Five Things (23)

May, the month of lofty highs and gut-wrenching lows.

1. I returned from vacation at the beginning of the month, so May kicked off with a feeling of rest, my heart full from the time I spent with friends I haven’t seen in a while. There’s something about being in the presence of good friends, being able to share anything and everything, and generally enjoying each other’s company. May started off spectacularly.

2. Soon afterward the plumber came by to fix the basement pump which meant that the basement is now fully functional! It’s hard to describe the feeling of satisfaction I get when something is fixed and fully functioning. It’s like a dopamine boost and typically I spend the rest of the week looking at the fixed thing and smiling to myself.

3. The upward trajectory continued with me attending my first opera. Attending an opera has been on my bucket list ever since my aunt raved about a performance of Madama Butterfly at the Met Opera, and was recently sparked again after a mezzo-soprano showed up on my TikTok FYP talking about her experience auditioning for opera.

4. Then, death, death, and fire. My friends were facing tragedies of their own and when I offered to send a friend photos of the pages of notes and checklists I made when dealing with the funeral arrangements for mom, the walls of distraction that held the grief at bay came crashing down. Mother’s Day was looming and I had to face the fact that Mom is no longer here. That my friend’s mom was gone. That mom’s good friend had also passed away. Noticeably, I stopped sleeping. That week leading up to Mother’s Day I felt like I couldn’t keep the walls up anymore, the grief was oozing in through the cracks. I tried to distract myself on the day of by completely taking apart my sectional and installing a rug pad under the rug, but I ended the day weeping into my pillow overwhelmed by sadness. Mom’s not here, Dad is sick and there’s no one to call to help me with this new chapter of my life. I’m sure there are people I could call, but I never felt like I was bothering my parents when I asked them questions, not like I feel with anyone else. I know it makes no sense, but my parents were always there whenever I was ready to stop being independent, and I miss having that parental safety to fall back on.

5. The month ended on a higher note with me hanging with friends, hours of “chick time”, attending another opera, and eating good food in a backyard with friends. I hope June is better, but I also know that I need to stop distracting myself from this grief and finally take the time to face it, embrace it, and really start healing.


The world will fail me left and right, and I will try to run and hide, so come and find me every time.

Plumb, I’m Not Alone

Five Things (22)

Five cozy mystery series with a magical twist.

Does it have mystery or intrigue; I’ll read it! Whether it’s Agatha Christie or Tara French, any novel with a good mystery and a good twist is a novel for me. I’ve started reading more in the cozy mystery subgenre since the shutdown as a way to get away from “real life” so I feel like I have a good selection of books I can recommend.
Cozy mysteries that I gravitate towards generally have three key elements:
a. there must be an amateur sleuth and the crime affects either the amateur or their friend/loved one.
b. a romantic interest that’s either in law enforcement, or law enforcement adjacent, or else some close friend turned love interest.
c. most of the novel is spent doing something completely unrelated to the crime (which happens off page) like attending parties, baking cookies, knitting… you get the drift.

Within the cozy mystery subgenre, my favorite type is a cozy with a magical twist! These are cozies where the protagonist is also a magical person, like a witch or a psychic. I tend to lean toward the witch device, so here are five cozy mysteries with a magical twist.

Kicking this off with the witchy cozy mystery that made me love the witchy cozy mystery subgenre – Heather Blake’s Wishcraft Mystery. This remains one of my top five cozy mysteries. Darcy and Harper recently lost their dad when their mom’s sister comes back into their lives to tell them that they are witches, and not just any kind of witches but witches that grant wishes. It’s such a funny premise but quite endearing and the characters are pretty out there, but somehow it all works. The romantic interest is of course a retired cop – a single dad with an eleven-year-old who later goes back into law enforcement. There are nine books in the series and while you don’t have to read them in order I would recommend reading them in order since there are some repeating themes that tie the entire series together.

