October 31, 2020 – Full Moon in Taurus

full moon in Taurus, Taurus full moon, full moon, Taurus moon, astrology, girl with moxieThe last day of October features a triple whammy: a full moon in Taurus that also happens to be a blue moon (meaning it’s the second full moon in a month – there was a full moon in Aries on October 1) and it’s on Halloween. Whew! But there’s no need to be scared: this earthy full moon is here to help us reflect on what we have, what we love, and how to achieve balance between our wants and desires.

In traditional astrology, planets are in their dignity, detriment, exaltation, or fall in certain signs. When a planet is in its dignity, that means it’s in the sign it rules; a planet is in its detriment when in the opposing sign. Exaltation refers to a sign where a planet is strong, happy and thriving; the fall is the sign opposing the exalted position. In the case of the Moon:

Moon in Cancer = dignity
Moon in Capricorn = detriment
Moon in Taurus = exaltation
Moon in Scorpio = fall

This isn’t to say that certain planetary positions are good or bad. In the same way that we interact differently with our best friend than we do our parents, planets and signs work together in ways where there can be challenges – and also blessings. In the case of Moon in Taurus, the Moon comes out of Cancerian waters and finds a warm, comfortable home full of lovely creature comforts where it can ground itself and rest. Taurus moon energy is stable, secure and sentimental. It loves romance and routines. And because Taurus is a sign centered around sensual pleasure, when the Moon is in Taurus it’s very interested in sensory experiences that elevate their emotional response.

Oppositions in Astrology

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, when the Moon is Full, it’s in the sign opposite the Sun. Opposing signs have similar goals but take different paths to get there. When it’s the Sun and Moon in opposing signs, it’s about the ego and personality (Sun) finding balance with the emotional, instinctual response (Moon).

If you ever played on a see-saw or teeter-totter as a child, it may help to imagine the Sun and Moon on either end of a see-saw. One planet may be sitting heavily on one end, holding all the power, while the other planet is high up on the other end. But taking all that power can get tiring after a while, especially if the elevated side is shifting around a lot, demanding attention and equal time.

I find natal oppositions of personal planets and/or “the big three” (sun, moon and ascendant signs) to be fascinating, because it’s ripe for lessons in balance, boundaries and cooperation. My mother – who I refer to as Momcat on this blog– was a Taurus Moon with a Scorpio Sun. She had a lot of loyalty & devotion for her family and loved ones. She cooked balanced, nutritious meals and made a comfortable home for me and my father (who I refer to as Pops on this blog). Momcat was well acquainted with tragic loss from a young age, and she grew up in poverty. Her Scorpio Sun longed for transformation, and she worked very hard to overcome adversity & created a better life for herself as an adult. But she also struggled with hoarding – acquiring more than she could manage – which I see now as being her Taurus Moon working through the shadow side of finding emotional comfort in material possessions.

Taurus, Scorpio, oppositions, zodiac signs, opposing zodiac signs, astrology, girl with moxie

Moon in Taurus

The Taurus Full Moon is inviting us to assess our relationship with our stuff. Are we holding on so tight that we cannot see when it’s time to let go? Do we keep broken, worn-out items in our lives because we are afraid something better won’t be available to replace it?

Taurus’ motto is “I Have”, while Scorpio’s motto is “I Desire.” Scorpio energy is about the cycle of life, death and rebirth. It is about discarding what no longer serves us so that there is room for something new. Pausing that cycle out of fear means that anything we are attempting to manifest – a job, romantic partner, home, car or whatever – also gets put on pause.

Whether or not we have oppositions in our own natal astrological charts, we can use Full Moons and the opposition they represent as an opportunity to achieve harmony through releasing what no longer serves us.

Crystals for the Taurus Full Moon

You can place these crystals on your altar, if you have one, or in a prominent place in your home for 2-3 nights during the Taurus Full Moon.

