Long sleeves until 120F.

One of those large black bumblebees has been hurling itself violently at my office window on and off for the last two days, and I’m starting to worry for it.

In today’s fluff, I bring you another episode of “Selfie Request Fulfillment.” My minor obsession with background and lighting almost got in the way of this. We’re soon to paint all of our interior walls, you see. It’s hard to notice anything pleasing about your surroundings once you’ve finally made a plan to change them to your liking. It is for me, at least.

We bought this house complete with a fresh paint job, a beautiful paint job done with a color that inflicts a sallow glare onto everything in the path of a camera. When I take pics of food or objects, I fiddle with brightness and contrast on my phone to get the thing to look like its proper color. When the subject is human, I don’t do anything to the pics. I lack the patience for it.

Anyway, I figure that as long as I’m aware of how fortunate I am to have walls to paint, I can wish for them to be a different color without a twinge of first-world-problem discomfort.

Here’s yesterday:

 

Long sleeves until 120F

 

That newly thumb-tacked tapestry behind my desk will be moved to another wall after we’re done painting, as I have a different tapestry meant for that space. Looking at this pic, I can’t help but notice that the walls themselves don’t even look like their own color! The warm glow of the wall seen in the upper-right corner is an impostor. The bit of wall revealed in the bottom-left corner of the pic is more accurate… it’s not just a shadow.

The agony of visual deception! Fetch me my smelling salts! I shall retire to my chambers until the walls are painted, though I could make do with a simple fainting couch.

One morning in January, I sat in the living room convinced that there was a bull in my front yard, the ass end of which I could see from the window. I blinked. The bull was still there. I blinked again, and the bull was still there. After blinking a third time, I beheld a sheet draped over our young citrus tree, wrapped loosely and partially cascading. My husband had arranged this to protect the tree from low overnight temperatures. I was mildly disappointed to see that the bull was merely a tree wearing a sheet.

Thanks again for hanging out with me here, one and all!

 

 

Missed Connections Exquisite Corpse, 3

You know what makes my day sometimes? Missed Connections on Craigslist. I love this collection of writing, these strangers posting missives to one another.

It’s the entries’ titles that interest me, because those are the hooks. When I come across an entry titled “Asparagus Whisperer,” I smile. Not enough can be said of spontaneous smiling! When you’re alone at your computer and you smile out of amusement or affection, it’s genuine. A heartfelt smile intended for no one is a gift to yourself.

I went to Craigslist Missed Connections today and was rewarded, I guess, by the season… people seem to have been especially inspired by each other lately.

So here – I suppose this really has become something of a series! – I’ve collected my favorite hooks gleaned from about a month’s worth of Missed Connections entries. Credit goes to these strangers who unwittingly stopped by to drop bits of poetry for me to gather and combine.

I’ve probably explained this before, but again for you newer readers: I don’t change anything in these entry titles, save for obvious typos, as “(sic)” would muddy up the poem. I don’t add or change punctuation or caps. All I do is quickly skim through the entries and pick out the titles that intrigue me in some way, and I copy/paste them into a Word document.

 

Missed Connections Exquisite Corpse, 3

Hello, we met in the psych ward.
you switched to pharmacology after seeing a psychic
“They” say tue change purse has all the answers

Punk rock dude on 7th ave and indian school.
Serving up delicious pie
From Albuquerque to Vegas via Phoenix

Roadrunner
Cruisin 7th. You took money for the show
Looking For the Classic Beauty at White Mountain Dispensary on 4/20

Asparagus Whisperer
Missing that comic book girlie
Studying Spanish

Thoughtful woman who stopped at the Clean Freak
Looking for Michael the Bearded Bartender
Silver Cadillac on cave creek

Looking for my up, up, and away
Missed and missing still

Woman crying in car
I was at the movies alone – you were too.

 

La Fin.

 

 

Say it like you mean it, take it how you want it.

As a post-postscript to forever (hopefully) close the subject of the A/C saga at our house, the roofing people showed up today to patch the hole in the roof. The lack of communication with the roofers was an okay reason to miss the gym at the last minute. I wasn’t going to complain about it! I would rather miss the gym than miss the roofing people, whose Next Available is in six weeks.

I did some housework, some push-ups, and some writing. I took selfies for my writing FB page profile, and also for my own amusement. That last was actually a matter of resisting the urge to re-watch my favorite movie. It seemed fine enough to wear the movie, instead.

 

Tombstone. Take it how you want it.

 

In addition to “endure the sun in your eyes long enough to take the picture,” my expression says, “Say it like you mean it. Take it how you want it.” That’s the other thing about today: I’m feeling defiant after reviewing a particular blood lab result. I’m not going to speak further of it yet, as I’ll know more in the near future. For now, can we just agree that the internet has the worst bedside manner? I’m not being flippant with that superlative. I really mean it. The internet does not care. When you have a weird lab result and the internet says it can only be one of two things, and it seems that one of the things is off the table, then you’re left wondering about the other thing.

You know it’s not a laboratory error, because your results came out the same in three consecutive tests since January. So you hope for an anomaly of a test result. You hope to be more anomalous than you already are.

Also, that isn’t a Tombstone t-shirt per se. It’s just an AZ shirt. It shows Wyatt Earp, his brothers, and Doc Holliday riding above the inscription “Department of Homeland Security.” Cheesy, I know, but I love it.

Back to the mention of Facebook, though! I’m thinking of taking inspiration from Callaghan and updating my professional (writing) page more. I’ll continue posting links to these blog entries on my personal FB page for you who anticipate them – thank you greatly for that! – but I’m going to stop saying that I intend to post there more spontaneously. I recently tried to get back into FB from my personal page, and it took five minutes for the nausea to set in. I’m irate enough as it is regarding our current state of affairs!

It may not seem like it from this post, but I’m really doing well and feeling well. I’m not a walking bad mood. Things are good. The roofing people came and patched the hole! A solid roof over one’s head cannot be overestimated.

