musings


Well, this Musings post is grossly long, and maybe a bit dated, but I started throwing things into the file, then got caught up in the holidays—and God forbid anyone should be deprived of my Musings. [insert barf emoji] At least it has a lot of pictures.

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One of my most profound mystical experiences, or contact with the numinous, was invoked by a dead cat. It changed me from near-atheist to “oh I get it now.” Thank you, Mocha. The Mocha Hierophany.

Mocha, an old soul from the 80s:

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New Year’s Day sunset: Even enhancing the color on this doesn’t come close to the intensity of the light. Nothing ever beats Nature. Thank you, Nature.

The same sky from my friend who lives a few miles from here. This one captures the immensity of the sky better than mine did, how the clouds seemed to go on forever.

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Here’s a question for you: is poetry a purely mammalian response to the world? Is magic? Would intelligent and highly advanced reptiles, for instance, have that sense of wonder and awe and poetry? I don’t want to be Mammalian-Centric.

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I always think of the four of swords as the “rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated” card. (Yes, dad jokes help me remember the meanings.)

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A few days before the new year (December 30th) I found out that I share blood with one of the accused Salem witches (Mary Leach Ireson). We’re descended from the same ancestor (Richard Leech) through the brother (Lawrence Leech) of my direct ancestor (Thomas Leech). Maybe that’s why I’ve always been obsessed with these trials. I particularly like the “maybe you were a witch but didn’t know it” line of questioning. Apparently, the “maybe I’m a witch but didn’t know it” defense worked because she wasn’t executed and lived until 1711.


As I’ve said before, women rarely appear in the historical record unless they’ve suffered some trauma.

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I have so much work to do and a limited amount of time. But time is not my enemy. If I focus on what needs to be done, not allowing myself to be distracted, I will do what I need to do. The only reason I say it isn’t against me is because I will do what I can do. If time runs out, then it does. It will eventually anyway so why so sweat it?

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You know that weird stuff you have to clear from your parents or grandparents’ homes when they pass? When you reach a certain age you can’t be arsed about good taste. Sometimes you just want stuff that makes you giggle or because you know it will chagrin some of the people who inherit it.

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I finally got my Red Book set up so that people can actually see it instead of being hidden away in a room they can’t go in.

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Last month I pulled my novel Venus In Transit out of the trunk. I started working on it in 1999. It was inspired by Patrick Harpur’s Daimonic Reality and later given shape and spin by George P. Hansen’s The Trickster and the Paranormal. Plus all those thousands and thousands of paranormal shows I’ve watched over the years and many another paranormal book. I had the novel in a fairly polished state and was getting ready to start marketing it when my mother had a stroke and my world went all to hell for several years. Then there was the very long and painful writer’s block afterwards.

Things started to loosen up for me artistically after watching season one of Hellier last year—and that’s when I had my Hellier related synchronicity storm. Which let me know I was on the right track creatively. I finished one novel this summer and started working on another. Then Hellier Season 2 came along. It fed my head yet again, and there was something about the discussion in that series of pushing through frustration that reminded me of the artistic process.

Whenever an artist, or at least any artist I know, reaches a point of frustration it’s often the sign of imminent breakthrough to a new way of doing things. Pushing through that frustration is a vital part of the process. So I got out that old paranormal novel with an idea to see if it really was ready to market and I fell into a hole with it for about a week. That edit is done, but when I got to the part in the story where my investigator discovers strange, small, three-toed footprints with dermal ridges, I thought, “No one will ever believe I didn’t get this from Hellier.” But those are the breaks. Hellier2 did encourage me to pull it back out of the trunk and that’s got to be a good thing.

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Hellier is beautifully shot and edited. I remember when the granddaddy of paranormal shows, Ghost Hunters, premiered. They used that cinema vérité style which gave a feel of credibility (and because it was cheap to produce), but imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery. Most of what’s come since has been crap.

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My life is a lot better since I’ve given up trying to find ultimate answers. I’m more content trying to find ultimate questions.

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Well, I got within 100 pages of finishing Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson but my medieval porn book arrived so…sorry Neal.

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Cats exist simultaneously in this time/space and in hyperspace which is why they always seem to take up a vastly greater amount of space than their physical bodies would imply.

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I’ve been to both Disneyland and the “Disneyland of Cemeteries”—Forest Lawn—and I would choose to spend my eternity in neither of them. (Talk about terrifying!)

