A little bit of this, a little bit of that. (Happy smatterings inside.)

Spring! Spring! A glory to bring! My spirits waft high… as high as our new ceiling. A glory.

Other wondrous things at the front of my mind:
–That the palo verdes – green-trunked trees native to our desert – are in bloom, lavishing us with their beauty (albeit their pollen, too). We have two in our front yard, and I’m admiring them right now from behind my desk.
–That I have an excellent, thorough, and caring rheumatologist at the Phoenix V.A., and today started with a phone call from her… and that we had an actual conversation, which I routinely enjoy at the V.A. (and have never had with civilian-sector doctors).
–That tomorrow morning – morning! – I’m going to my first Body Combat class at my second gym.

At the gym earlier this week, I spoke of getting my bangs trimmed and was met with immediate demands requests for a blog selfie. You guys crack me up. (You know who you are.) I’m happy to oblige, but I apologize in advance for this awful pic:


[17 April 2019]

I, for one, don’t like this picture of me. I look like the bent-neck lady. We can thank my insistence on attention to background, because apparently, the thing to note here is how I’m ducking beneath the moon phases. Forget the hair! I must capture the moons! This tapestry behind our bed finally replaced our forest tapestry a few months ago, and it was a delight to find that the moons glow in the dark. Have I mentioned how I drink in the luminescent moons rising above the bed before falling asleep? I framed the tapestry with string lights to illuminate it all evening, and then the lights go out and the moons glow soft and pale green on their own. They are calming.

[Sidenote: those are my new glasses, which I’ve had since February; I don’t believe I ever got around to a selfie featuring them.]

I do have a second pic here. In this one, I leaned rather than ducked. This one also captured the moons, but the angle didn’t get the tapestry all the way up to the ceiling.


[17 April 2019]

Meanwhile, our aforementioned new hallway ceiling is the eighth wonder of my world. It’s a full foot higher than it was before, so now it’s the same height as the ceiling in the rest of the house. The hallway feels strangely spacious and hollow. It is splendiferous.

This concludes today’s blog post o’randomness. Happy Friday Eve, all.




Next in A/C news… (ROACH edition!)

Welcome to a new week! I hope you all had a good weekend. I’m continuing to update on our A/C saga, as some of you are interested… and on that note, I’m still taking requests for posts here. Just a reminder!

When Callaghan says that I’m fearless – he says it’s the quality about me he admires the most – I think about it, and I get why he sees me that way. I seem to have a high threshold for fear; a lot of what’s traditionally scary doesn’t break me. I’m not a fearful person, but as many of you know, I do have some irrational fears (aka phobias). This brings me to I FOUND A DEAD ROACH IN MY SHOWER on Sunday night.

I was just about to get in when I saw it. It was lying on its back, which to me is just as horrifying as a roach racing around with its spiny legs making those demonic scratching sounds on the floor.

  • It’s rare that we find roaches in our house… rare as in four roaches in four years. In our old area of town, that’s rare.
  • Our warmest day this year so far didn’t qualify as AZ-caliber hot. Not even close.
  • Neither is it monsoon season, when roaches are most active and visible.
  • This roach wasn’t huge, but it wasn’t small, either.
  • How is a roach in dry, not-hot April already that big?
  • Where is it hot around here, and how would a roach get in?

The attic. The attic is hot, and it’s open to the hallway on account of WE HAVE NO CEILING.

What evidently happened was the roach came down from the attic through our ceiling-less hallway and went into the master bathroom shower to die. I’m glad I saw it before I stepped into the shower, or I would’ve died, too.

The A/C guy said that the attic is hot because that’s how attics work when it’s merely warm outside. Our pest control people confirmed that dampness in the attic would create a hospitable environment for roaches, even though roaches don’t usually inhabit attics. (Thank you, swamp cooler of yore.)

Now we have the following lined up for the next two weeks, starting tomorrow: contractor to re-build the ceiling, A/C guys to finish the A/C, pest control to dust the attic, insulation guy to blow in new insulation, and roofing guy to patch the roof. Suddenly, I’m 100% okay with all of it. No complaints! If none of this ever happened, we never would’ve discovered roaches in the attic. I don’t think we’re talking full-blown infestation here, but a few roaches are a few too many.