 

 

April Favorites, of sorts. (ft. zombies et al)

To those of you who look forward to my “monthly favorites” lists, I must apologize again this year. I have no list for April. This isn’t to say that there were no “little things” to be enjoyed last month, because there were… mostly simple things, which often feel the most satisfying, anyway. Dried apples and fresh strawberries. Spring cactus blooms and perfect Arizona in-between weather. I discovered an exceptional hairstylist at the Supercuts down the street. Body Combat at my alternate gym seems promising in terms of consistency. Mundane little things like this make a big difference in the day-to-day, I find.

On the writing front, I’m crafting a plan for my second novel. It’s been too long since my last writing update, I know! I’ve been writing poetry all this time between novels. Poetry explains the world to me, and these days, there’s a lot of explaining to be done. Let us not speak of the explanation-resistant world here. This is a place for serious stuff, like witches and zombies.

If nothing else, April was a month of enjoyable horror entertainment. We went looking for it on Netflix and found ourselves catching up: we had the second season of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and the second and third seasons of Santa Clarita Diet. I delighted in the revelation that the former got darker, and the latter got funnier.

On the cinema side, we went to see Us, which left us adequately spooked and contemplative. Us exemplifies psychological horror done well. I love a film that makes you say, “Now that I know what I know, I want to see this movie again.” But I haven’t re-watched it yet, because the next movie I went to see was Pet Sematary. My thoughts on the re-make? I enjoyed it, but I prefer the original. I still get cold prickles recalling the image of Zelda dying in that bed in 1989, whereas Zelda in 2019’s re-make didn’t terrify me at all. Also, 1989 zombie cat creeped me out more effectively than 2019 zombie cat. See? I’m a simple and low-budget horror fan, happily freaking out before simple and low-budget horror flicks.

At any rate, I suppose April could be summed up with witches, the dark lord, zombies, and all other species of the undead.

May is looking good. It’s an odd-numbered month, which means it’s a Grand Sumo Highlights month!

I love this sumo slogan:

 

[art by sumofish]

On that note, Happy Friday Eve, all.

 

 

 

The eye of the tortoise. (Desert tortoise update!)

Again, I didn’t plan to post about Geronimo so soon after the last time. If it seems that I’m obsessed with my scale-baby, it’s because I totally am.

 

All clear in the laundry room, mommy. You’re welcome.

 

It occurred to me recently that our sweet, funny little dinosaur looked familiar. He reminded me of someone famous, an idea that became a matter worthy of serious investigation. Geronimo has a celebrity doppelganger! I must find out who! An image came to mind, and from that, a suspicion. I dug around online and confirmed it. Either Godzilla (1998) was deliberately created in the likeness of Geronimo’s kind, or the likeness was a coincidence. It’s that distinct shape of the face… the nose, the chin, the slope of the mouth, nearly everything!

 

Godzilla 1998 was inspired by someone, it seems.

 

Geronimo’s eyes are prettier, though.

 

Eye of the desert tortoise.

 

To use a well-worn cliché, I believe I’ve waxed poetic about Geronimo’s eyes before. They’re stunning. They’re green – often greenish-gray in appearance, depending – with black accents and a luminous white ring around each pupil. Geronimo’s eye looks like a total eclipse, and I do feel like I’m falling blindly into it when I stare too long. Gazing into Geronimo’s eyes is like an astronomical experience.

 

Eye of the desert tortoise

The eclipse that sees all.

 

Also, Geronimo is a much cuter monster than Godzilla, in my admittedly biased opinion. Godzilla wouldn’t love hibiscus flowers, now, would he? We would never see Godzilla devouring flowers. Hibiscus flowers remain Geronimo’s favorite food. Behold this video from today:

 

 

Geronimo’s continuing with his daily spring pattern: he emerges from his burrow in the mid-morning, eats, and retires back to his burrow for a nap at around noon. He comes out again in the late afternoon, often just to sit on his patio before going all the way in for bedtime.

 

Calling it a night in the early evening

 

He sleeps through everything, including theatrics such as yesterday’s: a micro-burst hit our neighborhood and felled our neighbors’ mesquite tree, the broken part of which ended up partially on the pavilion covering Geronimo’s burrow.

 

Fallen mesquite

 

That was a strange and magical bit of weather; we were surprised to have our first mesquite tree weather casualty as early as April. I have a feeling that Geronimo’s going to be ecstatic when this year’s monsoon season arrives!

 

 

 

Brain GliTcHes. [Health update]

In A/C update news, things are going swimmingly. The insulation will be blown in tomorrow, and the roof damage will be repaired in a couple of weeks. Voilà and YAY!

In health update news, adventures are afoot. I’ll be going out of town soon for a week’s worth of testing. There may be a few – non-traditional, I guess you could say? – reasons for some of the issues I’ve been experiencing, particularly in my brain. Guys, I recently wrote “oxymoron” rather than “redundancy” in a blog post title; I wasn’t too surprised when the mistake was brought to my attention, as this sort of thing’s been happening more and more frequently… not only in writing, but in speaking, too. I say the wrong/opposite words, miss/leave out words, butcher words, forget words completely, stumble over words and get physically lost around my speech, and/or put words in the wrong order… even when I’m talking to myself.

Sometimes, I can’t find words to say at all. I find an echo-less tunnel where the words used to be. My mind being an actual blank renders me actually speechless. This is especially frustrating when there’s a roomful of people looking at you in expectation of words coming out of your mouth.

There was that time at a party when I forgot how I met someone earlier, at the same party. We were introduced, we had a lengthy, substantial conversation, and when I ran into her again less than an hour later, I had no recollection of how I knew her. How we met. How we were introduced.

Moments pass and vanish from my memory like they never happened. It’s like I’d have to record everything in writing and in the moment in order to know about it in future moments.

 

[…]

All of this has been going on for a while, but it’s gotten worse these least few years. Too many minutes, words, and events have been sucked in and out of nothingness, and so testing has been scheduled. I’m incredibly grateful. I’m celebrating the circled date in my planner. I can’t wait to catch that flight to a facility where maybe someone can find my brain,

(among other things).

It’s just mystifying. I know that my emotional numbness comes from PTSD, but this? What is this?

