Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community ProJeCt 2020

On Saturday morning, the teenager and I went down to Easton cemetery to support the Palmer Kiwanis team as they participated in the Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community to support my employer, ProJeCt of Easton.

For more on that adventure, click here: Cruising the Cemetary with the Palmer Kiwanis

Today, I took a slightly elongated lunch break to take my team to the Karl Stirner Arts Trail. We started at the Silk Mill.

Me and My Team
Me, Buddy Eddy (dog of Team Member Sarah), the teenager and my good friend Gayle who writes a blog Fat Girl Walking

We headed down the trail and enjoyed the various art, the breezy trail, and the picturesque creek —all on the way to the dog park.

And then to end the outing, we let Buddy play and we got ice cream at Ow Wow Cow.

To register a team or donate to my team: Highmark Walk

For Gayle’s blog entry visit: Fat Girl Walking

Our previous visit to the arts trail: A walk on the Arts Trail

Joy Is

Yesterday I allowed myself to eat my feelings—in the form of a Buffalo Chicken Specialty Pizza with spinach instead of onions (six slices), Parmesan bread bites (probably half the order), and sweet BBQ bacon specialty chicken (again probably half the order) from my good friends at Dominos. I’ve had the same “delivery specialist” the last two orders. And my last order was on Thursday.

And I washed it down with a big glass of Two Rivers Brewing Bankers Brown Ale. But I must say, my cockatoo, Nala, approves of my bad decisions. Click on the link under the photo to see Nala playing with the empty box.

Nala playing

That was not a healthy way to deal with stress. But it’s over and done and it felt so good in the moment.

Bad decisions often do.

But today was a new day and I don’t surrender. So, I bring to you a list of the things that brought me joy today.

1. My professional peer Lynn from another non-profit locally reached out to me today on Facebook. We had a lovely Zoom chat on my lunch hour and discovered in addition to our journalistic pasts, we also both have three-legged cats. Go figure.

2. One of my colleagues sent me a photo of the tree from the courtyard at our office.

On this dark, damp day (over the course of which my toes NEVER got warm despite my super thick winter socks), this photo put my day right from the get-go. Why?

Because it’s a magnolia tree. We had a magnolia tree in our yard when I was young— and as my work colleague observed—the extremely short life span of its flowers makes them somehow more special. I used to climb the one in my girlhood home and I love the silky feel of the petals as they tumble to the ground.

3. I’m working on a last minute state grant. A food recovery infrastructure grant that could buy our agency a new commercial freezer. The state representative I’ve been working with has been so nice and so responsive, I told him it’s truly been a pleasure to work with him and he told me I made his day.

From a grant I’m working on

I shared the proposal with the mentor my boss appointed to me, and he liked it and pointed out some areas where I could strengthen it. I also asked some connections for a letter of support and I received a truly heartwarming letter from one.

So, regardless of what happens, I feel good about the work I do.

4. My daughter spent the day helping her grandmother with yard work. I’m proud my daughter doesn’t mind physical labor. She sent me this text:

Mom.

Mom.

Mom.

Look what I got.

Yes, an old broom

Now, my daughter and I will bless this broom as part of her spiritual journey. A witch’s broom.

And finally, this one isn’t from today, but…

5. I found these jars in the garage. And they are really pretty.

That’s all I need to find joy.

Sunday evening briefing: My Time of Debauchery Ends

Yesterday was a frolicking good day of silly adventures and hearty chores— I feel the after effects of hauling all that trash from the garage yesterday burning in the tops of my thighs.

This morning I enjoyed coffee with my mom in my home and then sat in the morning sun and read more of William Prystauk’s manuscript, Debauchery. He asked me to edit the final manuscript before it heads to the printer as his regular editor was unavailable.

Bill and I have been friends for more than a decade now and I told him I’d love to take a look if he didn’t mind as I’m a HUGE FAN of his previous Denny Bowie novels— it’s just the right blend of counter-culture, dark crime, intelligentsia and erotica.

Bill takes on some kinky themes. His characters experience the best and worst of the human condition. They ooze love. They survive trauma. They admit their weaknesses and accept their fetishes. They explode in rage and sometimes toy with pain.

Everyone seems vibrantly alive yet always on the precipice of tragedy.

And while one person might look at the words, the events, the violence and the various expressions of sexuality and squirm in the face of its counter-mainsteam manifestations, the way Bill has crafted the tale makes the more disturbing twists easier to stomach and nothing is ever gratuitous.

The first book, Bloodletting, focused on love and acceptance— that a real relationship won’t ignore any part of a person or their desires. In Debauchery, the antagonist examines not only the motives of the people involved in his current missing person case but also challenges his own world view and his connection to his own unorthodox living arrangements.

