The generic weekly update in the midst of (much needed) George Floyd inspired social unrest and dialogue

It is 8:30 a.m.

Saturday morning.

The house remains still and peaceful except for the whir of fans and the occasional vocalization of a kitten, probably Misty (Mistofelees) looking for his brother, Fog. He’s distraught because I almost closed his tail in the door.

Several times today I have paused and interrupted my normal routine— to text a friend, have a Twitter conversation, drink coffee on the couch instead of in my bedroom with Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo.

One voice in the back of my head says, “You slept in, so now you’re an hour behind. You need to start that laundry and get it on the line, and that includes stripping your bed, and probably the cover on your weighted blanket. Just about every floor in the house needs to be washed with Pine Sol too. And the teenager never cleaned the cat boxes yesterday like you asked her to.”

Man, it’s exhausting just listening to that voice.

And already this morning I managed to stab myself.

I have this very basic practical set of Chicago Cutlery knives that for the first 20 years I never put in the dishwasher. Somehow, in the last day or two since I did my traditional hand wash dishes, every knife from that set is dirty. Six steak knives, the mini cleaver, the paring knife, the tomato knife, the kitchen scissors, all of them.

And last night, after a long work week where I never quite knew if I would ever receive the respect I deserve in the midst of some major ordeals, I just threw every knife in the silverware basket. Point up. The way every home ec and kitchen safety teacher tells you never to do.

I even looked in the dishwasher and chastised myself and said I should stop being super lazy and reload the top shelf so I could at least use that plastic flap that holds the knives.

But I didn’t.

Because this week brought me to new places. Another grant came back with with the largest award we ever received from that funder. Our Pennsylvania county finally went yellow. The primary happened.

But just like at work where I often feel like my voice is not heard and my experience and work style is not respected nor appreciated for what I can contribute, everything seems to stay the same.

George Floyd is still dead.

The two party system defends only the elite and anyone outside of that elite will always be marginalized.

So I slammed my dishwasher door and ran it not only with my “good” knives inside but also with them point side up.

And somehow, when reaching for a clean coffee mug that I never put on the bottom shelf but I did this time, I gave myself a superficial stab wound in the middle of my palm.

Probably because I was distracted by a long list of housework and not staying present in the moment.

This is not how people should live.

I gaze out the front window (oh, damn, I need to trim the roses too). The birds chatter and chirp outside oblivious to how humans destroy each other and our shared habitat.

But Space X Dragon launched successfully. So we have reached phase 1 of our transition into the society we glimpsed in Wall*e.

Which coincidentally was the first movie the teenager ever saw in a theater. I believe she was 4, and I recollect that it was somewhere around this time (must google). She wore a cute dress. We saw the movie at Bethlehem’s Boyd Theater. I didn’t want her first movie to be in a modern boring theater.

She was transfixed.

So now it’s 9 a.m. and I think back to my transformative experiences this week.

  • I lost 4 pounds in the last day. (Amazing what happens when you resume drinking water, eating fruit instead of candy and chips, and stop eating half a pizza every four days.)
  • I started baby steps toward making my body work effectively again.
  • I filled out a self evaluation form at work, which I think fairly depicts my successes and my struggles. I was trying to be honest and transparent but I feel I will be viewed as scathing.
  • I had a good visit with my doctor, noting that my blood pressure is going down.
  • In conjunction with those previous two bullets, I video chatted with my therapist who specializes in work stress and it was an intense appointment. I was drained for the rest of the day and ate nothing but a handful of cashews until 5 p.m. That was my most recent bout of binging half a pizza and Little Caesar’s stuffed crazy bread. Which was a disappointment. Stuffed crazy bread tastes nothing like real crazy bread and the cheese inside was weird. The bread itself was soggy. The outside tasted like a soggy Olive Garden breadstick without the addictive outer coating and the inside was overloaded with a heavy but tasteless mozzarella.
  • I didn’t vote in the primary. I always vote. But I researched all the candidates and in the races where I wanted a voice there was no opposition. It bothers me deeply that I did not vote.

And George Floyd.

And the struggles of every “minority,” every person labeled for their skin color, their body shape or function, their religion, their choice of dress, their economic status, their sexuality, their gender, their resistance to be the status quo, their inability to be the same, the non-conformists, the thinkers, the doers.

George Floyd is dead.

Health & blood pressure update

Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo, and I are sharing a juicy bowl of watermelon.

I went to the doctor today for a follow up on my high blood pressure. My original appointment was April 1, but the pandemic moved it to today.

As they directed me last week, I arrived in the parking lot prepared to call them and wait in my car. (See Medicine in the time of Covid for the full prep phone call, which I also submitted to the Mighty and should be available on their platform soon.)

But they called me as soon as I pulled into the parking lot!

The nurse came out for me and brought me into the office vestibule where she took my temperature. From there, we went into the lobby where she had me step onto the scale. Imagine my surprise when I saw I was lighter at the doctor’s office than at home.

