Walking, workouts and waffles

I did not work a full ten hour day any day this week. But you know what? That’s okay.

My stats on Sunday were 105%, then 98 Monday, 88 yesterday and 94 today. What happened?

I don’t know. I was in pain Monday, stiff and uncomfortable yesterday and almost fell today but caught my balance.

And then Andrew at Apex put me through legs. We did split leg squats and he got to watch my hip do the funky angles it does. And I got to feel every fiber in my knees, quads and hamstrings.

Plus, I walked more than 8,000 steps today while my legs were stiff. Well after that workout they are not stiff but jelly.

The Teenager showed one of her dog walking clients some of the neighborhood dogs and their tricks— here is the video.

And then for the final event of the day we went to Waffle House as earlier this month we had heard that August 24 was National Waffle Day.

I had a scrumptious hash brown bowl with egg, cheese and jalapeños.

We split a peanut butter blueberry waffle.

These are the moments to treasure.

Commentary #2 on Stitch Fix fashion trends, waiting for first Fix

On Monday, the Teenager should receive her first Fix. I’m tremendously excited. So much so I am annoying her. But, she is 18, and I often annoy her by existing. She received her preview yesterday, and complained about it, as she said it ruined the surprise.

She selected two or three of the eight recommended items, with my input, and left her stylist some notes. I believe it was a heavy knit sweater, a thin but soft color blocked sweatshirt and some Vigoss black shorts. She rejected the cardigans, almost chose the faux leather jacket, and liked but ignored the two pairs of boots. I think in part because I have purchased her several pairs of shoes lately.

I offered to give her my employee discount and a budget to pursue some fixes as she was recently lamenting that she hasn’t had a chance yet to develop her own style. She’s paying her own bills: car payment, food, contributing toward electric and car insurance, so I thought investing some of my monthly savings into her wardrobe would be fun.

Meanwhile, I’m watching my Stitch Fix account and the trends, waiting for my turn. Which won’t be until Valentines Day.

If you want to see my overzealous first set of trend reviews, click here.

Here are some recent outfits from my recommended trends:

Let’s break these down.

Now, I do have this dress in my favorites as it is adorable, but I find it amusing that Stitch Fix is offering me the same dress in two different colors. My soul wants the red, but I feel my style now is more black. The black would give me the freedom to accessorize with a vibrant scarf, a bright purse like the one in the photo or any pair of shoes I own.

I love this ensemble— and I could even walk in the shoes. The dress is fairly heavy, too, so it should have some great drape when worn and offer some warmth.

This dress looks amazing but it’s really short and I’m not sure my middle-aged mom bumps could pull it off. I love those animal print shoes but I don’t think I can wear them so I perused the other styling options— boots, a necklace and motorcycle jacket? That is definitely awesome.

I don’t like this outfit. I like the theory— and the jacket is the one my friend Joan received in the video below. It looks nice on Joan, but I don’t like the fabric. The little green shirt looks good in the photo and seems to look good on people, but it’s just weird when you see it. The shoes are funky and I don’t like them. But the outfit might be nice.

And finally two outfits that would probably be perfect for my current lifestyle. One note: I want that mustard sweater.

Here is the video of Joan and I unboxing her recent fix:

The Teenager is already dreading when I submit her to something similar.

A yummy Tuesday

Tuesday already. If I had not taken voluntarily time off this week, I would be three-quarters of the way through my work week and asleep in preparation of my last day before the weekend.

Instead I slept until a leisurely 6 a.m., did some kitchen cleaning and some laundry while I waited for my coffee to brew.

I did some work on my own essay for the As the FURR Flies cat fundraising anthology — “The Unfortunate Cat Bite Hospital Vacation.”

Spoke with the teenager and headed to visit Gayle, the Parisian Phoenix Art Director, and my longstanding (and upstanding) friend. First I had to remove a tire toy the dog inserted into my purse. We had plans to scan the ink cartoon our friend Rachel had done for the anthology.

Then we went for a walk. I told Gayle not a long walk as my right hip just didn’t feel right and I felt like I had to march to avoid tripping myself. That I had not only fallen on Sunday night, but out of the damn bathtub while taking a shower yesterday.

I bought her a beverage at Déjà Brew, an eclectic local coffee shop/cafe, and nearly fell on my face because the damn floor has a massive bubble down the whole thing. I can’t even describe how huge and high this ridge was. I felt like someone had parked a tree under the tables.

Lunch was pita with hummus and harissa. Then the teenager went to visit a housebound senior to try and help her clean up a bit.

When we finished, I took the teenager to the auto parts store where the Amazon driver left her new Apple Pencil, bought us both discount Diet Cokes at McDonalds and then we headed to a place she’s wanted to visit for a long time— Exotic Dreams and Lingerie— and their neighbor. We bought some anatomically styled sour patch candies and let’s just say our dress form Esther might be donning some knotted red ropes in the future.

