Weed salad.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Watch this space”

Step aside!

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

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

Meanwhile, I hope this finds you well!

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the present.

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

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

Phenomena: Music.

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

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

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

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

Right now. [07 April 2022]

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

It’s like that. And it’s:

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

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

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

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

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

“Like a starfish that drifts in with the tide.”

My friends, I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t scrambling to get my shit together over here. What I mean by this is that I’ve been failing you by slipping up where my posting schedule is concerned. I’m considering altering my schedule to “early in the week” (Monday or Tuesday) to “later in the week” (Thursday or Friday).

I’m okay, though. Life is happening but it’s going swimmingly; I’m just finding that I need to switch up my footing right about now. There’s a seasonal shift taking place, and I’m lagging a bit, like I got left behind in a different time zone. When I keep waking up an hour later than it is, it’s time to re-set. I’ve hit the re-set button several times here in TALC over the last ten years.

It’s been ten years?!

Probably as theatrically angsty as I could get in a selfie.

In upcoming news, Geronimo’s been out of hibernation for a few weeks, and I do have pics forthcoming, along with his own updates. I’m looking forward to sharing those with you!

I hope this finds you all doing well, friends. April blessings to you!

Sharing another cooking video! Cuisine from Pakistan.

Hello, my friends. Tonight, I come to you bearing a video from a YouTube cooking channel with which I’m mildly obsessed. I’m especially excited to share this with you as the last cooking video I posted from Pick Up Limes (Afghani cuisine) was so well-received. You know that when I find something of great interest to me, I want to share it with you!

I stumbled upon this YouTube channel that features a young man and his mother (I believe that she’s his mother due to comments I’ve seen from people who appear to know them In Real Life) as they prepare food at home. They live in Pakistan and cook their meals in the Old Ways, and that latter bit is the reason why I love this channel. The channel is called Secrets of Gilgit, and this is the first video of theirs that I watched.

I thought I would share one of their lovely dessert videos, as well. This is one that I particularly enjoyed!

I don’t know about you, but these videos make me want to be a better preparer and enjoyer of food.

Goals.

A blessed weekend eve to you, my friends.

Teachiai. (An ode to tea.)

Combining the characters for “stand” and “meet,” “tachiai” is the term for the initial charge that gets all sumo bouts underway.

(Credit to John Gunning and The Japan Times for the paraphrased quote above.)

Hello there, my friends. Let’s talk tea… literally. No spilling!

Somewhere along the way, I went from coffee-drinkerism to tea-drinkerism, a conversion that started to brew five or so years ago when I experienced an odd occurrence of coffee-induced nausea during a bout of the common cold. It was a note-to-self moment, don’t drink coffee again until the cold’s run its course, and somehow, the moment never ended. It just so happened that I never got back around to drinking coffee. It was an incidental quitting rather than an intentional one.

Maybe it was because I wasn’t missing the daily jump-start into the morning that I didn’t make a special note of it.

I didn’t miss the coffee jump-start, but now that I’ve made a new morning ritual of matcha-mushroom tea – a concoction I started drinking in the third week of last October, so four months ago as of this writing – I’m enjoying a different kind of daily morning boost. A cup of matcha green tea has the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee, but its caffeine delivery is a mellow slow-release. Where coffee roars, matcha green tea purrs. It’s a sustained purr that carries on for hours and hours.

The energy I get from matcha is significant yet quiet as its wonderfully juxtaposed calming effect is the opposite of the coffee jitters I remember too well. I find the whole experience of drinking this magickal beverage in the morning to be incredibly soothing, and I get to work with just the right amount of energy. With matcha green tea in my system, I hum along rather than bounce off the walls. There’s no crash-and-burn.

Mixing medicinal mushroom powder into the tea simply carries it over into another realm of goodness.

At night, I’ll sometimes indulge in another tea beverage: A Bengal Spice (Celestial Seasonings) soy milk latte. Celestial Seasonings crafted their Bengal Spice tea to be a caffeine-free chai, so essentially it’s a chai latte that can be enjoyed at night. I steep the tea for 5-7 minutes, covered with a cloth (so the brew is deep and intense in color and aroma) before filling the remaining 1/4 of the mug with soy milk. Those are my chai tea latte proportions of preference: 3/4 tea, 1/4 soy milk.

Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice soy latte.

On that note, my friends, I’ll wish you all a good night, this being later at night on my end. Translate this to “Good (whatever-applies-where-you-are).” Truth be told, writing about tea is making me want to get to bed earlier so that I can wake up sooner to my morning matcha-mushroom brew.

Until mid-week, then.

Early to grow. (Merry Vernal Equinox!)

Hello, my friends. I’m interested in knowing what the weather’s been like where you are. Here, a wild desert wind’s been blowing in gusts on and off for about a week now. I’ve perceived it with all of my senses; I’ve swayed in it. I’ve gone metaphysical off-roading with no say in the matter, except for the fact that I do, in fact, have agency and can go in any direction I choose. What I need to do is regain my footing. I mostly wasn’t here last weekend, and so I missed you again. And I’m sorry, again.

Weather is majestic, though. To me, it’s the opposite of fodder for small-talk. I think of a storm as an orchestration and a feat of nature comprised of powerful expressions of the four elements: Air (wind), Fire (lightning), Water (rain), and Earth (receiving and absorbing it all), and if there’s mundanity in the discussion of that, then I can’t see it. I’m not great at small-talk. I actually enjoy talking about the weather.

And I love storms for bearing the message that nature and her elements are in charge on this planet. Storms want it known that to respect nature is to respect ourselves, because everything we do that negatively impacts nature and her elements creates an effect with which we beings on Earth will have to reckon at some point. Our lives are affected by our actions toward nature whether we want to admit it or not.

In Sedona: A tree leans into me. I lean back. [19 March 2022]




“In every walk with nature one received far more than he seeks.” ~John Muir

Tonight, in these new hours of spring in the year 2022, I’m feeling in awe of our energetic connections with all sentient beings on Earth, with the Earth, herself, and with the Cosmos. Of how we’re affected by the Moon in her various cycles. Of how we’re tuned in to the rhythms of nature through the energy centers in our bodies we call chakras.

In the Sedona vortex the day before the vernal equinox last weekend, I leaned into the tree and felt the thin, faint vibration of nature chime in with my pulse. It was a lesson in listening. It was invaluable.

Merry Vernal Equinox to you all!

When all is still while the world shakes.

I don’t know what to say, friends. I’ve been blocked since it all began. I haven’t spoken to anyone but my shrink about it. My throat chakra – the energy center of communication, spoken and otherwise – is knotted up.

My shrink tells me that many of his PTSD patients are experiencing higher levels of anxiety with the atrocities taking place in Ukraine, and I’ve found this to be true for myself. My known triggers have become hair-triggers. I bowed out of a work happy hour get-together tonight because it’s St Patrick’s Day (which was the point of the gathering). The consequential vibe on the streets would potentially have amounted to the effect of a bad acid trip.

I don’t know.

If there could be a made-up monster as vile as the human one responsible for this.

If there could be some academic way to run toward light from darker places.

If the collective conscience cracking like old ice beneath the weight of the evil in the world could be more palpable.

I’ve found that staring hard at anything else is the only way, and yet it’s inescapable… as well it should be. One way to help support the people of Ukraine is to simply be with them.

My “commute” to work is less than ten minutes down surface streets, but it’s enough time for a vehicle with “Pray for Ukraine” spray-painted across its back windshield to get in front of me, and then I arrive at work in tears.

At the same time, I’ve been experiencing a joy that hasn’t visited me in years, and I’ve been focusing on enjoying and nurturing that. I have much for which to be thankful. And I am. I am blessed here in this dusty little speck of a large world.

The End.

It’s late, but my hair is clean.

I’m going to escape into nature on Saturday, and I can think of few things more profound than the making of that sacred connection.

For Ukraine, I say prayers at the end of the day, which is all that can be done to help the wounded, the suffering, and the bereaved. At the end of it all, the survivors will become the Earth’s newest generation of living scars.

Yikes, my friends… I’m drifting off. I hope this finds you safe and well.

Feeling salty.

Good day or night, my friends. Today I’ve got some updates of the medical/health variety. (Greetings and gratitude to you who’ve been asking in the after-aftermath of my minor hand surgery!)

