Cute animal photos and mallet finger impact

It’s the end of April and it was 35 degrees last night. The price of oil continues to skyrocket and I’m still heating my house halfway through spring.

The cold does not help the poor circulation in my hands which has intensified in my left hand because my mallet finger restricts my movement.

My hands are painfully cold, except when Andrew is making me curse him in my head at Apex Training. Today was leg day, and I was so tired that when I came home and let the dog out I turned around and lost my balance and slammed right into the brick wall between my mud room and my kitchen.

Nala, my six-year-old Goffin’s cockatoo, started shaking and plucking her feathers today. Nothing in her environment has changed except the neighbor’s dog has been barking nonstop all day. The teenager believes his distress causes her anxiety.

Speaking of the teenager, she made this thick chocolate chip cookie/blondie dessert that I topped with ice cream that Sobaka’s mom brought home from Penn State when we dog sat last weekend.

Before the teenager brought home our dog, I would never criticize a dog owner, but now that I see the difference between different dog care styles, I feel back for dogs that aren’t spoiled like Sobaka and Bean.

And I don’t know how Sobaka’s mom does it— that dog is a bed hog.

But now an update on my mallet finger:

  • Stitch Fix has been amazing. Because my specialist at OAA took a week to return my paperwork and then didn’t properly fill it out, the onus was on me to find jobs I could do to not hurt myself. It turned out I can QC just fine— I hit 92% just fine.
  • But here’s the thing… my specialist knows hands, he doesn’t know me. I don’t think he heard me when I said I have cerebral palsy and that I work 10 hours a day in a warehouse. I’m just not sure that environment is safe for me right now,
  • Why do I say this? Because this week drove home to me how much I rely on my left side for stability. By forcing me to work 90% on the right, I am struggling to keep my right hip in place.
  • I am so stiff by the end of the work day. I also end up pinching and slamming my right fingertips and by the end of the day my left fingers I can use are swollen and sore.
  • And I fold 750 clothing items a day, handle 150 boxes and rip open probably 500 plastic bags. That’s a lot of fingers moving.
  • Once I consider the risk of accidentally losing my cast and bending my finger (which would extend my healing time) and adding the increased fall risk of mine because I am aggravating known issues with my balance and mobility, I just don’t feel safe.
  • This is a horribly stressful feeling.
  • I’m going to talk with my family doctor about it. I already mentioned it to my therapist, because I wanted to confirm my thoughts were rational and not whiny or emotional.

Today’s vegan lunch: curry carrots, lentils, quinoa, my own roasted chick peas, toasted sesame seeds, green olives and a touch of Thai peanut sauce topped with pumpkin seeds

And last but not least, cats. Misty caught a mouse! Video here.

Heartstrings and hip pain

The start of the Covid-19 pandemic two years ago brought an end to a couple toxic situations in my life, and led to many new experiences that were both rewarding and frustrating.

If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you may remember teenager #2, a friend of my teenager who needed a place to stay. Teenager #2 and her cats stayed for about nine months, with minimal support or contact from her parents.

Teenager #2 turned 19 last week, and I don’t know if she’d expect me to remember or not, because I haven’t heard from her since she moved out. And left a very trashed bedroom behind. And her cats taught my cats bad habits we are still trying to break.

I’ve heard rumors that she’s expecting her own baby now.

It’s also been about five weeks since my mother contacted me. Though she will probably read this later and text me nasty messages.

And my dad is three-and-a-half months gone now, and it leaves me wondering how people can be there one second and just… poof… gone.

But I’m not trying to elicit pity, I’m merely stating some of the thoughts in my brain to say that my emotions are already on edge.

So, a couple weeks ago we (the teenager and I) received a text message that our former foster Extra Crunchy was being returned to the rescue because a new baby was allergic.

This broke my heart.

But the family never showed up. They turned up unannounced at the FURR adoption event yesterday and returned him on his first birthday.

Readers, I think I am losing my stomach for rescue work.

Extra Crunchy was one of two kittens who survived a bout with distemper last spring. Feline distemper is a very fatal and preventable disease. FURR received a call that someone had three cats, two female and one male, neither fixed nor vaccinated. The two females each gave birth to a litter of kittens. But everyone contracted distemper. And the adults died.

So they called FURR, and FURR took in these ten dying and starved kittens who had never even had the chance to nurse from a mother.

My daughter asked if she could foster these babies, and our cat foster godmother said yes, but that we had to be prepared for them to die.

So my daughter started syringe feeding them. On the day she took over their care, two died right away. And it seemed like every day another would die, usually in the teenager’s arms.

We gave them ridiculous names because they weren’t going to live. Rufus. The Magician (he would just randomly teleport from one end of the playpen to the other). Spunky. Parker (which was actually Parkour because he climbed everything).

And Extra Crunchy. Because he was covered in formula, cat food and feces. After all, no one had taught him how to groom and no one had groomed him.

Extra Crunchy Kitten.

