A Foggy Itch

This post is about some some difficulties…

Nothing serious. The day-to-day realities of life.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the teenager had some medical issues. I have a dental appointment for an adjustment to my crown that was a mild nightmare before the Coronavirus pandemic. That’s on the 17th.

My favorite kitten got out and was missing for 24 hours this week. Thanks to all my neighbors who offered to help or kept and eye out for Fog.

So his brother, Misty, and I went walking in case Fog was afraid to come home.

Fog found his way home on his own, as cats often do. But he no longer had a collar.

In Nala news, (for those that don’t know, she’s my four-year-old Goffin’s cockatoo who joined our family in January) she has stopped plucking and has started barbering. This means she was pulling out her feathers, which, like with a teenager who “cuts,” releases endorphins that soothe. But barbering is the habit of eating the feathers but not removing them.

I hope this is a sign of progress.

This morning, the teenager and I went to Petco to get Fog a new collar (and we made sure all critters had tags with their name, address and phone—except Opie who eats his collar and since he’s microchipped AND is an amputee, we hope the neighborhood would “know” he belongs to us. He does have a tag, he just refuses to keep it on).

And we dognapped the neighbor’s sassy Maltese-Yorky for the day.

Lastly, I’m still struggling with some rather difficult itching. It’s a stress thing. The heat, stress, and my already overactive immune system (due to a myriad of pollen allergies and history of contact dermatitis) is prompting random hives. One or two, here or there, which despite daily antihistamines is getting worse not better.

Once a hive pops up, if I as much as touch it, it will stay and itch for days. I have some that won’t go on my belly, arms and butt right now. My thighs come and go.

So I post this things just to remind every one that despite what perfection people post to the internet, there are always struggles we all face, small and large.

Farewell to Sunday… in Yellow

In honor of the last Pennsylvania counties going to the next phase of Covid-19 restrictions…

Coldplay: Yellow (click to listen)

Alex Parks: Yellow (click to listen)

Yesterday was a very nice Sunday. We went out to the backyard to enjoy a glass of fresh-squeezed lemonade. We had a big bags of lemons and Meyer lemons.

Fresh squeezed lemonade with unsweetened tea

We rescued a baby sparrow, and set in up in the parakeet cage in the backyard. That way his momma could still feed him but he’d be safe from wild or domestic animals. My mother-in-law thought he was a day or two away from flying.

Yes, I let the teenager capture a baby bird. Watching his momma dote on him was beyond precious.

Momma coming to feed baby
(look under the table)
And see what happened on Monday

And then he crawled out of the cage and hid between the garage and the fence.

For dinner I made an exquisite vegetarian ramen dish to use some of the fresh ginger I bought at Tucker Provisions. I based the recipe on one I found in Bon Appétit.

I mixed up the ginger, some carrots and some cabbage in my Ninja. I sautéed everything with garlic, coconut oil, fresh chives and some spices. I mixed a sauce of apple cider vinegar, low sodium soy sauce, sesame oil and vegetable oil and poured it over everything. Then I toasted some sesame seeds in the mix.

I cooked the ramen. I made some egg drop in the ramen water, and scooped the mix out of the water with a slotted spoon.

Then I placed the vegetable mix over the noodles.

My Ramen

The meaty bits in the photo are Golden Island Korean Barbecue Pork Jerky. I found them at the Grocery Outlet. The teenager enjoyed them. It was a way to add extra protein. Tasted more or less like every other kind of jerky.

And to round out the evening, I poured a stiff drink (mint whiskey and Diet Coke as that’s the only alcohol I have in the house) and watched TV and binged on Double Good popcorn.

So I’m a pound heavier today but the time with the teenager was worth it.

This morning, I tried the other Siggi yogurt I bought at the Grocery Outlet. I couldn’t wait to try it as it was strawberry rhubarb. The smooth, not sweet yogurt might be my new favorite brand.

Hope you’re all having a good Monday.

