Coronapocalypse quarantine week 7. (Lost in Space, but in a good way.)

There’s always a t-shirt hanging on the outside of the closet in my office, and it changes along with my general mood. I changed it today:

 

(current mood)

 

It went from a gold-with-flowers “Stay wild” to this gray-with-UFO “Take me with you,” but it isn’t to say that I’m doing poorly. Somehow, I’m maintaining the general good, steady mood I’ve been in since last July/August. It’s been almost a year of no sightless abyss! Of course I have some days that are better than others, but they follow the normal fluctuations of mood that everyone experiences in response to the vagaries of life. It’s not about being rock-solid 100% of the time. It’s about equilibrium. I’m thankful for it.

As for the t-shirt hanging here in my office, I’m just looking at the situation in the world right now and thinking longingly of other places in our galaxy. My mind has been in space a lot recently. (No, not in the way of being spacey or spaced-out… not more than usual, anyway, haha.) I’ve been spending time on NASA’s “Space-Place” site, and I’m not ashamed to say that I’m enjoying it despite being two generations older than its intended audience.

I’m continuously struck by the vastness of our universe, and I want to be out there in it, floating around and visiting other places. Earth is a microscopic speck of dust in the universe; there’s no way that we’re the only life-forms in all of existence. The universe is real. I find the idea of Earth’s creatures being the only living things in it to be arrogant and absurd.

Thank you for hanging out here with me, as always. You guys are certifiably awesome.

Happy Friday Eve!

 

 

Coronapocalypse quarantine week 7. (“Await further instructions” + the 1918 pandemic.)

We’re on week 7 of the quarantine. We don’t know what will happen after Thursday, since it’ll be the last day of April, and therefore the last day of Arizona’s current quarantine order. As with the previous quarantine period that ended on the last day of March, this one will end in reassessment. It’s another AWAIT FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS situation, though it’s fairly safe to say that quarantine won’t end this week.

We should stop calling it “quarantine” and just stick with its nickname “the new normal,” because that’s what it is. I think that medical experts’ suspicions that the pandemic will last for 18 months is correct. They’re saying that the second wave will hit at the end of the summer, as flu season begins. I think it would be a mistake to rush back out full-force in the interim… not while there’s no immunity, no cure, no vaccine.

On that note, I watched this Weird History video (Weird History is one of my favorite YouTube channels) and thought it was interesting in light of today’s pandemic. As usual, Weird History is at the ready with its corny jokes, but hey, props to them for trying to make a pandemic video entertaining:

 

 

In other news, an update on our wildlife situation is in order, because the squirrel I told you about last week is still around! He isn’t just a passer-by, and he doesn’t just romp around in the backyard. We’ve seen him romping in the front, too, amongst the desert vegetation we’ve got out there. Yesterday morning, I spotted him racing across our front patio and then leaping to the base of our date palm. He seems to divide his time between our yards in the front and back; we’ve settled on calling him “Curly Bill” after the Arizona outlaw involved with the Earps on both sides of the law around the time of the shooting at the O.K. Corral.

Curly Bill the Squirrel will definitely get his picture taken one day.

Meanwhile, here’s a pic I took of Nenette this morning:

 

“When I needed a hand, you gave me your paw.”

 

I also want to bring you another Geronimo update post near-future-ish. He makes my heart swoon. I took out my “reptile mom” backpack last week, but I put it away again after Callaghan observed that it looks like the virus. I guess he’s right. It’s round, and it has big soft spikes all over it.

 

 

Coronapocalypse quarantine week 6. (Earth Day, and we have a SQUIRREL in our yard now?!)

Yesterday was Earth Day. Earth Day 2020. We’ve been in quarantine for six weeks, and we’re still in awe of the brightness of our desert stars, the quiet above us even as the airport is still a five-minute drive away, and, more recently, the wonderful and bewildering appearance of a large squirrel in our backyard.

A squirrel. I didn’t even know we had squirrels in Phoenix, and I’ve lived here – in various parts of the Valley – for 29 years! Not only that, but this newcomer to our yard is bigger than the squirrels I used to see in California, where squirrels in the yard are common. This squirrel is as large as most of the rabbits I used to see in the Superstition foothills.

Now I know that there are squirrels in the Sonoran Desert. It only took three decades and a pandemic to learn this.

I can’t get over it. We live downtown, and… a squirrel!

We’ve seen the squirrel three or four times now, but I’ve yet to succeed in snapping a pic. You can bet I’ll post it here if/when I can get one.

Yesterday was Earth Day, and it was also the first morning I noticed that Salem, our feral cat, didn’t sleep in her laundry room bed. She didn’t sleep there last night, either. She’s sleeping beneath the hibiscus now, we suppose, as that’s where she’s been crashing during the day. Yesterday our temps hit 90F for the first time in 2020, so Salem is apparently done with her cozy blanket until winter.

Earth Day 2020… in the middle of a pandemic.

I don’t know whether author Haroon Rashid wrote his poem “We Fell Asleep in One World” with Earth Day in mind (he wrote it with the virus in mind), but I thought about it a lot yesterday as I meditated on the generosity of our beautiful planet, which has been more than patient with us.

You may have read this poem already, but I wanted to share it here in case you haven’t:

We fell asleep in one world, and woke up in another.

Suddenly Disney is out of magic,
Paris is no longer romantic,
New York doesn’t stand up anymore,
The Chinese wall is no longer a fortress,
and Mecca is empty.

Hugs & kisses suddenly become weapons, and not
visiting parents & friends becomes an act of love.

Suddenly you realize that power, beauty & money are
worthless, and can’t get you the oxygen you’re fighting for.

The world continues its life and it is beautiful. It only puts
humans in cages. I think it’s sending us a message:

“You are not necessary. The air, earth, water and sky
without you are fine. When you come back, remember
that you are my guests. Not my masters.”

–Haroon Rashid

 

 

 

Happy belated Earth Day, everyone, and Happy Friday Eve.

 

 

Coronapocalypse quarantine week 6. (Your mail carrier knows you.)

Today, I was forced out of quarantine by some errands that needed to be run, so that was interesting. Remember when leaving your house wasn’t interesting? Wasn’t a cause for reflection? Mask, check. Gloves, check. Hand sanitizer, check. 

