Time for a new chapter: H

The G Alphabook

I started journaling somewhere around my 16th birthday thanks to a very influential English teacher who somehow got me to apply to the University of Penn Young Writers Workshop.

I have journaled most of the last 30 years, though I do have a substantial gap in the early years of my daughter’s life.

I have always had the belief— and much of this may be from my attitude and frame of mind—that each journal begins and ends as a specific chapter. That each volume signifies a certain time period or life event more than a chronological record.

I would also never artificially fill a journal. Each much come to a close naturally.

Yesterday was my birthday and I finished my G journal. Today I moved on to H.

I am very excited. The G journal started in November. It came after the F journal which covered the time period around the end of my marriage. The E journal— or the E-book as Mr. Accordion calls it—brought me to my new employer and new career field.

The G journal covered the holidays, changes in interpersonal relationships, a shift in how my daughter and I communicate, an improvement in how my soon-to-be ex-husband and I interact (and I feel like we are rebuilding our friendship), the beginning of the stressful situation at work, and Covid-19.

Now I feel like hopefully, the pain and struggle will perhaps be more of a journey and time of growth.

May is finally warm. Flowers are finally blooming.

And today at 1 pm — my boss approved my vacation. Stay tuned for more fun.

Feeling the love

The work stress hit me hard this morning so I did something I don’t normally do— I admitted that I needed some emotional support on Facebook.

It is my birthday after all.

At least four of my former bosses sent words of encouragement and one brought some edible arrangements fruit to my house.

Several neighbors sent well-wishes, one of whom got me not one but TWO drinks from Dunkin’. Which, now that I have had three of the matcha lattes, I have decided that Dunkin doesn’t make their matcha strong and chunky the way I like it.

One colleague FaceTimed with me on a coffee break and most of them sent email greetings as Mr. Accordion had no doubt alerted them to my advancing years. Or levels.

The teenager and her father are off to pick up the popcorn fundraiser. Her father offered to bring me dinner.

I will be finishing my G journal if not tonight then tomorrow— and I believe a fresh journal means a new chapter.

For more on my birthday adventures:

Kicking off my birthday

Pre-Birthday Magic

Pre-Birthday Magic

Many years ago I bought a silk slip on clearance in a beautiful teal blue color that matches my current bedroom. Because it’s a full slip, and such a strange and rich color, I never found a dress I could wear with it.

Last night I decided to wear it as a nightgown. I felt so fancy.

I was so cozy in my silk slip I didn’t want to get dressed. I thought a good way to compromise would be to wear a dress. And I got a new dress from The Attic that I haven’t worn.

I did my make-up and everything.

Now to make things more interesting I managed to convince my dad that we should have a socially-distanced picnic to celebrate my birthday and my step-mom’s birthday which are both tomorrow. I really want to cook these on the grill, and I don’t have any charcoal for mine.

And I had to order these. They sound so good! And when I ordered them from Tucker Silk Mill, I ordered fresh dill, fresh ginger, fingerling potatoes, sweet potatoes, golden beets, cauliflower, and purple peppercorns. The Vietnamese purple peppercorns were a birthday splurge.

And I never had golden beets, but I don’t really note any difference between those and regular beets.

I hung a load of wash outside and noticed so many lily of the valleys. At the front of the house my roses are finally blooming. I can’t wait to bring bouquets into the house.

At work today we still didn’t come to any agreement on when I can take my vacation.

I was working on my laptop on the sun porch when two women starting taking photos of my flowers. I heard them comment how beautiful my roses and irises are. I said thank you and started them as they hadn’t seen me.

They had been worried someone would yell at them for being in my yard. I laughed. No, I said, you are welcome. They took photos!

The teenager arrived home with the lemon cardamom cake she baked at my request for my birthday.

