Rip it off fast like a bandaid

It’s 11 a.m. on Friday morning— it looks crisp and clear outside. Teenager #2 is in school. Teenager #1 just emerged from her room as we both got to sleep around 3 a.m.

Mandatory overtime and lack of sleep are kicking my ass. My household is experiencing some knocks too as the Roman Pride tuxedo kittens from Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab are vomiting. We hope it is because of a recent change in their food.

I wish I could say the birds have been quiet. But alas, alack, the cats broke into my room while Boo-Boo the yellow parakeet was free-flying and Boo-boo flew downstairs. Now Boo-boo is not a hand-tame bird.

This occurred while I was wrestling clothes in the Quality Control Valley 2 of the Bizzy Hizzy at Stitch Fix. Teenager #1 heard Boo-boo screaming because two of our household cats had taken to swiping her out of the air.

Teenager #1 rescued Boo, who was still feisty enough to bite her repeatedly.

So there was that.

Meanwhile, at the Bizzy, I was thinking about numerology and “angel numbers,” thanks to a podcast I heard the other night. In the midst of all this craziness, as I was leaving work the other night, my odometer read 33533. Palindrome. Prime numbers. “Sacred threes.”

Okay so it’s blurry: 33533

So the boxes that got returned to me last night were sent back for issues with wrapping. One of the people training me finally came over and asked how I tear my paper. I showed her. Carefully. Almost daintily.

“Ah, she said, “there lies the problem. You need to rip it fast like a bandaid.”

I did and the results were very different and better.

My foe

I thanked her for the tutelage and laughed, pointing out that this was not something that did not come naturally to my skill set. I have no depth perception when related to placing items in containers. I suck at folding clothes. It’s agonizing for my body to stand still for 8 hours. And I have no concept of straight lines.

But all in all I am improving and I truly enjoy the challenge of learning something new. It reminds me of when I first learned cash office at Target. I wanted to vomit every time I started my shift.

The person overseeing me thanked me for taking criticism well, and again I laughed, and reminded her that I needed her it. She said a lot of people get frustrated. And I assured her that I was indeed frustrated with myself for repeating the same mistakes. She quickly revised her statement— “No, she said, people get really frustrated with me.”

And that struck me. Because I know what she means. And I have to say, in both my professional and… let’s call them survival jobs, I have had supervisors that understand how to deliver constructive criticism and all kinds of feedback and those supervisors who care about the mission, the corporate line, and/or themselves and how they look, more than they were invested in the people.

So far in the Bizzy Hizzy, I have not met one of those. I also feel I am in the honeymoon phase at Stitch Fix. My judgment may be skewed.

This mandatory overtime stinks. We’re all exhausted. And even the scrambled egg appreciation breakfast and free snacks can’t push us past that.

This might be the spot to mention that one of my supervisors spent most of the night running around with a squealing plastic chicken.

The nurse wandered into the Valley about 12:30 to check on everyone doing overtime (as the “deep cleaners” worked around us— which by the way, they move nothing and just wipe shit down. I find more dust and grime when I do my nightly wipes). I showed the nurse my new skill at tearing craft paper. She gave me a gloved high five.

I’m working a normal 8-hour shift tonight then returning for an 8-hour double time shift tomorrow morning. Now if you excuse me, I must go lay out my quarterly budget as it is 2-weeks overdue.

Farewell 2020 wish

It’s 12:05 a.m. and I still have to open my journal. My morning started merely five hours after I went to bed with a series of foibles that are normal in my life… so let me appease anyone waiting for my next blog post with this little post I made on Facebook:

Some of our challenges in this household for 2021 include:

  • Reassure teenager #2’s male cat that he is safe. The other cats feed off his insecurity and terrorize him which leads to urination outside the box.
  • Eat healthy again.
  • Each member of my household has some sort of fitness goal. Mine is the inevitable lose weight, but I am going to focus on strength training. Strength and endurance to me are the key to building a healthy body.
  • Raise healthy kittens and enjoy my budgie chicks.

Update on chicks video

Yuletide whirlwind

Yesterday was the winter solstice— Yule— and the great convergence of Saturn and Jupiter that may have been the Christmas Star of Christian Heritage.

Sugar Cookie and Candy Cane Hershey Kisses

My neighbor Jan and I went on a Christmas season road trip to pick up a package. I wasn’t sure I could make the 90-minute drive alone.

I am grateful to live in such an old fashioned neighborhood that I know what neighbors will have adventures, which will grab me groceries, and who won’t mind grabbing me a coffee.

We stopped at Target and I got my annual bag of Candy Cane Hershey Kisses and treated myself to the new Sugar Cookie Kisses. They have real bits of cookie inside and the white chocolate kiss tastes like icing.

