Desk in distress. (Office updates + plant family!)

Plans to post an office update almost fizzled out, but here we are, after all. I debated the matter only because there’s actually not much to show you this time. I painted my desk wall black – the biggest change I’ve ever made to this space – and I ended up liking it so much that I decided to keep the rest of the room pretty minimal.

There’s the black accent wall. There are clocks and other objects I already had. I have my beloved plant family, a plethora of plants that adds green to the room. Most of the few objects here and there are green, and any metallic accents are in silver tones.

In its previous state, I’d put color into the room, as you may remember. There was going to be color in this state, as well, but it didn’t turn out that way. The idea was to decorate the black wall with colorful things, but when I sat down in front of it for the first time, its emptiness opened and revealed a calming space. The black wall is a nothing, and it’s wonderful for creating. For the longest time, I had bare walls with only my plants for color. I’ve come back around to that. It feels right.

The room doesn’t look like much, I know. What’s special about it is the feel of it, and that’s not a thing that pics can relay! I can definitely show you my plant family, though, because those guys are absolutely thriving. They were doing well before I painted the wall black, but now? I’ve never seen them this happy. They love the daylight bouncing back from the finish of the dark paint.

 

Looking in

 

The haunted cathedral (Canterbury) hasn’t moved

 

The wall of nothingness:

By day

 

By night

 

Where I sit more of the time:

My desk in distress

 

The room is oddly arranged with different things going on in each corner.

Desk corner

 

Tapestry corner

 

Tapestry corner at dusk – I strung some lights across the tapestry to give it night stars

 

Memorabilia corner

 

Cat tree corner with Butsudan: the crowded corner that only makes sense to me, probably (and to Nenette)

 

Speaking of…

Nenette caught by surprise. She is not happy. At all.

 

A few details…

The haunted mirror in its (tapestry) corner home

 

Indoor starry night

 

Now for a closer meeting with my plant babies!

Holder:

Holder

 

Little Guy:

Little Guy

 

Thoreau:

Thoreau

 

Flamingo:

Flamingo

 

Baby Barclay:

Baby Barclay

 

Snake:

Snake

 

Barclay, lush and full down to his last tendril as I’ve never seem him before:

Barclay

 

Four of them along their wall!

Holder, Little Guy, Thoreau, Flamingo

 

Also, my friend Jessica gifted me with a sloth.

Resident sloth loves Flamingo

 

More details:

Thrifted bottles and goblet

 

The Beowulf gargoyle still surveying the room from his spot above the closet:

The Beowulf gargoyle hasn’t moved, either

 

A closer look at my current t-shirt display: Sirus, one of my favorite industrial music projects.

Sirus (band) – the Apocrypha album

 

And on the window sill…

My old dragon candlestick from West Germany (1987)

 

There you have it.

The laundry room, now? That’s where all the color went! I’m thinking I’ll invite you into my (and Geronimo and Salem’s) laundry room next. There’s finally something to be seen in there.

I hope you’re all having a splendiferous start to your week!

 

 

Crazy plant lady. (Office updates!)

Welcome back to my office! My plant family has grown since my last update. I love that the only color in my writing space is alive.

Plants give me life from the inside out, fueling me from the inside and providing a lovely source of creative energy from the outside. My desk still sits at an angle toward the center of the room, facing the window, and I’ve now surrounded myself with plants.

I’ve moved most of these guys around since my December office update. Some of the plants have been re-potted. One of them has departed this world, sadly, and two of them are new. Let’s look around!

Behind me and slightly to my right (on the wall to the left of the door): Icarus.

 

Icarus (re-potted since my December update)

 

Behind me on the left side: Hercules and Angel (on the corner stand re-purposed from the patio). These two are my newest. I discovered Hercules on a dusty shelf at Walmart, all by himself, alone and bedraggled. He’s doing so well now!

Angel sits beneath, on the second shelf. I picked him up from the florist’s section at Fry’s. He’s also doing well, though he’s quite fragile. He’s an aluminum plant.

(The color of the walls in here – in the whole house – is so strange and sensitive to light and camera angle. The wall can look like two different colors even in the same pic!)

 

(from top) Hercules and Angel

 

Here’s a close-up of Hercules… I’m so pleased with how he’s thrived in the short time he’s been here! I’m going to re-pot both Hercules and Angel in the next few weeks. They’re strong enough for it now.

 

Hercules

 

Moving along, slightly behind me and to my left (and to the left of the printer): Jerome.

 

Jerome, my second.

 

To the left of my desk, to the right of my printer: Holder. I’m glad to say that he’s doing well. Linden, his partner, did not make it, I’m afraid. RIP Linden.

 

Holder (re-potted since my December update)

 

Just in front of my desk and to the left: Robbie. We migrated him to my office from the living room. Within 24 hours of moving him in here, he spread out, opened up, and turned a lighter, brighter shade of green. Plants love the strong daylight in this room! There’s no direct sunlight in here, so all of these guys are low-light/indirect sunlight plants.

I pulled this small table out of the closet so Robbie could sit in the middle of the room, rather than against a wall. It’s perfect for him.

 

Robbie

 

A better look at Robbie (as I see him from my desk):

 

Robbie

 

My view sometimes includes Nenette sleeping on the futon behind Robbie.