  • Chrysocolla
  • Jade
  • Red jasper
  • Rhodonite
  • Rose quartz
  • Selenite

When the Moon is full, regardless of the sign it’s in, the collective unconscious is hard at work seeking to learn the value of balance, respecting boundaries, and honoring our emotional needs while being mindful of our greater goals. I hope your Full Moon experience this month brings you whatever healing and release your mind, body and spirit needs to transform.

Want to try out my Full Moon Tarot Spread? Check it out here.

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Road Trippin’

Create Your Own Visited States Map

This interactive map is floating around on the interwebs so I thought I’d give it a whirl. I’ve visited way more states than I thought, though a few of these are ones where I didn’t do much beyond stop to pee, have a snack or get gas, as most of my visits were during road trips with Pops and Momcat. We did several drives to New England when I was growing up, as summers in the DC area were humid and uncomfortable. Imagine living in a sweatsock or plastic bag and that’s what mid-Atlantic summers are like, though the beach areas are really nice.

My travels through the southern part of the U.S. were trips down I-95 to see my grandparents in Florida, and all my midwest travels are due to having family in Michigan. In 2008, I went to New Orleans on vacation: I went to Voodoo Experience, a 3-day concert event at City Park, to see a ton of amazing bands & singers, including Stone Temple Pilots, Nine Inch Nails, R.E.M., Thievery Corporation, Erykah Badu, Joss Stone, Wyclef Jean, etc.; I wandered around the French Quarter; I had a hurricane at Pat O’Briens; I ate beignets and drank coffee at Café du Monde. Great trip.

There’s a good chunk of the southwest I wouldn’t have seen if it hadn’t been for three cross-country drives from Maryland to California with Pops. The first was in the mid ’80s. Pops signed up with a car delivery service and we drove a two-seater Mercedes out to L.A., cutting through the middle of the U.S. I remember watching the speedometer hit 100 a few times in the desert – Pops had a blast driving that car. In 1991, our second cross-country drive took a southern route, and that’s when I first remember seeing the road sign for Galax, Virginia – the setting for my novel in progress (which is close to complete, whoo hoo!). The third cross-country drive was when I moved to California in early 2000, the station wagon loaded down with my computer and clothes.

I also wouldn’t have gotten to see Idaho and Montana if it hadn’t been for a road trip with Pops. Last summer he did what I call Pops’ Poker Tour, driving his car to California and stopping along the way to play Texas Hold ‘Em at various casinos. He spent a few days in CA with me, then we drove to Montana, stopping in Idaho and visiting Yellowstone along the way. Gorgeous drive.

Just looking at the map and thinking about all the places I’ve been gets me all nostalgic for a good road trip. I highly recommend them, especially if you have kids who are old enough to appreciate them. It’s such a fantastic way to learn about the U.S. and how people live in different parts of the country.

Where would you go on a road trip?

Five Years Later: What I Learned from Losing Momcat

Earlier this month I read this article on grief and loss, and it made me consider everything I’ve learned since Momcat died five years ago. Today would have been her 72nd birthday.

Here’s what I have learned in the five years since Momcat died:

  • There are a million analogies for grief. All of them apply at one point or another.
  • There comes a point where I feel people should just know that Momcat is gone. Even if I haven’t spoken to them in a long time, there should be something in my voice, in what I talk about that tells them she is gone. Magical thinking at its best.
  • She continues to appear in dreams when I am most in need of guidance, whether I know it or not.
  • There are days when I wake up not sure that she’s really dead. I didn’t see her body, so how do I really know? Having very vivid dreams in which I am with her compounds this feeling.
  • I am easily annoyed by people who bitch and complain about their mothers. I want to yell at them to resolve their issues and get to know their mother as a person, because one day she will be gone.
  • There is still so much I don’t know about Momcat, and every piece of paper I find with her writing on it becomes a clue. Old calendars, day planners, notebooks full of lists offer some insights, but not enough to satisfy my curious mind.
  • There are days when my grief is just beneath my skin, that one small bump or scratch will make me bleed. Other days it is buried deep, a wisp of a seed in my belly. This year I’m aware that my grief manifests itself in overreactions to mildly stressful situations. I resent this sneaky subversion.
  • In moments when things are going really well, I find myself annoyed that I can’t call to tell her my good news and hear her be excited for me, that all I can do is talk to her photo and imagine her response, dig into my memory and hear her voice say, “Hey, that’s great.”
  • I believe there’s an alternate universe in which the events leading up to her death play out every year, and if I could just cross over, I could ask the questions I never got to ask, and tell her once again that I love her.
Momcat holding me outside my grandparents' house.
Momcat holding me outside my grandparents’ house.