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Lt. Col. Vindman during the impeachment hearings reading that paragraph to his dad and talking about it? “Don’t worry. This is America. We do what’s right here.” We have to justify his faith in this country. It’s been what was true in the past and we can’t let it fall away. DO THE RIGHT THING, AMERICA. And Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi talking to Vindman about the pride of being an immigrant and being an American? Yep, that’s the essence of what this country it’s always been.

I was awakened early this morning by my Nest smoke detector (a Google product) malfunctioning. No smoke, no fire, but after I’d turned the damned thing off three times it would no longer allow me to do that. The firemen came to confirm no fire, no smoke, and physically disabled the alarm to shut it the f*** up. They suggested that maybe the batteries were no good, although they’d been changed about 4 months ago when the technician came out to inspect things. I had turned the heat on about an hour before this happened, but it wasn’t the first time I’d used it this fall.

This is also not the first time this has happened, although last time was not nearly as traumatic. That time (about a year ago?) it woke me up at 1:30 a.m. shouting, “ATTENTION!!! THERE’S SMOKE IN THE LIVING ROOM!!! THE ALARM MAY GO OFF!!!”

I jumped out of bed and searched frantically for smoke but found none. The alarm never did go off and reset itself. About 20 minutes later I checked the app and it said something like, “Smoke has dissipated.” I went back to bed but didn’t get back to sleep very soon. The next day I had the company come out and inspect the furnace and alarm system but they could find nothing wrong.

I occasionally will smell smoke from the neighbors’ firepit in my house, but they would hardly have been using it at 1:30 on a weeknight, nor (I suspect) early this morning. There were no fires burning in the area on that occasion, either, although I have smelled them in my house at times (and there’s a fire about 20 miles from here which started yesterday). Ironically, the system has never gone off when I have smelled this smoke. But after that first time when the furnace people found nothing, I called the local fire department’s non-emergency number and explained what happened and asked if they could suggest a next step. They said they could come out when they had a lull period and inspect the house, which they did. They used these detectors that see through walls to check for hot wiring that might cause problems, as well as scanning all the appliances, and found nothing.

I’ve been reading online about problems with Nest. Apparently, what happened to me is not unknown. Sometimes the latest high tech is <i>not</i> a good thing. I’m considering having the whole damned thing yanked out. Of course this would happen when my cash flow ain’t great. That seems to be one of the rules for appliances of all kinds.

Typically, when I complained about this on Twitter, I was contacted shortly thereafter by Made By Google (@madebygoogle) offering help and asking me if I had a 1st generation product (which they’ve admitted elsewhere has problems). I do not have a 1st generation product. So. Make of that what you will.

First World problems, but frustrating nonetheless.

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I may not pause to look at your pics/video of your kids, but I will always pause to look at your pics/videos of your cats and dogs. I do not dislike kids, it’s just that I really like cats and dogs.

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Sometimes when I go through the house and realize I’ve left a whole bunch of lights on I say to myself, “What, are we made of money?” Early programming never dies.

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I have never been, and never will be, the kind of writer who writes 10k in a day. That’s probably partly due to me being a pantser, figuring things out as I go, stopping here and there to do spot research. What did workmen wear in the 1940s? What sodas were popular? I don’t think I’ve ever written 10k in one day.

But I’ve consistently ground out the words every day. An average for me would be between 500-750 words, two to three pages, laying that yellow brick road down every day, and thereby I have completed 7 novels, and working on an 8th. Now and then I may have an effervescent day of 1200 words, or 3k. I think I once did 7500 in one day, but those are rare and precious moments of flow. And I’m okay with that. Slow and steady also gets the job done. This week I passed the 10k mark on my new novel. Feels good.

I write until I don’t know what happens anymore, then I stop. Overnight, maybe in my dreams, the story continues and the next day when I come back to my manuscript, I do know what happens next and I go until it stops. That’s my magic, and I’m glad to have it back again.

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Sometimes I think it’s better to not understand things.

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I love how Jake Tapper characterizes Jordan: “the jacketless Jim Jordan who normally isn’t on this committee but was put onto it to be a bulldog.” That dog may hunt but he don’t never bring back the game.

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Jim Jordan reminds me of a guy who keeps a jar under his desk to urinate in.

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I like big rings and I cannot lie.

Nail polish: Blueprint by ILNP.com. I’d been wearing it for a couple of weeks when this picture was taken, so it was a little the worse for wear.