 

Nenette napping on the futon.

 

Finally, Barclay, my first, sits further out in front of my desk and to the right, same place he’s been… I did have to purchase this stand for him, though, as he needed a greater height. His tendrils had grown to where they were coiling on the floor. I found this cheap little metal stand at Ross.

 

Barclay, two angles

 

Here we are, full circle… and a full circle, it is. I don’t think I’m imagining the cooler note I feel in the air here, or the scent, loamy and damp and fresh. I haven’t burned candles in here since I started cultivating this little oasis in my desert office.

I’ll post an actual writing update next week. Office, part two!

Writing and writing space updates! (REVISED office tour.)

Writing updates, in brief: I’ve been working through my second draft, mostly polishing, but also doing more extensive re-writing where I see the need. I’m loving this part. There’s nothing like a good chunk of time to clear your vision. 18 months later, I can really see this manuscript, and I’m going to town with it, just having fun. It’s exciting.

Office updates: I’ve got a bunch of pics to share for those of you with a penchant for seeing other people’s spaces. I get you. I’m one of you.

Main changes I made to my office since “office tour May 2017”: I snagged my old desk from its spot in the guest bedroom, added two small console/bookcase things to fit in the corner behind the desk, and acquired three more houseplants.

I loved sitting on the floor at my old German trunk, but the anti-ergonomic nature of that set-up became apparent. It was a matter of time, I suppose. I enjoyed it while I could! The books came up off the floor at the same time that I did (enter the small console/bookshelf things behind the desk). In the process of minimalizing, I removed the wall clock and the Luche Libre poster, and the only thing left hanging behind the door is my pair of boxing gloves (covered in dust, since I never use them).

About the houseplants: I’m up to five. I haven’t decided whether this counts as a minimalism fail. Does it? It doesn’t feel like it does. It feels like the energy within my ring of plants encourages my creativity. I would like to add one or two more, in fact.

Here’s the view from my window:

 

view to the front yard

 

…and here’s the interior:

 

looking in from the doorway

 

I keep the room neutral and plain. Only the plants add color.

 

where I write (same as before, except at an actual desk)

 

Nenette often naps on the futon. I can easily see her when I look up from my screen.

 

view from the desk, left of center – Nenette on the futon

 

Here’s a better pic of Nenette:

 

Nenette napping on the futon

 

To the right of the futon:

 

3 plants (Holder, Icarus, Barclay)

 

Behind my desk, right side:

 

another plant (Linden)

 

Behind my desk, left side:

 

another plant (Jerome)

 

Back of the door:

 

boxing gloves I love, but never use

 

That’s it for now! I hope you enjoyed this. I love peeking into other people’s offices, so this was fun to do.

 

New office aesthetic. (Writing-related update!)

Recent major changes to my work environment prompted a request for pics, so I’m here to oblige! I’m on version 5 – my fifth office change over the last 14 months.

I always had an office in this house, but I didn’t always use it.

When I started writing full-time, I used the desk in the guest bedroom (v1). Then I  started working in my actual office (v2). A few months later, a situation arose that required kitty management, so to accommodate that, I moved my office set-up to the dining room (v3). Callaghan eventually moved his computer work from his office to my office, also because of the kitty situation. Then the kitty situation changed again, and we had houseguests, so I moved my office set-up into Callaghan’s office (v4). He stayed in my office. That was fine for both of us, but it was also temporary. Now, almost a year later, we’re finally back in our respective offices (v5). That’s what this past weekend was about.

It was an opportune time to overhaul my office. The theme I had in mind was no theme at all, so I stripped the room. I wanted as close to nothing as possible in here, and no color or décor. My behemoth of a desk went with Callaghan to his office (the desk was working really well for him) and only kept the futon, the cat tree, and the console table (because it bolsters the cat tree). I’m using my old German trunk as a desk.

I took almost everything down from the walls; I only left the small white shelf by the cat tree. My two plants remain on the side table, because they like it there. I removed the red futon cover and replaced it with an old sheet. It’s a queen-size futon, so our sheets fit perfectly.

In short, office version 5 (haha!) is neutral, minimal, and functional. My new work environment aesthetic is a non-aesthetic.

 

office work corner

 

Yes, I now work sitting on the floor. I’m in the corner, so I have eyes on both the window and the door. I’m still burning this particular candle because I like the ambient noise of the crackling fire produced by its wooden wicks.

 

office from behind the desk

 

That’s Nenette’s string toy on the floor to the left. My laptop and keyboard don’t quite fit on the surface of my old German trunk, but it works, and it’s very comfortable… until it’s not. Then I’m forced to get up, walk around, and stretch. That’s the idea!

 

office from the doorway

 

office – closet wall

 

I use that (hanging) black tote for writing-related dashes around town, when I need to carry papers, books, notebooks, etc.

 

office – Nenette in her crow’s nest

 

Nenette sleeps in her crow’s nest at the top of the cat tree most of the day.

 

hummingbird through the office window

 

I also have a good view of the hummingbirds as they come to drink from the feeder hanging from our patio awning.

There you have it! We’ll see how long this version of my office lasts.

 

Change of scenery. (Writing life updates.)

I figured it’s time for a writing update!

