Spider-Man and Matcha Pie

I have a lot of little things to say that problem don’t belong together but today is the Lehigh Valley Book Festival at Bethlehem Area Public Library and I’m excited, a tad nervous and a bit super-focused and scatter-brained at the same time.

Parisian Phoenix Publishing has participated in events before but we have scaled up with our efforts and this event today.

So this post will cover:

  • Spider-Man: No Way Home
  • Health and Fitness
  • Pie
  • Cats

I think that’s about right.

So the teenager and I finally came to the current end of the Marvel Comics Universe movies with Spider-Man: No Way Home. Watching them sequentially, and for me, many for the first time, actually made a lot more sense than when I saw some of them the first time.

I got a strange déjà vu that I had seen some of these villains before, but at the same time I was confused because the memory was vague and distant.

So let’s just say, trying not to spoil it for others like me that are woefully behind in their pip culture, that this film incorporates some older films that will be familiar to Generation X.

The primary theme of this movie, in my opinion, is time travel. The actual plot is a tad weak and melodramatic but the homage made to the previous generation of Marvel movies, and the humor employed in this movie, make it worth it.

My favorite Spider-Man is Toby Maguire. I got to see him again. And that made my heart happy. (Toby is also the Spider-Man adored and referenced by supermodel Adelaide Pitney in my chick lit/horror fiction novel, Manipulations, the first in the Fashion and Fiends series.

I had a very good visit with my chiropractor Nicole Jensen of Back in Line. She’s impressed with my progress and got things to pop and move (my right ankle that I broke more than five years ago) that haven’t popped and moved in a long time.

My Later, Andrew at Apex Training worked out every muscle he didn’t the day before (okay that’s an exaggeration) and the teenager set a new personal record in deadlifting: 225 lbs.

Finally, I get to the part I’ve been waiting for: PIE! If only I weren’t trying to be so health conscious… Because I have been visiting the amazing pie ladies Anne and Lisa at Pie+Tart for three(?) years now and their pies (and flat white coffees) have nurtured my soul through some difficult times— and a very very toxically difficult boss.

I receive their weekly email and saw their “freezer section” of leftover discounted pies included a steak and Guinness pie and a matcha custard pie. A meal inspired by two of my favorite drinks.

I was so beyond excited to eat these pies I was vibrating at “the pie hole” which is what they call their window/doorway. It has allowed them to stay in business safely during Covid because how would we survive sans pie.

I can improvise plenty of solutions for lack of toilet paper but I can’t make pie like this— not even with my Pennsylvania Dutch family connections.

I couldn’t even wait for the matcha custard to thaw. I sawed at it with a knife, broke it in pieces with my hands and microwaved a slice for 30 seconds. It was delectable.

And the steak and Guinness pie? So rich and full of meaty goodness I didn’t even have a chance to take a photo.

Oh how I love my pie friends.

And finally the updates regarding some of the cats we are fostering through Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab, Mars has taught Khloe to play and Minerva is becoming much more social. As is Louise.

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.

What a week… work, doctors and Shamrock shakes

I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts for this blog for 24 hours now. And just when I thought I had them… The Teenager had dinner ready. Then The Teenager left for work and forgot to grab her shopping list.

I went to take a photo of it for her and got the largest splinter I’ve ever had in my life.

(And if you are looking at the photo, you’ll also see all the cracks in my toes from the blisters.)

I hobbled upstairs, dug my tweezers out of the closet and manage to very painfully remove the top half of it.

It’s so wedged deep into my foot and still very painful. I’m soaking it in Epsom salt right now.

Just another reason for my left leg not to work.

It’s already been giving me trouble today and leading to a lot of muscle pain in my back and torso. Even though it’s not responsible of me, I accepted the voluntary early time out at work today and only worked an 8-hour day.

So speaking of work…

Sunday I worked Freestyle which is a department where I can usually hit 100 percent. But Stitch Fix changed our small (#5) envelopes. They had two strips of tape instead of one. They were a tighter fit than the predecessor. And they were just sticky.

I ended the day at 86%.

Yesterday I worked in my home department of QC— at the quirky poorly set up table— and reached 100%. But today I was at a high table and only hit 80%.

Yesterday I saw a sports rehab doctor recommended by my primary care physician for his knowledge and training in orthopedic care. He was going to evaluate my hip pain. I shouldn’t say that— he did evaluate my hip pain.

He also read my x-rays, did a physical exam and used the photos and the exam to measure the extent of my femoral anteversion.

Apparently, the head of my femurs aren’t positioned correctly in my hip sockets. It’s what causes me to look like this baby when I walk:

Apparently, as the screenshot shows, it’s not uncommon in children and even more common among children with cerebral palsy. If the bones don’t rotate into the correct position on their own by age 10, often surgery follows.

