Monday gratitude

Today I am grateful for:

  1. My local school district providing grab and go lunches for our kids in urban food deserts or in families facing unemployment during this pandemic.
Sample Grab and Go Meal

2. Living in a neighborhood where my neighbors and/or their dogs love to take random walks.

3. The view from my parents’ deck in the Pocono Mountains. Nothing like an after dinner coffee with your dad, admiring the horizon.

Happy Monday!

Drumstick Blizzard

This is a review of the new drumstick blizzard.

But at the end of the post, there will be a bit of bad news explaining why I had said blizzard. But let’s focus on the good. Because that’s how I roll.

The teenager and I skipped breakfast and went to Dairy Queen for lunch with Nala, the Goffin’s Cockatoo.

The Drumstick Blizzard

The latest blizzard creation from Dairy Queen is the drumstick blizzard with chunks of deep fried chicken in ice cream. Just kidding.

In reality…

They crushed up bits of Drumstick ice cream cones and peanuts! So good. Very similar to a Snickers Blizzard but not as chewy. The ice cream cone pieces were crunchy and tasty.

And Nala enjoyed her French fries.

So now I have 503 reward points at DQ which is enough for a free 4 piece chicken strip basket.

What I struggle to understand is what is this super bendy straw for?

So, now the bad news… I was informed today that my last day with the non-profit agency where I work will be July 10. That’s why I had a Blizzard.

Here’s to the next chapter. I had a great time learning a lot of new skills in a field that was brand new to me. I had a lot of good experiences and made a lot of new friends and new connections. I look forward to finishing out next week with the team, and I wish the agency the best in the future.

Why I need my lucky shirt: a typical day when you’re eccentric and have cerebral palsy

The best stories start with “it began as a typical day,” but in this case it did not.

The teenager turned 16 on Tuesday and my employer had scheduled our annual meeting for Tuesday so I planned to take off today and tomorrow to celebrate with my offspring.

With Coronavirus changing everything I could have taken Monday and Tuesday instead.

Last night, I curled up in bed with a gin cocktail and watched some more of Harlan Coben’s: The Five on Netflix. (Mini review: my friend, brow maintenance person and nail tech Beth recommended the show—and I am enjoying what I feel is edgy cinematography, rapid paced story telling, complex writing, and realistically complicated and tragic characters. It’s like watching a comic book.)

So I got to bed later than I normally do and I slept a little better than I normally do. I fed the kittens, made coffee, started laundry and finagled a cake carrier into the dishwasher.

After a cup of my favorite Archer Farms Direct Trade Cafe Mosaica from Target on my breezy enclosed sun porch, I slapped some clothes on… and ended up trying to accessorize a basic outfit.

Which is funny because I was going to pick up Nan, who is blind and won’t see my efforts anyway.

And then I was surprised to find out that the teenager made me breakfast— a mini bagel with greens, cucumber and fresh bacon.

After we worked on some poetry, Nan and I went to Lidl. And I took her home.

When I arrived home, the teenager informed me that her plan for today involved not wearing pants. So after a brief respite, I went to Wendy’s for a Frosty-ccino.

That was when the real adventure began.

I decided to take Nala, my four-year-old Goffin’s cockatoo who joined the family in January. Now, recently we took Nala to Dunkin Donuts to try hash browns and that went well.

And this is how she did: Nala at Dunkin

And we had taken Misty, our kitten, to Wendy’s (Kitten at Wendy’s ) so why not a bird?

So I ordered my Frosty-ccino and a junior fry for my baby girl bird on the mobile app and got into the drive thru lane. And then I did what we all do in this day and age. I took a selfie.

That’s when I realized Nala had pooped on me in fear. And I had no wipes in the car. Green bird droppings now stained my white t-shirt and Nala was walking in the mess.

But everyone in the drive thru window loved her— three employees cooed at her from afar.

I pulled into a parking space and offered her a French fry and she was too scared to eat it. I drove her home, put the car in the garage, gathered the waste and the food and started up toward the house.

Now, the teenager’s father moved some heavy original doors from the house across the garage so he could use my great grandmother’s hutch in his apartment. He did this a couple week’s ago. The doors block a portion of the stairs.

I got tangled up on the stairs/with the doors and fell, to the left onto the doors to avoid smashing Nala who was on my right shoulder.

I almost spilled my coffee and French fries fluttered like hail.

But luckily Nala is a bird, and a forager, so she doesn’t mind a little dirt. I gather them all carefully and climb up from the floor, some contusions and cuts causing minor pain.

I bump the doors and they almost fall on me. This time the French fries scatter to the four winds.

I notice how much blood and dirt cover me and I head inside to discover Nala has pooped even more.

I set her down.

I remove my shirt. White tee shirt. Vivid blood. Green poop.