I think even the least social of us are getting a little antsy for in-person human interaction. I actually chatted with our mail carrier for about five minutes on the driveway this afternoon when I got back. He’s an obvious introvert, as well, so I was surprised when he said some additional words after he greeted me as I was getting out of the car.

We exchanged hellos, as usual, and then he asked, “What branch were you in?” It took me a second to process his question, and then I realized that he must’ve put something from the V.A. in the mailbox. It turns out that he did… and that he’s also an army veteran who served in the Gulf War. I never would’ve known!

I mean, I don’t know whether he would’ve struck up a conversation were we not in the middle of a pandemic. He’s probably long since deduced that I’m a veteran, since I receive a significant volume of mail from the V.A., but today, he was inclined to ask about it. I think that his interest is a by-product of social distancing. He misses social interaction.

It was nice.

It got me thinking, though, about how our mail carriers can actually know stuff about us based on the mail we receive.

Things our mail carrier knows/could know about me (were he to pay attention): where I bank, where I went to college, where I’ve donated money; that I’m a veteran, and that I’m a member of both the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars; that I’m passionate about animal rights; that I have family in Hawaii; that the Asian part of my ethnicity is Japanese; that I’m a writer; that I’m over 50; that I’m darkly inclined subculture-wise; that I have an exotic pet, and also at least one other pet (reptiles are considered to be exotic, so we go to two different vets, one of them exotic-specific); that I have or have had membership at the Desert Botanical Gardens; which hospital E.R. I visited last summer; where I get my glasses; where I go for dental work; and the brands of all of my kitchen appliances. That’s all that comes to mind at the moment. I’m sure there’s more.

What does your mail carrier know about you, or could know about you were they to pay attention? They could really know you, and maybe now, they want to. I love that social distancing is encouraging us to interact… or maybe it’s just the fact that we’re all navigating this colossal, unprecedented turn of events together, and we’re feeling that energetic connection. Whatever the case, before the virus, the mail carrier said “hi” and kept walking, and so did I.

I tried to get a selfie with Nenette yesterday. It didn’t work. All this picture shows is her reticence and my subsequent disappointment:

 

::le sigh::

 

And all this picture shows is that I didn’t do a good job cutting my hair. Granted, it’s not styled, but still. I don’t regret it, though. I love the (bottom) part that I fixed:

 

Looking forward to properly addressing this mess on my head.

 

First-world problems, anyone?

 

 

 

Coronapocalypse quarantine week 5. (Missed Connections Exquisite Corpse, 6)

On “missed connections” during a pandemic:

With everyone in quarantine, there would either be more missed connections than usual, or less, depending on how you look at it.

The last time I did a Missed Connections Exquisite Corpse poem was in January, back in the Before Time. Just. We were on the brink, and we didn’t know it.

Be that as it may, for this sixth poem in my “Missed Connections Exquisite Corpse” series,  I read through the Missed Connections listings on Craigslist and gleaned some lines that came together in a poem that seems more wistful to me than ever.

For those of you unfamiliar with this series of poems:

To create these poems, I skim through the list of Missed Connections entries on Craigslist and pick out the subject lines that intrigue me in some way… then I arrange them into a shape that makes sense to me. (My standard explanation)

Credit goes to those strangers who unwittingly dropped wonderful bits of poetry in Missed Connections. (My standard disclaimer)

A note about this particular poem: This time, I left all punctuation (and lack thereof) exactly the way I found it. I felt that letting the lines stand alone and untouched made the final poem feel more apt for the times.

 

Missed Connections Exquisite Corpse, 6

To the person who paid for my coffee
I broke your key in your car door
Where is our joke for today?

Saw you at the stoplight
Saw you down by the fountain
You were jogging at Tempe Town Lake

Full moon festival we danced together all night

Where are you

Seeking a friend for the end

U Haul
The extra mile
Years ago

Sad but True
Burning building
Where I took you last weekend

My last customer

 

[credit: esoteric_guru]

The End.

 

 

Coronapocalypse quarantine week 5. (Open letter: Wear Protection, as your high school sex-ed teacher would say.)

Well, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I ordered a pair of hair-cutting shears, and I cut my own hair. Yes. Yes, I did. I don’t think it looks great, but I love it!

This pandemic is slowly getting me back into fighting condition. I’m working out in the garage four-five days out of seven, and I walk with Callaghan around our section of town at least twice a week.

Speaking of our evening neighborhood walks, I have this quick open letter to post:

Dear People Also Walking on the Tempe Town Lake Bridge and Its Adjacent Paths by the Tempe Center for the Arts: WEAR. YOUR. MASKS. FFS.

Thank you,
A Concerned Asian-Looking Chick

The west end of the lake is a favorite walking destination of ours (it’s a 20 minute stroll from our house, wait-time at two crosswalks included), but we’re not heading there again anytime soon. It’s not safe over there. There’s no social distancing to be seen, very few protected faces, and yesterday, it got to a point: We couldn’t keep six feet of distance around us on the bridge. I even had someone brush up behind me! And they weren’t wearing a mask!

I’m mostly talking about pedestrians, by the way… I’m not as concerned about the skaters and cyclists.

It’s a popular area that’s getting more and more crowded, and for reasons I cannot fathom, most people there don’t wear masks. I saw masks on maybe four faces out of 50-70 yesterday. I saw clusters of pedestrians running into other clusters as they ambled along on the path by the art center, merging and mingling, and just… no.

So we’ll happily wander in other directions for now. We have several favorites. There’s no need to walk into an area knowing that there are maskless people at large.

The sunset is pretty on the western edge of the lake, though.

 

Sunset on the lake [13 April 2020]

 

I’m sorry that this post turned into something of a rant, friends. I also wanted to talk more about home workouts, but I’ll save it for a dedicated “fitness updates” post. I hope you’re all doing well!

 

 

Coronapocalypse quarantine week 4. (Quick FUN tip: planks!)

The hour is beyond nigh for this post, and my brain is wrung out.

Hello. I’m writing this from a forearm plank position… just this one sentence. Did you know that this was possible? Neither did I. It never occurred to me before, anyway. I’m not sure why it did now. I’m going to blame it on the virus, which I don’t have, by the way.

(I’m in a weird mood. Please bear with me.)