A rather invasive hip surgery where the femurs are cracked, repositioned and stabilized with rods.

I have an appointment with the neuromuscular physiatrist May 31– but until then here are my thoughts.

1. I still think I am leaning forward at work causing the issue with my toes blistering. If my femurs fit into my hip sockets at the wrong angle, this lean might be “natural.”

2. The doctor I saw yesterday says nothing I do is causing damage to my body, so my activities are limited only by what I can tolerate.

3. Relieving some of the tension in my hamstrings may lessen some of my symptoms.

4. There is no clear solution on how to move forward.

So, I called Nan to discuss it and get her opinion. I learned she never had a shamrock shake. I rectified that. See video.

Nan’s first shamrock shake

Marvel review: Ant-Man & the Wasp and the final two Avengers movies

The latest three in our series of Marvel movies— Ant Man and The Wasp and Avengers Infinity War and Avengers End Game— brought some fun moments into my experience of the Marvel Comics Universe.

The teenager brought home generic takis from the Dollar Tree and I had some of those and Cabot Cottage cheese for supper.

I still think the length of the Avengers movies is unnecessarily long— fight scenes and excessive fancy CGI does not attract me. The contrast between Infinity War and Endgame is strong. The former clearly is conflict driven while the later seeks resolution to the past as its plot. So whereas Infinity War offers the fighting of villains vs heroes, Endgame offers a chance to solve a puzzle.

Ant-Man, as in his previous film, blends pure silliness with the everyday experience of the Everyman and the Ant-Man & The Wasp storyline puts Scott slang, as the Everyman, in a unique position to miss the events of the Infinity War and have a worldview that gives him the strange understanding of quantum physics that he doesn’t really “get” but has lived. He has the knowledge potentially to revive the world.

I love the dynamic paths of Hawkeye— I’m drawing a blank on Clint’s full name— and Tony Stark. And Thor’s deterioration from a god to an overweight alcoholic is a beautiful tribute to the toll trauma takes on any hero.

We still have an hour to go on Endgame, so perhaps my opinions will grow. But for now, here it is.

Next in the Marvel Sequence: Black Panther, Doctor Strange & Thor Ragnarok

Yesterday I mentioned I owed everyone my ruminations on our latest Marvel movie viewings— and I mentioned my impressions of Black Panther and Doctor Strange. The former has me pondering how we represent African culture in Western entertainment while also leaving me to rejoice in the fact that Wakanda, the fictional East African nation in Black Panther, leads the world in technology while still maintaining traditional African practices.

This is what I wrote yesterday: “Today was supposed to be the day I blogged about Black Panther and Doctor Strange, which I will do when I finish this and schedule it for tomorrow. Short version: Black Panther was amazing but made me think about how we represent African cultures, cultural appropriation and stereotypes AND how comic books in general have to start with some sort of basic cliché and try to improve from there. I loved how Doctor Strange blended an action hero with sorcery and in the process led to some great philosophizing about the nature of reality and the definition of good versus the definition of evil.”

I don’t know what else to say about those two except I both enjoyed them and found myself troubled by them.

And now we’re onto the latest Thor movie, Thor Ragnarok. I am tickled by the appearances of Doctor Strange and Hulk. I immediately had my guard up as I hate movies with ridiculous names. And Thor is full of words I don’t know. And I’m just now realizing why Odin retired to Norway.

We’re half way through Thor Ragnarok and the plot of Thor’s journey back to Agard (which has happened once already and now needs undertaking again) leads places I enjoy.

But…

SPOILER ALERT

The idea that Thor has an evil older sister that looks like Maleficent seems ridiculous to me, though I am thoroughly intrigued by the idea that the Asgardians began as a violent race.

So we shall see.

A trip “For the Girls”

Today was supposed to be the day I blogged about Black Panther and Doctor Strange, which I will do when I finish this and schedule it for tomorrow. Short version: Black Panther was amazing but made me think about how we represent African cultures, cultural appropriation and stereotypes AND how comic books in general have to start with some sort of basic cliché and try to improve from there. I loved how Doctor Strange blended an action hero with sorcery and in the process led to some great philosophizing about the nature of reality and the definition of good versus the definition of evil.

But I have to interrupt my planned schedule and tell you instead about my visit to FOR THE GIRLS EASTON. Visit their web site here. And I encourage you to digest their mission on their web page here.

The teenager has breasts, and as a teenager she has grown and needed new bras during the pandemic. I have wanted to take her to FOR THE GIRLS for two plus years now, and her boobs keep growing, because every woman needs bras that fit, especially if you have large breasts (like my daughter) or older breasts (like me in my forties over here).

My daughter, having a moment of smarts as she is quite prone to do, asked her father to buy her bras from FOR THE GIRLS for Christmas. He said yes, and she finally had the opportunity to request an appointment for this weekend.

