My pandemic gratitude list

Today one of the counties next to mine— the county where my dad lives, the county where a lot of my friends live—went on lockdown due to Covid-19. Governor’s orders.

It was day three for me of working from home and so far my average work day is 9 hours long. Not because I’m an undisciplined worker but because I work at a human services non-profit and the current health crisis impacts us as an agency and also intensifies the struggles of many of our clients.

So, I decided to revive a tradition my neighbor started with me when she first moved into my neighborhood. Every day we would text each other three things we were grateful for, and we did this for probably four months before the tradition died. The goal was to never repeat. And the items could be small. Like “I am grateful for dry socks.”

Today I’m going to share with you my pandemic gratitude list.

  1. I am grateful for my job. It’s stressful, and I often find myself overwhelmed but my colleagues are amazing, my agency does great work, and I know I am learning so many new things I would have never had the chance to learn otherwise.
  2. I am grateful for the reconnection happening because of the virus. Today a former colleague texted me. Yesterday a friend who moved to Florida telephoned. I hadn’t really communicated with them in probably six months, but people are trying to check in on others right now.
  3. I am grateful for medical professionals that care. I had one doctor call me today to say he was closing his face-to-face practice for a while because of the virus and he wanted to tell me himself and be sure I knew how to reach him if I needed him. That was very kind.
  4. I am grateful for these kittens. My human baby is going to be 16 in June. The kitten I got her for her birthday has just turned nine. It’s been a long time since we had any babies in the house. Their mischief makes me laugh and their cuddly baby selves are just heart warming.

5. I am grateful for cheap pizza. Like Little Caesars. And delivery chains like Dominos. As a stress food pizza and brownies and cool ranch Doritos never disappoint.

6. I am grateful to be more-or-less able-bodied. Yes, it can be difficult to deal with cerebral palsy. Yes, my S-1 joint gives me a lot of trouble and I wish I could afford all the chiropractor visits I need and a personal trainer to help motivate me to do my exercises but hey— it’s my body and we work well together most of the time.

7. I am grateful for eyeglasses. Without them, I would be lost.

8. I am grateful for electric blankets, thick comforters, pretty duvet covers, fluffy pillows and weighted blankets. Bed should be cozy.

9. I am grateful for birdsong. I never would have imagined the positive impact those parakeets would have on my bedroom. Their happy little chirps when the sun shines really brighten my day.

10. I am grateful for my family. That includes my wicked smart and super kind teenage daughter and her dad. He was altruistic enough to lend me his laptop when this pandemic began, so I could work from home without stealing our daughter’s laptop.

Feel free to comment below with your own pandemic gratitude list.

Recipe: our own spicy tortilla chips

Even before these Coronavirus quarantine times and empty grocery store shelves, I have long practiced frugal living and using everything I can of my groceries— down to composting my food waste.

For example, every time my little dog friend comes to visit, she brings a rotisserie chicken for her meals. I always save the carcass in my freezer to make chicken bone broth in my crock pot.

So a couple weeks ago I was cleaning the fridge, I found a pack of flour tortilla shells that said “use by December 30, 2019.” But I didn’t throw them out. They were actually still soft, but there’s nothing worse than going to wrap a taco or make a sandwich and the shell splits in the middle because it was dry and stale.

I put the shells aside to make homemade Doritos.

I decided today was the day.

  1. First, I cut these four shells into eight triangles each.
  2. Because I am low on oil, I opted for a small pan and a big dollop of coconut oil. I heated the oil until it was bubbly but not sputtering.
  3. I dropped the triangles in, turning each after about 30 seconds as they browned very quickly.
  4. I dropped them into a small bowl where the teenager sprinkled them with spices and Parmesan I had put out for her to choose.

5. Then she moved them back to the main plate.

These were amazing. Crunchy yet fluffy. Though the teenager did overdo it on the chili powder so some were very spicy.

Crepes and the evaporating weekend

The teenager and I made crepes with Nutella and banana for breakfast and while they were delicious— let me assure you neither of us will be employed as a street vendor in France any time soon.

Our crepes were either small or large and reminiscent of cartoon characters.

The teenager is preparing to go to her dad’s for a few days. So later she’ll practice some low brass musical instruments for me. And I’ll come to terms with the fact that somehow the weekend is ending.

But let me relish the crepe memory:

An unexpected surprised— my friends Rachel called. She moved to Florida years ago and I don’t see her as much as I used to.

She was one of my freelance writers when I served as managing editor of Lehigh Valley News Group.

Walk on the Stirner Arts Trail

My friend Gayle invited the teenager and I to go for an appropriately socially distanced walk on Easton’s Karl Stirner Arts Trail.

The Arts Trail has added a new nature trail, some new art, a Qi Gong station, a labyrinth and a chime installation. So that was really fun.

I walked more today than I did in the last two days combined. Maybe three.