Bill has made a valiant effort to keep each novel in the series a stand-alone, but please don’t start with this one. I think the reader needs to read at least one of his previous books to appreciate the depth of Denny Bowie’s angst.

Or shall I call him Dennison?

I know Bill was pleased with my one week turn-around on this just slightly more than 80,000 word manuscript. But when the story is this compelling, and has such a strong, unique voice, you can’t put it down easily.

Editing a new novel

I’m so excited. My dear friend William Prystauk has asked me to edit his upcoming novel, Debauchery, the third in a detective/erotic series that crosses genre lines and pushes boundaries while exploring themes about human relationships, our need for acceptance and love, and exploring our sexuality.

It’s some well-written, nail-biting stuff with a heart-wrenching gooey side. At least, that was my experience of his first two novels.

So when he lamented that his regular editor was too busy to serve him, I quickly raised my hand. Pick me! Pick me!

The manuscript arrived today.

Bill and I met more than a decade ago at an after-party for a book signing. A typical strange six degrees of separation story connecting us with mutual interests with intersecting paths.

I still remember the first time we exchanged samples of our written work. Sharing literary endeavors is the true test of whether a friendship between writers will work.

He sent me a chapter from Bloodletting which featured a murder via crucifixion in a church; and I sent him what was then chapter two of my working manuscript which featured two witches performing violent, bloody sex magic on an altar in a church.

Neither one of us knew the other was sending such sacrilegious work. Yet, we both sent samples of the most disturbing things we could think of to do in a church.

So Bill can trust me with his baby. Working on this manuscript will be my reward. And if any of you have questions for Bill, drop them in the comments. He’ll be glad to take a look. He also has a very cool podcast that has won some accolades.

For more on some of my adventures with Bill: see Samples of projects with Bill.

For my work on Bill’s horror movie web side: see Reviews by Angel Ackerman

Slowing down

I did something I haven’t done in a while… I went to work on time. I had been going into the office an hour early every day.

I stayed home. Spent time with Nala. Packed a lovely salad for lunch. Balanced my budget. Did three days worth of dishes. Even vacuumed and cleaned the bird cages.

The teenager came home from school and did laundry.

And on top of all that, work went super well. My new colleague and I approach everything as a team. She has a strong background in non-profit development and I have a strong background in communications so we approach everything from our respective strengths.

And I think the result is ten times better than either of us could do alone.

That makes me feel so good.

I even did a pretty intense little weight training workout before my nail appointment tonight. Short but left me feeling it.

As for my nails… they are so brittle and short right now it makes me sad. But I can’t be sad because my nail polish color is happi.

Pre-work week routine

This post will be published at 9 a.m. Monday morning. I wrote it while resting for a moment, cockatoo on my chest, cat leaning into my belly and budgies still swirling overhead.

A lot of my weekend is spent doing laundry and cleaning house. I do laundry every day because we don’t have a dryer and I have to hang my wash on my heated drying rack.

And if the mood swings, I do some meal planning and food prep. I haven’t dealt with lunches yet, but I did make some fruit and yogurt parfaits.

At some point every Sunday I put whatever clean laundry away and choose five outfits for the week and line them up on the left side of my closet.

My entire wardrobe is tucked away in that closet. The things that hang on the right and behind my outfits on the left I have some organizational cubbies and crates. One crate for various t-shirts and tank tops and thin sweatshirts. Another for pants. My cubbies… I believe I have five: underwear/bras, socks/hose, gym clothes, pajamas and other bulky things.

When I run out of room, I purge. That can be hard but it’s also a good exercise in not hanging on to things you don’t wear.

My stepmom got me three new dresses for Christmas. My favorite one ripped in the washer. I was very upset as she usually buys clothes from stores like Macy’s or Dunkelberger’s. I was hoping she hadn’t spent too much money.

Turns out those dresses were from JC Penney as were some blouses that didn’t hold up well.

It reminds me of a recent interview I heard with the author of Second Hand. He was talking about how their is no real second hand trade left in the United States anymore because we buy such poorly made, cheap crap.

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.

The joys so easy to miss

If you’ve read some of this blog, you probably know that I have a relatively new job in a brand new field that is giving me tremendous potential to grow as an individual and a professional. It’s challenging and rewarding and it allows me to do some good in the world.

But in any new job there comes a learning curve and change can be exhausting. On top of my career change, my husband and I separated six months ago.

So that’s another part of my life in flux.

Last night, I went to the podiatrist as my toe has been bothering me. It’s the same toe on which I dropped a 15-pound dumbbell almost 2 years ago. I also broke that ankle 4 years ago now.

