i.e. stuff I eat in a week. (Food post by request!)

People love food posts, and I’m here today to honor this popular request. And I get it. I like seeing what other people are eating, too. I don’t often post food pics on instagram, but I’m making up for it now with these pics showing the stuff I’ve eaten in the last week. It’s all vegan and gluten-free and delicious.

If you’re here for it, enjoy!

(Please to pardon the weird, yellowish overhead lighting in the dinner pics.)


Kale salad with green onion, fresh jalapeño pepper, grape tomatoes, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, coarsely ground black pepper, hummus (my favorite: Trader Joe’s Mediterranean hummus); gluten-free whole grain toast; avocado


Kale salad


Brown rice spaghetti with vegan pesto and nutritional yeast; arugula salad with olive oil, red wine vinegar, sea salt, and coarsely ground black pepper


Spaghetti with pesto


Miso soup; brown rice, tofu with shoyu (soy sauce) and fresh grated ginger, kimchee, green salad with olive oil and fresh lemon juice, and nori (seaweed)


Miso soup with plate of Asian randomness


Amy’s Rice Crust Roasted Vegetable No Cheese pizza with nutritional yeast and red pepper flakes; arugula with olive oil, red wine vinegar, and coarsely ground black pepper


Pizza buried in arugula


1-Pot Vegan Minestrone Soup: navy beans, brown rice pasta, carrots, green beans, onion, garlic, kale, zucchini, vegetable broth, canned fire-roasted tomatoes; gluten-free whole grain toast (not pictured)


Minestrone soup


Get this fabulous Minimalist Baker recipe here! I modified it slightly to our tastes by using less sugar (my preference) and no red pepper flakes (Callaghan’s preference).

Quinoa salad with brown rice, chickpeas, cucumbers, red bell peppers, red onions, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, salt, coarsely ground black pepper; cold roasted sweet potato; kale sautéed in olive oil with fresh garlic


Quinoa-chickpea salad


Asian salad: Black Sesame Cold Noodles with Spring Veggies; fresh pan-fried teriyaki tofu; fresh green beans with shoyu and sesame seeds


Cold Asian noodles


Get this awesome Thug Kitchen recipe here! I modified it to use the veggies I had on hand. Rather than asparagus, I stirred in a “superblend” slaw of green cabbage, broccoli, kale, and carrots. Also, I made this with brown rice spaghetti rather than soba noodles.


Hummus sandwich with spinach and grape tomatoes on gluten-free whole grain toast


Hummus sandwich


Peanut butter and jelly on gluten-free whole grain toast (creamy natural peanut butter and no-sugar-added black raspberry jam)


Open-face PBJ


Chickpea “tuna” sandwich on gluten-free whole grain toast with arugula; grape tomatoes; sliced organic gala apple


Chickpea “tuna” salad sandwich


Junk version lunch! Amy’s Gluten Free Tofu Scramble Breakfast Wrap with Garden of Eatin’ Blue Corn Tortilla Chips and Frontera Jalapeño Cilantro Salsa with Roasted Tomato and Garlic; sliced pickled jalapeño peppers


Tofu scramble burrito



Gym mornings: Bear Naked V’nilla Almond Granola with Silk plain, unsweetened soy milk and creamy natural peanut butter


Granola with peanut butter


Non-gym mornings: Van’s Gluten Free Original Waffles with Earth Balance buttery spread; raw, unsalted mixed nuts


Gluten-free waffles with mixed nuts


Go-to snacks and desserts every day: fresh fruit; roasted and salted nuts and sunflower seeds; protein/energy bars.


Go-to snacks and desserts


There you go! I’m hungry. Oh – that Asian noodle salad is what we’re going to eat right now; I took the pic after I made it today. It’s been chilling in the refrigerator.

Happy Friday Eve, everyone!




Rant N’ Rave with the Stray Cats. (On small events.)

Ever notice how little wrenches thrown into the pattern of a 24-hour day make life interesting? I’m understanding the truth of this more these days, and that’s a good thing, as I mean “interesting” in a good way. I’m thinking small wrenches (nuisance) as opposed to giant ones (catastrophe).

Late Tuesday night last week, I got halfway into bed, all content, clean, and warm from the shower, cozy in my nightshirt and jammie pants.