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It’s so odd writing again for characters I first created 5 novels ago (Jeremy, Susan, Carmina, Maff from Blood Geek). Kind of like meeting up with old friends you haven’t talked to in 20 years. You kind of know them, but you kind of don’t, and it’s partially getting to know them all over again but with this strange deja vu.
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Oh, criminy! The December 19 Democratic debate is going to be held about two blocks from here, at Loyola Marymount instead of UCLA. Looks like I don’t leave the house that day.
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The Lao Tzu quote I used for the November 8 random quote of the day is so ubiquitous that it appears on t-shirts and coffee mugs, but I couldn’t verify that he actually said it. I don’t normally like to use quotes I can’t verify because there’s already too much of that on the internet. And I try to avoid ubiquitous quotes altogether, because generally the more ubiquitous they are, the less likely they are to be an accurate attribution. But when I pulled this one out of my random quote file yesterday shortly after posting about learning to live with limitations on Twitter, I thought, “Okay, Universe, I get the message.” I felt I had to use it. So, “attributed to Lao Tzu” and adding to its ubiquitousness. (Any time I use “attributed to” it means I couldn’t verify the authenticity of the attribution but decided to use the quote anyway.)
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An interesting article on art and arthritis: https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2019-07-26/art-arthritis-aging

We overcome what we must. I’m kind of in a place now where I’ve said to myself, “You can either limit yourself because of your legs [arthritis] or do what you are able to and not make excuses.” This is almost a daily argument I have with myself.

I think I finally turned the corner there (and I really am so much better off than so many others). I’m still limited but trying not to limit myself. It’s tough not to give in to despair and self-pity sometimes, though, when you can’t do things like you used to do. But that accomplishes nothing. The lady in the arthritis article come through it, too, after a requisite period of mourning.

Losing my eyesight would be utter devastation. I think of what it did to my mom. Her stroke left her with severe vision impairment and she’d been a visual artist all her life. But she never gave up, not until maybe the last six months of her life when other things started to take their toll.

I fear sight loss, too. But that’s a fear for another day, and not part of my current objective reality. We have to deal with what’s on our plate right now, and keep digging deep to find the resources to continue in some way to be who we truly are.
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If I had an RV, I’d call my RV Maria.
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Yoiks. So many talking heads in the chapter I’ve been working on, and characters standing around frozen until it’s their turn to talk. I look forward to the rewrites. A very long scene, and possibly told from the wrong POV, but talking heads are easy to write when you’re trying to get through a lot of information. Not so much interesting to read, though. I still look forward to the rewrites.
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People love to hate, and they love dancing around in their underwear feeling superior to everyone else.
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Here’s another interesting article: “Ancestor Worship with Mother Nature: How Indigenous Death Rituals Illuminate the Web of Life” by Maria Popova: https://www.brainpickings.org/2019/08/27/david-abram-the-spell-of-the-sensuous-death/
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The worst earworms are ones that play in your sleep and every time you wake up the tune starts up. Or is that just me? For a week, every time I woke up “My Darling Clementine” started playing in my head. I finally had to unleash extreme countermeasures by singing “Brandy” to myself until that replaced it. Lately, they have improved considerably. “Brandy” was replaced by “Look At Me,” which is heavy rotation on a VW commercial right now, then “Ave Maria,” also in heavy commercial rotation (Amazon). But that has now been replaced by Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem” which is not in a commercial but a gift from the gods. A much classier run of earworms.

In 1901, two English ladies—Miss Moberly and Miss Jourdain—experienced a timeslip while visiting Versailles, going back for an interlude to the time of Marie Antoinette. They detailed this story in a book called An Adventure. You can read about it here: http://xenophon.org.uk/adventure.html

If you click on the link, then click on “The Music of An Adventure” you can hear a transcription one of the ladies, Ms. Jourdain, a talented musician, made of a strain of music she heard while “there.” Not surprisingly, they received much ridicule from the male establishment of the time, but they clung to their accounts for the rest of their lives. There are inconsistencies in their stories, but other things they reported would have taken a great deal of research on their part to get right. So the account remains controversial even today.

Still, it’s a cranking great yarn. And I say, all cranking great yarns should be true, even if they aren’t.
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The Getty Fire was still quite a ways from me but it got perilously close to the LA Basin. The LA Basin isn’t more important than the other areas that have burned but it’s densely packed. If the fires get into the Basin I don’t know how they’ll stop them. It’s something to worry about every time fire gets close to the really crowded areas. Fire departments are stretched so thin right now. They heroically got on top of the Getty fire this time, but we’re still burning, homes are still being lost.

