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.

Health update Thursday?

This post may not be the most exciting as I sit here stinky after a small home workout— smelling the petroleum heavy heat of asphalt. But it is a hopeful post. My roses sit heavy with blooms, and the first flowers have opened behind the bush.

Such a metaphor for life. The whole “bloom where you are planted” concept.

I have been working hard— like I want to stop, I want to vomit, my muscles burn. Andrew at Apex Training has been amazing, helping me stretch and challenge spastic muscles in my lower body.

I have had two days now with no hip or back pain, and I can drop into bed and lie anyway I want.

My weight has been up and down thank to Taco Bell and Mothers’ Day cake and ice cream and generic Takis.

But I went for my check-up bloodwork yesterday, and the phlebotomist told me my insurance doesn’t cover vitamin D unless my doctor codes it a deficiency. We skipped that, but my ferritin has risen from 28, just barely in the normal range, to 36. Still far from the middle of normal but rising.

That might be my theme for right now— rising.

And my bad cholesterol, which should be under 100, has fallen from 109 to 107. Again, not a huge leap, but progress. Progress made during a difficult, difficult time of my life.

My pill dispenser has made it easier to take all my vitamins and allergy meds. And I started the process of putting myself back on a low dose of Lexapro,

Maybe it will help.

My personal cat, Fog, decided to love me today. And I wrote a poem about buying my new socks from the Dollar Tree.

The teenager has been nursing an ear infection all week so between that and the roses bloominfection, spring has really sprung.

She returned to school today.

Today I made a leftover sandwich— some old smoked Turkey, slightly wilted lettuce and my coleslaw mix stirred into chipotle mayonnaise.

I spent the morning with my blind friend, Nan, and took her for her bloodwork.

Came home and the dog came out just in time to see that the paving crew had Taco Bell for lunch.

My trainer asked to reschedule my session today, so I told him I would do something at home.

This was my half-assed work out. My trainer asked me to select exercises and do them with intent, and instead I fought with the dog, picked some exercises I thought would move the important parts and retain the ground I made versus improve. Here is a video.

I also received a payment from my short-term disability insurance through work, and I’m grateful as this is giving me time to strengthen myself and recovery from my mallet finger. Hopefully, this will prevent further “domino effect” on my health. I see the neuro-physiatrist at the end of the month.

I’m curious what she will have to say, and I’m thinking this may be the end of my quest for answers about my cerebral palsy.

Our Ostara Celebration

For the last 24 hours, the teenager and I celebrated the arrival of spring with my college roommate, Curly, so nicknamed by my now deceased father.

The visit allowed us to be something akin to a spiritual family unit— as the teenager has a godmother type relationship with Curly that has fallen to the wayside for the last decade plus, but if grief and death can have a good side, it allowed Curly and I to reconnect.

The three of us are not quite a coven, as we are too informal and not the Wiccan type, but our pagan witchy souls share beliefs, energy and a history with tarot cards.

Compounding this holiday celebration (as the teenager called it) was the fact that the teenager had a robotic baby for the weekend as part of her childcare and development class.

Upon Curly’s arrival, we chatted and got as organized as we ever do and then went for a walk at the Karl Stirner Arts Trail with the baby and F. Bean Barker.

We, or shall I say the teenager and Curly, then consumed a ridiculous amount of sushi and related products at Jasmine Sushi Hibachi and Thai.

And then fighting a fish-induced coma and a crying plastic baby, we parted ways for the evening to meet again in the morning. Curly baked blueberry muffins while the teenager and I met up with Andrew at Apex Training so I could challenge my lower body and do some bench press. The teenager maintained her 95-pound bench press, while I, the old and feeble, peaked somewhere at 80 or 85.

Me, the robotic baby, and the real baby and Greg at Apex

What does any of this have to do with Ostara and the vernal equinox? Throughout the evening we had talked about intentions and goals. Today we set them.

