Things that frazzle the mind in my forties

**this post may contain strong language… no, this post will contain strong language. I plan to drop an “f-bomb” in the first paragraph. But I promise it will be lighthearted and humorous not vulgar and full of rage.

Sometimes I wonder if the process of losing your mother-fucking mind which seems to descend upon a person once your children enter their teens isn’t the cause of dementia. Will the brain fog that accompanies keeping life together as the offspring prepare to leave the nest clear as they depart? Or is it permanent?

I think when you reach the latter half of the forty-somethings, the time you might have spent on hobbies, movies or parties in your youth is replaced by the tedium of home ownership, career, family, parents and medical care (your own, your family, probably even friends). And maybe you just don’t have the patience you used to.

I am currently waiting for the remediation team. If you skip back to Tuesday’s blog, you’ll recall that my 50- or 60-year-old toilet exploded and damaged my dining room ceiling. The plumber came Tuesday and installed a new toilet, and the teenager gave me shit. Not only does she not like the new toilet (as the plumber warned me) but she also had beef with the plumber for taking her old toilet.

I asked the teenager, “what on earth would you do with an old broken toilet?”

And, of course, the teenager told me. She wanted to take the ancient pink ceramic toilet and use it as a planter in our front yard next to our pink rose bush.

“It would look so cool,” she said.

And it probably would. But I did not go to college and embark on all the adventures I have to place a broken toilet in my front yard.

The scheduler for the insurance adjuster called Wednesday morning, about 29 hours after the incident, and scheduled the adjuster for Wednesday June 1. I asked the teenager if she could handle letting him into the house. She agreed. The scheduler called again and moved it to Tuesday. Teenager agreed again. Scheduler called a third time to ask if we had had a remediation company come to check if we had any or were in danger of collecting any mold. I said no. She said to call one.

So Wednesday on my lunch break (my first day back after a month of medical leave), I emailed ServePro because I didn’t have the time or the quiet to talk on the phone. They called, and after about three difficult phone calls with them, (the person on the other end couldn’t hear me well. I was wearing a mask, using one AirPod and working in a noisy warehouse.) they said they would confirm an appointment for Thursday or Friday by the end of the day.

[note: this is a pause in the blog post as the remediation team arrived.]

The remediation scheduler called about 4:30 p.m. Thursday, which was about 60 hours after I turned the water off to the toilet and started mopping up the damage. My appointment was for 1 p.m. Friday, about 80 hours after the original accident.

But at least I made myself a nice dinner of fig & ricotta ravioli from Lidl with Alfredo sauce from Hungryroot and vegetables (baby broccoli, red pepper, and peas) cooked in the Cuisinart air fryer toaster oven.

Last night, when the teenager got home from her dad’s, I think I was emptying the dishwasher and I went on a psychotic rant about silverware. You see, when her father and I got married, we registered for Oneida’s Easton flatware in the satin finish. I have always loved that silverware. It was $100 a place setting, and that was in 1999. That’s $20 per utensil. But it’s beautiful, and my husband and I both agreed on it without compromise, and it’s heavy, and we lived in an apartment in downtown Easton, Pennsylvania.

Oneida flatware pattern: Easton (Satin)

And sometime between when teenager two lived with us and now, many pieces of that silverware have disappeared. And it’s melodramatic, but the loss is like a gaping wound. No other silverware feels right in my hand. So I snapped, for the umpteenth time, and shouted at the teenager about my missing silverware.

In that moment, I realized that for some reason, that silverware really means something to me. Eating with it brings me joy. And that silverware looks as new as the day we bought it. Our marriage lasted 20 years, and the silverware may last generations.

“I don’t have the money to replace it,” I screamed.

And then I realized…

I launched a publishing company. I buy myself iced coffee about once a week. I spend almost as much on animal food as I do on people food. So, why can’t I figure out how to pay for new silverware? Especially since I know Replacements.com has just about every silverware and china pattern ever made (used) at a discount. I think I found my dream pattern. I ordered a few pieces of my silverware, based on cost and what I actually need.

This morning started with a cup of coffee, some cuddly cats, a trip to the chiropractor and a whole lot of cleaning before the remediation team arrived. I made the teenager and I a breakfast of fresh baguette from Lidl, toasted in the Cuisinart oven, buttered, covered a slice of proscuitto and toasted more, and then drizzled with hot honey and sprinkled with herbs de provence. It was as amazing as it sounds.

The teenager had her last high school final exam, the only one she had to take this year, and returned home to find me aflutter with the broom and a mop. I asked her to do something for me. It might have been to move a multipack of paper towels to another room, when she stopped and opened the sunporch window.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

And I thought to myself, she’s not smelling the roses.

And she replied, “I’m smelling the roses.”

