Nenette’s triggers.

If I were to tell you that I accidentally threw a water glass into my bathroom sink the other night, you might want to know how, exactly, someone throws a glass into the sink by accident.

I only meant to toss the water that was in the glass into the sink. The glass was doomed because I’d just done my nighttime skin-care routine, so my fingers were slick with the residue of three different rich, moisturizing products. The glass slipped from my fingers and followed the trajectory of my wrist-flick toward the sink. It flew and crashed very loudly.

I couldn’t address the matter of a sink full of broken glass until the next day, because I would use a plastic bag for the disposal of said glass, and my cat is afraid of plastic bags. Nenette had been sitting on the dresser right at my elbow when the glass landed in the sink. It was her water glass, the one that stays on my dresser, and she was waiting for me to replenish it.

 

Nenette and her doomed water glass.

 

(She has a water glass on my bedroom dresser, on the small bookshelf in my office, and on the coffee table in the living room.)

That’s right… you would think that a glass crash-landing into a sink would scare her, but it would be the aftermath that would propel her out of the room in terror. The sound of the PLASTIC BAG. Since it was only a glass shattering to smithereens not six feet away from her, she just sat calmly and regarded me with patience as she waited for a fresh glass of water.

As a furbaby mom, I have to be on top of Nenette’s triggers. I cleaned up the broken glass the next day when she wasn’t in the room.

Nenette is mainly afraid of:

  • The sound of plastic bags
  • The sound of aluminum foil
  • Electrical storms
  • Loud voices
  • People who don’t live here

She’s not a fan of vacuum cleaners, but she can tolerate them until they get too close. She’s curious about Hank the Roomba, but when he heads in her direction, she’s out.

Now you might be waiting for me to get to the point of this post, but there really isn’t one. I just wanted to share that I accidentally threw a glass into a sink, and my cat wasn’t impressed.

Happy Friday Eve, my friends!

 

 

Blessings. (AZ Monsoon 2020!)

Things I’m looking forward to:

–My next workout

–Going to work tomorrow

–The next horror movie I watch

–Falling asleep to the sound of Nenette purring

–Dust storms, electrical storms, and Geronimo out in the storms.

Because here in the Land of AZ, we’re edging into monsoon season. The air’s gradually, increasingly damp with it. Geronimo’s at the ready for his first stormy march of the season, as am I. A desert tortoise in a summer storm is a happy tortoise! The moisture seems to make him even more nimble than tortoises are given credit to be. Geronimo be nimble, Geronimo be quick. And he is, especially when the rain comes down in the summer.

Mid-July anticipation feels extra delicious this year. The pandemic can’t shut down monsoon season. The virus can’t ruin a storm. This is one show that won’t be cancelled. The power of our desert weather system is immalleable in the face of 2020’s beastly scourge!

Nature prevails.

 

Shadowy plants through a nighttime bathroom window [05 July 2020]

That is all.

 

 

Retrograde chaos has us where it wants us. (And it’s a good place, actually.)

Six planets are in retrograde right now. This means something different for everyone. If you’re finding yourself dealing with inconveniences of a technical flavor these days, you can probably blame the planets.

On my end, we’re talking typical issues with glitchiness as I’m minding my own business trying to be a human on this planet. Being a human on this planet is especially tricky when I’m being pranked by the universe, I find. I often have to war with technology and electricity in the most placid of planetary times, so times like these just make things more interesting.

At the moment, the washing machine still won’t spin. (The technician is coming tomorrow.) The electricity went out momentarily yesterday, and we had to wrangle with the microwave oven to get it to reset its clock. On Saturday, the laptop I use to stream my workouts blipped out of nowhere to display a blue screen with sad faces running across the top.

 

The universe has a sense of humor.

 

Getting online is less enticing than ever, as it is. Working a manual job in an analog environment is just refreshing. I’m not eager to get online when I get home. Instead, I reach for books… real ones.

I did utilize personal technology today, though: I downloaded and activated a step-counting app on my phone this morning before I started work and left it in my back pocket, as I always do. I was just curious!

The morning unfolded at an average pace. As I may have mentioned, my job is very active, and there’s no sitting down involved.

The afternoon passed with less walking around than usual, though, due to a time-consuming project that I had to do while standing in one place.

Still, at the end of the workday, my step counter said that I’d walked 13,538 steps and 5.56 miles. On an average day, it would be more. This might explain why I feel invigorated rather than tired when I get home from my 100% physical job. The day ends on an endorphin high?! I come home eager to work out.

Or maybe I’m not tired because I’m not fatiguing my eyes staring at a computer screen all day.

I’m serious when I say that I never want to work in an office again.

Actually, all of this planetary retrograde activity has been eye-opening for me. It feels like a good time for realization, reevaluation, and reassessment. Maybe you feel like that, too.

 

 

 

Please to let this slide. (The Grunge.)

Hello, my friends. I’m taking this blog post to Tuesday, at which point I’ll have sorted out my new schedule. I need this weekend to start preparing for this space, well, over the weekend!

Last weekend, my plans for today’s post were derailed by our broken-down washing machine. I spent most of my “free” time taking everything out of the laundry room and cleaning the space for the benefit of the washing machine technician (more for the benefit of my pride), and let me tell you.

Maybe not. If you live in the desert and have an outdoor laundry room, I don’t have to tell you. If you know, you know. If you don’t know: we have dust here.

Also, I’m not good at cleaning the laundry room, which is to say that I never do. When you have an outdoor laundry room in the desert and you never clean it, you end up writing in your blog that you don’t have a real blog post because you were finally forced to clean the laundry room due to a washing machine, and it turns out that the cleaning of a severely neglected outdoor desert laundry room engulfs the weekend most glamorously.

See, if I’d cleaned the laundry room on a regular basis (or at all), I wouldn’t have to replace an actual blog post with an admission that I never clean the laundry room, and that’s why we’re here. NOW YOU KNOW TOO MUCH.

This is not an excuse. Life will always happen; I just wasn’t prepared in the first place. My plans weren’t derailed by the washing machine. They were derailed by me not cleaning the laundry room, like, ever.

But I’m slowly fitting the pieces of my new life into a new shape. I will figure it out. I’m suddenly reconciling a 40-hour work week with five days of workouts and all of the regular things that need to get done.

I wish I could at least share with you the glorious news that my laundry room is now clean, but alas. It was in such a state that I couldn’t get it as clean as it could be. That will have happen after the washing machine technician does his work on Wednesday.

If my life was a horror movie, it would be called The Grunge.

 

 

 

Ch- ch- ch- CHANGES. (Involving active-duty Army flashbacks… in a good way.)

Get this! I started A JOB on Wednesday (yesterday), as in, I leave the house in the morning and return in the late afternoon. I’m not working from home.

This came as a surprise to me, too, though I’d been hoping for it… I really wanted this position at my new company (which shall not be named). What I mean, I guess, is that it happened suddenly. I did a phone interview on Monday, went for a drug/alcohol test a few hours later, got the call with the clean result and job offer on Tuesday, and started work on Wednesday. Today was my second day.

I totally deviated from my administrative norm with this one. This job is different than anything I’d done in my entire life, though it does remind me of my military service in many ways.

Without going into specifics, I’ll share the aspects of the job that remind me of my active-duty Army days (peacetime/garrison): 1. I don’t have a commute; 2. I wear a standard daily uniform (my usual: jeans, t-shirts, and combat boots); 3. I’m nowhere near a computer all day; 4. I’m nowhere near a desk all day (I’m on my feet and constantly on the move); 5. They sent me for a piss test. 6. I feel like I’m volunteering, but I’m getting paid for it; 7. I still work out every day, the only difference being that I do my PT after work instead of before; 8. I’m not working for the man; and 9). the way my manager runs the place very much reminds me of Army active duty. He’s like an NCO. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d served.