I wish I could better explain all of this! Some of you must know exactly what this is like, though. No one is alone. I’m sorry, and yet I’m not. We’re unique, and yet we’re not.

On THAT note, please do enjoy a wonderful Friday Eve.

 

 

L’amour est bleu. (Fitness updates!)

Today’s post is brought to you by a “fitness updates” request. It’s been a month since my last one, anyway!

In short and in summary, I’ll just say this: If you’re looking to start working out, consider trying a Les Mills group fitness class, if you can get to a gym that offers Les Mills classes. I’ve seen people of all ages and levels of fitness in those classes!

For the at-length, actual “fitness updates” version, I’ll start with…

Les Mills Body Pump (strength-training with weights): How about I think back on today’s class, just for fun? Our leg track was set to a song that’s also used in Body Combat, which is why I thought of Body Combat while doing squats this morning. It also came back to me how in the On Demand video, the male lead announces that his female co-lead is “the only monster on the stage,” and how I thought this to be an odd thing to proclaim. It’s definitely a strange remark to hear if you’re oblivious to the fact that the song’s refrain begins with “She’s a monster.” I don’t pay much attention to lyrics in these classes. Context is everything, right?

This morning’s chest track was a Guns N’ Roses song. [-nothing further-]

The back track was one I didn’t remember at all. From the music to the moves, I recognized none of it. It was like doing a new release back track! Loved it.

I’m unable to bring the triceps song back to mind, though I can remember the workout combination.

The biceps track was set to a song by Pink, whose songs in Body Pump challenge the part of my brain that finds the beats. I’m not sure why this is the case with Pink and only with Pink. It’s like her vocals are so powerful and independent, they leave the beats behind. I always pick up on them or sense the timing eventually, though. It happened to be easy today.

I don’t remember this morning’s lunge track song, but the workout involved a little plyometric action, which I enjoy.

And the shoulder track? It was that one with the French vocals, “L’amour est Bleu.” It’d been a while since we’d done that one, and it was interesting to revisit it after my weight increases. I could note how my shoulders have strengthened since the last time we did that track.

This brings me to the update part of the “updates”: I’ve increased some weights since my last fitness updates post a month ago. I’ve gone heavier on legs, back, and shoulders.

Body Pump’s effects are most notable to me in terms of strength, but clearly the workouts change your physique, too. When you turn around and catch someone staring at you as you’re walking away and he gets all flustered and says, “Nice backpack!” you know that there’s something other than your backpack going on back there. (Either that, or the car wash guy just really admires my backpack.)

[I just realized that my account of this morning’s class was more about the music than about the workout. Ah.]

Les Mills Body Combat (cardio kickboxing): I did this class at my (new) second gym for the first time last week. It was cool, literally. Between the superpowered A/C and a huge, noisy fan, the room was so chilled that I hardly broke a sweat! It was a good workout. It was a new release, so that’s always fun, but I must admit that I’m not going to be sad to say allez, au revoir to this release. To me, it’s death by mountain climbers, and that isn’t fun. Of all the moves I’ve done while working out EVER, mountains climbers are my least favorite. They’re great for conditioning, but UN-FUN.

Step + Abs (cardio/aerobic): I haven’t gone. The last step class I did was on March 17. I always intend to go, but there’s always something or other, and now it’s been five weeks since I’ve worked out on a Sunday! I only managed to make up for it once. Life has been happening, as life does.

And that’s okay. I’ll keep trying to get to Sunday morning step.

Even one workout a week would be better than none. 20 minutes of exercise (i.e. brisk walking) would be better than no minutes of exercise. File this in “habits worth developing.” Also, “things that are fun before we know it.”

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

[17 April 2019]

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

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

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

 

[17 April 2019]

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

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

 

 

Next in A/C news… (ROACH edition!)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

yesterday

 

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

But it is what it is.

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Who loves obstacles? Geronimo does. (Desert tortoise update!)

It’s trivia hour! Did you know that when a ceiling is torn down, it sends a thick cloud of white dust and bits of plaster and old insulation throughout the entire house? Including in the rooms whose doors were closed? Including underneath the things that were inside the closet whose door was closed? I didn’t know this until two hours ago. I’m that much more knowledgeable now! The next thing I want to learn is why a person tearing down a ceiling wouldn’t seal off the area with sheets of plastic or something. Even the burners on my flat-surface stove are barely discernible beneath the layer of ceiling dust. Everything in every room in our house is coated in dust, and it was just the ceiling in the hallway that came down.

ANYWAY, that’s all very topical and in-the-moment. I come to you like a phantom passing through a veil of fog, you see. My fingers on the keyboard leave prints in the dust. May I reiterate that my office door was closed when the hallway ceiling was coming down.

Ah, well.

So here we are, and I’ve got worthier matters at hand: the following moments captured in pics and a video. I wasn’t going to present a Geronimo update this week, but I happened to have my phone with me yesterday when I went out to spend some time with him.

Sonoran desert tortoises have long legs for climbing, and Geronimo does love to climb! He tries to climb everything. We leave beams of wood and bunches of branches laying around just for him.

I don’t think I’ve yet shared this pic of him from March 6:

 

See bench. Must climb.

 

Geronimo has been climbing over my outstretched legs since Day 1, when we had to babysit him indoors because we rescued him during hibernation season and he couldn’t go outside. You don’t know a restless tortoise until an active desert tortoise lands in your house during hibernation season, by the way.

I sat against the back fence yesterday afternoon, and Geronimo got to climb my legs over and over and over as he walked his laps along that straight line. This adorable little dinosaur is tireless.

 

 

He also loves to cuddle, which involves getting as close to me as he can and stretching out his neck to rest his head on my leg. Yesterday, I finally had my phone with me to capture it.

 

Mommy!

 

This guy is too sweet and cute. I can’t deal with it.

 

Never thought I’d melt into the eyes of a reptile.

 

Geronimo’s been enjoying more of his hibiscus flower dessert as the days get warmer. He loves the flowers from budding to blooming.

 

Hibiscus flowers: candy for Sonoran desert tortoises.

