Small adventures

I slept until almost 8 today. Got up with the three-legged cat at my hip, I think he might have had concerns about my well-being.

Opie

I fed everyone, made my coffee and hung out with Nala. She was in a very “dancing” mood.

Stripped my bed and even removed the electric blanket. Got the roomba going and vacuumed with the real vacuum, too.

My room smells like roses.

I promised the teenager we’d have poached eggs and Lidl croissants for breakfast, and we did. Her contribution was to display her Pennsylvania Dutch heritage (on her father’s side) and fry up some scrapple.

I’ve never been a fan.

I’m still not. Tastes like meat and cornbread.

The teenager let me know this was not good scrapple, and that scrapple is pretty much cornbread made of meat.

I’m going to work for a little while doing some volunteer editing work for a anti-human trafficking group I’ve recently joined. I also had my second library board meeting since I rejoined the trustees there.

This afternoon, the teenager and I will be visiting a good friend and mentor, under a tree, socially distanced of course.

Unwinding (vacation day 4, grilling day 2)

I woke today with no clear idea of what I wanted to achieve today except that I promised my teenager that we could go to Lidl and get supplies to grill again.

I even called my blind friend Nan (who’s now on twitter and just published a NASA poem as a tweet) and got her shopping list.

  • Macaroni salad
  • Peanut butter cookies
  • Riced cauliflower
  • Ice cream

I got up and fed the menagerie. One quietly sad little leftover tidbit of having formerly feral kittens is that sometimes they really do eat anything.

Fog, who was on his own a month longer than his brother Misty (Mistofelees), tends to eat the cockatoo’s kibble.

But I do feed them— as I grind my whole bean espresso blend and feed it into my little espresso machine.

This morning I started laundry, washed the bathroom floor and reassembled it now that it’s been thoroughly scrubbed. I had my last birthday cupcake for breakfast.

I saw a got the last of my anticipated packages, a shirt and necklace from Doll’s Kill. (Unboxing here: My last birthday package.)

I also got two pairs of slacks and a purple tunic from White House Black Market. I thought the necklace would look amazing with the tunic. (Another unboxing here: New Pants)

My Goffin’s cockatoo, Nala, had her morning talking session and woke the teenager up at 11 a.m.

The teenager and I went to Lidl and the Dollar Tree. Our finds at Lidl included super cheap scrapple and super cheap hot dogs and super cheap maple breakfast sausages. We got two bags of instant light charcoal. Dill pickle pita chips. Some varieties of veggie burgers. Provolone because it was on sale and the teenager adores provolone. The teenager even got break and bake chocolate chip cookies to make in her father’s new toaster oven. (His apartment does not have a stove/oven.)

At the Dollar Tree, I got tuna. A vase because for the life of me I can’t find the one I made in college that I use to display my roses. Frozen appetizers. A can of corn so we can make my mother-in-law’s corn bake. A can of Chef Boyardee Beef Ravioli because it might be the second time the teenager ever had it. Some grill utensils. Matches. And Ajax. Because the teenager wanted Comet for cleaning but the Dollar Store only had Ajax. And instant decaf coffee. Because Lidl didn’t have any decaf coffee and I need to detox.

Nala got really hot this afternoon and started swimming in her water bowl.

The teenager started the grill again. This time we were more determined than ever to succeed. Read about last night’s attempt here: Yesterday’s BBQ

We even invited her dad for dinner. And do you know what? Those cheap hot dogs were really good.

And I had a library board meeting at 7 p.m., so I poured a Diet Coke and mango nectar.

I can feel my tension fade away and it feels delightful. I ate well today, though I’m hungry now. I even had a ton of fruit. A serving of cantaloupe. An apple made in the grill like at Girl Scout camp. And probably 8 pieces of watermelon.

A Daffy Charcoal BBQ

There are often silver linings to difficult situations, and that is true even when marriages end. Once upon a time, my husband and I were the couple that everyone thought would last forever and that expectation— and the shock I often see when I say we’ve split up after 20 years—makes the separation hard.

I still know everything I once loved about my husband, the teenager’s father, my first love. And I will always cherish those memories and I will miss those feelings we once had for each other. As I’m sure he has similar nostalgia and good-heartedness.

It was he who told me no matter what happened we would always be family.

And we will.

But there are some parts of this process that are uplifting. New beginnings. New traditions. No more compromising.

Ending family curses.

I mean that. You see, my household had a curse that involved grilling.

You see, every day time we tried to grill, it rained.

Today, I decided to grill. We have a couple of portable charcoal grills. I even sprung for the instant/match light charcoal.

