This weekend I married my comrade in adventure, my ally in mischief, and my kindred spirit in silliness. We are each other’s no. 1 biggest fan in all the best ways and none of the Annie Wilkes ways! And though we’ve been together a decade now and really, marriage is not going to change anything all that much…still…everything does feel a little different now, somehow?

We did it up very small. Just a backyard ceremony at his parent’s house with five other individuals in attendance. And a dog and some ducks and a big bumblebee which landed in my bouquet!

I didn’t want anything too overwhelming or to have anyone (including and especially me) to put too much work into any aspect of this, and this extended to what I wore. I think I kept it fairly simple. This pretty olive green linen dress from Of Her Own Kind, a pair of little brown boots that I purchased used, a straw hat with an Anne of Green Gables vibe, some shawls that I knit myself, and a bouquet that I made from some grocery store sunflowers.

And for perfume? I wore Rose 31 from Le Labo, a rose blurred from the edges completely inward by woodsy aromatic mosses and sweetly musky resins. Yvan once told me that he thought it smells like his childhood Mossman Masters of the Universe toy and I smile thinking about those fuzzy green muscles, every time I spray this subtle elegant scent.

It was a beautiful day and I never actually thought I was going to get married (it sounds pitiful, but I had convinced myself that I wasn’t the sort of person that people want to marry) and so…of course, I had to make a How To Wear ensemble for it. And with a few exceptions, this is indeed what I wore.

I envisioned a Ghibli-inspired wedding with flying machines & enigmatic ghosts & adorable monsters & artful nostalgia & enchanted worlds within worlds…but as I mentioned, I don’t want any work or fuss and I didn’t want to spend more than $15 on this stuff so I just wore my cute straw hat and pretended.

Ghibli-inspired wedding ensemble






29 Jan

I do love a good putter. I might suggest I am in fact the Queen of Puttering. I can draw a chore or a task or an errand out for a good length of time, and I enjoy taking my labors slowly. But there’s something to be said about getting all the stuff that you need to do, even the stuff that you want to do, out of the way early in the day to clear up your schedule so that then you can do absolutely nothing.

I hate the term hack. So let’s call this something else. Call it whatever you like! My trick is this: wake up as early as you can handle on a Sunday morning and get everything done in X amount of time. After that, the day is yours. On days when I’m really out of sorts, but I know having done something will make me feel better, I give myself an hour. On days when I’m more motivated and energetic, I might say, “ok, I’m up, it’s 7am, I will give myself till noon to do all of the things I can fit into that time, and then I am DONE!”

Last Sunday I was up by 6am, I scraped my overnight-risen sourdough into a boule and into the refrigerator for a cold ferment, I soaked some dried black beans, I dumped all of the vegetable scraps into a pot to make broth, I made two Pullman loaves of white bread, I pinned out a shawl, I started the black beans on their all-day cook, I folded laundry, and I made a chopped salad for lunches during the week. I made two casserole dishes of mac and cheese. I tried a new thing, a Japanese paper marbling technique called suminagashi. And at noon I called it quits and then I read and watched movies for the rest of the day.

All of these were things that I actually wanted to do! I just…didn’t want to spend all day doing them (although trust me, I could draw even one of those things all day long) because I also wanted to be cozy and curl up with some stories. This is my compromise.

I’m a bit of a bean snob. I get a little upset when I see people dump a can of plain, unseasoned black beans on top of their nachos to float on top of that beautiful river of molten queso like a bunch of little mouse turds. COME ON! Cook them properly! This is my tried and true recipe, although you can really adapt it and make it your own. It makes for the most delicious and flavorful pot of beans and you if you try it, we can possibly be incensed together when the mouse turds inevitably show up in someone’s vegan nacho Instagram reels.

The chopped salad is a thing I’ve been seeing all over TikTok, it’s basically some veggies in a vegan green goddess type dressing, chopped up all tiny and you scoop it up with tortilla chips. Here’s an interesting variation that includes tahini and feta, which looks good! Anyway if you don’t want to click any of those links, do this: chop up a head of cabbage, a couple of cucumbers and some scallions. Blend up a shallot, a cup of spinach, a cup of basil leaves (I would use more spinach and less basil next time), the juice of two lemons, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 Tbsp rice vinegar, 2 cloves of garlic, 1/3 cup nutritional yeast, and 1/4 walnuts. I also added a fresh jalapeno! It really made for a lovely lunch throughout the week.

I’m trying to eat less by the clock, and more just when I feel hungry, and less “proper meals” unless I really just feel like it. Sometimes at lunch or breakfast I really just want a snack, not a whole big thing. So I’m trying to pay attention to that! And then sometimes I actually do want a whole big thing, so I am trying to plan for that ahead of time and have things like macaroni and cheese already on hand.

Doing new things is hard! Especially if you see your less-than-perfect first attempt and you tend to beat yourself up about what a moron you are, a dumb-dumb who can’t ever do anything right. So sometimes it’s just easier to not try at all. At least you didn’t fail, right?

Yeah… me too. It sucks!

I have been interested in the art of suminagashi for some time now (here’s a nice video if you want to see how it is done.) One of my sisters got me a little starter kit for Christmas or my birthday sometime in the past year or two, and I stashed it away immediately and have been afraid to even look at it ever since.

I finally gave it a try. I would say “I’m not sure what prompted me,” but I am pretty sure it was Yvan, and I tell you what–it is really good to have an objective party with no attachments to the outcome egging you on and keeping you accountable. Even if it is just to say “are you really gonna let that nice gift your sister got you collect dust in the corner?!”

It was fun. It was fun! I HAD FUN. I can’t even believe it. Dripping that ink in the water, watching the concentric circles grow, and slowly swirling it to watch the patterns change and evolve was meditative and lovely. If you are a scaredy-cat like me who wants to be creative but doesn’t know how and you want to do an art but you don’t know where to begin, I highly recommend giving this suminagashi kit a try.

So…why was I trying to get all this stuff done and clear up my afternoon? Because I have been dying to watch Woodland Darks and Days Bewitched and I knew it was a three hours long documentary! And I also know it takes me twice as long to watch a thing as the thing actually runs…so I really needed to clear some time on my calendar, ha.

If you are a folk horror enthusiast, this is an outstanding resource. It is so well-researched, so beautifully crafted, so very worth every second of that three hours you spend with it. And there are so many films mentioned that I had never even heard of, my goodness! Luckily, some thorough soul has put together a list of every movie referenced in Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched, so now we can work our way through all of them.


Image context here

In the meantime, unrelated to anything, and I know you didn’t ask, but let me leave you with the best piece of advice I have ever come up with:

“It may well be one of those days when the devil’s gonna try and show you his butthole every chance he gets, but friends the secret is …you don’t have to look”

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8 Nov

I’m trying to limit my screen time. Trying to step back for a while. I’m a little burnt out, a little tired, a little sad. None of that properly encapsulates my feelings or reasoning, but I guess I’m feeling like I need to simply exist for a while. And if no one sees me doing, reading, cooking, making–well, that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. So much of what I do nowadays, my brain is converting it into blog fodder or some kind of “content” as I’m doing it. And I’m trying to turn that off for a couple of weeks. I suppose I just…I need to sit with myself and see who I am while I’m not expecting people to watch.

