7:50 a.m. Great talk about cat foster godmother about statistics about Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab and what programs we want to promote as we start the media push for our pop-up cat café August 15.
8:20 a.m. Finally get that cup of coffee, let the dog out, feed our personal cats and our current foster kittens Em(inem) and (Slim) Shady. I even include the foster who thinks she runs the whole house—Touch of Grey.
8:45 a.m. Having had coffee, I now have the bandwidth to meet my right-hand-gal Janel for coffee and continuing planning the fundraiser cat café.
9 a.m. Janel and I brainstorm and make notes while gulping coffee. We honed out our goals and schedule for the next week.
10 a.m. I leave Janel’s patio and head to Nan’s apartment. Nan is coming to my house so I can help her with recent projects. She calls me her computer wizard but really it’s more of an assistant type thing and I feed her.
10:30 a.m. Nan is sipping chai. Nan loves my chai.
Noon We wrap up official work and Nan accompanies me to the kitchen. I try to make “cauliflower steaks” and the teenager prepares Nan a bowl of meatloaf and mashed potatoes. I mention I have a dozen ears of local sweet corn I need to shuck and cook as I committed to canning corn relish. Nan mentions she has never seen someone can. I promise to include her.
1 p.m. I take Nan home and come home and take a nap.
1:30 p.m. While I am napping, the teenager lays on the end of my bed and orders a refurbished MacBook pro on my Amex.
2 p.m. I get ready for work.
2:40 p.m. The teen drives me to work so she can keep the car for her therapy appointment. We stop at Dunkin so I get get a large lemonade which I keep putting ice in and drink on every break.
3:20 p.m. I learn a work friend has cancer.
3:30 to midnight I fold clothes (123 fixes) at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy.
This weekend was a strange blend of trying to catch up, trying to get ahead and trying to touch base with friends I haven’t seen in a while.
Bill Prystauk (the author of the Kink Noir book series) took the teenager and I to Jasmine for sushi and sashimi. We had a love boat where I tried and enjoyed sashimi for the first time: white tuna, salmon and some clam thing that tasted like a seafood gummy bear.
This week I have a commitment every morning and the Bizzy Hizzy every night. I don’t anticipate voluntary time off because the warehouse won’t have computers on August 2 so that will be another 3-day weekend.
The FURR Pop Up Cat Café is reaching some critical mass as FURR volunteers get more involved and excited. Tomorrow I have a 7:45 phone conversation scheduled with my cat foster godmother and an event planning meeting at 9 will Janel. Still no update on a coffee provider… I’m getting nervous.
But Joan Z agreed to take photos, Gayle is helping design some games.
Then at 10, I’ll be meeting Nan. And at 1, I’ll cook lunch and get ready for my Stitch Fix shift.
This week, I have two training sessions with Dan at Apex Training. Tuesday and Friday. As part of my recovery after these workouts, these might be my main days to do my edits and proofs on the final file for Manipulations. Official launch date is September 11.
Wednesday I visit the chiropractor (and I can’t wait to see what she thinks about my new fitness routine) and Thursday I see my primary care physicians and his residents about my anemia.
I mention all of this because these are the weeks when one has to focus on food prep, proper rest and activities to maintain mental balance.
The full moon is a few minutes away but its pull has been evident for a couple days. My recent health struggles, my employer giving us random time off, and today the dog ate my latest set of AirPods that I bought less than a month ago and emptied my favorite Coach leather wallet I bought in 2010 for my first excursion with my beloved M.
It took about 30 minutes to locate my money, shopping club cards, credit cards and various ID. Not to mention she destroyed my AmEx.
The teenager got a toll violation in the mail for her Cape May road trip. The toll officer yelled at her for stopping to pay the toll because the equipment read my old transponder from the Altima. I had meant to return the damn thing but never got around to it.
She also broke her phone charger.
I also had the misfortune of having to cut off someone who left room for me to merge and then changed his mind. The situation had me worried he was going road rage-y.
But let’s celebrate all the good news.
It was an amazing day. I went to Grocery Outlet and bought my favorite Cabot cottage cheese. I got a free soda at Wawa.
I had dinner with my favorite nurse from StitchFix who left the company to “do” hospice. It was so nice to see her.