I had horrible, emotional nightmares last night and they left me shaken this morning. I had a raging headache, which might have been dehydration but it could have been stress as I knew I had to do a self-evaluation at work and my boss only gave me 24 hours to do it.

I thought my blood pressure would be awful. My pulse was racing. I felt it.

But even that riled up, my blood pressure had dropped 10 points! Even with the work stress growing, the Coronavirus and all the other issue’s on my plate, my blood pressure went down.

I meant to ask her to take it again before I left because I bet “the good news” made it go down even more.

And according to them, I gained less than 2 pounds during Covid. My records and my clothes disagree.

But I felt really good after that visit.

Nala took a car ride

I return to work on Monday so the reality that vacation will soon be over is setting in, or perhaps I am merely sad because I finished the four seasons of Hoarders available on Hulu.

I’m running low on fun things to do while on vacation during the pandemic so today I decided to gather the teenager and the cockatoo and go for cold brew at Dunkin’.

It was Nala’s first car ride since we brought her home and she did a great job.

We rewarded her with some hash browns.

Nala visits Dunkin (YouTube)

Unwinding (vacation day 4, grilling day 2)

I woke today with no clear idea of what I wanted to achieve today except that I promised my teenager that we could go to Lidl and get supplies to grill again.

I even called my blind friend Nan (who’s now on twitter and just published a NASA poem as a tweet) and got her shopping list.

  • Macaroni salad
  • Peanut butter cookies
  • Riced cauliflower
  • Ice cream

I got up and fed the menagerie. One quietly sad little leftover tidbit of having formerly feral kittens is that sometimes they really do eat anything.

Fog, who was on his own a month longer than his brother Misty (Mistofelees), tends to eat the cockatoo’s kibble.

But I do feed them— as I grind my whole bean espresso blend and feed it into my little espresso machine.

This morning I started laundry, washed the bathroom floor and reassembled it now that it’s been thoroughly scrubbed. I had my last birthday cupcake for breakfast.

I saw a got the last of my anticipated packages, a shirt and necklace from Doll’s Kill. (Unboxing here: My last birthday package.)

I also got two pairs of slacks and a purple tunic from White House Black Market. I thought the necklace would look amazing with the tunic. (Another unboxing here: New Pants)

My Goffin’s cockatoo, Nala, had her morning talking session and woke the teenager up at 11 a.m.

The teenager and I went to Lidl and the Dollar Tree. Our finds at Lidl included super cheap scrapple and super cheap hot dogs and super cheap maple breakfast sausages. We got two bags of instant light charcoal. Dill pickle pita chips. Some varieties of veggie burgers. Provolone because it was on sale and the teenager adores provolone. The teenager even got break and bake chocolate chip cookies to make in her father’s new toaster oven. (His apartment does not have a stove/oven.)

At the Dollar Tree, I got tuna. A vase because for the life of me I can’t find the one I made in college that I use to display my roses. Frozen appetizers. A can of corn so we can make my mother-in-law’s corn bake. A can of Chef Boyardee Beef Ravioli because it might be the second time the teenager ever had it. Some grill utensils. Matches. And Ajax. Because the teenager wanted Comet for cleaning but the Dollar Store only had Ajax. And instant decaf coffee. Because Lidl didn’t have any decaf coffee and I need to detox.

Nala got really hot this afternoon and started swimming in her water bowl.

The teenager started the grill again. This time we were more determined than ever to succeed. Read about last night’s attempt here: Yesterday’s BBQ

We even invited her dad for dinner. And do you know what? Those cheap hot dogs were really good.

And I had a library board meeting at 7 p.m., so I poured a Diet Coke and mango nectar.

I can feel my tension fade away and it feels delightful. I ate well today, though I’m hungry now. I even had a ton of fruit. A serving of cantaloupe. An apple made in the grill like at Girl Scout camp. And probably 8 pieces of watermelon.

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

Kicking off my birthday

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

Lily of the Valley, May’s flower

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

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

Nala and I: Nala’s New Trick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She’s on the roof

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

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

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

Dolls Kill

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

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

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

Wednesday Update With Mundane and Animal News

Good morning! So many little things have happened I will mention them here in case you are curious.

  • I have been wearing my Horus necklace so far this week— as “protection” and “healing” from stresses with a multitude of stresses at work. Today I am switching to my “keep going” amulet as my boss has added to my deadlines, moving up work I had planned to do in early June to a deadline of June 1.
  • I’m concerned about the shifting deadlines, because I have something like 40 hours of vacation time expiring at the end of June and I’ve been trying to get it approved since early March and my boss keeps saying she’s not comfortable approving it until she has more assurance my work will be done. I had asked to take the last week of April, but the pandemic shifted our work flow so I rescheduled to the end of May. I need the time off. My batteries are done.
  • But more pleasant things… Nala has been grooming my new haircut.