Since last time, the writing life action over here has mostly involved changes in the house… namely, the migration of my office again. Some rearranging’s been done chez nous.

I’m now set up in Callaghan’s former office/current art and supply room. Callaghan is still in my former office – basically, we’ve switched offices. The dining area has resumed its original purpose, but The Americans poster still hangs on its wall. We’ll leave it there for now. The house is having an identity crisis. In the midst of the room-switching, we painted the kitchen wall red (no more graffiti wall – all good things come to an end). After that, we ripped out the carpet from the living room and hall and installed flooring. Then we painted the large, main wall in the hallway bathroom black.

As for my writing progress? I’m currently working on chapter 18 of the project. I’ve got about 200 pages and 45,298 words. The writing is on hold until Monday, but things are moving along!

In the most frivolous of writing news, I took the customary selfie at my desk on my first day in my new office:

 

May 3, 2017 (first day in my new office!)

 

The main thing to note here is that the lighting is better than it was in the dining area. As usual, there’s no filter or other shenanigans going on with this pic; the lighting comes from the window on the west wall to my left. This makes the room a wonderful place for writing. It isn’t aggressively bright – no direct sunlight – but my laptop sits in the path of the illumination, and it’s perfect. Funny how little things like that make a difference!

The most important part of the office-switch, though, is that now I’m in one of Nenette’s favorite rooms, so she’s in here with me pretty much all day! Furbaby in the office – ideal office.

Happy weekend, All!

A year later… (looking back)

Friday was the anniversary of my Major Life Change… it was a year from the day I quit my job and made a commitment to take on this writing project. I made the change on the cusp of spring (Happy Spring!), and the timing couldn’t have been more auspicious. Who doesn’t love fresh, shiny, new beginnings?

Of course we had to celebrate.

We kept it low-key, because that’s how we roll. We went for a lunch date on Friday at our favorite place near Callaghan’s work, and then for a movie date over the weekend. It was a good excuse to see John Wick 2, which I’d been wanting to see.

But I digress! Where am I a year later? I’ve been checking in with updates here and there over the last 12 months, but to recap:

Physically speaking, I’ve taken over the Room Formerly Known As Our Dining Room when the Room Formerly Known As My Office became Cita’s Room.

(“Physically speaking” is hugely important to me. I could take my laptop around the house and write, and I’ve done that and still do that, but I’m a person who needs to be grounded somewhere.)

This began innocuously enough, with just my electronics appearing on the dining room table. Things snowballed from there. I’ve even decorated the area according to my project’s theme. Writing is an art, a craft, a discipline, so if the environment needs to comply, one needs to pay attention, right?

 

After a year of writing, and everything that goes with it….

 

Some of my comfort zones have been left behind, too. Instead of having a fixed work schedule, I wake up to a unique day every day, and that’s a good thing, because it allows for fluid productivity, and fluidity is unforced. My creative energy has free reign.

I’ve recognized that for me, this kind of writing is a 24/7 job, and I’ve come to embrace that. It’s an ongoing exercise in recognizing my best hours for concentrated writing. The discipline lies in treating those times as sacred.

There’s continual reading and investigating and learning, a part of the process as a whole. For a year I’ve been eyeballs-deep in crash course after crash course on a hundred different subjects. My brain is swollen with information and (like all writers) I hope my search engine history goes unnoticed, but I haven’t felt more mentally stimulated since grad school over 15 years ago.

(The downside to this is that I’m in my head more, which doesn’t always translate to seamless social interaction. I’m flightier than ever, for one thing.)

The only concrete temporal structure I have in my week is my blog posting schedule and my gym class schedule, and that structure is non-negotiable, especially the gym part. If I don’t make it to the gym, it’s for medical or transportation reasons, or the occasional scheduling conflict.

This work has been challenging and tough from the standpoint of mental well-being, too, but it’s been positive, overall. I owe Callaghan a debt of gratitude for nudging me onto this path in the first place, and for being my number one support system and a faithful reader of the material. Also, thank you all so much for reading here and for accompanying me on this journey!

Writing area chat – the space around us.

The other day, a friend who’s also a writer wrote in Facebook: “Today in writing news, I rearranged my room and made a reading corner.”

For those of us who know him, this is on par with his usual witty and droll FB fare. If we’re fellow writers, we also glance at his post and immediately get it in a serious sense. The smallest change to a writing room, area, or environment has everything to do with the craft of writing, and it can make a powerful difference. A change as small as placing your coffee mug on the right side instead of the left can impact your writing. A change of scenery, however small, can engender creative energy and inspiration.

I have a home-base office for writing where I work most of the time, but sometimes I take my laptop to the living room. Sometimes out to the patio. Sometimes to use our bed as a lounge chair during the day (though rarely).

Some writers need a constantly changing environment. Some need the background bustle of a coffee shop. Even then, there are changes… even if you sit at the same table at the same coffee shop at the same time every day, the environment is different each time because the people around you are different. There’re always the variables of how many people are around, where they’re sitting, how loudly they’re talking, the sounds of traffic on the street, etc.

When I read my friend’s post, I was inspired to share the latest change to my own writing environment, since I’ve shared my space as it’s changed at least twice in the last 11 months. This time, I removed the tablecloth from my writing table.