When I got home, the teenagers drove me over to Dollar General and Twin Rivers Music. Dollar General to get the pickle Doritos that are apparently a Dollar General exclusive and Twin Rivers Music for valve oil, a mouthpiece brush, ukulele strings and kazoos.

Teenager #2 thought her kazoo was broken, so teenager #1 had to teach her how to play it (which she did while driving the car!).

YouTube: Christmas Kazoos

YouTube: Review of Sour Pickle Doritos

In honor of Yule, and to celebrate the longest night of the year, I let the teenagers unwrap their stockings (which included some traditional stocking stuffers and some non-traditional items). A lot of make-up, gift certificates for Hyperion Salon and Lucha Bella skin care, candy and snacks, and activity books.

Teenager two got her first paint-by-water book which I bought for her because it featured Sponge Bob. I also got them coloring books of cosmic cats and uni-creatures and a robot faces sticker book.

YouTube: Dumping the stockings

Lunchables Dirt Cake

Activity Books

Teaching the Art of Paint by Water

Review of Oreo Candy Canes

We ate too many of my mother-in-law’s cookies and finished the bag of Doritos so I shouldn’t be surprised that I gained more weight.

Today is a new day and it feels like a clean start thanks to the energy of Yule and I feel a little stronger and more like myself, though still very easy to exhaust.

I got up, cleaned up after one set of cats, shoveled the path for a heating oil delivery, saw my friend Gayle, loaded the dishwasher and started a load of laundry. I tried to pick up some garbage from the house strewn with wrappings and about 5 loads of clean laundry.

Then I worked with Nan by phone. The Fluffy Norse kittens decided to join me on the sunporch and, of course, climbed the Christmas tree.

Fern-Edie in the Christmas Tree

I got the laundry out of the washer and hung it, and teenager #1 made me an egg sandwich, even though by then it was noon.

I tried to clean up the bathroom. Started the dishwasher. And came up to check on the birds.

YouTube: Do we have baby budgies?

And we have one tiny bald, baby budgie!

I am so terrified I will do something to hinder Momma Wink from taking good care of her eggs and baby. I’m especially worried everyone isn’t getting enough to eat.

So finally that brings me to Nala— she’s afraid of something and it might be the parakeets. She’s barbering badly.

Pancakes and John Rosemond

I wanted to write this last night when I got home from the Bizzy Hizzy but I had forgotten my phone charger in the car and wanted to preserve my battery.

After completing another week at Stitch Fix, (where I listened to the Indicator’s episode on “The Beige Book” from the federal reserve bank and learned about pandemic-fueled growth in the warehouse sector as I worked my new warehousing job performing inbound processing functions), I mixed myself a cocktail— Ciroc Vodka, coconut seltzer and bubblegum A-Treat. If you missed our taste test of the A-Treat, you can see it on You Tube here: Bubble Gum?

Speaking of podcasts, last night I listened to Trevor Noah joke about James Bond, an exploration of what happened to a Van Gogh painting that wasn’t a good Van Gogh (Carnation in a Vase, I believe) and rediscovered John Rosemond, the syndicated parenting expert columnist who is a self-described “renegade family therapist who believes in the Bible not psychology.”

Now, my estranged husband reminds me that he believes we knew that Rosemond was a conservative Bible-thumper, but last night hearing him in a radio program where he could speak his views freely was a “wow” moment.

I fully believe in his advice and agree with his philosophy that parents have a duty to prepare their children to be emotionally “sturdy” adults and that discipline comes when adults maintain an authoritative attitude that commands respect versus employing certain trendy (even when “research-based” methods). I enjoyed his podcasts. Out of five stars:

👍👍👍👍👍

Podcasts have left me on the fence about a lot of hosts, but I have listened to people like football player/broadcaster Emmanuel Acho on his show Armchair Expert and learned many new perspectives.

Earlier yesterday, since teenager #1 is all cyber now, we spent lunch hour getting pancakes. It was the first time in almost 9 months we went out together and sat in a restaurant together/alone for a meal.

Nothing beats buttermilk pancakes in the teenager’s eyes and I had a magnificent eggs Benedict Florentine with tomato and garlic. I can’t wait to have it again.

Bubble gum soda, Bizzy Hizzy and the wildlife

I was up blogging and cuddling kittens last night until almost 2:30 a.m.

And then I woke at 9 a.m. to a flurry of text messages— similar, but not as stressful as, yesterday.

We had a meeting regarding some new contributors for Lady Boss Magazine. In the middle of it, teenager #1 texted home from school that her grades had “magically gone to shit” and that she would go to guidance to see if she could transition to fully online as whereas teenager #2 needs to be in school for success, teenager #1 can be self-directed but needs a regular routine more than an in-person teacher.