If you’re not familiar with the plank position, then this is for you:

What you do is you set your laptop on the floor and lie down in front of it on your stomach, like you do, all stretched out and comfortable, your forearms resting on the floor. [<– That is not a part of the plank position. This next part is. –>] Then you flex your feet forward so your toes (actually more the balls of your feet) are planted on the floor, and you raise your body up so you’re supported only by your forearms/elbows in the front and your toes/balls of your feet in the back. Your fingers would be left free to tap the keyboard. Except I’m not suggesting that you do that. That is not a part of the position.

I won’t be writing in the plank position, either. It was just an interesting thing to try. It got me thinking, though, that it might be cool to watch something on the computer while lying on the floor and holding a plank every so often.

I grabbed this image in a hurry just to show you what I’m talking about. This is not an ideal demo pic. The quality and lighting are lacking, for one thing, and for another thing, I’m wearing this big, baggy shirt that’s draping to the floor. It’s rather unfortunate, but just to give you a general idea:

 

forearm plank shenanegans [09 April 2020]

 

Right?!

Watching videos or episodes or movies or whatnot is a sedentary activity, but if you lie on the floor with your computer and elevate yourself to a plank position for even one second, you’re suddenly doing a one-second, full-body strength-training workout while watching whatever you’re watching. You’ll feel your entire body working to keep itself propped up. This is not easy. If you can do it for even one second, you’re a rockstar.

It may not seem fun, but it is! What if you were to try it and hold the position for one second, and then, a little while later, decide to do it again? What if you were to continue doing it every once in a while, holding the position for just a second each time? You would soon notice that you’re holding the position for two, three, four seconds at a time. At some point, you would challenge yourself to hold the position for ten seconds, and then longer, because you’re a human, and humans like a challenge.

Humans like a challenge, and humans wouldn’t enjoy eating snacks in the plank position. That was the thought that struck me. I’ve eaten way too much in the way of snackery while watching T.V. or whatever. Doing this plank thing would be a satisfying diversion. Really!

I just thought I’d offer a fun suggestion for all of our housebound butts. Everything is different and weird now, anyway, so why not?

 

 

Coronapocalypse quarantine week 4. (On pandemics and mental health.)

Callaghan and I sat down in the kitchen the other day to take stock of some of the items we’d kept in our bug-out bag. As we sorted through them, I tried to remember whether, in the Before Time, I imagined that the bag’s contents would ever be put to use in an actual situation. I don’t think that I did. At least, I don’t think I imagined the bug-out bag being used in this sort of apocalyptic situation. I always thought of it in terms of its intended use, which is the get the f*ck out of dodge STAT sort of situation.

The disposable gloves are out of the bag. The future is now, the hypothetical has become reality, and it’s all still so new.

It’s so new, we’re still mentally wrangling with the challenge of changing our behaviors, and we’re finding that this is incredibly hard work. A part of changing behavior is changing our thinking, and most of the behavior we’re talking about is subconscious. Not only is it mentally hard work, but it’s work that we have to do in order to survive and to save others. How can we not be at least a little anxious with this thought in mind? There’s a lot of pressure here, and there’s very little room for error.

Broadly speaking, this is how the pandemic impacts our mental health: We have to do this strenuous mental work in order to save ourselves and others while also trying to maintain our calm.

A zombie apocalypse would be easier to manage than this, in my opinion. You could see a zombie approaching. You cannot see this beast of a virus floating in the air and attaching itself to surfaces. This thing is encased in fat that makes it buoyant, and it’s festooned with little suction cups that make it sticky.

New behaviors to learn, and the mnemonic aids I’m using to ingrain them into my consciousness:

If you must go to the store, don’t do it without bringing a mask, gloves, and hand sanitizer or wipes, because all air outside of the house is poison.

If you have to bring something into the house (that hasn’t been disinfected outside), handle it with caution and then treat the entire area like it’s a crime scene and you’re the murderer and you need to remove your fingerprints from every surface you touched.

If you’re out walking, imagine that this is the zombie apocalypse, and every person you see is a zombie. Six feet between. (A fast-moving zombie could cut through the six feet distance in a heartbeat, so imagine that they’re the slow-moving kind.)

Wash your hands constantly, as if the whole day is spent chopping onions and garlic and you’re desperate to rid yourself of the overpowering aromas.

Train yourself to think before you touch your face, and I mean think as in all of my fingers are sponges soaked in hydrochloric acid that will burn holes into my face if they get anywhere near it.

And to keep my anxiety in check, I’m prioritizing working out. In the best of times, working out is the paramount fix where my mental health is concerned, so now, it’s even more critical that I get into “the gym.” I had time-consuming technical difficulties accessing Body Pump this morning, so I actually canceled my phone appointment with my shrink, as it was the next item on my agenda. I couldn’t imagine forgoing my workout, and I couldn’t do it any later in the day. I’ll have to explain this to him next week and hope that he understands. I’m sure that he will, but you know. I just felt terrible canceling at the very last minute.

Callaghan and I take evening walks every other day. Here’s a bad picture of the moon last night, on the eve of its super-ness:

 

The moon the night before it was pink and super. [06 April 2020]

 

Take care and stay safe, everyone.

 

 

 

In like a lion, out like a tiger: March was a liger. (March Favorites!)

March was a long-ass month, and yet I only have four “Little Things” items to share with you.

This first one is really the only one, though.

 

  1. Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness (Netflix)

 

 

Words escape me.

Tiger King isn’t on my list because I loved it so much. (It’s not a lovable story.) It’s on my list because it’s shenanigans of unbelievable proportions, and it’s an excellent production.

This seven-part docuseries follows former private zoo owner “Joe Exotic,” aka “The Tiger King,” though the story isn’t just about him. You meet many other characters along the way as Tiger King’s events unfold on their twisted path. What’s mind-boggling to me is that each new character is somehow more bizarre than the last, and not one of them is fictitious. I had to keep reminding myself that Tiger King is a documentary. It contains hours and hours of footage accumulated over months, if not years.

One take-away is that there are cat people, and then there are cat people. Your garden-variety “crazy cat lady” has nothing on the folks involved in Tiger King.

Tiger King is well worth the watch because it’s an outstanding production, as I’d said, and the story is just… well, let’s just say that if ever there was a train wreck custom-designed to serve as a distraction from a pandemic menacing all of humankind, it’s Tiger King.

(As a strong proponent of animal rights and welfare, I found Tiger King to be difficult to watch in some places. I turned my eyes away from those moments.)

