There are elements of every week that feel harder than the previous week.
I think I have determined that if I don’t move enough and I sit at desks and in similar circumstances my spine cannot handle it. Perhaps I am a candidate for a standing desk.
I spent yesterday cold and in pain, rotating my chores with cuddling kittens.
The teenager went with her uncle today to build a cat litter box for her room. She’s on her way home so I’m anxious to see how it went.
I was trying to determine what to do with my day when I got an email from my friend Gayle— yes, the same Gayle with whom I walk and who is designing ASPIRE to Autonomy’s annual report— “If only you lived closer…”
And me being me, I said “I’ll be right over.”
What was her dilemma?
Filming how to video mini lectures for her classes in the graphic design department at Northampton Community College.
It was fun to help her discuss magazine layout, master pages and style sheets in one video and cutting and scoring in the next.
Then we went for a walk. Gayle had new shoes she needed to break in before her 9-mile walk on Friday. And my back did just fine on the 4,000 step promenade.
She took me for a walk to Fountain Hill, past the house where she used to live. We stopped to talk to Violet who used to feed all the stray cats and I noticed a pretty cool stick. And I stopped at Dunkin on the way home as the Eagles were playing so I got a $1 iced coffee.
So, today is my estranged husband’s 46th birthday. Our daughter— the teenager— worked very hard on a custom gift.
She had $1.80 to her name and wanted to go to Dollar Tree and purchase wrappings.
I told her I could get her to $2.12 for tissue paper and a gift bag.
Now I keep a change purse separate from my wallet. But I usually leave it in my car. I also keep a half-pint “jelly” mason jar in center console in my car for my quarters. Because I believe in “parking quarters.” I think that shows how old I am.
I also keep a pint-sized canning jar in the kitchen for the spare change I forget to leave in the car or the coins that go through the wash or fall in the couch.
I always use that money at Dollar Tree, because even when you’re broke you can afford something at The Dollar Tree using the change from the jar.
So I took the jar with me into the store.
I gave the teenager enough change to have $3.18. That way she could also get a bow.
The cashier said she’d rather have coins than the teen’s dollar.
And then she asked what I had in the jar.
I told her that was my change.
“We buy change,” she said.
And the look in her eye was like I was gripping a golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. I was holding a jar of nickels, dimes and pennies.
The line was getting very long but I counted out a dollar in small change and took my daughter’s paper money back.
I had to face my pandemic denial today— due to the stressful nature of my last professional position, I’ve been stress eating more than I’ve admitted the last few months.
(And if you read this blog, you know I’ve been fairly transparent about my ability to each an entire Dominos or Little Caesar’s pizza. So imagine the late night bags of chips and the multiple doughnuts I haven’t told you about.)
Today I hit a new body weight high. And none of my pants fit. So it was sobering.
And I know part of that is my good intentions gone wrong.
Yesterday the morning started with breakfast with my dad and the teenager. I had coffee, a broccoli feta omelette, home fries, dry rye toast and cranberry juice.
I was proud of my choice because I haven’t had vegetables enough recently and I could bring half of my meal home for today. It was too delicious. So I decided I would skip or have a light lunch.
But then I stress ate a doughnut.
Then my dad and step mom invited me to the pub for dinner. My step mom wanted pizza so I thought I’d have a beer and a slice. I think I ate the equivalent of a whole bar pizza.
It’s 7:23 pm and I’m watching the marching band rehearse so my daughter can drive home… I’ll make7,000 steps today but not my goal of 10K.
PART TWO: WARLOCK CRAFT BEER REVIEW
At Three Mugs Pub yesterday, I ordered a salted caramel chocolate Saucony Creek, a craft beer label I typically enjoy. Chocolate stouts and porters tend to be my favorite beers.
They didn’t have it. So I ordered a Warlock instead.
Warlock is an imperial pumpkin stout brewed by Southern Tier Brewing Company. It was smooth and not obnoxious in its seasonal flavor. And caused more of a buzz than I was expecting given all the food I ate.
PART THREE: CHICKEN BONE BROTH
Earlier— on Tuesday—while the teenager was still hanging out with my dad…
I finally turned off my crock pot that had been brewing the chicken bones of a whole young roaster I bought at Grocery Outlet on Saturday for $4. I made the chicken in the crock pot that day, returned the bones and skin to the crockpot and kept filling it with water until Tuesday noon.
I carefully poured it all out and squeezed all the goodness out of the now soft bones. I also started a pot of soup on the stove. The yield was nice.
PART FOUR: TRIGGERED
I started my day with coffee— fighting an unusual sluggishness and some unexpected difficulty with my menstrual cycle.
Last week, I had started thinking about my psychological triggers. I have long known that I have an obsessive attitude toward food. Not in the disordered eating way, but in a hoarding kind of way.
I don’t actually hoard food, but seeing a piece of fruit rot or having to throw out an out-of-date food product upsets me far more than it should.