For all of us, the themes became clear. Spring is the time to blossom— to take the intentions we had set earlier and make them bear fruit. Our goals involved relationships, health, creativity and balance. Those are all very strong “spring” ideas.

We took the baby for a walk downtown and I had so much fun exploring downtown Easton with an outsider’s eye and celebrating so many of my favorite spots. From the teenager’s favorite shops, to new stores, to old stand-bys like Mercantile Home, Bella’s Dog Cafe, Three Birds Coffee House, Carmelcorn and Easton Public Market.And we dipped deeper into other places like Smartivities and saw art by some of our favorite artists.

With thousands of steps under our belt, we returned to my house for a feast of leftovers (and despite more than 7,000 steps IN HEELS I was still going strong with no pain).

And we settled down for our ritual.

And at one point I asked Curly if the rooster could join our ritual and she said yes. After all, chickens are very symbolic of spring themes.

The energy was powerful in the room, and the ritual allowed me to reset and focus some ideas.

And when it was done— we shared chocolate dipped potato chips from Carmelcorn and macaroons from Cocodiem.

We shared passion fruit, crème brûlée, honey lavender, dark chocolate, pistachio and Earl grey. Very delightful.

Rainy Icy Friday

I don’t have many plans this weekend— defined by my work schedule as Thursday, Friday and Saturday— in part because my body has been unpredictable, the weather has been crazy and the teenager’s work schedule varies.

I went to the chiropractor at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, leaving work 30 minutes early to get the last appointment of the day. I wanted Dr. Jensen to see my body after four ten-hour shifts in Stitch Fix’s Bizzy Hizzy warehouse.

And, for the second or third week in a row, I could barely crawl home on Tuesday night but felt pretty good on Wednesday. So I feel like I’m not getting closer to solutions to my physical issues.

Yesterday I tried to do some work for Parisian Phoenix, did a lot of laundry, visited briefly with a friend I’ve missed and haven’t seen merely enough of, taught a high school student how to write a press release, watched several episodes of Cobra Kai, ran the dishwasher and went to the gym.

The teenager working on her squat form

The teenager did a lot of work on her squat form while I did some accessory work. I also weighed myself— 157 lbs. Sigh. Still 20 pounds overweight.

Then we had Taco Bell, including the new Cinnabon balls.

Today I worked on the index for the Parisian Phoenix nonfiction anthology on marginalized identities, Not an Able-Bodied White Man with Money, which I will be blogging about on the Parisian Phoenix web site later tonight. F. Bean Barker was my helper.

Indexing is only half complete and man does it allow me to interact with the text in new ways.

Louise has an appointment with a potential adopter tomorrow and today she was quite cuddly, video here. I don’t know how she’ll do in the backroom of PetSmart but all least we’ll be with her.

Nala and Louise

In the afternoon, I accompanied the teenager to her audiologist appointment for a tune-up on her hearing aids.

Then we went for shoes. The teenager needed some and I wanted to buy a warmer pair that fit more loosely — hoping that would ease the blistering and burning in my toes.

The teenager got new black Vans and a new design, the orange blossom Vans.

We ran into Target just to use the bathroom and I told the pouty teenager we could get a drink at Sonic. But turns out Sonic is still drive through only, so if you can’t have drive-in service what’s the point of visiting Sonic?

So we went to Sheetz, and had appetizers. Which would have been fine if the teenager hadn’t suggested going to see her grandmother, my mother-in-law. And her aunt— who recently destroyed her elbow falling on the ice.

We’re finishing Captain America: Civil War right now. The ice is slowly building up outside as the cold rolls into town. And Peter Parker just made his debut in the series.

The first day of adieu

I spent most of my morning trying to be practical and do what needs to be done. And maybe get some breakfast before heading to my father’s viewing.

My morning coffee companion

The teenager went to her morning job— a cat sitting visit— and then had breakfast with her father and my college roommate.

I finally forced myself to eat an egg with some kale.

And I found myself sitting quietly.

Struggling to find shoes that fit.