California is a trend leader in many ways. But I would rather not be on the front lines of the devastation caused by global warming. Californians are sharing that with our brethren in hurricane, tornado, and typhoon country. But make no mistake: global warming is coming for us all.
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I changed my alarm sound from the annoying ding ding ding ding ding ding a-ding to the sound of a hooting owl echoing in a forest. It’s eerie and wondrous when it drops into the silence of my room.
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Someone was talking about animism the other day and it made me think of Ayahuasca, the visionary drug processed by the Quechua people of the Amazon. It’s an arduous process to bring forth the drug, involving many steps, and not at all intuitive. When a Westerner asked the shaman how his people learned to process it he said, “The spirit of the plant told us.”
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Trust the road
no matter where it
takes you, how many
forks and crossroads.
Wherever it leads,
in any direction,
is the path you must follow.
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Looks like the giant Tick fire was started by a guy who was living in junkyard like conditions and decided to cook his lunch outside on the barbecue. In Santana wind conditions. Florida had nothing to do with it.
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I finished the old compilation novel (Beneath a Hollow Moon) and put it in a trunk where it will get moldy or will come back out again and I can make it new. I’ve started another novel, one I’d written a couple of chapters on a long time ago. In fact, chapter one was the last Editor’s Choice I received from the Online Writing Workshop for SFF (OWW) before I left it. Carmina. It’s been doing a siren call to me for the last couple of months, and so far the writing’s been going well. Except for those two previously written chapters it’s completely new writing and that feels really good. Also, a completely different universe from the previous novel, and that also feels good. And the best part? I know the end but have no idea how I’ll get there! I’m stumbling around, but I feel like I’ve finally come home again.

I’ll forever be grateful for the things I learned from OWW, the community I was a part of, and the encouragement I received there. Invaluable.
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It’s a process of letting go:
of youth,
resentments,
of those we love,
of seasons of
grief and joy.
Let them go, let them fly.
Let them find new homes,
or sink away into the earth,
away from my fading heart,
my lightening soul.
Away, now!
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I can claim no service for myself, but my dad was a Marine for 30 years. He fought through the Pacific campaign in WW II and the Inchon Basin in Korea. Tough, bloody campaigns. He was one of the kindest, most thoughtful, and gentlest men I’ve ever known. That wasn’t necessarily the case when he was on duty. That was Business, and a different thing altogether. But we rarely saw that side of him, and never directed at us, only at fools.

I remember one time when my apartment was broken into and Mom and Dad came over to wait with me until the police arrived. When the LAPD showed up, Dad (who never forgot a face of anyone he served with) said to one of the cops, “You were once one of my Marines, weren’t you?” The cop acknowledged that Tom had been his gunney sergeant many years before. Mom, who only knew gentle Tom, said, “But I bet he was much nicer than those guys usually are.” The policeman looked a little embarrassed, but then he smiled and said, “M’am, in my experience, gunneys are never nice.” My dad laughed so hard.

But it proved a point. Being a badass when it’s required to get you through a tough situation is appropriate and will help keep you and those around you alive. But it doesn’t mean you have to carry that badassery with you everywhere you go or use it as an excuse to lash out. There was still room in Tom’s soul to be kind, thoughtful, and gentle.

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This reminds me so much of Temple Church which we visited in Cornwall. It was also built by the Templars. It’s not just the style of the church—which I understand was a pretty standard Templar construction (they built them all over), but the peaceful little green valley that it was built into. They chose their spots well.

Full URL: https://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/temple/temple/index.html


Temple Church, Cornwall

I’m not a Christian, but this was a genuinely holy spot. There was peace that surpasseth all. Some churches are like that, usually in quiet, out of the way spots. Others are merely hollow shells.

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Don’t let anybody tell you any different: trolls exist in both sexes. From a female POV it may just seem like they’re all male, and maybe the preponderance are (I have no objective evidence to prove it one way or another), but trolls definitely swing both ways.

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I have good taste. I know because Pinterest is always telling me so.

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It’s rare when something lives up to its hype, but in the case of Fleabag, it absolutely does. A wonderful series, completely unique.

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This time of year I’m always so glad that I stopped following the Dodgers years ago.

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D*mino’s: Pizza that tastes like it was made really, really fast.

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Donald Trump apparently believes that betraying our Kurdish allies and unleashing ISIS on the Middle East again will distract people from his impeachment. His usual bait-and-switch but it may backfire on him badly. Unfortunately, it also is going to kill a lot of innocent people.