It was last week when I went to the VA for a couple of appointments. The first was to Ortho to have my stitches removed. My hand was sprayed with a freezing liquid to numb the area and while that probably helped a lot it still hurt like a mofo when the stitches were removed, but it went superfast. I’m supposed to continue avoiding lifting, pushing, and pulling more than five pounds with that hand for an additional two weeks.

Then I went upstairs to my next appointment – the Endocrinologist – and came out with the best doctor’s orders I ever received, or ever heard of anyone receiving: Eat more salt.

The Endocrinologists are thinking that my hyponatremia (low blood sodium) is due to a combination of Sjögren’s Syndrome-related dry mouth, which can cause excessive thirst, and a possible side effect of one of my psych meds. They’re looking into modifications that can be made to those treatment plans to get my thirst under control. Until then, eat more salt.

So I did what any good patient would do: I immediately went to the Patriot Store on the other end of the hospital, where I picked up a bag of peanuts coated with Tajín Clásico seasoning (chili peppers, sea salt, citric acid, dehydrated lime juice). 360 mgs of sodium in a 1/4 cup serving size. Doctor’s orders!

They can take their time figuring out my new treatment plan, as far as I’m concerned.

I’ve always been more of a salt person than a sugar person. The amount of salt I normally consume is already considered to be “too much” by traditional standards, so in order to eat more, I’m counting my sodium intake. Here’s what I’ve eaten today so far:

1,445 mg sodium. I counted.

The sodium is in the multigrain pita chips, sea salt Popchips, Tajín Clásico peanuts, hummus, and pickles. A friend at work suggested the Popchips because they’re ridiculously salty, he said. They’re not bad. They’re not saltier by my normal definition of salty, but they’re pretty good little vehicles for salt, which is all white potatoes are to me, anyway.

Meanwhile, as I wait for the all-clear to work out again, I’m feeling myself melt uncomfortably into a shapeless puddle of wasted energy, consumed calories roaming in my body all dressed up with nowhere to go. For some mysterious reason,* the doctor doesn’t even want me doing Body Combat (cardio kickboxing/fight training) for another two weeks. I’m sitting on my desk chair with that sensation of my ass spreading over it, as one does when sedentary. I remember this feeling from my office-job days. Is this it for me for the rest of my life? Is this going to be my day-to-day until I depart this Earth? At the job I have now I take more than 10K steps every day, Monday-Friday. I am blessed.

End of updates, and this should do it with mundane medical happenings for a while. I’m looking forward to coming back with another home workout post. You who’ve jumped here from my Funk Roberts MMA workout post: I see you. Thank you for being here despite my scant offering of workout posts!

Have a wonderful rest of your day or night, my friends. Until mid-week, then!

[ETA: Just looked out at my front yard and remembered that I have to get out there to pull the roughly 20 million weeds that’ve sprung up out of nowhere. I suppose that’ll be a decent stand-in workout.]


*Okay, maybe not so mysterious. When I told him that the Body Combat workouts include things like push-ups, burpees, sprawls, and mountain-climbers, he said don’t do those things, and I stupidly said that it would be hard to not do them.

From my food dream diaries: Afghani food.

It’s been one of those weeks yet again, my friends, time-wise. Luckily, I have another gem of a YouTube video to share with you. Last week it was Leon the lobster. This week, I’m sharing a video that readily captured my interested in the area of food and cooking.

Sadia is an Afghan-Canadian woman whose parents fled Afghanistan to Canada to start new lives, and Pick Up Limes is her plant-based food-centric YouTube channel. I watched her video about some of the traditional Afghani foods she grew up eating, and my mouth immediately started watering. You know I’m planning to make all of the recipes in this video. The food looks and sounds scrumptious

Without further ado, may I present Sadia preparing some of her favorite traditional dishes from Afghanistan:

From me to you. If your mouths are watering, too, then my work here is done.

Merry weekend to you, my friends!

Lobster night.

Friends, circumstances both created and un-created the post I was going to post tonight, if that makes any sense. The last 48 hours have been a whirl.

And so, in lieu of an actual post, I’m going to present to you a YouTube video that I dearly love and have been wanting to share. Circumstances ruined my post, but they created this opportunity! You may have already seen this video, but for those of you haven’t: A guy – Brady Brandwood – purchases a live lobster from the grocery store and makes a wonderful home for him.

This lobster’s name is Leon, and this is the beginning of his story.

As of now, Brady Brandwood has made four videos about Leon the lobster. If you enjoyed this video and want to watch more of Leon’s adventures, do go to Mr. Brandwood’s YouTube channel. I feel like my life is more complete now that I’ve seen and gotten to known this lobster’s personality!

On that note, I’m going to get ready for bed. Merry end of week to you all, my friends.

Surgery day snafu.

Hi. Not to hype myself up with superlatives or anything, but I’m the worst. I slay myself with my faults and foibles. I have a friend whose face has an imprint of her hand on it because I make her facepalm every day, practically.

Some of my fumbles are mortifying, but others are panic-inducing, like the one that happened the morning of my surgery.

My surgery was scheduled for 7:30am Monday. I had to be there to check in at 6:45am sharp. Between the scheduling and the actual day there were letters and emails and texts and voicemails and in-person reminders, all very strict and adamant about this! I had to arrive no later than 6:45am!

So what did I do? I woke up at 6:50am when the nurse called to ask me where I was. It was five minutes past my arrival time, and I was at home, in bed.

Turned out that my alarm didn’t go off because when I set it, my finger (must have) accidentally touched the “S” for Saturday. My alarm was set to go off in five days.

My friends, it is not possible to quantify the panic that ensued. My check-in was five minutes ago! I’m taking an Uber to the hospital!! I’m going to miss my surgery!!!

Cue the festivities.

Somehow, I reigned in my hyperventilation enough to check my voicemail, because I knew that the nurse had left one. Of course I had 12 new voicemails to get through first! (Why am I like this?!) When I finally dug through the pile and got to the voicemail from the nurse, my hand was shaking and my brain was in a fog of panic and I didn’t have a pen, so naturally I thought, I can memorize the call-back number! No. I couldn’t. At least I’d saved her message, but in order to hear it again, I had to first listen to my two previously saved messages, which are dear to me and so shall remain saved until the end of time. But they are long. When I finally got to her message again, I had a pen, and I was ready to sprint out the door. I’d gone ahead and ordered my Uber, because my plan was to get to the hospital anyway and sit there in hopes of I didn’t even know what, at that point. It was 7:20am. My surgery was supposed to start in 10 minutes. The Uber, which would usually arrive in 2-7 minutes, was going to arrive in 24 minutes because of the 2022 WM Phoenix Open (golf tournament). Sunday was the final day of the tournament, and Monday morning was tournament attendees (aka everyone and their mother) taking Ubers to the airport, of course.

Ten thousand years later, I was able to call the nurse. She was very sweet, calm, and reassuring in the most wonderful motherly way. She said, “It’s alright, don’t panic, everything is fine, just come in as soon as possible.” I was practically in tears. I got to the hospital in jammies with bedhead and unbrushed teeth – fortunately, I was masked – and this, my friends, is me in a nutshell. A veritable mess. If you know me in person and you think I’ve got my shit together, trust me, it’s a facade. Looks are deceiving. Internally, it’s Armageddon, and it is not pretty.

At the hospital at last, forms were signed. There was no wait. The nurses, anesthesiologist, and surgeon were all friendly, relaxed, in good humor. No one was mad at me! It was astonishing, like I’d walked into a Twilight Zone of kindness. I apologized to everyone, and they all good-naturedly brushed it off. I was in shock because when I woke up to the phone ringing, it was like I’d missed a flight, in my mind. I’d missed my flight and the plane was not coming back for me. But the plane was there, the doors were open, and everyone was super nice. They all had a right to be supremely annoyed, but they weren’t… at least, if they were, they didn’t show it.

I’m so grateful every day. The Universe shows me in blunt ways how very grateful I should be, because the more I f*ck up, the more I realize how lucky I am, and I f*ck up a lot.

I’m grateful that the team took me for the surgery, and I’m grateful that it went well. (It was a simple, common procedure for trigger thumb with cyst removal.) I can now look forward to regaining full use of my hand, as the pain in the heel of my hand had cut my capacity by about 50%. I’m grateful for my friend who picked me up from the hospital.