I wash up and count my blessings— I was very close (too close) to breaking an arm.

I put on my lucky shirt once I cleaned up.

Addendum: I posted this link on my LinkedIn profile and wrote this introduction as to why I felt this piece was important especially as part of a discourse on social justice.

I don’t like to admit I have a disability— #cerebralpalsy. But it’s important to note that with all the stereotypes and institutionalized ideas people have about “others,” whether other cultures, races, religions, sexualities, identities, educational or social class (the list goes on and on), for those of us who have tried to “pass” as “normal” or “mainstream,” our experience is difficult. As all life is difficult to one degree or another. But if you are obviously “different” and you can’t “pass,” those notions of who you are based on quick judgments can be catastrophic. Or lead to people doing harm to you or someone you love. #blacklivesmatter

In that context, allow me to share with you what a typical day looks like for me. Warning— I end up bleeding by the end of it. Different isn’t inferior. Or threatening.

Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community ProJeCt 2020

On Saturday morning, the teenager and I went down to Easton cemetery to support the Palmer Kiwanis team as they participated in the Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community to support my employer, ProJeCt of Easton.

For more on that adventure, click here: Cruising the Cemetary with the Palmer Kiwanis

Today, I took a slightly elongated lunch break to take my team to the Karl Stirner Arts Trail. We started at the Silk Mill.

Me and My Team
Me, Buddy Eddy (dog of Team Member Sarah), the teenager and my good friend Gayle who writes a blog Fat Girl Walking

We headed down the trail and enjoyed the various art, the breezy trail, and the picturesque creek —all on the way to the dog park.

And then to end the outing, we let Buddy play and we got ice cream at Ow Wow Cow.

To register a team or donate to my team: Highmark Walk

For Gayle’s blog entry visit: Fat Girl Walking

Our previous visit to the arts trail: A walk on the Arts Trail

Cup of Hope

My former work colleague (a Target supervisor) had left her job at the Bullseye to pursue some personal dreams.

Shortly after, her middle child got diagnosed with a serious leukemia.

They were doing okay, as well as they could do with a very sick child, and the pandemic hit.

Her husband got furloughed and the unemployment didn’t kick in.

So, she started personalizing color-changing tumblers to make a little grocery money.

I gave the teenager one for band camp that says “low brass witch.” Mine is “Mama witch.” I gave it to her on her birthday.

She hasn’t set it down.

Two Loves Connected in Ellicott City

The backstory

My memories of Ellicott City, MD, are vague but happy. I somehow missed the severity of the 2016 and 2018 floods, perhaps due to marital issues.

My college roommate hailed from Ellicott City, and after living in Texas and North Carolina, returned to the Baltimore suburbs. A town neighboring Ellicott.

My college roommate, we’ll call her N to respect her privacy, was part of the same college social circle as my husband and I. Long before my husband and I dated, we did things like pile into N’s black Honda Accord, the car on which I learned to drive a manual transmission while blasting Alanis Morrissette’s Jagged Little Pill, to swarm into N’s parents’ split level house and spend the weekend at the Maryland Renaissance Faire.

I can’t even tell you for sure what I did in Ellicott City. I know N always took me proudly down Main Street for a walk. I remember a shop with crazy hats, lively colors and the memory of a velvety texture.

When my daughter was 2, yes the teenager, I drove the three hours alone to meet N and my high school best friend who drove three hours up from Virginia. And we took lots of photos on Main Street in Ellicott City. I recall antique stores on that trip.

And I locked my keys in the trunk of the car at a rest stop two hours away from home at dusk.

I also know of another trip where N took me for coffee and dessert at what I believe was a French restaurant one night. Where I taste pear tart tartine for the first time.

I have very key memories of Ellicott City.

Gordon Ramsay

Now, if you’ve been around this blog for a while, you probably know I have a strong admiration for Gordon Ramsay. I also have some rather strong unladylike feelings for Chef.

I can’t help it— I like tall, athletic men with exotic accents and bad attitudes. And I’m a Taurus so food is really important to me.

So when I saw that Gordon filmed an episode of his latest TV show in Ellicott City a few months ago, I did what any fan girl would do: I squealed and texted all my friends. Okay, maybe not all of them. My almost ex-husband and N. I haven’t reached out to N in months but this was important.

The episode aired May 13 and is available on Hulu now.

N said she hadn’t seen it, but most of Ellicott City is still boarded up. She’s heard that the locals feel like Gordon came across as single-handedly taking credit for rebuilding the town.

(They had catastrophic 1,000 year floods two years apart—2016 and 2018.)

Gordon worked with four local businesses and made some cosmetic improvements. And then Covid hit.

I watched the double episode and didn’t feel like Gordon was being an egotistical maniac. He was kinder and more in the background than he usually is.

The story of the episode really focused on the trauma and the struggles and the personalities of the business owners and the community at large.

