


In case you were wondering, never fear – I do plan to follow up on my threats to present an updated office tour. It’s coming together, this place. It’s very nearly finished. My décor theme is “haunted cathedral,” and this mysterious little mirror fits in perfectly! I’ve been waiting for Halloween season to arrive in all its commercial glory so I could find inexpensive finishing touches to add. (As far as I’m concerned, Halloween season is when you buy “occasion” stuff for year-round.) This mirror, though, is a piece of high quality. I haven’t seen evidence of possession yet, but it definitely looks like it has stories to tell.



I need a Craigslist intervention. (I’m haunted by a mirror.)

Someone on Craigslist is selling an antique wall mirror, which caught my eye with its unusual design. I found it to be precious and intriguing. I love antiques.

According to the ad text, the petite mirror has been in the seller’s family for at least three generations, but the seller knows nothing more about it. They’re asking for $25.00.

If you know me, you know the first thing I thought, right? Haunted mirror! The second thing I thought was I must have it. 

Take a look:


antique wall mirror


The alluring ad text reads:

Very old wall mirror. It has been in my family for at least 3 generations but I know nothing else about it. Frame is wood , handle is metal and it measures 26 1/2 inches long and 7 3/4 inches wide. 25.00 . Call if interested. No texts.

I place the call. After several rings, the call goes to voice mail. A woman picks up as I’m leaving my brief message. She has trouble hearing me, she says. She’s “getting a strange vibration on the line,” and could I call her back?

Of course I can!

My second call goes directly to voice mail; I hang up without leaving a message. When I try a third time two minutes later, the same woman answers. The connection is better, but my inquiry mystifies her. “A mirror? On Craigslist?” She turns away from her phone and calls: “Someone is asking about a mirror…? On Craigslist?”

She puts her mouth back to the phone and tells me that I’ll have to speak with her husband, because she has no idea about the mirror.

The husband gets on the phone and confirms that the mirror is still for sale. He kindly answers my next question by repeating the verbiage in the ad, but he also shares that the mirror had belonged to his grandmother’s aunt. They’d found it in her house. This information stirs up my imagination even more, because now there’s a grandmother’s aunt in the picture! The mirror is getting spookier by the moment.

Unfortunately, the seller and his bewitching mirror are two hours away.

Lamenting the mileage between us, I wonder out loud whether he thinks the mirror might be available for the foreseeable future (no pun intended). The seller gives a dry chuckle as he remarks, “Well, I’ve only had two calls about this mirror. There’s been very little interest in it in four months.”

Why aren’t the callers going through with the sale? The mirror is only $25.00!

Now I want the mirror even more.

Two weeks later, the mirror is still up for sale, and distance remains the issue. I’m not sure that I have four hours to spend in a car going to pick up a mirror. Four hours round-trip to retrieve a mirror could also be a four-hour road trip to Las Vegas, where I could spend a night at the El Cortez and also catch The Australian Bee Gees Show – A Tribute to the Bee Gees. Time permitting, I could see Zombie Burlesque, too! That kind of a weekend would be worth the additional four hours getting back to Phoenix.

Callaghan says that the mirror probably is haunted, so I don’t need it. My own thought is that if the mirror is actually haunted, then I definitely need it.

It’s not looking likely, my friends, but if you see this mirror here again, it’ll be because it made its way to my office.



Body Pump: what the whole world did on Labor Day.

Yesterday morning, I jumped out of bed and into the car 20 minutes later to get to Body Pump. Like, that never happens! I didn’t think I’d land a spot in the class. I’d spent all of the previous day up until midnight reloading the gym app every half-hour in hopes that someone would drop their spot in the “FULL” class. I’d gone to bed thinking, well, there might be a last-minute cancellation in the morning.

And lo, there was one! When I got up with the alarm at 6:30am, the class was still full. When the alarm woke me up again two hours later, one spot was open. I grabbed it. Then I realized that I had to be on the road in 20 minutes if I wanted to make it on time, as none of my new gyms’ locations are close to me considering that I take surface streets everywhere. (You might remember that I don’t drive on the freeway anymore.)

Monday morning Body Pump always fills up to the max, but everyone wanted to go on Labor Day Monday. Yesterday’s class reached its limit within a few hours of open reservation on Sunday morning; it was full by noon!