Typing that out sounds so ridiculous, I know. I am not an “influencer”, no one is “tuning in” to see what I’m up to. And yet…sometimes I find myself moving through my day like that’s exactly what is happening.

Here’s a pile of shawls that I knit! I said to myself, Sarah, I think you’re just hanging on to these shawls because you want to pile them all up and drape them all over each other and see what all that work looks like together, and enjoy the fact that you made these things.

So that is what I did.

Charles Rochussen, In the ruins

The compulsion to draw inward. The urge to dream. The need for silence and slowness and …the relentless fear of those things, too. I go-go-go. But I’m going to stop for a while. And the world will keep spinning and a lot of stuff will pass me by and I am going to worry that it’s stuff that really matters, but it’s probably not.

I think maybe the things that matter are the things that I will find when I sit with myself, away from all the chatter and nonsense for a while. Maybe I’ll crawl deep into the darkness of me and find thoughts and things that were always lurking there, but that I never saw or heard because I was too busy listening to everything else in the world. Maybe I’ll bring a little light. Maybe I’ll find a little light! Who knows what’s down there?

I will probably still be posting over on the blog for the next month or so because I like writing little reviews and sharing my cooking triumphs, and so on! But I am specifically trying to keep off of Instagram.  I start scrolling over there and I see people being creative and productive and doing all of the things, and it pulls me out of this “rest and be still for a while” mode because I start feeling a lazy, useless, lump. I’m really trying to sit with these feelings. Like what is my life all about if I’m not doing things while people are watching me do things?

I was sharing this with a friend last night, how there’s probably something a lot deeper here that I need to suss out and sit with. I have some ideas about what that might be, but I really need to take a deep dive. And I really don’t know what that means exactly, but I think cutting out extraneous distractions is a big part of it.

I feel like people talk a lot about shadow work but no one ever gets into what that really looks like or just how you go about doing it. Just tell me how to do it, already! I feel like I’ve read two or three or 4 or 10 books and I still don’t know! But I guess this is intensely private work and it looks different for everyone. I don’t know!

Anyway! Don’t look for me on Instagram for at least a month or so–and if you see me over there, feel free to slap my wrist*. But gently, I am a sensitive soul and you might hurt my feelings! For those of you who peek at me here (see! there I go again! just who is even peeking at me, right?) feel free to stop by, I’ll still be here.

* I am going to be putting together some Stacked book reviews soon and I am making an exception to share those on social media, because that’s part of my little process! But other than that you can metaphorically slap my wrist if I slip up.


Sometimes I want to pour my heart out and overshare and talk about every thought that stumbles through my mind over in this little space…and sometimes I just want to present a photo of a thing that I baked or a book that I am reading. This little life update might be more of the latter scenario.

I don’t want to be one of those people who with every breath brings up the book that they’re currently writing (I’m sorry! I get really annoyed about this! But more specifically it’s directed at writer-twitter, where someone is always tweeting about how they should be writing but they’re not. OK? So? You wasted your time typing that out? Sometimes I think I hate writer-twitter. Or course if you made me laugh because you’re a funny writer who is not writing, that’s different. But being boring and wasting my time is unforgivable.) ANYWAY. That was quite an aside. So. I don’t want to be that person, but I am in the midst of trying to finish up the bulk of the text for book number two, tentatively titled The Art of Darkness, so I am just basically spent and drained I don’t have the energy or the words to blamble blargle about blumbs over here on the blorg.

So here’s some pictures of some things and as few words as possible!

I’ve lately been obsessed with making various spreadables for all of the sourdoughs that I have been baking. Pictured above is the vegan cheese spread recipe from Rainbow Plant Life. Made from cashews and fermented for a few days for extra tang, it’s pretty tasty, though I don’t think it tastes anything like cheese. Actually, it tastes primarily of nutritional yeast because I think I went overboard and added too much. Luckily, we like nutritional yeast, so it all works out.

This next one is a recipe all of my own, inspired by the few stubby, impossibly purple eggplants we grew this year. There is no photo because it’s pretty ghastly looking, but trust me–it’s delicious. I don’t have ingredient amounts, but just treat it like it’s a pesto/baba ganoush hybrid and eyeball accordingly. Roast eggplants and tomatoes until they are charred and molten. Fry walnuts til rich and earthen and toasty fragrant. Blitz wildly with a fat clove of garlic, a green fistful of fresh basil, a sour squeeze of lemon, and salt & pepper to taste. Serve room temperature on every damn thing.

This just in: I have two new favorite tee shirts. The first is a Dolly tee which I found through Fine Southern Gentleman (h/t to Angeliska for secretly recommending them to me! They didn’t exactly tell me about them directly, but I saw their post on Instagram with a new shirt and I could tell it was a subliminal message meant just for me!)

The second is a My Neighbor Tortoro tee that I found on eBay. I think it was at one time originally from Hot Topic, so who knows, there may be some more floating around out there on resale sites.

An offering; a heart’s gift (& a bribe) from the dreamer to the do-er. The Face of the Oracle necklace from Atelier Narce via Shop Esqueleto. A treat to myself for completing the bulk of book number two. Or…at least it was meant to be. I thought it would take several weeks to reach me, and by the time it arrived, I will have finished my work and properly earned it. But it showed up a few weeks early. And I am not done.

So…that means that I need another treat, when I actually finish, right? I mentioned this to one of my sisters, and she agrees that this is sound logic.

Current artistic obsession: The disquieting goodnight gazes from these pallid little girls and their uncanny dolls, painted by avant-garde art dandy, Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita.

My entire coffee table is a massive TBR pile! I am particularly looking forward to Ruth Ozeki’s The Book of Form and Emptiness as well as Lisa Marie Basile’s City Witchery.

Currently watching: all of the Halloween movies before Halloween Kills is released. I didn’t realize I’d ever seen Halloween 3 before; I think I read the book adaptation when I was a kid, and in my memory that somehow became the same thing. I just looked up the book on amazon and holy moly…folks seem to want an awful lot of money for that little paperback. I wish I still had my copy! I also watched The Abyss this weekend and while I kind of wish they’d amped up the horror elements more (without losing any of the more fantastical bits, somehow?) but overall I really enjoyed it and it made me realize that I really go for tense, claustrophobic movies with a sort of eerie pressurized WOMP WOMP WOMP atmospheric droning score: industrial creaks and groans, the monstrous pressure and eerie whistle of wind through airducts. Strange, hollow sounds reverberating and echoing, a deep bass and unnerving thrum of scenes happening in space, or underwater, Aliens, Event Horizon, Pandorum type movies. Anything else along these lines that I should be watching?

Current miscellaneous things: If you missed it, I was on the inaugural episode of the Fear Is The Mindkiller podcast. Bryan and I talked about favorite books and nightmares and the strange fears that we have and it was such a great conversation. This is my fourth podcast this year and I will say that I was definitely less of a nervous wreck for this one! Speaking of fears, I was quoted a bit over in an article over at Bored Panda this week on the topics of what makes for a good creepy story and why it is that people like to be scared. You have to scroll down to about halfway through the piece to find me, but I am there!

And…I guess that is more or less it for now? I will leave you with this image of me trying on some mid-life crisis hair, via a filter. I think I’m gonna go for it in the next few months or so!