 

I’m going to leave the following two films bare of text. They’re both fantastic cinematic achievements showcasing impressive acting performances, directing, and story-telling. I have nothing further to say about these films except that I highly recommend them both if you haven’t already seen them. The Invisible Man, a re-make, is a spooky sci-fi thriller, and …Hollywood is a Tarentino comedy-thriller without much of a plot, but entertaining nonetheless. “Tarentino” says it all, right? Ha!

2. The Invisible Man (in theaters now, but we rented it on Amazon Prime Video)

 

 

 

3. Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood

 

 

 

4. Acure Seriously Soothing SPF Day Cream. (Vegan and cruelty-free)

 

Acure Seriously Soothing SPF Day Cream

 

I bought this product when I was almost out of the sunscreen I was using, and I was glad that I had it stored away for the occasion. I used up the last of my sunscreen during the worst time to go looking for a new sunscreen. Fortunately, I love this one. It’s everything I want in a sunscreen: SPF 30, broad spectrum, high zinc oxide content (15.50%), and smooth application.

This SPF product is really an all-in-one moisturizer, but I layer it over my Nourish Organics day cream, anyway. If you’ve been here a while, you know that I’m a skin-care junkie.

 

The End, then. Happy Friday Eve!

 

 

Coronapocalypse quarantine week 3. (“Little Things.”)

They say that car crashes are down 75% here in metro Phoenix.

It’s been eerily quiet here under the Sky Harbor flight path.

The air is cleaner.

The clarity of the night sky has been breathtaking. The virus has unveiled the crisp glory of our desert stars.

I’m enjoying my Les Mills On Demand garage workouts so much that I’ve decided to cancel my gym membership. It’s unlikely that I’ll feel 100% comfortable in the gym over the next year, and I can always re-join at a later date. Meanwhile, I’m not going to miss the stress of getting to the gym on time, and I’ll be saving time, in general… along with money and gas.

Letting go of my social gathering place will not translate to letting go of my friends. There are other places than germ-infested gyms.

Our fur/scale babies are so delightfully sweet in their obliviousness. They have no idea what’s happening in the world around them; maybe this is why being with them is having an extra-soothing effect these days. Immersed in such moments, I’m discovering the extent to which innocence can be a healing balm.

The virus can’t eradicate innocence.

I’ve seen more of the best of humanity in the last few weeks than I’ve seen in my entire life. In the proverbial grand scheme of things, I’m witnessing the virus restore hope and faith.

[Odd side-note: I’ve been back on my hydroxycholoroquine for almost a month since I canceled my gum-grafting surgery, and now I’m hearing that hydroxycholoroquine has been approved for use as a treatment for the virus…?]

Also apropos to nothing, I’ve been baking more than usual.

 

The best vegan chocolate chip cookies, I swear.

 

My heart hurts for you who are suffering in any way due to the virus. Sending love and energy out to the universe to bless you all.

 

 

Coronapocalypse quarantine week 2. (Just call me Mellow Clementine.)

“How you feel right now + last thing you ate” –I’ve seen this coronavirus meme in several places on social media lately. According to my answer, my quarantine nickname is “Mellow Clementine.”

We’ve been talking to neighbors on our street – six feet between us – and the consensus is that it’s hard for people who are working from home to get motivated to work, because they’re sitting at home thinking about why they’re at home.

Then there are the people who talk loudly behind your back fence while you’re out there in your yard, and you hear one guy say to the other: “I got three weeks off from work, motherf*cker!” with emphatic glee.

I admired his upbeat attitude. If he’s also following the guidelines for everyone’s welfare (including his own), then he’s doing better than most of us. If we could all do the happy dance in the alley right now, right?

Something else random: the Body Pump workout I chose to do in the garage today included the Imagine Dragons song “Radioactive.” It’s a song that I’ve heard too often to appreciate anymore, but the lyrics really popped out today. Of course, the virus instantly came to mind, because it’s always right there. The first eight tracks of the workout provided a distraction as I focused on the muscle groups, and then I got down to the floor for the core track and the virus shimmered back to its glaring front-and-center position as the “Radioactive” lyrics came at me:

I’m waking up to ash and dust
I wipe my brow and I sweat my rust
I’m breathing in the chemicals

I’m breaking in, shaping up, then checking out on the prison bus
This is it, the apocalypse

I’m waking up, I feel it in my bones
Enough to make my system blow
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
…I’m radioactive, radioactive

I raise my flag and dye my clothes
It’s a revolution, I suppose
We’re painted red to fit right in

All systems go, the sun hasn’t died
Deep in my bones, straight from inside

Imagine Dragons’ front man has said that the song speaks to his battle with depression. It’s eerily fitting for the world right now.

I’m sorry to be a downer, guys. I set out to free-write, and this is what came out, so I went on with it. Then I heard the rushing sound of Callaghan’s blow-torch as he burned weeds in the front yard, so I opened my office blinds to take a pic of him. I’ll leave you with it so you can enjoy the whole experience of the writing of this post. (I got his permission to use the sneak pic, of course.)

 

Kill it with fire

 

I hope you’re staying safe. Happy Friday Eve, my friends.

~Mellow Clementine

 

 

Coron-apocalypse quarantine week 2. (COVID-19 dominates.)

I’m now referring to the practice of social distancing as “quarantining,” because that’s what the situation should be. If we all behave as if we have the virus, we won’t leave our homes unless 100% necessary. It’s crucial to stay home now more than ever. It’s a matter of life and death, and it’s horrifying to have to write that cliché of a phrase and mean it so literally on behalf of the entire world.

Callaghan’s staying home, along with everyone else at his place of employment. I’m staying home. We’re well-stocked with fresh fruits and veggies for the next week, and I’m so thankful for this. I wish that everyone could be so lucky.

It’s unbelievable how this virus is so pervasive and dominant in our lives. We don’t have to say “Coronavirus” or “COVID-19” anymore. It’s just “the virus,” no clarification needed.

As I did last week Tuesday, I connected with my shrink electronically this morning rather than in-person, because of the virus. We started with a brief chat about the virus, and then he clicked out to take a call from Michigan. During that call, he learned that his brother’s wife now has the virus… so his sister-in-law has the virus, and his brother has been exposed to the virus. It took four minutes and 45 seconds for the virus to kill our appointment, which was absolutely no loss to me, because I’m okay.