 

We’re thinking of putting together some kind of climbing tortoise playground for Geronimo. Geronimo enjoys the challenge of obstacles. I want to be like him when I grow up.

 

 

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

[Note: a redundancy, not an oxymoron!]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

It was all too cool. (March Favorites!)

I’m back with a “monthly favorites” post, and this time it’s an actual 10-item list and also on the first blog day of the new month – just like old times! I’ve got more food on the list than anything else, along with a couple of products, one random item, and only one entertainment mention. We didn’t get to the theater at all (not to worry – Us is at the top of our list for when we do), and we watched less T.V. than usual. We caught the March Grand Sumo Highlights, but you already know how much I love Sumo. We watched a fluffy streaming series that kept us entertained, but I didn’t feel compelled to include it here.

Without further ado, here’s what I’ve been watching, eating, and using:

 

1). Hanna (Amazon Prime Original)

 

 

I hesitated to include this series because it just dropped, and we’ve only seen the first two episodes. It might’ve been better to put it on my April list, but I’m already so impressed that I wanted to share it now as a recommendation. Hanna is based on the 2011 film, and it brings together one of my favorite T.V. duos: Linden (Mireille Enos) and Holder (Joel Kinnaman) from The Killing.

 

2). Shea Moisture 100% Virgin Coconut Oil Daily Hydration Facial Wipes.

 

Shea Moisture 100% Virgin Coconut Oil Daily Hydration Facial Wipes

 

I ran out of facial wipes for makeup-removal, and I saw these and almost didn’t get them… they’re not the cheapest. I was looking for my usual Yes to Coconut facial wipes when my eye caught on the word “coconut” on this package. Of course, I got them. Of course, I love them. They’re refreshing and wonderful with my makeup removing products, and they don’t feel oily at all.

 

3). W3LLPEOPLE Bio Extreme Lip Gloss (Berry).

 

W3LLPEOPLE Bio Extreme Lip Gloss in Berry

 

Target’s added more vegan/cruelty-free cosmetic lines to their stock! They’re killing it. I picked up this W3LLPEOPLE lip gloss in Berry, and now it’s my new favorite lip product. I love the feel of its formula, its herbal scent, the staying power of the color, and the color, itself.

 

4). Taylor Farms Sweet Kale Chopped Kit.

 

Taylor Farms Sweet Kale Chopped Kit

 

There’s not much to say about this salad mix except I’M HOOKED. It is chopped salad perfection. I’ve been eating this for lunch every day, removing the cranberries from the seed packet and using my own dressing (olive oil and balsamic vinegar for this one) rather than the one included.

 

5). Dried apples.

 

Dried apples

 

Dried apples: a new favorite snack that’s easy to eat while writing. No mess! They’re tart and light and lightly sweet, and the chew is satisfying and not clingy to the teeth.

 

6). Japanese sweet potatoes.

 

steamed Japanese sweet potatoes

 

Here’s another new favorite snack: these tiny sweet potatoes. I steam a whole bag all at once and keep them in the refrigerator. They’re easy to grab and eat, and they’re also mess-free since they’re cooked in water with no oil. So good!

 

7). Vega Sport Protein Bar (Crunchy Peanut Butter).

 

Vega Sport Protein Bar in Crunchy Peanut Butter

 

Vega Sport’s peanut butter crunch bar is my new favorite way to get in some post-workout protein if I can’t get home right away to make a protein shake.

 

8). Munk Pack Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Protein Cookie.

 

Munk Pack Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Protein Cookie

 

Clearly, I’m eating more sugar these days; I was impressed with the nutrition panel on these protein cookies, so I thought I’d try them. Lenny and Larry’s, move over. Munk Pack’s protein cookies’ nutrition panel looks better, and from what I recall of L & L’s, I like these better, too. I cut them in half and store them in the freezer in individual snack bags, so I only eat half at a time (half = one serving). They’re awesome frozen! I also love the double chocolate ones. I currently have both in the freezer.

 

9). C-Weed Snack Seaweed Crunch with Almonds.

 

C-Weed Snack Seaweed Crunch with Almonds

 

MORE SNACKS. Mom sent two bags of these seaweed snacks from Hawaii. I love seaweed in all forms. I also love almonds. This one was going to make my list without question… I mean, it was going to have to try really hard to not make the list. It’s not just not-horrible, it’s really good. If you like seaweed, you’ll want to try these!

 

10). Bat birthday card.

You guys, this was a totally random and anti-minimalism purchase. I was looking for a card for a specific person/occasion – not a birthday – and my eye snagged on this one. Bats! I read the outside, read the inside, and felt an uplifting of mirth such that there was no way my depression-challenged ass wasn’t going to bring it home. I love the art, as I said, but the card had me at the incorrect comma, weird/wrong syntax, and the awesome WTF-ness of the punchline. This card with its goofy message and birthday-hat-wearing-bats sits on my dresser and makes me giggle every day. Best four bucks spent in the month of March.

 

[studio ink another side of hallmark – art by brace]

goofy birthday bats by brace

 

The artist signed as just “Brace.” Thank you, Brace!

The End… of March.

 

 

Geronimo does laundry, part 2. (Desert tortoise update!)

We’re still learning things about our beloved desert tortoise. Last week, I learned that Geronimo has a keen memory. Apparently, he recalls events that happened last year.

Remember when Geronimo trashed our laundry room? (If not, go ahead and click that link to read the story.) He’d gotten himself into a precarious position when he reached the spot he wanted in the room, and he relayed his displeasure in no uncertain terms as he huffed and puffed and stomped back to his burrow after I removed him and set him outside. As friendly and lovable as he is, when a tortoise as expressive as Geronimo gets cranky, he makes sure that you’re aware.

Geronimo remembers that day in the laundry room, and he made sure that I knew it last week while I was doing laundry.

He was on the far side of the yard when I went to put the clean clothes in the dryer, but I found him approaching quickly when I turned to glance through the open doorway behind me. (Have I mentioned how shockingly fast he is for a tortoise?) My heart laughed with joy at the sight of him, but I slipped in an affectionate warning with my greeting: “Hi Geronimo! Are you coming to help Mommy do laundry again? Don’t raise hell in here this time.”