A few hours later, I was not in bed. I was out on the back patio, working in our outdoor laundry room. I took a garbage bag and bagged up soiled, smelly blankets and linens. I dragged the carpet out of the room so I could remove everything else, and then I mopped, swept, and mopped a second time. I washed a wall. I wiped down shelves. I finally made it to bed three hours into Wednesday. And that was how last week Wednesday began. I shuffled through the day, because there’s a big difference between staying up late for normal reasons and staying up late due to unplanned, vigorous physical work in the middle of the night.

Parents of humans must feel something like this, I imagine. Kid throws up in the middle of the night, parent cleans up the aftermath and shuffles through the next day. Am I right?

I’m a cat parent; what happened on Tuesday night was an un-neutered stray cat availed himself of our outdoor laundry room’s cat door. When I rushed outside to confirm my suspicion, the stench slapped the confirmation onto my face the second I opened the door. Have you ever smelled un-neutered male cat spray?

This cat felt the need to make inhospitable a place where a different stray cat takes refuge. This other cat is female and spayed. She’s a black cat. This is the second time in three years I’ve been adopted by a female black cat, and I feel quite honored by this, I’ll have you know. (Some of you may remember Cita.) We call this one “Salem” after Sabrina the Teenage Witch’s black cat.

Anyway, I’m a black cat foster mom, is what I am, and my current foster baby is being bullied by this other cat. He’s long, tall, and fluffy, and he’ll be damned if another street kid finds a comfy refuge in a yard he can access. He must go in and do his duty of ruining it for her by marking “his” territory with a noxious spray. He sprayed in her bed, with everything around it winding up as collateral damage. Floor. Wall. Shelves. I don’t know how he did it, but he did. It was like he turned on his damn sprinkler system full-blast, rather than just using his hose. Or maybe that’s just how spraying works…?

[Sidenote: We’re trying to figure out how to stage a trap-neuter-release (TNR) for this cat. The challenge lies in trapping him, and not Salem or some other cat.]

I actually don’t know whether this male cat is a stray or simply someone’s roaming indoor/outdoor cat, but our little Salem is definitely a stray. She needs us.

[Second sidenote: sorry about the confusion of three similar words dotted throughout this post. I’m trying to keep “spray,” “stray,” and “spay” in separate paragraphs.]

If you’re wondering how I knew that a cat had gone into the laundry room, the answer is SURVEILLANCE. We have sensors and a camera with sound alert that also delivers images to our email inboxes. Someone goes into that laundry room, we hear it and see it.


Salem inspecting her laundry room bed two days post-incident


Speaking of cats! I’ll leave you with this picture of our Nenette, because I can. I got lucky with this one. She wasn’t as lucky. Neither was Holder the plant.


She thought she could get away with this.


All of this to say, I’ve realized that a nuisance caused by an unplanned event can keep me nimble mental health-wise, and I rather appreciate this. I wish it wasn’t at the expense of my foster kid, though.




Office tour, redux. (Plant babies!)

The title starts with “office tour,” but my main idea, I admit, is to be that person showing everyone (including innocent bystanders such as many of you) pics of my plant babies… as if everyone cares. I don’t have human kids, so you get to see my cat, tortoise, and plants, instead. Ha!

Wild exaggerations aside, the question du jour: How are my plant babies doing? I actually have been asked, so I will answer… with pics, of course. If you’ve been here a while, you may be interested in seeing the current plant situation chez moi. If you’re new, this post might be engaging for you, too, if you’ve ever wanted to peek into the office of a crazy plant lady.

I can’t say enough how much I love my plant-filled office. It pleases me greatly that the only color in here is green, and that my creative space feels fresh, clean, and alive. In the summer, my office feels cooler than any other room in the house, and I swear I can always breathe and think easier here. This space feels calm and light even when I crank up chaotic, dark, heavy music. Nenette (my child of the feline persuasion) stays in here with me most of the time, and she loves it, too.

Without further a-dew, the tour! Starting with what I see from my desk:


View from my desk


Behind me:


View from the doorway, looking to the left (corner behind my desk)


The plant stand on the right looks like it’s crooked, but it’s not. We’re looking at a trick of angle, I guess. Holder seems to love his position on that stand!

The plant on the stand beneath the shelf is Jerome, Holder’s buddy. Jerome has been struggling lately… I’m considering possibilities in helping him.