I came home and registered my first two ISBN numbers to Manipulations(printand ebook). This is the first novel in the Fashion and Fiends series.
I edited some bios, created at Ingram Sparks account, updated my ISBN info at Bowker, downloaded a bunch of user guides and wanted to vomit.
I approved the cover concept. The proofreader signed off.
I assigned prices.
And I pledged that I will donate $1 to Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab for every print version of the book sold. One of the minor (but very key characters) in the novel is Zut the tabby, modeled after Zoot, my tabby of 16 years. Zoot was my familiar as it would be called in witchcraft terms.
The official publication date is September 11, which is my husband’s birthday. Even though we’ve been separated two years, he had always beenmy most loyal supporter when it comes to my fiction.
I have received encouragement from published authors Jonathan Maberry and Kathryn Craft, but no one encouraged me like Darrell did.
So thank you. There are so many good aspects to the 20-plus year relationship I had with you and that is only one.
And the goal is to get the next one out on my partner Gayle’s birthday.
Today marked my first lower body work out with Dan at Apex. I did something I rarely do and wore a little tennis style athletic skirt to the gym. I don’t like wearing shorts. There are two reasons why.
1. I honestly don’t like my flesh touching various surfaces: hot car leather, wooden chairs, the concrete if I sit on my steps, of course “thigh rub.” You get it.
2. But I also don’t like to see my lower body in motion. It’s a visual reminder of my physical issues.
So exposing my legs to a relative stranger was a way of me making myself vulnerable. But if Dan is going to monitor and critique my form, he can see my knees.
Lower body. I was so… not anxious, not scared. Maybe trepidation? We did pretty standard upper body exercises. Easy starting point. Dumbbells. I was happy with it. Very happy. (See more here.)
Dan brought his six-month-old son. What a happy, charming, beautiful baby. He didn’t mind seeing my knees.
And right away, Dan put me at ease. I’m impressed by the depth of his knowledge— my physical therapists have explained the same info to me so I know he’s done his homework on normal physiology.
Our exercises yesterday included a supported squat using some overhead ropes (that was amazing! I felt like I could move like a normal person. I could have done that all day.); some mild lifts with a plate that was like a full body deadlift, slowing stretching out the whole self; and some squats with a resistance band moving up and down from a bench. Many of these movements required great concentration on my part but I knew from past physical therapy that he was nailing it.
He apologized for not working me harder but he wants to focus on getting everything moving and flexible again so I don’t get hurt.
That isexactly what I need right now. I shouldn’t be working out hard. I just want to establish the habit, get my metabolism working again, and oil the machine, so to speak. I am so thrilled. Giddy.
And I walked slowly home with no falls.
As my rest period at home, I finally wrote the solicitation letter for FURR’s Coffee and Kittens pop-up cat café August 15 at Forks Community Center. The organization is working hard, my former employee and friend Janel and I are brainstorming away and reaching out to potential sponsors.
I hope to have FURR volunteers give five minute talks or demonstrations on various cat topics: TNR, basic cat care, how much cats can reproduce, declawing and cat scratching behavior, working with hissy spitties, cat body language, trimming nails, seniors for seniors, why kittens aren’t easy.
Activities will include live kittens in play pens to cuddle, cat story time (I will read cat stories), and musical chairs with cat-themed music. We hope to have some raffles— the chance to name some kittens, hopefully some prizes. And cat merchandise for sale.
As I mentioned last week, neighborhood events coincided with the teenager’s pet sitting commitments to have us at full capacity with dogs— except for Buddy who at the last minute got to go on vacation with his family.
Little Dog Sobaka’s mom left for a wedding in Western Pa., allowing me the time to teach Sobaka that Bean might be scary but she’s really just a big, dumb puppy and not a threat.
And the teenager decided to test Sobaka’s ingenuity and made her eat her nightly supper from a dog puzzle. Bean would have just eaten the puzzle.
On Friday night, Baki and I slept in my bed with Louise and Khloe hiding under the bed. On Saturday, the teenager left for her housesitting job, so I planned a sleepover in the living room—Baki and I in the hand-me-down pull-out couch bed and Bean in her downstairs crate.
The clientele for the week includes 2 dogs (one geriatric German shepherd with mobility struggles), two personal cats, one Senegal parrot and at least eight foster kittens who all need meds.