He already knew what he was going to do. He had a plan. He entered the laundry room and walked around the perimeter, wrestling himself between my feet as I stood at the washing machine. Then he crossed through to his spot, sat himself down, got back up, ripped an impressively long, loud fart, and left.

That was how I learned about his memory. That he’s smart and highly expressive, I already knew. He took it to another level with that fart, though.

I guess I can’t blame him. He’d been so proud and happily hunkered down in that spot last year when I extracted him from the wreckage he’d created.

Here’s a few shots of him from today:

 

Geronimo walking tall.

 

Geronimo camouflaged. Where’s Geronimo?

 

And here’s a video clip of Geronimo walking toward me, to give you an idea of how quickly he walks! I actually had to move the phone (camera) back in order to keep up with him, because he was barreling straight for it, and he would’ve head-butted it in no time.

 

 

 

 

Happy Friday Eve, all!

 

 

 

What’s new at the gym? (Fitness updates!)

Mercury retrograde ends in two days. I’m getting ready to throw confetti.

[…]

Fitness updates!

Me (one week ago): I’m not joining a second gym for just one class. That wouldn’t make sense. No.

Me (yesterday):

 

Second gym.

 

Who even am I?

Body Combat is leaving our gym for good, so I went looking for a replacement. I wanted to find a Combat class that’s held on a weekday morning… my one requirement. The so-called silver lining to Body Combat’s departure from my gym is that I’m DONE fighting traffic through downtown in the evening, when a 12-minute drive takes 50-55 minutes no matter the route. This is not normal. I do not live in L.A., and I don’t have to play that game, I say!

Not to mention that it’s been a long time since evening classes made sense in my schedule. Body Combat was my one and only.

With this second gym, I have more options than ever all over Phoenix. Hey! Maybe one of the two gyms will open a location specifically in NW Tempe. I figure it’s a matter of time, considering that everything else is being built here.

In Body Pump news, we did the new release (#109) on Saturday, and I’m intrigued. There’s an unusual challenge: a new move with a mysterious timing relationship to the music. I wasn’t able to decode it during that first run-through. How do the beats work with this move? I hope to feel it this Saturday! It’s a great workout, 109. It destroyed my shoulders.

As for Step Plus Abs, I’ve settled into making that class a martial workout, as that’s a surefire way for me to burn up some energy. I quietly go beastmode in there. If she offers a fancy variation to a move, I don’t take it… I stick with the basic version and just do it hardcore. There’s enough footwork happening as it is, and there aren’t too many variations throughout the workout, anyway, so I’m still getting in that agility training.

Them’s my updates! I’ll sign off on a note of fitness motivation (I love this one):

 

 

 

 

Missed Connections Exquisite Corpse, 2

People usually go to Craigslist’s “Missed Connections” looking to find themselves in the entries. I go to look for people who expose themselves as poets in the lyrical titles they write.

Many of you seemed to appreciate my “Missed Connections Exquisite Corpse” post, so I thought I’d peruse Missed Connections again to curate another one! It’s a joy to look through the entry titles with a poem in mind.

Enjoy this poem written by strangers, for strangers:

Missed Connections Exquisite Corpse, 2

It’s Raining in Mesa
Almost forgot the keys

Crimson lips and glasses
90’s Movie Moment in Safeway
Peaches n cream
Blueberries Everywhere!

Remembering “Red Velvet”
Missing our literature discussions
Do you like art?
Did you make the most of it?

 

 

Intuition: a partnership of gut and brain.

On a bloggy note, about half of what I plan to write doesn’t get written or completed. Today’s post is such a deviation, because today, I’m thinking about disciplines and organizations that taught me simple tenets I’ve never forgotten:

(From piano lessons) Hold back

(From Girl Scouts) Be prepared

(From the Army) Stay alert to stay alive

(From boxing) Keep your hands up and your chin down

Years ago, this young boxing-gym guy (18? 19?) I didn’t know very well refreshed me on all of these lessons together in one second. Our coaches had us sparring, so our mission was to try to hit each other while avoiding getting hit. One of his punches landed through a weakness in my defense. It was a solid right hand. The hardest hit I ever took was from him, and it was my fault, not his.

No one who’s seriously training in combat sports faces their sparring partner thinking, “This person isn’t really going to hit me.” Regardless of who your opponent is to you – friend, gym comrade, etc. – you expect them to try to hit you, and they expect you to try to hit them, and you both think about this as you mentally prepare your respective defense games… and that’s the whole point of the sport. The rules in a combat sports ring (ring, cage, dohyo, whatever) are clear-cut.

Unfortunately, the most treacherous ring of all is the world, itself. When you enter a combat sports ring, you know you’re going to get hit if you drop your guard or make poor strategic decisions. You know that the other person is there to destroy you, and that the only one you can trust to come to your defense is yourself.

In the ring of the world, we don’t know who’s going to do what, or if, or when. The hits we take in real life come in all forms. Every day brings news reports about crimes committed by people known and often loved by the victims, but still, you don’t go around thinking in defense mode around friends and loved ones. You trust that they won’t hurt you, because you have a relationship with an undercurrent of that trust serving as the foundation of your bond.

Trust is scary because it’s easily betrayed. Fortunately, we’re inherently armed. Whether I remember to use it or not, I know that I have one weapon to hold my trust in check: my intuition.

My intuition is a weapon of self-defense that I got for free because I was born with it. Humans are equipped with inner alarms critical to survival, yet it’s so easy to disregard them. Deception or bodily harm. Strangers or people you know. A “bad feeling” that changes your mind about going somewhere you’d planned to go, and then a fatal multi-car crash happens at the time you would’ve been there. Intuition is a partnership of gut and brain, and we all have it built inside of us.

It’s hard to always hear and heed intuition when there’s this other part of the brain that wants to override it for one reason or another.

 

Muntjac deer – my spirit animal (photo credit: L. Bruce Kekule)

 

It’s easy and even natural to drop guard, to read about a murder and say, that can’t happen to me.