“Seriously?” I said. “I ask you to do something and instead you literally stop to smell the roses!”

She then picked a bouquet for the main room downstairs. Eventually, she moved the paper towels.

Once the house was cleaned and the teenager shuffled off to work, I finished Natasha Sizlo’s memoir, All Signs Point to Paris. I received a copy via NetGalley and reviewed it on Goodreads and mentioned it in my Parisian Phoenix blog post that will go live tomorrow. I tried to start P.N. Dedeaux’s Algiers Tomorrow but it offended me beyond rebuke within the first two chapters.

I understand that the book was published in 1993. I also understand that erotica by its nature breaks rules and can feature taboos. But in the first two chapters, we join two bratty rich sixteen year olds nicknamed “Boobs” and “Butt” through a vacation in France. By the end of the chapters, I want them to get murdered. I was hoping for some cheesy references to Algerians with which I could have some Mystery Science Theater 3000-type fun.

chicken vodka pizza

I ordered a chicken pizza with vodka sauce from Nicolosi’s Pizza in Forks Township. It was a custom pizza and I told them to “put whatever on it to make it pizza-y.” They added fresh basil. It smelled amazing. The teenager was picking it up at 2:45 p.m after work.

And don’t you know it, the remediation team was late… They called at 2:55 p.m. and arrived at 3:05 p.m. I had one bite of my scrumptious, piping hot custom pizza. And it was time to find out if my house was wet.

Unfortunately, it is.

We could lose our bathroom subfloor. Our hardwood floors and walls are damp. We have five industrial air movers in the living area and a massive dehumidifier. And upstairs we have three more air movers in the bathroom and another dehumidifier.

But we’re safe, and sometimes you just have to have faith it will work out.

At the end of the day, Bean Dog got new toys.

Beginnings and babies

My routine is fairly set… I get up, use the bathroom, weigh myself, feed cats, and brew a cup of coffee (using the time while it brews to tidy the kitchen).

I drink the coffee while hanging with our personal cats, sometimes I do my journal entry then other times I wait until I return upstairs.

Once my coffee is done I start a load of laundry, make sure the kibble is put away where our two cats with urinate issues can’t find it, and head up to “wake the birds.”

Usually by now it’s around 9 or even 10 a.m. (as I work 3:30 p.m. until midnight). I open Nala’s cage (my Goffin’s cockatoo) and throw back the curtains so the budgies fill my room with chirps and chatters. I check on the babies and everyone gets fresh food and water.

Chicks growing feathers

The photos really don’t do them justice. They all have open eyes, clear faces, beaks, feet and wings. They are getting feathers and one is turning blue like Mama Periwinkle.

After feeding everyone I let Peek-A-Boo-Boo free fly as she is stuck in the tiny cage right now.

Then, in an attempt to set my head straight for 2021, I made my bed— inspired by a post by another blogger on her M goals for 2021.

See the whole post here: Olivia’s “M” Goals for 2021

Movement and mindful eating are also on my list. I am losing a little weight every day just by making better choices and paying attention to how much I consume.

I think my journaling and blogging might be similar to meditation. It clears out my head and puts me straight.

But I failed in my grandiose plans to start my I journal with some sort of fancy motivational speech.

Loki went to the adoption fair at Petsmart with our cat rescue group Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. He had a scheduled meet-and-greet with a family. While he was gone, teenager #1 and I went to the dollar stores looking for organizational materials.

And then we got the sad text: “Loki did not go. 😦 ”

So now he’s home with us again.

Frolicking Saturday

Today started with coffee and English muffins with my neighbor followed by a pedicure by my dear friend Beth at Hyperion Salon. Working in a warehouse walking 2,500 steps an hour (and that will increase), I need to take care of my feet.

Then I took the teens to the thrift store, where teenager #1 found three nice tops, teenager #2 found two very cute skirts, and I picked up several more pairs of comfortable pants for work.

We spent $30.

I let the teens use a coupon for a 99 cent coffee at Dunkin. Then we stopped at Wawa so we could fill the car with gas and I could redeem my reward from their loyalty app— a free 16 ounce handcrafted drink. I selected a cafe con lèche which is my favorite drink that Wawa offers.

I noticed while in there that Wawa now offers buttered rolls at the self serve coffee area and chocolate croissants. How very French breakfast of them. Their croissants look like overpriced toaster strudels but I will have to try them.

We came home and tried on our goodies. Once we determined everything fit, I started a load of washing.

I cuddled kittens, unraveled an entire spool of thread from the roomba’s mechanical system (thanks to cat mischief), found my missing glasses (yes, kittens), hid unwrapped Christmas presents and paid bills.

The teenagers and I are all cleaning in anticipation of tomorrow’s turkey dinner. The goal of the meal is to see how close to a traditional Thanksgiving as we can just using ingredients from around the house.