I love this job.

The only downside is that I’m away from my Nenette all day. We both especially miss our morning bonding time. Nenette is my daughter, my official feline companion animal (as designated by the V.A. for my PTSD). I miss her. I miss her, I miss her, I miss her, I miss her, I miss her. I also miss Geronimo, though he’s been nowhere to be seen all week. [!!!-???]

 

Today: at home, post-workout, post-work. [11 June 2020]

 

So that’s the news, my friends. My mission now is to settle into a routine that allows for housecleaning and such. I had domestic projects on my agenda, and suddenly, I have no time in which to do them. I’ll carve out some time one way or the other.

Happy Friday Eve!

 

 

 

 

15 questions: book trivia! (Reading for pleasure.)

Today, I’m finally posting that survey/quiz/meme about books. I love reading these when people do them; they offer some insight into the person giving the answers. You might dig this if you’re into reading for pleasure, or if you’re just curious about Yours Truly.

Have at it!

1). Favorite novel: He, She and It, by Marge Piercy

2). Favorite work of non-fiction: War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, by Chris Hedges

3). Most recent novel read: The Girls, by Emma Cline (excellent and chilling historical fiction ostensibly about the Manson murders)

4). Favorite underrated horror novel: Rose Madder, by Stephen King

5). Novel I’d want to see as a movie: The Secret History, by Donna Tartt. (I wish they’d made that one into a film rather than The Goldfinch, though the latter is also a brilliant novel that I enjoyed.)

6). Favorite fictional hero: Jack Reacher (creation of author Lee Child)

7). Favorite fictional hero novel of all time: Gone Tomorrow, by Lee Child (Jack Reacher novel)

8). Favorite work of creative non-fiction: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt

9). Favorite vampire novel: Dark Dance, by Tanith Lee

10). Favorite comfort/guilty pleasure re-read: Dark Dance, by Tanith Lee

11). Favorite fictional mythological world: Harry Potter (author J.K. Rowling)

12). Favorite fiction genres: horror, crime, mystery, historical fiction

13). Favorite non-fiction genres: biography; music; astrology; philosophy

14). Favorite foreign author: Amélie Nothomb (Belgian)

15). Literary tribute name you would give your dog/cat: If I were to adopt three male cats, I would name them Edgar, Allen, and Poe.

Along these lines, I’ve got an office preview pic for you. Why yes, I overhauled my office again. I wasn’t planning on doing a whole redecorating job… it just kind of happened. More on this later!

 

Office update 2020 (preview)

 

The End.

 

 

Gum-grafting surgery is over. It went well. (ALSO, Body Combat 82 is EVERYTHING.)

Coming at you from the glorious place that is AFTER my LAST gum-grafting surgery! It’s over, and I’m so glad. I’m feeling good, even. [::knocks wood::]

The highlight of the week, though, was yesterday afternoon’s Body Combat workout that I did as a phone meet-up with my friend. We did #82, which is officially my favorite Combat release of all time. I love everything about that release, including its tracklist and how the music goes perfectly with the workout segments. I’ve never loved a Body Combat release in its entirety from beginning to end. I’ve never had a “favorite” release, like I have in Body Pump. (Body Pump #101 is my favorite, if you must know.)

I was still wearing the makeup I’d put on in the morning before going to get my teeth cleaned.

It was a coincidence that my dental cleaning was the day before my oral surgery, and it was also a coincidence that makeup day fell on Body Combat day. The only time I’ve ever worn makeup to the gym was for Combat, because my Combat classes were evening classes, when I already had makeup on. No one in Body Pump (morning classes only, for me) has ever seen me there in makeup… except for that one time on Halloween, when we dressed up.

After Combat, I stuck my face in front of the phone for a selfie (aka video clip from which I snapped a screenshot, haha, sorry again for the graininess). My post-Combat face is always the same: satisfied, sweaty, and smeared with makeup.

 

Post-Combat. [13 May 2020]

 

I put the phone in front of my face again this afternoon, shortly after my surgery. I talked into the camera and posted it to my insta story. I’m mostly incoherent.

 

 

Those last words before I signed off were “I’m out of it,” as if that wasn’t obvious.

I’m so thankful that I don’t feel nearly as bad this time as I did after the November surgery. I have high hopes for a faster recovery!

On that note, I hope you’re all doing well. Happy Friday Eve!

 

 

 

Gratitude, love, strength.

I was just reflecting on how deeply I appreciate all of you who read what I post in this space, and how much you all mean to me. No matter what we may think or say, we are a collection of hearts on this earth. Heart energy is love, and love is never a more magnificent force than when it’s recognized as strength. There are millions and millions of us on earth with love and strength to share. We can get through anything together! Keeping each other safe by staying home as much as possible is the most powerful way we can express our love right now, and I’m feeling it. It’s overwhelming in the best of ways.

 

Nenette loves her sparkly toys, but she loves you more.

 

 

Happy Friday Eve, my dear friends.

 

 

The End.

Ropes and Cardio? No. (Spring 2020 Fitness Updates, Part 2: COVID-19 edition.)

This was supposed to be my “Spring 2020 Fitness Updates, Part 2: Ropes & Cardio edition” post, wherein I’d review my cardio workout experience from my first Ropes class to the fifth, which would’ve been yesterday’s class. I was going to take a post-workout selfie and everything!

Only I didn’t go to the class or to the gym at all yesterday. After feeling conflicted going to Saturday’s Pump class, I decided at the last minute that staying away from the gym was the obviously correct thing to do for the greater good in these times of COVID-19.

Plan B, then, was to write about how I’ve decided to stay away from the gym indefinitely, and what I was going to do for fitness instead.

Only when I woke up this morning, my decision was no longer a decision, because my gym (thankfully) announced that it was closing all of its locations from today until at least March 31st.

So this fitness update is just to say that I’ll be working out at home for the next few weeks/indefinitely. I re-subscribed to Les Mills On Demand so I can continue with Body Pump out in the garage. The weather is perfect, and we have all the dumbbells!

For the cardio half of my fitness equation? WELL, having Les Mills On Demand means that I can do Body Combat workouts again. I’m going to BODY COMBAT for the first time in almost a year, and I’m stoked.

There are always silver linings, even to the dark clouds of the viral apocalypse.

I’m so glad that my gym closed in the interest of slowing the COVID-19 spread.

I have to admit that I’ve been confused listening to the folks who remark that COVID-19 is “like the flu,” and that it’s not even as bad as the flu because “more people die from the flu and people don’t freak out or care about that.” This basic lack of understanding of what’s going on is scary. Hasn’t everyone noticed that the borders between countries in continental Europe have been slammed shut, and Italy is locked down completely? COVID-19 cannot be underestimated.

This virus is not “like the flu.” COVID-19’s mortality rate is higher than the flu’s, and it’s more contagious than the flu. COVID-19 is new, so there’s no vaccine for it, no immunity to it. It’s a fast-moving unknown, is what it is, and people are dying. Until we understand it, we can’t be too careful. I’d rather “overreact” to this thing now than live life as if nothing is happening and then look back with regret. Let’s learn from the Italians, who learned it the hard way.

The only way to avoid being a part of the problem is to minimize our footprints by removing ourselves from the mix. The only way to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19’s trajectory – necessary for biochemists to catch up with the virus so they can create a vaccine – is to practice social-distancing to the utmost possible.

Think of it this way, since everyone loves a twist on an idiom in a run-on sentence: There’s a kitchen full of cooks who are merrily cooking away, laughing and talking and gesticulating and unknowingly flinging around microscopic particles of flour and droplets of vinegar and whatnot, and in the midst of all this activity, there’s a devious, deadly bug that the exterminators can’t catch because it’s also microscopic, and it’s able to jump around quickly and stealthily from cook to cook, and not only that, but it’s a shape-shifting bug that can change its appearance, so the exterminators have to re-learn it every time they think they have it before they can resume the hunt. We need to get the cooks out of the kitchen so the exterminators can catch the bug that’s contaminating everyone and everything in there, you know?