7 Jun

Ugh. It’s getting to be that time of year where my motivation runs low and my well of inspiration runs dry, and I just…don’t wanna. Whatever it is, I refuse to do it. I stepped outside today after what has until now been a very mild and strangely windy summer, and in the still, humid morning my glasses fogged unpleasantly, my hair frizzed frizzily, and I was immediately soggy with sweat all the way to my bones. Nope, I thought. NOPE.

I had a birthday less than a month ago. Apparently, I am now 45 years old. I’ve begun, sometime in the past year or so, to think of myself as old. I hate that. I don’t feel old. But I do feel like if I don’t keep that feeling in check, I am going to do something or say something deeply uncool and get outed as an Old who is trying to be Hip and Young. How embarrassing. It stinks that I even care enough about such things to think that way. But better to just avoid embarrassment and lean into my elderly decline.  Grumble about how I don’t understand what young people are into these days. Pontificate about how stuff from way back when (the 90s) was better. Bend your ear about my GERD and achy hip. Push my glasses up on my head so that I can read the fine print, but refuse to get transition lenses or bifocals or whatever. The chin-hair I’ve been cultivating since I was 25 has been longing for this day. Welcome to your future, little guy. It’s old and creaky here.

This is Mallory. She, like me, is also old. I recently spent a week cat-sitting for her while my sister was out of town (yay for finally getting to pack a bag and go somewhere!) and waking up at 4am every morning to begin the cycle of feeding her every five hours was the closest to a vacation I’ve gotten in a year and a half. This particular sister has a swimming pool though, so it was pretty much exactly the opposite of a hardship. Wake up early, exercise on the sort of very nice equipment I don’t have at home, work my job during the day, drink a glass or two of wine in the evening while splashing my toes in the pool and read, knit, watch movies, and eat junk food, and do it all again the next day and the next. It was pretty glorious if I am being honest. I mean… of course, I can do most of these things at home, but at home, I’m constantly distracted by chores and cooking and various projects, and I run out of time for the leisure activity stuff. Absent all of those particular facets of home-life…you find yourself with a whole lot more time on your hands. I finished a sock, read a whole book, watched three movies, and a whole television series.

If you’re curious, I read The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle, a novella that is both a tribute to and criticism of H.P. Lovecraft, and which is brimming with racism, brutality, and cosmic terror. I watched Saint Maud, which has been on my list for a while, and despite having read reviews and listened to podcasts about it, that ending was still… while not exactly shocking, it was breathtakingly gruesome; I also finally watched Parasite, and I guess I enjoyed it, but I think I had heard too much about it and maybe it wasn’t as twisty or surprising as I had hoped. And then of course the Sailor Moon movie on Netflix. It was fine. I guess I am an old lady who is becoming very hard to impress.

One of the things I love to do when I am visiting this sister’s house is to take a bunch of photos of all of her shelves and corners and art and tchotchkes and trinkets. Though our interests and tastes do overlap somewhat, her home is definitely more vibrant and kaleidoscopic than mine and a million times more organized. It’s always such a treat to peep at her treasures, so I thought I might share a few favorite peeks.

And of course, while I was there, I had to keep up with my daily Midnight Stinks report. I took the opportunity to weigh in on a few of her perfumes, which I found in various places all over the house. Some of them were lovely, and some of them not so much! A mutual friend of ours commented that she didn’t think she’d be too happy with her sister rummaging through her things and talking about all of the things she hated about them, but I am pretty sure my sister is not going to take it personally. And neither, I hope, would you! If I don’t like something you like, well, mine is just one dumb opinion out of millions and you are in no way obligated to take my baloney seriously. My sister(s) certainly don’t!

My favorite room, of course, being The Fairy Wonderland room! Which in the past year and a half has gotten a bit of an overhaul, if I am not mistaken. It’s less a trip to the fairy realms and more a visit to a witch’s cottage. I didn’t think it was possible to love this magical little haven more than I already did, but gosh.

I wasn’t alone with my thoughts and my sister’s stuff the whole time, though. Yvan spent the weekend with me at either end of the week, and for the first time since January of 2020, we went out to bars and restaurants and dined indoors, and MAN IT WAS WEIRD. I think what was weirdest was even though I thought “oh, this is gonna be so freaky and I’m going to be really uncomfortable,” instead it immediately felt so normal, “just like old times” and it was the immediacy of that normalcy that was the scary part. We’ve been fully vaccinated since mid-May, and this was our first jaunt out among people, and I think we’re still analyzing our feelings about it.

Still…it was nice to accessorize with my Gudetama barrettes and my big earrings and play Magic at a brewery for the first time in a loooong time. It’s actually been a long time since I’ve played at all, and I’m finding myself getting kind of excited about it again! I’m not great at strategy (that’s an understatement, I am really terrible) but learning to play Magic was how I got to know Yvan, that’s how we spent a lot of our time on our first dates, and so it’s something that will always feel really special to me. Nerdy romance! Are you a MtG enthusiast? I’m a green/black player, what about you?

I’ve since arrived home and am settling back into my routines which sadly involve neither swimming pools nor cats, but there is one last thing I’d like to share. One of the dishes I make for myself when I’m on my own is this Orecchiette with Mixed Greens and Goat Cheese recipe from Giada De Laurentiis, and while it looks like a bowl of slop when it all comes together, well…it’s classy slop.

It’s practically perfect as written, but I do think it could benefit with either a sprinkle of red pepper flakes or a bit of lemon zest, and I suppose if you wanted some extra protein you could serve it with some kind of beans or grilled chicken, but it’s really just fine on its own. What are your favorite dine-alone dishes or meals-for-one? Do you attempt to class things up a bit, or do you make the rapid descent into a garbage trough when no one’s watching? Full disclosure, I only had this pasta one of the nights I was away. The other five nights it was Cheetos and Funyuns. Because I am a trashbag old lady.



28 Feb

The end of the month! Day 28 of blogging every day for the month of February! I’m going to pretend this statue in the photo immediately above is exuberantly rejoicing in my success, but in reality, she doesn’t care. The Lady of The Perpetual Bauble has no time for my literary pursuits, “give me more jewels, dammit!” she snarls, peevishly. Wow, ok lady. I guess I’ll just celebrate alone. Carry on.

As I am pretty sure that I mentioned earlier this month, I was inspired by a fellow blogger, Katie of Wyrd Words & Effigies, to attempt writing a blog post every day for a month. I figured I’d go with February because there’s no time like the present of course, and also it’s the shortest month, so less work, right? Which, while technically true, I’m not sure those two days make much of a difference overall.

As I’ve shared before, I have a full-time job that actually has nothing to do with writing, so it’s not as if I can spend my 9-5 hours writing a blog post. How I’ve managed to do it is by: keeping an ongoing list of ideas, starting a new draft every time I came up with at least one or two sentences for those ideas, and just chipping away at them when I wake up, over coffee, while I’m having my lunch, or after-hours. Somehow I’ve made it work, and I have even managed to schedule some blog posts several days in advance!

What I’ve learned from this is that I should act on more ideas as they occur to me, instead of sitting on them or saving them for a rainy day. And while I definitely will not be doing 30 days straight of blogging again any time soon, I have discovered that I could definitely be writing more frequently than I typically do. 