I stayed home from work for the required 48 hours, and I went back in today.

After work, I took a short walk to the Tempe Town Lake bridge that’s behind the Center for the Arts. There was a beautiful ballerina in a single-shoulder pink leotard modeling action shots in a professional photoshoot, leaping and fluttering and displaying impossible feats of flexibility in her pointe shoes on her toes in the middle of the bridge. The bridge trembles slightly when we ordinary people walk across it; when the ballerina leaped and landed, the bridge was still.

I came home and sat down here to take a selfie, because.

End of day hey. [13 Feb 2022]

I hope this finds you doing well, or better, or whatever kind of positive state applies. Until the next time, my friends!

Brain freeze.

We’re having a bit of a cold snap here in Phoenix Metro, my friends, and of course I only realized it when I got to work this morning and it was too late. I swear I have to laugh. If my brain was the cosmos, 60% of it would be black holes.

Temperatures dropped to near-freezing as I slept last night, and I had no idea. I woke up and blithely got ready for work in the same manner as always. The house felt chillier than usual. I noted this and gave it no further thought. My mug of hot matcha-mushroom tea warmed me in its reliable way, and that was what mattered.

When I stripped to change into my work clothes, I again ignored the biting cold for the warning that it was. As I’d done the day before – for reasons I don’t understand – I didn’t put on the usual winter long-sleeve layer… just the usual work tee over the usual sleeveless tee, and then a thin hoodie beneath my larger, heavier one. I wore chunky long winter socks and my winter hiking (?) boots, again as usual.

Then I got to work.

And I wanted to hit rewind on the whole damn morning.

Specifically, I wanted to go back to the part where I was deciding against adding a long-sleeve layer beneath my two jackets, because that right there was the kiss-of-death decision. But I had an emergency furry vest in my locker, which I put over my thin jacket and under my thick one, and an emergency pair of Hothands, which I activated and put in my pockets.

Somehow I survived the morning. At lunch I sat in my car (as I do) and absorbed the blessed heat within. This is Arizona for you: our desert sun is so bright and strong, it warms the inside of your car to almost-hot, even in the bitter cold. And at some point in the afternoon, the cold in my workplace eased up, so the day ended up well… at least much better than how it started.

Let me just state for the record that I’m not mad at the cold at work, and I don’t love my job any less because of it. I work in an old-school warehouse (as opposed to a gargantuan bright shiny automated Amazon warehouse), and as such, there’s no heating. It’s the nature of the place. It’s dusty and old, atmospheric like a dimly lit antique bookstore or curio thrift shop… in other words, in the best of ways. We have old skylights; the brightness in the space fluctuates with the brightness outside. We have a ghost. (The ghost would be mad as hell in an Amazon warehouse, let me tell you.)

So I go to work on winter days fully expecting to be cold to some extent. It’s up to me to prepare for the day, and today, I blew it. And I paid for it. BUT NOT TOMORROW, my friends. Oh no. Tomorrow I’m going to conquer the cold, and I’m looking forward to it! Conditions will be the same tonight and tomorrow: freezing. Bring it.

Now I’m in my office with the electric fireplace on and Nenette sprawled out in front of it, and I’m snug in the bathrobe I’ve got wrapped over my soft at-home layers, and the usual candles are lit on my desk, and I took another selfie, because I remembered.

Candlelight is for people who are too lazy to use filters.

I hope this finds you all keeping comfortable in whatever climate conditions you’ve got going on in your lives, wherever you are in the world. Take good care and stay safe, my friends!

Mr. Sandman, shut off that app.

About a month ago I apparently unplugged my phone from its extension cord, a difficult and unnecessary thing to do, while sleeping. An app was playing, so by morning, the battery had run down. The alarm didn’t go off, and I missed my Saturday morning workout.

This is what I’ve been wanting to talk to you about, my friends: sleep apps, and why I’m going to run the other way if one gets near me.

The night of The Unplugging, I’d fallen asleep to the sound of a bonfire on the beach, my favorite selection on the sleep/meditation/relaxation app I’d been playing nightly. Fading out of consciousness to the sound of a crackling fire and waves crashing faintly in the background had been bliss, but there’d been a few contradictory incidents. Sometimes I woke up in the night as if disturbed by this sound that I found so pleasant.

On at least one occasion, I got out of bed and turned off the app, fully aware as I did it. On at least three other occasions, I woke up to my alarm but found that my bonfire on the beach had somehow been replaced by other soundscapes, ones that I didn’t like.

Now there was this strange new twist: Sometime during the night, the phone had been unplugged from its extension cord. How?

How did this happen?

I must have done it, but I can’t begin to guess why. If I wanted to stop the app, well, there are many ways to go about silencing a phone. I could have done it the way I’d done before, which was to simply get up and turn off the app. If silencing the phone was what I wanted to do, then why didn’t I just do that? I also could have:

Hit pause.
Turned the media volume all the way down.
Turned off the phone.
Unplugged the phone from its charger.
Unplugged the extension cord from its easily accessible outlet in the wall.

But no. Instead, I (presumably) went to the wall and placed my right shoulder against it and twisted my body sideways so I could reach down with my right hand into the narrow space between the shelving unit and the wall to grab for the extension cord, pull it up, and unplug the phone adapter – differentiating between the adapter and the lamp plug that was also connected to the extension cord – in the dark of night, in my sleep, using my disabled left hand (that can’t grasp) to firmly grasp the extension cord while pulling the adapter out with my right hand. I woke up with no recollection of having done any of it. All I had was a dead phone, a missed workout, a friend I’d stood up, and a lot of questions.

A tight adapter connection in a tight squeeze of a place.

The idea of having done such a thing in my sleep – with no memory of having done it – is downright spooky, and not in a good way.

I mean, it doesn’t make any sense. As far as I know, I don’t sleepwalk. I find the notion of engaging in the whole operation of unplugging my phone from its extension cord in my sleep to be so outlandish that it’s easy to doubt that I even did it at all. It had to have been me, though, because if not me, than who?

1). Theory one: Nenette.
The chances of Nenette accidentally unplugging the phone adapter from the extension cord are less than 0. I have a better chance of getting eaten by a shark in Kansas.

2). Theory two: Another human.
Someone broke into the house without waking me up, crept into my bedroom, retrieved the extension cord from behind the shelving, unplugged the phone from the extension cord, and left.

3). Theory three: Aliens.
Because when the question is weird tech-related events in the night, the answer is always aliens.

4). Theory four: An energy, perhaps the same one that caused the post-it note to skitter across my desk last week.

It had to have been me.

Thinking back to the times I’d woken up to sounds other than the one that I chose, I have to wonder what, exactly, I’d been hearing at the time that I unplugged the phone. What was it about the sounds that prompted my sleeping brain to get my body up and active in performing the complex series of steps involved in disconnecting the phone adaptor from the extension cord? It would’ve been painful, too, because of my hand. What subliminal messages might the app have been feeding me?

These thoughts sent my mind out on a whole sleep-app conspiracy theory expedition. I didn’t come to any conclusions, but I haven’t used the app since.

In any event, one way or the other, I ended up getting more sleep, and I didn’t further injure myself, as I might have if I’d done my workout. An intervention had been staged in some sort of way. As good of a thing this may have been, I’m seriously done with sleep apps. I don’t know what exactly I’m hearing at night, nor do I understand how the brain takes and processes messages.

On that note, I’m going to bed. No apps will be playing.

Have a lovely night or day yourselves, friends. Stay safe!

The secret lives of post-its.

A strange thing happened about an hour ago: a small post-it note went skittering sideways across the top of my desk, from right to left. It stopped in front of me just to the left of my laptop.

I wasn’t touching the desk at the time because I was sitting back and reading an online article. The room was silent, as I wasn’t listening to anything. Nenette was curled up on my bed in the other room. There’d been no sudden movement, or any movement. There’d been no gust of air. Everything in the room was still. If there had been a gust of air, the post-it would’ve wafted over. When I say that the note skittered, I mean that it skipped along lightly and quickly, on its edge. It made the creepy skittering sound. The spectacle reminded me of how my childhood cat would sometimes run sideways across the yard.

There is absolutely no logical explanation for this, my friends. None. It doesn’t matter how badly you want there to be one; there simply isn’t one. The laws of physics in this dimension of reality were violated. There’d been nothing in this realm that could have propelled the post-it note in such a manner – I’ve never seen a piece of paper move the way this one did, in any circumstance – and so I decided I’d better pay attention to the words I’d written on it:

Essential oil ingredients for the perfume I’m going to make.