 

I went to Target on Saturday.

 

I’m happy to get back into the garage. Next time I post a fitness update, it’ll be a garage gym post!

 

 

 

Meme I stole from a friend, because frivolity.

I don’t usually mention current events in this space, but these are some particularly sinister times. It’s hard to know what else to think about, much less write about.

Some of us are higher-risk than others, but COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate. We have healthy, young, world-class athletes diagnosed with it now (R.I.P. 2020 NBA season), so no one under the age of 60 should allow their age to lull them into complacency. No one should wave off the virus because “most cases are mild.” It’s great that most cases are mild, but that’s not the point. A mildly infected person could infect someone else, and that person may not be as lucky. An infected individual feeling “okay” is yet a hazard to others.

COVID-19 is a runaway virus that no one’s caught up with yet, and that’s the damn thing of it. Until we get ahead of it, it’s a disaster, and no words can sugar-coat it.

“But it’s such a cute little disaster!” Nah.

I don’t even know, man.

Anyway, here’s a silly meme I stole from a friend on another site. Learn some frivolous trivia about Yours Truly, if you’re so inclined:

1. What was the last food you ate?
I’m eating crunchy, toasted chickpeas with sea salt as we speak.

2. Do you sleep w socks?
Yes! Always! I wouldn’t want to jump into combat boots with bare feet.

3. Worst physical pain you’ve ever been in?
Waking up from major abdominal surgery feeling everything. I thought I was going to die. Two days of hell crawled by before the official medical conclusion was reached, which is that I “don’t have the receptors for morphine.” Red-heads are notoriously difficult to anesthetize, apparently. [::shakes fist at ginger biological father and his genes::]

4. Favorite places you have been?
Besides Arizona:
Stuttgart (Germany)
London (England)
Casablanca (Morocco)

5. How late did you stay up last night?
Until around 1:45am.

6. If you could move somewhere else, where would it be?
Nowhere. I don’t want to move ever again. My whole heart is rooted here in Arizona, now more than ever! This is where I belong.

7. Which of your Facebook friends lives closest to you?
Caroline!

8. When was the last time you cried?
Whatever day it was that I watched The Pharmacist. That Netflix docuseries got to me.

9. Who took your profile pic?
I did. Most pics of me are selfies.

10. Two of your favorite movies?
Those of you who know me well or who’ve been here awhile probably know that Tombstone (1993) and The Big Lebowski (1998) are my two favorite movies, so I’ll throw in two more favorites:
Tank Girl (1995)
Candyman (1992)

The 90’s is my favorite movie decade. Most of my favorite movies are from the 90’s.

11. What’s your favorite season?
Spring! And fall. The equinoxes.

12. If you could have any career, what would it be?
Writing poetry and novels.

13. What was the last book you read?
Lee Child’s Blue Moon. It’s a Jack Reacher novel… Lee Child’s last, at that.

14. If you could talk to ANYONE right now, who would it be?
Tochinoshin, my favorite Sumo wrestler. His native tongues are the two languages spoken in Georgia, Georgian and Abkhazian, so we’d have to speak through a translator.

15. Are you a good influence?
I’ve been told that I am, mostly by Callaghan. Does that count?

16. Does pineapple belong on a pizza?
Hawaiian pizza exists, therefore pineapple belongs on a pizza. Do I like it? Yes, though I never ask for pineapple on my pizza.

17. You have the remote, what show are you watching right now?
Black-ish. It’s the show that makes us laugh the most, and now is a good time for that.

18. Last concert you attended?
Def Leppard. 2014. Ak-Chin pavilion. Amazing show.

19. Favorite type of cuisine?
Don’t make me choose! I love Thai (green curry!), Italian (pasta with garlic and olive oil!), Mexican (street tacos with black beans, rice, pico de gallo, and guac!), and Mom’s fried tofu. “Mom” is a cuisine, isn’t it? If it’s not, then it should be.

 

Spring 2020 Fitness Updates, Part 1. (Weight-training/Les Mills Body Pump edition!)

Before I share my fitness updates, I want to note here that the March Grand Sumo Tournament in Osaka, Japan will start this Sunday, as planned… but without spectators. The arena will be closed. This development makes sense under the threat of the coronavirus, of course, but it’ll be strange to watch an audience-less Sumo tournament. There will be no fans cheering and yelling and applauding and throwing their seat cushions into the air with delight when a rank-and-filer beats a Yokozuna and groaning when the judges make a controversial decision.

Honestly, as the Sumo Association deliberated on what to do considering the coronavirus, I was hoping that they’d go with the option of canceling the tournament altogether. Wouldn’t it be cool if the wrestlers could actually heal and recover from their injuries for once? I mean, without fear of penalty? This reminds me that I want to write a post about why Sumo is more dangerous than MMA.

For now, though, fitness updates!

It’s difficult, but I’m sticking to my plan to continue lifting super light weights in Body Pump. At this point, the urge to lift my normal weights is like a deep itch I’m refusing to scratch, but at the same time, I’m marveling at the benefits of my self-restraint.

For instance, I’ve never been able to drop so low in my squats and maintain that exact depth throughout all the bottom-halves and pulses. I’ve never actually held my elbow up as high as it should be doing triceps kick-backs, or kept it as high during kick-back pulses, or lowered the weight no further down than my hip. I’ve never used my legs so mindfully doing clean-and-presses. I’ve never focused so intently on keeping my elbows pinned to the sides of my rib cage doing biceps curls. And so on. Lifting light weights frees my mind, and with my mind fully engaged in the workout, my form is now as perfect as I can possibly make it.

I’m happy to have found that lifting light weights in Body Pump translates to achievement of sustained good form with maximized mind/body connection and full range of motion.

It’s because of this that I still experience post-workout soreness in my muscles in the 48 hours after a workout, and I’m enjoying results in the form of increased strength and muscle definition. It’s true that you don’t need to lift a lot of weight in order to see results from Les Mills Body Pump! Instructors who proclaim this aren’t saying it just to say it.

That being said, I do plan to increase my weight-load to some extent after I recover from my April surgery and return to the gym in May… not across the board, though. I’ll probably mix light and heavy weights. Now that I know what it is to have good form with full range of motion, I’ll be able to easily recognize when a weight increase takes away from that, and I’ll drop the weight back down.

I was going to talk about my Ropes and Cardio class in this post, too, but I’ve already blathered on long enough about Body Pump. Look for “Spring Fitness Updates, Part Two” in the near-ish future!

 

 

[23 February 2020]

 

Happy Friday Eve!

 

 

 

It’s about time! (Gym updates! First of 2020.)

I’ve been on a mission to get back into a fitness routine. It’s happening. Here are the changes:

1). No more Monday morning Body Pump. I’m doing a class called “Ropes and Cardio” on Mondays, instead. I did it for the first time this week, and it kicked my ass, which is going to happen when your ass hasn’t done cardio in almost a year and you’ve never picked up a battle rope in your life. This class is insane. I love it. I’ll go into further detail in an actual class review, maybe, after another two-three classes.

2). Now that I’m solidly back in Body Pump, I could pick up my regular weights again, but I’m sticking with the super light weights I used the first day I got back a week ago Saturday. Why? Because it’s different, and because I’m fascinated by the fact that I feel a slight post-workout burn in my muscles even after using the ridiculously light weights. It’s a new year, and this is my new gym thing, apparently. Do not increase my weights! Talk about a plot twist.

3). I’m walking two-six miles on whatever non-gym day fits my week (and not on a treadmill). I’m using the Accupedo app on my phone instead of a fitbit or other some such. Accupedo shows me everything I need to know. I tell it when I’m starting my walk, and it tracks my pace, steps, miles, calories burned, date, place, time, active time, and total time, and it shows a graph of my workout and also a map of where I walked! It takes from Google maps. It’s kind of creepy, but I’m kind of really digging it.