My daughter is a very special pet sitter. I have heard horrible stories and witnessed some of friends hiring people to care for their pets and these people neglect their wards. When my daughter accepts a job, her focus becomes that household and my job is to make sure I maintain standards at home. She spends a lot of time doting on animals.
I provide back up and moral support and make sure the pet sitter doesn’t live on diet soda and chips for the week. She usually has me over to the home once or twice so I know the basics should she need to leave or needs help.
Last night the “can you come see if the cat likes you better than he likes me” request ended up being a three hour visit because she wanted me to shoot video of how well the German Shepherd was doing to set the family at ease.
And a little after 8 pm, I announced I was going home to make supper.
“I forgot the food you told me to take,” the child says.
It’s almost 8:30 on a Sunday night in the town where her father grew up and not our own— the mom and pop places are closing up and I don’t have the time or patience for a sit down meal.
We find Tuscana Pizza & Pasta. The first thing I see when I walk in the door is empanadas. There are seven slices of pizza on the counter, a pile of garlic knots and the empanadas.
There are three slices of pepperoni, one plain, two sausage and peppers and one meat lovers.
We take one of each and some garlic knots. $16.47.
They start speaking Spanish to each other at the register. When everything gets done, they take it out of the oven, throw it in a large pizza box, hand it to us and tell us goodbye.
Obviously they were trying to close the restaurant and didn’t want us hanging around.
We were okay with that. We ate in the car.
The sausage and pepper slice was really good, but I don’t like onions so I could only make it through half. The garlic knots were soft— I’m used to them being like chunks of pizza crust but these were like dinner rolls smothered in butter and garlic.
I love neighborhood pizza shops. I love the ambiance. I love them simple. I wish they’d stop trying to be full fledged restaurants and push slices and pies and sugary concoctions like the mysterious red “jungle juice” of my youth and arcade games and pinball.
My daughter— who has apparently spent far too much time in town ordering Dominos or grabbing Little Caesars and eating it four hours later “like a ravenous beast” (her words) on the band bus— always acts like every time we have real pizza, it’s the first time and it’s the best food she’s every had in her life. She moans with every mouthful.
Today I woke up at 8:30 a.m., before my alarm, ready to start the laundry, unload the dishwasher and check on my split pea soup. I had my initial meet-and-greet, evaluation session with my new local, small business fitness trainer at 11 a.m.
At 10:30, I went down to the basement to get the linen wash and hang it on the line.
Oz, the big, scared and stupid cat bolted through my legs and out the door. In his mind, he was going to go eat some grass and relax in the sun.
Except the dog saw him escape. So he ran around the house and into our neighbors yard where our other neighbors were breaking up cement manually.
I was focused on catching the dog and they were very keen to tell me there was also a cat. I knew that cat would be sitting and waiting at my neighbor’s back door.
I catch the dog and clip her to the neighbor’s tie and turn my attention toward retrieving my daughter’s cat.
Grab the cat while the dog yowls in confusion. Toss him in the house, grab the dog’s leash, walk the dog across our small yard, and then watch her corner Oz and jump through the open window to chase him around the house while still wearing her leash.
By the time I crated her, I was already dripping with sweat.
And I barely had time to eat (after all, the wet laundry is in the basket in the yard) so I spoon some of my current favorite Cabot cottage cheese into my mouth and grab a pack of salt and vinegar almonds (both from the Grocery Outlet, of course) and an unopened bottle of plain seltzer.
I walk the five blocks to the trainer’s gym.
He’s practicing his golf swing when I arrive. He knows my name. We chat. My seltzer explodes all over but I manage to minimize the disaster. His name is Dan. He has an infant. And dogs. Both trainers have kids and dogs.
He has similar problem areas in his hips and back from an accident. He gives me the usual rundown— we’ll start slow so we can build a foundation, results take time. We talk more. I tell him my most recent experiences with strength training/weight loss/anemia. I show him pictures of ripped, underweight me five years ago.
“So you know what you’re doing,” he says.
“I do, but I need someone to watch my form so I don’t hurt myself and motivate me as I’m still struggling with the emotional repercussions of a really bad work experience.”
“I can give you some guidance and a kick in the butt,” he says.