(It was my decision to cancel. He said he told his brother he’d call him back after his appointment with me, and I told him no, I’m okay, let’s cut our appointment for this week so you can call your brother back right now.)

I’m just so sad for him. I signed out with a feeling vaguely akin to survivor’s guilt, because in less than five minutes, I saw his world get personally blown up by the virus.

On a brighter note, Callaghan stepped outside on Sunday to find that someone had drawn an elaborate heart at the outside corner of our driveway. It seems that the artist(s) drew hearts on all the driveways in our neighborhood. They used cheerful pastel-colored chalks. I don’t think that the color shows up in the pic that I took, but you can imagine it:

 

Love from a stranger. [22 March 2020]

 

They signed it “H,” but they should have signed it “A,” for “angel.” It’s wonderful and comforting to see that love can spread as quickly from stranger to stranger as the virus.

I wish I could draw hearts at the corners of your driveways or doorsteps or stairs or whatever you have. You can imagine it.

 

 

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.

 

He’s out! Geronimo’s post-hibernation report, 2020. (Desert tortoise update!)

February 22, 2020 (02/22/2020!) was a cold and dreary day. By this, I mean that it was raining… and it was overcast… and the temps being in the 50’s made it cold by Phoenix standards. It is said that one can expect a desert tortoise to emerge from hibernation when nighttime temps hit the high 50’s four-five consecutive nights, and daytime temps hit the high 60’s four-five consecutive days, and there’s sunlight.

So OF COURSE we discovered Geronimo hunkered down in a puddle of cold water on that gray, dismal day, right in the middle of the yard. Because Geronimo is Geronimo.

 

Hello.

 

My hibernating-reptile-Mommy heart melted in the cold. I was an empty-nester no more!

Geronimo abides by no rules of scaly thumb. He lives by the motto rules are made to be broken. He wasn’t about to wait for consecutive nights and days of certain temperatures, nor did he care to choose a sunshiny moment for basking, which is usually the first order of business for a tortoise coming out of hibernation.

He just loves the rain! Being the little barometer that he is, he woke up that day, I guess, and came out to hydrate himself. (Tortoises are very thirsty upon waking up from hibernation.) Like last year, he hit four months and said, I’m good. I’m OUT.

(Average hibernation period for desert tortoises: four-six months.)

Here I’ve got a slew of pics of Geronimo I’ve taken since then. Geronimo has been busy patrolling and surveying every corner of his domain.

Checking to see that his beloved hibiscus were in good shape:

 

Hello.

 

Checking out the length of the east fence:

 

Hello.

 

Checking out the south side of his burrow:

 

Hello.

 

Heading back into his burrow after a long day of surveying:

 

Good-bye.

 

Checking out the space between the fence and some aloe and ice plants:

 

Hello.

 

Checking out the space between the fence and some ruella:

 

Hello.

 

Checking out alternate paths to the spaces between the fence and the plants:

 

Hello.

 

Heading toward the south fence:

 

Hello.

 

Checking out the gravel path heading toward the south fence:

 

Hello.

 

Checking out the ice plants along the west side of his burrow:

 

Hello.

 

Taking one of a million breaks for mommy cuddles:

 

Hello.

 

Exiting his beloved laundry room after checking it out thoroughly:

 

Hello.

 

Checking out the west side of his domain:

 

Hello.

 

Checking out every square inch of gravel on the west side:

 

Hello.

 

Checking out the path from the patio to his burrow:

 

Hello.

 

Basking in the grass:

 

Hello.

 

Chomping through new growth of spring grasses and weeds:

 

Hello.

 

Eating and eating:

 

Hello.

 

Going in for some hibiscus treats:

 

Hello.

 

[Me plucking a young hibiscus bud]:

 

[Hi, from me]

 

[Presenting him with the bud]:

 

Hello.

 

Loving being hand-fed:

 

Hello.

 

Off and running after another mommy-cuddle break:

 

Hello.

 

Surveying his domain from the entrance of his burrow:

 

Hello.

 

Checking out the border around the lawn:

 

Hello.

 

Crossing from the grass to the back of his burrow:

 

Hello.

 

Taking another break for mommy cuddles:

 

Hello.

 

(This pic is weird. It looks like I’m wearing bronzer or blush or contour or something on the side of my face, and I’m totally not. I don’t understand how shadows and lighting work.)

Being fed Romaine lettuce by his daddy:

 

Hello.

 

Still eating lettuce:

 

Hello.

 

Basking in the late-afternoon sun in front of his burrow, even as the sun moved:

 

Hello.

 

Soaking, bathing, and hydrating (the next time I saw him after his emergence):

 

Hello.

 

All is clear in the laundry room today.

 

Hello.

 

The End. Or, “Good-bye,” as Geronimo would say.

 

 

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!

 

 

 

The Big Things can wait. (February Favorites!)

There were a couple of Big Things that made the month of February especially enjoyable, but these lists I put together are about the Little Things. If you’re new here, hello! I do a list like this at the beginning of each month. They’re basically/mostly a run-down of whatever entertainment, processed foods, and non-edible products I discovered and particularly enjoyed in the previous month.

Without further ado, then! Here are the Little Things I’ve got to show you from February:

 

1). The Autopsy of Jane Doe (Netflix)

 

 

It’s not often that we pick a horror movie that actually grips us in any kind of way you’d want from a horror piece. This one did. Highly recommend, fellow horror fans!

 

2). The Pharmacist (Netflix)

 

 

The Pharmacist is the docuseries you don’t necessarily want to watch, but you should. I watched it alone (Callaghan doesn’t watch everything that I watch), and I pretty much binged the four parts/episodes. A New Orleans man searches for his son’s killer and ends up exploring avenues that lead him to other killers, killers of others. (Those last three words were unnecessary, but I couldn’t resist that palindrome. Had to do it.)

 

3). I Am Not Okay with This (Netflix)

 

 

Each episode of this Netflix dramedy is 30 minutes or less, and there are only seven. It’s easy, fun, fast, and cringey. It’s light and dark, real and fantastical… in other words, as balanced in contradiction as a teenager can be. I Am Not Okay with This is a story about a young girl whose superhero powers develop in tandem with all else that develops in adolescence. (It’s based on a comic book series, in case you’re wondering about the superhero part.)