 

Writing table without tablecloth

Writing table without tablecloth

 

I don’t have a “before” pic, but imagine the same table draped in beige-gold fabric. The clutter effect changes dramatically.

In the last year, I’ve moved my writing set-up from one room to another (three room changes), and in my current writing space, the tablecloth on the table had changed three times. Now there’s no cloth, and it’s the best yet. I no longer have to straighten the cloth from where it’d bunched up beneath my keyboard, or readjust the laptop along with it. Tablecloths on glass tables slide. An elbow on the tablecloth will move it. The straightening-out is constant and distracting. The cloth becomes as much a focus as the writing.

Finally, you realize that you can just remove it.

Skeletons in the closet (Office revamp – the unabridged version)

At present, joyous times are being had with our houseguests (my in-laws) from France, who will stay with us a few more days yet. All manner of general housecleaning needed to be done before they arrived, but I spent the better part of last week taking apart my office, sorting through unwanted miscellany (“garbage,” “recycle,” “Goodwill”), and putting the room back together.

Most of the action took place beneath the surface in the closet and drawers, so the room itself doesn’t look much different now than it did last week. Even so, it’s different to my eyes, which had beheld the spectacle of the room’s innards strewn about on the floor and piled up on furniture over the few days it took me to analyze it all. I felt like a forensics investigator. What has been seen cannot be unseen, as they say. It was a lot of crap.

The terrain of my desk changed slightly when I added a lamp, which makes all the difference. This is now my full-time work environment, so my office needed a desk lamp more than the dining nook did. (Another lamp has taken its place in the dining nook, anyway.)

You knew where this was leading… I’ve got the photographic tour here for anyone who may be interested, such as you fine readers who’d asked about my Table of Death when I mentioned it a week ago. It started as a raucous, dark joke with a friend when I showed her the table and realized just then that a Dia de los Muertos bag hangs in that corner (pure happenstance, which prompted the hilarity – you had to be there). Laughing about it helped to mitigate the somberness of that part of the room, but it helped further when another friend asked to see the table and called it a “Table of Remembrance.” So, yeah. I like pairing that brighter perspective with the dark humor one.

Enough about that. 360 office tour ahoy!

As seen from the doorway:

 

inside left corner (desk)

inside left corner (desk)

 

Desk (top view)

Desk (top view)

 

Desk corner detail: Valentine's Roses 2014, original art by Callaghan "not cal" by Not Cal, California ex-pats in Arizona

Desk corner detail:
Valentine’s Roses 2014, original art by Callaghan
“not cal” by Not Cal, California ex-pats in Arizona

 

Long wall to the left (with tapestry and twinkle lights)

Long wall to the left (with tapestry and twinkle lights)

 

Window wall across from the doorway (with futon)

Window wall across from the doorway (with futon)

 

Far right corner (Table of Death/Remembrance)

Far right corner (Table of Death/Remembrance)

 

Wall to the right (closet)

Wall to the right (closet)

 

Behind the door (Lucha Libre poster, boxing gloves, bags, hats)

Behind the door (Lucha Libre poster, boxing gloves, bags, hats)

 

Door-frame (pull-up bar overhead)

Door-frame (pull-up bar overhead)

 

This concludes our tour. I won’t be needing to cover a door window in this office, but the door here stays open, anyway.

Minor lifequake, big result. (and a few March favorites.)

The end of March found me largely uninspired where March Favorites were concerned. Truth be told, there weren’t many “little things” in March that significantly made my days brighter or my life happier. Rather, a few big things made the month notable, including my abrupt, exhilarating flight into another occupational dimension. A confounding series of events and an irreparable set of circumstances helped to catapult me here. I jumped… and I landed on my feet. I won’t write about said events and circumstances because they’re boring, and no one wants to read The Boring. Suffice it to say that my great launch proved to be entirely appropriate, and I am happy. And grateful! Very grateful.

Right. Well… here are a few “little things” that captivated me in March!

 

1). Bates Motel (T.V. series)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-BatesMotelSeason1

 

With some amount of skepticism, we thought we’d give this Psycho backstory series a try. By the end of the first episode, we knew we were in for some serious binge-watching. It turns out that there’s much more to this series than 17-year-old Norman Bates and his mother moving into the hotel to assume ownership and a fresh start. This is excellent T.V.

 

2). Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm in Sweet Violet.

 

Burt's Bees tinted lip balm in Sweet Violet.

Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm in Sweet Violet.

 

My obsession with Burt’s Bees lip products knows no bounds. I picked up this tinted lip balm to use when I want just a suggestion of color on my lips, and lo, it’s even creamier than my beloved B.B. coconut and pear lip balm! The Sweet Violet color is beautiful, and no, it doesn’t taste sweet.

 

3). derma e Firming DMAE Eye Lift.

 

derma e Firming DMAE Eye Lift

derma e Firming DMAE Eye Lift

 

I’d been using an expensive eye cream from Tarte that I loved, but it fell just short of cruelty-free eye cream perfection. This one by derma e comes closer, and it’s half the price of the one by Tarte. Also, bonus! I found it at Target, along with this night cream from the same line:

 

4). derma e Hydrating Night Cream.