This list was on my desk because I only have one of these three ingredients. The note was a reminder to order the other two, and I hadn’t gotten to it yet. I ordered them immediately, because when the Universe puts something like this in front of your face, it’s chop chop. The oils will arrive tomorrow.

This was not what I’d planned to share with you tonight! I was going to post about another weird thing that’d happened, but I’ll regale you with that particular tale mid-week. Weird shenanegans are afoot, my friends. Weird shenanegans are afoot, but I don’t mean this in a bad way. There may not be logical explanations for how things could have happened, but there’s always a reason for them.

The post-it note skittered sideways across my desk before my eyes as if on its own volition; consequently, I’ll have, by Monday night, a perfume oil with a sandalwood base. In terms of spiritual properties, sandalwood brings one closer to the divine, and it promotes mental clarity. Rose essence is a mood-booster. Sweet orange essence brings spiritual awareness, and it’s also associated with abundance. My spiritual guides want me to get on with making this perfume so that I can wear these essences on my skin sooner rather than later, and so they made sure that I will.

I feel blessed to receive such guidance. I am blessed, and I’m endlessly grateful for it.

I’m also glad to have one less post-it note on my desk!

Good night or morning or day, my friends. Until we meet again.

Late at night and the situation is this. (This space is just a space at this time and place.)

My friends, I hope you’re well. I’m super tired. I’ve got several posts in drafts, and the one that I wanted to post for you tonight was more draft-y than I’d thought – it’s a weird storytime post in which I need to really get across how weird (and creepy) the situation was. Another one covers a sensitive topic and requires a trigger-warning; it needs delicate handling, and I don’t want to rush it. And the third draft could easily be read as a “woe is me” post when it’s definitely not, so that one needs more finessing of phrase and tone, too, as well as fleshing-out.

I love writing. I love writing for you. It means a lot to me that you stick around here to read my posts, and you deserve nothing less than my best efforts. So tonight, I apologize for not having an actual post for you.

What I can leave here, though, is this pic of Nenette in front of her electric fireplace right now:

Kitty darkened by the warm shadows.

End-of-week blessings to you from us both! I look forward to meeting you here over the weekend.

I’m the Queen of Priorities.

Have you ever wondered about the clutter on other people’s desks? Maybe they have unopened mail from a bank about an account they never wanted because that bank took over their former bank and when their original account at the former bank consequently ceased to exist they decided to open an account at an entirely different bank because now their bank has been taken over by another bank one time too many so the new bank that used to be their former bank can just go ahead and keep the 14 cents strategically left behind.

Maybe there’s this year’s planner and also a second one acquired by mistake that’s going to go unused if no one else wants it.

Maybe there’s a small, stitched patch, black with metallic silver embroidery, in the shape of a cat as a constellation in a night sky.

Maybe there’s a broken retractable-blade utility knife that has screws for reasons that aren’t discernable because the knife’s body remains intact and resistant to break-down when the screws are removed so the inside mechanisms can’t be cleaned and now it seems to be terminally bladeless and nothing online can explain it and no one at work can, either, and a replacement knife will be delivered today and it’s okay because the old knife was used daily and relentlessly for over a year and these things aren’t made to last forever if you pay so little for them.

Maybe there are five small neon-orange post-its with a note jotted on each: the name of a future black cat, a reminder of where the earbuds are stashed, a musician from the 70’s whose music will be sought out on Spotify, a reminder to write about the difference between hexes, curses, and jinxes, and the street names of a certain intersection in Berkeley.

Maybe there’s a tiny ceramic plant pot with a miniature cactus that could only be fake because it’s “planted” in a hardened glittery mass of fake soil, but then one day it was noticed that the fake cactus was dead, and the mystery of that is maddening.

Maybe there’s a small photo album holding photos of a desert tortoise with his human-reptile mommy taken by a friend who’s a talented photographer.

Maybe there are two manila folders called “taxes” and “mortgage” and it could be said that they’re on the desk because it’s that time of the year, but that wouldn’t be true because the folders have been there for six months pending investigation of matters whose relevancy has expired.

Maybe there’s a small remote control that turns on an electric fireplace.

Maybe there’s a black ink “confidential” roller stamp designed specifically to obscure sensitive information on papers destined for the recycling bin.

Maybe there’s a fabric-covered button that a cat pulled off of a colorful mandala meditation cushion.

Or a large reference book with spiritual correspondences.

Or a reference book with cosmic data.

Or an assortment of documents that need to be filed, including some that came in the mail and are still sealed in their envelopes because the same information can be seen online so why bother opening them.

Maybe there are sheets of return-address labels sent for free from charity organizations asking for further donations and their fate is unknown because they’re not needed due to a pre-existing collection of free return-address labels that already amount to more than can be used in a lifetime and they’re stickers so they can’t go in the recycling but they have personal information so they can’t go in the trash, either, so destruction by fire is being contemplated.

Maybe there are exactly four small dark-brown clip barrettes.

A rusty old steak knife long since used as a letter opener.

A check that was deposited via mobile app from the time the side-hustle client didn’t have the usual cash.

A spiral-bound notebook used partly as a journal and partly as a scribbled thinking and planning space.

An online shop’s business card sent with an appreciation discount code that’s already been used, and another one from a different online shop that hasn’t yet been used.

More documents that need to be filed.

Two larger post-it notes, neon-yellow, one with a list of names that needed remembering for a specific reason, and another with a list of topics that still need remembering for a different specific reason.

The small orange and large yellow post-it pads, themselves.

A reminder to purchase vegan Goli Ashwghanda gummies on Amazon as soon as credit for a recent return has been added to the account as a gift card.

Two crumpled receipts, one from a recent stop at Sprouts because only Sprouts has the Sprouts brand of pink Himalayan salt and coconut oil popcorn, and the other from Ulta because unlike Sephora, Ulta doesn’t cause claustrophobia-induced panic attacks.

A used sigil wheel.

A print-out of medical information that’s no longer needed because investigation into the condition has been going on for so long that its intrigue has disintegrated into nothingness.

A white marble drink coaster and a black beaded drink coaster adorned with silver moons and stars found on sale at Ross after Halloween because the best time to find deals on spooky things for use during the year is after the spooky holiday itself.

And a lot of dust.

Current desk clutter, not rearranged for the pic, left side only.

Maybe the person recently thoroughly cleaned their entire office EXCEPT for their desk. Perhaps they removed all of their plants and dusted and polished all of the surfaces and cleaned all of the objects, themselves; perhaps they triple-vacuumed the entire room and emptied, cleaned, and reorganized the bookshelves in the desk corner… then got to their desk and stopped.

Today I’m going to continue ignoring this mess because the only thing I want to do is binge the last four episodes of Archive 81 since I got too sleepy to continue it last night, and nothing bad will happen if I don’t deal with my desk today. But now I have shamed myself sufficiently by sharing it with you, and so it will be seen to sooner rather than later.

I hope you’re all having a divine moment, my friends. Blessings to you on the eve of the first full moon of the year! The Wolf moon is in Cancer, and we’re also on the verge of a Venus retrograde.

A wise elder witch – a close blood relation of mine – recently sent me a bracelet with tiny beads spelling out, in Morse code, “Do no harm but take no shit,” a good motto not only in the event of a Venus retrograde following a full moon in Cancer, but for life.

Until next time, then.

Plant Mom follies (or hero, depending.)

Not to brag or anything, but I saved Holder, my plant, the other day. I saved him from… me and my dubious decisions. See? Not bragging.

So I moved half of my office out into the hallway, as I was going to bring in an area rug. There wasn’t too much stuff to move, but it all wound up in the scant hallway space – awkwardly, might I add. Last to be hauled out was my plant Holder, who roosts on a stand, which, for some reason, I decided to keep him on as I removed them both from the room.