Thinking about intuition always brings me back to those tenets I was taught in piano lessons, Girl Scouts, the Army, and combat sports training: Hold back. Be prepared. Stay alert to stay alive. Keep your hands up and your chin down.  

And listen. That’s the most important lesson of all. Our parents usually teach us that one.

 

 

Nothing to see here today, unfortunately.

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

For those of you who asked, here you go:

 

Yours Truly on [2/10/2019]

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

 

 

 

 

Reminder to self: this is why. (Minimalism, post 15.)

My beloved bluetooth speaker landed in a Goodwill donation bin a week or so ago. This was not the plan. It was an accident, a mix-up, and when I realized it later that night, a peculiar melancholy settled into my spirit. I felt a little lost without the silly thing. I mean, it wasn’t like I’d named the speaker or anything, but I carried it around with me quite often in this big green tote bag (the one that looks like a handbag, but serves as a duffel, with my actual handbag inside).

Music means a lot to me. My music exists out there in the ether; I know that I could listen to it on the exact same speaker were I to go out and get a new one, but it was my speaker that I wanted.

The next morning, I got to the Goodwill five minutes before they opened, spoke with the manager, and walked out with my speaker, which was found after the kind people in the back searched through the bins for about 20 minutes.

This incident brought back to mind one of the motives behind my minimalism efforts: my desire to resolve my issue with attachment. It’s one thing to love a cherished item, but it’s another thing to feel forlorn if the item vanishes. The thought of my speaker all alone in a bin of discarded electronics actually had me feeling sad for it.

Emotional attachments like this are unhealthy. How can it be healthy when the loss of a material item jeopardizes your emotional well-being? Buddhism teaches against attachment for a reason.

Mind you, this speaker holds no sentimental value for me. It’s just a speaker… and now I realize that it’s kind of like a security blanket, which underscores the problem.

When it comes to minimalism, everyone has their reasons. For me, a minimalism mindset is a worthy one to cultivate because I want to stop forming attachments to material items. If this Goodwill incident was a personal minimalism test, I failed.

I’ve obviously got a way to go before reaching my goal. I’ll keep working on it!

 

 

What there was to see can now be seen. (February Favorites!)

For being the shortest month of the year, February 2019 seemed long and drawn-out. Some awesomeness came out of February, for sure! On the 10th, I added a Sunday cardio class to my workout week, so I’m finally back to five workouts per week: three days of weights, two days of cardio. The last time I was in this place was when I started Body Pump and I was still going to Monday night kickboxing. That was over two years ago! I’m determined to let nothing get in the way of this modality split. If I have to miss a class, I have to find a way to make it up. Yesterday, I found out that I’ll be out of town for a week in June, but I’ll be staying in a place with gym equipment. No excuses.

What else? Looking at my planner’s February month view, I see that I went to many appointments, most of them at the V.A. hospital, and also I went to the dentist and to the optometrist. I had no social agenda items in February at all! I met with 0 of my friends. It was a long and busy month, but it was productive and not at all unpleasant.

Oh! If you read my last post, then you know that Geronimo (our Sonoran desert tortoise) emerged from hibernation on February 28th. That automatically makes February awesome.

Onto the wonderful Little Things, then…

Three Netflix offerings we watched that I enjoyed (in the order that we watched them):

1). Velvet Buzzsaw

 

 

2). Russian Doll

 

 

3). Doctor Foster

 

 

A cosmetic item that I’m finding to be lovely:

4). Pacifica Super Powder Supernatural Eyeshadow Trio (Stone Cold Fox).

 

Pacifica Super Powder Supernatural Eyeshadow Trio in Stone Cold Fox

 

And one random little thing:

5). New glasses. New prescription, new specs. I don’t have a new-glasses selfie (yet), but I can post a pic from the company’s website and link you to the frames. They’re Prodesign Denmark Model 4729 from the Danish Heritage Collection. I got them in Tortoise… of course! They’re light and comfortable, and they weren’t on the pricier side. That’s always a plus.

 

 

 

That about does it, I would say! I hope you all enjoyed an overall good February.

 

 

Guess who came out of hibernation?!! Hint: it starts with GERONIMO. (Desert tortoise update!)

Last week Thursday afternoon, the last day of February, I was walking back into the house from the laundry room when I saw something out of the ordinary from the corner of my eye. Something on the rocks. Something large. It was dome-shaped, lumpy, and vaguely dappled in dusty earth tones. It looked like…

GERONIMO.

It was Geronimo!!!!

Who knew we’d see him again as early as February?! Well, it was the last day of February, but still. We were thinking he’d emerge in late March, maybe early April.

For some reason, I’d envisioned him stepping out of his burrow as if on a red carpet with trumpeters on each side to herald his return. He would march out to reclaim his domain in full Geronimo fashion.

Instead, I found him sitting still on the rocks, covered in dirt and nearly blending in, as desert tortoises are wont to do. His manner of return was perfect.

I went running to him, of course, and his adorable little face poked out of his shell as he blinked “hello” at me. He stretched out his neck and tilted his head up when I petted his nose. I stroked one side of his neck for a while, and then he turned his head in the opposite direction so I could get the other side.

I flew back into tortoise mom mode. A good soaking was in order! Geronimo needed to be hydrated after his long sleep. Hot water gushed from the garden hose for a few minutes before it gave way to the lukewarm temperature Geronimo requires. He sat in his bath and drank water and squirted it through his nostrils.

He got his second soaking today. He likes to soak in the shade, so I propped a parasol on the ground to make an awning over his bath.

Six days post-hibernation, he’s still moving a little slowly; he’s not quite back to his tall, robust, rowdy self. He’ll walk a little, plop down and doze off, then wake up and walk again. He shuffles hither and yon in search of snacks, which are everywhere. He eats the spring grasses on the lawn and the weeds in the rocks with impressive appetite. When he’s not eating, he spends most of his time near his burrow, on and around his burrow’s terrain. He also naps in the entrance of his burrow. At sundown, he goes all the way back in for the night.

THIS GUY. IS SO. CUTE.

Geronimo’s been coming out of his burrow for six days now. Of course, I’ve been taking all kinds of pics. Here he is in all his 2019 glory. He’s 21 years old now!