 

4). Homeland, S6 (Netflix)

 

 

All last year, Callaghan periodically wondered out loud about Homeland’s new season. Isn’t it supposed to be out by now? Two years after the last, its final season has finally arrived. As usual, it’s outstanding. We’re already wondering, “WTF, Carrie!” We’re going to miss Homeland.

 

5). Better Call Saul, S5 (Netflix)

 

 

Another series we’d been anticipating was Better Call Saul. May I just suggest that if you loved Breaking Bad and you haven’t yet watched Better Call Saul, you might want to get on it…? This Breaking Bad prequel focuses on the development of Saul, Walter’s attorney, and it’s brilliant. Season Six is the series’ penultimate one; as of now, the overlap between the two series is getting real.

 

6). Locke & Key (Netflix)

 

 

Like I Am Not Okay with This, Locke & Key is another “kid’s show” of a series. This outright fantastical story gives off Stranger Things vibes that become especially potent by the end of the season. If you enjoy stories in the Stranger Things vein, you’ll likely enjoy Locke & Key.

 

7). Food For Life Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Whole Grain English Muffins. (Vegan)

 

Food For Life Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Whole Grain English Muffins

 

8). Food For Life Ezekiel 4:9 Original Flake Cereal. (Vegan)

 

Food For Life Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Original Flake Cereal

 

If you’ve been here awhile, you know that I love Ezekiel breads. Lately, I’ve been eating Ezekiel 4:9 cereal and English muffins… together. Hence, I’m writing about them together.

Food For Life’s Ezekiel 4:9 products were “Inspired by the Holy Scripture verse Ezekiel 4:9., Take also unto thee Wheat, and Barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and Spelt, and put them in one vessel, and make bread of it…

…indeed, Ezekiel 4:9 breads and cereals are made of these ingredients. This is a bad picture of the informative back panel of the cereal box, but if you click to enlarge it, you might be able to read it:

 

Food For Life Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Original Flake Cereal

 

 

9). Equal Exchange Organic Very Dark Chocolate. (Vegan)

 

Equal Exchange Organic Very Dark Chocolate (71%)

 

I love a dark, bitter chocolate. I’ve been eating more sugar than usual lately because I’ve cycled into a chocolate phase. It’s safe to say that I’ve consumed maybe three of these Equal Exchange chocolate bars in the last month. It’s hard to resist! Equal Exchange dark chocolate is rich and creamy. It’s divine.

 

10). Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Oat Blossom Liquid Hand Soap. (Vegan and cruelty-free)

 

Mrs. Meyer’s Oat Blossom Liquid Hand Soap

 

Also in February, I discovered Mrs. Meyer’s Oat Blossom scent. It’s kind of vanilla-almond-amberish. It’s my new favorite of the brand’s fragrances!

 

That’s it for February, my friends. Happy March to you!

 

 

Sumo Haiku 4: Last (Kisenosato, Abi, Hakuho, Takayasu)

With this last posting day of the month comes my final set of Sumo Haiku. If you’ve stuck with me for all four days of this little event, thank you!

In addition to devoting these days to haiku for NaHaiWriMo, I was hoping to make Sumo interesting in a novel way for those who aren’t fans. I’ve only been a fan for three years, so I know how different it can be to regard these guys as humans among us, out and about. Let’s face it: If you’re not a Sumo fan and you’ve no knowledge of Sumo’s traditions, what you likely see of the sport is a bunch of obese men in diapers trying to push each other out of a sandbox. I hope I’ve managed to bring some personality into this perception, if nothing else!

*****

If you haven’t seen it already, click here to read Sumo Haiku Day One with its introductory, explanatory opening text. I’ll go ahead and re-post the disclaimer part here, though:

[DISCLAIMER: In these haiku, you’ll read purely fictitious portrayals of the wrestlers, simple whims of my imagination as I considered each one. I actually know nothing of the inner lives and selves of these guys.]

I’ll introduce each haiku with the name and photo of the wrestler. The haiku about that wrestler will appear beneath his photo.

That being said, enjoy this last set of Sumo Haiku!

 

Sumo Haiku 4: Last (Kisenosato, Abi, Hakuho, Takayasu)

(by Kristi Garboushian)

 

Kisenosato:

 

  1. Kisenosato

Satisfying his

pressing need for clarity

requires nine days.

 

Abi:

 

2. Abi

Energy bound in

slim sheets of stationery:

changeability.

 

Hakuho:

 

3. Hakuho

He met a guy who

knows a guy who will purchase

his grandmother’s urn.

 

Takayasu:

 

4. Takayasu

Thunder clouds lifting

the earth on a planet turned

upside-down, shining.

 

The End, and Happy Friday Eve, my friends!

 

 

Sumo Haiku 3: Third (Ishiura, Ikioi, Sokokurai, Nishikigi)

It’s my hope that you’re enjoying these sumo haiku as much as I’m enjoying writing them, even if you’re not a part of a cross-over, niche world of readers who are both haiku and sumo fans. Whether you’re one of those or the other (or neither), I’m happy to introduce you to some of these combat athletes as they appear out in the world – in actual clothing, no less! (Pun not intended.)

Today is the third day of my Sumo Haiku project. Thursday will be the last TALC posting day of February. NaHaiWriMo will be over, my next post will consist of February Favorites, and then I have some newsy-news for you that I can’t wait to share!

If you haven’t seen it already, click here to read Sumo Haiku Day One with its introductory, explanatory opening text. I’ll go ahead and re-post the disclaimer part here, though:

[DISCLAIMER: In these haiku, you’ll read purely fictitious portrayals of the wrestlers, simple whims of my imagination as I considered each one. I actually know nothing of the inner lives and selves of these guys.]

I’ll introduce each haiku with the name and photo of the wrestler. The haiku about that wrestler will appear beneath his photo.

Have at it!

 

Sumo Haiku 3: Third (Ishiura, Ikioi, Sokokurai, Nishikigi)

(by Kristi Garboushian)

 

Ishiura:

 

  1. Ishiura

Self-conscious, he keeps

room for flexibility

in his bright jacket.

 

Ikioi:

 

2. Ikioi

…obliviously

takes out-of-season fables

from spring libraries.

 

Sokokurai:

 

3. Sokokurai

Possesses secret

talent for dance instruction

willed to him at birth.

 

Nishikigi:

 

4. Nishikigi

Goal for the new year:

enchant beasts of granite strength

with handfuls of stars.