Sunday with the birds

Today the teen and I made brunch. She made banana pancakes and I made maple sausages and hot strawberry sauce made with organic strawberries.

It was so delicious.

While I was hanging the wash today I noticed a cute bird who seemed to be hanging around. Then I saw he had his mouth open all the time.

Baby bird

I motioned to the teenager to come and help me find food for the baby bird. But as she came out, Momma arrived and started feeding it.

At one point, she noticed us and started feeding him through the fence. And then he hid between the garage and the fence, but she keeps coming to check on him.

The end of my birthday

The last few days became so busy, both emotionally and professionally, that I never even finished blogging about my perfectly awesome birthday.

(Gayle’s Portfolio)Art by Gayle Hendricks
(Click image for her portfolio)

That may have something to do with the bottle of Vouvray the teenager and her father selected for me to accompany a most amazing cheese and fruit platter with charcuterie that they provided for my birthday dinner.

The meal came courtesy of a trip to Wegmans and included a block of applewood smoked Gouda, dill ha art I, and intense Brie. The fruits were white grapes and some succulent watermelon. A fresh baguette. Some Italian meats, include prosciutto. (Which I love to say in my best Sicilian accent) and silly cupcakes.

And the morning after my birthday I breakfasted like a princess in chocolate dipped fruits and a cookie and a tea from Dunkin’.

And yesterday I made the birthday Spam by mom brought me. On Wonder Bread for the teenager. Me. Accordion was jealous. He offered me some recipes.

This might be why my Corona weight gain is up to 10 lbs.

The artwork featured above is by Gayle Hendricks.

My friend Gayle appears in this blog from time to time, for our silly adventures, long walks or random road trips. She is a fantastic graphic designer with a very clean style. She specializes in typography and can set books in both traditional and electronic formats. I connected her portfolio to the image above, which she made for me representing my flock. (She altered a stock image in Adobe illustrator.)

Please consider her if you need freelance graphic design and know we are available as a team. I handle the editorial and she handles the pretty stuff. And we’re efficient.

And we celebrated my 40th birthday at a Trampoline Park.

Sky Zone (Gayle’s blog—5 years ago!)

More on our silly adventures:

Niagara Falls

Honey Nut Cheerios

State Parks Weekend

Volkssport Trip to Maryland

Littleton, NC

South Carolina

Birds and beasts in Georgia (This was the day I became interested in birds)

Now today:

But back to more memories:

My first visit to Waffle House

The Juliette Gordon Low House (founder of Girl Scouts)

The teenager buys a bugle

Welcome Home Horus

So as I have mentioned—the teenager and I have made consignment shopping a pandemic sport. The Attic, a consignment shop in Bethlehem, has hosted live events and posted pictures of merchandise for sale on Facebook and Instagram.

See some of our precious mentions here:

Nothing Just Happens

Photography and musings on the visual arts

We have a jumper! (This post jumps around)

My teen and I love to peruse the Instagram offerings and direct message each other from various parts of the house about items we think the other will like.

I ordered a bunch of necklaces. I used to wear a necklace every day and my necklaces were always symbolic. The amber I bought to purify energy around me. The emerald that reminded me who I wanted to be. The Celtic knot pentacle pendant that reminded me of my heritage and my spirituality.

I stopped wearing necklaces because Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo, thinks it’s a game to bite the chains in half. And I didn’t know what necklace fit anymore.

So I bought used jewelry.

Now the necklace on the bottom of the photo is my standard one with my pentacle, my amber and a charm my father gave me recently to remind me that he loves me.

But the others are from my Attic buying spree.

And I don’t know what made me buy Horus. I think I started with the red strands of tiny beads. Then that sparkly circle. And Horus was an impulse. (I had already paid my invoice when the Attic posted the Tiger’s Eye necklace.)

