It must be January

The gym is really crowded.

The teenager asked to go to the gym and I didn’t want to go but I went. All I did was 10 minutes on the bike. But I came and that is something.

That’s enough for me right now.

As a parent, I told the teenager I would never say no if she wanted to drag me to the gym.

My yellow budgie, Peek-a-Boo (whom we nicknamed Boo-Boo), had an episode of night fright last night and woke me up at 4:30. I had gone to bed shortly after nine, so I had trouble falling back to sleep.

I ended up doing some writing for work. When the house is still and your mind is fresh, it’s amazing how easily ideas flow. Even if it is 5 a.m.

I packed my yogurt, fruit and granola parfait for lunch, substituting some chocolate Fontina brand Christmas cookies for breakfast. Lunch didn’t happen until 1:45 so that didn’t help my fatigue.

NALA

But I got some amusing text messages when my daughter got home from school. I had set Nala up with her new toys, fresh fruit and romaine and Hulu set to hours of Sesame Street.

My daughter went to check on her, which says a lot about how far their bond has come as a week ago my teenager was afraid of Nala and vice versa.

Today I got a text that the teenager planned on offering Nala tea. This photo followed:

And it looks like Nala did not pluck today. Now Nala was also glad to see me when I got home, though we had a disagreement about where Nala was going to sit while I ate dinner.

I think Nala thought my plate was her plate. So I ended up with a pretty pointed beak stab in the middle of my middle finger.

DINNER

The teenager says she’d like to lean toward vegetarianism. So we’ve reduced the amount of meat we buy.

Last night’s dinner was homemade mozzarella that my neighbor received as a Christmas gift, spinach, a Pillsbury flaky buttermilk biscuit, two poached eggs and imitation bacon bits.

Tonight’s dinner was “Greek Night.” I made that up. It’s a mess of stuff from the cupboards. But it doesn’t qualify as vegetarian, only pescatarian.

I made a green salad of chopped romaine lettuce, two kinds of olives, the mozzarella again, and avocado. I added two prepared Greek Salads from Lidl: one a giant white bean salad and the second a tomato-based lentil salad. I also served “calamari fries” from Lidl, which are basically thick chunks of potato somehow mixed with calamari.

The teenager had her salad with light ranch dressing. I had mine with a Whole 30 approved balsamic vinaigrette. I made a salad for lunch tomorrow (but didn’t include the calamari). That’s the featured photo for this entry.

Well, now for the amazing part of this entry.

BEDTIME

Last night I tried to put Nala to bed at 6:30 and sit downstairs so she could sleep. Just like a baby, she screamed for Mommy. I returned to my room, and watched TV on my iPad in the dark just load enough so she knew I was here.

Tonight I put her to bed at 6:30, left my pink night light on, covered her and went to the gym.

When I came back an hour later, she didn’t even rustle. I’m tiptoeing around my room as not to wake her.

Goodnight, Nala.

Stream of consciousness: real talk

It’s almost 8:30 on a Saturday morning. This post will probably be babble, but I have a feeling it might resonate in a “real life” way. Like let’s not talk about Facebook perfect lives or fun on YouTube.

This is life with a teenager, a stressful job, three cats, three budgies and a Goffins cockatoo.

This is life. I have had the divorce papers in my possession for months but I just don’t want to sit down, fill them out, and file them. Not because I want to save my marriage but because it’s one more thing to do. It sometimes feels like my choices boil down to “file for divorce” or “do the dishes.” Neither situation will resolve without me taking the lead.

I can’t even articulate the chaos swirling around my head right now, let alone the chaos in it.

I have two parakeets flying around my head. One still timidly standing in his cage singing, not ready to come out. Wink, the blue budgie, has decided to eat the molding above my bedroom door (luckily not the visible side but the top) and fling chunks to the floor.

The big dumb cat raced into my room to sleep on my bed, and he looks just as perplexed as Nala does that critters are flying over head.

I did learn parrots can be potty trained. If you’re interested in that: Parront Tip: Potty Training. I also learned parrots need a lot of sleep. I should probably move my supper time to 6:30 or 7 so I can spend time with her and then put her to bed before I eat.

Today, I crawled out of bed at 6:30ish. In part, because Nala already knows when I get up for work and plucked a feather and screeched. The night before I had a bout of insomnia, not sure if it was hormones, work-stress or home stress but I only got five hours sleep. So getting seven hours last night felt magnificent.

Nala pooped on me right away, and all I had on was a t-shirt and underpants. We went to make coffee, feed the cats, and I made her tea. She pooped on me again. Time for a clean t-shirt.

I stepped on the scale and saw that I am almost back to my pre-holiday weight. I’m happy with that. I’m in a comfortable range. Now I just need to get back into routine with my weights.

I read one page of Zazi in the Metro (which I bought more than a month ago). The book club meeting is Friday. So much for that new social activity.