Within an hour of finding the dead roach in the shower, Nenette found another roach. This one was alive. I was sure that if there were two roaches in the house at the same time, then there would be more, and guys, I would rather face Freddy Krueger in my dreams than wake up to the real nightmare of finding a roach in the house.

So the next day, with some much-appreciated help, I cut open some 45-gallon plastic garbage bags and taped them up over the exposed attic. The contractor was supposed to come the following day, but he canceled due to family emergency. He’s rescheduled for tomorrow. It’s going to be great to have a ceiling again!

Let me tell you, I seriously considered sleeping in jeans and combat boots on Sunday night so I wouldn’t feel phantom roaches (much less real ones) skittering up my legs. I’d occasionally crash for naps with my boots on in the army. It works just fine.

Since I’m not about to search for a roach pic, I’m giving you Freddy Krueger, instead.






More blah-blah-blah about our new air conditioner.

Someone asked me today if we’d planned on replacing the A/C in advance, or if the whole thing started as an emergency project. I answered, and then I said I’d explain it to you faithful readers, too, since I never got into how it all began. We’d plotted to replace the A/C. We did not plan on the saga it became.

It’s been one week exactly since the crane dropped the new A/C onto the roof. I’d thought that the work would be finished by the end of the day.

When the A/C crew came back yesterday to complete the job after we had our ceiling taken down on Tuesday afternoon, I thought for sure that everything would be done.

Therefore, I have no reason to assume that it will be done after the A/C crew comes back for the third time, which will be next week Tuesday.

This pic of me leaning against my office door frame yesterday sums up my week:




The hallway ceiling had been comprised of plaster layered over drywall, and underneath that were the two-by-fours and metal paneling you see here. It was not clear that “take down the ceiling” included taking down the two-by-fours and the metal paneling. We did what the A/C guy said, which was to “take down the ceiling.” Because of this “miscommunication,” I had to replace our handyman with a general contractor, who’s coming on Monday morning. He’s going to remove the beams and the panels, and I think he’s also going to heighten the ceiling while he’s here. This means that the replacement of the ceiling will happen before the A/C crew comes back to finish the job. That part hadn’t been clear, either. The A/C guy refers to all of this as a “misunderstanding,” but I’ll throw in an adjective and say that it was a gross misunderstanding. It was a $2,000.00+ misunderstanding.

But it is what it is.

Returning to the picture, I’m going to leave those sheets covering the floor and the furniture over the weekend, since various workers will tramp through here next week: the contractor to do the ceiling/drywall work on Monday, the A/C crew on Tuesday morning, the roofing guy on Tuesday afternoon (because of the rotting part of the roof that led to the breakdown of our A/C), and the insulation guy on Wednesday.

At some point after Wednesday, the roofing guy will come back to do whatever needs to be done to fix the roof. Yes, I’m bracing myself for the announcement that we need a whole new roof.

None of this should be that big of a deal, right? An A/C replacement job turning into a full-blown construction job? Maybe a big deal, but not surprising, since house stuff often takes these kinds of twists and turns.

It’s a big deal for me, though. I’m trying to maintain some measure of mental equilibrium throughout all of this. PTSD doesn’t mesh well with upheaval and chaos, especially in one’s home environment. Home is supposed to be a sacred, dependable place.

I was going to come up with something entirely different for this post, but in the end, I just regaled you with this ongoing story. Some of you might be bored. Some of you might be able to relate. Either way, if you’ve read this far, thanks for bearing with me!



High-priority. (Isn’t that an oxymoron?)

This week, I’ve done the best procrastination of my life.

I knew that the high-priority pile of paperwork on my desk wasn’t going to do itself, but I could only get through a few pages before I thought of something else that had to be done. I’d been warned about this paperwork (a 45-page questionnaire), so I was ready to receive it, but man, they weren’t kidding. It was tough.