Recipe from Spice TrainLemon cardamom cake (click photo for recipe) On my 30-minute lunch break, the teenager and I ran down to Tucker to get my impulse buy of vegetables and then headed to Dunkin’ Donuts for my free birthday coffee which they completely screwed up. The teenager got some more of her special Dunkin stones from the side of the drive through.

(For more on the teenager’s fascination with the magical uses of these particular stones… it started here: Thank You Tucker Provisions with our last visit to Tucker. Apparently each time we go to Tucker, I let my daughter pick up random rocks at Dunkin.)

But she has always valued the power in rocks.

And honestly, I’m glad they screwed up my coffee and gave me a smaller weaker drink because I submitted four grants to my executive director today so my nerves were shot. I had just enough time to bring these goodies into the house before I had to clock back in!
My provisions from Tucker

The kittens and big old Oz gathered around me while I worked. My mother-in-law gave me a birthday card with money in it and my dad sent a really cute cupcake card with a check.

Then the teenager and I walked down to CVS to get my prescription and my neighbor who owns Sobaka, the Maltese yorkie mix, joined us. This gave the teenager a chance to try the new dog training clicker I bought her from Petco.

And I got my free nail polish from CVS for my birthday.

I came home and roasted vegetables, are cake and watched Star Trek The Next Generation with my daughter.

An easier Monday

I struggle a lot with my birthday and holidays. I always have the best hopes and best intentions but somehow my mood often sours.

My birthday is Wednesday.

And the fact that I have three major grants due this Friday doesn’t help.

And I’m disappointed that my boss hasn’t approved my vacation for next week.

But today took an unexpected turn…

I drank too much coffee, consumed too much sugar (a sour cream doughnut and too many jelly beans), and somehow managed to draft two of those grants today.

Now I’m sure I will be asked to redraft and revise five times by Friday… but part of me hopes maybe I could take my birthday off. Maybe I can have a vacation.

The teenager left for her grandmother’s this afternoon and I miss her. In part because I had a good day and I want to share my good mood with her.

Her grandmother and her father are really the only two people she sees with this lockdown so I hope she appreciates the change of scenery. She’s supposed to bake me a lemon cardamom cake.

After work, I reorganized some cupboards while watching the last season of The Great on Hulu.

I went for a walk with my neighbor.

I helped another nonprofit with their CDBG grant— the same one I wrote for my agency today.

I made myself this platter for a light supper:

And I received emails that my birthday purchases to myself have mostly shipped.

I also got a text from CVS that my prescription is ready which is exciting on many levels.

  1. I thought my prescription didn’t have any refills left. And I was literally staring in the bottle wondering if I had enough to make it to my doctor appointment scheduled for June 2.
  2. CVS sent me a coupon for a free nail polish on my birthday. A sexist notion really— but I like free things. And I should start doing my nails again since I won’t be able to get a manicure for a while.
  3. I have a $25 CVS gift card.

So, for a Monday, it was a mighty fine day.

Kicking off my birthday

Many things happen in May that I look forward to, primarily the blooming of my lovely pink roses and Lily of the Valley (both fragrances I adore.)

Lily of the Valley, May’s flower

Warmer weather normally arrives (though this year we had snow). The school year is winding down. And there’s an anticipation akin to the new year that good things are to come.

My birthday arrives smack dab in the middle of this week and I know it’s significance will be dulled by major work deadlines and the pandemic. We do have a three day weekend coming for Memorial Day, all of which was why I had hoped to take vacation the last week of May.

Nala and I: Nala’s New Trick

That issue has not been settled, so I decided to have some mild fun to at least acknowledge to myself my birthday. Which is #45.

I ordered a sit down hot meal last night, instead of my usual stress meal of 2,000+ calories of pizza. My dear friend and editing client William Prystauk of the Kink Noir series suggested that the teenager and I deserved the treat. Ironically, it was the same restaurant my husband picked for my birthday dinner last year, Two Rivers Brewing.