Games People Play

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the Rubik’s Cube, the six-sided, three-dimensional puzzle that was the bane of many a Generation X’er back in the 80s. It got me thinking about all the games I grew up with and the role they played (no pun intended) in my childhood.

My family loved games – the old school kind that involved tiny plastic or metal pieces, rainbow-hued paper money, and coated cardboard playing areas. Our den closet was the main storage area for our game collection; it was where you could find Battleship, Monopoly, Sorry, Risk, Clue, Benji (which was an awesome game). On a shelf by the stereo in the living room, there were two clear plastic storage boxes where we kept travel games, card games and 3-D puzzles.

Rubik's Cube, Rubik's Missing Link, Rubik's Magic Snake, Pyraminx, Ivory Tower, Whip It, puzzles, 3-D puzzles, games
Some of the puzzles from my youth.

Because I was an only child, I had to either convince Momcat to play games with me, wait until the weekend so Momcat, Pops and I could play a game together, or find a friend to play. Deena loved games, too, so we played many of them together. Inner Circle was one of my favorites, as was one that had plastic square pieces with rotating numbers that would change as you moved around the board (anyone remember the name of this game?). But our favorite was the Mad Magazine game.

board games, games, Mad Magazine, humor
Mad Magazine Game – never read the magazine, but man, I loved this game.

A few years ago I gave the game to Deena, who was so excited as she’d lost her version. We played and she beat me, and we had a great time, but it wasn’t as fun as when we sat in my carport on a warm spring day, avoiding the oil spots, putting the “this card can only be played on Friday” underneath the board when we played the game on a Friday.

Two summers ago I found a good home for many of our board games with my friend Kirsten and her family – I heard her husband was even more excited than her kids about the games. Deena ended up buying several of the old 3-D puzzles from me, too. But that Rubik’s Cube? It’s staying with me, even if I’ll never be able to solve it.

What were your favorite games from your childhood?

Spring Has Sprung and Other Poems

041313-tulip-festival-OR.jpgEvery year at springtime Momcat would recite this little poem:

Spring has sprung,

The grass has riz;

I wonder where

The birdies is?

Thanks to the misinformation that proliferates on the Internet, I can’t be certain of this poem’s origins. Goodreads says it’s from Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne, while several other sources credit Ogden Nash, comedian Spike Milligan, or e.e. cummings.

But the poem that’s been on my anglophilic mind these days is “Locksley Hall” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson – one line in particular stands out, as I think it does for many folks this time of year:

In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.

Over the last few days I have come up with my own versions of that line.

In the Spring a young(ish) woman’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of changing the duvet cover and what a bitch it is to change the duvet cover with two cats trying to help.


In the Spring a young(ish) woman’s fancy turns to thoughts of needing to buy a fan before it gets really hot, because spring in California lasts all of five minutes.


In the Spring a young(ish) woman’s nose, eyes and throat begin to itch and sting due to allergies.

Have any lines of your own to add?


Friday’s Hot Tip: Homemade Salsa

When I was growing up, my parents and I would frequently go out to lunch on Saturdays. It was a post-church treat as Momcat didn’t have to cook or clean anything up. One of our preferred lunch spots was Alamo, a Mexican restaurant with a more Tex-Mex flair. The salsa came to the table in a big Melamine bowl and was the perfect consistency: finely blended fresh tomato, onion, garlic and cilantro. This is the place where I first heard Pops say “Don’t fill up on chips! You’ll be too full to eat your tacos.” But they were so good, and the salsa was so tasty, it was hard to stop.