My initial rush of enthusiasm for the challenge went up in a vapor of dismay when I flipped through the packet and skimmed over the questions. I went to remarkable lengths. First, I ignored it completely. A week went by before I started filling in the answer bubbles. Then I found a podcast I’d been wanting to check out, and I had to listen to it before I could do anything else. I also remembered that I had phone calls to make, loose ends to tie up, and details to annotate in my planner and other notebooks. I had some binders to organize, accounts to check, and lists to make.

I baked banana bread because immediate action had to be taken regarding the bananas decomposing on my kitchen counter.

At last, I got through the first 20 pages of the questionnaire. Good job! I said to myself as I set the rest aside for the next day. The next day, I found a documentary I had to watch.

At the same time and in other news, the house needs urgent attention, too, and it all began this week. The operation had been scheduled: the entrails (ducts) of our attic were to be yanked out along with the diseased organ (air conditioning unit). A crane arrived before 6:30am yesterday morning (sorry, neighbors I forgot to notify) to transplant the new A/C. The crew returned early this morning to continue the work. They’re coming back to finish it next week. We have a hallway ceiling to be removed before they return, and then we have to have a new one put in place.

After the A/C is in and the ceiling is finished, the insulation people will arrive to re-insulate the whole top of the house. They’re also going to insulate the laundry room out back. The laundry room insulation will require more drywall work before and after that part of the operation. After all of that, the roofing people are coming, because it turns out that the house’s original swamp cooler (OG urban desert life) had leaked and rotted a part of the roof beneath the band-aid of the new roofing someone later applied, and that is our A/C’s official cause of death as noted on its death certificate.

Just when you think you only need a new A/C.

The point of this whole mundane story, though, is that our house undergoing extensive surgery made it even easier to ignore the paperwork on my desk.

Not to mention, I also had a cold this week, which made it even harder to work up the wherewithal to fill in thousands of answer bubbles.

But I persevered and finally got it all done yesterday. Truth be told, I’m happy that I had an opportunity to do it at all, much less get it done. The whole thing is rather a priviledge. I’ll photocopy the packet tomorrow before I take it to the post office.

I’m now taking a minute to marvel at the procrastination capability I didn’t know I had. Also, I’m still turning over the information that came out in the questionnaire: Callaghan informed me that I “often punch him in the side” while I’m sleeping. WHAT.


The early bird gets the A/C, because it’s a crane.


On a final note, may I recommend to you this podcast: 30 for 30: Bikram (about Bikram Choudhury, the man behind Bikram Yoga) and this 20/20 documentary: The Dropout (about Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos, her company). These disturbing tales of epic criminal disgrace may not be the cheeriest, but they’re interesting… and they make for some excellent procrastination material.



Nothing to see here today, unfortunately.

Friends, for reasons I cannot explain, today is a wordless day, I’m afraid. My apologies. I did receive several more requests for selfies, though, so I looked through my phone and found one that I haven’t posted here yet. I couldn’t find it back in my media library, anyway!

For those of you who asked, here you go:


Yours Truly on [2/10/2019]

Happy Friday Eve, and I’ll see you on the flip side, meaning Tuesday. There will be unicorns with pom-poms. Just kidding. I have three posts in progress, so regular content will resume… unless you ask for unicorns with pom-poms, that is. Then you can consider that to be regular content, because I try to honor all requests. Let me know!





I’m an albatross. (Fitness storytimes from recent workouts!)

Not really storytimes, but just – in fitness news – I have some silly anecdotes from workouts over the past two weeks. The key word here is silly. If you’re curious to know how Body Combat led me back to the poems of the British Romantics, read on.

Imagine that:

(Body Combat) Halfway through the warm-up track, the instructor says, “Did you know this song is about a mouse?” Her innocent question amounts to a proverbial shattering of a worldview. You’re flung into mental chaos. You always heard “I’m an ALBATROSS” in the song, and now here you are with a MOUSE. You cannot concentrate on the rest of the warm-up track. Your mental focus suctions onto the song’s lyrics, and you still hear “albatross” instead of “mouse.” You finish the track chagrined that you wasted it merely going through the motions because the albatross turned out to be a mouse, and you see the situation for what it is: a hazard of being an English major and a creative writing grad program, workshopped-to-death poet in a Body Combat class.*

(Body Pump) You wear hot pink lipstick and a pink tie-dye t-shirt to Body Pump on account of it being Valentine’s Day, and someone remarks that you look “really awake.” You then contemplate wearing hot pink lipstick to every Body Pump class so you can look really awake every time. But you know there’s no way that’s going to happen.