Amanda Flower’s Magical Bookshop series with fun names like Crime and Poetry, and Prose and Cons is next. Currently, there are five books out about Violet, who rushed to her grandma Daisy after she thought Daisy was ill. Instead, she found that Daisy tricked her into coming back to her small town so she could continue the family legacy of running the magical bookshop – the one with a huge magical tree growing inside. Violet ends up staying after her Grandma becomes a prime suspect in a murder case and of course, with the help of the books (yes books) and a magical cat, she solves the crime! This one also has a law enforcement beau, though that comes a little later in the series.

Due to the campiness of the premise I have to include Nancy Warren’s Vampire Knitting Club. Lucy’s grandmother died and left her a knit shop in Oxford so, to get away from her annoying ex she decided to spend time running the shop. Except, her grandmother isn’t really dead because she is a vampire, and those vampires meet in the shop at night to knit; oh, and Lucy finds out from her grandmother that she’s a witch. It’s so silly, and even though they didn’t play the witch plot up as much as I hoped I still devoured all fourteen books. While the love interest here isn’t law enforcement adjacent, he is a vampire who was around since the Elizabethan times. I do have to make an honorable mention to Warren’s Village Flower Shop series which also follows a witch but this time the magic is explored more.

While I consider Juliet Blackwell’s Witchcraft Mystery series to be cozy I think this one might be a bit darker than the rest. Lily runs a vintage clothing shop and part of her magic is to feel vibrations off of old clothing, so a lot of the mysteries deal with clothing in some way. I’ve read the first three from the series so far and will definitely keep reading but I like to keep these for the fall when the spooky season rolls around. I say it’s a little darker because it explores a lot of legends and Blackwell’s descriptions are so immersive at times that you may or may not want to keep the lights on when you go to bed.

While there are only two books in the series and the author has yet to announce a third I will also mention Auralee Wallace’s Evenfall Witches B&B series. Brynn is living with her aunts after the death of her husband. Brynn’s magic is affected – she can speak to the dead – and so we see her dealing with both losses while also trying to save her aunt from a murder conviction. It has a large cast of characters and all of them are interesting to read, the aunts in this series remind me slightly of a version of Zelda and Hilda from Sabrina. From what I found online, Wallace has been sick so unable to write, I wish her well and a speedy recovery.

Happy reading!


“Oh,” Harper said solemnly. “I love books.”

Heather Blake, It Takes a Witch

Five things (21)

The Mom edition

One of the words everyone used when describing my Mom was generous. Generous with her time and with her resources, sometimes going without for herself to help someone else.

Two things Mom taught me, first to let things go that you can’t control and to be a safe place for people.

Three things Mom did that showed me she cared. Standing up for me even when she didn’t agree with me. Allowing me to forge my own path and be independent (though I think I might have given her no choice at times). Cooking specifically for my health when I had major surgery.

Four reasons why I miss Mom. She was the social calendar of the family and had all the events memorized. Her cooking. That she’s not around to ask questions when it comes to owning a house. That she’s not here to help me bully Dad into getting better.

Five things I’d say to Mom if she could hear me now. When I signed the papers for the house I cried because you were not here to witness it with me and celebrate. I’m trying my best to take care of Dad and make sure he’s provided for, but can you please tell him to make it a little easier on me and Shav? I’m still trying to understand why you took off the mask, I hope I made all the right decisions for you when you were incapable of making them for yourself. I know the last word you heard from me was “breathe”, and sometimes when I tell myself to breathe I think of that night and I hope you realized that I would have done anything to make sure you were OK. I didn’t realize the depth of my love for you until I was willing to give up my dreams to take care of you regardless of how you left that hospital, as long as you left it.

Hug your mom if you have her near. Happy Mother’s Day.


A Night at the Opera: Don Giovanni

I attended an opera at the Met Opera House recently. I have so many questions1

The orchestra began with a bang and drifted into a tumultuous riff carrying with it a melodic undertone – a little foreshadowing. It’s a tale about the lecherous Giovanni, who spends most of the play showering unwanted attention on women – most of whose affections are otherwise engaged. It follows him from the opening murder2 to his unrepentant death where he’s pretty much dragged into hell.