I keep a weekly dry erase calendar in the kitchen so everyone can keep track of household goings-on. Teenager #2 came to me and said, “Mom, the board says Taco Bell on Saturday.”

Indeed it did. Teenager #1 had heard a commercial for the toasted cheddar chalupa so I scheduled taco night.

The chalupa shell reminded me of the baked cheese on some Asiago bagels and rolls. I had the black bean one and I have to say I liked the vegetarian version better than their meat.

I didn’t realize this was blurry

The teens approved as did my daughter’s father who stopped by to take the kids to Target. Teenager #1 is in the middle of bleaching her hair.

Coffee musings: Review of Folgers Black Silk

I love dark roast coffee.

My current favorites are Target’s Archer Farms Mosaica and Wegman’s whole bean espresso roast.

My neighbor prefers Starbucks PPR (Pike’s Peak Roast) to brew at home and I enjoy it when I have my amazing coffee mornings with her, but I don’t believe it is worth the money. But I also don’t begrudge anyone their favorite coffee— I prefer to get my Mosaica when it is on sale or on the Target Circle app, and if that is not available I go to Wegman’s as it is normally $4.99 for the bag. I don’t recall the exact ounces of the bag, but it is the small bag that typically lasts me a month at one cup of coffee a day.

But recently Target had ridiculously low prices on my allergy medicine so I decided to see if my coffee was on sale.

It was not.

So I did what I do— I stared at coffee options and price points for 20 minutes deliberating.

I purchased a massive plastic bin of Folgers Black Silk, their dark roast, for $5.99. Today I opened it.

Perhaps I bought this for the bucket and it came with free coffee inside…

Now, a few basic facts before we continue:

  1. I hate Folgers coffee. This whole experiment rests on the idea that I can remain objective.
  2. I love the buckets Folgers coffee comes in. Household tip: save it. I keep one by the sink for a composting bucket. The lid is easy to open but as the company promises, keeps the freshness (or in this case rottenness). Also a handy small cleaning bucket as the container has a handle. So if you need a small bucket of hot soapy water to carry around the house, this is a great bucket. AND it goes into the dishwasher for easy cleaning. Perhaps I bought this for the bucket and it came with free coffee inside.
  3. I do not brew my coffee in a standard coffee pot or even a snobby French press. I used to make the perfect cup of coffee grinding my Wegman’s beans and putting them in my French press but I have forgotten how.
  4. My husband got the coffee pot in our break-up, and that was by necessity, as he and the coffee pot had an intense relationship whereas I have videos proving that the teenager, at the tender age of four, had to teach me how to use it.
  5. Instead, I consume my caffeine via the espresso machine. My first real boss— my first white collar, grown up job—gave me a $50 Boscov’s gift card when I got married. At the time, I thought that was ridiculously extravagant of him. I did not start drinking coffee regularly until after the teenager was born. To do justice to the generous gift from my boss, who was a coffee drinker, I purchased a tiny espresso machine (with steamer) and coffee grinder. I thought I had arrived in the world. I use this to make my coffee. Yes, I am putting commercial Folgers into my espresso machine.
  6. I do not sweeten my coffee. I use real half and half to lighten it, and *spoiler alert* this coffee did require extra half and half to make it the color I prefer.
  7. Finally, a note on my coffee preferences. I prefer Dunkin to Starbucks, on the taste of the coffee alone. I find Starbucks bitter. Not intolerably bitter but bitter.

And yes— that is a Pyrex measuring cup. The carafe broke. What do you want from an espresso machine more than 20 years old?

And now finally the tasting…

It’s more akin to Starbucks PPR than the coffees I prefer. Bitter, but after the first few sips, the bitterness is forgotten.

I must ask my neighbor to use some the next time we have coffee together. Meanwhile, for the price, this economical option will tide me over until I regain my financial footing and start making money in my “side gigs” or attain a job.

Cheery dental Wednesday

It’s not everyday that starts with a 9 a.m. dental visit (in the middle of a pandemic where you end up getting some restoration work done when you thought it was a quick and easy crown adjustment) and you end up thinking— “This is a good day.”

My dental staff had a very gentle touch and it seems like (fingers crossed), I should have no more issues for a while.

The dentist was very optimistic as she set to work and I reminded her not to get too cocky, as dentistry has to be a lot like plumbing— the older the house gets the more you don’t know what you’ll find until you really get inside.

She liked my analogy.

I also told herself about the time they gave me so much Novocain, I went to blow my nose and almost exploded my ear drums because I couldn’t feel anything coming out because my nostrils were numb.

For more on my dental disasters, visit this entry: My dental past.

In other news, I took these cheap fish nuggets and made fish/cabbage tacos. I dressed them with bacon ranch.