 

 

Sumo Haiku 2: Second (Terunofuji, Kaisei, Daishomaru, Okinoumi)

Whether you’re a faithful reader or just someone who stumbled into this space, welcome to the second day of my Sumo Haiku project!

I’m enjoying this project. I would love for others to see and appreciate the beauty of Sumo as well as that of haiku.

If you haven’t seen it already, click here to read Sumo Haiku Day One with its introductory, explanatory opening text. I’ll go ahead and re-post the disclaimer part here, though:

[DISCLAIMER: In these haiku, you’ll read purely fictitious portrayals of the wrestlers, simple whims of my imagination as I considered each one. I actually know nothing of the inner lives and selves of these guys.]

I’ll introduce each haiku with the name and photo of the wrestler. The haiku about that wrestler will appear beneath his photo.

Enjoy!

 

Sumo Haiku 2: Second (Terunofuji, Kaisei, Daishomaru, Okinoumi)

(by Kristi Garboushian)

Terunofuji:

 

  1. Terunofuji

Ancestral fighter

redolent of sandalwood:

the older brother.

 

Kaisei:

 

2. Kaisei

No expectations.

He doesn’t want to offer

anything that asks.

 

Daishomaru:

 

3. Daishomaru

…adores reading and

inviting consequences

into rooms of art.

 

Okinoumi:

 

4. Okinoumi

He looks in their eyes

like he’s gazing at his death.

He rarely wears gold.

 

 

Sumo Haiku 1: First Four (Mitakeumi, Endo, Tochinoshin, Asanoyama)

In February 2016, I started writing a series of haiku, some of which I posted here in TALC. I didn’t post all 76 of the haiku I wrote between February and August that year, but I did share a few, each accompanied by a photo.

It’s now February four years later. Considering that February is National Haiku Writing Month (NaHaiWriMo) and that the next Grand Sumo Tournament (basho) is less than three weeks away, I wanted to write some haiku about Sumo. Haiku is a Japanese poetic form. Sumo is Japan’s national sport. I’m a big fan of both.

Sumo-related haiku could come from any number of angles, but what came to my mind in a moment of reflection was the idea of imagining the inner lives and selves of Sumo wrestlers (rikishi), like when you’re people-watching and your need for amusement spawns backstories for some of the humans you notice.

I selected my 16 favorite Sumo wrestlers with the intention of creating fictional personas for each of them. Between now and the end of the month – there are four more TALC posting days in February – you’ll see four haiku sets, each containing four haiku about four different wrestlers, one for each of them. The poems are short, as haiku traditionally consist of 17 syllables distributed across three lines. (I personally enjoy working within this tradition.)

Some of you are here for the poetry. Some of you might be Sumo fans, but I’m guessing that most of you are not. For those of you who’ve no special affection for either poetry or Sumo… yes, I went and combined the two! Thank you for bearing with me here today, and, in advance, on Thursday, and also on next week Tuesday and Thursday. [::sheepish grin::]

[DISCLAIMER: In these haiku, you’ll read purely fictitious portrayals of the wrestlers, simple whims of my imagination as I considered each one. I actually know nothing of the inner lives and selves of these guys.]

I’ll introduce each haiku with the name and photo of the wrestler. The haiku about that wrestler will appear beneath his photo.

Enjoy!

 

Sumo Haiku 1: First Four (Mitakeumi, Endo, Tochinoshin, Asanoyama)

(by Kristi Garboushian)

Mitakeumi:

 

  1. Mitakeumi

Maybe he believes

that evil fairies exist,

love notwithstanding.

 

Endo:

 

  1. Endo

“He’s the pretty one” –

I think, Goth, black eye-liner,

cold night, street light mist.

 

Tochinoshin:

 

  1. Tochinoshin

Mountains wake and roar

ten minutes into his sound

sleep. He’ll sometimes dream.

 

Asanoyama:

 

  1. Asanoyama

Perhaps amber ale.

Watery, late-summer fruit.

“Metrosexual.”

 

 

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!

 

 

Campy. Tasty. Ethical. (January Favorites!)

January’s “favorite little things” theme involved easily digested entertainment, sweet munchies, and a couple of products. January wasn’t all that bad. Check out what I’ve got for you today!

 

1). The Witcher (Netflix)

 

 

Exaggerated video game/graphic novel aesthetics (The Witcher had already been delivered in both of those mediums) contribute to the comic-book style of this fantastical series. Where some see The Witcher in comparison to Game of Thrones, I see it as the adopted lovechild of Lord of the Rings, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels.

As I’d commented to a friend, from what I’ve read online, there are two types of Game of Thrones fans: those who can’t watch The Witcher because of GoT, and those who love The Witcher. (Callaghan is a huge fan of GoT, and he enjoyed The Witcher.) It’s funny how a series can polarize a fandom of another series! I love humans. Whatever your case, The Witcher is done well from an artistic standpoint, so there’s that. I also appreciate and resonate with its thought-provoking tagline, “The worst monsters are the ones we create.”

 

2). American Horror Story – 1984 (S9)

 

 

Continuing on with campy entertainment to be enjoyed at home, we’ve got American Horror Story – 1984, which came out last fall. We finally got around to it in January! It’s unabashedly cheesy, and I loved everything about it; 1984 instantly landed in my top-three favorite AHS seasons.

 

3). Good Girls (S2) (Netflix)

 

 

Good Girls is the series you turn to when you want a crime thriller, a comedy, and a light watch. It’s well-cast with actors who can act, but as usual, I especially enjoyed the performances of Christina Hendricks and Retta.

 

4). Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (S3)

 

 

We were also happy to have a new season of Sabrina. The series gets darker, sappier, and more complicated in season three, and we were into it.

Come to think of it, we didn’t watch anything heavy in January. It was all magic, monsters, and ridiculous shenanigans… a fabulous tone to strike in the first month of the new decade, and appropriate for the times, at that!