I asked if I could come, in part because I was curious about the shop, and also because I wanted to see what kind of options were available for my ample daughter.

So as she was trying on bras in the backroom fitting area, her dad and I sat in the shop playing with this really sweet dog. And suddenly I realized: I’ve gained 20 pounds and have been wearing bras too small for two years. I keep thinking I’ll lose weight so I don’t want to invest in new bras, because I don’t like my bigger boobs and I certainly don’t want to keep them. But I’m falling out of my bras. Just falling right out.

It’s not nice. It’s not comfortable.

I asked, “Can I be fitted, too?”

And of course the answer was yes.

** I love small businesses. **

And when she saw my boobs spilling out of my bra, that poor proprietor said, “Oh no.”

Traditionally, when I am at a healthy weight, I’m a 34B. Overweight I typically come in at 36C.

My new bras are 32F.

And it feels great to not have them jostling everywhere.

Standard bra sizes really don’t match your torso size and your cup size correctly. It’s just like jeans that never fit right. Bra sizes that are in the big chain stores for cheap are based on sizes most women can wear, and that means if you’re a smaller girl with a large chest, you might be stuck wearing a larger band size and smaller cup size that you really need.

To continue the jeans analogy, think about how a certain size might fit in the waist but not in the thighs even though by the measurements and the size chart, it’s supposed to fit. If manufacturer’s can’t mass produce cheap jeans that fit, why should bras be any different?

I think a lot of women short change themselves because bras are not something we see or show on a regular basis, but the reality is, as demonstrated by the mission at FOR THE GIRLS, women have more confidence in a proper bra. And to me, more importantly, a bad bra fit just makes you uncomfortable all day long. Especially if you have a large chest, or if you move around a lot, or if you are aging and nature doesn’t hold up what it used to.

So thank you, FOR THE GIRLS.

And if you didn’t want to hear about my boobs or if I said too much about boobs– tough. I don’t care. It’s important.

The Next in the Marvel Sequence

The teenager and I have been working our way through the Marvel movies. A friend from my Target days warned me that the middle batch of movies had a different feel than the rest. He said this as I started to complain about the Avengers movie featuring Ulltron.

We’ve now made it all the way to Black Panther which means I have four movies to add to my previous assessments. Previous installments (or at least the most recent) can be found here.

Ant-Man: I loved the concept and the humor, though I wonder how much of this movie was CGI. How much of the movie is an excuse to explore various special effects?

Captain America: Civil War: I feel like this movie was made just as a reason to tie new characters into the franchise. After seeing this, Spider-Man: Homecoming makes a lot more sense. But I don’t enjoy movies that makes up geographic regions just to destroy them. And a lot of these villainous plots seem to be awfully elaborate just to achieve something simple.

And if the theme of this one is to see what happens when heroes fight amongst themselves— isn’t that the storyline for the Thor movies?

Black widow: I am so thrilled to finally know the backstory for this one. Loved the family dynamics and the discussion it makes about people in power brainwashing those below them, and those who “don’t matter,” in this case, young, poor girls.

That said, I very much wanted to turn it off during the avalanche in the prison break scene. It felt way longer and more dramatic than it needed to be.

Spiderman: Homecoming: This might be in the top five of the teenager’s favorite movies. I, on the other hand, am not the target audience.

I like about half the movie. I like seeing Spider-Man act like a kid and balance his need to grow up with his desire to be a superhero. I love that Tony Stark is in the fatherly role in this one.

I love that Michael Keaton is the villain in this one. I have rated Michael Keaton in my top five of actors since approximately 1987. And yes— I like Michael Keaton as Batman and in general I am more of a DC fan versus a Marvel Fan.

My husband had me collecting Superman comics, as well as Catwoman and Batgirl (the Kassandra Kane run, not Barbara Gordon). Black Widow reminds me of her.

But I digress. Michael Keaton does a great job portraying the villain as a family man, and Peter Parker’s interactions with him encapsulate the feelings of many teen boys regarding their relationships with adults and specifically fathers.

So there you go.

Marvel update: Two Guardians and Ulltron

The teenager and I are working our way through the Marvel Comics Universe, watching the film in what is reportedly the order of events.

It certainly gives me more depth to Tony Stark, as the Avenger movies seem to hinge a lot on him.

The teenager adores Hawkeye.

And we both enjoy Joss Whedon’s and James Gunn’s humor in the scripts.

But these three films, though completely occupying space as Marvel movies do, with crazy action scenes, internal bickering and often violence among the team, tenseness and humor, fell flat for me.

Why?

Because these movies are based on comic books— comic books from an age where the science fiction of it was wild and the world still had so much unknown. Many of these characters/heroes predate space travel.

Captain America eludes to that when he says he misses the days when he was the biggest monster science had made, or something like that.