I’m happy with this new schedule and plan starting out the new year. It feels good doing cardio twice a week and light weights twice a week, as opposed to most of last year’s three heavier-weight Body Pump classes with no cardio.

I’m seriously jonsing for Body Combat, though. If I can find a way back into a Combat class….

Eight splendiferous weeks of workouts lie before me, and then I’ll be out for a month again. I’m having my second gum-grafting surgery (bottom row this time) on April 13. That surgery will be more invasive than the last one, I’ve been told. I’ll have a stent in my mouth post-op and likely even more bruises on my face, and, yeah, no one will be seeing me for a while. Once I’ve recovered from that, though, it’s going to be hard to keep me away from the gym.

For those who requested it, today’s selfie was taken yesterday in my car after my Body Pump workout.

 

My hair is amused.

 

Happy Friday Eve!

 

Favorites of 2019! (Late, but I’m a month behind on the new year.)

Hi, this is me outdoing myself on being late. I’m finally getting around to posting the “Favorites of My Favorite Little Things in 2019” list I’d planned on doing since December. Since 2020 just began for me when I made it back to the gym at the beginning of February, I’m finally here with the list!

The biggest part of the list is the products section, because I discovered quite a few holy grail, ride-or-die products in 2019. You’ll find that at the bottom of the list; I’m presenting these favorites in the same order I always do in my “favorites” lists: movies, series, food, products.

If you’re interested, take a look at my favorite “little things” of 2019!

Top three favorite theater movies: 
Parasite (October)
Joker (October)
Ford v. Ferrari (November)

In total, I saw nine movies in theaters in 2019. My top three favorites were the three I went to see in the fall.

Midsommar’s  artistic merits deem it top-three worthy, but Midsommar being Midsommar, its excellence made it unbearable for me. A cheesier, less deftly handled production may have made it more watchable. As it is, even the trailer still sends me into a panic. Why do I keep going back to watch the trailer?! There are scenes in the trailer that don’t even appear in the movie! Also, the trailer gives nothing away; one is in no way prepared for Midsommar’s atrocities after watching the trailer. I think it’s the music, the sound of the string instruments in the trailer that freak me out. Why am I rambling on about Midsommar when it’s not on my list? Ugh.

Moving on…

Favorite of the few movies I watched at home:
Train to Busan (Netflix). It’s now my favorite zombie film.

Favorite streaming T.V. series:
From Netflix: You, Dead to Me, Love, Death + Robots, After Life, After Life, and La Casa De Papel
From Hulu: Reprisal
From Amazon Prime Video: Fleabag and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Favorite athletic event:
The May 2019 Grand Sumo Tournament (Natsu Basho) Grand Sumo Highlights. This was the tournament in which Tochinoshin, my favorite wrestler, earned back his Ozeki rank.

 

World-class sumo wrestler Tochinoshin (Levan Gorgadze of Georgia)

 

Favorite miscellaneous project to watch:
Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty Show (Amazon Prime Video)

Favorite processed food discoveries:
Birch Benders Plant Protein Pancake and Waffle Mix
Crunchy/toasted chickpeas with sea salt
Vega Protein Nutrition Shakes (especially the chocolate one)

Favorite skincare/cosmetic product discoveries*:
Earth Science Creamy Fruit Oil Cleanser A-D-E
Acure brightening facial scrub
Nourish Organic Lightweight Moisturizing Face Lotion
Schmidt’s Bergamot and Lime Natural Deodorant**
e.l.f. Radiant Gel Lip Stains
e.l.f. 16HR Camo Concealer
NYX Bare With Me Tinted Skin Veil
Jason Powersmile Anti-Cavity and Whitening Gel

*All vegan and cruelty-free

**I’d put a different deodorant as a favorite on December’s list, and it was my new favorite… until I developed an allergic reaction to it. I had to toss it. I picked up another of the Schmidt’s, and I’m glad to be using it again. It works fine, and I love its bergamot and lime scent! I probably won’t deviate from it again.

Favorite random little thing:
Bat birthday card (by Brace)

 

Bat birthday card by Brace

 

I don’t know what it is about this card. No one gave it to me. I came across it and I had to have it in my life and so I got it and it still makes me inexplicably happy. The front reads, “It’s when you can’t hear the bats, that’s when the bats are coming.” The inside reads, “Other than that, I have no birthday advice.”

On that note, I’ll bid you a happy rest of your day or night. I hope 2020 is off to a great start for you!

 

 

Anecdotally, (+ I went back to the gym!)

I’ve been feeling better little by little, and I’ve been released to roam around outside of the house.  Outside of the house rocks my world. Outside of the house this morning meant that I finally took my car, Dysis, out for the spa day I’ve been promising her. That is, I took her to the car wash. And I took myself to get my bangs trimmed. And I took myself to the V.A. for my annual DEXA scan. The guy behind the radiology counter said, “Miss Kristi! We might as well get you a desk back here!” Because today was my fifth visit to radiology in the last month. Haha!

Outside of the house happened on Saturday, and also on Sunday. I took backyard selfies on Sunday afternoon after I got home.

 

Facing the shade with February aloe vera.

 

Let me tell you about Saturday, though. It was the first day of February, and I went back to the gym for the first time since December. Body Pump! I kept five-pound plates on my barbell as my heaviest weight because five weeks is a long time to be sedentary. It was a good call – I started feeling the post-workout pain that evening. Glorious, finallygotoffmyass post-workout pain.

Yesterday was Monday, and I did not go to the gym again as I’d planned. I woke up in the morning and cancelled my booking for Body Pump because the act of opening my eyes riled up my cough immediately, which was good, because…

I suddenly realized that my gym regimen could do with a change. Having finally set foot in a gym, 2020 is just now starting as far as I’m concerned, so it’s a good time for a change, and… why not?

After reviewing my options online, I decided that I’ll ditch Monday morning Body Pump for Monday morning Ropes and Cardio, a class that allegedly works you out with battle ropes and cardio segments thrown into the hour. You know I’ll be reporting on my experience with it, because it’ll be something totally new to me.

Morning Body Combat classes are scarce despite all of my gym’s locations. I miss it. In any case, though, it’s time to get back into cardio. I haven’t done it in over six months.

See you on Thursday with my list of January Favorites!

 

 

Update on The Crud. (+ a stunning video about a stunning lake.)

Bet you didn’t think I’d subject you to yet another post about my ridiculous pneumonia situation. I feel that I should provide updates, which as of today should have simply been “I’m over it.” The current status is that I’m almost over it. And hey, I’m feeling a little better. I’ll take it.

I had a therapy appointment at the V.A. this morning. While I was there, I stopped by my primary care doctor’s office on account of my coughing despite having finished my antibiotics and steroids. The nurse sent me upstairs for another chest X-ray, which revealed the pneumonia continuing to lurk in my lower left lung lobe. It’s lurking feebly, though. It’s not as opaque as before, not as critical. I’m not over it yet, but I’m definitely improving! Definitely in recovery mode.

After the nurse told me this, I informed her that I’m planning on going back to the gym for Body Pump this Saturday. She stared at me. I quickly re-worded my announcement to turn it into a question. Am I okay enough to go back to the gym this Saturday? After some hesitation, she allowed that I can go if I take it really easy and stop if I get too tired or feel pain in my tendons. (It turns out that the risk of tendon injury as a consequence of my particular antibiotic, Levofloxacin, is no joke, especially since I was taking Prednisone at the same time. It seems that people post-Levofloxacin can remain vulnerable to tendon injuries.) (The things you learn when you actually read the literature that comes with the medication, man.)