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Crone

I thought I understood
but it was yet
another posture,
something not
comprehended
until skin ripples
on bones
and toes curl
walking the walk.

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From “Demolition Man,” The New Yorker, Dec. 24 & 31, 2007:

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I think everybody goes through a clueless twat phase in their life. Some of us do it in our teens and twenties, some much later in life, but in the old days, the cluelessness was viewed by a handful of people who just shook their heads in disbelief and moved on. With the advent of the internet and so many people longing to be “influencers,” that clueless is often on display for the whole world to see and has the potential of haunting you for the rest of your life.

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I think Trump’s Syria move may be an attempt to have a safe haven in Turkey when he flees the U.S. legal system. A back-up plan to Russia.

I would say to my pagan friends the same thing I would say to my friends of any religion: beware thinking your way is the One True Faith. There are many paths back to the Source, but judgement and rigidity are not amongst them.
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I’d start calling him President Cthulhu but that’s an insult to Cthulhu.
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You know, I’ve supported Nancy Pelosi all this time but mostly kept quiet because I didn’t want to fight with people, often people I liked and admired. I’m a little ashamed of that, but oh well. I knew, you see, that Pelosi is one of the canniest and most experienced politicians in Washington and I knew she was holding fire for a good reason. Last week that reason became eminently clear: she was waiting for a smoking gun. One that these cretins couldn’t wiggle out of, one that the general American public could readily understand. It may be argued that the Mueller report was a smoking gun, but even Mueller himself obfuscated and demurred so much that it wasn’t something that could be easily conveyed to the larger public. But everybody understands the kind of brutish and heavy-handed strong-arming Trump attempted with Ukraine. It was schoolyard bully stuff and illegal and immoral as hell. It’s enough to start changing minds–except for his rabid believers, of course. Trump said he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and no one would hold him responsible. What he was too stupid or arrogant to realize was that when he did give Nancy Pelosi an easy-to-hold gun of her own, she would have no hesitation in pulling the trigger. Good work, Madame Speaker. I’m sorry I didn’t defend you.
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You know that overworked and ridiculous phrase in writing: “She (he) released a breath she didn’t know she was holding”? I’ve always loathed it in a work of fiction, but when the Ukraine news broke and with all the revelations that came out… I released a breath I didn’t know I was holding.
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I used this deck quite a lot at one point in my life. Can you tell?

Fortunately, the cards don’t look as disreputable as the box. And after literally decades of using this deck, I just discovered that I had two Knights of Swords. I’m not sure what that means. I would probably have never known if they both hadn’t come up in the same reading. Reversed. And yes, I guess the day of that reading had been about being, “indiscreet, extravagant, and foolish.” I’ve been through the entire deck now and there are no other duplications and no missing cards. But I guess I’d better pay attention to that Knight, hadn’t I?
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I was born in the last six hours of Virgo, just seven hours shy of the Autumn Equinox (West Coast time), so I have a hella amount of Libra in my chart. I was really feeling the effects of the new moon in Libra at the end of September. I tried to use that energy well. Balance and rectification. Throwing off the shackles of old bad habits that are holding me back.
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One of the best parts of living alone is that when I’m not feeling well I can sit around and groan and not worry about driving anyone crazy with my drama queen ways.
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I was watching one of those ghost shows on TV and the house owner was talking about how a ghost threw her cat across the kitchen. And there’s the cat sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor with its leg up cleaning its nether regions. He seemed very unconcerned in general. She took the ghost hunters into the bedroom to talk about what happened in there and here comes the cat to sprawl on the bed. “I ain’t afraid a no ghosts.” In fact, I kind of regard cats as a reverse ghost monitor. If they are there and not concerned they ain’t no ghost there.
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Every time I watch the science channel I wonder if the people who came up with the SciGo acronym realized how close it sounds to “psycho.”
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When the estimable Dr. Lucy Jones, eminent geologist, says that she fears climate change more than earthquakes one should really pay attention. I saw her state just that in a recent interview.
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I may have finished writing something that seemed very much like the denouement of my current novel. Only the coda left, and that’s already half written. But it’s been a couple of weeks now and I still haven’t finished it. I can’t help wondering if this resistance is a way of preventing myself from moving on. Or knowing that once I finish that coda, I’m done with this world for the foreseeable future. I can’t see writing any more Dos Lunas stories any time soon–and I’ve lived there on and off for so long (since 2000), I may be reluctant to let go.
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I’ve come to the conclusion that I like having mindless tasks to do, things that most people would never have the patience for. I suspect it’s a Virgo thing.
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Oh yeah, that probably explains a lot about the last few months. I forgot until just last week that I have summer SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Somehow I manage to forget that every freaking year.