 

derma e Hydrating Night Cream

derma e Hydrating Night Cream

 

I’ve never been a fan of flowery scented face creams, but this one, I love. The cream itself is rich without being too thick, hydrating without being watery, and just all around luxurious. Its scent of spring wildflowers only adds to its appeal. I will definitely be re-purchasing this night cream when I’ve used up this jar.

 

5). Overhauled home office.

 

The only cat allowed on my desk is this porcelain one I've had for over 30 years.

The only cat allowed on my desk is this porcelain one I’ve had for over 30 years.

 

I moved my office set-up out of its guest bedroom quarters and re-situated it in the room that’s actually my office, a decision made entirely by Nounours and Nenette, who aren’t allowed in the guest bedroom. That was the point! I wanted to work undisturbed. But I couldn’t stand day after day of sad little kitty faces and pitiful mews and paws under the door, so here I am back in my real office. This is a good thing. The kitties aren’t all over my desk as they usually are – like somehow, they know – and I love my office. It’s huge, for one thing.

The floor to ceiling tapestry on the wall next to my desk is the original one; it inspired the smaller one that I’d had in my outside-the-home office:

 

Sunset and twinkle lights in my office

Sunset and twinkle lights in my office

 

And:

 

A sleeping cat on a futon, because home office.

A sleeping cat on a futon, because home office.

 

I didn’t photograph the wall opposite the tapestry because there’s no need to showcase the Table of Death that took shape as I arranged things in here the other day. Nope. No need.

 

6). Backyard rocks.

 

Rocks masquerading as turquoise mixed throughout the gravel in our backyard

Rocks masquerading as turquoise mixed throughout the gravel in our backyard

 

It happened the other day that I was digging through our expanse of rocks in the backyard (don’t ask), and I found that we have these turquoise-colored stones throughout. I looked them up. It seems that they’re some kind of coppery mineral. I never knew they were there! A glass tumbler filled with a few of the brighter, more deeply colored ones now sits on the Table of Death.

 

**the end**

My week in Haiku (Haiku 5: Emancipation)

[** This personal haiku discipline I’ve started has become something of a pleasurable habit. Helpful hint, if you’re so inclined: I’ve grouped my growing collection of themed haiku sets here. You can also click the link in the “Poetry” category in the sidebar. **]

I’m coming off of a fantastic and unusually creatively charged week, probably the most so of 2016 thus far. I wrote this set of haiku to sum it up…

 

Haiku 5: Emancipation

(by Kristi Garboushian)

1.

Disingenuous

snakes boiling over it all:

Laissez-moi tranquille.

 

"The Art of Strategy" (R.L. Wing, new translation of Sun Tzu's "The Art of War")

“The Art of Strategy” (R.L. Wing, new translation of Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War”)

 

2.

Serendipity.

No secret provocation,

no sly dorsal fin.

 

Newly created path.

Newly created path.

 

3.

Bear witness: Too much

blinding white noise, stochastic

resonance. Failure.

 

Live a great story (and learn).

Live a great story (and learn).

 

4.

Current volition:

auspices of Minerva,

prosaic temple.

 

My new office set-up – at home. Blessed.

My new office set-up – at home. Blessed.

 

There is not a paper on that desk.

What I’m Digging Right Now – August Favorites

August was interesting. It brought death, storm destruction, unpleasant dental work and a diagnosis of asthma for the Ronnie James. It also brought much in the way of good times, a new home and a new job for Callaghan.

At work, the fall semester started, and my Monday that week was epic: I started it first thing in the morning at home by spilling a full, large mug of coffee all over myself, the couch, the floor and the inside of my bag, which was sitting (open, of course) on the floor. How to start your day! Bathe in hot coffee! Such literal, caffeinated ablutions sanitize the early-morning mind. That’s how I saw it. Too bad about the almond milk, though.

Coffee scent still wafts out of my bag every time I open it. It’s not a terrible thing.

On that note, let’s start with entertainment!

 

1). The Killing (T.V. series)

 

thatasianlookingchick.cm-the-killing-season-4-poster

 

Netflix released the fourth and final season of The Killing on August first, and we greedily absorbed it all in two days. It’s over now, and we’re sad about that, but I’ll tell you what… rarely has the final episode of a series felt so satisfying.

I think I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating: we’re hard-pressed to explain how The Killing’s Linden and Holder endeared themselves to us so completely.  Our favorite aspect of watching the series was witnessing the development of these characters and their partnership over the arc of the four seasons, but in fact, we loved everything about it. We found the haunting crime drama to be intriguing and masterfully-paced. The city of Seattle was depicted as mostly rainy and gray, and it seemed to be cast as a character in and of itself to gorgeous effect, veiled more in lyricism than grunge. The actors’ performances were exceptional. The plotlines for each of the seasons kept us quietly on edge. We enjoyed seasons one, two and four the most, but each season built on the last while revolving around unique plotlines (with the exception of season two, which was part two of the opening season’s storyline). Overall, we would say that The Killing is a brilliant and underrated series.

This brings to mind an incident that occurred in the store the other day: I was approached by a guy who wanted to know whether we had cable at home (evidently he worked for a cable company), and when I said no, he asked why not. I answered, “Because Netflix.” He was annoyed (maybe because I laughed, which was probably rude, now that I think about it) and pretty much stalked away with a black cloud over his head. At least we didn’t upset him more by telling him about the other internet resources we use for watching all kinds of movies and T.V. series!