(Step Plus Abs, actually Advanced Step): You show up to your second class and you still don’t know what you’re doing, so you decide to go hard or go home and make every step-knee high and sharp, and every step-kick high and sharp, and this time you leave the gym looking like the same drowned rat you resemble when you leave Body Combat. This goes to show that when the question is Step, the answer is Muay Thai.

Or do you leave Body Combat looking like a drowned mouse? Or like an albatross?

I’m so confused.

Seriously, though! I’ve re-read Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner three times since that Body Combat class, because that’s how my obsessive mind works. Plus, I love that poem. I’m not a literary snob; I have no shame in declaring The Rime of the Ancient Mariner to be one of my favorite lyrical ballads of the Romantic period. Since re-reading it these last two weeks, it’s captivated me anew. It’s just… the story, and the way Coleridge tells it… it gets me.

Like most people, I think, I first read The Rime of the Ancient Mariner in grade school, and that’s how I learned about the existence of the albatross. Among other things, the poem teaches us to love and respect all animals, “man and bird and beast.” Coleridge wrote, “He prayeth best, who loveth best / All things both great and small; / For the dear God who loveth us, / He made and loveth all.”

On a related note, I now have a real bucket list item: I want to observe an albatross in the wild, live and in-person, even though I’d first have to board some sort of sea vessel and travel to distant (and probably cold) waters. The albatross is magnificent. I had no idea. I am enchanted. I am in love.


Wandering Albatross


This video demonstrates the size of the albatross:



This next video steals my breath. The splendor of these birds!



*Note to self: remember to ask the Body Combat instructor what release that song is from so I can look it up and understand the context of the mouse and maybe not hear “albatross” the next time she throws that track into the mix.



A beautiful day and cat spray.

A typical overcast sky darkens the house, but today, the house was filled with an eerie, radiant white light. It was an unusually bright overcast that uplifted my mood rather than bringing it down. I also delighted in the unexpected realization that I love the wind. That was today: a luminous, ghostly overcast day with a chilling wind to animate the outdoors. It was magical.

Now it’s raining again, and the temperature’s dropping. We’re down in the low-40’s. We’re definitely having some weather, which is a big deal in Phoenix. Our weather dramatics come courtesy of snowfall up north: today was allegedly the “snowiest day EVER recorded” up in Flagstaff!

Geronimo is snug in his burrow enjoying tortoisey hibernation dreams. Nenette is sleeping in her crow’s nest here in my office. Salem is wherever Salem goes when she’s not in our yard. It’s supposed to drop down into the low-30’s tonight with continuous rain, so I hope Salem can sleep in her laundry room bed! I mean, I hope she feels as welcome there as she usually does.

Because that other cat came around to spray Salem’s bed again last night. The laundry room had a revolving door this afternoon as I went in and out to deal with various stages of laundry and bouts of thorough cleaning.

I swept, mopped (twice), re-made Salem’s bed with clean bedding, scrubbed down the table legs around Salem’s bed (because cat spray got on one of them), scrubbed the bottom halves of the washer and dryer faces, scrubbed the table legs again, and then again, using soap and water and different cleaners each time. Finally, I gave up and lit a pet odor enzyme activating candle (or whatever it’s called) in there, because after all of the cleaning I did over the course of four hours, I could still smell the cat spray. I thought I could, anyway.

I hope Salem doesn’t smell it, because she won’t sleep in there if she does, and it’s going to be cold.

We witnessed the spraying disservice to Salem after the fact. Our cat cam captured the whole thing, starting with the criminal cat entering the laundry room at 1:57am. Check him out in this still:


breaking and entering with malicious intent


For size comparison, here’s Salem (two days ago):




There’s nothing we can do to keep this other cat away, right? I suspect we’re facing a losing battle, as they say. What else can be done but clean and clean again?

But it was a gorgeous day today.