“That is what I need,” I reply.
I tell him my hopes: I want to start with light workouts to develop the habit and rebuild my energy as I recover from anemia-related fatigue. Then, we focus on full body weight training at so I can be as strong as the woman in the picture, but I don’t care what the scale says. And maybe we’ll work toward running a 5K. And if the relationship works out, I might pursue my dream of a bodybuilding hobby. Not competitive. Just for myself.
I think I saw him visibly relax. He liked that I understood what realistic expectations are and that I want to put in the work long term.
He gives me weights. He increases them after the first set of shoulder presses. He mentions that we’ll be able to capitalize on my muscle memory and that I have pretty good form.
I explained my lower body issues, and we did some body weight squats. He seemed pleased with my form and my concentration.
We talked about different things we could do, and he evaluated me in several exercises including one compound set I really liked, best described as moving from a sumo squat (with dumbbells) to a bicep curl using the hips instead of the back and finishing with a shoulder press. It loosened all sorts of muscle groups.
I felt invincible.
He explained that he would use this observation and discussion to build my program as he didn’t design anything until he met the client. I chuckled.
This will be another long day-in-the-life style blogs. I never seem to know what will resonate with people so have it all, right? I’ll bold key words to allow easy skimming.
Adult FURR (Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab) fosters Louise & Khloe are still competing for my attention and unsure if they like each other. Two very different cats with very different personalities. Both really cuddly and are going to be great additions to any household.
Parker and Extra Crunchy of the ten little kittens that got sick with distemper are now neutered and ready for adoption. They are such loves, especially fond of human snuggles as they were syringe fed.
And of course Touch of Grey (another adult foster) still thinks she’s the boss. She definitely is more cat than dog and we have good reason to believe she has neurological issues which may contribute to her agressive mood swings but the teenager is working with her.
My original Saturday morning plan was to prepare an outline of the coffee and kittens fundraiser, but our cat foster godmother had two kittens for us. One black kitten from a very feral litter, but he was not hissy spitty and one who turned up with a litter of small kittens who obviously was older than them and had been on his own. That one looked a little like Crunchy but was feisty.
I nicknamed them Fuzznuts and Fluffballs in my head, not knowing their gender. I also considered our “cats are gods” theme, but these two were not a litter so we didn’t want to use a whole pantheon for them. I considered Elohim and Yahweh, but my daughter vetoed it. I worried someone might get offended.
But foster godmother said, “people always get offended.”
A DMX song came on the radio in the car on the way home. DMX passed away recently and rappers also have that badass cat attitude. We knew the black kitten was a girl and the grey a boy.
“What about DMX and Diam’s?” I suggest.
“Mom, no one knows who Diam’s is,” she replied.
Latifah? Salt and Pepa? Then it him me.
“Eminem and Slim Shady,” I said.
“Mom, they’re the same person.”
“It doesn’t matter. The black one can be Shady and the other can be Em.”
So now we literally have a cage of two kittens, Em(inem) and (Slim) Shady in our living room.
The teenager went to work at Tic Toc Family Restaurant at three, and I went for Nan, my blind friend. We had plans to visit Park Avenue Market for deli salads and meats and the Lidl for boring things like milk, cheese and half and half.
I casually walk through the store explaining every item I see, from snack items to spices to peanut butter in squeeze tubes and olives in plastic snack cups. I love food and I love weird so this is why Nan and I consider grocery shopping fun.
At Park Avenue, Nan indulged in some meatloaf and ham. I got the pickled Brussel sprouts, liver wurst, bacon maple potato salad, cranberry horseradish, and violet candy. And crab stuffed flounder we had for dinner tonight.
These will resurface tomorrow when Nan and I work and have lunch together.
At Lidl, Nan got yogurt, lemonade, milk, Mac and cheese and those amazing home baked cookies. I got produce, cheese, breads, chips, seltzer, butter and Brussel sprouts among others.
And when I brought Nan home I discovered someone hit and run my car. This happened in July 2019, too. But that was a full side swipe. At work. In a church parking lot.
Nails and fun with Beth
I came home and put the groceries away and got ready to leave for my friend Beth’s house, formerly Nails by Bethy at Hyperion Salon. She recently started a new career in commercial insurance (I think) and so won’t have time or stamina to maintain my fingers and toes.