And the Tiger’s Eye I bought very intentionally for the stone’s properties as, to borrow from one random website, “A stone of protection, Tiger Eye may also bring good luck to the wearer. It has the power to focus the mind, promoting mental clarity, assisting us to resolve problems objectively and unclouded by emotions. Particularly useful for healing psychosomatic illnesses, dispelling fear and anxiety.” (Charms of Light)

I can use some focus and good luck.

But why Horus?

I saw the bird with the stone in his belly and thought he’d be homage to my flock. And I thought he looked Egyptian, so as a pagan and a former scholar of Africa, the attraction made sense.

But today as I got ready for work, I was overcome with the urge to know who my bird pendant was and the magical properties of turquoise.

So, turquoise: (from the same web site) “Turquoise is a purification stone. … Turquoise balances and aligns all the chakras, stabilising mood swings and instilling inner calm. It is excellent for depression and exhaustion, it also has the power to prevent panic attacks. Turquoisepromotes self-realization and assists creative problem solving.

Are you noticing a theme? Albeit a coincidental one. This is what I mean about the universe sending tools and magical objects. (I posted about this concept in my witchcraft series: My previous witchcraft series)

So I googled Egyptian bird gods and found my falcon-man Horus. And this is what encyclopedia Brittanica told me:

“Horus, Egyptian Hor, Har, Her, or Heru, in ancient Egyptian religion, a god in the form of a falcon whose right eye was the sun or morning star, representing power and quintessence, and whose left eye was the moon or evening star, representing healing. Falcon cults, which were in evidence from late predynastic times, were widespread in Egypt.

Perhaps my time of healing has begun.

Thank you to The Attic.

This beauty and reaching the dark side

Tomorrow will mark two weeks since I started working from home due to the Coronavirus.

I have left the house six times in the last two weeks— three times for work: once to go to the office, once to go to Staples, and once to go to the post office. Once to take a walk and once to walk to CVS to get my prescription.

I reached my one year anniversary today in the small non-profit where I work in the development office. I was hired in a communications position, and four months later promoted to a more directly fund-raising/grant writing position. And for the first five months I was the only person in the department. And this field is new to me.

So the last year has been a whirlwind, stressful and exhausting before you even consider that my husband moved out nine months ago and I live with my teen daughter, two cats, two kittens, three parakeets and a cockatoo.

I’m relishing the stillness of the Covid-19 worth. I enjoy my home as the epicenter of my universe. I love seeing how the technology forces our creativity.

But today I did the unthinkable. Something I swore I would never ever do. Something entirely against my principles and completely disgusting to me.

I bought a laptop— and it wasn’t a Mac. My last laptop was a MacBoor Air 2013 that traveled the world with me. My first computer ever was a PowerBook 165 in 1994.

But now my boss has signaled that she anticipates us working from home through the end of April. And it’s not fair to continue to borrow my just-about-ex-husband’s laptop. And the child needs her MacBook Air to do her schoolwork now.

My mom offered to buy me a laptop for my birthday— so I ordered a refurbished HP Elitebook for $300. A refurbished MacBook would have been twice the cost. Honestly, for work, Microsoft Remote Server works better on the PC. And I know that if I leave this job I will never touch this PC again.

And that’s okay with my daughter, she already has plans for it.

Stress

I’m exhausted.

Obviously stress is in the air today. Nala ate through her perch in her cage. She has two, but only one runs the whole length of the cage and she ate the end off it.

She played with a bunch of her toys, so I don’t know whether to chalk it up to boredom, anxiety or rambunctiousness. But she’s been here about 16 days and she ate her perch.

I guess I need to find her some more toys. Although she does have a bunch.

She seems to be talking more and dancing more. Her favorite song is Angelina by Harry Belafonte.

Today I went through some medical bills, tax paperwork, a school fundraiser and some band trip stuff with my soon-to-be ex-husband. We all had dinner together. He brought a pizza.

Then I finished my chores. Laundry. Bird cages. Some vacuuming. The roomba would not go to home base. After an hour and with the battery almost dead I discovered why… the roomba had unplugged its own base while vacuuming.