For many years I have searched for the perfect salsa like Alamo makes (yep, they are still in business), without much success. Sure, there have been some strong contenders – I particularly like Trader Joe’s Salsa Especial. Only in recent years did I consider the possibility that making my own salsa could bring me to that same blissful state as Alamo’s chips and salsa did so many years ago.

A few months ago, I had lunch with a friend who makes all sorts of fabulous sounding dishes at home. I mentioned wanting to make salsa and she whipped out a notebook and started writing down a recipe a friend had given her years before. I believe its origins are from someone’s Mexican grandmother. Todo del mundo ya sabe that abuelitas make delicious food, and this salsa is no exception. Even better? It’s super inexpensive to make and all you need is your blender or food processor. I’ve even made a short video to show you how easy it is.

You can easily adapt this recipe to suit your tastes. Can’t get fire-roasted tomatoes? Use regular instead. Don’t like cilantro? Leave it out. (You have made abuela cry, but she understands.) Too spicy? Use mild chiles instead. No lime? Use a lemon, or, if you must, use ReaLemon or ReaLime in the plastic container.

Homemade Salsa

  • 2 14-oz cans fire roasted diced tomatoes (Make sure there’s no added garlic, onion or chiles in the can. Trust me on this. You’re going to be adding fresh garlic, onion and chiles anyway, so why do you need it here?)
  • 1/4 C onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 4-oz can diced jalapenos
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, rinsed (jam the cilantro – leaves, stems and all – into a measuring cup)
  • 1/2 lime, juiced

Put all ingredients in food processor or blender. Process/blend on low speeds until ingredients are combined. Makes approximately 4 1/2 cups.

Paint It Black Friday

My dear friend Ms. Chick recently wrote a blog post about Black Friday. After reading it, I started to comment, then realized it would make for a better blog post.

Ms. Chick’s post focuses on the madness that is Black Friday sales, and how they are starting earlier and earlier each year. The discount stores such as Wal-Mart and Kmart are fond of late Thursday sales. I know people who thrive on mingling with large crowds to get their holiday shopping done. Possibly they get an adrenaline rush from the experience. As for me, I’m not a fan of shopping on Black Friday, though I admit to occasionally hanging out at malls & shopping centers the day after Thanksgiving to people watch. I’m a fiction writer, so this constitutes research.

Where I took issue, though, is with the end of her post:

It’s not like someone has a denominational difference that would prevent them from celebrating Thanksgiving.  It’s a purely secular holiday.


…It’s just that is whatever you are going to buy so important that you have to give up sleep and time with family/friends in order to obtain it? Not to mention possibly trample someone? And do you really need to see a movie on Thanksgiving?  Can’t you wait until the next day or watch something at home?

The holidays are a really tough time for folks who can’t be with family or friends for whatever reason, or their family is so freakin’ dysfunctional that it’s easier to be on their own. Even before Momcat died, I wasn’t a big fan of the Thanksgiving/Christmas season: I always had high expectations, only to end up feeling let down. There were several years when I made a point of doing nothing for either holiday because I wanted the freedom to do what I wanted, when I wanted, and with whom I wanted. There were other years in which I spent holidays with friends and those were really fun times. Again, it’s what fiction writers call research.

What it comes down to is this: I love my family and friends, and yet during the holiday season it can be so difficult for me to love them as fully as I normally would. Spending time with them can also be difficult. This has nothing to do with them and everything to do with me. Yet being alone is just as hard, because my brain loops back through all those memories of holidays gone by and lost loved ones, which makes me feel much worse. Despite all this, I try to find ways to make the holidays pleasant for myself, because dwelling on the used-to-be’s and the remember-back-when’s can be emotionally crippling. I think that’s why I love the original version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, because of these lines:

Someday soon we all will be together

If the fates allow

Until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow

For that reason, escaping to a shopping mall or movie theatre, where I can float anonymously through a sea of humanity, sounds like a good way to muddle through.

My Declaration of Independence: the 2012 Edition

As many of my semi-regular readers know, every year I use Independence Day as an opportunity to declare my own personal independence from something. (You can read the background here.) Frequently I use the text written by our Founding Fathers as the basis for my own declaration. This year I’m doing it a little differently. Probably because this year’s declaration is harder for me, but, as I am discovering, it’s necessary for my health and well being.