Kamala Harris was right in the Democratic debate to bring everything back to Trump each time. He’s the real enemy here. There were Democrats on that stage who I like better than others but any one of those people would be a better president than Donald Trump. But I think I’ve watched my last debate. I’m sure my Twitter timeline will be relieved, as I couldn’t stop live tweeting. I’ve watched all the debates so far and my opinion hasn’t changed much. I have certain people I’d be quite unhappy to vote for but several of the remaining candidates I’d vote for happily. #AnyDem

An interesting side note: I’ve said uncomplimentary things about several of the candidates but the only time trolls have come after me is when I’ve said uncomplimentary things about Tulsi Gabbard. I am not the only one who has had this experience. And I am such small potatoes on Twitter. They must be very well organized. Good thing I don’t respond to trolls. It’s no fun for them if you don’t engage and they stop playing.

Russian bot, Russian bot
Fly away home—
Your pants are on fire
And you’re all Putin owned.
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Yes, there are many tragedies in the world we need to pay attention to, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take a day to remember the murder of nearly 3000 innocent souls. Politicizing that is pretty reprehensible, no matter which side of the debate it comes from. Especially since 9/11 is an ongoing tragedy. People are still dying as a consequence of what happened that day. In honoring the fallen of 9/11 we are also honoring those who still struggle with illness and death because of it.
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Every act of artistic creation is also an offering to the Universe.
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Dear Everybody Who Needs Money From Me: I’d love to donate to your project/cause/campaign but I’m on a fixed income. Doesn’t mean I won’t donate when I can but if I donate to one thing I probably won’t be able to give to another thing that same month. My sincere best wishes to you.
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Even at my advanced age I can still sing all the lyrics of every Beatles song. You never forget the things you memorized in your youth. Unfortunately, this is also true of every commercial jingle I heard when I was young.
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Whenever I’m doing a piece of art and I say to myself, “I’ll just eyeball it,” every time I hear Louis Gossett Jr. saying, “Don’t be eyeballin’ me, boy.” Every. Fricking. Time.
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I was reading about the psychological theory of behaviorism one afternoon, but each time the notifications rang on my phone I picked it up to look. The irony of this was not lost on me.
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I hit the wall of character motivation on the novel and had a painful slog trying to get through it. I wasn’t believing this character’s reason for acting as he does so I couldn’t expect anyone else would. I did a partial re-read and reorganization to see if that would shake anything loose and after some reworking I came unstuck—at least for that particular problem. I’m not sure that part of the novel works, but it works for now, and I’m moving forward.

But not quickly. I pushed through a major hump a few days ago so at least that section of the story is finished. I’m past the 90k mark and closing in on the end of the book, but I still have a ways to go. I’ve never worked well from outlines. They usually kill an idea dead for me. Part of the problem with the current novel is that I know everything that happens until the end rather than making it up as I go along and that’s turned it into a real slog. However, I feel I have to finish this one, not only because I’ve come so far, but for the sake of my own spirit. I need to finish a substantial piece of work. To prove something to myself, I guess. That I’m still a writer?

I look forward to typing The End and putting this one in the trunk for a while and moving on to something else. It’s not my best work. Most writers I know feel that way at the conclusion of a novel, but in this case I may be write. Er, right.

Until I reread it many months hence, of course, and temporarily suffer from the “this is the best thing I’ve ever done” delusion.
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Euphomet, Jim Perry’s high strangeness podcast, has become my very favoritest. There are many fine podcasts out there, but I love Jim’s sensibility and his openly inquisitive tone. Check it out here.

So I’ve finally fallen under the spell of Mindhunter on Netflix. Riveting. I binged most of season one last weekend, finished the last three episodes yesterday and started on episode one of season two. I’m trying to stretch it out. Besides, for some weird reason I only seem to be in serial killer mode on the weekends.