When we got home, I unboxed my new calendar: Video of unboxing Silk & Sonder August 2022.

The teenager went to work and I finished my story for the cat book and attended a library meeting. Then the teen made a magnificent hamburger dinner with homemade garlic parmesan gourmet fries.

And we attended a foster meeting via Facebook.

To end the night, the teenager broke an ancient ceramic bowl and I dropped a mason jar very painfully on my toe wrestling with the dog gate.

We’re both pretty exhausted tonight.

Tidbits that made me happy today

I helped my baby, The Teenager, buy a 2012 Nissan Rogue
We stopped at our local Target, where I worked for nearly a decade in the cafe. The store, 2536, is in the midst of a rather tasteless remodel. The cafe sink is in the parking lot. I haven’t worked there for three years now, but man… did the memories come back. I pulled my car next to the fence, put on my flashers and snapped this photo.

Making granola and buying a car

I often joke that I have spent many lives in other time periods— someone once randomly told me I had a soul that belonged to the 1950s and I think maybe I was a hungry child during the Great Depression.

You see, I don’t let food go to waste. I have used for all the leftovers. Like the mini pretzels from the Philly Pretzel Factory at her graduation party? I let them dry out for a couple days and then ran them through the Ninja food processor to make bread crumbs.

And today I poured hot water into the honey jar to get all the honey from the sides of the jar and poured the water into my pitcher of extra strong home-brewed iced tea.

I also made homemade granola. Now you might ask what does homemade granola have to do with saving food from being wasted?

This is an old blog post on my food blog where I chronicled every meal I ate for seven years discussing granola.

The teenager and I are in the middle of reorganizing the kitchen and tackling a lot of home improvement projects. I cleaned and rearranged the cupboards yesterday and found a lot of ingredients that were old and could make granola.

  • Extra unopened containers of traditional oats
  • Raisins
  • Dried blueberries that I don’t remember buying… ever
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Nut mixes and random small bags of no-carb trail mix

So, I made granola.

And then I went to Lipsky Cars with the teenager to test drive vehicles. And with me as her co-signer, the teenager has her first auto loan.

What did she drive?

Three 2012 vehicles: the Nissan Rogue, a Subaru Forester and a Honda Crosstour. The Crosstour had some really amazing features and a spicy engine.

Tomorrow we pick up the vehicle. And the handyman comes to look at the ceiling from the flood.

But I’m not going to tell you which car she picked. Tune in tomorrow!

Chicken McNuggets and Monday morning car accidents

Yesterday was my first day working with a custom splint on my mallet finger instead of a cast. And it went really well— except for the times I put my splint back on the outside of my hand instead of the inside. And I went to apply fresh tape and the nurse at work wanted to help.

All-in-all, I achieved a new record (for me) in Freestyle, shipping I believe 574 items or 115% of the 500 item goal for a 10-hour shift. And that includes 15 minutes I spent trying to find a work station that was operational. If you subtract that as official “non-production time” it might be damn close to 116%.

Today, a Monday, with the traditional Monday through Friday people at work, I was assigned to a different table in QC, my regular department. It was a table just a smidgeon higher than the table I worked at last week and the line was on the left instead of the right.

This is the first time since my return-to-work in late May that I have worked on the left. In one way, it’s nice because I have been having issues with the stability of my walk and control in my right leg, so working on the left means I can use my left side more.

But working on the left side means I’m shoving all those boxes with my injured hand and after two hours the cuticle area under my nail on my injured finger is tender and really red. Despite this, at one point this morning, I reached 118%.

But then I got a call from The Teenager. She rear-ended someone in her father’s 2022 Kia SUV. The car he bought after he rear-ended someone in late December and totaled his beloved 2016 Nissan Juke.

She’s fine. It was raining and she misjudged how long it would take her to stop in the wet. The car looked driveable, but when she tried it started leaking fluid and overheating. So, she called AAA to tow it.

I left work early. At four hours into my shift, I think I had QCed 69 fixes, and goal for that specific time of day is 65. That’s with going out to my car to get info for my daughter, calling her father, and similar nonsense.

I was listening to an episode of business wars, the podcast, or was it The History Channel’s The Food that Built America and the history of Burger King vs. McDonald’s and the invention of the Chicken McNugget.

Now I distinctly remember the debut of the Chicken McNugget, which, according to the podcast, became available at all McDonalds in 1983.

I was eight. Probably riding around with my mom in her 1979 Camaro (black). We lived in a very rural area in Pennsylvania’s Slate Belt. The closest actual town was Portland, Pa., which I feature in my first novel, Manipulations (and if you are interested you can buy it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble.com, or at Bookshop.org here — the Bookshop price includes shipping and designates a portion of the profit to an independent bookseller of your choice).

