The highs and lows of Christmas 2020

Christmas is always hard for me. Having a second teenager, a houseful of kittens and brand new budgie chicks helps me escape a lot of the pain that surfaces during the holidays.

And no matter what I try, I can’t escape it. Instead, I work to minimize it.

And every year it gets a little easier.

It’s 9:30 pm now— I am listening to Rachmaninov on my brand new AirPods and at first I was very disappointed to discover that they didn’t have buttons.

Imagine my shock when I discovered they automatically turn on and off when I place them in my ear and take them off. And so far they don’t fall out as easily as the cheap ones do. (When I saw cheap I mean cheap— I got my previous set for $10 at Family Dollar. I had no problems with my $10 set either except I broke pieces off of them within the first couple days).

So to continue writing about my holiday backwards, teenager #1 received kitchen tools from teenager #2 and a new hand mixer from my mother-in-law. She’s baking banana bread now.

Apparently piles of cookies and fruitcake aren’t enough for her.

I’m journaling, blogging, and about to watch another episode of The Tudors. I can’t believe Vale of FURR’s Norse Pride is going home tomorrow— and I am bringing three other kittens to the adoption fair as well.

Fern-Edie is doing well in her new home. And I am starting to hyperventilate a little thinking this might be the last night my bed looks like this:

Vale and Loki

As I came up to my bedroom to start the animals’ night routine, I noticed all three budgies were out. Mama Wink showed me that all her eggs had hatched and I watched her clean shell off her newest chick. We hope to name them Yule, Winter and Christmas if they all survive. I hope they do.

Other highlights of Christmas:

  • The big Christmas mission for the teenager’s mysterious package earlier this week was… her varsity jacket!

YouTube: Teenager opens her varsity jacket

  • We listened to some non traditional Christmas carols extremely loudly in the car. Including “The Christmas Tree’s on Fire.”
  • I earned a place of honor in this year’s Christmas Grace, “Thank you, Lord, for keeping us safe from Corona, well except for Angel.” Ever burst out laughing during a prayer? Now I have.
  • I was asked to make the broccoli for Christmas dinner. My step mom doesn’t trust anyone else with the green vegetables I guess. I sautéed them golden brown in butter with sea salt, too much multicolored peppercorns (I grabbed the wrong jar— oops!) and herbs de Provence.
  • Christmas was much smaller than usual because of the pandemic, so my stepmom decided we would get fresh cut steaks from the butcher. She even ordered one for my brother’s dog. And she wanted to grill them. The temperature dropped drastically while my dad was at the grill and then all the steaks went up in flames. I learned that a good blue cheese dressing can cut the taste of charcoaled steaks.

I guess the last thing I’ll mention is that the teenager got a pet play pen which will come in handy for our work with Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. Of course, I’ve discovered it houses cats and teenagers.

Budgies laid eggs

So today I was lying in bed recovering from Covid, dizzy and congested, when I noticed that I only have two budgies.

I have three parakeets — Peek a Boo, Periwinkle and Yo Yo. Boo boo is the bold solid yellow budgie; Periwinkle is the blue one. Yo yo is the green male I got later. Boo is female. I thought Wink was male but he was the one sitting in the coconut. And when we found him— he had eggs.

So, looking closer at Wink as “he” came out to see the food and nesting materials I put out for him, he appears to be a she and Yo appears to be his mate.

I guess Wink’s face and beak look so blue because she’s blue.

Finding shoes and a new routine

So after my first day at StitchFix, I will be starting full time work tonight on the 3:30 to midnight shift.

As a consequence, I’m going to have to streamline and focus my routine. Today, I got up, fed my cats, made a cup of coffee and made a list of things to do.

With that out of the way, I started the dishwasher. I also gathered, sorted and started one load of wash (which I later hung on our heated drying rack and started another to hang outside.)

Next I focused on my room: primarily running the roomba, cleaning the bird cages, and giving fresh food and water to the birds and fosters. I also totally swapped out the litter box for The Norse Pride and spent a little time with everyone.

This included some bird and kitten play time: YouTube video of Loki and Nala

Now it’s 10 am and I’m hoping to have a croissant and some fruit salad before my neighbor and her dog, Sobaka, stop by.

We’re going on a leisurely cookie walk to test one of the three pairs of shoes I bought for my new job.