Nala grooming me

  • I am so sick of this cold May weather. I can’t get warm. I decided to wear my thickest winter socks and sweatpants today. I hate sweatpants but I hate cold more.
  • Fog spent last night locked on the sun porch. I was slightly sad that Fog didn’t say goodnight to me, but when only three cats turned up for breakfast I knew something was up. And— the big news— Fog is a boy. The teenager and I had questions about that cat’s anatomy for quite some time as “she” protected “her” belly and behaved with much modesty. But the teen and I both thought “she” had testicles, but couldn’t get a good look to see what was under the hood, so to speak. Last night, Fog took a bath in front of me, spread “her” legs, displayed “her” penis and washed it. No doubts now.
  • And Misty loves water. He’s absolutely mesmerized and loves to play in water.
  • I paid off my medical bills from 2019. Now I can tackle the remaining $850 I owe on my crown— the one that still isn’t right. The dentist will take a look after quarantine lifts. They quoted my husband’s insurance instead of mine and I don’t have coverage for a crown. As we have been separated for 10.5 months, I don’t have his dental insurance. But it was an emergency and they grabbed the wrong information. Luckily, they will let me pay in installments.
  • One of my work colleagues read my blog. I had sent him a link because we were discussing something and I referenced him… not sure I remember the exact details. He complimented me on my writing skills and called me clever and obviously intelligent. I’m touched that he took the time to read as much as he did and it made my day that he told me about it. He loved the reference to my daughter as “the teenager” as I do try to protect people’s privacy. So, I’m assigning him a nickname, too. He is now Mr. Accordian.

The cockatoo fell down the stairs

Mondays are hard for most people. But they are especially hard for my four-year-old Goffins cockatoo, Nala.

I get it. My weekend routine is laid back and includes lots of periodic cuddles and the occasional pizza picnic on my bed, whereas Mondays involve her being ignored while I work.

The Monday through Friday routine used to be— before the Coronavirus pandemic— about 30 minutes of early morning cuddles, some free roaming time while I got dressed, then back in her cage to watch (listen to) Sesame Street until Hulu decided no one was watching.

I think that’s when she would take an afternoon nap, based on her behavior I see when I’m home.

Around 3 p.m. my teen daughter would come home and open her cage door so she could roam until I got home around 5. Then I’d cuddle her for about 30 minutes and bring her down to the kitchen while I cooked.

Then she came back up to my room and around 8, I returned to cuddle her, and watch some TV on my iPad in my room since she refuses to go to sleep without a person in the room.

I have only had Nala four months. And I don’t have experience with parrots/large birds. I barely have experience with budgies.

When I first brought her home, she plucked often. Of course the change was upsetting. She settled in and used plucking primarily as a way to get attention or express that she was overstimulated.

But on Mondays, she would strip her belly or legs and be standing in a pile of feathers. Luckily our routine has minimized that.

Now she occasionally plucks a feather— but it’s often a wing feather and she makes herself bleed. She did this yesterday and I blame myself. It was Monday. It’s a cold May, and I couldn’t get warm so I was in and out of the bedroom all day trying to find someplace to work.

Every time I tried to work with her on my shoulder, she would bite my ear (telling me that she knew I was distracted and not focused on her) so I would force her back to the “bird playground.”

And after work I rushed right out to go grocery shopping.

But like a good bird mom, I came home and rushed up the stairs to cuddle my Nala. My neighbor texted and wanted to go for a walk.

So, with Nala literally yelling at me, I went for a walk and picked up a pizza. (The new Pepperoni Cheeser! Cheeser! from Little Caesars). I thought I would apologize with a pizza picnic.

Nala had plucked a wing feather and was covered in blood. We had our pizza and I brought her down to her shower perch and gently bathed her. She seemed to enjoy that. Or maybe she recognized my remorse.

We then watched TV but she refused to cuddle. She would only sit on my shoulder and chatter. Literally giving me an earful.

So today I brought her with me to go make coffee. She loves coffee and is fascinated by the coffee machine.

As we were going downstairs, I don’t know if she lost her footing, or if my balance was off, or if something scared her… but she fell down the stairs.

I felt awful. But all Nala cared about was her morning coffee. She seems fine and is stealing the budgies food as we speak. But it’s sometimes very humbling to live with a bird.

Bird playland

On Friday we got several packages of pet supplies, as I’ve mentioned on earlier posts, the parakeets have been rough on toys and perches lately so it was time to update everyone’s cages.

The first set of packages arrived early in the morning.

Chewy packages arrive!

Then another package arrived from Petco!

Unboxing of Petco items

But we had to wait until after our Saturday chores of laundry, garage cleaning, dishes and vacuuming.

Then we emptied both the cages and dumped all the toys on my bed.

Old and new toys

Now I often switch perches and toys between Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo, and my budgies. Keeps everybody from getting bored and I think the budgies are teaching Nala to play. She often seems afraid of toys.

The teenager worked really hard updates the bird corner of my room. It looks great— but one problem… The kittens can easily hop to the top of the cages.