I was elated to get my spot. I just had time to scrub my retainers and brush my teeth, throw my sunscreen and three different kinds of nutrition bars into my bag, jump into some gym clothes and shoes, gulp down my morning meds and supplements, and fill my thermos with water before hopping into the car.

Callaghan made fun of me for being that person doing her face (but it was just sunscreen!) while driving, though I did it while stopped at a red light. It’s hard to put on sunscreen while shoving protein bars into your mouth, by the way.

When I got to the gym, I found a line wrapped around the side of the group fitness room as people waited for the earlier class to finish.

By the time the class was set to begin, there were so many people in the room that we were crowded up to the mirror on either side of the instructor’s platform, and packed from one wall to the other from the sides. Also, yesterday was the first time I’ve seen a Pump class run out of equipment at my new gym.

The (substitute) instructor allowed walk-ins as long as there was still standing room and equipment, but it’s hard to gauge equipment availability when people are streaming in and out of the equipment room to grab weights. She advised us to share our weight plates with others if we weren’t using them at the moment.

I was just elated to be there. It was a kick-ass class with a super motivating substitute instructor who made a point of challenging us. I actually feel my biceps today!

So that was yesterday’s highlight. Today, I had to go to the V.A. in the morning for my annual mammogram. I wore one of my favorite t-shirts, and I took a selfie in it because you didn’t see this tee in my “current favorite t-shirts” post. I had to stop at 15!


Depeche Mode tee [9/3/2019]

I cut the neckline out of this one, of course. It’s Depeche Mode.

I’ll post my August Favorites list on Thursday!



Current 15 favorite t-shirts, by request!

Okay. I tried to narrow it down to ten, and it just wasn’t happening, so I said what the hell, let’s do 15. I have a lot of t-shirts, and I love them all!

Of these 15 shirts, six are band tees, and two are plain (bare of graphics). Then we’ve got a logo shirt; a favorite YouTuber’s merch tee; an AZ pride sort of touristy deal; a random shirt mostly of my own creation; a cartoon shirt; a sports fan shirt; and a horror movie shirt. Three of these shirts have the neckline cut out, because a big part of me never matured past the 90’s. Two of them are raglan-style tees. More than half of them are oversize, and they’re all very comfortable. For whatever reason, though, these 15 tees are the ones I reach for the most.

[I should say that I have a couple of other go-to favorite shirts that I did not include here. One has an approximation of the F-word on it, and the other has the V-word (vegan). I don’t wear either of them outside of the house. They’re hanging-around comfort tees.]

Let’s get on with it, then, in alphabetical order!


1). Black-and-white raglan shirt.


Black-and-white raglan


This tee is my attempt at a replacement for my beloved black-and-white Virgin Records raglan shirt. It’s slightly uncomfortably tight on my forearms, but it’s one of my absolute favorites. I found it at Ross a few years ago. It was dirt-cheap.


2). Band shirt: Def Leppard.


Def Leppard


This shirt is meaningful to me because Def Leppard (British metal) is probably my favorite hair band, though Joe Elliott didn’t have big, 80’s hair. When I was in high school, I nurtured this bizarre daydream that Joe Elliot was my biological father on account of his being an English musician (my biological father is an English musician still living in England, last I heard) and how cool I thought it would be if I was related to him somehow, never mind that he’s the wrong age. I have three Def Leppard shirts, one of which I got at a Def Leppard concert. That one’s blue and fitted. I wear it to the gym sometimes.


3). Cartoon raglan shirt: Donald Duck.


Donald Duck


You’ve seen this one recently. I’m not a big Disney fan, and I have no special affection for this character, but this shirt is so ridiculously comfortable! It’s super thin and soft. I love the way it’s kind of fitted and drapey at the same time, I love its length, and I love that it’s gray and a shade of blue that I really like.


4). Horror movie shirt: Halloween.




Here’s the other tee you’ve seen recently. Halloween is my favorite classic horror slasher flick, and I dig the subdued art on this shirt. “Halloween” doesn’t need to be written on it. A Halloween fan will instantly recognize and identify it.


5). Band shirt: Iron Maiden.