Oh man, such good acting and writing and directing. It’s just great stuff. And the casting is amazing. So much attention to detail and visuals and the way the characters are blocked into a scene. I also like how they imply incredible violence but they don’t glorify it and they don’t exploit it—something that is not true of every show about murder.
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The ants are on the move. It’s hot and dry so they’ve come inside looking for water and other things. I spray their ant trails with Clorox which kills them but they’re back on a new space the next day. The ants will be here long after I am gone, going about their antly duty.
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My outrage quota varies from day to day, but each day I hit the limit and I’m forced to shut down because I feel my soul leaking out of my ears.
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To me, one of the ultimate sins of the world is to throw away books. There are so many places that need books. Even when the rats got to some of my library and destroyed books (sometimes in disgusting ways) it tore me up to throw them away—even though they really had to go. Other books had suffered minimal damage (i.e., thoroughly chewed covers but otherwise fine) and I couldn’t bring myself to toss them. I still have a few of those. Others—and this is cowardice, I know—I put into recycling bags. I was fairly certain the places I donated them to would throw them away. But the sin would not be on my head, you see?

And the books that I have loved to death by reading and re-reading? I still have all those. I can’t bear to throw them out. I keep thinking I can use them to make sculptures or something. And yet they sit in my shelves, sacrosanct. Because, I admit, that every time I see a picture of someone who has gone down to the thrift store and picked up a bunch of old books to turn them into a piece of furniture, my first instinctive reaction is “You asshole!”

Extreme reverence for books may be a sin, but when throwing out books it’s not just tossing an object, it’s an entire world full of people and stories and feelings. I’m not demon enough to do that.
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Trump/Putin/Helsinki/2018: There are several photos in this sequence that look much the same. This was taken right after their secret meeting where Trump would not allow the translator to take notes. Putin looks like the cat who got into the cream. Meanwhile, Trump displays the face of a man who’s just been told by Putin, “Do everything I say from now on or I’ll call in all those massive loans I gave your and release the peepee tape.” Can anyone reasonably doubt that Trump is a Russian asset?

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One of the reasons I’m having such a hard time with the current part of the current novel (writing anything is like pulling teeth) is that I already know everything that happens. I’ve never been one who wrote well from an outline. Still, I’m close to 89k in and I’m not giving up.
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I still miss my tiny best friend more than I can say. Min, aged 19:

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My Cat’s Death Broke My Brain.
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Both of these men (Stephen Colbert and Anderson Cooper) are a gift, and an antidote to the times we are currently living through:

I agree with Mr. Colbert because of my own past traumatic experiences. I reached a point in my life where I realized that if I like who I am and I’m grateful for my life then even the bad stuff went into making me who I am. Once I got to that place it brought me great peace. It’s an individual choice, and not something anyone has to do, but that’s where I ended up and I’m very glad for it. I accept with gratitude all of my life as part of who I am, good and bad.
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It amazes me that some of the same people who decry racism and misogyny the loudest think ageism is just fine. Ageism is bullshit, no matter what direction: boomer against millennial, millennial against boomer, Gen X against Gen Z. I call bullshit.
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I absolutely believe that universal healthcare is a fundamental human right. However, I think you should know that Medicare is not a perfect plan and costs me a lot of money. I sincerely believe we can do better than Medicare for everyone.

A reminder to myself: “I can’t afford to hate anyone. I don’t have that kind of time.” —Takashi Shimura, in Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru
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Sometimes when I see the Trumpets waving their Trump 2020 signs I think it says Trump ZoZo. (Demon In-Joke)
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I will vote for Bernie if he’s the one although very reluctantly because I think he’s as much a Russian operative as Trump is. But anything blue is better than Trump.
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Yes, I’m wanting a kitty again, why do you ask? Actually, I’m in the process of making the house kitten safe before I take that action. It’s a slow process, given the arthritic knees, but I am working towards that goal.
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Weird irrelevant fact: Five of the accused Salem witches were executed on my father’s birthday, July 19. Eight were executed on my birthday, September 22. The other five were executed on August 19, and Giles Corey, the other victim of the hysteria, was pressed to death on September 19. I’ve always wanted to go to Salem, not so much for the touristy aspects as to pay my respects, but I doubt that will happen now. I watched an episode of America’s Hidden Stories on the efforts to finally locate the actual execution spot. Turns out the family who owns the property had handed down that knowledge through the generations but because no one in town wanted to talk about it, it had never made it into the history books. When the historians who were investigating it showed up on the property, the owner confirmed their suspicions. They erected a memorial there in 2017. So many secrets in Salem, so much official censorship.
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I will admit that Action Bronson watching Ancient Aliens (Viceland) is infinitely more entertaining than Ancient Aliens. With Action, I don’t usually want to throw anything at the TV even once. Granted, Action Bronson is stupid in his own way, just not Ancient Aliens stupid.
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I think the people in the Swiffer commercials are way the hell too anal.
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Everyone is eager to label other people fools, but everyone has something they’re foolish about. I guess it’s a multiplicity of foolishness that makes a true fool—or maybe it’s a blindness to our own idiocy.
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You never know what will launch someone on a screed. Sometimes it seems innocuous but echoes in the haunted chambers of their mind in ways the rest of us can’t see. Which is why I try not to take screeds too seriously. But sometimes they strike one of my private nerves—and we’re off!
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So strange how one’s taste and appreciation changes over time, sometimes dramatically. Yet it’s necessary. If you’re not changing you’re stagnant and dead inside. I was just reading “Dover Beach” by Matthew Arnold, a poem that made my young undergrad heart go “blech” back in the day. It seemed so stiff and formal. But today when I read it, it flowed, it spoke to me, I really took it in. How strange and wonderful is the passage of time.
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Bridging scenes are the worst. Going from point A to C in a necessary but difficult scene makes me want to scream. Sometimes it indicates I’m going in the wrong direction, other times it just means it’s boring. And will probably be edited out but I still have to write it first.
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Whenever I hear the word Apologia I think it should be the name of one of Prince’s former backup musicians.
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On Carl Jung’s birthday (July 26), I of course had a very interesting dream (said in a cheesy Austrian accent).