We drove up to the funeral home and met my aunt and my uncle’s widow and her family. My older sister and her husband came next. And then my stepmom and her sister (and her extended family).

My uncle’s widow thanked me for my recent writings as they helped her adjust to the reality that my father has left his earthly life.

(Later, my stepmom’s nephew hugged me and his wife told me how beautiful some of my recent writings and reflections have been.)

Together, we entered the funeral home. And the funeral director apologized for being in her slippers, but honestly it brought me a sense of home.

We walked into the chapel, and my dad was surrounded with red and white roses and celebrated with so many flowers from friends, relatives and colleagues (some of whom even signed his nicknames for them instead of their given names).

Photos everywhere.

  • Photo 1: On the top, that’s a photo of my dad and his older brother, Earl Ivan Jr. or “Skippy.” The photo on the bottom right is my dad on microstock race night with my nephew holding the now teenager as a baby.
  • Photo 2: My dad holding the now teenager at the West End Fair, at the tractor pull. It was my first outing with the baby on my own. She was about 8 weeks old.
  • Photo 3: I had to take a photo to remind me of how peaceful Dad looked, with a slight smirk like he got the last joke. He just needed a remote and some pretzels. The teenager said before he passed on Wednesday morning, she could feel his reluctance to leave us, but the calm when he did.
  • Photo 4: My stepmom and my aunt, the last remaining sibling
  • Photo 5: the teenager and her dad
My brother and his dog

My mother came and said some nice things to my stepmom, thanking her for always being nice to myself and the now teenager, and my stepmom said we are easy to love.

My friends and Parisian Phoenix staff — Gayle and Joan— came. (And the whole day was a theatrical farce of people coming and going and not seeing each other.)

My college roommate slipped out with the teenager’s dad to grab sandwiches.

And my in-laws not only came but my mother-in-law, at my request, made chicken and potato salad and brought many other goodies. Including Memmy’s fruitcake and Uncle Lee’s baked beans.

It was a long afternoon — and people kept leaving things in Dad’s casket: cigarettes, a Harley Davidson hat, flowers, a racing patch.

I wonder what tomorrow will bring.

Solstice magick

Before my father’s unexpected passing on Wednesday, the teenager had hoped to celebrate Yule instead of Christmas.

Today is the full moon before the winter solstice. We are approaching the celebration of the birth of the sun, who will, as the time comes, restore life to the Earth.

And today is the day my college roommate arrived for my dad’s funeral. My dad always called her curly.

But within moments of her arrival, I realized— she came to support me and rekindle our friendship now that our children older, but the universe sent her to share her energy with the teenager. Curly had a vibe that the teenager needed. I could feel the difference in the energy of the room and knew that Curly had brought peace.

After all, Curly was one of the women present for the teenager’s one year birthday ritual where she promised to help guide the teenager.

And tonight she did. And it was the perfect time for it.

We spent the night reading tarot cards and charging crystals and telling stories of our ridiculous past together— Curly, the teenager’s father and I— and then Curly went to spend the night in the teenager’s room in her father’s apartment.

It was the grounding and the relief we needed before tomorrow.

*i know the actual solstice is December 21, but to me, the full moon is the start of that celebration,


In other news:

  • I received another gorgeous bouquet, this one from my friends at Mary Meuser Memorial Library.
  • Brigid of the Celtic Pride got adopted today!!!
  • Nala the Goffins Cockatoo got so mad that I wasn’t to bed on time that she broke out of her cage, broke Yo the parakeet out of his cage, and stole his cage and wouldn’t let him back in.
  • Our cat foster godmother stopped by and actually socialized with Touch of Grey— the cat who terrifies her. ToG has come so far! She is 90% normal, friendly cat.
  • William Prystauk released his fourth novel in the Kink Noir series, Bondage.
  • Gayle, my partner at Parisian Phoenix, wrote a fascinating blog post about 2021 book projects.

Nobody gives a sh*t, in a good way

I intended today’s post to be about my medical appointments, but grief and death have a way of sneaking into everything.