I tend to set a lot of “challenge”-type goals, and I think that’s because it seems like a good way to structure some ongoing and future creative projects for myself. To get myself thinking and working in ways I typically might not think or work. For the sake of some –admittedly arbitrary– goals, with these challenges I am motivated to learn new things and work with new concepts and materials, but because I’ve set some guidelines (blog every day for a month, make a new cake every month, do a YouTube video every month, do a perfume review every day on TikTok, etc.,) I won’t get overwhelmed with possibilities and just either go totally off the rails or decide to not even try at all.

In addition to those cake goals and blog post challenges, I’m also making one soup every month from Twelve Months of Monastery Soups. Almost every recipe in this book has been delicious, with the exception of the orzo and pea soup. I probably should have realized this when just looking at those words on the page in front of me made me want to gag. However! Last night’s Ravioli Potage was another absolute winner. The only changes I made were to add some spicy Italian sausage and I swapped out the chervil for tarragon because who even keeps chervil on hand?? Let me know if I am wrong about that, but I don’t think so.

In other food-related reportings, I implore you to stop everything you are doing and make Rabbit & Wolves’ creamy miso pasta with caramelized mushrooms. This may well be the best pasta I’ve ever had, vegan or otherwise. And you people know I like my melty cheese-covered pasta tubules, so that’s saying quite a bit!

If making this recipe, I would suggest preparing twice the amount of sauce you need, and parcel it out to use in the next day or two. At which point, heat it up on the stove, loosen it up with a bit of broth, add a goodly amount of nutritional yeast and some diced, pickled jalapenos– and then you will have the best vegan nacho cheese sauce of your life.

Here is the second finished object of the year: the hellebore-inspired Winter Rose socks. This beautiful pattern is by Helen Stewart and the wildly vibrant fuschia/magenta yarn is from the inimitable Astral Bath Yarns.

Currently working on: the Wild Oak Socks by Virginia Sattler-Reimer in even more gorgeous Astral Bath yarns, although I don’t think I successfully captured the lovely colors or the wonderful pattern in the photo above. I also broke a needle while I was trying to take that photo, ugh!

I continue to keep up with that wily sourdough starter and am making this sourdough loaf recipe just about every week now. We really love the version where a few capfuls of everything bagel seasoning is substituted for the salt, so that’s what I am sticking with for now.

I hit upon the genius idea to make several batches of naan to freeze for future-us on an evening where a nice curry might call for naan we don’t have on hand or have time to make, but, surprise, we do! Because past-us made a bunch and froze it! I may have shared this recipe before, but I use this one, which calls for sourdough discard and yogurt.

I’ll mention a few changes I made to the naan recipe, for those interested: because I use fat-free skyr instead of yogurt, and I never have milk on hand (as called for in the recipe) I just use water for the milk, and a tablespoon or two of olive oil to make up for the missing fat in the milk and skyr. I also let the dough sit in the fridge overnight. Sometimes it is just easier on your schedule to make the dough the night before and then cook it the next evening…and it’s fine. Didn’t affect the end result at all.

Some new books! Yes, yes, I am still reading all the old ones, but don’t you dare judge me! I know you’re probably doing exactly the same thing, so I do not want to hear it. Included in this mini-haul are:

Kink: Stories
Giant Days Vol. 14
The Low, Low Woods
Field Guide to the Haunted Forest (not pictured, because it arrived after I took this photo!)

Bonus: the BEST new snack to pair with any, all, and every book. Takoyaki Balls!  I ate a whole bag at once, immediately felt sick, and yet still wanted more. If that’s not an endorsement, I don’t know what is.

So…that’s my February. Between blogging and TikToking, having my poem published, doing my first podcast, and some plotting & planning with my publisher for the possibility of something new (!!)–it’s been a busy, and, I might even say, a pretty crazed month. I’m worn out! So if my little space here gets a little quiet over the next week, I think you can guess as to why. I’ll just be taking a moment to breathe. Probably while inhaling some more Takoyaki Balls. They’re so good!

How was your February? What did you get into/up to/around to?


Jakub Schikaneder (1855–1924), Podzimní červánky (Autumn Red) 

I am tired. I bet you are tired, too. This has been a weird year. Has it even been a year? Has it been a thousand years? I feel like I’ve aged immensely in these last 365 days and yet…I’ve experienced nothing. I can’t quite convince myself I’ve done nothing, I won’t allow myself to think that. No matter how furiously that self-effacing little demon on my shoulder tries to bully me into thinking it! I have idle tendencies, but I’m not lazy.

And I don’t mean to say that you are lazy if this year has been too much for you and you can’t function. No. But “I’m not lazy” is a mantra I have to repeat to myself, internally, all the time until I believe it. I grew up thinking I was lazy. I was told in so many ways that I was lazy. I came to believe that I am, indeed, a lazy, indolent person. Perhaps because I am slow to move and act. Often times this has to do with fear and anxiety. Also because I have a tendency to act only when I am ready to act. Don’t rush me! Perhaps also because I am not hugely ambitious, at least in the ways that the rest of the world, and perhaps my generation, define success. But I am not lazy! A few years ago, I made myself look at my progress and motivation and drive, and dammit, I am not lazy. But I still remind myself of this, every day.

Artist: Sonia Lazo

I am always working on something. Baking, gardening, knitting, researching, writing, sometimes even making myself do the things that scare me! I mean, I published a book this year! This year, of all years! That counts for something right? But at the same time, I don’t feel like any of it counts at all, like it is entirely possible that this year hasn’t actually counted for anything. Although I have done things, learned things, made progress on, and completed personal projects… I have not gone anywhere new or exciting (or even old or boring) or seen or met anyone. All of these things are different marks that add up on the yardstick for which I measure my years, and this year is terribly off balance.

This past summer, I think I felt that keenly, and so I overloaded myself with tasks and projects and all manner of what I suppose amounts to busy work. I may not have been able to travel to see friends or family, but I dabbled in a multitude of cuisines, I perfected my sourdough starter, I finished a knitting project that I have been working on for five years–I can’t say that I didn’t do anything. I did all of the things. But…it all feels pointless? Wasted? And now it’s December and the year is ending in just over two weeks and I am tired. And I need to rest. Why is that so hard to admit?

On the knitting front: I think this is the first time I’ve worn something I knit in over a decade!

While I love to knit, I discovered that it’s more about the process and the journey for me, than it is about the destination and end result. When I am done with a project I set it aside until I feel I’ve found the right recipient, or, more frequently, they reveal themselves to me mid-stitch, before the pattern is even complete. I’m never sad to say goodbye to these projects because they were never meant for me to keep.

This sweater, though…maybe it’s going to stay with me a while. I hadn’t knit a sweater in a very long time. I tend to stick to things that don’t actually have to fit, like intricate shawls and the like. Measurements mystify me! But I was gifted a book of patterns late in 2019, so I thought I’d give it a another go. It was probably a fluke (because I did no maths, and much like merging onto the highway, I just close my eyes and prayed for the best!) and wouldn’t you know? It was perfect!

Of course, living in Florida, there are not many opportunities to wear such things. But today is chilly and here we are! Warm and cozy and it fits beautifully.

I think this one has found its home.