And to make my day a little more demoralizing, I tripped over my own two feet walking between buildings at work. The administration offices and the literacy center are a block apart. And I just fell. I was hungry, probably worn thin from too much stress.

Someone across the street saw me, and yelled to see if I was alright. She was walking a very large dog. I got up and said I was fine. Barely even scraped my hands.

“Darn ice,” she said.

There was no ice. Just me and my faulty legs.

Sometimes I feel so healthy and strong.

Some days I feel so broken.

That is what it feels like to have cerebral palsy. Sometimes your body works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Nala is plucking again

When I got home from work today, I changed my clothes and retrieved my bird. From the look of her chest, she’d be plucking.

I brought her downstairs, as is now my habit, keeping her on my shoulder as I do chores. Like laundry. Here we are in the basement. She thinks my hood is a kangaroo pouch.

I read somewhere that if your bird tries to steal your coffee, you can try to fool them with a cup of tea. Herbal tea. So I made Nala some blueberry tea and it kept her very occupied while I made dinner.

Watch Nala and her tea here: Nala and her tea

It really feels like the perfect plan. I come home, release her from her cage and reward her for her patience with a cup of tea.

And dinner. Oh, Dinner! The teenager and I had butternut squash apple bisque soup and boxed gourmet Velveeta style Mac-and-cheese. I gave Nala a couple of noodles and her own taste of soup.

After dinner she helped me do more chores. Then I sat down on my bed and started to cuddle her. She started plucking and made herself cry. Then she made herself bleed.

Is she overstimulated? Is she plucking to try and guarantee my attention? Does she know being back in my room means the night is winding down and she’ll have to go in her cage?

It makes me so sad. I know I have to be patient. I know she has been “left” and that she couldn’t prosper in a store. But it’s like the birdy version of being a cutter.

(The hydrogen peroxide wasn’t for her but for me. I fell down the stairs Monday.)

Maybe her skin is itchy. Or dry. Maybe it’s just habit. Hopefully it will improve.

So I bought her a bird sweatshirt.

Now I don’t know how on God’s green earth I’m going to get a cockatoo that bites into a sweater.

But I gotta try something.

Did that bird just scream “Mommy”?

Similar to my Roomba, cockatoos share a lot of traits with toddlers. They are cute, can be needy, can learn adorable behaviors that keep you from killing them, are cuddly and can throw tantrums.

I knew all this going in.

And I also knew Nala bites and that Nala doesn’t like to step up.

Nala seems to have trust issues.

The first day I had her, I had to towel her (gently) to get her in her cage and I never covered her head. That way she could see what I was doing.

The second day, she bit me twice while I put her in her cage at night but I didn’t have to towel her.

And she’s starting to step up. Now she runs right up my shoulder. Which is still not truly stepping up. But she will reach out and take my hand and stand on it.

She has also discovered that I often leave the room after I ask her to step up and if she doesn’t step up, she doesn’t get to come.

First night I had her, I had to cover her cage to get her to settle. Last night, she went to sleep before I even turned the lights out. Now something startled her awake, but when I turned out the light she didn’t make a peep.

But the one thing I am wondering, she doesn’t scream when left alone but she will periodically call out. And I think she’s saying, “Mommy.”

Maybe I’m crazy.

But has this bird been looking for a maternal type?

See what you think, check out this YouTube video:

“Mommy?”

Our Animal-ventures: Finding Dogs and Nala

My daughter is still obsessive-compulsive about the new Cats movie. Since she lost a field mouse in her room last night, I suggested maybe she clean today.

Somehow I told her that if she got her room clean I would gladly take her to Cats again. Even though I would rather go to the dentist.

But that’s how much I want her room clean.

And so far she’s done five or six loads of laundry, found a pile of dishes and probably emptied the vacuum cleaner more times than she can count.

And she’s filled two 30 gallon trash bags.

I may be spending tomorrow at Cats.