I planned to use my lunch break today to host a business meeting with my supervisor from my new volunteer position. I’m helping a relatively new non-profit hone their grant-writing skills and work out some communications strategies. I’m hosting a meeting with their summer interns tonight.

The news that we would be hosting someone in our home sent the teenager into a cleaning frenzy.

When our afternoon guest departed, the teenager turned to me and said, “It was so nice to hear the two of you talking.”

Nothing Just Happens

My daughter and I have developed a fascination with The Attic Clothes in Bethlehem as they have been hosting online sales on Instagram and Facebook.

We’ve been supporting small local business and indulging in one of the great teen girl sports of all time— consignment store shopping.

I’m going to switch up the chronology of this piece since right now the teenager, my blind friend, Nan, and I are among several other cars in the Dunkin Donuts parking lot.

Troublemakers

This experience can be summed up as— as my daughter put it— Nothing Just Happens.

So, Nan, being blind and a little strange, decided to wear her mask over her eyes.

We invited her along to pick up our consignment items. We stopped at the teenager’s grandmother’s to drop off a stepladder we borrowed. And her grandfather bought her the new Cats movie on DVD, like seeing it three times in the theatre wasn’t enough.

We had promised to take Nan for a car ride and stop at Dunkin for coffee and snackin’ bacon. And we all shared a matcha since Nan had never had any.

It was starting to look like the perfect day for the teen.

Until she discovered I messed up her coffee and she didn’t like it. So we went through the drive through a second time. This time we were going to order Munchkins too!

The teen wanted the 50 count bucket that looked like it came out of Kentucky Fried Chicken. But since we’re all gaining weight— the only way we were getting 50 munchkins is if Nan were taking 45 of them home to share with all her neighbors.

But they said they were out of munchkins. And they were paid for. So I told the poor guy to throw anything in the bag. He asked if I would accept a donut or two. I said sure. I think he was uneasy that I made him choose but he gave us a chocolate cake donut, which Nan and I split, and a chocolate iced donut with sprinkles which we gave to the teen.

That and her blue raspberry coolatta will have her high as a kite by the time we get home.

We were cleaning the garage earlier and removed about 150 gallons of garbage— she’ll have the energy to go home and finish the job, hoisting furniture over her head like a she-hulk.

So while the teen is trying on clothes in the backseat (skills learned in marching band), quasi-modeling her purchases, there are people wondering what the hell is up with us.

And Nan says it makes me look like the normal one.

Now that is scary.

Housework Saturday

I woke up at 6 this morning, but laid in bed for a while afraid to wake the birds.

I opened the curtains for them slightly before 8. Here is a glimpse of them in the pink nightlight. Good morning, Birds

I fed the cats, the birds, made coffee, put in laundry and hung wash before making a giant hot pocket for breakfast.

Ham, spinach, scrambled egg, homemade mozzarella.

I cut some cantaloupe. The teenager had a mango.

Then I did dishes. A second load of wash. Vacuumed the kitchen, living room and half the dining room. And the furniture.

I washed the living room and kitchen floor.

Picked up the teenager’s stuff and moved furniture.

Then I stopped to visit the kitten. Which the third kitten has returned. If the neighbors catch it, we have a former neighbor interested in it. But she is going on vacation with Sobaka’s mom so then we would get to foster Misty’s sibling!

Sobaka might be here in as little as an hour. I need to shower but I also need to rest.

I watched an episode of Gordon Ramsay’s The F Word last night and an episode of 24 Hours: To Hell and Back. His original BBC show and his current one.

Perhaps one day soon I’ll do an essay on my new obsession.

Roomba: the vacuuming toddler

I asked for and received a roomba for Christmas.

First surprise was that he’s an older roomba and he can’t recognize 5G internet. So my internet service is too good for him. We’ve hooked him up to my neighbor’s network instead.

And now I find myself child proofing my house in order to vacuum.

I thought the roomba could help keep up with the mess from the pets and the teen.

But man, I had no idea what a maze we had in our house.

I’ve spent the last couple days observing it and trying to map its habits and paths. Because it’s a machine. There has to be a pattern.

I named him Isaac after Isaac Asimov.

Isaac goes straight until he hits something then turns 45-degrees and goes straight again. That’s the pattern.

He misses a lot of bigger things and it’s like a toddler vacuuming. He’s going back and forth but he can’t really see what he’s doing. When he’s done, he’s usually bumped a few things I need to put back and I need to pick up all the wrappers and large objects he pushed out of hiding.

I moved his home base to my bedroom. He vacuumed my room yesterday and did a pretty impressive job, and that’s where the budgies are.

I let him loose in there again today. The featured photo in this entry is the amount of hair, seed and dirt he picked up after one day.

That made me stop judging his toddler style.