 

5). Ten Second Songs (YouTube channel)

So there’s this guy named Anthony Vincent on YouTube. He’s a phenomenal music talent who plays numerous instruments very well, and he can sing like, well, everyone, apparently. In YouTube favorites this month, I bring you his channel: “Ten Second Songs.” From video to video, I’m endlessly entertained. One thing he does is he takes this challenge: he picks a song requested by a viewer, and he sings/performs it in the style of other musicians, also requested by viewers. You don’t need to be familiar with the songs or the musicians Vincent covers, as he’s hilarious and awesome to watch, regardless, but it’s especially fun when you do know the songs and musicians he’s covering. Here are a couple of examples of his cover challenges:

Disturbed’s “Down With The Sickness” (I know the song because I’m big a Disturbed fan):

 

 

Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” (I know the song because of Body Combat):

 

 

6). Mountain Dew Zero Sugar commercial (As Good As The Original) – The Shining edition

 

 

I love almost everything about this most excellent commercial. The only thing about it I don’t like is the product it’s touting, but who cares what it’s about when you have Bryan Cranston, Tracee Ellis Ross, and The Shining. I never get tired of this.

 

7). CLIF Bar – Sweet & Salty Chocolate Chunk with Sea Salt

Chocolate Chunk with Sea Salt CLIF Bar

 

I’d lost my ability to taste while I was sick in January, but I could taste sweet. One sweet I particularly got into was this variety of CLIF bar. Chocolate Chunk with Sea Salt is delicious.

 

8). Ricola The Original Natural Herb Cough Drops

 

Ricola The Original Natural Herb Cough Drops

 

I don’t have much to say about these cough drops beyond 1). they helped, and 2). they didn’t taste terrible. I actually like this flavor! I always have a few in my bag now. You never know when you’ll need a cough drop.

 

9). Hello Activated Charcoal with Fresh Mint + Coconut Oil Epic Whitening Fluoride Toothpaste

 

Hello Activated Charcoal with Fresh Mint + Coconut Oil Epic Whitening Fluoride Toothpaste

 

I discovered this toothpaste as I was researching teeth-whitening products. I’m glad I gave it a try! It actually works, and it’s fun to brush with black toothpaste. You end up with a mouthful of ghoulish zombie teeth, and then you get to spit black stuff into the sink. It tastes like a minty toothpaste with a hint of barbeque (not BBQ foods, but the actual BBQ), and it’s just slightly gritty in texture. Love this stuff. I brush with it after brushing with my normal JASON toothpaste. I don’t mind brushing twice.

 

10). Sally Hansen Pure Vegan Nail Polish

 

Sally Hansen Pure Vegan Nail Polish

 

For the first time, a mainstream drugstore nail polish brand has a line of vegan nail polishes! Sally Hansen has stepped into the future. It’s good nail polish, too.

 

This brings us to The End. Didn’t I just say “Happy Friday Eve”? I’m saying it again!

 

 

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!

 

 

Henry Cavill is Jack Reacher.

Well! Author Lee Child is retiring and handing Jack Reacher over to his brother, who will continue to write Reacher novels. I read about this with a great deal of relief. I’d suspected that Child was going to retire soon, and I was not looking forward to Reacher’s death day. With this new arrangement, Reacher will survive Child’s retirement! Thank you for saving Reacher for us, Lee Child!

Even more exciting, Lee Child himself is working with Amazon Prime to bring us a Jack Reacher series (!!!) with a Reacher that we loyal fans will love, and this brings me to the crux of today’s post. They’re looking for an actor to play Reacher, and I have a suggestion.

I’d previously written that I thought Bradley Cooper could be a contender for the role of Jack Reacher. Let’s just forget I ever wrote that, because that was before I (obsessively) watched The Witcher on Netflix.

In The Witcher, Henry Cavill plays the lead role of Geralt of Rivia, who is Jack Reacher in another dimension.

In my mind, Cavill isn’t a mere contender for Reacher. He IS Reacher.

 

Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia in “The Witcher”

 

Geralt of Rivia travels around, gets himself embroiled in situations, and brings down monsters, just like Reacher.

 

Henry Cavill

 

Geralt of Rivia’s “hmm” is the equivalent of “Reacher said nothing.” Watch the two-minute video below to hear his “hmm” in various contexts. It’s a versatile “said nothing,” for sure. You get more than just “hmm” in the video, though. The video captures 23 specific seconds of pure Reacher.

If you only have 23 seconds to spare for this video, go to:

0:18 – 0:28 for a sample of Reacher dialogue delivery and a classic Reacher moment.
0:43 – 0:56 for another listen to his voice and another classic Reacher moment.

 

 

Cavill has a deep, full voice that’s effortlessly menacing, and thunderous when needed. Like Reacher’s.

As for specs? Henry Cavill is 6′,1″. No problem. Put 4″ custom lifts in his shoes to make him 6′,5″ if it’s necessary for this otherwise perfect Reacher to stand exactly that tall. He certainly wouldn’t be the first actor to do it. I found an article that points to Vin Diesel, Sylvester Stallone, Russell Crowe, Mark Wahlberg, John Wayne, etc. as actors who’ve worn lifts to appear taller than they are… allegedly, anyway.

Cavill’s weight probably changes from role to role, but his walking-around weight is irrelevant. He has a Reacher-perfect frame, build, and overall physique.

 

Henry Cavill

 

Cavill is almost too pretty, but he escapes that deal-breaker with his strong and coarse facial bone structure. He has a face that would lend itself well to any practical-effect make-up needed to uglify him to Reacher standards. He dirties up pretty well, too.

 

Henry Cavill

 

There are details. Reacher’s nose has been described in comparison to a smashed-in pancake, or something to that effect. Cavill can achieve such a look. He has prominent brow ridges that add to his Reacher-appropriate, unrefined appearance.

 

Henry Cavill

 

Outfit Cavill with blue contact lenses. Cut his hair short and bleach it as blond as it is in The Witcher. 

We should also consider that Henry Cavill tends to play heroic and stoic ultra-macho guys, so he has plenty of Reacher-demeanor experience, too.

 

Henry Cavill as Superman. Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia in “The Witcher.”

 

Henry Cavill has everything it takes to play Reacher. He’s an actor with a workable Reacher face, of a workable Reacher height. He has an ideal physique and a deep, powerful voice. He can be scary just standing there. He captures Reacher’s demeanor and character traits and “says nothing” better than anyone I’ve seen. In the above-posted video, you’ll note that Cavill can match his facial expression to the context of each “hmm” he utters.

As Geralt of Rivia in The Witcher, Cavill exudes Reacher’s essence to where both Callaghan and I were prompted to remark on it.

Not to mention that Henry Cavill can act, too. No need to go looking for someone who’s exactly 6′,5″ and less of an actor!

Have I missed anything?

 

 

 

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!