But I decided to keep it vegetarian.

That way if I didn’t get everything cooked properly I didn’t have to worry about the internal temperature of meat.

And since I paid for about ten years of Girl Scout summer camp for the teenager, she should be able to cook on a fire.

So first I weeded the yard and cleaned up the grill.

Got the hose and some Brillo pads.

And the teenager reassembled the grill (and we lost some nuts and bolts— oops). I wrapped a sweet potato in some foil to toss in the coals and also some apples.

I put carrots and fingerling potatoes in the basket.

And I planned on making some chickpea Bubba vegetarian burgers once the grill got good and hot. Sadly, the burgers were freezer-burned beyond a level that could be salvaged.

So the teenager got some chip steak and I put it on my cast iron griddle.

Now if you note in the photos that there are two grills, that’s because once my grill fell apart, we transferred the hot charcoal into the other grill.

But hey— at least it wasn’t raining.

To make matters interesting, the sweet potato was half-cooked. The teenager thought the potatoes and carrots too crunchy and charred. And the chip steak overcooked. But it was a meal we laughed a lot over and we didn’t starve.

The teenager used my small cast iron pot to make tea on the grill, which she will tell you was the best part of the meal. I got a little ice cream so our hot apples could go in it.

When the teenager would come home from Girl Scout camp, she would talk about sugared apples on the fire. I thought I’d surprise her and recreate a beloved summer childhood memory.

Except I didn’t know to core the apple. Obvious now. And we forgot to turn them so they were only hot on one side.

I really had a lovely evening barbecuing with the teenager at the helm of the fire, but sometimes I think my family life might be the script for the next movie in the National Lampoon franchise.

A quiet Memorial Day, reframing Monday

I noticed I was oddly content and relaxed last night and that got me thinking.

I had a great weekend.

Did I have a great weekend because it was my birthday?

Because it was a three-day weekend?

Because I’m starting my vacation and sharing the teenager’s first week of summer vacation?

Or…

Did I have a good weekend because I didn’t waste time worrying about Monday?

I’m not even sure what I did Friday, but I think it involved visiting with neighbors, watched The Call of the Wild with the teenager and ate potato chips and cheese dip for dinner.

On Saturday, I went to Tucker and got a coffee and our burger kit. (Another Trip to Tucker) I had a great time at my Dad’s just seeing the teenager gather treasures from the woods and shooting her bow and arrow. (Vacation Day 1; Birthday day 4)

Yesterday my mom and I cleaned the downstairs, I ate too much pizza and organized my closet.

So I went to bed relaxed.

And now today I worked with my friend Nan, typing her latest essay and submitting it to Pennsylvania Council for the Blind’s newsletter.

The teenager’s father stopped by with a work friend to get some furniture from my garage. Imagine my surprise when the two of them couldn’t move the hutch. My great-grandmother’s hutch. He wants to use it for storage in his small kitchen. I’d rather see it used than sitting in my garage.

So, I asked him— how did it get there if you can’t lift it?

Apparently, the teenager did it.

The teenager was sleeping. So instead of waking her up, he and his friend went to the office and got a hand truck.

She woke up when they returned and found the whole situation amusing.

While they took the hutch to the teenager’s father’s apartment, she asked me to help her move her favorite recliner outside so they didn’t have to struggle.

We did.

She went with her dad for a while so I stared scrubbing the upstairs bathroom.

I also gave Nala a shower.

When the teenager got home, she did a load of blankets and we hung them on the line.

Then we went to the Family Dollar so she could get a new planner now that the school year has ended.

And we stopped at Dunkin Donuts for iced coffee.

Here is a clip of Nala’s tantrum before her shower: Nala having a tantrum.

Mango nectar and Diet Coke

I suppose I have to let go of my birthday and start referring to my time on vacation— but how awesome is it that my birthday bled right into a holiday weekend and then into paid time off from work!

For more on my recent birthday:

Kicking off my birthday

Pre-Birthday Magic

Feeling the love

The end of my birthday

Vacation Day 1; Birthday day 4

I’ve been with my agency for 14 months now. I think in that time I took off my daughter’s birthday, two days before my daughter went back to school (and to go the Iron Pigs baseball Game and see her marching band perform the national anthem—Warrior Band at Iron Pigs), one planned day when my daughter had surgery, and one sick day.

So this time is deserved.

And before I left I learned I got the PA Food Recovery Infrastructure Grant for our food pantry which will pay for a new commercial freezer for our food pantry.