I don’t know, friends. Somehow, with the doorway partially blocked by my old German trunk that was halfway-in/halfway-out and everything else in the cramped narrow dark hallway haphazardly pushed out there at sharp angles, I thought it would be a good idea to try to maneuver Holder’s stand with Holder still on it, sitting up there and trusting me completely. All I had to do was get him out of the office and into the hallway. It wasn’t a big deal or any kind of a deal at all until my foot got caught on the edge of the old German trunk (that was blocking the doorway) and I tripped and teetered because I couldn’t use my arms for balance so in my effort to avoid falling I tried to use my legs but ended up ricocheting like a human pinball, bouncing off of one thing to another on my way down before I landed on my ass in the middle of everything. Holder then slid forward serenely off his tilted stand and landed gently in my arms, and that is how I found myself sitting on the floor hugging my plant while saying “I saved you! I saved you!” So the next time you see someone sitting in a narrow hallway crowded with furniture laughing and hugging a plant while taking to him, don’t judge. You don’t know what that person just went through.

Holder on his stand

It was quite the dramatic rescue and I have the battle scars to prove it but I’m not going to show you because no one wants to see my legs. (Trust me!) It’s just two bruises on my right leg and a bruise and a cut on my left, but Holder didn’t lost so much as a speck of soil, and I was giddy with this victory.

So the rug is in, and it does indeed tie the room together.

And now it’s heinously late! Good night or day, wherever you are! Happy weekend eve, my friends.

New Year’s post and Happy New Year to you!

HAPPY NEW YEAR, my friends!! [::throws confetti::]

My 2-year retrospective and new year projection in a microscopic nutshell:

2020 was freeing for me while it was disastrous for the world, and I feel kind of guilty about that.

2021 was heinous. 2021 is unforgivable. One of my furbabies was murdered in 2021.

2022, though, is going to be wondrous in the best of ways, because I’m going to make it so. Oh yes, my friends. Oh yes.

This year, I don’t have goals, per se. I don’t have resolutions. Better than goals and resolutions, I have areas of focus. My life is a journey of learning and growing, and so “areas of focus” is more apt.

My areas of focus for 2022, then (as revealed to me by my spirit guides): boundaries, intuition, healing, gathering practical knowledge, embracing imperfection, continuing to provide for/protect stray backyard residents (one cat at a time), prosperity, psychic abilities, and the cultivation of wonder.

Nenette’s area of focus is to be snuggly in the pile of blankets and my white robe that I now leave on the bed for her. My bed is always made, but you’d have a hard time seeing that, as I pile blankets on top of blankets over the whole thing. Nenette loves it.

tonight – January 2, 2022
Not complaining
Not complaining
Nenette on Christmas Day – not complaining.

I hope you’re having a wonderful, marvelous, magnificent start to the new year, however that translates in your life. Maybe you started the new year with an airplane jump. Maybe you started it binge-watching a series. Exhilarating or chill or anywhere in between, I hope it was good. And I hope that 2022 brings you peace.

Blessings to you all.

My birthday happened. I’m still here!

My friends! I turned 53 on Monday, so on paper, I’m a year older now than the last time we met. I’m three years into the second half-century of my life here on Earth, and I love that. I call this my vampiring stage of life.

My birthday falls on the seventh day of Yule, so when I think about the year behind me and the year ahead, I’m actually reflecting on the entire calendar year. I realize now that this within-a-week alignment of my birthday with the New Year is the reason why my New Year’s blog posts feel so redundant.

Going over the usual run-down, nothing has changed: I’m still waiting for my mid-life crisis. Still not wearing granny panties. Still haven’t had anything “done.” Still haven’t yelled at any kids to get off my lawn. Still wondering why AARP isn’t sending me shit (not that I’m interested). Still haven’t “made arrangements” or “gotten my affairs in order”… though I am planning on doing that this year, just so it’s out of the way. I recently had two cancer scares – I’ve only spoken about one of them here – and they got me thinking that I need to have some plans in place, In Case.

At my new age, I don’t feel any less discombobulated, but I’m the happiest that I’ve ever been. I’ve never felt so free or unconcerned about being who I am and living the way I want to live. I love a solitary life. I’m never going back.

Here’s the obligatory birthday selfie, which I actually took the day before my birthday:

I’ve survived for 53 years!

I wore actual makeup on this day, as opposed to doing my everyday relatively light-handed eyes, only. I’m wearing e.l.f.’s luminous putty primer and NYX’s total control drop foundation on my face, and Too Face peach bloom lip and cheek tint on my lips, for those of you who are interested in such intel. And eyeshadow from Kat Von D’s shade and light palette. The rest (concealers, eyeliners, mascara, and brow powder) is my usual everyday assortment. My hair is still beyond hope and now it’s falling out, so perhaps you’ll see me in a wig or a scarf in next year’s birthday post! I got the wolf sweater from Ross almost ten years ago, and it’s one of my favorite articles of clothing.

My current amulet is a chunk of red jasper… Fire energy for strength, courage, creativity, and drive.

There’s nothing more to say about December 27th, really. I went to work, and it was enjoyable, as usual. Work gave me a lovely card signed by all, and a generous Chipotle gift card, and I felt so blessed, because I am. Oh! Presents! I don’t think that I usually talk about my birthday presents, but this year I have to share that my favorite gift was from my parents. It’s one of those space heaters that looks like a fireplace, because they know that I’m still refusing to turn on my heat! I’m now accustomed to the cold in the house, but the electric fireplace here in my office makes everything so cozy. It looks like a real fire, and it’s certainly a powerful representation of one. I’m going to do another office tour post soon, as there have been some significant changes and the whole Updated Office Tour thing has become a tradition, so the electric fireplace will appear in those pics.

Happy New Year, my friends. [::clinks champagne glasses, or sparkling water glasses, in my case::]

Blessings to you all!

ETA: I just hit “publish” and then saw the time on the lower-right corner of my screen. I published this post at 12:27, and my birthday, which is the topic, is on 12/27. Just thought that was a cool little synchronicity.

Joy to the world!

Greetings, my friends!

Nenette and I (and Geronimo, and also Salem) wanted to send a holiday card to each and every one of you, but since that would be impossible, we settled for making our card and posting it here. We hope you’re enjoying a wonderful, incredible, divine celebration of whatever it is you’re celebrating!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Blessed Yule 2021!

Love,
Kristi, Nenette, Geronimo, and Salem

p.s. Nenette said to kindly ask you not laugh to at her handwriting.

Analyze my dream! (+ still avoiding the heater)

[12/13/2021]
Last night I dreamt that the bros next door were involved in a Secret History-esque fraternity murder conspiracy. All of the houses on my street had standing sidewalk mailboxes rather than boxes attached to our house walls, and when I opened mine one day, there were papers inside that had been placed there by accident. They were supposed to have gone into the bro house mailbox.

The papers documented procedural information, minutes, and the actual proceedings for the ceremonial “work” conducted in the “killings” of one of the frat members in the house. My impression was that the killing was of a sacrificial nature, rather than of a punitive one.

Throughout the rest of the dream, I made continuous efforts to bring this to the attention of everyone around me in my house. The only person I remember specifically was Mom. The others were friends, acquaintances, and likely other family members, but they swirled around and in and out of rooms at random. The energy of the dream was hectic and fast-paced, and my efforts to put the papers in front of peoples’ faces were thwarted at every turn.

However, I did also verbalize that there’d been a killing next door, and that it was deliberate and documented, and people did believe me. Even so, it was important to me that they see the papers. I still hadn’t accomplished this when my alarm went off.

—–

Before bed, cheered by the notion of it.

—–

Desert winter has set in, and it’s cold in the house. It’s 65F. I check it every so often, wondering how cold it will have to get before I break and turn on the heater. I find myself questioning my identity for the second time this year. First, I didn’t recognize myself as I willingly shivered in the cold showers I took through mid/late-October. By the time I caved and started using hot water, my showers were capital-C cold, so naturally, I was like, who am I? And now I’m doing the same thing with the heater. It’s in the 30’s outside when I wake up! I had to scrape ice off of my windshield this morning. Ice on the windshield, no heat in the house, and somehow, I’m hanging in there without too much effort. Who am I?

This lunacy, too, shall pass, perhaps soon.

Meanwhile, the human mind-body connection continues to fascinate me. We are all so much more than we think we are.

Have a lovely Friday/Saturday, my friends. Stay safe, and keep dreaming!

Today’s post: A list of 16 down to 5 (favorite things!)

Hello, friends!