Booboo keeps investigating Nala. Speaking of Nala, between her and the kitten (whom the teenager now firmly believes is a boy) I think I have to cancel the trip to DC I was planning next weekend. I’m really disappointed. I know the teen can stay home and care for the pets. But it’s too soon for me to leave Nala. And I can’t take her to be boarded because that’s where I got her and she’ll think she’s been abandoned.

And I also noticed she’s not banded. Most birds are registered and have a band on their ankle. Nala does not.

Update on the kitten

So, Monday night was cold and we felt sorry for the kitten and wanted to bring him/her into the house.

The teenager had reached the point where we could briefly touch it, with a casual poke. With my daughter’s permission, I grabbed the kitten and brought him/her in the house.

He/she didn’t like that. Poor dear hissed and carried on. I wasn’t prepared for how bad he smelled. He squirmed free and hid under the Christmas tree.

The teenager played video games and went to bed.

The big cats crawled in bed with me.

In the morning, the kitten was gone. I checked all the cat hiding spaces I could think of and no cat.

And the basement door was open.

The teenager and I tore the house apart for what seemed hours. She was bereft. I felt guilty.

I made lunch.

Then we suddenly walked through the dining room and the cat was sitting on the porch looking at us.

Just like a cat. No where to be found one minute and sitting there as if he had never gone.

The teenager spent New Year’s Eve with her grandparents (and I went out for drinks with some girlfriends, something I’ve never gotten to do before).

When I got up this morning I found kitten, whom the teenager has aptly named Mistofelees, sitting inside the dollhouse. Later I found him on top of the dollhouse. And a few moments ago I found him on the windowsill.

Progress is being made.

To help with his smell, we bought some Burt’s Bees Dry Shampoo for cats. Which, of course, we tested on Big Dumb Oz.

Testing the Dry Shampoo for Cats

Just now… the kitten stalked across the porch and checked out Opie.

Kitten checks out Opie

Opie and Kitten behind couch

He eats for us

Our Animal-ventures: Finding Dogs and Nala

My daughter is still obsessive-compulsive about the new Cats movie. Since she lost a field mouse in her room last night, I suggested maybe she clean today.

Somehow I told her that if she got her room clean I would gladly take her to Cats again. Even though I would rather go to the dentist.

But that’s how much I want her room clean.

And so far she’s done five or six loads of laundry, found a pile of dishes and probably emptied the vacuum cleaner more times than she can count.

And she’s filled two 30 gallon trash bags.

I may be spending tomorrow at Cats.

My morning

I spent my morning picking up a little, hanging out with the budgies and watching the roomba vacuum.

Then I spent about 90 minutes working on my budget through April and paying bills.

I have been contemplating buying a computer so I can work from home this winter when it snows.

But it’s just so hard with the price of Apple products on the rise. I need to research some refurbs.

I thought maybe it would be fun to visit a bird store. So I googled that. Bird Mania on Emmaus Avenue.

Double Click Computers

Our first stop was Double Click Computers between Bethlehem and Nazareth. They were once the only Apple service people in the Lehigh Valley. Then the Apple Store moved in at the Lehigh Valley Mall.

My first computer was a PowerBook 165 in 1994. I’ve never owned anything but Macs. I’ve had the first Mac Mini prone to overheating. I had a Performa. I had iBooks, MacBooks, and MacBook Airs. Even the one shaped like a toilet seat. I had a G4. I had a tower with a built-in Zip drive.

I feel like I’ve had all the Mac products. I had the first Time Capsule, which also overheated. Though I never had an iMac. Or did I? I might have had a hand-me-down.

So it was fun to consider buying the new MacBook Pro. But the $1400 price tag scared me.

But they had dogs. 3 dogs.

They were a lot of fun and apparently they keep children from banging on the computer keyboards.

Next, the birds.

Bird Mania

Most of the birds we saw were sold or boarding.

There was a boarding macaw that was very adamant about screaming. And an African Grey that talked quietly. Another bird that said “whatever.” Several that shook. I don’t know whether it was anxiety or fear. A lot of singing and a lot of squawking.

I saw a green bird named Beetle and an African Grey named Dorian and thought “wait a minute.” I was at Three Birds Coffee House and Beetle and Dorian were on vacation.

“Excuse me,” I asked the staff, “are these birds from Easton?”

Sure enough, I had found where the birds were vacationing. Maybe next time the owners can let me watch them.

I wanted to see cockatiels.

But a cockatoo made a move on me.

Nala

Her name is Nala. Her feathers were a tad matted, and she had plucked herself in some spots. She kept reaching through the cage.

So the teen wanted to see if we could handle her. As in pet her.

The staff warned me that she always seemed pleasant but she wouldn’t “step up” and she bites.

But she agreed to let us try.

Nala came out and sat on her cage door and kept trying to bite me and wouldn’t “step up.” But she let me pet her and play with her. And scratch her head and under her wings.

But she kept biting me.

The teenager refused to touch her.