This was meant to be a divorce blanket for my baby sister. She could have gotten married and divorced again in the 4-5 years it took me to knit this!

Each and every square was knit with my deepest heart’s love for this beautiful, brilliant, brave woman, and with wishes and dreams that her life as she goes forward is exactly as she wants it to be. And more or less it has been, I think, and utterly without the help of this blanket! Well, it’s the thought that counts, anyway.

Thank you to the many friends who have contributed yarn to this project over the years. I appreciate you all for your help.

Reading: Though I’m a life-long fiend for all things horror, my love for the genre does tend to wax and wane. Sometimes I become a bit unplugged, only to dive back in with a voracious ferocity that’s probably a bit alarming from an outsider’s perspective.

Recently I was gifted a copy of Matt Glasby’s The Book of Horror: The Anatomy of Fear on Film, and it has marvelously rekindled my love for all things horrid, haunting, and harrowing. Glasby examines some of the most frightening films created and explores with us what it is exactly, that makes them so scary. Which sounds like it might be a dry, scholarly affair, but it’s not even a bit! The analysis is tightly written, wryly humorous, and exceptionally insightful, and, coupled with the spare elegance of Barney Bodoano’s striking black and white artwork—I’m utterly immersed and enthralled and I haven’t been able to put it down.

The advent of the winter months are casting their strange spell and making me forget, as I do every year, that baking in Florida in November is pretty much the same as baking here in July. Still, the heart wants what the heart wants (even though the heart doesn’t even care for sweets) and so that means Swedish cardamom buns and cranberry scones.

I really don’t have much to say about them, but I did think they were nice photos!

I have been feeling some kind of way in the last few weeks. I can’t put my finger on what it is, or why…it’s somewhat inexplicable and mostly inexpressible and it’s for sure not a particularly nice feeling.

The closest I can get at it is this: I have been hearing various friends at various points in time say that they need to delete their Facebook accounts or stop scrolling through Instagram or maybe even stay off of social media entirely, because it makes them feel crappy about themselves. They compare themselves to friends and acquaintances who have perhaps had more achievements and successes, who have gotten married or had children, who have traveled the world, who seem beautiful, valued, fulfilled, and happy…and in seeing all of this, they find that they are coming up short in their own lives and wonder where they went wrong. Rather than be bombarded by their social media reminding them of these short-comings every time the page refreshes, they delete these platforms from their devices, removing the temptation to subject themselves to these feelings.

I thought that I never really understood or properly empathized with the dissatisfaction or disappointment or depression/despair they experienced from these interactions (oh, the arrogance!) because I believed that I measured my success differently. I genuinely believed I wasn’t paying that much attention to what everyone else was doing. Or if I was, I was happy to see that they were doing well. And I am!

But I suspect…I’m more attentive than I thought I was to what X/Y/Z person was progressing with, making strides toward and ultimately achieiving and succeeding in. And inevitably, we relate information about others to ourselves, and it would appear that I am not immune to that, no matter how much I imagined myself to be! And while I might not covet the lifestyles and timelines of say, that enthusiastic person posting pictures from their themed-engagement photo shoot, or the third-time mommy-to-be celebrating milestones in her kid’s lives, or the career woman who was just promoted to Regional Director of Whatever…I do take notice of the various ways in which the people whose interests align with mine are putting themselves out there and achieving things. And I wonder what is wrong with me that my expectations for myself are so vastly different and what opportunities I might be missing because of that.

I guess when it’s stripped down to essentials, what I’ve been feeling of late is the dull hum of inadequacy. It’s been buzzing through my brain at a frequency I couldn’t quite attune to, but in writing about it just now, I think I’ve dialed it in. And I hate to blame social media, but it’s so easy to lose ourselves in what we think we should be doing/wanting/having because we see those individuals whom we admire involved in all those things…but are those things really the things we want for ourselves? Or is the algorithm just brainwashing us into thinking so? And so maybe it is better to step back. To remember who we are and what we want for ourselves, and use that clarity to both connect with our identity and cultivate our self-esteem.

Psychology today writes that:

“A stable sense of self comes from thinking about who you are absent any feedback. What are your values and preferences in the absence of anybody knowing about them? Can you be proud of the person you are who isn’t publicly posted?”

So I can certainly see how taking a step back from Instagram and Facebook can provide some time for self-reflection, to strip away all the clutter that you’re constantly barraged and the constant need to “create/curate content”.

I don’t know where I’m going with any of this navel-gazing, because while social media creates these uncomfortable and upsetting comparisons for me, it’s also a source of so many wonderful connections. And while I realize that my efforts fall far short of anything that would be described as a journalistic or literary tour-de-force, I do like to try to keep my finger on the pulse of things, so to speak, for writing purposes– and social media platforms can be such an amazing source for the sorts of tidbits that I like to stay on top of. So what can I do? Just keep it all in perspective, I guess. As poet and writer Lisa Marie Basile wrote on Instagram recently: “The universe is nearly 14 billion years old. I promise that bitch on Instagram doesn’t matter.”

Seen too, just today, via Sarah Faith Gottesdiener’s Instagram:

It is a fucking relief to dive deep into your own well, to move forward in your own integrity, and forge your own path. It is a breath of fresh air to acknowledge your own needs, dreams, and particular talents. We all have our own unique roles to inhabit and our own particular calls to heed. The more we stay in our own energy, the easier it is to attract what is for us. Do you understand?” (Read the rest of it here, it’s exactly perfect.)

I think I do understand. And so maybe you will be seeing a little less of me in my familiar haunts. You can always find me here, though.

✥ comment

27 May

currently featureMy little sister has done an admirable job with keeping a “plague diary” over the course of the last X number of days (yikes, has it really been that long?) I wish I had that same dedication and fortitude and the …motivation, I guess, to summon thoughts and what to say about them, but I guess I don’t. So much of this time right now feels exactly like the life I was leading up until this crisis, and it seems…profoundly uncool to talk about how much my life has not changed. Still working from home. Still a homebody. Still relieved when it comes to canceled plans. Still living in my own little world.

My fears and anxieties come not from concern for my own safety or worries about my continued financial stability (although quite frankly I am not sure how or why I am still employed) but rather…sympathy pains, I suppose you could say, for my friends and family and the rest of the world. I’ve internalized so much of the collective chaos and I am sad and stressed and scared; this article says it has something to do with “allotastic load” and this article says that the discomfort I am feeling is grief. From whichever perspective I look at it, man, I am drained. And I can’t even believe I am saying this…I have now officially spent too much time at home.

Last month I was to have visited (and met in person for the first time) a dear friend in the midwest; this past weekend I was supposed to meet up with my sisters to celebrate one of their birthdays; typically we visit Y’s parents every month or so, we go into Orlando for a weekend, we have a few dinners out during the week, and not to mention the absence of grocery shopping and hair appointments! But. Nobody’s going nowhere and there’s nothing to be done about it and that is all for the best.

As far as all of this time we supposedly have on our hands now. I’ve got the same amount of time as I’ve always got. It just feels different. It simultaneously feels like swimming in jelly or running in slow-motion as though in a dream, except there’s this dreadful urgency there, because, although I am still feeling foggy and slow and drained, I am expected to work my same 8:30-5:30 (or sometimes 6:00 or 6:30 every day.) I feel like I’m both in this liminal, holding pattern place–sort of like how it feels here, in FL, right before hurricane hits–and I am in real-life, where things are needed and expected of me, and it’s taking a superhuman effort be in both places at once.