The doctor then ordered more stuff from the pharmacy, so I stopped there on my way out. Cough pearls and another Albuterol inhaler. I’m all set!

For today’s pic, I’ll share this selfie that I just took, even though it’s a little blurry. Apologies for that.

 

Tired, but BETTER. [28 January 2020]

 

Touch of fatigue aside, I’m feeling pretty okay.

OH! This is so random, but I also wanted to share with you a mini-documentary beautifully crafted by my favorite mortician. I’ve been fascinated by the Great Lakes since I visited Michigan and crossed over to Mackinac Island by ferry; I couldn’t believe the vastness of this body of water that was actually a lake. It was mind-blowing. All of this… is… fresh water?!

These lakes are legendary for a reason. Lake Superior is gorgeous and terrifying. A lake. Respect.

 

 

Also, I’ve always loved this song by Gordon Lightfoot, “The Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald.” Now I know the story behind it.

 

 

Does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours? 

[::shivers::]

Until Thursday, my friends.

 

 

The Phoenix V.A. is awesome, Part 2.

Today, I’ve got an anecdote about the Phoenix V.A. Health Care System:

Last year, I took note as a gentleman roamed through the E.R. waiting room asking patients for their opinions of the Phoenix V.A. When a person stated that they’d had good experiences, he didn’t want to hear it. He moved on to his next target. It was amusing to watch him get more and more flustered as no veteran in the room had a bad word for the Phoenix V.A. We enthusiastically shared our approval of and appreciation for the Phoenix V.A., and our uninvited investigative reporter was left at a loss.

He was from Florida, if I’m remembering correctly. He was not a veteran.

It wasn’t like this guy happened to catch people in a good mood, either. No one is ever thrilled when they’re sitting in an E.R. waiting room, no matter what hospital they’re in!

Have I told this story before? How this guy wandered around needling veterans in his attempt to extract complaints about the Phoenix V.A., as it’s “one of the worst ones in the country,” as he put it?

I’m thinking of this now because I’m sitting here surrounded by things given to me at the V.A. last week… not at the pharmacy, but right there in the doctor’s office. In all my years of experience as a patient in privatized health care, I’ve never been to a doctor whose office handed out “Virus Kits” to patients with respiratory ailments during cold/flu season.

 

“Virus Kit” given to me at the Phoenix V.A. last week: lip balm; nasal spray; Ricola cough drops; hand sanitizer; surgical mask; and Kleenex

 

When I asked my friend for a writing prompt recently, she suggested telling of my V.A. adventures. They can be summed up thusly: I love the V.A., and I will defend it to the death. I’ve written about it before; click here if you’re new and curious.

The End.

p.s. Unrelated: I can’t wait to get better so I can run to the theater to watch Underwater.

p.p.s. Happy Friday Eve!

 

Sitting on my ass is hard work.

Pneumonia recovery still in progress over here. I have four more days of antibiotics, and I’m still coughing, though nowhere near as much as I was last week. I’ve been trying to just rest and do nothing, but of course I want to do everything… and during the day, no one is here to stop me.

Running Hank (our roomba, aka robot vacuum) in the kitchen/dining room the other day wasn’t as simple as that, because I wanted to dust and wipe down the counter-tops first, like I always do before I vacuum. It didn’t stop there, though, as I noticed that the drawers and cabinet doors could use a dusting, too. It’s easy and fast and takes almost no energy when you use a Swiffer wand, I reasoned.

I was tired after that, but some items on the counters needed to be rearranged, and it wouldn’t take more than ten minutes to do that, would it? (It did. But it was so satisfying!)

Then I noticed a spot of dried pasta water on the stove.

By the time I’d cleaned all of the appliances (because I couldn’t just do the stove), I was wiped out, even with lots of rest moments as I worked… but finally, I could let Hank loose to do the vacuuming.

All of this happened after I’d straightened up the living room, which isn’t even a big deal, either. None of this kind of stuff is a big deal until you’re not supposed to do it.

Every day has been like this. I scrubbed down my shower before I got into it last night, because it needed it. It’s just felt like forever since I’ve cleaned! Thing is, I feel like I can’t even work on my book if the house needs cleaning. I got some housework done over the weekend, which worked out because I had Callaghan here to help with carrying things (laundry) and moving furniture out of the way so Hank could vacuum after I’d dusted. I’m not used to asking for help with carrying things and moving stuff out of the way.

Tomorrow I’ll sort papers in my office and then file, recycle, and shred as necessary. Sit-down work.

Surprisingly, I’m still in high spirits. I can’t remember the last time I had to pull myself out of an extreme and prolonged depression abyss. I’m not sure why, but I’m grateful for it.

It’s been cozy times here with Nenette in my office. If she’s not curled up in her cat tree, she’s usually on the furniture with her glass of water. She loves to sit on the velvet panel I put there… she’s made it hers.

 

Kitty with her water! [21 January 2020]

That’s it for today’s updates, my friends. Until Thursday, then!

 

 

Mini life update, a New Year’s resolution, Australian wildfires, a weird dream.

I’m still sick, and today’s been the worst. It’s been one week and four days. Callaghan’s still trying to kick this virus, too, and he’s had it a week longer than I have! The same thing happened to him: just as he thought he was getting better, he woke up one day feeling full-blown sick again… even worse, in fact. This virus is the holiday gift that refuses to stop giving.

Still haven’t been back to the gym. (Last time I went was December 28.) Still would love to deep-clean my house. Despite virus-related set-backs, 2020’s off to a rockin’ start on account of the huge amounts of sleep I’ve been getting! I’m feeling upbeat and victorious at the same time that I’m blowing my nose and coughing up both lungs in my unclean house.

There are things I need and want to do, though. I have dry-cleaning to pick up, groceries to buy, friends to meet, a car to be washed; I need to hit a few second-hand stores before I can get my car washed, because I have a trunk filled with items I’d like to try to sell before I haul them off to the Goodwill. I’m behind on life, but still, I’m feeling good about life.

There’s no mail piled up anywhere, for one thing, and somehow that makes me feel like I have my shit together. Did I ever mention that my New Year’s resolution for 2019 was to get my shit together? I haven’t exactly managed this yet in the so-called big picture, but that’s okay. I don’t think everyone can stay on top of everything in their life every single day.

My resolution for 2020 is to focus less on myself and more on others. Family and friends. Veterans. Animals.

Things are good. All of my mail has been opened and dealt with. I know what I’m making for dinner tonight. Salem sleeps in her laundry room. I’m up to date on my banking. I’m free of pressing future concerns. Being sick, behind on housework and errands, and grounded from the gym (again!) are all just little inconveniences. I will get back on track, and next time my husband gets sick, I won’t kiss him until he’s well. Lesson learned.

Pretty sure it’s been weeks since I’ve seen the inside of a Target, which isn’t a terrible thing at all. Target deserves to be avoided as much as possible, for I am finally just annoyed with it. It has a way of shutting off my impulse-control, and not even in the way of impulse-shopping anymore! I mean, I’ll be in there, right, and suddenly I have to go to the bathroom and I just leave my cart somewhere and go, because I have to, even if I could actually hold it. Or it’ll occur to me that I’m hungry or thirsty, so I’ll grab an energy bar or a bottle of water to consume on the spot, even if I could actually wait.

I always feel kind of rude when I place an empty wrapper or water bottle into the cart. Thankfully, I’ve never had a cashier get mad about having to scan my garbage at the check-out.

People can be nice.

The world can be nice.

WIRES Australian Wildlife Rescue is experiencing high volumes of traffic right now because the world is being so nice. Use Safari or Explorer when donating, they advise.