I noticed she had lovely orange cheeks and orange under her crown feathers.

But I had to say goodbye.

The staff person said they had a boy who was a bird whisperer and he couldn’t get anywhere with her. I took that as my solace and my consolation. Then the staff member added, “but she really seems to like you.”

Wow.

My family had a cockatoo, probably 30 years ago. So I know how demanding and needy they are. And expensive. So I asked, “how much are cockatoos going for these days?”

“Because she’s older and bites, she’s $600.”

Sorry, Nala. I’m a single mom.

The staff member gets a towel to corner her. They start this dance around all the cages. I feel terrible. I step close. Nala now will “step up.” And she perches on my shoulder.

Look at her.

So I pet her more and try to kneel by her cage. She gets on the door. Refuses to go in. And plucks out one of her white and orange chest feathers as if to say, “you can’t leave me.”

Heartbroken.

Dinner at Taco Bell

We ended up at Taco Bell. And the teenager made this funky but delicious concoction of two parts Diet Pepsi and one part Mango iced tea.

  • She had normal tacos but I ordered all my items from the value menu. I started with the spicy potato taco ($1) because it sounded intriguing, then the Frito and beef burrito ($1) because that just sounded weird, and a bean and cheese and rice burrito ($1) for protein.
  • Fritos in my burrito.
  • The spicy potato taco was really tasty. I bet it would be amazing with eggs.
  • The Friti burrito gave the soft taco just the right amount of crunch.

    After Christmas

    During the last two days I read most of the grant archive at work.

    At lunch time, I received a text from my daughter that she shouldn’t be left home alone. She saved a field mouse from our cats and built it an enclosure.

    I suggested she find one of the lids. Well, honestly I told her to put the damn thing outside but… she doesn’t listen.

    After work, I met my neighbor at Three Birds Coffee House but I was disappointed the birds were on vacation. The lemon verbena tea was delicious.

    And I came home to a house still in the throes of the Christmas Bomb, disaster from one end to the other. I picked up a bit, opened a beer and let my new roomba vacuum the kitchen.

    Gayle came for supper and we all shared a candy apple.

    Our candy apple review

    After dessert, the teen and Gayle colored the giant cardboard submarine.

    And then the teen discovered the mouse had escaped.

    Never a dull moment.

    Christmas Bomb (part 1, at home)

    Good morning and Merry Christmas to those who celebrate.

    My teenager asked me to open her presents last night so I allowed it. Why not? She’s a teenager so it spares me waiting for her to get out of bed in the morning.

    So I’m enjoying a cup of coffee, after trying to pick up all the wrappings, thinking about my friends far and wide that I miss.

    My daughter bought me these lovely winter boots, which are nice and warm and toasty but I am very glad I don’t have to test them in snow today. She also bought me penguin socks and replaced the teapot she destroyed a couple months ago.

    She melted a Le Creuset teapot. Really. She did.

    Her main Christmas presents included a calligraphy set (she’s always commenting on how she wished she could make fancier letters) and a subscription box from Universal Yums.

    Of course, there are some junky fun gifts, some candy and some activity books.

    But I didn’t expect the fun that came from these three stocking stuffers:

    Christmas Shenanigans

    Scaring the Cats

    Christmas Eve 2019

    I started my Christmas Eve morning trying to make the house presentable for my mother’s Christmas visit, but I also treasured the silence and stillness of the house.

    The teen got up early and finished her advent calendar…

    The final window

    My mom came down around 10, and the teen and I had made Pillsbury cinnamon rolls and some fancy break-and-bake cookies.

    We exchanged presents and my mom left after about 45 minutes and took the teen to her father’s apartment. Apparently, he had intended to have my mom over for a tour and despite the fact that we’ve been separated six months she still hasn’t visited.

    My day was pretty quiet. I did some laundry and loaded the dishwasher and tried to unclog the bathtub drain. At 2 pm, I realized I hadn’t really eaten so I ordered Dominoes.

    I hung out with my three budgies (they do love to fly around my head) and watched two episodes of Jonathan Maberry’s graphic novel, now a series on Netflix: V Wars. I took a writing workshop with Jonathan more than a decade ago when he had just published his first (maybe two) novel(s).

    The teenager just read my signed copy of Ghost Road Blues for her independent reading in English. She didn’t enjoy it. She then purchased his later book, Rot and Ruin, and devoured the whole tome in two days.

    VWars definitely held my interest for the episodes I watched but I think I need to turn to something more uplifting for holiday viewing.

    The teenager is with her dad and paternal grandparents.

    She should be home soon. She wore her new dogs and cats in Christmas hats sweatshirt, complete with blinking lights. We opened that gift on Saturday when my friend and very talented nail tech Beth came over to see my tree and have some wine and cookies.

    The teen’s ugly Christmas sweater

    Holidays often bring a lot of anxiety for me, and this year has had its moments. But sometimes you just have to remember to be kind to yourself and do what seems right for you and your family.