Lady Stories I’ve Been Holding On To This Week

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I had some sort of contact with three ladies this week that I cannot get out of my head. I met one, saw one briefly as she crossed the street, and passed one while hiking both up and down a mountain.
I wanted to hang out with all three and possibly become friends, but for now, I just need to describe seeing them and get them out of my head. Let me just say, I am writing about my accounts of these interactions, just what, to me, was going on.

We shall start with the first (duh), a visitor at my office. she had recently moved back here, and after some relationship Hurdles with a capital H, she was looking to start new, just her. She was 51, her kids were grown. That’s about all the backstory I feel comfortable giving, but I definitely connected with some of the points she hit on about her former loves. So I talked with her at length about the “old” Phoenix area, about great places for unique food, and the best places in town to try and rent a place. She ended up giving me a hug and that sealed the deal. I wanted to be this lady’s friend. I didn’t want to come off pushy, so I just gave her my card and told her if she wanted to talk – about the area or anything in general – to email me. I hope she does.

The next was a woman I saw in the briefest of passings as I was at a stoplight, but I cannot stop thinking about her “aura.” Semi-tall and lean, her big cobalt blue topknot added to her height. She was wearing some cute outfit, but I don’t remember it that much because I was looking at her face. She was walking across the street, holding the arm of her beau, and eating an ice cream cone. It was about 5, so it was before the dinner hour – just an ice cream for ice cream’s sake. Her face is what seared her into my brain this week. She had the happiest, self-satisfied look on her face. She was strutting because she had some love, some ice cream, and she was looking and feeling great. The happiness that bounded out of her hit me and I felt her joy, and it felt gooood. Also, I wonder what kind of ice cream it was…

The last was a girl, maybe early 20s, hiking in a full face of unmistakably non-hike makeup. Not that I think hiking with makeup is a crime, to each their own; I have been know to reapply eyeliner and lipstick before lacing up my boots and slathering on sunscreen. Her makeup was meritorious in perfection and color theory. Hair slicked back in a ponytail, which works for any activity, really. Very bold eyebrows, arched and darkened accordingly, and the deepest, plummiest wine lipstick. Soft pink off-the-shoulder tee and black leggings. I wanted to stop her and crown her the “Goth Queen of Trail #44,” but she seemed determined to neither want to sweat, or be there after dark.

Gone for a while, but I swear I’m not trying to be…

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I miss Peppered Thought. I do. I miss plopping down and writing for, well, no one else really reads this but me, so just writing about things I comes across. And also leaving piles of links so i can come back to them later.
I had some amazing interactions with some women this week, in my head and in person, that i cannot wait to write about. I think i am so excited about writing about them they are seeping into my dreams. I wish I was any sort of artist so i could properly sketch them…but you know, if wishes were fishes…

So, this is my list for the week of some interesting stuff around the internet.

♠  “Can you help me be positive?” Another stellar advice column from Andrew WK. p.s. have you listened to his radio show yet?

♠  Have you seen Mad Max: Fury Road yet? Sadly, I still haven’t, but that doesn’t stop me from reading all the fervor it has created. Including Laurie Penny’s take. Even the first sentence draws me in: “If you’re going to bring feminist propaganda to the masses, there are worse ways than in a giant exploding truck covered with knives.” *heart-eyed emojis*

♠ If Bill Gates has time to read six books, well then I guess I do too!

♠ In honor of Angel Carter’s 75th birthday, Penguin Classics is re-issuing The Bloody Chamber with a kickass new cover. If only it was hard-bound or carved from stone.

♠ When the summer hits here, I will be watching videos of people walking through the Rhone Glacier Ice Grotto and fantasize it is me.

They built it. No one came. Two men built a commune in Pennsylvania, but it is empty.

♠ Have you heard of a fungus called Dead Man’s Fingers? They totally resemble the name. (h/t to Sarah Troop)


Cloud Appreciation Day

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cloud-from-the-sky     I keep putting off this post about Cloud Appreciation, but really, I appreciate them every single day I see one in the sky, so I don’t really need a specific

One of the many reasons I love living in the West is the access to big open sky. I do enjoy traveling to other states and places but after a while, I miss that vast expanse. Even the forests in the West are filled with sky. It feels like back East (the few places I have been there) it goes from daylight to nighttime, with no sunset warning between the thick trees or crammed city streets.plucked-a-cloud-from-the-sky

But I digress. THE CLOUDS, JESS. We are here for THE CLOUDS.