 

2). Rage in the Cage (August 9, 2014).

 

Rage in the Cage at the Celebrity Theatre was good times!

Rage in the Cage at the Celebrity Theatre was good times!

 

It’d been too long since I’d attended a combat sports event at the Celebrity Theatre, so when our friend and Body Combat instructor said that she could get us a good deal on tickets because she was going to be working the event as a ring card girl, we gladly seized the opportunity. Not only was it fun to see Izzy at the event (it was like a preview of her participation in the natural physique competition she ended up dominating at the end of the month!), but the fights provided rock-solid entertainment. It was awesome to see that two of the night’s winners hailed from Arizona Combat Sports, the gym where I’d trained in Muay Thai back in its earlier days. The next Rage in the Cage event is in October, and we’re looking forward to it!

 

3). White peaches.

 

The white peaches have been so good, we haven't been able to get enough.

The white peaches have been so good, we haven’t been able to get enough.

 

We devoured white peaches all month… the ones at our favorite Fry’s were fabulous (maybe they still are), and we couldn’t get enough of them! You know how it is when you bite deeply into a piece of fruit and it’s just so satisfying on every level? It’s like that with these peaches. They’re sweet, fragrant, juicy and dense. For me, nothing signals or defines summer as convincingly as certain stone fruits – peaches, cherries, apricots and plums.

 

4). Vegan donuts at Whole Foods.

 

Why?! And why do they have to be so good?

Why?! And why do they have to be so good?

 

Leave it to our favorite Whole Paycheck Foods store to start stocking their bakery with vegan donuts. There’s nothing healthy about these deep fried, refined carb- and sugar-loaded delectables; “vegan” isn’t necessarily synonymous with “healthy,” and treats like these donuts are a great case in point. I feel a bit sheepish admitting that I’ve eaten something like five of them since I discovered them just a few weeks ago. Now I need to develop a will power specific to these donuts. Or not.

 

5). Little Ranch House in the Desert.

We’ve been in our new house for two days, and we all love it! We feel like we’re home, and all the space is a wonderful novelty for the kitties. We adopted them from a small apartment in France, and they’ve lived in nothing but equally small spaces up until this move. It’s been funny watching them here… it’s like, they have so much space, they don’t know where to go first. The bed is still their headquarters of choice, though.

 

Day One in the new house: Ronnie James purring in contentment on our bed.

Day One in the new house: Ronnie James purring in contentment on our bed.

 

6). Framed “Not Cal” decal.

 

NOT CAL in a frame!

NOT CAL in a frame!

 

I finally got this second NOT CAL decal framed! I put it in my new home office, of course. I love it.

 

7). göt2b Guardian Angel Gloss Finish Flat Iron Balm.

 

The hair product that guards against heat even when you don't use heat.

The hair product that guards against heat even when you don’t use heat.

 

This is good stuff. I picked this up in August thinking that I would start using my straight-iron again, but I discovered that I like what it does just by itself, as a leave-in treatment on dry hair. It adds a little something (I don’t even know what, really) that I like to my hair.

 

8). Manifesto (perfume).

 

Manifesto, the way to end the summer.

Manifesto, the way to end the summer.

 

In August, I started wearing “Manifesto,” which caught my eye because of its name. It amused me because of the Unibomber. (Not that I in any way condone, support or agree with the Unibomber and his activities, mind you. Just… you know. Manifesto.) Then, of course, there was the fragrance, itself! Made by Yves St. Laurent, it’s lovely with its body of white flowers, woods and vanilla. I think it bridges the summer and fall gorgeously.

(I wear perfume strictly for myself, by the way… because I like it, and because of what it evokes for me. I wore fragrance long before I ever wore makeup. It’s a personal thing.)

 

9). Paws jewelry.

 

Favorite impulse buy of the month: paws jewelry from Michael's. (Photo from instagram.)

Favorite impulse buy of the month: paws jewelry from Michael’s. (Photo from instagram.)

 

We were on an errand at Michael’s when I saw this cheap little set of costume jewelry. Paws. They were near a Halloween-themed display, so they may have been a part of that, which would make sense… I’m more prone to impulse-buying when Halloween things are out than any other time of the year.

 

This brings us to Ronnie James’ and Nounours’ “Favorites” pick for August!

 

10). Feliway.

 

A Feliway'd Nounours on the eve of our move.

A Feliway’d Nounours on the eve of our move.

 

Feliway is a product consisting of synthetic feline pheromones – undetectable by humans – emitted by a plug-in device similar to a plug-in air freshener. Our vet prescribed it to Ronnie James as a part of his treatment plan for anxiety, which was aggravating his asthma and causing him to over-groom himself. It works, and it works really well! Feliway mellows kitties like nothing I’ve ever seen before. We had the first one in our bedroom in the apartment before we moved, and now, in the house, we have an additional one – so, one in the living room, and another in our bedroom. Kitty bliss. =)

 

That wraps up my “little things” favorites list for August. Welcome, September!