Geronimo says “hello.”

 

Hello.

 

Hello.

 

 

Hello.

 

Hello.

 

Hello.

 

Hello.

 

Hello.

 

Hello.

 

Hello.

 

Hello and good night.

 

Hello and good morning.

 

Hello.

 

Hello.

 

Good-bye.

 

Good-bye.

 

Good-bye.

 

How I missed his little elephant legs!!!!

 

 

Why I scroll past mental illness denial memes. (Thoughts on happiness as a state of being.)

Self-help has good intentions, but I think it’s gotten a little out of hand. I mean, I shouldn’t be, but I’m still kind of astonished when I scroll through social media and see that suddenly, everyone has become a life coach.

Wisdom wrapped up in little square boxes. I post memes, too, sometimes. The last one I posted said, “Reading can seriously damage your ignorance.” Most of the few I’ve posted have been fitness-related.

My pet peeve of the self-help meme universe is the genre I think of as “mental illness denial.” At the tired center of this genre, you get phrases like, “Happiness is a choice.” “Happiness is a choice, not a result.” “Today I choose to be happy.” “Happiness is not a feeling, but a choice.” And so on. I know that these are meant to serve as motivational, but I have a hard time with this category.

Happiness isn’t always a choice when you’re clinically or acutely depressed. The opposite of happiness is depression, and depression isn’t a choice, either. Happiness and depression are states of being, states unalterable by neat and tidy little happiness instructions. Glib quotes like “happiness is a choice” or “today I choose to be happy” can’t loosen bleakness embedded in your consciousness.

Dear Everyone Living with Mental Illness:

It’s not your fault if you can’t attain happiness by simply waking up and stating an intention to choose it that day. You’re not a failure. We know that “Today I choose to be happy” can’t account for a day that hasn’t happened yet. We know that a conscious navigation of our thoughts toward a mindset of happiness just isn’t possible all of the time.

Scroll on by those pebbles of wisdom online, because the last thing you need in front of your face when you’re struggling with depression is a meme suggesting that it’s your own fault if you’re not happy.

I get you.

What we might be able to attain is a state of being okay in specific instances; it’s worth floundering between anger and sadness in the process of talking ourselves into okayness with the situation. We have to get brave and get real with ourselves, and this can be difficult. It comes down to mental strength, an especially relatable concept for the mentally ill, as “okay” is more of a mindset into which we can will ourselves. For us, “okay” is “well.” Wellness is a solid aspiration.

Happiness is a state of being. It’s my humble opinion that the declaration “Happiness is a choice” cheapens the experience of being happy. I think it makes happiness superficial. (I may be interpreting the word differently than you do. Do you feel that happiness is the same as joyfulness? As contentment?)

We all have our definitions, interpretations, and strategies to get us through. A few of mine:

1). I work on reaching a state of okayness, and then I seize on that and do what I can with it. Okayness is a good foundation for me. It’s something I can top off with music, for instance… and then I can derive joy from those moments. It’s always the little things.

2). It sometimes helps to throw together a list of joyful little things, just quickly, without thinking about it. Reading over such a list can be soothing. I free-wrote a list for this post. It came out looking like this (in no particular order):

music.
poetry.
stories: fiction and creative non-fiction, whether depicted on the page or on a screen.
plants.
animals and their rights.
fitness and combat sports training.
paranormal, horror, thriller, action.
lipstick, band shirts, skin care.
sumo and mma.
desert and the sea.
black, gunmetal gray, periwinkle and other blue-violets.
tortoises.
cats.
volcanos.
albatross!
the zombie emoji.
food writing.
zodiac.
blueberry scented anything.
anticipation.
buddha.

3). I take a cliché of vague resignation like “Life is full of mysteries” and I tag “mysteries make life interesting” at the end. Then I have something of intrigue to ponder, rather than the hopeless quality of the mystery, itself.

4). I take optimism carefully. I’m all for optimism, but I’m even more for cautious optimism.

“Happiness is a choice” – not that easy. Such declarations in these self-help memes don’t account for we who battle depression. Don’t let them make you feel worse. We know we can experience moments of happiness… days of happiness, even. As for those other days, well, we shouldn’t be hard on ourselves. We know that we’re trying.

