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.


Five things (20)

These five things are a little introspective in no particular order.

We are living in an extrovert’s world and I am just an introvert-girl1

It’s a bit exhausting, living inside of my head sometimes.

In the middle of living and working within the constraints of a global pandemic, I experienced a lot of loss. The more I lost the more I retreated into myself until there was a long stretch of time where I didn’t want to hang out or make plans with anyone. Now, coming out of that stretch of time, I feel like I don’t know how to be with company anymore. It’s a struggle to answer simple conversational questions because my knee-jerk reaction is to retreat. Who wants to bring down the crowd with their sad story? And maybe that person is just asking the “how are yous” and “what’s news” to be polite and conversational, maybe they don’t want to hear more than an “I’m fine” or “nothing much”.

Someone asked me the “what’s new” question lately and I genuinely blanked, my brain could not compute quickly enough the level of our acquaintance to deliver the appropriate response. Imagine telling an almost stranger that you don’t sleep well some nights because you think your dad will die and then you’re going to have to take care of the rest of your family, but recently you’ve been working on meditation to lower your stress levels because the stress is causing your body to breakdown since you internalize everything? Yeah, that would be a fun party answer.

What do you say to someone who is grieving?

(photo from LA Times)

After losing my mom I had to deal with a lot of other people’s grief, and it made me wonder, how did I react to someone when they were grieving. I found this article soon after that talked about what to say to someone depending on how far removed from the situation you are and I highly recommend the read to anyone who (like me) wonders just what to say and how to show comfort.

A little emo, a little angst

A few months ago I found my old Live Journal – that I completely forgot about! I reactivated my account and started reading all the posts (most of which were private).

When I look back at college-me, I would never use the word emo to describe her, but after reading my LJ posts I think maybe I was a bit angsty as a teen. Part of me wonders if I feel this way now because I’m reading it through the lens of someone twenty years removed. However, there’s another part of me that recognizes that at that time I was holding a few things in tension and had yet to decide which side of the fence I wanted to land on. I had a worldview that was evolving and as a person who internalizes their thoughts and feelings (and then apparently writes them in a private journal online) a lot of my entries revolved around working those tensions out. Interestingly enough, even though my entries were private, I didn’t have the courage to actually name a lot of my feelings – hoping that future me (well, now present me) would read between the lines. I wonder if I didn’t feel the safety to express myself, or if it was more of the fact that I didn’t want to write something down that I would later change my mind about.

Deconstructing faith

There’s a lot of conversation around the idea of deconstructing faith. A lot of people are leaving their churches and walking away from the faith, deciding to pursue spirituality in other forms, and honestly, I don’t blame them. As a person who was a teen/young adult in the time of I Kissed Dating Goodbye and at the height of purity culture, then witnessed the toxicity found in churches like Mars Hill Chruch it’s so easy to understand why people are walking away.

Personally, I still find something in organized religion – and I found a good community – but I still struggle to untangle myself from the things that I grew up believing in that were not scriptural. The entire idea that women should dress and act a certain way because men can’t seem to be decent humans is insane to me, or the focus on a list of nos and oftentimes very wrong and unfounded rules that are not grounded in actual scripture. One of my favorite podcasts, The Bible Binge2, had an episode on this same topic and it really resonated with me and anchored a lot of the feelings I had on the topic. It’s been slow, but I feel in a better place when it comes to this topic. I have clarity in what I believe, and I am slowly rebuilding around my core values and beliefs3.

There’s hope for the future

In everything, through the highs and lows, I have to admit that I am hopeful. There’s a hope that one day this will all be worth it. That the friendships will grow stronger, that the familial bonds will strengthen, and that, no matter what, we will make it through this. Well, I didn’t really mean to make this entire post feel somber, but I think I achieved that nonetheless. Here’s to the future, here’s to overcoming.


1 Sing to the tune of Material Girl.
2 The Bible Binge is one of my top 10 podcasts; highly recommend them.
3 I also strongly believe that the God in the bible would not be pleased with conservatism in the US.

I’m crashing like a tidal wave and I don’t want to be… stranded

~ Plumb

Five Things (19)

Happy Earth Day! I spun a wheel and won a succulent.

Well, the title told the entire story, so here’s a letter to my succulent.

Dear Gregor the Succulent,
It’s not your fault I won you, but I will try to keep you alive until the next Earth Day – the one in 2024, not the one in a few days. I’ve never been a good plant mom and I really don’t want to try raising a plant, especially after I read that they cry. But I will set a reminder on my phone and hopefully, your location will provide you with the perfect amount of sunlight.

The pollen has arrived!

Every year I fool myself into thinking that I can go without allergy meds and every year the pollen wins1. I could hate pollen for what it does to my body, but the beautiful blooms wouldn’t exist without it, so I’ll take my allergy meds and suffer through the few weeks of intense pollination to watch the flowers bloom. I don’t know why I went from zero allergies to crazy allergies, but I loved the botanical sexism theory… alas, it’s since been debunked.

23 & Me, and then some.

I was pretty bored when I was recovering from a major surgery some years ago and one of the things I did was take an ancestry test because I was curious. What’s interesting to me is that since then the breakdown of my ancestry has gotten more and more precise – for example, they can now pinpoint (with accuracy) my country of origin – it’s a footnote that while my ancestry is elsewhere people from my background are found in that country and region. I had a few unassigned percentages left – some trace ancestry that they couldn’t assign yet. Well, I recently logged in and part of that trace ancestry has been assigned as Sardinian. There’s still a tiny bit of trace ancestry left, so I’m really curious if they will figure that out someday.

My favorite thing about 23 & Me though is their algorithm thinks that I have the genetic muscle composition common in elite power athletes2. I guess I’ve missed my calling.

Some cozy media recommendations.

This year I decided that I needed more cozy in my life, I started reading more cozy books, playing cozy games, and looking for cozy shows or movies3. Cozy shows are hard to find but I discovered that Hallmark Movies & Mysteries had a lot of cozy movies based on books, my fave has been the Aurora Teagarden movies. However, a few months ago I was reintroduced to the PBS Masterpiece shows and started watching Miss Scarlet and The Duke, which I absolutely love; and which has led me to one of my new fave cozy mysteries books, the Veronica Speedwell series.

If you’re looking for a fun female protagonist who is breaking the rules and conventions of her time while also solving mysteries, then I highly recommend Scarlet and Veronica. Also, any period piece is a fave for me.


It’s been two years and counting since I lost my mom, and every day I feel that loss. There’s so much I want to ask her, and so many things I wish she was around to see and experience. The first year I felt like I was in fixing mode — I needed to take care of everything and take care of my dad. The following year I tried to grieve but I was busy making sure that both houses were taken care of. Now I feel like I’ve found a rhythm, and I’m settling down a bit, hanging with friends again, yet in the quiet moments, it hits me and I can finally grieve.


1 Maybe this is the plants’ way of getting back at me.

2 I did run a half marathon once!

3 I still listen to my murder podcasts

And I chose you the one I was dancin’ with, in New York, no shoes… looked up at the sky and it was, maroon

– Taylor Swift