Having never experienced an Opera3 I did a tiny bit of searching beforehand to figure out what to expect. I knew the entire thing was sung in Italian and that there would be translation devices at each seat, and I knew that it would be long. I decided against listening to the music beforehand like I do with musicals because I won’t understand the words anyway! I did read the synopsis to better follow the story, but armed with very little knowledge I ventured into the um, unknown.

This production of Don Giovanni had a contemporary set, and modern costumes deviating at only one point – when Donna Anna, Donna Elvira, and Don Ottavio attended the party (or like I whispered in my friend’s ear “Masquerade!”4). While I know conceptually that this isn’t standard costuming I didn’t find it distracting at all, and even though I thought the starkness of the background would be distracting it did quite the opposite, forcing the eye to look at the actors versus the scene.

The plot itself was somewhat discomforting, especially when viewed through the modern lens after the Me Too movement. However, as a casual observer of Booktok, I wondered if some of the plot – especially Masetto and Zerlina’s storyline – couldn’t be found in one of the more recent viral novels out there5. (To be abundantly clear, this is in no way an approval for lack of consent, merely an observation).

Paying attention to the translation was a little tough but I read enough to get the gist of what was happening on stage. The orchestra and singers were amazing. I’ve done a lot of searching this week and while I’m not 100% certain I think none of them had mics6 – neither the orchestra nor the singers, and while I’m not an audio nerd, I know how hard it is to make a performance audible within different spaces, so I felt some wonder listening to them perform and hearing the voices travel across the stage.

Overall, after putting aside my mild melancholy7 and anxiety about making my train home8, I think I rather enjoyed the Opera.


1 And some of them are about the opera!
2 Yes, murder, that’s not a typo (this time)
3 Does Phantom count?
4 Which was a nod not only to Phantom but also to the hours we spent memorizing that song. “Flash of mauve, splash of puce, fool and king, ghoul and goose”
5 Looking at you – you know who you are!
6 There are photos and articles online of them wearing a mic pack, but in almost all those articles the reason is for recording and live streaming – which makes sense to me.
7 All week long I’ve had bouts of sadness and feeling downcast until I finally realized it was Mother’s Day this weekend, the third one without Mom.
8 This was the first time I would be taking such a late train home since the panorama.


My dear lady! This is the catalogue of the women my master has loved. It’s a list that I’ve compiled – look at it; read it over with me! In Italy, six hundred and forty; in Germany, two hundred and thirty-one; a hundred in France; ninety-one in Turkey – but in Spain there are already a thousand and three.

Don Giovanni – Leporello, Act I, sc. v

Thoughts from Places: Long Beach

Have you ever visited a place and thought, I can see myself living here! There are very few places outside of New York that I feel that way about, and all of them are on the East Coast. I’ve visited Cali twice before and did not experience that feeling of home, but there’s something about Long Beach that resonates with me.

I’m not a beach person – I think sand is nature’s glitter. The houses are too close together, I love the space I have right now, and nothing is within my price range anyway, but for some reason, Long Beach felt like home. Maybe it was the trees or the way everything seemed within reach. Maybe it was the fact that I was spending time with friends I haven’t seen in a while…

The idea in my head of home has evolved throughout the decades. Home was always my parents when I was younger. In my 20s it became my ideal of what I thought family was – a husband and children. In my 30s I finally accepted the fact that I didn’t really want to bare children which wrecked me a tiny bit. Now I find that home is my dad and sister, my aunts and uncles, my cousins, my friends… home is the place I feel loved.


You were so tiny, with those big green eyes! Enjoy perfecting your craft, honeybee, but mind that you don’t forget about your regular life. Enjoy time with your friends, maybe find someone special. There’s magic in the little things, too.

Grandma Hazel; Wylde Flowers