(Looking closer at the corner behind my desk)


Looking toward my closet from the corner (to the left of the window):


View from the left-hand corner in front of my desk (window wall opposite the doorway)


Barclay was my first plant in this house; I brought him home in 2014. He’s the one who started it all! Barclay has flourished, and he’s now delightfully out of control. He cascades, drapes, coils, entwines, and generally goes in any direction he pleases. He is lovely.

The mason jar on the little wall shelf on the left holds Barclay cuttings to be planted later:


(Looking closer at the wall on the other side of the window)


Looking toward my desk from the window wall, you can see eight of the 11 plants, including Flamingo (the potted tree on the right).


View from the window wall opposite the door


We get a better view of Flamingo looking diagonally across the room from the corner behind my desk where we started!


Back to the corner behind my desk: view of the whole room


And that, my friends, is it. What makes your personal space special to you?



And so on. (Taking requests!)

You know how it is when you’ve been – and still are – consumed by activities related to an exciting, personal life event and you have all kinds of stories and anecdotes to share with your readers about said event but you’re not able to talk about it so you try to think of other blog offerings and you keep coming back to the thing you can’t mention and then your written thought process devolves into a run-on sentence with no punctuation?

Yeah, I know the feeling.

And so I shall regale you with… (fill in the blank).

Yes, please feel free to tell me what you’d like to see in that blank. I’m taking requests!

I do get asked for posts on specific topics now and again, and I like to at least consider them. I actually honor most of them. There’s also the occasional nudge for updates on some of the life areas about which I regularly blather… mental health; fitness; minimalism; food; writing; poetry; music; plants; non-review movie reviews; veteran-related subjects, and so on. In any case, don’t be shy. I often keep comments here private, but I do read and reply to them.

I’ve been told that selfies and pics of oneself taken by others are always appreciated, so I’ll try to post more of those. The same applies to pics of fur-babies and scale-babies, so you’ll be seeing more of the kids, too. Nenette remains as difficult to photograph as a shy cat can be, but I do get lucky every once in a while. Geronimo, on the other hand, is as easy to photograph as any tortoise. He’s a ham, anyway, that guy. You know there’ll be an exuberant Geronimo update post when he emerges from hibernation!

On that note, may this find you enjoying a good (or at least okay) start to your week.



Aristotle said…. (a minimalism post, of sorts!)

Oh, the rabbit holes we tumble into when we venture to our bookcases with paring-down in mind! I’m still challenging myself to decide which books to keep in my minimalism efforts, though I know I’ll likely keep them all.

Many of my books are old textbooks from college and grad school. I minored in philosophy, so I have a few texts from those studies.

One can’t simply pull books from a shelf with a cursory flip-through. One must sometimes sit down with the books to open them and skim the pages. To be reminded. To be re-enlightened, maybe, or at least re-enchanted. We hang onto these books for a reason.

Philosophy, then. Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle offered insights through his teaching, as philosophers tend to do, and it kind of blows my mind to note how the applicability of some of his insights remains timeless. Classical, indeed. Going through my old philosophy texts led me to search for more reading material about Aristotle online. There, I found a slew of quotes. I don’t know how to quantify a “slew,” but I trust that it’s a lot.

Aristotle, who was born in 384 BC, said the following:

“At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice, he is the worst.”

“He who is to be a good ruler must have first been ruled.”

“Character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion.”

“Men are swayed more by fear than by reverence.”

“Even when laws have been written down, they ought not always to remain unaltered.”

“The most perfect political community is one in which the middle class is in control, and outnumbers both of the other classes.”

“Fear is pain arising from the anticipation of evil.”

“Of all the varieties of virtues, liberalism is the most beloved.”

“We make war that we may live in peace.”

Aristotle – born in 384 BC. Died in 322 BC. Immortal.

Well, this week I’ve found no books to donate. I knew I wouldn’t. I thought I’d consider it, anyway. I am still planning another round of donation-gathering, though! Some objects aren’t meant to be cherished forever… by me, anyway. I figure what I cherished yesterday, someone else can cherish tomorrow.



True facts about werewolves (and other monsters)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Of all the mysteries in the universe.

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

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

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




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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Gold polish for the new year.


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

Happy Wednesday Eve, everyone!