So after my delicious burgers from Tucker Provisions (who with the generosity of their customers and via Easton Hunger Coalition donated cases of eggs from the Zimmerman farm to ProJeCt of Easton’s food pantry), I got home late last night and between the kittens getting wound up and myself feeling a second wind, I didn’t get to bed until 1 a.m.

Luckily the animals let me sleep until 8. Even Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo, was patient.

I got up, fed the menagerie, started dishes and laundry and my mom came down to help me clean. We gave the downstairs a thorough dusting, shining, vacuuming… and I’d like to say Mom and I made a good tag team. The teenager worked on her room.

I told her I’d buy her a pizza for lunch.

We ordered Domino’s. I got a spinach feta pizza with black olives, Parmesan bread bites, and since Mom was here a bacon jalapeño cheesy bread. The teenager asked for wings. We also ordered Diet Coke, which we mixed with mango nectar.

I’ve been drinking it all afternoon. If I had peach schnapps or vanilla rum, it would be even better.

I organized my closet— since I recently got some new clothes from White House Black Market some of the old ones had to go. I have a small wardrobe. And a small bedroom.

I took a 30-minute or so nap.

And Mom might be coming back Tuesday to have coffee and bagels and help me clean and organize my kitchen cupboards.

That sums up vacation day 2.

Vacation Day 1; Birthday day 4

We bought a burger kit at Tucker Provisions and took it to my dad’s to have a picnic, except it rained and rained so we cooked in the kitchen instead of on the grill.

(And the crazy started before we even left the neighborhood as the teenager saw that someone’s guard dog escaped and she was fairly certain she knew what home it came from since it was on her way to school. She lured it to its yard.)

Somehow this wasn’t surprise as I have always had the curse that it rains when I want to grill.

I’d hoped the teenager’s dad took that with him when our marriage ended. I guess not.

The meal was delicious and we shared it with my elderly Aunt Sharon who lives alone and has her share of disabilities.

I think my step mom loved the brioche rolls from Modern Crumb Bakery best.

We took a walk around the neighborhood after dinner and the teenager collected “treasure” in a brown paper bag— wildflowers, weeds, rocks. My little witch at work.

We had cheesecake. So much cheesecake.

And my dad offered to share his concoction that he makes for his immune system: onions, garlic and honey. No thanks, Dad.

The teenager got my bow from the basement—and once we remembered how to string it—shot arrows at trees in the yard.

Then the teenager brought in her marching baritone to play for her grandparents and she realized she didn’t have a mouthpiece.

What a lovely day with family.

TV Psychotherapy

My mind has experienced a lot of shifts recently. I have changed the way I communicate thanks to some insights of the teenager, some stress at work, and a variety of great support from friends and family.

In the midst of all this, there is the Coronavirus pandemic which allows a lot of introspection for those of us who try to be self-aware.

I’m not a big television watcher. I grew up in a rural setting in a valley by the river where we had poor television reception. We didn’t receive access to cable until I was a teenager.

When I left home, my husband and I chose not to pay for cable (and this was Netflix first started and they mailed you discs and prepaid envelopes— streaming was not a thing).

So, Hulu and Netflix on my iPad have allowed me to explore decades of pop culture. And I realize that many of these reality television programs can offer a window as to how we all face our struggles and build our relationships.

While I originally started watching Gordon Ramsay, it was because I love food and he had a reputation that I wanted to understand. I also like big, athletic guys with bad attitudes and exotic accents.

But the more I watched— whether it was Hell’s Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares, Hotel Hell or other Ramsay programs— I saw people of all backgrounds reaching toward goals of increased knowledge and skills, wanting a better life, and working to impress not only a mentor but a larger-than-life icon, a modern God.

And Ramsay pulls talent out of people and sees something in people. It’s amazing to watch.

Inspiring.

Shows like 90-Day Fiancé show how desperately people want to be loved and the lengths they will go to— whether in hope of love or acceptance or, again, that desire for a better life or a Green card.

Now, I’m watching Hoarders. I watched the first episode because I’ve been in a hoarded house and it is mind-blowing. I wanted to understand.

I have learned how our upbringings and traumas intersect and influence how we communicate and relate. That stuff, shopping, accumulating, giving up and other verbs… it’s a manifestation of our emotional walls. I would classify My Secret Addiction (or is it My Unusual Addiction?) in the same realm—how to cope.

And then you take a show like Transitions, where people explore their gender identity, and I suddenly see how much of a struggle they have to live as the person they really are versus the person they feel forced to be by family and society. That’s strength.

And why you really want a good outlook, and to see hope, enthusiasm and change, you watch Queer Eye.