Two nights ago, I had a very clear dream in which the free world was ruled by a world government. I jotted it out by hand in note-form when I woke up:

Supreme Leader (w/Council – 5 people in total) of the world sitting at the center of a large sofa the shape of a half-moon, two council members on each side. Behind them is a gigantic bookcase built in from floor to lofty ceiling. The countries of the free world are stored as square or rectangular volumes in the bookcase in proportion to each other; the volume titled “U.S.” takes up almost a full column at the far right-end of the shelf, against the wall. The countries’ volumes are royal blue with their names embossed in gold. The bookcase is a dark, rich brown oak. The sofa is tan leather with a tufted back-rest. There are a few countries with unusual names, like “Measuring Line,” but recognizable countries are also there. When a country is pulled from the bookshelf, you see that it’s not a book, but a box, and when you lift its lid, a vaporous being/entity gives a signal or a vocal greeting, as in answering a door. The country I saw pulled from the shelf was “U.S.,” and the being inside greeted the opener with the utmost deference.

Just thought I’d share. It’s not often that I have a dream I remember so well, or in such detail.

I’ll close this post here before my sick ass can ramble any longer. Happy Friday Eve, all! Stay healthy.

 

 

 

 

Ze plague, ze plague!

First post of 2020! There’s nothing to report here except that I’m down with the upper respiratory plague that Callaghan brought home from work. We’re both sick. He’s at the end of it, and I’m in the thick of it. We cancelled our New Year’s Eve plans. I cancelled other upcoming plans involving people, as well.

We all know this, but I have to say it, anyway: being sick with an airborne virus morally obligates us to stay away from others. It’s so simple! Just stay home. If you must go to work, at least wear a mask and/or stay out of other peoples’ offices, and please cough into the crook of your elbow. (If you’re the person who went to work sick and spent much of the day in my husband’s office, thus getting him sick, thus getting me sick, then yes, I’m looking at you.)

There’s a 50% chance that I’ll miss Body Pump on Saturday.

My spirits are high, though, and I don’t feel all-over lousy. I’m actually feeling okay despite some pretty nasty cold symptoms, as this particular virus doesn’t include fever, body aches, or headaches. I can feel a clear delineation between the half of me that’s sick and the half that isn’t… weirdly energetic from my feet all the way up to my lungs, with everything from there on up being woozy and congested. I want to take my lower body to the gym and leave my upper body at home.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for you this evening… basically just an update and a Public Service Reminder. I’m going to go eat something. Stay well, my friends! Wash your hands. Use hand sanitizer. Avoid people you know or suspect to be ill. 

December Favorites post coming Tuesday!

 

 

Not aging, but advancing in time. (Birthday Eve post!)

I’ll be 51 tomorrow, on 27 December. Generation X has crept into its 50’s, and our parents are feeling old because of it. I’m not, though.

I take a sort of vampiric pleasure in the notion that I’ve now been alive and roaming the earth for over half a century. It is so f*cking cool. Maybe I shouldn’t be posting this today with such glee, because I won’t actually be 51 until tomorrow, and, you know, knock on wood, but… eh. I’m in the mood to play with superstitious fire. (I’m tempted to throw in some expressions involving water and air to make a cliché set of the elements, but I’ll spare you.)

Wonders accumulate in experiences had by this point in time, if one is so lucky as to have survived this long. Life is funny: if you live long enough, you can “see it all” without having seen anything.

It’s staggering to think of how this planet has so much to offer, including countless commonplace, extraordinary sights I’d love to see, but will never. Who wouldn’t be thrilled to witness a galactic battle of whale vs squid in the dark depths of the ocean? Imagination plays at creator in such instances. I do see some terrestrial explorations in my future reality, though.

So far, the most eventful times of my life were compacted into the four years I spent in the Army, between the ages of 18-22. Those years gave me all the life experience extremes I could need in order to say that I’ve seen a thing or two. When those years were over, I restarted civilian life from age zero. That was how it felt. In some sense, it feels as though I never fully transitioned back.

A civilian rebirth in 1991 makes me 28; since I’m again a late bloomer, even younger than that. I was reborn feeling old, yet I don’t feel “old.” (I make stupid life mistakes like I was born yesterday, so maybe I’m a small child.) I don’t feel that I’ve ever grown up. I’ve stopped expecting that I will. You have to want to do something before you can do it, right? Anyone can grow up if they want to. The desire to grow up has yet to visit me.

I personally think that it’s more important to evolve than to grow up. I’ve felt the process of evolving too keenly at times, but I have no complaints.

I’m still trying to learn from my mistakes, though. I’ve learned a lot from a lot, but “mistakes” has been a bitch of a teacher. (Either that, or I’ve been a bad student, which is probably more the case.)

Forgive me this ruminating. I don’t mean to sound so serious! My birthday being tomorrow means that we’ve arrived at the end of the year, which makes me reflective on an occasion that already asks for reflection. Superficially speaking, I’m just a Gen X-er advancing in time, a Capricorn with an Aries moon walking around in the same not-granny panties, trying to figure out how I want to wear my hair, aspiring to make it to the gym more often than I do, continuing to avoid cosmetic treatments and procedures, and vowing to open the mail every day. 

Here’s my day-before birthday selfie, taken this morning (untouched/unfiltered, as usual… not to brag, but just to say as a birthday pic disclaimer):

 

[26 December 2019, the final day of my 50th year!]

Thank you for reading this far, as always. Until New Year’s Eve, then!

 

 

 

Merry Christmas! (Greetings + cookie recipe)

This may be early, late, or irrelevant to you or to where you are in the world, but for what it’s worth: Happy Christmas Eve!

 

 

(#christmasapp)

I made gingerbread cookies for a gathering on Saturday, and the friend I met for lunch the next day got some, too. Of course I had to post the recipe when it was requested! I forgot to take a pic before the cookies disappeared at my house, but Caroline took one at hers and kindly sent it over. It’s helpful to have a pic to go with a recipe, right?

 

Honey’s Ginger Snaps

 

I’ve been making Honey’s Ginger Snaps for over 30 years. They were a part of a holiday treat spread at someone’s house, and my mom knew the person who brought them, and I asked her to ask for the recipe, AND I modified the recipe over the decades. Originally, the recipe asks for 2 teaspoons each of all the spices (ground cloves, ginger, and cinnamon), and 4 tablespoons of molasses. I cut the cloves and ginger down to 1 teaspoon each, and I use 3 tablespoons of molasses instead of 4. (The original recipe also says that you can use Karo syrup rather than molasses, but I’ve never made them with Karo.) You can adjust the spice levels to your own taste, as I did.

I also modified the recipe to make it unrefined and vegan: I use whole wheat flour rather than white, Earth Balance buttery spread rather than butter (the original recipes asks for either margarine or butter), and a plant-based egg replacer to equal 1 egg rather than an actual egg.

HONEY’S GINGER SNAPS

Sift together:

  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (or flour of choice)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsps ground cinnamon

Cream together:

  • 3/4 cup Earth Balance buttery spread, softened (or butter/margarine of choice)*
  • 1 cup sweetener of choice
  • Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer = 1 egg
  • 3 Tbs molasses

Instructions

[Preheat oven to 325F]

–Mix the sifted dry ingredients into the larger bowl of creamed ingredients. Chill dough overnight.

–Use a teaspoon to scoop the dough and form into small round balls; roll in sugar, cake decorations, candy sprinkles, etc.

–Place on a greased baking sheet and bake for 10-13 minutes**

~~~~~

*If you use butter, go with UNSALTED
**I bake mine for the minimum 10 minutes, so they come out soft. If you want your ginger snaps to be snappy, bake them for longer!

~~~~~

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate!

 

 

You guys are magic. (Update: Salem is back in her room!)

At least one of you who read my last post sent prayers and blessings to Salem, because that same night, our feral furbaby returned to her laundry room and slept in her bed!