Little Ranch House in the Desert

In my “July Favorites” post (that seems all too recent), I mentioned an on-going adventure that consumed the month. It actually started on the last weekend of June, and the situation changed so frequently from the very start that we just decided not to mention it until the end. That brings us to today. We’re moving!

No need for alarm. We’re only moving down the street this time. Heheh.

We loved our apartment, truly. It was peaceful, and we appreciated the unfettered feeling of renting rather than owning our living space. Having lived in many apartments and owned properties in the past, I’ve always felt more comfortable as a renter than as a homeowner. But over the last few months, several compelling reasons to reconsider welled up.

One, we needed more space. Callaghan used the larger of the apartment’s two bedrooms for his studio, but still, the room overflowed with the accoutrements of his multifaceted craft… plus, we also had to use that space for storage, making it even more cramped.

Two, we weren’t properly set up to host guests, and when your guests mostly come from Europe for longer stays, that’s a big deal. Two of our visitors from France slept on an air mattress we put in the middle of said cramped studio room at night, which wasn’t very comfortable for anyone, and the third – a couple and their daughter – stayed in a hotel (yet somehow, they were the ones who accidentally saw me naked).

Three, I didn’t have an office, and I had been sorely feeling that lack of a dedicated writing space. Obviously, I can survive without one, but I just reached some kind of limit after several years of officelessness. I needed that room of one’s own, to echo Virginia Woolf. Since 2010, I’ve been carving out little office spaces for myself here and there by placing a small desk in the corner of a crowded room, usually the bedroom. I longed for an office again.

Four, nearing the end of our apartment lease, we discovered that our rent would be raised upon re-signing. We had to make a decision.

All of this led to the final thing (and the catalyst for everything) that happened: I was half-joking around one night at the end of June when I filled out a form online. Next thing we knew, we were swept into the eye of the house-hunting storm that defined the months of July and August.

It’s a good time to buy, and looking for a house was fun. The twists and turns of our search initially took us out of our preferred area, but eventually, a house right down the street from our apartment appeared on the market. It happened at precisely the right time, and it happened that we both loved it at first sight, and it happened that our inspector found it to be in excellent condition (unlike the previous house we’d almost committed to buying).

Built in 1958, the house is your standard four-bedroom/two-bathroom ranch-style abode so common here out west. It has everything we need, and nothing we don’t. It was critical to us that we didn’t get more house than we absolutely needed. Most importantly, its location is ideal. The appraiser recorded the house as being situated “1.5 miles from the center of the ASU campus, in a highly sought after area of old town Tempe,” and that’s exactly where we wanted to be.

 

Little Ranch House in the Desert

Little Ranch House in the Desert

 

The house-buying process was almost complete when the universe, in a flamboyant move to confirm our decision – just in case we were having doubts! – hurtled a spectacular monsoon into our apartment neighborhood, knocking out our power, taking down trees and permanently altering the botanical composition in front of our balcony. It’s still lush and green out there, but suddenly, the tree house effect that had so captivated us in the apartment was gone! We were sad for the destruction of the trees on our street, but it was a magnificent storm.

 

Our apartment is the in the upper left....

Our apartment is the in the upper left….

 

The storm made quite an impact on our street!

The storm made quite an impact on our street!

 

I don't think anyone was hurt, though.

I don’t think anyone was hurt, though.

 

It was the one good storm of the season.

It was the one good storm of the season.

 

We got the keys last night, and this weekend will be all about the move. It is, in fact, happening, and I’ll be so glad when it’s over and we’re unpacked and organized! I’ve been fantasizing about an organized life with a place for everything for years, it seems. It’s amazing. I’ll have an office, and Callaghan will have a studio that’s just a studio, and visitors will have a guest bedroom and bathroom, and Ronnie James and Nounours will have lots of running-around space, and there will be no shortage of storage space, either.

So, that’s the story behind this latest move into this latest dwelling, which we see as being a Very Long-Term Situation. It’s sweet. It’s a sweet little house, and we’re grateful to have gotten it. We got lucky, is what we got.

Happy Friday!

What I’m Digging Right Now – February Favorites

Experimentation with my new camera (phone) has begun, so let’s do this!

Here are ten marvelous things that stood out in February:

1). My home office (v2)

 

My little corner of serenity, live chirping bird soundtrack included.

My little corner of serenity, live chirping bird soundtrack included.

 

About a week after Valentine’s Day, we rearranged the furniture in the living room/my former office, and the ripple effect resulted in my “office” (e.g. my desk) getting relocated to the bedroom. I love it. I’m tucked away in the corner, next to a big window with trees and active spring birds and the makeshift kitty window seat behind me. Bliss.

 

2). The iStage blackbox theatre on campus (Arizona State University).

 

The scenery in this responsive environment changes continuously.

The scenery in this responsive environment changes continuously.

 

I spent most of my days in February (and continuing) hanging out in this mysterious and literally magical black box with an incredible group of artists, emerging into the sun every once in a while to eat and run around. It’s like Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, and the surprising and creative ways my brain’s been challenged have stoked my interest and enthusiasm in a new world of art and thought.

This has been the most significant aspect of my life since February, but I can’t go into further detail about it right now. Soon!

 

3). Benefit Erase Paste.

 

This stuff works miracles. Not exaggerating.

This stuff works miracles. Not exaggerating.