If anything, it seemed to honor the spirit of the town and the grit of the businesses.

I hope N gets to watch it.

I’d like to hear her opinion.

In the meantime, we need to amend the constitution so Gordon can run for President. He always seems to have his act together. Maybe Arnold Schwarzenegger can be his running mate.

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.

Let me make a promise

I saw a picture of myself from 4 years ago, at least ten pounds lighter. I think I’ve been in a bit of denial.

That woman didn’t have a loose belly like might. That woman had some gorgeous abs.

But this girl today has some other awesome features— like a tight and curvy backside.

But with Covid-19, my pants won’t button and my muffin top is bulging into a Bundt cake.

I’m eating too many refined white carbohydrates and indulging in too many pizzas. I never realized how much my pathetic efforts at going to the gym made a difference.

Yesterday I tried to eat better. I have stopped snacking. I’ve tried to move more.

But yet I gained another pound.

Even more than weight, my stamina/ endurance has decreased. My butt hurts from all the sitting. I don’t even understand how I sit so much. Going to the office makes that much difference?

So today the teenager and I got out the Instafitness app and did an easy ab routine. I make mine harder by doing two sets of every exercise.

I was sweating by the end, but my S1 joint didn’t feel nearly as sore as it did after my evening walk.

I went to the Grocery Outlet and bought lots of weird things I will share with you.

Potential breakfast: cheddar cheese with cranberries in it, fig-black sesame chia crackers and maple glazed pecans.

This time I have to get my good habits back.

Five years ago I lost thirty pounds in six weeks and gained a ton of muscle. But I got too thin.

I’m not up to the original weight that scared me thin then. But I’m too close for comfort.

So listen up self, I want you to promise:

  • I will make better food choices.
  • I will eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • I will exercise daily.
  • I will not mindlessly snack.
  • I will drink more water.

And I want you to try very hard to:

  • In addition to your body weight exercises, start lifting again.
  • Consider running or boxing with the teen for cardio.
  • Hit 10,000 steps a day. You used to walk 15,000 steps a day.
  • Pizza goal—once a month
  • Alcohol goal—once a month
  • Sleep well
  • Drink herbal tea before bed
  • Moisturize
  • Floss

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.

Rainbow Mac and Cheese and my thoughts on privilege and racism

I am saddened that in the 21st century this nation has not made more progress into equality and basic needs for all people.

Having visited different countries in the industrialized and in the developing world, having studied the history of colonialism and prejudice in Francophone Africa, the basic reality that as humans we continue to judge each other and care for ourselves and our own whole ignoring the pain of our neighbors pains me.

I have studied France’s relationship with its colonial history and its institutionalized prejudice against Muslims as a critical theory model for what I see with American imperialism and what I see with our own world legacy of hatred.

Race always enters into these studies because the African American experience shares a lot of commonalities with the French of Muslim Descent community; neither population asked to be enslaved by an empire. Yet, both populations are now belittled and mistrusted by their historical populations.

And both populations are judged and denied opportunities based on their appearance, on something genetic.

It’s so sad.

It’s 2020, America. We have outdated social classes, corrupted government systems, unsustainable consumption, unattainable educational opportunities, a capitalistic drive that values the work over the person, and a healthcare system that threatens our financial wellbeing more than it helps.

So it’s hard.

And I am fortunate to be white. But I am a woman, and I am a woman with a disability, so I understand the lens of judgment. I live every day wondering if I will be judged inferior or incapable because I walk a little funny.

But at least I don’t have to live every day in fear that I may be perceived as dangerous, or manipulated into a situation where I am suddenly an enemy merely because of the color of my skin. I won’t be killed for being dark skinned and being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Or near the wrong people.

It’s so sad that some of the best, most helpful people I know have to live in this reality.

That Black men have to swallow their fear.

That Black parents have to hope their sons come home.

That people with power

  • whether the power of law (the criminal justice system which favors the white),
  • the power of occupation and authority (police officers, prison guards),
  • the power of messaging (advertising, media, even entertainment)
  • or the power of mass control (our government and the systems perpetuated by it)

can continue this nonsense of us against them is a classic battle of the “haves” and the “have nots.” It’s really time you listened to your mama and started to share.

Anyway, on a much lighter note, I made macaroni and cheese for the teenager.

I used rigatoni and made a sauce of mostly cheddar and 1% milk, with a chunk of Monterey Jack and a chunk of dill havarti.

I put the rest of my fresh spinach in there, put some smoked paprika, purple peppercorns, and smoked provolone on top and it was amazing.

I called it rainbow macaroni and cheese which got me thinking of the larger racial and prejudice issues.

And that made me sad.

But I did have a very heartening conversation with the teenager today. She’s cleaning her room because, as she told me, she needs to get her act together to be able to help me more.