The morning after I wrote about Salem not sleeping here anymore on these cold nights yesterday morning Callaghan saw her emerge through the laundry room cat door before he went out to feed her breakfast. An hour later, I checked Salem’s bed and found her fleecy cream blanket properly packed down into a round cat shape, lined sparsely with black fur, and speckled with bits of leaves and dirt. Salem!

She slept here that night, and she slept here last night, too, and… she’s just back. I don’t know how or why, but she decided to come back the night I wrote about it.

Thank you.

There’s something about this blog space, too, I think. It’s kind of like magic how I’ll lament something here, and then the thing will fix itself… and I mean the silliest things, too. I’m thinking of the time I wrote about how doing dishes grossed me out to where I couldn’t bring myself to do them, and I was happy drying/unloading/putting them away. I’ve been doing dishes ever since! It was as if writing about how I hated it reversed the hating it into not minding it. My anti-dishwashing tongue-in-cheek rant was invalid almost immediately after I posted it.

And Salem came back to sleep in her laundry room/bed immediately after I posted about that.

And I’m so relieved and grateful.

 

[Pic from 11 December 2019]

Happy Friday Eve, all!

 

 

The sad song of Salem. (Feral cat woes/cat mom FAIL.)

There’s a special kind of angst that comes from failing to protect a being who needs protection. I never thought I’d sit here sharing this feeling with you, but it’s been bothering me so much lately that I had little else on my mind when I sat down here to talk to you guys today.

Salem, our feral cat, used to sleep in our laundry room, which is an outdoor room. She would sleep and lounge and stretch and luxuriate in the bed I made for her, a pile of carefully folded towels and layers of cozy blankets beneath a little table set up against a wall, with a huge, snuggly blanket folded in half and wrapped around the whole thing, all plush and warm. She loved it. Callaghan and I would watch her through the security camera mounted on the opposite wall, and we saw how much she loved it.

Then I had to go and make it “better.”

Nighttime temperatures have been dropping into the low 40’s, so I decided to put in a pet heating pad. Instead of making her more comfortable, it scared her away. She hasn’t slept in her laundry room since. It’s been so cold here in the desert; the whole point of this specially-designed-for-dogs-and-cats heating pad (which has very good reviews from dog and cat parents on Amazon) was to keep her bed at body temperature during these colder nights.

The problem? The pet heating pad works well, but it has a very strong industrial/chemical odor. Our outdoor furbaby’s encyclopedia of scents can’t explain that the odor belongs to a weird yet harmless inanimate object. Not to mention, it’s just an unpleasant, offensive scent. She hates it. She’s afraid of it. And I realized it after it was too late.

Before the noxious heating pad, Salem’s biggest laundry room threat was other stray cats. There’s this one male cat in particular who can’t help but be a male cat, spraying and/or urinating on her bedding to mark it as his. We’ve been cycling through this pattern the same way we did last winter: tomcat contaminates Salem’s bed, Salem is duly deterred, I go in with my attuned olfactory sense and my black light, find the source of the odor, and do what needs to be done (e.g. laundry) to restore her perfect sleeping conditions. Salem comes back to sleep in her bed again. She always comes back!

She hasn’t come back since the pet heating pad entered the picture, though. Every morning I go into the laundry room hoping to see signs of Salem on the cream-colored blankets – black fur, bits of leaves and dirt – and nothing.

Adding to the misfortune of it all was the fact that it took me a few days to figure it out. Salem’s blankets were saturated with this awful odor! I quickly bore away the pet heating pad and laundered her bedding and put it back together, but Salem had already decided that the odor belonged to an unidentifiable and dangerous beast. She always won the territory war with the male cat, but she lost the war with the heating pad… and I was the one who brought in the vile foe and lined her bed with it.

I’m so mad at myself. When I found her bed unslept-in yet again this morning, my anger at myself drove me to rage-clean the house.

The nights are getting colder and colder, and Salem isn’t sleeping in her bed, and I can’t stop thinking about it.

She still considers our yard to be her yard, though, and that’s good. She comes and goes during the day, hanging out in her favorite spots, eating her meals and snacks on the patio, and drinking from her “watering hole” near Geronimo’s burrow. Sometimes, in the evening, I sit in the dining room and watch her through the sliding-glass door. We connect and bond with eyeblink-kisses. Then the sun sets, and she goes away.

She seems sad. Maybe it’s just me seeing that through the lens of guilt, but I’m sure that she is sad that she can’t sleep in her cozy bed anymore.

 

Salem through the glass door. [16 December 2019]

Thank you for listening to my tale of woe. I’ll certainly come back here all kinds of elated if she starts sleeping in her laundry room again!

 

 

Where am I in the writing-verse? (Writing updates!)

It’s been months and months and months since I last wrote about my writing life. I’m working on my novel again, so I’m back with an update.* You might remember – or maybe you weren’t aware, if you’re new here – that I completed my first novel in the summer of 2018. Now I’m burrowing back into the manuscript to work on revisions.

I don’t have an agent (yet!**), but an agent is guiding me, in a sense. Two days after I queried her, she asked for the complete manuscript. Three days after I sent it, she’d read the entire thing, and she replied with a gorgeous, long email. She loves the novel, but she doesn’t think it’s quite ready for a publisher. She discussed in detail three specific aspects of the manuscript that could be addressed. She then concluded, “I’d welcome an opportunity to read the manuscript again” (should I decide to revise it).

I took this as an invitation, and I accepted it, which brings me to today’s writing update: I’m revising my manuscript so that I can resubmit it to this agent. Specifically, I’m working on giving more space to supporting characters, adjusting the pacing, and cutting back some of the passages by 20-30%.

Her praise, suggestions, and invitation to resubmit in no way guarantees that she’ll offer me representation after reading my revised manuscript, I know… but there’s no question that I’ll do it! I’m thankful that she’s taken the time that she has with my novel, especially considering literary agents’ overwhelming workloads. To have revision suggestions from such high authority is invaluable. Not only is it encouraging, but it’s an opportunity for growth and experience. I’m taking this on with zero attachment to outcome.

*I can’t say that I’ll be posting regular writing updates throughout this process, though I might. We’ll see!

**If this agent doesn’t take me on, then another one will, perhaps.

 

[12 December 2019]

Photo backstory + apology: I was taking selfies when Callaghan came around the corner and started talking to me. I looked over at him a second before I took this shot. It turned out to be the only pic wherein the framed “roses” painting in the background is even slightly straight, and so this is the one I chose to go here. I’m sorry that I’m not looking at the camera. Also, you’re welcome for picking a selfie that won’t make you seasick, because in all of the others, that picture on the wall behind me made the room look like the inside of a sinking ship.

Happy Friday Eve!

 

 

CELESTIAL ELECTROJUNGLE. (Office decor updates, redux.)

I wound up having to re-decorate my office barely two months after I finished my Haunted Cathedral theme. It was fun while it lasted, as they say.

What happened? My house had been literally pulled apart and scattered for over six months, and it was finally time to deal with the fall-out. (I opted to keep our major home renovation out of my blog, because it went on and on and on starting when the A/C debacle ended in May. Among other reasons, I didn’t want this to turn into a HOME RENOVATION blog. You already had to sit through my posts about the A/C.)

After ignoring the mess for so long, I finally jostled myself awake from my stupor of resistance and willful procrastination. Being grounded post-surgery left me with no more excuses. Plus, I didn’t like having a room piled high with stuff. I wanted my guest bedroom back!

That’s right – despite minimalizing more during the renovation, we still had things piled up in the guest bedroom. We had furniture and rugs; bedding and lamps; pictures and candles; cushions and clocks and wastebaskets; cat toys and kitchen items; tools and leftover parts; old fixtures and just, I don’t know, odds and ends of all kinds… because in addition to our own stuff, we had renovation leftovers and debris. There were items to be trashed. There were items to be returned to Home Depot. We had yet more things for the Goodwill. Some of the stuff, we gave away. Some of it went into the alley for college students to scavenge.