I’m declaring my independence from gluten.

This is not about me jumping on the Paleo bandwagon – I’m way too picky about meat and fish to go full Paleo – or following what seems to be a trend among some circles. This is about my health, and my belief that Momcat’s early death was the result of undiagnosed celiac disease.

A quick gluten and celiac disease primer:

  • Gluten is a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related grains, such as barley and rye.
  • Gluten adds elasticity to dough – it gives bread its chewy texture and helps it rise.
  • Gluten is often added to foods as a stabilizer, or to add protein.
  • Celiac disease is a chronic, hereditary, autoimmune disease. If someone with celiac disease eats something containing gluten, their small intestine becomes inflamed and damaged. They may experience diarrhea, nausea, or bloating. And they end up not absorbing necessary nutrients from food, all because their body can’t process it.
  • Someone who is undiagnosed with celiac and continues to eat gluten may become more susceptible to other autoimmune disorders, such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and rheumatoid arthritis. They may have unexplained skin rashes that do not go away. They may have gall bladder, liver, or kidney problems. They may suffer from depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues. They may have problems with their teeth. Their hair may thin or fall out. They may be constantly tired or fatigued. (You can find a more comprehensive list here.)

Momcat had a lot of the above symptoms for years. A month before she died, I asked her if she’d ever been tested for celiac. She muttered something about the test coming up negative. But anyone who’s ever been to the doctor and had blood tests know that sometimes tests aren’t accurate, and that diagnostic tests, especially for food allergies, tend to improve over the years .

I’ll never know for sure if she had celiac. But I know how I feel when I eat a lot of glutentastic products:

  • I get really sleepy. I call gluten my natural sedative because if I eat bread or pasta at dinner, I am guaranteed to be asleep in two hours or less.
  • I get weird rashes on my body.
  • I have a lot of gastric distress: bloating, abdominal pain, and what I will not-so-delicately refer to as poo problems.

And I know that Momcat’s sisters and my cousins suffer from a lot of the same medical issues Momcat did: fibromyalgia, arthritis, fatigue, allergies, asthma, high blood pressure. And none of them have gone gluten-free.

At this point in time, I can’t afford to get tested for celiac. But when I look at all of the evidence, it tells me that declaring my independence from gluten is the thing to do.

But giving up gluten is so damn hard. Those of you who love tortellini and cinnamon rolls and burritos and pizza and bruschetta understand this. Because even if you stay away from gluten, and you dutifully eat all the gluten-free substitutes (many of which are quite good), there are moments when gluten beckons to you and says, “Oh, come on, one little piece of pepperoni pizza won’t kill you. Look how thin the crust is! All the gluten has leaked out. Honest.”

I think of gluten as my bad boyfriend, the dark, mysterious guy with the six-pack abs, the guy who promises that this time he will treat me right. (In my fantasy, gluten looks like Joe Manganiello.) So I let him spend the night and wake up the next morning, all alone, feeling as if a fleet of moving vans ran over me, then shifted into Reverse and ran over me again. And there’s no note, no kiss goodbye, nothing. That’s because gluten is a selfish bastard.

Joe Manganiello, actor, True Blood, Magic Mike
What gluten would look like if it was a person.

So I’m going to try extra hard to live independently of gluten. But if the real Joe Manganiello knocks on my door, offering me a latte and a gluten-free cinnamon roll from Mariposa Bakery, I am so going to hit that.




Everything Must Change

Three years ago today, I got reduced to part-time hours at my office job. At the time I was relieved to not be completely laid off, but still frustrated that I wouldn’t be making as much money. I told my boss, “This is a blessing because now I’ll be able to spend more time with my family.”

I didn’t know what the next year held in store for me. Because by November 15 of 2009, my grandfather, his second wife, and Momcat had all died.