 

Benefit makes this stuff. Now again, I’m not a beauty blogger, so I’m not even going to try to glamorize this product. I’m just going to tell it like it is. This is basically a thick, creamy spackle with salmon undertones that does wonders under the eyes. It’s pricey (probably the most expensive cosmetic item I’ve ever purchased), but the little jar is going to last for a long, long time, so not really. It’s completely worth it, in any case.

 

4). New chairs for kitties.

 

We could not have invented more perfect chairs for kitties if we wanted to.

We could not have invented more perfect chairs for kitties if we wanted to.

 

Chairs for kitties have been on our list since we moved back to Arizona, and we finally found the perfect ones at IKEA. These are structured on a small scale (I found them in the dining room furniture area, rather than with the living room stuff). The covers are removable, so they can be thrown in the laundry. Ronnie James and Nounours love them. Their lives are complete! Now we can all sit together when we’re watching movies and shows. Everyone has a place!

 

5). The optometrist’s office epic clerical error.

 

Callaghan's new name. Bwahaha!!

Callaghan’s new name. Bwahaha!!

 

I about died when I saw Callaghan’s eyeglass prescription, which we went to pick up a couple of weeks ago… this was from the exam he had back in 2011, before we moved to France.

The person who prepared the prescription spelled his first name “Chilipte,” which is unequivocally the most brilliant butchering of “Philippe” I ever saw, AND they gave him my last name, haha! HAI, my name is CHILIPTE GARBOUSHIAN. I posted this picture on Facebook, and as a result, Callaghan now has several new nicknames, as suggested by my helpful friends: Chili, Chipotle and Chili Pete.

 

6). House of Cards, season two (T.V.)

 

house-of-cards-season-2-trailer-00-630x378

 

Once again, House of Cards blew our minds; Kevin Spacey’s performance was stunning.

 

7). The Following, season two (T.V.)

 

TheFollowings2story-710x400

 

I knew it! I knew it! (no spoilers)

 

8). Trader Joe’s Creamy & Smooth Mediterranean hummus.

 

THIS.

THIS.

 

Hummus is a simple thing to make, but simple doesn’t always mean easy. I find the process of transforming the hardy chickpeas to a smooth, creamy paste to be somewhat arduous, so my feeling is, why do it when Trader Joe’s has this delectable preparation ready to go at all times? Hummus is an instant gratification thing for me, I guess. They even put pine nuts and olive oil and herbs on top. So pretty. So delicious! We eat it with blue corn tortilla chips, baby carrots and Trader Joe’s whole wheat pita bread.

 

9). Ronnie James’ and Nounours’ snack pick of the month: Feline Greenies Dental Treats in Catnip flavor.

 

Kitties LOVE these.

Kitties LOVE these.

 

The boys wanted to contribute to the list! They learned to identify this little bag of catnip-flavored treats immediately. It’s their new addiction. It’s like… pot brownies for kitties.

 

10). Blunt signage.

 

They make sure you read this while you're sitting on the can.

They make sure you read this while you’re sitting on the can.

 

The signs everywhere I go continue to crack me up. This one is posted in a toilet stall in one of ASU’s older buildings.

And we’re already a week into March, and hey, today is my brother’s birthday! Happy Birthday, Bro!!

“A Room of One’s Own”

I return with pictures! As I’d gleefully noted before, my books are up, which means I once again have, as Virginia Woolf would say, “a room of my own.” It’s such a simple thing, but it makes all the difference. After being away for over two years, I’m feeling truly at home again, and I’m grateful for it; my office is our living room, and it’s like a big cozy library. All the relics are here… the Chagall prints I’d scrounged from a dusty pile in that thrift store in West Germany almost twenty-five years ago, just before The Wall came down, and also from West Germany, the iron dragon candlestick found on a stroll through a street fair on a cold wintry night. My brother’s old Six Million Dollar Man thermos (c. 1974) and the white porcelain cat a friend gave me when I was sixteen. The fresh flowers, childrens’ books and pocketbook-size literature and pulp fiction in the dark bookcase by my desk, and, on the other side of the room, the bulk of my book collection awaiting detailed organization in the larger bookcases. The butsudan my Grandfather refurbished for me before he died. The candlestick a beloved friend sent from France. And so on.

 

My desk...

My desk…

 

 

...with the old Chagall prints

…with the old Chagall prints

 

 

Looking over my shoulder, I see the bulk of my book collection in the cases against the opposite wall

Looking over my shoulder, I see the bulk of my book collection in the cases against the opposite wall

 

 

The typical array of candles, framed photos and knick-knacks lining the top shelf, and some art made by friends.

The typical array of candles, framed photos and knick-knacks lining the top shelf, and some art made by friends.

 

Corner detail by the butsudan.... I positioned the clock so we'd have a reflection of the time in the mirror.

Corner detail by the butsudan…. I positioned the clock so we’d have a reflection of the time in the mirror.

 

 

So this is our living room. We’ve clustered our loveseat, ottoman and my beat-up old German trunk (serving as a coffee table, as usual) under the window on the wall between the two sides of the room.  Callaghan’s all set up, too… he’s got the larger of our two bedrooms for his art studio, and it’s perfect for him.

In other news, I can’t believe it’s Thanksgiving week already!