So, you have heard of the Cloud Appreciation Society, yes? What – you haven’t? Well! ::pushes glasses up nose:: Rather than bore you on a big long block of text about it 1. I’m sure you can deduce from the name what they’re all about; 2. You can watch the video here to get more philosophical about

I have been a cloud-watcher all my life, but after joining up with the CAS in 2008, it has become a very large thing in my life. I try not to bore people about it, but I do have a habit of texting friends photos and exclamations – “THE CUMULONIMBUS!!” It really is a great experience to just watch the clouds at any time of day. Sunrise and sunset being my favorite, of course. Or, as my new favorite word says it: Crepuscular. Sometimes it is nice to share it with someone, but there is a perfection in experiencing it alone.amazing-clouds-at-sunset

Years ago, Rob Sweere began what he named the Silent Sky Project, where he invited workers inside a mall to come to the roof and lie in silence (or as he called it “a conversation with the clouds”), for 30 minutes, looking up into the sky. It was such a success that he had it in other places and then it took off around the world. I’m all for that.


There isn’t an official Cloud Appreciation Day, because really, it should be everyday! But if you feel like choosing your own special cloud day, make yourself a cloud cocktail, create a giant, permanent cloud, grab your cloud-spotting guide, or just straight up lie down and look up!

Creative Blocks Happen

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Lately, I have been having a major case of the blocks.

My head feels like a block, I feel like there are walls made of fog blocking my way. The road to creative fervor is paved with side roads, low roads and just plain BLOCKS.

This time around, among other things, I have been pushing too much outward. Trying to help everyone else is very fulfilling to me, but it can definitely take its toll if I don’t pull back and work on the “positive selfishness” that I need.


Illustration by Claire Dain, from the Rookie article: “Suburbia’s Not So Bad Sometimes,” which states that “Anyone can transform the mundane into something magical.”

It is incredibly comforting that many of the people I admire for their creative output also have problems and blocks just as high and solid as mine. I read these two the other day and some of the fog seemed to evaporated as I let them settle into my brain.

♠ Warren Ellis always has genius ideas, least of which is this gem:

 “Invite your most brilliant friend over, kill them, find and eat their adrenal glands and then wear their skin as a shamanic cloak until the next full moon.”


♠ The Jealous Curator now has a whole book and tag on her site devoted to unblocking, through ideas and artistic tasks that I can say from experience, have helped me chip away at some of that blockage.

This too shall pass.


Let me be your Succor

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nvendng storysuccor
[ ˈsəkər ]
assistance and support in times of hardship and distress.
I found this word the other day and had no idea what it meant. I was taken with it, as I don’t see all that many completely unknown-to-me words. So I race to the dictionary (merriam webster of course) and find a wonderful and unexpectedly lovely definition.
While I admit I take on a lot of things, too many things in fact, I do enjoy being someone’s support, and using the inner strength I have many reserves of, to prop someone else up and help in any way that I can.
Nothing else, just that.

Quote of the Week

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“Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
– Albert Einstein

A New Year

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from-north-mountain-phxFrom a hike up North Mountain, December 2014

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountain rise into and above the clouds.” -Edward Abbey

I have been racking my brain to write something out of all the retrospectives I have read at the end of the year, to start a new one. To write something that will sort of rally the troops as we all delve into this year together.

I came up short of anything thought-provoking, but thinking about it did make me write about some other stuff.

Most years start off easy, take everything at a relaxing pace, and most years end the same way. I have decided that for this year, I’m going to go hard into the paint, so to speak.

(Also, “hard into the paint” is my favorite, and only correctly used, sports metaphor, so please let me have it and don’t judge me for using it too often.)

Sure, I might burn myself out. But I haven’t felt that great burned out from being creative burn in a while. Having that feeling under my belt might open me up to even more adventures.

I love the idea of thinking about projects and experiments, rather than resolutions. I can resolve to send out inspirational postcards to pen pals once a month, if I think of it more as a happiness project. I can also experiment with a new habit if I think of it in terms of just one month, like Art of Manliness’ 31-Day Journal prompts. I also might possibly need a little help in re-learning how to pay attention.

A little late, but some things to think about for the coming year in these New Year’s Asks.