So, let me start this post by saying I’ve been released from physical therapy and let’s hope I do yoga and more weight training to improve more and free myself or even more pain.

I haven’t been to the gym in two weeks because first came the schedule change, then my trainer got sick and then my dad died.

My dad, visiting the teenager at her waitressing job

Today, my college roommate reached out to say she would drive up from Baltimore if I needed her. And I started to weep in the parking lot of physical therapy, because she and I have been extremely sporadic in our contact since we graduated. I never even told her when the teenager’s father and I split up.

I did finally tell her, but only after she sent a Christmas card.

So many people have been kind in the wake of my father’s death, but to have such an act of kindness offered just hit me hard.

And then, as I have often since we met with the funeral home, I checked for his obituary. This time, I found it.

Daddy’s Obituary

Now it could just be I’m grieving and therefore have a lower IQ than usual— I somehow got the dog’s bowls stuck together— but it is a little tricky to navigate the options on my phone to see the obituary.

And finally, my daughter looked at me this morning and said, “you know how you always say that my generation has an easier time with body acceptance… for me, that wasn’t social media or TikTok or anything, it was Poppop. He never said anything when I started gaining weight, and if I said something, he’d say, ‘Nobody gives a sh*t. Fat, skinny, you’re still my grandkid.’”

And he’d know how to get those damn bowls unstuck.

Nobody gives a sh*t. Fat, skinny, you’re still my grandkid.

Jim Ackerman, “Poppop on the Mountain.”

Joy and Sorrow

Since my father died yesterday… yesterday… (it feels like a lifetime ago and at the same time like maybe it didn’t happen at all), I thought it might be wise to keep today quiet.

I canceled my appointment at the gym, as I feel a little drained and shaky from all the emotion yesterday and I know I didn’t eat right.

I started to get dressed and ended up merely putting on a clean t-shirt with my fuzzy cat-in-the-hat pajama pants.

I read more memories people sent me— so many people knew my father. My mother stopped by. My neighbor stopped.

I started laundry. I did dishes. I got out the broom and swept for a while.

I found the pendant my father gave me, engraved with “my little girl yesterday, my friend today, my daughter always, I love you.” It’s on a silver chain that’s tarnished with age with my Celtic knot charm and my amber.

I mopped the kitchen floor. I answered texts and talked on the phone.

I ordered a case of Parisian Phoenix’s next title— Twists: Gathered Ephemera— a poetry manuscript by Darrell Parry, father of the teenager who has been, as always, very helpful and dependable.

I invited my blind friend Nan over for dinner, as she loves to watch me cook and I figured by feeding her I would, in turn, feed the teenager and I.

She accepted.

So while I waited for the teenager to return from school, I wrapped her Christmas presents. The teenager would also swing by Nan’s apartment building.

It was a ridiculously warm, sunny December day and I opened the windows so the cats could frolick.

And when Eva and Nan arrived, we brought Nan to the kitchen and I cooked pork loin, chicken burgers and pre-seasoned pulled chicken. While I cooked, the teenager opened her Christmas presents.

With the holidays fast approaching, and Yule is one of those holidays, I thought she might need some of the items I gave her. I also thought Nan might enjoy watching her open her presents. The teenager works a lot in coming weeks as people travel to see family. Today seemed calmer.

And I thought we could superimpose some joy onto our sorrow and grief.

I packed up leftovers for Nan to take home. Nan and I had soft tacos.

And after dinner, I poured Nan a County Seat Spirits whiskey and water while I had a Yuengling. And we celebrated with a drink in my dad’s honor.

And Nan always makes the teenager and I laugh.

And the neighbor that visited earlier, little dog’s mom, returned with the fanciest chocolate covered pretzels I ever saw. She made them at work and thought we could enjoy them with family after the viewing on Sunday.

Daddy, I promise to seek laughter and joy when I miss you.

Let’s Be Average Today

I am in my 40s, and struggling with the effects of a life of always walking crooked thanks to cerebral palsy, a disability I have but, until recently, have known nothing about.