Anyway, we had a very small supermarket in Portland so my mom would do most of her family shopping in Stroudsburg, Pa., the gateway to the Pocono Mountains. If she were shopping at Kmart for clothes or household items or at Shoprite for our groceries, we would often stop at Burger King where the delight would be a cheeseburger and some onion rings.

But if we had to go to the Stroud Mall, McDonald’s was across the street. So we want to McDonald’s. I didn’t like McDonald’s — they put onions on their burgers and I don’t like onions. So, eight-year-old me was very excited for these Chicken McNuggets. If my mom was in a good mood, I could order a Chicken McNugget Happy Meal. Which— in the eighties— came with six nuggets in a styrofoam container. And of course, I only liked the barbecue sauce.

So the podcast got me thinking about McDonald’s in general especially since I worked at a McDonald’s (a very busy McDonald’s) from the summer I graduated high school until the August after I graduated college.

We made $5.25/hour in the late 1990s. A full-time employee made $200/week. And we got one meal per shift. I ate a lot of McChicken sandwiches.

I’m thinking about McDonald’s and listening to Conan O’Brian and Andrew Gurza (not together although that would be amazing), when I get the phone call with the teenager in tears.

“Mom, I rear-ended someone in Dad’s new car.”

This was her first car accident. It’s a rainy day here and she misjudged how far she needed to stop. And she didn’t want to slam on her brakes harder and lose control of the car.

At first, she and the police officer who responded thought the car was driveable. It started leaking what looked like antifreeze and overheated. So the officer called AAA.

I told my Stitch Fix supervisors the situation and asked to leave.

The teenager told me she was on a side street “out by Target” “by the library” and I misinterpreted her and went to the wrong town.

The teenager texted me a photo of the nearest intersection and I realized my mistake and turned around.

A very kind officer waited with her and I drove her to the dog walking client she had been driving to when the accident happened.

And then I grabbed us lunch at McDonald’s because their triple cheeseburger is my favorite sandwich on the menu and I couldn’t get it out of my mind.

New season: the teenager is now a young adult

It’s over.

I walked into the house after the gym today and I was met with empty rooms, deflating balloons, empty pizza boxes and cake crumbs.

The teenager is with a client. The guests have gone, even the one that drove a distance and stayed overnight.

Throughout the teenager’s life, she frequently lamented that she was the youngest in the class snd never had a birthday during the school year. That inconvenient June birthday.

But yesterday she was able to gather people who celebrated her and had seen her grow and wanted to marvel in who she was as a person, as a young adult, for a graduation/birthday party.

She wanted pizza From Nicolosi’s in Forks Township and pretzel nuggets and dip from the Pretzel Company. (And I think out friends will be patronizing Nicolosi’s now— several of their flights with the pieces cut in half is a great way to spoil guests.)

She wanted to bake her own cakes and decorate them, which she did.

She wanted to play Cards Against Humanity. And we did.

The party started with a raucous discussion of the Hess’s Department Store and ended with promises of homemade pie.

And the dog only ate a small chunk of the red velvet cake.

The teenager is now a high school graduate and soon she will no longer be a teenager. She will be the young adult or the offspring or some other nickname, but she will always be my pride and joy.

So much of parenting is learning, slowly, to step aside and let your child grow into her/his own person. To be mindful and humble and supportive without smothering. To be proud, but subtle. To encourage and guide, but not nag.

And to trust.

To trust your parenting. Your child. And that young person’s decisions.

And seeing that child grown— the love that pours out of you… eventually you might feel like a deflated balloon and then that child does something that makes you float once again.

I will always be my daughter’s mother, but the bulk of the intense, hands-on work is done.

And so today, Curly led us in making an infused oil of basil, lavender and sea salt to bless ourselves and my home with positivity.

It’s all part of the cycle— especially for women— maiden, mother, crone. I guess I might have to transition to the crone phase now.

Pain and performance (and a high school graduation!)

So first things first— let’s embarrass the teenager.

She graduated from high school Friday night. (Above, pictured, left to right: me, her father, her, her paternal grandfather and grandmother and my stepmom)

The weekend that followed included several dinners with family members and we have a party planned later this week.