Extra Crunchy being syringe fed by the teenager

Extra Crunchy and Parker survived. They beat the odds. Like I did. My mother named me Angel because I was supposed to die.

So it hurts to see his adoptive family reject him, but they did the right thing by returning him to us.

YouTube Playlist for all the distemper kittens (trigger warning: some of these videos may reference or feature death.)

Extra Crunchy is currently at Chaar Pet Store in Forks Township.

On Friday, the teenager plans to bring him home for a bath and grooming before Saturday’s adoption event.

In addition to that, my hip is acting up and I don’t have a chiropractor appointment for two weeks. So I’m trying a whole lot of stretches.

The pain got worse throughout the day, and I accepted the offer to leave work at 3 when they announced VTO. I picked my own cart to start this morning, which meant I had a 3,000 step walk first thing in the morning. And by the end of the day, I had shipped 380 items, which, by my calculations is 108.5%.

A new pizza adventure At Nicolosi’s and a post-splinter update

First, let me start this blog entry at the end— with the pizza the teenager and I shared at Nicolosi’s.

Second, I will discuss my performance at the warehouse this week and how my body has felt now that the splinter-wound has finally healed.

So come for the food and stay for the disability talk if you desire.

It’s been at least two weeks since Nicolosi’s in Forks Township started advertising “pizza flights” on Facebook.

Now, as the teenager’s father will confirm, I love trying pizza. He and I once did a pizza tour where I ranked every pizza on a long list of qualities. This was probably 25 years ago.

When Nicolosi’s started advertising these flights— four of their specialty pizzas combined in one square pie for $20– I knew I had to try one. That’s two generous pieces of each variety you choose.

The teenager let me choose so I tried to pick flavors that would appeal to her, too: (Clockwise from top left) Eggplant parmigiana, pierogie pizza without the onions, chicken parmigiana and chicken-bacon-ranch.

I was not prepared for the Halloween decor, like the zombie pizza man, horror movie posters and plush toys from The Nightmare Before Christmas. I was prepared however for the deliciousness.

My favorite (which surprised me) was the eggplant. The staff was super friendly. The place was simple but also strongly quirky. And all of these things make me very excited to go back.

Next time, I’m ordering the garlic knots in vodka sauce and the cannoli dessert pizza.

And now an update on the random things:

Nala is doing well.
The teenager bought me the obscenely large mug from Staples. Click the photo to read about the original attraction to the mug.
I had cookies and milk at work.

Now the more serious stuff…

If you’re new here… I am in my mid-40s trying to learn how to age well with my cerebral palsy which impacts the control and structure of my legs.

As you may recall if you read my previous blog post, I had a great workout Saturday and spent the day showing my college roommate around downtown Easton.

On Sunday I woke up and my wound in the ball of my foot (from my splinter) had healed. I performed at 95% in Freestyle at work that day primarily because my printer and my computer wouldn’t cooperate and I lost 20 minutes trying to fix it.

Monday I was achy but managed to work my full 10-hour shift AND hit 100%.

But I was hurting a bit. Primarily my back. So I changed shoes and went to work Tuesday only to have my spine and both my legs start burning intensely. I still managed to hit 97%.

And I had two small falls at home yesterday.

I woke up hurting in my spine and hip. And anxiety plagued me wondering what the day would bring. I felt much better— but my right hip is uncomfortable. Fairly badly uncomfortable. But I finished my 10-hour shift and by my calculations I had 95%.

Tomorrow I visit my podiatrist. We’ll see what input he has.

The Grateful Friday

Yesterday I cleaned a lot of my downstairs and had a relatively good work out at Apex. I haven’t felt incredibly strong lately, but my IUD must be working because I’m not in pain.

I had a good week at work, so cleaning, working on Parisian Phoenix projects and watching Cobra Kai suited me just fine yesterday.

I even found two of the dog’s Kong balls under the couch which made for a very happy dog.

Today, I was supposed to have my annual physical but my doctor’s office called yesterday and rescheduled for next week— which also means another week without answers from my CT scan and physiatrist referral. Neither the neurologist nor the physiatrist’s office has called me back.

And I need a doctor that can help me understand the motion and mechanics of my body, and not just its individual parts.

Today I scrubbed the exterior of the stove and did dishes. Then I went to help my blind friend Nan with some errands and grocery shopping.

We made plans to pick up some pizza at Little Caesars so Nan could try the Batman Calzony. No matter how I tried I couldn’t explain what it was to the blind lady. So we bought one.

But we had time to kill before the teenager got out of school even after we put groceries away. We grabbed the dog and got drinks and hash browns (for the dog) at Dunkin.

And then we surprised the teenager with the dog at school.

Then Joan stopper by to drop off some hand-me-down magazines and erotica, cupcakes and photos that Joan needed us to sort.

Now, I’m cuddling with Louise, watching Gotham Garage and enjoying kitten photos.

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.

Little wins

It’s Wednesday night— which is my Friday! The Bizzy Hizzy has been a tizzy of Covid cases during this mandatory overtime week.