By the way, there is no transition required— starting tomorrow teenager #1 is fully online.

Meanwhile little foster kitten Vale of the Norse Pride no longer wishes to stay in my bedroom with his siblings. This feisty Ruby wants to explore the house and hang out with the big cats.

Vale and Opie

And the highlight of my day was discovering A-Treat Bubble Gum Soda. It was surprisingly delightful and not as sickeningly sweet as I feared. (See the video.) here: Bubble Gum ATreat taste test

And as if this wasn’t enough to force me into sugar overload — the Bizzy Hizzy (Stitch Fix’s Bethlehem warehouse) had bagels, Oreos and butterscotch Krimpets. Not to be confused with crumpets. Everyone went berserk over them. The bagels were sad, the toasters broken and the cream cheese stingy and rather sour tasting.

Despite every joint in my body below my rib cage throbbing (I hope to goodness it is due to the forecasted rain tomorrow), I binned about 600 items in women’s non-apparel and 900 in apparel. I worked really hard to make the women’s non apparel bins (NAP) look like the concepts and photo on the training board. Organize items like books on a shelf.

This English major can handle that.

And I learned that our inventory devices are “hammers” and their brand name is Thor.

I’m surrounded by Norse legends.

I only walked about 10,000 steps instead of my normal 22,000.

My listening material tonight included a comedy roast I didn’t like, Dax Shepherd interviewing astronaut Scott Kelly, Trevor Noah discussing racism in the housing market, something about how the Metropolitan Museum of Art refuses to count the value of its paintings, and a fashion podcast lamenting how in a pandemic world the absence of fashion shows puts a lot of people out of work.

Well, chances are the models were already starving.

And on the way home, there were two occasions where wildlife crossed the road in front of me.

First a deer.

Then a fox.

I’m taking my aching bones to bed.

First Thanksgiving of the season

I have always harbored a certain resentment that holidays are defined as certain days, and since I worked retail for a decade, I adopted the attitude that holidays and celebrations happen when people gather not on a certain date or on the fourth Thursday in November.

My foster cat godmother gave us an 18-pound turkey and as I was a vegetarian for about eight years until my carnivorous daughter was born, I have never cooked a turkey. And it felt like this was the year to try.

I did some internet research and got the bird out of the fridge only to discover that my cheap refrigerator had frozen part of this damn turkey and even after soaking it in hot water we had a terrible time getting the neck from the chest cavity.

But luckily the teenager is stubborn like her mother and got the neck out, which looked and felt disturbingly phallic.

Teenager with a bird neck

I assembled the coleslaw by placing cabbage, radishes and carrots in my Ninja food processor. I made a honey mustard dressing.

I slathered the turkey with butter, purple pepper, smoked paprika, poultry seasoning and sage and placed it in the oven. I “basted” it every thirty minutes by recycling the juices from the drip pan and wiping them across inside the bird with a pastry brush.

Then I whipped up the corn bread and placed it in my neighbor’s oven while I assembled the green beans Caesar and the sweet potato crunch.

I didn’t have enough pecans so I put some mixed nuts in the Ninja and that made my nuts more like nut butter. That was the only real “fail” of the night. But I liked it.

I heated up some corn and made some butter-sage turkey gravy from scratch. Nan brought some cranberry sauce. And Darnell and Amber were kind enough to stop by and rescue me when it came time to carve my bird.

Teenager #1 made a deliriously good batch of homemade mashed potatoes.

I heated up some corn and the spaghetti squash I grew in my compost heap.

Jan stopped by with her ladyship Sobaka and we had three teenagers in the house. That felt good.

Caturday of cuddles

This is my last weekend before starting a full time position as a retail warehouse associate at Stitch Fix. It sounds similar to what I used to do at Target, but without people and more walking.

I’ve read some online reviews and exchanged some texts with some Target folks who also went to Stitch Fix and my concerns are two-fold:

  1. Can this forty-something body with cerebral palsy handle being on my feet walking more than 12 miles a day?
  2. Can I survive on the pay?

But one positive is that the extra steps should help me get my weight under control and increase my fitness fortitude.

Or so I hope.

My accident was a week ago and I’m starting to think that I didn’t hurt my rib but instead really did “pull my boob” as in manage to pull the muscle that supports my right breast. I’m tired of being in pain.

Okay, enough whining.

The day started with a strong cup of coffee shared with my cockatoo, Nala. (YouTube Video: Coffee Time)

And then I heard a ruckus and thought the cats were fighting. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Fog had caught himself a mouse. (YouTube video: Mouse Adventures)

My mom stopped by this morning and transplanted the snake plant that the kittens destroyed. Then Mom and I went to Lidl where I not only got croissants to go with my delectable quince jelly, but I got discounted naan and lots of seltzer. In new flavors! Yes, Lidl has new flavors of seltzer including grapefruit.