Well, I spent this whole morning working on my October/November/Recent Favorites list, and then I stopped and realized that we’re halfway into December, and I KNOW that there’ll be more to put on the list soon. For instance, The Witcher season 2 drops this Friday. Why post a “Favorites” list now when I know I’ll want to add The Witcher within a week? There are a couple of movies I know I’ll see in the theater in the next two weeks, as well, and my Cyber Monday skin care product haul from e.l.f. arrives today. I’ll be trying out those items over the next two weeks, and I imagine I’ll love at least one of them enough to share with you here.

I put the post on hold, figuring that the end of the month will be a better time to share it. I’ll be able to sweep up all of the little goodnesses left to share before the new year gets underway. It’ll be 2021, done and dusted.

Shelving the post I’d planned (and actually finished) meant that I had nothing for you, so I thought I’d share a few splendiferous things from today!

Today’s Favorite Little Things:

1). My cousin and I made a plan to catch a meteor shower together this (late) spring and make a four-day weekend of it!

2). My friend and I made a movie date plan to watch The Matrix Resurrections!

3). The cookies I made yesterday are even more magickal today than they were last night!

4). It feels like a spring day in here! It’s colder here in the house than it is outside, so instead of turning on the heater, I opened the windows.

It’s a stunningly beautiful, balmy 73F outside with clear blue sunny skies and an abundance of birds in my yard, none of this being the slightest bit unusual. Arizona in the winter is special. Arizona at any time of the year is special, but even we AZ natives and long-timers view it all starry-eyed when we think of how things are in other climates.

5). I’m getting my Yuletide deep cleaning and decorating underway!

I’ve got some pics to share from today, as well.

First, I have this one of the small desert cottontail rabbit who lives here. I’m surprised every time I see him because he’s so defenseless, and there are flying predators and stray cats around here, as we well know. Somehow, he keeps on living and living. I named him Bunnicula, because you never know, he might actually be undead.

It’s hard to get a clear pic of him.

Birds gathered on the lines:

Bird party

In this one you can see the edge of Geronimo’s burrow to the left:

the wild

The patio in front of the sliding-glass door.

patio

Magickal Mesquite! The deeply shaded little space beneath this tree is a spiritual haven, and I’m so grateful for it.

Mesquite

I hope you’ll all enjoying a lovely day, as well. Farewell for now, my friends.

p.s. I’m just going to ignore the loud clown horn that someone just started squeezing repeatedly somewhere on my street, haha

Roots in the wrong places. (Plumbing party of one!)

In today’s adventures in the little life of Yours Truly, a plumber just left. He’d been here all morning, since before 9am. But let me back up. (No pun intended.)

It started last night with a series of events.

First, an otherworldly, watery bloop bloop bloop sound echoed into the hallway. It sounded gentle and deep and dark. The mysterious sound seemed to be coming from the hallway bathroom. I went in to investigate and saw that the seductive bloop bloop bloop is the sound of large round bubbles rising from the sewer to the surface of the water in the toilet, one after the other. Most odd.

It stopped after a while, and nothing else happened, so I started getting ready for bed. When I turned on the water in my shower, though, I noticed that it wasn’t draining! I got in and washed my face, then turned off the water to see whether it would drain slowly, as it would if the drain was clogged. It didn’t.

It wasn’t behaving like a normal clogged drain, but I don’t know shit from Shinola when it comes to plumbing, so I went with the notion that the other shower would work.

And it was a good thing that I tried, because if I hadn’t, I may not have discovered that water wasn’t draining in that shower, either! I turned the water on for a few seconds and then off again to see what would happen, staring in puzzlement at the water pooled at the bottom of the tub, trying to think… and then, to my alarm, I watched as the drain started to spit black stuff out into the tub.

It was the Amityville Horror up in here, my friends.

I closed the shower door and backed slowly away, returning to my bathroom to use the toilet. It didn’t flush. When the tank stopped filling, I lifted the seat and found that the water had risen all the way up. The toilet paper was floating on top.

Give or take 20 minutes later – I spent the 20 minutes dancing to 90’s trip-hop, because I’ve been feeling that vibe lately, and what better thing to do upon realization that there’s a likely systemic underground sewer malfunction preventing you from showering and using the toilet – I lifted the toilet lid again to see whether the water level had gone down. It had. It’d gone all the way down. The toilet bowl was dry, and so was the one in the hallway bathroom. The water had drained from the showers, too. The black stuff in the hallway bathroom shower was stuck to the floor of the tub near the drain; it appeared to be dirt.

This confirmed my suspicion that the problem was systemic. I wasn’t amused. It wasn’t cool. The only way that an underground sewer malfunction situation could be amusing and cool is if alligators were involved, and they weren’t.

Fortunately, all of my sinks were working!

I was grateful for the sinks, and also for the handy little device I have that allows me to pee standing up, because I have to go a lot, and it would’ve been tedious having to pop a squat in the yard a hundred times before the toilets could get fixed. It wasn’t like I hadn’t already done squats in my workout that day, FFS.

It was midnight 41, but I called the plumber, anyway, because why wait? The person who answered the phone said that the plumber would receive the message immediately and would call me as soon as possible. I said okay and went to bed.

The plumber returned my call at 7:45am, and he arrived an hour later.

From my office window, I see all.

He listened to my suspenseful tale and was so experienced that he didn’t even look at the showers or the toilets. (So I didn’t have to clean them early this morning! But I’m glad that I thought that he would see them, because now they’re clean!) Instead, he went out to the backyard, scoped out the location of the bathrooms from the outside, and went straight up to the roof.

He spent some time up there with some sort of loud equipment, then came down and went to his truck to retrieve a different piece of equipment. Went up to the roof again. Made more noise. Came back down. When I became aware of a drilling sound coming from outside in the front, I looked out to see him drilling something on the sidewalk, metal on metal. Sparks were flying. I saw each individual spark as a dollar sign.

Eventually, he came to the door to ask me whether the patio outlet worked. (It did.) He explained that he had do (something or other) and then go back in with a more heavy-duty snake and camera to see what was going on. He got back up on the roof. More noise, and it still wasn’t sounding like getting-anywhere noise.

The next time he came down, he invited me to accompany him to the backyard to see where the snake with the camera had stopped. He had a gadget that could scan the ground and locate the camera, like a highly specialized metal detector. I tread lightly behind him as we made our way from the edge of the yard, out the back gate and along the fence on the other side, pretending that we were navigating a mine field.

The camera was elusive. I went back inside, and he went back up to the roof. More construction sounds reverberated through the house, and then I rejoined him in the backyard so we could return to our mine-clearing task. This time, the detector was able to find the camera! It was almost exactly beneath the back fence, on the border of my property and city property. Its pitch rose to a thin, high squeal when it found what it was looking for. (I realized in that moment exactly how easily entertained I am.)

The plumber said that I have newer pipes, which is good. They’re good. What he thought had happened was that there’d been a failure in the place where my new pipes met with the old city pipes, like the two parts had slipped and were no longer sealed together. Tree roots had grown into the pipe through the resulting gap. (Yeah, that story. The classic tree-roots-in-the-pipes story.) He said that the snake he’d used earlier in the morning kept pulling out roots, so he knew that roots were at the… (root of the problem, ahem). Now he could see exactly the where and the what and the how.

He’d dropped a video of the camera’s journey into my email while he was still up on the roof. It was pretty grody and cool. You wouldn’t know if you were looking at sewage system inspection footage or at colonoscopy footage. Plumbing is plumbing!

In the end, he was able to verify his assessment and blast out the roots with the hydrojet. Apparently it was difficult because of one large root that had grown in with the little ones; for a moment, he was nervous because it wasn’t going anywhere. He got it eventually, though. Now everything works!

But it’s a temporary fix. It’s a solution more than a fix, a solution for the moment, a way for me to use the plumbing for the next little while. I borrowed myself some time, because what has to happen (soon) is I’ll have to have him come back out to dig five and a half feet down at the back fence in order to remove a two-foot section of my clay sewer pipe (that goes toward the city sewer), replace it with a new section of pipe, and connect them properly this time. He was surprised that someone had taken the time to do an excellent job installing excellent, new pipes, but then messed up the part where the new pipes connect to the city sewer pipes. Like, details, man.

The official diagnosis on the invoice reads as: “Main Sewer Line Transition ABS To Clay Coupling Failed Underneath The Rear Alley Fence”

Kind of has a nice ring to it, I think. And I’m very happy with the service and with the plumber, himself. I would recommend this company to anyone. Local friends, if you need a plumber, hit me up!