Grandpa and his wife died within 24 hours of each other in January. They had been married for a little over 10 years, I think, and had a lot of affection for each other. They traveled a lot and stayed fairly healthy up to the last year of their lives. Grandpa had just turned 95 about a month earlier.

Momcat was another story. She’d been in poor health for years, with autoimmune disorders and other ailments affecting her as well as chronic anxiety and depression. In September of 2009 she fell and broke her arm. Then she got pneumonia, had a heart attack in the hospital, and in early October she died at a rehabilitation facility from what the doctors suspect was a pulmonary embolism. She was 66, just shy of turning 67.

Since then, the holidays have been tough for me. To be frank, the last 4 months of the year are hard. Remember that TV show “Quantum Leap”, where the scientist would go back in time to alter events? There’s a part of me that wishes I could go back to that moment right before Momcat broke her arm. Or do you watch “Fringe”, where there’s an alternate universe that looks very much like this one, right down to the inhabitants? Sometimes I wish I could get to that alternate universe and spend time with Momcat again.

But I’m here, in this universe and without the means to bend time or travel through it. And it’s really hard sometimes. The last few weeks have been particularly stressful, probably because it was the second anniversary of her death and this Sunday would have been the umpteenth anniversary of her 38th birthday. I’m making it through as best I can. Some days are easier than others.

I titled this post after a song by Paul Young, who was big in the 80s. Because as much as I dislike change sometimes, especially when it means people I love are no longer in this world, I’m still aware that change is a part of this silly, mysterious, crazy, sad, scary, wonderful, amazing thing called life.

Hard Habits to Break

When I was a kid, Momcat and Pops had specific ways of doing things but didn’t necessarily have reasons as to why they did these things the way they did. It was likely the way they were taught by their parents, and their parents before them. These things ranged from food preferences to cooking styles. Momcat did not use any other white rice but Uncle Ben’s Converted Long Grain, nor did she ever buy white bread, grape jelly or shredded cheese. We never had honey in the house because Pops hated it. All of our towels came in sets of two and included a matching hand towel and washcloth. When I got my driver’s license and started driving the family vehicles, Momcat was vigilant in letting me know I needed to move the seat all the way back when I was done using the car, because the next person driving the car might be Pops and he needed more legroom. And you never, NEVER, put a bumper sticker on a car.

Once I was living on my own, I did a lot of things the same way as I was taught. I bought block cheese and shredded it as needed. I never bought honey. My towel sets were always two bath, two hand and two washcloths. I always pushed the driver’s seat all the way back when I got out of the car – even though it was my car and no one else was driving it.

It took me a while to realize that a number of these habits weren’t really Moxie originals – I had taken them on because they had been instilled in me by my parents.  I started questioning each one. Was oatmeal for breakfast something I really liked? No. I like oatmeal but it doesn’t fill me up. Same with cereal. So I stopped buying cereal. I stopped drinking most juices because they gave me heartburn. Tired of shredding my fingers on the cheese grater, I stopped buying block cheese and now I only buy shredded. On my 30th birthday, for the first time ever, I had honey in my peppermint tea and was astounded at how good it was. Now I’m never without a jar of honey. And the bumper sticker thing? I put a window cling for my alma mater in my car’s back window and Momcat lit into me when she saw it. “WE do NOT put stickers on OUR cars!” she said, glaring at me.

Some of those habits, have passed my idiosyncrasy litmus test. While I may not be buying Uncle Ben’s anymore, Momcat’s rice cooking methods (2:1 ratio, boil water, add rice, cover, lower heat, DO NOT LIFT THE LID) have proven to be failproof. I like having handtowels because I use them to dry my hair – the bath sheets I prefer to buy are way too big for my head. And while grape jelly is fun to eat, especially with peanut butter, there’s something quite spectacular about apricot preserves or a lovely mixed berry jam on good bread.

Oh, and the driver’s seat? As it so happens, the car I’m currently driving has a programmable seat. I positioned the seat just the way I wanted it, then I pressed a button that saved the settings. Now every time I turn on the ignition, the seat automatically moves to where I want it, and slides back when I turn off the engine. God bless technology.

What habits were passed down to you from your parents?