I tested the ASICS last night. They felt so light. I got a black pair. I’ve always wanted a black pair. I also bought some glittery boots that are more comfortable versions of Doc Martens. Now in the end, they still may require inserts.

But if I’m buying inserts maybe I could go get the actual Doc Martens I wanted.

Mortgage for now — more shoes later.

The Highlights

The last two days have involved trying to deal with the demands of house and health, applying for jobs, and keeping the pets alive and hopefully happy.

Today I learned county council passed a resolution appointing me to the Drug & Alcohol Advisory Board.

Yesterday and earlier today, I exchanged text with some of my peers volunteering with Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. One person is updating Zeus and Apollo’s pictures on the web site and report that the pair are “playful” and becoming more outgoing. And as usual, Zeus is the attention hog.

I miss her so much. I haven’t stopped St. Chaar Pet Supply since Tuesday because it makes my heart hurt.

Zeus is the one in front

This morning I got my monthly Ipsy Glam Bag. It was due between October 6 and 16. So I was getting impatient. Especially since this is my last one until I get some income.

Ipsy Unboxing on YouTube

Later in the day I got some grey cat cuddles.

The teenagers had to go to Marching Band and record their performance for competition.

Click on the  image to see my recording
Click on the image to see my recording

So in the afternoon, I worked on posts for Lucha Bella’s social media. (Lucha Bella_skincare on Instagram)

Finally, the teenagers are off doing laundry and homework with the estranged husband at his parents’ house. I used the last $20 of my GrubHub gift card to order Taco Bell. I chose Taco Bell for several reasons:

  1. With a $15 order you got a free taco and free delivery (delivery is $3.99 plus $3 service fee plus tip)
  2. The food is cheap, so even with all those fees you can still get food for $20.
  3. My last two orders got screwed up— I blame the app not the restaurant. I don’t want small independent restaurants to be penalized for problems caused by the app and fault’s in GrubHub’s design. Ironically Taco Bell is the only order that came out right.

So finally, here is yet another video. Nala and I have Taco Bell

Animals and astrology

Today was hard. In ways I didn’t expect.

It didn’t start that way as it started with all five FURR kittens from the Greek Pride coming to eat at the same time!!!

Starting with the black cat and moving clockwise: Hades, Apollo (you can’t see his head), Zeus, Hermes (not quite at the bowl) and Artemis

That was super exciting as the exclamation points denote.

I indulged in the self-care that usually helps, but instead I feel worse. Went for a walk. Still in a bad mood. But Sobaka followed me home and refused to leave my side.

So I indulged in stress eating, and that didn’t help.

My horoscope didn’t help as several different astrology sites, including my favorite astrology app Co-Star, warned me things wouldn’t be easy.

Of course, there has to be a reference to Fire/Mars. A friend I recently alienated is a Fire sign and oh so Mars.

So I tried retail therapy— and this was a totally stupid move because:

  1. I don’t have any income right now and my savings will only cover two months living expenses.
  2. I paused my Ipsy subscription yet I ordered cosmetics.
  3. I not only ordered cosmetics but I ordered Goth cosmetics so I’m probably not going to be able to pull off the look.

But in my defense, I ordered $60 worth of cosmetics, but found a 20% off discount code, and paid $5 shipping for a total of about $55. And I qualified for a $5 American Express statement credit for supporting small business.

I sent the teenager this photo to select a red lipstick for herself

That merely made me feel guilty.

And, as my last effort to revive my spirits, I walked down to Darnell’s house for a business meeting— both for Thrive Public Relations and for Aspire to Autonomy.

I brought the teenager along to meet The Household Dog.

Here is the two of them: The teenager and Baby Boy (video)

The energy of working with Darnell, Amber and Melanie (all members of the Aspire team) revived my energy. Darnell even invited me to stay for a fish sandwich but the teenager needed me to come home and med the kittens of our pride.

Then, she left for her dad’s and I came upstairs to share dinner with my cockatoo, Nala. She was super bratty and bitey so I put her on the floor. I was losing my temper.

And she walked to the budgie cage. Climbed it. Pulled out the newspaper on the bottom of the cage…

And pooped!

I’m about to continue on with my evening, but I had to give the animals credit for making me smile.

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.