I’m doing my eight hours of overtime on Saturday.

Tomorrow I’m returning to the gym—the pandemic has also altered my training schedule.

And tomorrow, Georgie gets adopted! Yes, Georgie, our lovable former community cat from downtown Allentown, will be going home to a family where she will be the only pet.

I’m told Louise has an approved adoption application— but this is her third so I am not as optimistic as I should be. The person who applied for her wants two cats so FURR has suggested Khloe also be considered.

If these three cats get adopted— after Danu, Brigid and Aîné all getting adopted since December— I may weep tears of joy.

This week my body experienced all sorts of aches and pains, but I still managed to fold what I felt was a respectable amount of clothes for Stitch Fix. And today was our monthly employee luncheon— chicken Caesar wraps, tomato soup and carrot cake.

And on our final break of the day, everyone from my old shift got sweatshirts.

It’s kinda silly, but at the same token, it commemorates a special era of my life and celebrates the camaraderie we had on second shift. And believe it or not, even though we are scattered among the day shift, we still function as a team.

After work, the teenager invited me to Tic Toc family restaurant where we enjoyed grilled cheese sandwiches.

Ingram finally shipped Darrell Parry’s poetry book (Twists: Gathered Ephemera). And several other Parisian Phoenix titles are coming together. Perhaps as many as three titles releasing before the end of February.

Speaking of Parisian Phoenix, I emailed my class correspondent at Lafayette College and he ordered my first two novels.

And finally, side note… Actor Tim Daly was on the most recent episode of the podcast Hypocondriactor. I love Tim Daly. And I found myself comparing him to Anthony Stewart Head, you know… Giles on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I was specifically comparing Daly’s character on Madame Secretary to Head’s role as the school librarian/watcher on Buffy. Both were nerdy academics with interests in obscure topics.

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.

Struggling to find a groove

Change is hard.

Sunday we arrived at work to learn we couldn’t punch in because engineering was upgrading the time clock system. I managed to ship 374 items in 296 packages as part of the Freestyle department.

And my dad— who has been struggling with Covid— ended up back in the hospital.

But then Monday rolled around and I was back in my home department folding clothes.

I was ready to try and excel as the change in shifts has been hard. The ten hour day is amazingly smooth, but getting up at 5 a.m. is exhausting — even if I go to bed at 9 p.m.

And then we changed software and the computers couldn’t keep up with the new system so everyone was working at 80 percent. Okay, I can’t prove everyone, but there’s a day shift woman who told me she always hits her numbers and yesterday she only did 108 instead of 130.

On top of this I had several fixes that I struggled to put in an extra large box and half way through the day the stats went down.

I am struggling to stay motivated and moving without my average time per fix being tracked, let alone no stats at all.

And then some guy drilled each of our table and attached new brooms and butlers. We used to share one or two brooms per valley, now we have about 20.

Many many brooms.

And around 2:30 p.m., a day shift peer was talking to someone who might have been a processing lead and she started hysterically crying for a good 20 minutes.

So I was very glad when yesterday was over. Not only was my back hurting, but my right leg is acting up again and I have intense pains in one of my right toes.

Then today started. My computer doesn’t have a keyboard or a mouse. Just a keypad. And the computer can’t “see” it. Lost ten minutes looking for a mouse until a lead stole one on my behalf.

One of my favorite second shift QC support people— we’ll call him Flying J in honor of the way he buzzes through the valleys with carts under his arms like wings of an airplane— brought me refixes! You know, the fixes that needed to be fixed and come on top of the cart instead of inside.

AND he told day shift that I liked them.

And one of the day shift support people came to see me and said she would bring me as many as she could. Then she paused.

“I don’t know how to say this without offending you,” she said.

“Honey, you can’t offend me.”

“I see the way you work and I see the way you walk—”

I interrupted her. “I have cerebral palsy,” I said. “And right now, my spine is bent the wrong way. I struggle to get the fixes out of slots 7 & 8.”

I was really moved. I am always touched when people want to help.

And today was our December employee luncheon.

Meanwhile, at home, the teenager did a ritual (at my request) for my father’s recovery.

After work, we took the dog for ice cream at The Spot.

Bean Dog eating ice cream video.

When Sunday comes on Saturday

My first three day Thursday through Saturday weekend is now coming to a close.

I did some laundry. Did some dishes. Meal prepped for my upcoming lunches and cooked the remaining groceries so the teenager has some food if she wants it. We also discussed our upcoming dinners. I plotted my wardrobe, and I hope to finish gathering underwear and socks, that way I can put my clothes in the bathroom where I can dress without disturbing the cockatoo.

I did a whole lot of work for Parisian Phoenix Publishing, including sending Not an Able-Bodied White Man with Money off for copyright.

So, with all of our food planned for the future, the teenager and I visited McDonalds for buy one, get one free Big Macs.

Here is the video of our crazy Bean dog eating her first McDonald’s burger.

Sometimes it’s nice to do something silly.