But tonight I was headed to her house for “cocktails, dinner and board games.” She agreed to have my pineapple coconut rum drink ready when I arrived. I met some of her friends. Beth made chicken poblano with black beans, rice, coleslaw and pickles. And as I mentioned yesterday, we all played Cards Against Humanity when my family arrived. Her father brought the teenager over so she could be my designated driver.
Brunch with Mom
My mom and I have a tumultuous relationship probably due to trauma we’ve experienced in our lives. My mom has not had an easy life. Let’s face it, most typical folks don’t.
We had a talk last weekend and I agreed to visit her today. She offered to take me out to a swanky breakfast and let us stay for the parade for IndependenceDay that would be passing by her house. I don’t really like parades, and I’m sick of eating out.
So I requested a grilled cheese on rye instead.
It was delicious.
The teenager brought the Bean dog to visit Mimi and Mimi’s dog, Dog, was a gracious host. Dog is a miniature poodle.
Once we arrived home, I read a little more Karen by Marie Killilea before I opted to take a nap. I then stripped my bed, worked on the fundraising outline and went for a walk with Buddy and Sarah.
I stumbled on the sidewalk, but did not fall. Knowing I had borderline anemia made me feel better that my cerebral palsy wasn’t running amok.
For dinner, in my continued effort to eat more vitamin rich food to combat anemia, I made the crab-stuffed flounder, brown rice with pistachios, and sautéed some leftover green beans and the cabbage, kale and carrots in a Green Goddess Salad I bought on clearance at Lidl yesterday. I topped it with some rather stale sesame sticks purchased at Forks Mediterranean Deli at our last visit (which was too long ago).
My goal for the rest of the night is to work on the Wheel of Life in my July Silk & Sonder planner and finish Karen.
Happy Independence Day.
Remember that the founding of this country can be seen from many perspectives: as destroying the lives and cultures of indigenous populations, as a place to promote white Christian values, and/or as a place where people came to live according to what they felt was right.
The last 48 hours since the teenager arrived home from Cape May have been a blur. The fosters Khloe and Louise from Feline Urban Rescue and Rehabilitation are very glad to have the dog out of my room so they can compete for my attention freely.
The teenager brought me some breakfast coffee from Cape May Roasters. I normally don’t like breakfast blends as they are typically light or medium roasts and I like my brews dark. Maybe it’s just because the teenager bought it for me or maybe it’s just good coffee, but I really like it!
Author’s note: I started this blog entry in the wee hours of Saturday July 3 after my Friday July 2 shift, after having three days off for teenager’s beach vacation. Someone had to watch the menagerie.
I have tried several times over the last 24 hours to finish this entry, but it is now 23:55 (or 12:55 p.m.) with cool air filling my room and idiot neighbors having fun with firecrackers.
And I’m no closer to posting.
But back to the Cape May souvenirs, which for me include a mini retro Pac-Man Arcade Game!
So we spent Thursday evening catching up and I almost finished Karen by Marie Killilea. Marie Killilea raised a daughter with cerebral palsy, took in a neighborhood teen, raised another daughter who had repeated bouts with illness including rheumatic fever, and later had a mischievous son.
I would say I’m 50 pages from the end of the book. It is Marie’s memoir about her work to champion cerebral palsy, promoting knowledge and encouraging research, while raising her sickly children. These children never seem more than cardboard cutouts.
On Friday, I returned to work at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy. I didn’t get to Style Card. I QC’d something like 36 fixes the first two hours, but by the half way point of my shift only hit 63. And continued to decline with only 123 for the night. The goal is to quality control check, fold and box 130 fixes per 8-hour shift.
Meanwhile, the cat group is discussing giving us new kittens and developing a new kitten-cuddling and coffee fundraiser that my daughter, my former employer from ProJeCt and myself are brainstorming.
So I guess I’ll have to revisit this tomorrow and introduce you to our new kittens and tell you about my evening with my friend and former nail tech Beth at her home with her friend Barb and eventually the teenager and my estranged husband. We played Cards against Humanity and I drank four very stiff pineapple juice and rum drinks.
My family has always enjoyed small, off-the-beaten path restaurants. The kind of place many people would call a “hole in the wall” but I prefer to think of them as “independent.”