Love,
Kristi

~~~~~

Afternote: this pic is the last you’ll see of me in these glasses. Yeah, I got new ones. New prescription, new frames. It’s the little things.

 

Retired glasses. [23 February 2019)

 

 

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

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

Imagine that:

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

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

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

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

I’m so confused.

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

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

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

 

Wandering Albatross

 

This video demonstrates the size of the albatross:

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

A beautiful day and cat spray.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

breaking and entering with malicious intent

 

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

 

Salem

 

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

But it was a gorgeous day today.

 

 

I went to a step class. (Fitness updates!)

I did a step class on Sunday morning because I wanted to add another group fitness workout to my workout week. It had to be cardio (preferably kickboxing; definitely not Zumba),* and it had to be on Sunday morning. I combed the schedules for all of my gym’s Phoenix locations and found the Sunday morning “Step Plus Abs” at a location as near to my house as my regular gym. Yay!

Turned out that the class title on the schedule is a misnomer, as there are no Abs in “Step Plus Abs.” It’s just Step Plus. The instructor let me know at the beginning that it was “advanced” step.

I’ve taken step before, but I went to Sunday’s class assuming that I’d forgotten how to do it. I was right. The only familiar moves were “basic right” and “basic left,” so BASICALLY I remembered nothing.

The first person I saw when I walked in was a woman I recognized from Body Pump, who asked whether I’d ever done step, to which I replied, “Yeah, but it was a really long time ago.” She smiled mirthfully and said, “You’ll be fine, then.” I answered with “We’ll see!” while looking into the future and seeing myself clueless. Because when I say I did step “a really long time ago,” I’m talking about 25 years ago, as in, decades ago. 25 years ago, I was 25 years old. 25 years is long enough for me to forget how to do step.

The class was kind of fun. Weirdly enough, I worked up a decent sweat (not Body Combat-level sweat, but enough to roll down the sides of my face), but I still had a full tank of gas at the end of it. I was breathing normally. I was speaking effortlessly. I felt like I’d exerted no energy at all. How is it possible to sweat and also feel fresh and energized after a workout? I didn’t feel anything the next day, either. My muscles gave no indication that I’d moved my body in ways it’s not used to moving. I felt nothing.

It wasn’t a challenging cardio workout for me, but it was still cardio. Any cardio is better than no cardio! I kept going with step-knees and step-kicks when I got totally lost, so I did maintain continuous on-and-off-the-step movement for 50 minutes, or whatever it was.

I’ve decided that I’m going back to that Sunday morning step class because:

  • There’s no regular Sunday morning kickboxing class at any of my gym’s locations
  • Step isn’t high-impact, but it’s a sweat session nonetheless
  • It’s easier getting myself to a group fitness class than onto a treadmill
  • Step class amounts to some crazy-ass agility training

Agility training is an important component of fitness, I feel, and step class is nothing if not that. The instructor had us skittering all around the step bench and up across it every which way with intricate footwork in complicated patterns and switching directions and feet straddling the bench and turning and turning back and up the step and down the step and now do the same thing on the other side and so on and so forth. There’s choreography, and it’s fast. There’s terminology, and you have to know it. Your brain has to be fully engaged in order to keep up.

Step is sweat-inducing physical and mental agility, and totally different from what I normally do.

I’d still like to find a morning kickboxing class somewhere in the week, though! (And not on a Body Pump day!) I’ll keep looking through the group fitness schedules for my gym’s nearby locations, in case anything changes.

In lieu of a pic relevant to this post, please enjoy this ridiculous pic from the day my hair freaked out after I washed it and it ended up complimenting my t-shirt.

 

Basking. [18 Jan 2019]

The End.

*I’m not dissing Zumba. It’s just not something I’m interested in trying right now.

 

 

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

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

If you’re here for it, enjoy!

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

Dinners:

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

 

Kale salad

 

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

 

Spaghetti with pesto

 

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

 

Miso soup with plate of Asian randomness

 

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

 

Pizza buried in arugula

 

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

 

Minestrone soup

 

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

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

 

Quinoa-chickpea salad

 

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

 

Cold Asian noodles

 

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

Lunches:

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

 

Hummus sandwich

 

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

 

Open-face PBJ

 

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

 

Chickpea “tuna” salad sandwich

 

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

 

Tofu scramble burrito

 

Breakfasts:

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

 

Granola with peanut butter

 

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

 

Gluten-free waffles with mixed nuts

 

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

 

Go-to snacks and desserts

 

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

Happy Friday Eve, everyone!

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Salem inspecting her laundry room bed two days post-incident

 

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

 

She thought she could get away with this.

 

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

 

 

 

Just a little something. (January Favorites!)

I sat down to work on my January Favorites post, then realized that I don’t have enough to form an actual list. Sudden events opened a black hole that swallowed the entire month. All good things, though! January vanished in a good way, but by the end of it, I’d noted nothing for this list. January was Big Things, not Little Things.

I can tell you that we loved the Netflix series You and Hemlock Grove. The former was unique (to us) in that we hadn’t seen a thriller series of the stalker-as-protagonist variety before. The latter is a horror series we couldn’t believe we hadn’t seen yet.

 

 

 

I can also tell you that we enjoyed 15 days of Grand Sumo Highlights… the first tournament of 2019.

 

(Grand Sumo opening ceremony)

 

I developed deep feelings for The Body Shop’s Vanilla Marshmallow Shower Gel (vegan and cruelty-free) and Amy’s Tofu Scramble Breakfast Wrap (vegan and gluten-free).

 

The Body Shop Vanilla Marshmallow Shower Gel

 

Amy’s Tofu Scramble Breakfast Wrap

 

(I have these wraps for lunch, though. Not for breakfast.)

What else? That would be it for this first Monthly Favorites post of 2019. It’s like January 2019, itself: short and sweet!

Happy Friday Eve, all.

 

 

Office tour, redux. (Plant babies!)

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

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

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

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

 

View from my desk

 

Behind me:

 

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

 

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

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

 

(Looking closer at the corner behind my desk)

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

View from the window wall opposite the door

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Finding the fury. (Fitness post)

I don’t love cardio, but I need to do more of it – my fitness refrain over the last 12 months or so. Followers of my group fitness endeavors, remember when it was the opposite? When cardio was all I did, and I wanted to add strength-training? Now it’s strength-training (Body Pump) three times per week, and one cardio (Body Combat), the latter being consistently sporadic for one reason or another.

I don’t love cardio, but I do love combat sports training, which happens to be straight-up cardio when you do it as a group fitness class. I made it to Combat this week and realized why the focus there feels so different than my focus in Pump: it’s because my focus in Pump is inward. In Combat, it’s outward. It’s the same degree of focus, but projected in opposite directions.

This realization adds a dimension to my “I need to do more cardio” refrain. The balance of strength-training (Pump) and cardio (Combat) attracts me more in an energetic sense than a physical one. Eastern Philosophy 101.

My mental focus is different in Combat because in combat sports training, I’m focused on an opponent (hence the outwardness of it). This means that I have to first work myself up into a state of anger, or at least strong annoyance. That’s my pre-Combat prep: hone in on an opponent so I can direct my energy at a specific target. Sometimes, I’m mad at more than one entity or situation, and then I’m fighting multiple opponents.

Thus, my best cardio workouts are fueled by rage.

I get the most out of cardio when it’s combat-oriented and I’m fighting to the death. By the time class is over, I’m flying high on victory. I’m a finisher, and I won. It’s a post-workout euphoria that’s different than the post-workout euphoria I experience after a good Pump class; I need equal amounts of this euphoria in my life, and that’s the actual reason “I need to do more cardio.”

Everyone has a fitness epiphany in them somewhere. Find yours… find it to get your fitness journey started, or to refresh your fitness mojo. Whether you need to get off a couch or a plateau, finding what drives you to action can help.

 

[30 Jan. 2019, post-Combat water-guzzling]

Happy Friday Eve, everyone!