Iron Maiden


Iron Maiden: another favorite British metal band! If you were into metal in the 70’s and 80’s, you’re familiar with Eddie, Iron Maiden’s mascot (who graces this shirt). This character is iconic. All of Iron Maiden’s artwork and concerts feature him, and he’s always amazing. Have you ever been to an Iron Maiden concert? It’s theater, and good theater, at that, in my opinion.


6). Band shirt: Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.


Joan Jett and the Blackhearts


I got this shirt when I saw Joan Jett perform at Phoenix Pride years ago. I can’t remember the year! I want to say 2009…? I went with a dear friend. Joan was fabulous in concert. Best Pride ever.


7). Band shirt: Marilyn Manson.


Marilyn Manson


I cycle through phases of obsession with Marilyn Manson’s music; I’ve been in one as of late. (I must say, though, that I’m at all times into different genres of music… I’m not just listening to Marilyn Mason right now.) I have two Marilyn Manson tees, and this one’s my favorite. I love the artwork. It’s his art, by the way, in case you didn’t know that Marilyn Manson is also a visual artist.


8). Arizona pride shirt: Marilyn Monroe.


Marilyn Monroe Arizona


Marilyn Monroe’s association with Arizona wasn’t just that she filmed Bus Stop here; it was also that she loved the Biltmore resort in Phoenix. (Yes, Phoenix. Not Scottsdale. Just saying.) According to her, the Catalina Pool at the Biltmore was Marilyn’s favorite place to sunbathe.


9). Band shirt: Motörhead.




I’m a total poser when I wear this shirt, because I’m not a huge Motörhead fan, and I’m not that versed in their body of work. I know that I like the music of theirs that I’ve heard, but I couldn’t tell you the song titles. This tee landed in my collection because, again, I was attracted to the artwork on it. It’s one of my most comfortable shirts.


10). Random t-shirt: No One is Perfect.


No One is Perfect


This is the one that’s mostly of my own creation, and I love it so much, I may never wear it! I’d rather just look at it. It’s hanging in my office. Sharpies are wonderful, aren’t they?


11). Plain black t-shirt.


Plain Black


This extremely comfy t-shirt is my go-to when I’m not feeling anything else. It’s the wild card of my collection.


12). YouTuber shirt: Reviewbrah (The Report of the Week).




This shirt is special not only because it’s very comfortable, but also because it’s the only piece of YouTuber merch that I own. Reviewbrah – his channel is The Report of the Week – is one of my favorite YouTubers. He reviews fast food. He wears a suit every day (usually complete with a jacket, and never without a tie). He’s known for his 1930’s-era radio personality and his dry sense of humor. Perhaps the greatest thing about Reviewbrah is that none of what you see is a persona! What you see on his channel is what you’d see in his real life, and I love knowing that a human like him is out there in the world. Reviewbrah always opens his review videos with “Hello, everyone. This is Running on Empty, fooooood review!” I can’t describe him other than that. You have to experience him for yourselves. Here’s the video that made him famous for the iconic Reviewbrah line “My disappointment is immeasurable and my day is ruined”:




13). Sports shirt: Sumo.


Sumo Ozeki


Of my three Sumo tees, this one’s my favorite. Ozeki is Sumo’s second-to-highest rank, and it’s the rank of my favorite wrestler, Tochinoshin.


14). Band shirt: Tears For Fears.


Tears For Fears


I wasn’t much into pop in the 80’s, but I did have a few favorite mainstream pop bands: Tears For Fears, Depeche Mode, and INXS. Tears For Fears was my favorite. I bought this shirt when I finally got to see them in concert in the mid-2000’s. Not only did I get to see them perform, but I somehow also ended up sitting on Roland Orzabal’s lap at one point before the show. I DIED. That would be a story for another post. Roland is the one pictured on the left, by the way.


15). Logo shirt: Vans.




I love Vans, and I love this shirt. I love it so much that I have a back-up in case anything happens to it, though it’s a classic and a Vans mainstay. I do love a huge t-shirt with the neckline cut out.

That completes the list! I hope you enjoyed. You probably learned some things about me that you didn’t know, which I think was the point of the request.

Happy Friday Eve, friends!