That’s how you find the best, or the worst, of food. And often the highest quality meals at the lowest prices.
Today, the teenager and I got up at a reasonable hour — or early for us— to take Extra Crunchy and Parker (and another family’s foster Wynken) from our cat rescue Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab to another animal rescue Furry Feet Rescue for shots and neutering.
By the time we retrieved kittens and microchips and made the 17 mile drive to drop the babies off, it was noon.
We found ourselves needing to use a bathroom and hungry in the small town of Bath, Pa. At a traffic light we noticed Turn–In Family Restaurant and with the teenager’s current occupation as a diner waitress, well we couldn’t resist.
Who says animal rescue is all hard work?
Turn In Family Restaurant turned out to be adorable. We got there after the Sunday morning early rush and minutes before the after church crowd.
The restaurant smelled of fresh potting soil as it actually had real plants and flowers. The dessert case looked amazing so I splurged and bought the teenager’s dad a giant cookie (hey, Darrell— “put that cookie down.”)
They gave us the lunch menu but when the waitress arrived she offered us breakfast and I accepted. After all, you can’t judge a diner without trying its classic morning meal.
Speaking of classic, my daughter got the Turn In Breakfast which is the same basic idea as the Tic Toc Breakfast Feast— but the price is $3 cheaper and at Turn In includes toast. I ordered the eggs Benedict.
The Hollandaise sauce couldn’t have been more perfect. The home fries the right delightful mix of soft on one side and crispy on the other. The Canadian bacon with my platter was thick cut and just salty enough to give the meal the right zest.
The teenager and I realized that we have become true pancake connoisseurs. The Turn In pancakes were very fluffy and rather dry, where Tic Roc’s pancakes are denser and have a heavier butter/fried flavor.
The bill came to $20, which included the cookie but not the $5 tip we left.
Teenager #2 moved out last week, and Teenager #1 celebrated her 17th birthday last night— a celebration that included a good friend, her favorite movies, pizza from Dominos and Cards Against Humanity until past 1 a.m.
I got to bed at 3 a.m. after wrestling with temperamental Touch of Grey foster kitty, and ending the evening with a dog so exhausted that she wouldn’t leave her crate leaving me no choice but to lure her upstairs with a piece of bologna.
My living room is full of pizza and pizza boxes but it was a great day for the teenager.
The morning had a rough start. The teenager left for summer school. I had a 9 a.m. online therapy appointment. At 8:57, the dog walks to the door.
“No sunbathing,” I warn her.
But, the sun did distract her and as I tried to her back into the house, our cat Oz escaped and ran into the back yard. The dog, being a dog, engaged in chase. Oz ran. Bean ran. I ran. I fell. I got back up. I saw no sign of either. That’s the teenager’s dog and her first cat she raised from a kitten.
I frantically call them.
You cannot lose the dog on your daughter’s birthday.
The dog responded to her name.
But my neighbor’s dog Buddy starting barking hearing Bean outside his door. So Bean went on his porch and refused to budge.
It is 8:59.
I grab a leash off my neighbor’s tie. I clip it to Bean, drag Bean to our house, shove her in, and race back to the neighbor’s to return the leash.
My heart is pounding. I dart into the house, grab my laptop, flip on the couch, log in, open my email, click on the link for video-chat, log in, authorize camera, authorize mic.
My therapist pops on screen.
“Are you ready for me?” he asks.
“Not exactly,” I reply. “Give me one second.”
I tell him what happened. He asks if I’m okay post-fall. I mention I might have a bleeding toe but I will evaluate later.
“You certainly are resilient,” he says.
After the session, I take the dog to pee and Oz is on the neighbor’s porch, in her back yard, as if trapped. I put the dog away and retrieve him.
I bring him home, bring the dog out, tie her to her lead, and begin to hang the laundry on the clothesline.
Bean starts acting rammy. I wonder if the teen is home from school. I turn to look. Another dog is standing under Bean’s body. I have never seen this little black dog before, but Bean is trying to get it out from under her body. I don’t think our dog is acting aggressively, but I don’t know if she’ll eat this small dog.
The dog runs.
Bean did not touch it.
Teenager comes home and decorates the cake she made for her birthday. She leaves to get a friend.