I was fairly certain I just had a blister in a weird spot that went a little wrong but with my cerebral palsy I didn’t want to take chances.

When I got to the doctor, after waiting a week to get the appointment, I realized I forgot my wallet. Luckily I had ways to pay them and my daughter texted me the information in my wallet but that stressed me.

And then the doctor trimmed my toe nails and removed all the pretty nail polish from my recent pedicure. Now I know that is something he needed to do, but it made me very very sad.

Then he prescribed me an antibiotic because it looked like the toe did have a blister, got infected, and maybe it was going to be fine but why take the chance.

So I had to go home, get my wallet, and go to CVS.

My daughter came with my and as we waited, read this joke book to me:

I laughed at a few, despite my best attempts not to.

When they built the Great Wall of China where did they go for supplies?

Wall-Mart

And then she begged for the book, and the cashier pointed out I had a 30% off coupon on my CVS card so now we own a $3 joke book.

And she’s been reading me jokes ever since.

To stop and view the moon

Life is seldom perfect.

But tonight, stuck in traffic, eating too much of a bag of salt and vinegar potato chips, I had a near perfect moment.

The clouded over full moon turned the wintery night sky gold. For a moment, amid my sea of break lights, I basked in peace.

And then I got home and a cat had puked on the new couch.

But let me start at the beginning…

Two more weeks before the holidays. By January first, I have two grants due, one report due, a third grant and a second report that I would prefer done. I got the annual appeal to the printer yesterday, two or three weeks late depending on your perspective (but WOW did I learn so much about our FundEZ donor and accounting database. Now I have to review the volunteer graphic designer’s sketches for the annual report.

I have more than 20 years experience in communications, and a whole lot of confidence and creativity, but this nonprofit development stuff is a roller coaster! I love it, especially since I adore the agency’s mission and my coworkers but it’s been a few months of trail by fire.

So that was work.

I laugh a lot at work, or at least I try. Sometimes we all get a little too tense and afraid of making mistakes.

As the type of person who has no issue asking forgiveness instead of permission, I don’t have trouble admitting I did something wrong.

I tell my colleagues, don’t worry I don’t throw people under the bus.

I step right out in front of it.

After work I came home and took my daughter for sandwiches before I drove her to her interior design class at the local community college.

Park Avenue Market

The marching band, the local library, and probably every other fundraising entity around sell hoagie coupons for Park Avenue Market. They have _the best_ sandwiches.

Tonight I got Santa Fe turkey and bacon ranch cheddar. The teen got Lebanon bologna.

But then she saw the A-Treat display.

Everything from pumpkin to sasparilla to cranberry ginger ale. She got “Big Blue.” I got diet orange creamsicle.

We started to eat them in the car, which is why the photos are so dark. And I unwrapped my sandwich upside down and spilled it all over my lap. And a tomato shot right out of my sandwich into the crack between my seat and my console.

“This is why we don’t eat in the car,” I said.

“No,” she said.

“This is why you don’t eat in the car.”

Update: The progress of 2019

In late October, I made a list. There were several progressive steps on that list.

1. Buy a car.

The Monday before Thanksgiving, I purchased a 2015 Volkswagen Jetta 1.8t with 21,000 miles on it. That car has been 95% as comfortable as my Nissan Ultima 3.5se. But exponentially better in the snow. The trunk is ginormous. My phone syncs.

2. Find a professional job.

I recently accepted, started the paperwork and applied for my fourth set of clearances to work with ProJeCt of Easton as their development coordinator.

I have had a great time pulling my professional wardrobe out of storage.

3. Write (and publish) more.

Okay, so my most recent publishing success was my ditty on Dime Show Review’s “Ten Word Stories.” I also have a recent essay on the horror website Crash Palace Productions. And more in the works.

In an editing related endeavor, my friend Gayle and I are advertising our joint services, editorial and graphic design, to the attendees at the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group The Write Stuff Conference.

4. Eat more fruits and veggies.

This one has been hit or miss. I eat pretty well, but I like going for the extra vegetables and more fruit. I’m not a big fruit eater.

And on the honest side, I need to stop stress eating refined carbohydrates.

5. Get more serious about bodybuilding.

Now I will never be athletic, and even my most competitive side would never have the dedication and patience it takes to truly body build. But I like working on it, and since I am changing jobs I need someway to maintain my muscle tone and weight.

6. Be consistent with the pets.

I have parakeets now. And we need to brush the cats’ teeth more.

And poor Opie, he recently had his left front leg amputated. So, yes, I now have a three legged cat.

How’s your 2019?