I also should note I have been trying to write this blog post since the beginning of April. Ugh. Is there any point to finishing it and posting it now? I think there is. Even if it feels like life is at a standstill…it’s not. It’s not on pause. It’s still happening and unfolding every day, and I guess I’d like a record, of sorts.

biscuits chai pasta saladcake
japanese guacamole

Instead of the travels I had planned, then, let me tell you about my culinary explorations. I made biscuits for the first time, ever! I made my first-ever chocolate cake from scratch (it looked horrible, but it was delicious–and I don’t even like cake!) I ground my own spices and made Masala chai; I made a vegan caesar salad dressing and vegan jerky; I made what I am calling a “savory fruit salad” in an attempt to salvage a few tomatoes and an avocado that were just past their prime.

Which is to say: combine diced and ripened tomato and avocado, a bright green funky flurry of chopped scallions, a nutty slick of sesame oil, a tangy dribble of rice wine vinegar, and several enthusiastic shakes of aromatic shiso furikake. It may look like a glunky pile of unpleasantness, but holy Japanese guacamole, was it incredible.

sweater1 sweater2

carlina…and have I shared sweater journeys with you? I haven’t knit a sweater in years and years, and the reason for this is because they require more precise measurements than I care to deal with; socks and shawls don’t really have the same fit issues that sweaters do, so I’d prefer the fiddliness of tiny stitches and complicated lace to the prospect of a sweater that’s going to end up being the size of that tent that the Weasley family travels with for Quidditch matches.

However! I was gifted with a sweater pattern book for the holidays, and I thought “well, hey, now that I am living in the semi-tropical climate of Florida again, it sure seems like a great time to knit up some heavy woolen sweaters!” When the imp of the perverse calls to me, I must obey. And so I did.

And do you know what? Now that I’ve got another decade of knitting under my belt, these things actually fit!

From the top photo down is the Sashiko sweater by Mona Zillah, the Emerge sweater by Andrea Cull, and the work in progress at the very bottom is the Carlina pullover by Whitney Hayward.

bday list occultcoloring dress

Other things I have done while self-isolating and social distancing over the past few months:

♢ Had a birthday and bought a new book bag and lots of books to fill it up with.
Resistance | Handbook of American Folklore | The Heart: Frida Kahlo in Paris |
Southern   Vegan | Ghosts and Grinning Shadows |
♢ Made an insane number of to-do lists and did a lot (probably too many) things
♢ Attended an exceptional online occult writing class, as well as a sigil magic class!
♢ Attempted a calming coloring book session, got very stressed out
♢ Finally fit myself into a dress that never actually fit in the first place
♢ Watched Knives Out. It was fun. Also watched Satanic Panic. Meh? But that orgy scene scored with the Chelsea Wolf song made it worthwhile, I reckon.

Last week I left the house and drove my car for the first time since mid-March. I went to the dentist for a tooth-cleaning. It was both scary and underwhelming. I’m ready for more normal, stupid activities like this, but at the same time, I’m almost certain we’re collectively not ready for this at all. I guess we’ll see. A dental visit and an expression of depressing uncertainty is a bummer of a way to end this missive, and pretty anticlimactic to boot, but that’s all she wrote, I’m afraid.

(That’s all she wrote: I’m afraid.)


Johann Georg Meyer, Young Woman Looking through a Window
Johann Georg Meyer, Young Woman Looking through a Window

Ok, so if we’re being honest, I’ve been self-isolating since the late 70s. And it must be noted that I wrote that sentence last night and in opening this draft again early this morning, I misread that as “…self-loathing since the late 70s”. Also true. But not why we’re here today.

It’s a scary, lonely, and possibly boring time for a lot of folks right now if you’re keeping your distance from others, working from home, and just hanging around your house, waiting for this madness to pass. No happy hours with co-workers, no bookclubs or yoga classes, possibly no trips to the library or the grocery store (if, like me, that’s about the extent of your social interaction right there.)

I know a lot of us think–hey, 24/7 home-times and zero amounts of human contact is basically my life, anyway! No biggie! But it’s one thing to want that for yourself…it’s something else entirely not to have any choice in the matter. What once felt safe and lovely in the cozy confines of your home may begin to feel like a sentence of stifling, smothering imprisonment. After all, no one wants to be told what to do! There’s nothing like being informed that you can’t do something, to flip that contrarian switch in your mind that makes you suddenly want to do that thing more than anything in the world. So I absolutely understand how frustrating it can, even for an introvert, not to be able to leave the house, let alone see the places and do the things and hang out with the people. Or just…you know, go to your place of work and put in the hours for a paycheck. Or maybe you are immunocompromised, or you deal with the daily experience of living with a chronic illness, and frequently must turn down invitations or reschedule appointments for things outside the house while you tend to your own health. During this strange time of isolation and quarantine it’s possible you may be feeling well enough to spend time with friends, but…you can’t. And let’s not forget our extroverted friends! I know that I personally feel drained from being around people and am happy to avoid it entirely, but I have plenty of friends who find interaction and conversation energizing and invigorating. The friends who are always moving, going, doing! I can think of any number of reasons we are worried and anxious and the possibility of stir craziness and cabin fever looms.

Me, well. As someone who already works at home and has for almost a decade; who has maybe only one local IRL friend; who is very much an introvert anyway…I believe I am doing OK. For now. I don’t think I am likely to get bored (in my childhood, someone once told us, “if you’re bored–you’re boring!” and that is a sentiment that has always stuck with me, and has instilled in me the idea that to be boring is maybe the worst personality flaw one can have.)  My youngest sister explained our temperaments quite well when it comes to being okay with being home, and alone:

“My early years of being a socially-awkward, friendless little freak have served me well: I’m comfortable in my own company, and my internal landscape is rich and well-supplied with my own interests and curiosities.”

Wow, you can’t tell we’re related or anything.

I’m still working full time at my day job–not much has changed on the surface with regard to what I do for a living. But it’s an industry that will no doubt be affected by what’s happening now, and I have a feeling that these are effects that may be felt soon. So I’ll be grateful for my job while I have it!  For this period of quarantine and captivity, things at work are no doubt going to be a little slow, so here are a few of the things I will be doing. Or thinking about doing. Or some ideas for you!


Clean and tidy and organize my environment. When you have to look at the same walls and shelves and surfaces for days on end, dust and scraps and piles of random things where they don’t belong can start to make your space feel annoying and gross–and this feeling can naturally affect your attitudes and motivations for doing other things.

Block out some time to make the bed, to vacuum, to put things back where they belong, at the very least. Catch up on some podcasts while you’re doing it! For me in particular, that means organizing the stacks of stuff that end up on top of the captain’s bed in my office, a spot which has become sort of a catch-all for everything that enters my home that I don’t have immediate plans for. And because I work in my office, I always see that mountain of yarn, or perfume samples or whatever, looming and mocking me from the corner of my eye. It’s distracting. I’m going to take some time to find homes for these things and bring my office back to a nice, functional space.