I did some cooking and eating after he left, and then I sat down to regale you all with this thriller. Haha! I hope your morning/afternoon/night is going well, my friends.

And blessings upon you all. It’s Yule season now… multi-celebration season (including my own: my birthday is later this month)! We’re almost at the end of the year. Unbelievable!

Until we meet again, as they say.

More about my breasts than you ever wanted to know.

Hello! How was your weekend? I can sum mine up in two words: medical scare.

My breasts started feeling sore at some point early on Friday. The pain felt hormonal, similar to the soreness I’d experience monthly in my pre-surgery years. If you’re new here, now is a good time to catch you up on old news, and also for you to find out that I sometimes overshare (as if this entire post isn’t evidence enough): I underwent a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy with complete hysterectomy in 2008. I had my entire reproductive system removed (for familial prophylactic reasons). I’ve been on Hormone Replacement Therapy since then, meaning that I wear an estrogen patch… so when I experience the occasional hormonal discomfort, it’s due to my forgetting to put on a new patch, or my dosage needing an adjustment.

By Friday early evening, the pain finally had my full attention. It’d gotten worse. It was ignorable up until then. I mean, I didn’t think about it at all while I ploughed through my Salem’s Inn clean-out extravaganza!

I placed a hand on each breast and realized that it was only the left one that hurt. And when I probed that one, gently, as it was very tender, I felt a HUGE HORRIFYING LUMP positioned just below my nipple. A large lump in a small breast feels gargantuan, my friends.

I spent the weekend planning my f*cking funeral.

(I’m a hope-for-the-best-plan-for-the-worst person.)

It was two long days on the Hot Mess Breast Express.

It was a holiday weekend, and it was the worst!

After I found the lump on Friday night, I got on the phone with a V.A. teleheath nurse, who, after a thorough Q&A, advised me to go to the E.R. if things were the same by Sunday. And they were, and so I did.

The doctor who saw me in the E.R. said scary things, like she “wasn’t sure what the lump was, other than a mass.” And she said, “I just can’t say whether the mass is benign or malignant.” She also said, “If you were my sister or my mother, I’d tell you to go to the clinic ASAP.” And “I’m alarmed enough to think that you should go to the women’s clinic as soon as it opens tomorrow.”

She wrote a doctor’s note for my boss, and I was dismayed. It was my first time calling out sick in the whole year and four months that I’d worked there, and it was also the worst day anyone could call out. Not only was it a Monday, our busiest day, but it was a Monday following a long weekend, our very busiest sort of day! I felt awful about it.

But that’s neither here nor there.

At the clinic the next morning, I had a mammogram (which I was due for, anyway. I’d already scheduled a belated appointment for the end of January). I went into it with abject dread. I mean, I had a large painful lump that was about to get compressed between a platform and a metal slab! I’m happy to say that it was fine, though! It didn’t hurt. I’d forgotten that it’s your ribcage that’s pressed against the platform, not your breast, and the metal slab thing that comes down from the top causes the discomfort as it pulls down the skin above your breast.

Shockingly, the mammogram didn’t show anything!

No lumps could be seen. The radiologist blamed it on the density of my breasts. My dense breast tissue is the reason why I need to have an ultrasound examination in addition to the mammogram I get every year. In dense breasts, growths are often indistinguishable from healthy tissue. After my exam every year, I get sent home with a Dense Breast Information Sheet, which explains that dense-breasted people are higher-risk for breast cancer for this reason. Perky and firm can be life-threatening. If you didn’t know, now you know.

I followed the radiologist into the next room to have the ultrasound, and it was the ultrasound that revealed all… all 1.25″ of the CYST! Turns out that the lump is a regular old fluid-filled cyst that can be aspirated (drained) if I so choose. Cysts are common and nonthreatening. They’re not cancerous, and they don’t become cancerous. They just show up to terrify you when you’re doing your breast self-exam. They show up and they laugh at your pain when you find them. They’re benign but sadistic.

The doctor said that if the cyst doesn’t go down on its own after two weeks, I can ask my primary care physician to send in a referral for an aspiration. I’m happy to say that the pain has lessened significantly since then, so I’m doing much better now!

The End.

I would have included an image to go with this post, but I’m pretty sure that a relevant photo wouldn’t be allowable.

But do enjoy this not-gratuitous-at-all pic of my cat being sweet and demure!

02 December 2021

Many blessings to you, my friends. Stay safe, and stay healthy!

Ye Olde Salem Inn.

Something special happened yesterday: Salem communicated with me. She’s done it before, but this time, she told me about something that I ought to do. Key words in her message were “closure” and “completion.” She included the phrase “service to humanity.” Since this was coming from her, I knew that she meant closure and completion regarding her passing, and by “service to humanity,” she meant service to cats in need. Everything is connected; helping animals is helping humans.

In any event, my intuition reflex was lightning fast. Without thinking about what I was going to do, I immediately got up from my desk and headed to the back door. (Trivia: my most pronounced fire energy trait is springing to action.)

I went out to the laundry room. Salem’s room.

Her bed on the ottoman was still exactly as she’d left it. I hadn’t been able to bring myself to touch her bed or her toys, though I’d recently decided to leave the ottoman bed for cats in need. On the threshold of cold desert nights, it’d been on my mind to prepare the room. I just hadn’t gotten up the gumption to do it. Salem gave me the push that I needed to get it done, and so I did.

I shook out her layers of towels, blankets, and pillow cases from last winter and piled them into the washer, crying the whole time. I gathered her toys and put them with the trash to be taken out, along with the two throw rugs that’d been soiled when she threw up on them. I never bothered to clean them. They were cheap, and I had new ones waiting for a purpose.

My aim was to do what Salem wanted. As I went about the task, I wept and admitted to her that I still couldn’t reach a place of closure in my heart… but I could fulfill the “completion” part of her request and close up the laundry room as it’d been when it was her room. It’s still her room, but now in the sense that she’s the proprietor and hostess. The sign that says “Old Salem Inn” still hangs above the dryer, and its meaning has become literal. That is what the room is serving as now. It’s an inn that’s open to cats in distress, with Salem’s guidance, encouragement, and blessing.

So I cleaned the room and re-decorated a lot of it, mostly just rearranging things that were already there. I made up a fresh bed on the ottoman, put in the clean rugs, and finished with a generous misting of Florida water for purification, facing the directions of the elements and thanking the archangels who guard them. The room is cleansed and consecrated, and Salem is pleased.

And of course, I’ve got pics to share!

Come on in!
Salem welcomes you.
Cosmic tapestry with stars
More stars on the opposite wall
Salem’s bed beneath the stars and the triple Goddess with the elements
An artificial plant lends maintenance-free greenery.

Friends, it was hard. I cried while making up the bed because I felt, in my heart, that I was making a place for Salem to sleep. I couldn’t help it. Winters were special, as a part of my evening winter routine was shaking out Salem’s bed and plumping it up into a cozy warm nest for her. After four years, this will be my first winter without her. But I know that if any stray kitty needs a warm place to sleep this winter, they will find it.

Salem and I were together in the ancient past as well as the recent one, I believe. Our journey together hasn’t ended. I’m happy to be able to keep her inn open as a service to others.

Have a wonderful week ahead, all!

Gratitude day, gratitude night.

Nenette comes bearing this gratitude post tonight:

Thanksgiving 2021

I’m thankful for you, my American friends and friends in other countries. I’m thankful for so much, but tonight I just wanted to tell you again how much I appreciate you and the connectivity I feel that we have.

May this find you doing well! [::HUGS::]

From dream to dream and desert life.

This morning I woke up at 7:30, because my alarm told me to. I’d slept for just over seven hours, but my mind-body needed more. I went through the house opening the window blinds to meet a world blue-grayish with breaking dawn, fed my cat, reset my alarm for another hour and ten minutes. Climbing back into bed and pulling the covers over my head, I encased and delivered myself back into the darkness of previous hours, and it was like the first alarm never happened. Immediately my brain’s dream center drew me into stories vivid with color and adventure.

The first dream was inspired by my chronic fear of oversleeping on work days, drawing on the only source of stress in my daily life, which is that of being late. In my dream-panic, I threw together a sandwich for lunch with the first accessible ingredients: either peanut butter with mint jelly, or mint butter (?!) with jelly; in any case, the open-face sandwich was a beautiful, creamy mint green color. Through my stress, I laughed and exclaimed how weird it was. It was white bread, which I never eat. It was mint, which is pleasing to me, but which I’d never enjoy in a sandwich.