The other updates:

  • I have been killing it in the gym. My plank time is more than a minute now. My strength is improving and for the first time ever, I did exercises with a 30-lb dumbbell.
  • It’s been seven weeks since I got my first cast to treat my mallet finger. Two more weeks until it comes off. Remember that when I mention that I am hitting milestones like the one mentioned above.
  • I hit the goal for Freestyle on Sunday at work in the Bizzy Hizzy. I shipped 500 items in, if I remember correctly, 363 packages. What makes that amazing is that we also had a one-hour training — so 500 items is the goal for a full day. Taking the training into account, that puts me at 110% for that day.
  • Yesterday and today I worked at the same left side table in QC. Even with pushing boxes to the left with a bum finger, I did 166 fixes yesterday (102%) and 169 today. (104%).
  • But here’s the weird part— i was in pain but it didn’t impact my movement. I started each day extremely stiff and with a little bit of back pain, but not in the low or upper back, in between. And as I eased into my shift, my hip hurt deep in the socket, up near my groin, but in the front in a very small but specific spot. And my quad would feel intense pain that sometimes went into my knee but for the most part didn’t. Tylenol doesn’t help. It gradually subsided over two hours. It happened in exactly the same way today.
  • I combat this my paying extra close attention to all my movements. I plant my feet on the floor and hold my core and glutes tight. I force out my toes and my knees and as I move my body to retrieve clothes below my waist I bend with my hips and stretch them. Is this what helps? Is something out of whack (like my femur) and stiff by morning and I force it back into position?
  • In very sad news, Charles Ticho, the nonagenarian author who penned the Parisian Phoenix book Stops Along the Way died today. I will be addressing this soon on the Parisian Phoenix blog.

Off to a great start: fitness, prom & birthday

Yesterday was my birthday— I didn’t make any plans as money is tighter than usual with my leave from work and last night was the teenager’s senior prom.

So first the pre-prom photos:

The sky bestowed upon us a thunderstorm, a few booms, the rain itself vacillating between a steady but manageable rate and a deluge.

Our family tradition dictates that every photo occur in from of the rose bush and neighborhood tradition requires a pose in front of Little Dog Sobaka’s rhododendron. But the weather had other plans.

We did, however, improvise.

Joan, who looked even smaller beside the platform-stiletto-clad teenager in red, visited us to enjoy cake (as she has a May birthday too) and to fulfill the teenager’s wish to have her take the official photos.

This is one.

Photo by Joan Zachary

The teenager wanted a mother-daughter shot.

The teenager had ordered a custom dress for prom but it didn’t arrive in time. Instead, she wore a dress that had languished in the back of my closet (never worn) for at least a decade. The dry cleaner had ruined the rhinestone strap so she had her grandmother replace it with black sequins to match the glittery shoes she found in a thrift store years ago.

Our regular nail tech had retired from the industry in deference to professional employment, but the teenager approached her about maybe doing them one last time.

Which the response was yes, and she was kind enough to give the teenager a full set of acrylics and a gel mani on her patio.

The local newspaper had shots posted before the kids even got home.

I spent the evening eating chocolate cake, dabbling in creative writing, responding to birthday wishes (which did not include any from my mother, nor has she responded to any of my texts since May 10), reading and testing new-to-me television programs like Hulu’s Candy and Lifetime’s Mary Kills People.

And I washed it all down with a Fresca. How is that for a middle-aged party of one-plus-dog.

This morning, the start of my new year on planet Earth included a trip to Apex Training.

I have had the pleasure of living in the same neighborhood for almost 20 years, and most of my neighbors have been here for that 20 years.

One of my neighbors exited his house as I left my door at 9:30 a.m. and we had a lovely chat about not falling down, my ruptured tendon and my gym.

The neighbor concluded the conversation by saying “it must be working” as I looked “stronger” but I think he meant healthier— which made me think…

Although I have not lost weight and I have not lost fat or inches, I have gained strength and range of motion. I did a 48 second plank as my baseline today, so I look forward to future growth. And despite my hand injury, I was nailing dumbbell shoulder rows at 25 pounds.

My goals are doable if I get my stress and binge eating under control.

The quasi-whim of Friday the 13th tattoos

I think it was Wednesday when I started seeing tattoo specials for Friday the 13th. One post on Facebook had intriguing flash— so I looked up the location. It was half a block from my gym and three blocks from my house.

I have wanted a Friday the 13th tattoo for quite some time. And I promised the teenager custom mother-daughter tattoos for her 16th birthday but between the pandemic and her age, it didn’t happen.

So I asked if they would tattoo my girl who turns 18 next month.

And the answer was yes.

I asked her— she was interested.

This is not a replacement for our custom mother-daughter tattoo, but it was my third and the teenager’s first tattoo.

She wanted the potion bottle that says “try me” and I couldn’t decide if I wanted to honor my own strength during my recent trials— and get the sword on my upper hip—or get the Zippo lighter in honor of my dad.

My dad died five months ago this coming Sunday and he smoked for almost sixty years. My husband and I toured the Zippo factory.

How better to celebrate and remember my own strength than to have a tattoo honoring my father?

And I inadvertently put it near where my name and birthday were on his arm. At least I think.

I also took three foster cats to the vet and lived to tell the tale. On Friday the 13th, I got a tattoo close to the anniversary of my father’s death by an artist nicknamed “Psycho Mike.”

It was a fabulous session and two fabulous tattoos at The Tattoo Factory in Easton, Pa.