Read! Now is a great time to make a dent in those stacks. You know the ones. The library stacks. The purchased-from-amazon-for-summer-reading-in-2015 stacks. The Kindle Unlimited backlog digital stacks. The poetry-section-at-Powells-from-a-previous-trip-to Portland stacks. Have a nice beverage, kick up your feet and put on your funny socks so that when you look down you see your silly toes and it makes you laugh. Post a photo of that on Instagram. Or maybe listen to some free books! Right now I am finally reading The Picture of Dorian Gray, catching up on Monstress. What are you reading during these strange, unprecedented times?


Catch up on personal projects, hobbies, or creative activities–finish that knitted shawl, make that pelmeni that your friend gave you an excellent recipe for, KonMari your tee shirt drawer; redesign an awkward room, fix those wonky, squeaky, creaky things around the house, throw out all of your old crusty makeup, do your taxes. Tune that ukelele that your partner bought you for Christmas in 2014 and you’re afraid to even look at, update your resume/portfolio and refresh those skills that might give you a leg up on the job market, unsubscribe from all of the stuff clogging your mailbox, unfollow all those boring people on Instagram who never update anymore …though if you were close to them you may want to reach out and see if they’re ok, of course! Create a budget for yourself and make some plans to be more financially solvent. Do some end of life planning! (this is not morbid; this is practical.)

Learn something new! A yoga pose, a fancy nail design manicure, a Skillshare class on whatever, I don’t know, maybe one about being a social media guru or taking nice photos of your coffee in a hipster cafe. Listen to that one TED talk on empathy; learn to make a classic cocktail. Learn origami, watch some youtube tutorials for making cold process soap or wax candles, or herbal tinctures and decoctions. Read up on some eco-sustainable solutions for your home to begin implementing when you’re comfortable enough to think about things like that again. Look at some beautiful art for your eyeballs in a virtual museum tour. Finally begin reading up on the Tarot! Take your cue from The Hermit, and use this introspective, reflective time to learn about the things that excite your soul. Like crochet! The Hermit is totally crocheting some amigurumi dolls right now.

Are both you and your partner working at home? Take lunch together and do something absurd and ridiculous like rewrite the words to a popular song; I’ve started with the lyrics to the Eagle’s Desperado–my version is called Death Burrito. That’s about as far as I’ve gotten. I mean… I haven’t even learned to play the original on my ukelele.

Talk about something silly and fanciful. Plan that pie-in-the-sky-vacation you’ve been thinking about taking. Daydream together. My partner and I both work from home and have for years now, in our very different jobs. We have separate offices, luckily, and we’ve worked it out so that we don’t get in each other’s way, and we understand that we are at work between the hours of 8:30-5:30. But if that’s not your situation, this may be a good read right now: Surviving Quarantine Without Killing Your Partner.


Get outside if you can. Walk around the neighborhood, peek in your neighbor’s garages (why do so many people leave their garage doors open all day long? Guy with the confederate flag hanging over your mossy old sofa…do you really want people to see that?) Go to a park, I mean I know it’s only a quarter-mile walk around a craggy retention pond, but use your imagination. Hang out in your backyard and garden, plant some seeds, grow something. Have a little picnic on your back porch. Squat down and look at some bugs. Lean your head back and look at the sky.

If you’re able, do your best to move around and don’t turn into a fossil! Little micro-workouts, gentle stretches, strength training, learn a K-pop dance, dance with Debbie Allen!; hula hoop in your backyard, do one of those crazy VR games, use your treadmill or stationary bike, try yoga apps or youtube videos, use that zombie running app that you downloaded once and promptly forgot about. If any of my DDR PS2 games worked with our PS4 I’d be hardcore Dance Dance Revolutionizing right now. I am actually the worst at this, so if you’ve got any tips of things tried and true that work for you, please let me know!

Planner layout photo courtesy my baby sister, who suggested both #plandemic and #plandemonium as hashtags for current social media usage.

Plan and organize and make appointments and schedule things! I know it’s tough to book mammograms and hair colorings right now. Who knows when it will seem like a smart idea again to see our doctors for non-crucial issues and book appointments with the folks who make us look good? I don’t know! But if you’re suddenly working from home (or you’re at home because you’re suddenly not working) it’s understandable that you might be floundering and adrift because your regular routines have all gone out the window. Make a plan for yourself even if you’re just scheduling the stuff you do around the house. 6:30am wake up. Make bed. Drink water. Wash face. Do laundry. Email friends. I know these are just dumb daily things that you are going to do anyway, but when you don’t have anything else going on and your whole day boils down to these quotidian activities, it can feel like a big deal crossing small wins off your list.

Communicate with friends and loved ones. Keep up with your Facebook group chats, Skype with your sisters, text your best friend, send out emails to folks you haven’t heard from in a while. (If you’re me, don’t take/make any phone calls because why don’t people get that you are on the phone from sundown from sunup for your day job and you would rather throw yourself into a woodchipper than talk on the phone in your free time?) Play online games or apps with your cousins, watch movies with your coven over facetime, do book club discussions over coffee or cocktails together via Skype. Create a shared playlist with your buds on Spotify. Write some actual letters with that fancy stationery you never use, for pete’s sake


Cook! Experiment with a new recipe (make one of those technical challenges from the Great British Baking Show! Pretend that Paul Hollywood is going to give you that famous handshake if you get it right!), make a comforting classic; perfect one of your granny’s recipes, do some nice, relaxed, non-rushed meal-prep; see what kind of dreamy charcuterie board you can come up with what you’ve got on hand. If what you’ve got is string cheese, salmon jerky, and Cheez-Its, that’s a good try! The unattractive photo above is a barley and lentil soup I made with some dried goods that had been in my cupboard for maybe 5-6 years. I don’t know if it’s because I sauteed the veggies in bacon grease, but this was really an excellent-tasting soup for having used such humble ingredients.


Step away from the media that’s fueling your anxiety; draw yourself a bath and use some of those potions and lotions and oils and balms you have on the shelves in your bathroom– bath salts, bubble baths, fancy soaps, bath bombs, bath melts, etc, etc. Give yourself a manicure, a pedicure, a hand massage, a foot soak (or if you’re like me, you’re too lazy to draw a bath so instead you put all of those things I listed above into a tiny foot soak tub instead); do a facial, a mask, a peel; do some gua sha, light some candles, listen to some ASMR for tingles and relaxation. Lisa-Marie Basile has got some really wonderful rituals for troubling times such as this in her gorgeous book, Light Magic for Dark Times: More than 100 Spells, Rituals, and Practices for Coping in a Crisis, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. This is the perfect time to dive in.

Write it out! Do some journaling (keep a plague diary!) work on your essay, your article, your interview, your poetry, your great American novel; meditate on and document what is happening right now, scribble and ramble to work through your fears and your feelings during these chaotic times. It’s scary to sit with these worrying thoughts, but if you’re up to it, you may find it helpful.

via Emma Zeck
via Emma Zeck

Follow your heart and see what it wants to do…and if that’s exactly nothing, then go with that for a while, too. It is OK to be still. I think the idea of “keeping busy” and the hustle/grind/etc–these types of relentless toil have been glorified in our society, and listen, you don’t have anything to prove right now. We place unbelievably high standards on ourselves, and that pressure is untenable on any given day, let alone in circumstances such as these. Listen to that small voice within and to the messages your body, instincts, spirit give you. You don’t have to “think positively.” Be worried, be anxious, be scared. Lean into those feelings and let them have a voice.  If that’s too much right now, and stillness doesn’t feel like something you can handle, to do those things that make you feel safe and cozy and let you tune out for a while: movies, puzzles, knitting, looking at pictures of corgi butts, napping, whatever.