More on Bill and his BDSM-themed crime novels: Sunday evening briefing: My Time of Debauchery Ends

Last time I tried Two Rivers delivery service: Two Rivers Brewing Delivery

I ordered a crowler of the Banker’s Brown ale, the breathtaking peanut butter bacon burger, bacon apple mac and cheese, and Brussel Sprouts. My daughter and I feasted like queens.

Speaking of queens, I started watching Hulu’s The Great, loosely based on the life of Catherine the Great of Russia. The costumes and sets are amazing. The script is witty and allows much thought of life and politics in that time period. I watched 5 episodes yesterday while doing housework.

The teenager had deserved a good meal as she had resecreened one of my bedroom windows.

She’s on the roof

A friend of mine texted early. He said it was a shame that people couldn’t celebrate properly because of the pandemic. But I pointed out that really nothing has changed. The teenager plans on baking me a cake— might be trying lemon cardamom this year. Cards still come in the mail. My friends and family have phones. And most restaurants have curbside or delivery.

I think the pandemic just removes a lot of the pretentious notions of what we need to survive and highlights how outdated the 40-hour workweek is. Employment for a lot of fields could be based on project completion versus time occupied at a desk.

I treated myself to a self-purchased birthday present today and thanks to the pandemic it comes with a free mask!

Dolls Kill

And this morning my mom surprised my with a few fun edibles (not THAT kind of edible) and a pair of tights.

Mom and Nala bonded and she approved of the teenager’s efforts in the garden.

So here’s hoping I can clean up this house and get my spirits to where they need to be to start the work week— and my birthday week— with enthusiasm.

I like numbers

I’ve always liked patterns of numbers. It’s one of the things that M shares with me. M is my good, good friend and traveling companion (for treks through Russia and Africa—let me go find some links. This web site was originally my professional portfolio, then a place to post travel tales and now a blog.)

But numbers.

I always check the mileage on the car. Like I can tell you from the top of my head that my 2015 Jetta has about 30,010 miles on it.

It was on 29,999 miles a few weeks ago and I was so happy when I returned to the garage and that made me happy.

But this did not make me happy:

Notification Bubbles

My daughter downloaded her email on my iPad and left me with this. More than 1,000 unread messages. I can’t live with red notifications. Let alone one that reads 1,034.

I turned off the notification.

But yesterday something amazing happened— I received my expense payment from work and it was $70.62. My balance in my grocery/fun money account was $4.38.

Which means my current balance is $75. I might never buy anything with that account again! 75 is 3 x 25. 25 has a square root of 5. 5 and 3 are both prime. And then you have a progression of 3, 5, 7.

M has Aspergers so his mind works very mathematically. I don’t know what my story is.

Soothing $75

Some old travel pieces:

Going to Siberia for Pizza

My photos from Tunisia

Camel farm in Somalia

My time in Yemen

The postman never brought laundry yesterday

Please friends— promise me you will embrace the silliness. The restrictions of pandemic life can be hard, but they also can free you to enjoy those small moments you may be too busy to see in “normal”life.

Though either my iron is dropping (don’t worry, I took my supplement) or I am losing my mind because I told the teenager that the postman didn’t bring any laundry.

I hope that made you smile.

On Monday night, the teen and I went to the Grocery Outlet to do our first shopping in two weeks. We found these fish nuggets and we prepared them with cheesy cauliflower rice for a hot lunch.

Fun Fish Nuggets

On children’s plates.

Mine is in French.

Today I embraced the sun, opened the sun roof and took the teenager to Dunkin’ for “free donut Friday” and hash browns. Except I forgot the donut. And the hash browns. So we went through the drive through twice. This is becoming a habit. (See Nothing Just Happens: Pandemic Shenanigans .)

Me and my stufferReview (video on YouTube)

We ended up with one chicken bacon croissant stuffer (which we both liked), one donut, two orders of hash browns, one small raspberry cold brew, one medium butter pecan cold brew.

And the teen loved her first cold brew.