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I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not young enough to be absolutely certain I know the truth. The shades of grey multiply with each year. But that’s okay. The things that important are beyond those kinds of thought processes. We can feel around their edges, if we try real hard and remember they’re always changing shape anyway.

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I’ve been sick for the last few months, all sorts of unusual gastrointestinal and stomach issues, about every two weeks, interspersed with bouts of feeling absolutely fine. I finally went to the doctor last Friday. He thought it might be pancreatitis brought on by a medication he prescribed just about two months ago, because that’s one of the rare possible side effects. I’m not sure about that because people are usually hospitalized for pancreatitis and he didn’t suggest that. True, I resisted going to the doctor all that time–because that’s just what I do. I finally took myself off that medicine in late June. I’ve been gradually improving, sort of, although I’ve been sick again for the last 4 days. Each bout of this is milder than the last, but I am definitely sick of being sick. I think doc was mostly baffled by my symptoms but agreed with my decision to take myself off the medicine. He is having blood and other tests done, but no results yet.

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Today’s Google doodle is quite wonderful–and quite emotional for me. Maybe it’s because the moon landing was one of the seminal events of my young life; maybe it’s because we had hope then that the world might come together now that we could see how tiny and fragile our Earth was. I’ve never had that kind of hope again–well, maybe for a short time when the Berlin wall came down. Hope is as fragile as our Earth suspended in the immense blackness of space.

I should also add that I had that kind of crazy hope again when President Obama was elected. But.

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I bet the phone answering system in Heaven is Hell.

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Great article by Maria Popova at Brainpickings: The Banality of Evil: Hannah Arendt on the Normalization of Human Wickedness and Our Only Effective Antidote to It

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Best fortune cookie fortune I ever got? After a long dinner conversation with my artist friend about whether we should continue to pursue our art or give up: “Art is your fate, don’t debate.” My friend got the same fortune. We told a mutual artist friend about it and went back to the same restaurant, partially because of the food but partially because of the fortune. We got the usual run-of-the-mill fortunes but our other friend, who had also been questioning whether to give up the art, got “Art is your fate, don’t debate.” #Synchronicity

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That feeling when you listen to a piece of music you loved in your youth that you haven’t listened to for a long time…but it no longer works. #NotOdeToJoy

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The Universe is infinite, yet small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.

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SOCIAL EXPERIMENT: Someone on Twitter posted, “If you come across this tweet, reply with the grade you were in when you had your first nonwhite teacher.” Oh God. I can’t remember even one, even in college. THIS IS SO BAD.

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People are surprised that a large segment of the public are credulous and strenuously resist logic. Even a casual reading of history shows this has always been so. The difference now is that we have entire news outlets and social media sites promoting the lack of critical thinking.

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Everyone is a conflicted human being. We have to admit that to ourselves or risk getting ourselves into a lot of trouble.

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It’s interesting: Because I just write and push through without editing to get words on the page, my first drafts always have a lot more of my working class origins in them. I leave some of that language in if it suits the character, refine it if not.

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