The second dream was inspired by a video of a woman’s solo performance in a pole-dancing showcase, which I’ve been watching repeatedly in sheer awe of the athleticism that goes into the art form of pole. In my dream, I watched as an unfamiliar female athlete went through practice routines of an art-sport pole-dancing/extreme obstacle course, as in American Ninja Warrior, moving through a series of course settings of increasing structural difficulty. She was vertically navigating an enormous green structure in the shape of a star whose multidimensional steampunk aesthetic lent it challenges nested within challenges when my second alarm went off. I heard the alarm as she was attempting to leap from a moving gear, and I woke up laughing. “I wanted to finish that dream,” I told my cat. “Now I’ll never know whether she made it.”

But I felt awake and refreshed this time, happy to get up into the room now bright with morning sun. From the quiet kitchen window I watched four species of birds hopping lightly through the branches of bougainvillea thickly shrouding my patio in a tangle of vines, green leaves and clusters of bright fuchsia, flitting occasionally to the nearby watering hole and back again. More birds came to the watering hole from other directions. Watching the birds in the bougainvillea around the patio, the birds in the watering hole, the small desert cottontail rabbit – a permanent resident who ought to be named at this point – also at the edge of the patio, up on his hindlegs reaching for bougainvillea branches, I felt immensely grateful to live in this tranquil downtown neighborhood.

Now, sitting in my office writing while listening to the front patio’s bronze soleri windbells that I’d brought home from Arcosanti, I think of how the bells’ unique sound help to form my definition of life in the Sonoran desert: the sound of these bells, the scent of creosote giving away a rainfall, our treacherous yet somehow captivating dust storms (haboob), and our monsoon seasons’ spectacular electrical storms. I never tire of it. I left it once, but the desert called me back; it felt like a longing seeded in my blood.

A person who lives in California asked me recently, after remarking on our legendary heat, “How can anyone live there? How does anything even grow in Arizona? How do you get your fruits and vegetables?” Taken aback, I realized that this must be a common outsider idea of Arizona: too hot to be livable, too barren to be beautiful, too absent of “seasons” to be interesting. I reassured her that things do grow in Arizona. I did not ask her how anyone would want to live on the San Andreas Fault.

(Sonoran desert farming dates back to the time of the ancient Hohokam, who lived here and developed extensive irrigation canals along the Salt and Gila rivers.)

I feel fortunate. If you love where you live, you’re as lucky a person can be on this planet.

Kitchen window view
Saguaro at the Desert Botanical Garden

The Desert Botanical Garden is near my house.

Interior of a dwelling at the Desert Botanical Garden

And if you love where you live, you’re living a beautiful dream of a life.

Blessings to you all heading into a new week, my friends.

death in the garden.

Greetings, my friends. This post was very long, and I decided to cut out 50% of it and turn it into more of a reflection, because ultimately, that was where it was leading. It was a whole lot of narrative, so this is me attempting to make a long story short.

Immediately after Salem died, another stray cat came to live in my yard, and he died recently. I knew that he was dying the first day he came to live here, so his death wasn’t a surprise. My feeling from day one was that he had some sort of degenerative neurological disease. I’d seen it before: the tremors, the spine slightly twisted, the uneven gait; how he moved along with his body low to the ground, his spine fishtailing slightly back and forth as he walked. The eyes not quite right, his vision seeming impaired.

My resolve to turn away strays after Salem’s death ended when this cat moved in and I saw that he was nearly skeletal. My conscience wasn’t having it, and Salem would’ve been dismayed, too, had I not fed him. I was just riddled with angst over his presence here because Salem’s body was still warm in her grave, so to speak, and the state I was in was one of total devastation. I saw this cat as an intruder and a usurper, but chasing him out wasn’t an option given his plight. Instead, I kept his food bowl filled and the watering hole refreshed, and I vowed to avoid developing any kind of emotional connection with him, especially since I knew that he was dying.

It was mysterious to me that the Universe thought that I was strong enough, in the wake of Salem’s death, to endure another loss, but evidently it did. It went right ahead and moved a terminally ill cat into my care.

I kept to my vow and avoided loving him, but I did become fond of him. I cared about him as well as for him. Like Salem, he wouldn’t let me near him, but he did return my eyeblink kisses a few times, telling me that he could see at least a little bit.

When he arrived, I wasn’t sure that he’d live through the week, but he filled out and grew stronger over time, and he lived for three more months – he died almost exactly three months after Salem did. He’d grown healthier in that he wasn’t starving, and happier in that he wasn’t living his waning life in desperate search of food. His life here was one of contentment. He had his favorite napping spots, sticking close to the patio, the watering hole, and the grass. Occasionally I would see him lounging on top of Geronimo’s burrow. Like Salem, he enjoyed the times that Geronimo and I interacted. He would follow us around the yard and settle down to participate energetically from a comfortable distance.

Over time, I noticed his spine turn slightly more out of alignment, and eventually, he started to limp and then drag one of his legs. Despite his gradual loss of functioning, I never felt that he was suffering or in pain.

One day, he stopped eating. He died ten days later. The last time I saw him was two days before his passing. He was sitting on the edge of the patio near his untouched food bowl, and he didn’t move as I approached and crouched down. I spoke softly to him and blinked slowly, but his eyes were vacant, and I could tell that he couldn’t see much at all anymore, if at all. He died on Thursday, October 28th. I found his body lying next to the watering hole when I came home from work. From the look and feel of him, he’d died just hours prior.

He chose to die out in the open, as if making sure that I’d find him. Cats typically hide when they know they’re about to die.

He looked as though he’d gone to sleep and never woke up, and a part of me was angry. Within days of Salem’s cruel death, another cat was placed in my yard, and three months later, I witnessed him die the sort of peaceful death that Salem had deserved. My inner juvenile wailed and raged at the unfairness of it. Why did my Salem have to die the way she did while other cats were allowed to die of natural causes? I hated feeling resentful and small like that, hated feeling my gut twist with torment over the contrast between his quiet, peaceful death in a sunny backyard oasis and Salem’s brutal killing over an alley in the dark of night.

I was mostly sorrowful, though. I always knew that he was dying, but to find his body just made me so sad.

The next day I went to work dressed up for Halloween and tried to be happy. The weekend took its course and ended with Halloween and flowed on into Monday, as weekends do. I went into work still feeling down, yet again trying to be happy. It didn’t go well. In fact, I felt worse as the day went on. The day felt cold.

I still miss him. I’d come to appreciate his energy and his beautiful spirit in the yard. His death was expected, but still, it was another loss. Nothing like losing Salem, but a loss nonetheless. My sadness was profound… nothing like my grief over Salem, but sadness nonetheless.

This brings me to the contemplative part. This little guy was the fourth cat to come into my life only to die young at the hands of the wild. Ronnie James died from a lung infection caused by ingesting a poisonous spore from a caterpillar in France. Cita died of a skin disease she contracted while trying to survive as a stray. Salem was killed by an owl. Now there was this cat, who came to me as if knowing I’d provide him with hospice. I’m grateful that he was able to pass comfortably on to a better form of existence.

What if it’s my karma to care for cats and then endure the loss of them?

I’m convinced that the Goddess Bast sent this cat to me, and that Salem, now an angel in the constellation of Leo, approved.

And so it’s cold at night now, and getting colder; I find myself hesitant to follow through on my plan to pack up Salem’s bedding on the ottoman in the laundry room. Because what if another cat comes to take shelter while dying?

It’s interesting that stray cats don’t congregate on my property, as stray cats often do. My yard is a one-cat yard. No other cat came through in the three months that this cat spent dying.

I have these pics of him:

Sitting on Geronimo’s burrow
Napping on the patio
You can kind of see the deformity of his spine in this pic
Napping on the patio

Again on Geronimo’s burrow.

It seems that I didn’t succeed at making a long story short, did I. It feels good to have written this, though. Thank you for “listening” (reading), as always, my friends. November’s full moon in Taurus with partial lunar eclipse is coming up on the 19th, and I’m going to spend it doing the shadow work begged in light of this experience.

I wish you all a magickal week ahead.