If your heart is moved do something else, maybe consider donating to or buying a gift card from local businesses that you support; purchase a gift card or two from some of your favorite artists, or contribute to their Patreon, or buy them a Kofi. Support your local mutual aid network. If we’re at a point where you can still do this, run errands for someone who needs to stay indoors. I am sure there are lots of helpful and good things that I am not even thinking of, so please feel free to comment with ideas and practices of your own.

And I get it, we’re not all on vacation here. Some of us are still working– I know I am. (And there are some lovely, gentle work from home tips in this article at Luna Luna Mag!) It’s not like all of this magical free time just opened up for me! Some are not working and currently without income. Some of you have kids and can’t just take up crocheting or a new hobby or whatever. You’ve got diapers to change or kids out of school who need wrangling. Some of you live in apartments and maybe don’t have a park or a neighborhood to walk around. We’re not all in the same situation, and we don’t have access to the same things. The circumstances look different for all of us, and I wish I had more answers and ideas for everyone. But these are some things that I’d like to try to work into my schedule because now seems like a good time, I mean it’s got to be good for something, right?

Ghost hugs from exile, friends. Be well and stay safe.


Author Photo 3

I hate looking at my face in photos that other people have taken of me.

It’s hard to articulate why you think your best angles are your best angles, because quite frankly when we look at ourselves, I’m fairly certain that all we see are our flaws. (If you’ve evolved beyond this, I tip my hat to you.) My weak chin, massive forehead, my wonky tooth, my squinty, asymmetric eyes, my weird albino mole, and conversely, that dark splotchy sun-spot–I have been evaluating, assessing, and critiquing these problems with my gargoyle face in photos for …well. My entire life.

Our friends, however, aren’t as intimately familiar with how hideous we believe that we are; they don’t examine our repulsive facial topographies in the mirror every day (they’ve got their own faces to deal with, I imagine) and since they probably think we’re decent-enough looking humans, they are not as circumspect and calculated as we are in capturing our own portraits on film. I am certain that anyone who has ever been tagged in a friend’s Facebook photo looking like a chubby, inbred goblin is mortifyingly familiar with this oversight on the part of our friends, and this is why I think we need consent forms and NDAS and binding contracts promising that they will never ever ever tag us in a photo on Facebook unless we have pre-approved said photo. In my opinion, there is no betrayal quite so heinous as being marked as yourself by a “friend” in a particularly ugly photo.

Anyway, I had some author photos taken last weekend. I tried not to be too critical of them afterward; they were shot by my brother in law and I think he did a great job! He made me feel comfortable, and I knew I wasn’t going to wind up looking like anyone else other than me. (I am terrified of getting my makeup done, because, as part of the process, I may be given those terrible fuzzy caterpillar Instagram eyebrows; I am so scared of this that I wore exactly zero makeup in these photos except for some tinted moisturizer. My eyebrows may be non-existent, but at least they are not Eugene Levy-levels of lepidopteran larvae hovering above my eyeballs.) These photos came out looking exactly like me, for better or worse. But the one above is my absolute favorite. “Cackling into the void,” a friend of mine captioned it. And I don’t think anything captures me better than just laughing at how scared and ugly I feel all the time.  It’s kinda hilarious. And sad. But mostly funny!


One thing that -mostly- never makes me feel sad or scared or ugly though, is spending time in the kitchen. (Just don’t ask me about the time I had the “brown rice risotto meltdown”! It was just last week. Too soon.)

Last year, thanks to the recipe and encouragement of dear Sonya, I tried my hand at making gravlax; this year, I thought…why not make the bagels and cream cheese to accompany it?

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This time around I went with Brad Leone’s gravlax recipe from this episode of It’s Alive. I left out the turmeric because that just seemed…a little weird. The peppercorns and coriander seeds smelled so beautiful; sharp and fresh and floral and a bit citrusy, and I wish I could wear the glittering finery of this salt and sugar sprinkle half as well as this little slab of salmon!

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Did I feel the slightest bit of trepidation contemplating the creation of homemade bagels? Maybe. But even bad bagels had the promise of being pretty freaking amazing, and please indulge me when I tell you that these were not bad bagels. Were they perfect? Lordy. No.
Were they a lot of work? Like maybe a thousand times the effort of going to Bagel King? Yes, they were. Were they probably twice as expensive? Yes, they probably were.

Were they absolutely worth the mess and the effort? Oh yes. And they were even more delicious knowing that I made the dough, I kneaded the dough, I shaped and boiled and I baked the dough, and I had a hand in nearly 100% of the processes that brought these wee bagel bebes into existence. I didn’t grow the grains and grind them into flour. And that was a pre-packaged everything bagel seasoning (it needs more salt!) But other than that…I did it. And that feels pretty amazing.

The bagel recipe is from Joshua Weissman, and I chose it because he wasn’t adding extra ingredients like malt extract and vital wheat gluten. Those might have made the end product tastier, but I didn’t feel like futzing around with them. The cream cheese is really more of a “cream cheese-like spread” and the recipe is from Chef John of Foodwishes. I really dig how he compares the cheesecloth marks on the spread to the pattern that fishnet stockings make on the flesh of someone’s leg. I think the world needs some erotic foody fanfiction from Chef John, but maybe that’s just me, hee hee.

Bean Soup

Since we are on the topic of food (and if we’re not, let me bring it back to what’s really important here) I’d like to tell you about this soup.

We were low on stores and I didn’t want to do any extra shopping. I had a really excellent chicken stock I’d made from the remnants of this chicken recipe, a handful of old vegetables, and two half-full bags of dried baby lima beans. I am not sure why I had two bags, and why there was an equal amount of beans missing from both, but I suppose that shall remain a kitchen mystery. I soaked the beans in some cold water for a few hours, and then I chopped and sauteed two celery stalks and two carrots with three cloves of garlic, minced, in a splodge of olive oil. I would have added onions, but I had none, so subbed in a hefty tablespoon of onion powder, along with some salt and pepper. I added the soaked beans and stirred them around with the veggies for a few minutes or until everything looks friendly with each other and smells lovely and then I added several cups of broth and a bay leaf or two. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the beans are as tender as you like and the soup starts to thicken up a bit.

I used to hate bean soup as a kid, but I think this one is better than the one my grandmother used to make me eat. It was actually quite delicious. Sorry Mawga!


RE: my Stephen King project (here’s a link to a spreadsheet if you are interested! It’s…a bad spreadsheet. Spreadsheets are not my thing.)

So far in 2019 I have read The Institute, The Dead Zone, and The Outsider; I have watched Pet Sematary (2019), IT Chapter Two, In The Tall Grass, Doctor Sleep. I am currently watching The Outsider television series, listening to The Dark Half, and reading The Gunslinger

Of course, I am reading other things, too, alongside this Stephen King madness, but still…I think I am making progress!