My morning

I spent my morning picking up a little, hanging out with the budgies and watching the roomba vacuum.

Then I spent about 90 minutes working on my budget through April and paying bills.

I have been contemplating buying a computer so I can work from home this winter when it snows.

But it’s just so hard with the price of Apple products on the rise. I need to research some refurbs.

I thought maybe it would be fun to visit a bird store. So I googled that. Bird Mania on Emmaus Avenue.

Double Click Computers

Our first stop was Double Click Computers between Bethlehem and Nazareth. They were once the only Apple service people in the Lehigh Valley. Then the Apple Store moved in at the Lehigh Valley Mall.

My first computer was a PowerBook 165 in 1994. I’ve never owned anything but Macs. I’ve had the first Mac Mini prone to overheating. I had a Performa. I had iBooks, MacBooks, and MacBook Airs. Even the one shaped like a toilet seat. I had a G4. I had a tower with a built-in Zip drive.

I feel like I’ve had all the Mac products. I had the first Time Capsule, which also overheated. Though I never had an iMac. Or did I? I might have had a hand-me-down.

So it was fun to consider buying the new MacBook Pro. But the $1400 price tag scared me.

But they had dogs. 3 dogs.

They were a lot of fun and apparently they keep children from banging on the computer keyboards.

Next, the birds.

Bird Mania

Most of the birds we saw were sold or boarding.

There was a boarding macaw that was very adamant about screaming. And an African Grey that talked quietly. Another bird that said “whatever.” Several that shook. I don’t know whether it was anxiety or fear. A lot of singing and a lot of squawking.

I saw a green bird named Beetle and an African Grey named Dorian and thought “wait a minute.” I was at Three Birds Coffee House and Beetle and Dorian were on vacation.

“Excuse me,” I asked the staff, “are these birds from Easton?”

Sure enough, I had found where the birds were vacationing. Maybe next time the owners can let me watch them.

I wanted to see cockatiels.

But a cockatoo made a move on me.

Nala

Her name is Nala. Her feathers were a tad matted, and she had plucked herself in some spots. She kept reaching through the cage.

So the teen wanted to see if we could handle her. As in pet her.

The staff warned me that she always seemed pleasant but she wouldn’t “step up” and she bites.

But she agreed to let us try.

Nala came out and sat on her cage door and kept trying to bite me and wouldn’t “step up.” But she let me pet her and play with her. And scratch her head and under her wings.

But she kept biting me.

The teenager refused to touch her.

I noticed she had lovely orange cheeks and orange under her crown feathers.

But I had to say goodbye.

The staff person said they had a boy who was a bird whisperer and he couldn’t get anywhere with her. I took that as my solace and my consolation. Then the staff member added, “but she really seems to like you.”

Wow.

My family had a cockatoo, probably 30 years ago. So I know how demanding and needy they are. And expensive. So I asked, “how much are cockatoos going for these days?”

“Because she’s older and bites, she’s $600.”

Sorry, Nala. I’m a single mom.

The staff member gets a towel to corner her. They start this dance around all the cages. I feel terrible. I step close. Nala now will “step up.” And she perches on my shoulder.

Look at her.

So I pet her more and try to kneel by her cage. She gets on the door. Refuses to go in. And plucks out one of her white and orange chest feathers as if to say, “you can’t leave me.”

Heartbroken.

Dinner at Taco Bell

We ended up at Taco Bell. And the teenager made this funky but delicious concoction of two parts Diet Pepsi and one part Mango iced tea.

  • She had normal tacos but I ordered all my items from the value menu. I started with the spicy potato taco ($1) because it sounded intriguing, then the Frito and beef burrito ($1) because that just sounded weird, and a bean and cheese and rice burrito ($1) for protein.
  • Fritos in my burrito.
  • The spicy potato taco was really tasty. I bet it would be amazing with eggs.
  • The Friti burrito gave the soft taco just the right amount of crunch.