The teen

We also saw at least seven breeds of dogs so that was a delight. Frolicking puppies of every type.

But it was the best feeling when my daughter and I came upon the labyrinth and I explained the spiritual value of a labyrinth (and it turns out I managed to summarize exactly what the signs said).

It was like I got a redo on the vernal equinox.

So I brought into the labyrinth my recent stress and doubt, asking the universe to guide me.

My gift

And I repeated my mantra to the center of the labyrinth— and walked out my hands open to the receiving position ready to get answers. Or guidance.

At the altar

I feel refreshed.

For Gayle’s take on the adventure:

Fat Girl Walking on the KSAT

Life amended: Update after week one of preemptive Coronavirus quarantine

It’s Saturday morning. A time when my blog entries normally focus on my birds flying around my room, cuddling kittens and sipping coffee in bed trying to forget the stress of the week.

The vernal equinox came and went and I didn’t even acknowledge it.

My normal two-week schedule at the office is 75 hours as a salaried development officer in a human services non-profit. I worked 86 and am trying not to add more hours this weekend.

Our CEO made the decision to close our buildings completely for the next week, assuming our facilities have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus. So we will be working from home.

I love working from home, so that’s not an issue for me.

And in general, the pandemic brings me a sense of calm. The empathetic side of me relishes the slow down of the world. It brings me peace.

The only real worry I have right now is my right foot. I thought I had a splinter. My daughter, whose eyesight is way better than mine, assured me no. But it still hurts, and I think it’s been almost 2 weeks. And the ball of my foot is painful and swollen.

I started soaking it in Epsom salts and in my impatience this morning, I clumsily lanced it and am soaking it again. I still believe something is in there and will cause an infection if I’m not prudent.

Bandage and betadine next.


Of course I have helpers.


But they have gone on to do their own thing…

Hard to believe these guys were feral.

The first Pennsylvania death from the Coronavirus happened in the hospital where my daughter and her father were born. Cases are now here in our county. And all of the neighboring counties.

I urge you all to remember that every time you come in contact with anyone, you are also being exposed to everyone they have been near.

I know I am healthy. I know I am not in a high risk group. But I don’t want to carry this illness to anyone I care about. I don’t want to be the reason someone else dies.

I don’t want to see the economy and our quality of life degrade to the level of some dystopian fantasy novel.

That will happen soon enough because of overpopulation and global warming.

Overpopulation and Global Warming.

Let that sink in.

So, I downloaded the list of life sustaining businesses allowed to be open at this time. Beer distributors and Wawa made the cut.

Target made the cut. (They have groceries, health items and CVS pharmacies.) But I hear from my former Target colleagues that families are treating it like an outing and bringing the whole gang. People are shopping for bikinis.

We’re in for a long road.

Hear me, bikini people?

Your First World Privilege Is Ending

Today was my first day of working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Dining Room/Grant Command Central

I haven’t worked from home since my daughter turned 18 months old.

It felt liberating. Roll out of bed, have a cup of coffee, toast a bagel, and head to the dining room table to fire up the borrowed laptop.

In my pajamas.

This whole COVID-19 illness has had a profound impact on communities and on families. The economy and job security are threatened. We will all survive— but as someone working in non-profits, I see this crisis from multiple angles.

But when I first saw empty shelves in grocery stores I thought, “Wow, this is like shopping in Africa.”

You see, in my travels in Africa, shopping is a different experience than here. Shops usually only have one version of any item. And they might not have any of some items. And they are small.

People in less developed countries have less choice than we do. They have less resources. They have less opportunities. They have less corporate businesses. They have unpredictable utilities.

This virus has proven a great equalizer— because suddenly ordinary Americans no longer have access to all the stuff and businesses that they traditionally frequent.

No longer do you have 15 varieties of toilet paper to chose from.

No longer can you just find when you want at the exact moment you want it.

Let this remind you that this is what some people in the world face everyday either due to living in the wrong country or due to poverty.

Privilege is redefined now.

Be humble.

Nala learns new tricks

This is a brief entry about my four-year-old Goffin’s cockatoo with an attitude, Nala. She adores me, but tends to be a tad, um, bitchy with anyone else.

I’ve been very impressed with how she’s adapted both to a new life and a new routine in my crazy menagerie/train station of a house.

I brought her home in early January and have no experience with parrots and barely any experience with birds.

During the last few days I’ve noticed a change in her vocabulary. She already knew what sounds like “Mommy” when I got her—said only when leave the room.

She also learned very quickly to return my kisses with her only little kissy noises.

But now she seems to have learned “step up.” It sounds like what I can only describe as a bird hiccough in two syllables mimicking the phrase. But she says it when she wants me or after I ask her to step up and she’s not sure if she wants to.

So this is an exciting development.

Nala and Misty

She can also hold her own very well against our once feral kittens.