And issues in my spine, while not serious, are affecting my mobility and causing me pain.

But today— in part because we only worked until 7:30 pm at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy— I woke up well rested, only minimally stiff and only minimally hurting. At 8 am no less.

Our charming mutt F. Bean Barker refused to go to bed in the teenager’s room last night because one of our fosters, a former community cat named Georgie, intimidated her. Bean expected me to let her sleep in my room and when I said no she retreated to her crate in the living room. So I let her spend the night. I have spent a lot of time with this dog in the last 24 hours.

I tied a rope around her tire toy gifted to her by my trainer, Dan, at Apex Training and now it’s the best toy ever. See video here.

I was the first one out of bed which meant a swarm of hungry cats outside my door, and I couldn’t keep them all at bay. It was easier to let them in. But our foster Mars totally knows how to knock over the birdcage. Which he did. While I was on the phone with my blind friend Nan and consuming my first cup of coffee.

Nan recently started physical therapy for an issue in her shoulder causing pain and finger numbness. The physical therapist had never worked with a blind client before and was a quick study. He even discovered that some of Nan’s issue might be mobility issues in her neck— because when you’re blind you don’t have many reasons to turn your head or look up and down.

Finally, things settle down and while the parakeet is out he is safe. The teenager and I head to Apex where she gets that barbell and deadlifts 135 lbs. I still felt good at that point.

I came home, showered, and filmed this silly video with Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo.

And then the matriarch from la Familia Velez stopped by and brought me chili which I had for a late breakfast and we talked about marketing for my Fashion and Fiends books. And my goals for Parisian Phoenix in general.

She left, and I finished proofing Darrell Parry’s soon-to-be released poetry book. I placed a few more essays in the nonfiction identity anthology.

And the poor teenager has had a hectic and exhausting couple days— so I cooked.

She has options for dinner when she returns from the diner. She’s given notice at the diner as she has accepted employment with a local pet care company.

First I made sausage and peppers to put over spaghetti.

Then I also made the Purple Carrot Peanut Tofu Stir Fry which I jazzed up with some edamame and sesame sticks.

Mostly I am just sitting around marveling at how pain free I feel. I miss that.

Halloween 2021

As I write this, I am mourning the loss of having finished The Night Shift on Netflix. I am imbibing some generic strawberry lemonade energy drinks strongly laced with too much gin. I am craving potato chips, cuddling my cat Fog, and nursing my injuries from the day.

But perhaps I need to back up…

The photos above summarize my Halloween.

At 11 a.m., we had an appointment for Danu and her babies from the Celtic Pride— Aîné, Baile and Brigid and our newest foster, Georgie, to meet our foster cat godmother for shots, flea treatment, dewormer and microchip and OH MY GOODNESS was Georgie dramatic.

Then the teenager had a commitment to walk in the local Halloween parade and she asked me yesterday to walk with her as she paraded in costume. I will do anything my daughter asks.

And half way through the parade, I fell flat on my face to the collective gasp of the crowd. I rise, keep walking, hip and knee in pain. But I keep going.

#f*ckcerebralpalsy.

I finished the parade. Outside the teenager’s high school. Her father and herself know that the fact that I finished the parade did not mean I was okay as I have been known to do things like walk a Chinese buffet with a broken ankle.

My knee is swollen. I tripped over a mirror late in the day that struck me in the tender parts.

My back hurts.

I am craving potato chips as my body adjusts to the Mirena.

My princess, the male cat I jokingly named Fog, is curled up next to me. He is my baby.

The teenager’s dad came over and they carved pumpkins and I typed some of a manuscript for the identity anthology. We handed out candy and even the dog got to enjoy trick-or-treat.

I ordered Wawa for dinner— the teenager’s favorite ranch Mac and cheese, chicken Caesar salad and pierogie quesadilla and Blizzards from Dairy Queen for dessert.

Tomorrow the teenager is consulting a cleaning woman to take some of the stress off me.