And inevitably, I guess, some of it ended up in my office, where it disrupted the Haunted Cathedral theme I’d just completed. Truth be told, I felt kind of selfish having this perfectly decorated room all to myself while there were things that had nowhere to go. All the furniture-rearranging and storage space reorganizing (four closets!) I did wasn’t enough.

There was no use in fighting it. Ultimately, though, chaos became a catalyst as creative energy took over and inspired me in the direction of a new vibe. I got into it!

Revolving around the black moon tapestry that used to be in our bedroom, the vibe in my office turned out to be celestial and futuristic, and the space homey rather than merely decorated. Where office v1 was plants-only/no decor, and office v2  was Haunted Cathedral/themed decor, this new version is simply an agglomeration of stuff over which I threw some blue string lights; I took the jumble of miscellany and tried to shape it into something that proclaims I meant to do this. The string lights and the new tapestry above my desk are my only new acquisitions. They help to make sense of it all.

By day:

 

Office by day

(The moon tapestry used to be in our bedroom. It came down when we painted the whole house, and we never put it back up. It inspired my new vision for this space.)

 

water

(Nenette has to have her glass of water at all times. ~I’m trying hard to save Jerome there on the left side of the bookshelf. It’s not looking good. Sad face.)

 

tapestry

(Here’s my new tapestry, one of the two things I bought… this, and the string lights.)

 

desk

 

Capricorn

(These are the same flowers I had in my Haunted Cathedral theme.)

 

calendar

(I’m already in January. I didn’t want to wait to hang up the calendar, which was a gift from Callaghan.)

 

cat tree

(I accidentally bought a roll of string lights 10 miles long. The bulk of the roll ended up in the Buddha’s lap.)

 

“Mushroom”

 

closet

(The dress is hanging there temporarily. I wore it to a party last weekend, and I’ll wear it to another party this weekend. Then it will go back into the closet.)

 

tee

(Still, “No one is perfect.” This tee is still where it was, only it’s behind the dress at the moment. Grendel the Gargoyle also remains.)

 

salt

(I’m finding it easier to capture Nenette in this new office arrangement.)

 

paws

 

At dusk:

 

Office at dusk

(As the day darkens, you can see my laughable attempt at shaping the lights into a Capricorn symbol. It’s close enough, though. ~The brown patches on the cream rug are made of Nenette’s bronze fur. She loves to sleep on this rug. I didn’t lint-roll it for these pics. This is real life.)

 

shadow

 

“Mushroom”

 

Flamingo

(Flamingo the tree, that is.)

 

lamps

(Office in the front, club in the back!)

 

At night:

 

Office at night

 

nap

(She sleeps on all of the rugs, actually.)

 

stars

(I love the combination of the pink salt lamp and the blue lights. They create a purple light.)

 

ElectroJungle

(Plant family!)

 

“Mushroom”

 

mirror

(The antique mirror leans in the corner behind Flamingo, my tree. It’s a place of honor.)

 

mirror

 

Canterbury Cathedral

(The Haunted Cathedral isn’t going anywhere. It’s staying right where it’s been from Day 1).

 

Nenette

 

And there you have it.

Incidentally, the completion of this project happens to coincide with the revision phase of my novel, which I’ll tell you about in a near-future “writing updates” post.

I hope you enjoyed this unexpected office updates post! Thanks for sticking around, always.

 

 

Back at Body Pump? Cardio re-set? Starting zumba?! (Gym updates!)

This week was rad, because I WENT BACK TO THE GYM.

Ahem.

I hadn’t seen the inside of a gym since before Halloween, which is crazy. I went to Body Pump on Monday, and again yesterday, and I already feel 100% better. It’s incredible how working out transforms my entire being for the positive.

Since we’re here, let’s do a quick “2019 workout year in review”:

The year’s shenanegans included random life interruptions such as medical appointments, people coming to do work on the house, and out-of-town commitments, but it was due to big events starting at the end of July that I’ve stayed home from the gym more this year than any year since 2013. Since I wounded my ankle on July 25, I’ve only gone to the gym 25 times until this week.

It was the ankle incident (there following an extended period of healing and not being able to wear shoes), and surgery (there following an extended period of healing and not being able to eat). In between, I had two severe 5-8 day autoimmune flares three weeks apart.

We’ve arrived at December, and there are eight Body Pump days left between now and Christmas. I plan to hit all of them and get back into cardio. Unbelievably, I haven’t done any cardio at all in over six months!

My gym will open two new locations in the next six weeks; between them, I’m hoping to find a morning BODY COMBAT class I can attend. Meanwhile, I’m going to start walking. I can wear shoes other than high-tops now, so I need to get my ass moving to make up for lost time. A body needs cardio. It’s mandatory.

It was just such a relief to return to Body Pump this week. It was interesting, too: I came back to more changes. I found myself getting emotional with nostalgia during yesterday’s class when the instructor took us through a mix of old, old tracks. Everything is different now, going to a new gym and attending three different locations and doing Body Pump classes with all new instructors, and I miss the old days of Pump when I first started… but things do change.

All I can say is that a person is lucky to have a gym friend turned very cool friend-friend who’s been a constant since BODY COMBAT DAY 1 waaay back. She’s the one who convinced me to start Body Pump after I said I’d NEVER. I think I might finally join her at zumba (another thing I’ve insisted I’d NEVER). You’ll know if I’m there. I’ll be the one in the back flailing around like an inflatable air tube man advertising a car dealership.

 

Me at my future first zumba class.

 

Okay, bye!

 

 

One hour before midnight on Thanksgiving Day…

It is indeed Thursday! It’s Thanksgiving here in the States, and after a full, exhilarating day of food and family-related activities, I’m just now – in the middle of doing dishes and cleaning up the kitchen – realizing that today is a Thursday… and it’s an hour before midnight.

So I’m here to say Happy Thanksgiving to my people who celebrate gratitude with family and friends, and also to let you know that tomorrow I’ll be back with a proper Thursday post.  It’ll be my Black Friday of blog posts, buy one and get one free.

For those of you who aren’t aware, Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, aka Retail Insanity Day (RID) as retailers mark down some of their wares to irresistibly low costs and millions of salivating Americans lose their minds trying to get them. I believe the day is actually meant to kick off Christmas-shopping season. Black Friday is a whole shopping event. For sure it’s a great time to get your appliances and other things that you need!

I prefer the online option to going out and getting trampled in the aisles, but I’m going to do less of that this year. Do I really need to stock up on a year’s worth of stuff from The Body Shop? I’m still trying to use up my stock from last year’s Black Friday!

At any rate, I’m now blathering (about I don’t even know what) while my kitchen needs me desperately. Until tomorrow, then.

 

 

OCTOBER office updates tour! (HAUNTED CATHEDRAL)

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

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

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

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

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

 

Canterbury Cathedral print

 

Print detail

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Cathedral stained glass tapestry

 

Desk corner

 

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

 

Desk-facing wall

 

Relevant texts

 

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

 

Literary skulls

 

Area behind me as I sit at my desk

 

Desk corner wall, right side

 

Antique trunk

 

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

 

Skull and crow

 

Green bat bottle and icy purple pumpkin

 

Antique mirror with black roses

 

Clock and more plants

 

A better look at the clock – 2:45am

 

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

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

 

Shirt and gargoyle

 

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

 

Gargoyle (Grendel)

 

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

 

Buddha fountain

 

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

 

Hats and bags, behind-door hooks

 

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

 

Cat doorknocker

 

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

 

Desk wall with doorknocker (night)

 

Center of the room (night)

 

Desk wall at night

 

Desk at night

 

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

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

Happy Friday Eve, my friends.

 

 

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

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

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

It gives me no excuse, though.

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

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

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

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

 

Skeleton earrings from the V.A. retail store

 

(Skeleton earrings – a closer look)

 

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

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