I did lots of dishes, vacuumed the downstairs and my room (the roomba is functioning great now that I cleaned it, and washed the dining room and living room floors.

In between these tasks, I cuddled kittens and watched Car Masters: From Rust to Riches on Netflix.

Vale of the Norse Pride

In the last three days, I’ve managed to watch both seasons of this program. I love cars. My dad was a diesel mechanic and truck driver for much of my childhood. He can fix anything and I have a certain admiration and attraction to people who can fix things.

I’ve had the same cell phone number since 1998 because my dad gave me an old 1984 Ford Escort whose carburateur would flood and leave me stranded with every rain storm.

Some of my favorite memories are of watching my father work.

I recommend the reality series Rust to Riches — it features some serious strategy in building some amazing cars and also has more drama than one might expect.

The people who staff Gotham Garage in California include a woman who specializes in motors and knows classic muscle cars.

I made the teenagers a cheap knock off of seafood Alfredo for dinner.

And now the teens are playing Monopoly with a friend downstairs.

Tomorrow I will be getting a facial at Lucha Bella, hopefully making a trip to the Dollar Tree and taking the foster kittens, all seven of them, for shots.

What day is it?

I believe I was talking to my traveling companion M about life with my teenagers and we were discussing how it’s impossible for anyone to develop a routine when basic public school looks like this:

MONDAY, TUESDAY: asynchronous learning online, students must fill out an attendance form by 10:30 a.m.

WEDNESDAY: students have Zoom classes from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

THURSDAY, FRIDAY: In-person school, 7:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., though the teenager #1 leaves school somewhere around 11:20 a.m. on Thursday because her last class of the day is a study hall.

And MARCHING BAND is Tuesday 6 to 8:30 p.m, and Wednesday, Thursday 6 to 7:30 p.m. and often Saturdays 2 to 4 p.m.

Not one single day is even similar to another. Mondays and Tuesdays are totally self-directed and then Wednesdays are super-regimented.

And then by Thursday we actually have to get up and go to school.

I spent yesterday primarily in a meeting with someone who may end up being our new editor-in-chief for the revived, repositioned and redesigned Lady Boss Magazine, a publication of the Lady Boss Women’s Entrepreneurial Club/Network.

The most recent edition in the old format came out last month. Visit it here: Lady Boss on Issuu.

We have started planning some exciting content (and I hope my new client Merri of Lucha Bella Skin Care and Body Waxing and my step mom can get involved). And something about an Italian master chef who ended up with her own shoe line???

Speaking of Merri, she’s gotten her first original content off the ground, appearing on Instagram and Facebook today:

Winter Skin Tips

So please follow Lucha Bella, and of course, me!

Soccer Music

Time to embarrass the teens!

Teenager 1 & Teenager 2 attend a small public high school with some stellar education and arts programs. They are both in marching band. #1 plays baritone and #2 plays a base drum.

Many of their peers in marching band play sports so the group has a tradition — when each sport one (or more) of their camarades have “senior night” in their respective sports, as many band members as possible cart home their instruments and go to the game to play.

Today was Senior Night in Women’s Soccer. Teen #1 boldly stepped up to play tuba parts on her baritone and carry the low brass section.

And teen #2 not only banged that drum, but she motivated the teenager #1 to go to the event. And to practice.

YouTube Videos

Practicing smoke on the water at home

Drum Line

Hang on Sloopy

Hey Baby

Educational Videographer

There are elements of every week that feel harder than the previous week.

I think I have determined that if I don’t move enough and I sit at desks and in similar circumstances my spine cannot handle it. Perhaps I am a candidate for a standing desk.

I spent yesterday cold and in pain, rotating my chores with cuddling kittens.

The teenager went with her uncle today to build a cat litter box for her room. She’s on her way home so I’m anxious to see how it went.

I was trying to determine what to do with my day when I got an email from my friend Gayle— yes, the same Gayle with whom I walk and who is designing ASPIRE to Autonomy’s annual report— “If only you lived closer…”

And me being me, I said “I’ll be right over.”

What was her dilemma?

Filming how to video mini lectures for her classes in the graphic design department at Northampton Community College.

It was fun to help her discuss magazine layout, master pages and style sheets in one video and cutting and scoring in the next.

Then we went for a walk. Gayle had new shoes she needed to break in before her 9-mile walk on Friday. And my back did just fine on the 4,000 step promenade.

Gayle has new sneakers

She took me for a walk to Fountain Hill, past the house where she used to live. We stopped to talk to Violet who used to feed all the stray cats and I noticed a pretty cool stick. And I stopped at Dunkin on the way home as the Eagles were playing so I got a $1 iced coffee.