So to believe that Hawkeye has a family hidden on a farm that no one knows about in the 21st century seems unbelievable to me, primarily because I have to ask where those kids go to school.

And the larger the cast, the bigger the threat has to be, and the more the story is less about people and more about danger. The solutions in many of these scripts make no sense and the amount of civilian destruction is insane.

And to me, a Generation Xer, Age of Ulltron recreates September 11 (specifically the scene where Tony Stark asks how quickly he can buy a building and throws the Hulk into it, causing its implosion and a giant plume of dust through a major though fictional city). Also, the very idea that Ulltron infiltrates the Internet and represents artificial intelligence gone rogue, is very pertinent for the time period but has lingering air of the late 1990s panic that the opposite would happen—computers/operating systems weren’t smart enough to survive the Y2K date change.

In the Guardians series, the plot just never develops in proportion to the characters. We have these quirky misfit characters that have flimsy plots, and themes that don’t really go beyond their two dimensional comic book origins.

And this business with the infinity stones better have a satisfying conclusion. The idea that these mysterious power sources may all have some sort of intelligence/life map coded within them is fascinating.

Does each stone have part of the blue print to create the next incarnation of the universe? Or do the stones if reunited serve as a self-destruct mechanism?

Anyway, Ant-Man is next.

And I’m intrigued. Can we really trust Vision merely because he can yield Thor’s hammer? Or can he hold the hammer because he was forged by the hammer?

Previous Marvel post

Iron Man 3

Remaining Marvel posts (start here?)

Marvel update: some more Thor, some more Captain and some one shots

This blog entry may not be as thorough as some of my other Marvel reviews as the movies have struck me as blah lately, too reliant on special effects and fight scenes with the occasional plot point and/or humor to glue it together.

I found Thor Dark World to be overstocked with fantasy and ignorant of any attachment to reality. And perhaps the best part of the movie is when Erik Selvig has gone crazy enough to refuse to wear pants, a great piece of connective tissue to the first Avengers movie.

And the Captain America Winter Soldier proved to be better, but didn’t really hold my interest. The idea — spoiler alert — that Hydra took root within S.H.I.E.L.D. is a fantastic one, and much of the plot pleased me, but again, too many fights, special effects and showing off of technology that doesn’t exist.

Today we were scheduled to watch Guardians of the Galaxy, and we are, but the teenager discovered two Marvel one shots: Agent Carter and one about the Ten Rings and the Mandarin.

The one involving Trevor Slattery in prison provided some good information about the background of The Mandarin from the Iron Man franchise.

But the best part of all of this was Agent Carter. We learn that Peggy, Captain America’s crush, had to force her way into active duty and proved to be a insubordinate bad-ass.

Guardians of the Galaxy is one of the teenager’s favorites. I don’t remember being impressed the first time I saw it, so here goes…

The end of a short week

In less than 45 minutes— it is now almost 6:20 a.m. on a mildly snowy Thursday morning— I will be walking out my front door to get the CT scan of my head I originally had scheduled for December 30.

I am drinking my peppermint white chocolate Supercoffee, which arrived during the snow event Monday. Peppermint is my favorite flavor in coffee. Cinnamon used to rank, but there is something about the sassy, refreshing notes of warm peppermint and bitter coffee that excites me.

Last night, my Parisian Phoenix collaborator blind poet, Nancy Scott, joined the teenager and I for a dinner of Asian style cabbage and sautéed scallops over soy sauce ramen.

I have mild anxiety about the CT scan, primarily because I am unfamiliar with radiology at the nearby hospital, but also because of the anticipated cost. (You can read more about that here.)

My toe has been burning for weeks now. So much so I mentioned it to my chiropractor last week, that it burns maybe 15 minutes every 90 minutes or so while I am at work in the Bizzy Hizzy.

I thought maybe my posture is off with my hip persistently giving me trouble, but I noticed last night it’s extremely red and I think a little swollen.

Now I’m debating whether I need to call my podiatrist on top of everyone else.

The interesting news is that in the Bizzy Hizzy this week I probably performed about 65% in women’s returns processing during my overtime shift Saturday. My supervisor informed me I did 83% in Freestyle QC/ship on Sunday. Monday was a paid holiday. I managed 90% in my home department Tuesday and Wednesday— which is folding and wrapping 147 fixes.

While my pain levels are probably around 3 or 4, depending on my movements, my hip is definitely bothering me and my toe hurts all the time now. And of course, the back pain has been minor, but there, and I’ve struggled with touching my toes this week.

And I gained back the weight I’d lost.

I’m anxious to do some items for Parisian Phoenix today and maybe even write some of my fourth novel before a friend comes over for cocktails.

And please consider buying a book or two or three from Parisian Phoenix. I’m saving up for a new batch of ISBNs.