It usually serves me well, but it backfires sometimes and missteps with food can make me unreasonably angry.
Let’s bring this back to that chicken— I didn’t need that chicken. I didn’t even want that chicken. But that was a huge roaster chicken for $4.
I made soup and froze it for the first cold day of the fall season. (I’m not even fond of chicken soup). I separated the white meat and the dark meat and froze that for future use. And I made bone broth.
That’s a lot of food for $4. Good, healthy protein. But… it’s not food I enjoy. So why?
But then this morning as I was drinking my coffee, I heard two people arguing. It was a loud verbal altercation. This is one of my triggers I forgot about— and it’s one I understand. My parents had a lot of verbal arguments and if I’m honest (forgive me for saying so Mom and Dad) if they had enough alcohol the fights could get violent and ugly. There weren’t that many over the years, but enough to create an even more terrifying environment than the mere alcoholism that existed in my childhood home.
So I surveyed my surroundings and couldn’t see anyone. My chest was tightening and my stomach dropping and that odd little internal tremble shook me.
These incidents were frequent when my previous neighbors screamed profanities at each other and threw objects and each other at the walls. It terrified me. They were literally on the other side of the wall, similar to my parents. When I didn’t stand there paralyzed and watch them.
I am not convinced what happened this morning, but I suspect my neighbor had some sort of television program playing in her car.
PART FIVE: THRIFT STORE
I promised the teenager a trip to our favorite thrift store. She bought supplies for her father’s birthday craft and two belts. I bought approximately three skirts, four pairs of business slacks, one pair jeans and one pair corduroys.
Since I can’t try things on, I got everything from size 7 to 10. Far cry from my normal 2 or 4, or my spare/ baggy sizes 6 to 8.
None of the professional pants fit. The red jeans (Old Navy low cut Rockstar 10) fit but are snug. The corduroys fit (size 8). One size 8 skirt fits, the other two did not. The medium skirt fit.
I’m sorry, guys. I also wanted to update you on Aspire to Autonomy, Lady Boss Entrepreneurs Club and some recent make-up unboxing from Dolls Kill and Target.com. But I’m wiped out and this is really long. Oh — and William Prystauk’s third novel appeared on Amazon.com today so now you can read the latest Kink Noir masterpiece and get your mystery/romance/crime/BDSM on.
So, I have come to the conclusion that all I have to do is call Nan and ask, “Are you busy?” and she will grab her white cane and meet me by the door.
Unless NASA has something going on— like a hatch opening or a spacewalk or a launch or a capture.
Today the teenager got up early, at 8 a.m., which in teen time is somewhere between “I had no idea the sun came up this early” and “wow, I can eat breakfast at actual breakfast time.”
Speaking of breakfast, the foster kittens have learned the word “breakfast” and their little ears perk up when you say it.
The teen wanted to go to Petco and Dollar Tree, while Nan and I had our eye on a brief trip to Grocery Outlet to look for smoothies and lentil pasta. Their circular advertised Bird’s Eye steam-in-bag lentil pasta, which Nan and I both like, for 99 cents.
It normally runs $3-4 per bag.
As a blind person, Nan likes the fact that she can make lentil pasta without dealing with boiling water as one has to do with traditional pasta and it’s not a mushy mess of preservatives like canned pasta.
We were both disappointed to discover that they only had lentil/zucchini pasta with olive oil, as opposed to the “sauced” varieties.
But I get ahead of myself. As I mentioned yesterday (see Growing Up), the teenager is now driving. This trip with Nan— because of course she said yes she’d come— would be her first trip with the teen behind the wheel.
Yesterday, we not only drove several highways but I took her to Wendy’s to try the drive-through. She aced that.
We set a rendezvous time with Nan for 10 a.m. and head to the car with a sneak peak at the garden. My fancy little imported peppers have started to grow, and the massive pumpkin vine that originated in my compost heap has started to yield pumpkins not on the ground but on my fence.
Petco passed without incident and Grocery Outlet had minimum disruption as well. But the teenager found Maple Doughnuts (as a brand name) in an unlabeled decadent 12 pack that weighed at least four pounds for $1.99.
“Quality you can see since 1946,” I chuckled while reading that to Nan.
The plan quickly morphed into a trip for coffee at Dunkin’ and doughnuts from Grocery Outlet. The teenager helped us load up the car and she headed to the Dollar Tree and we contemplated beverages.
Except McDonald’s was closer and cheaper. By the time the teen returned we were still deciding because I had a coupon for “buy one milkshake and get one for a penny.” But we had doughnuts.
Nan wanted a chocolate shake but protested that she was pretty sure drinking milkshakes before 11 a.m. was frowned upon, in the same manner as day drinking.
I assured her it would be 11 by the time we received the milkshakes.
So I ordered one small chocolate and one medium strawberry milkshake and one large Diet Coke.
One of us had to pretend to be sensible.
The drive thru is ridiculous. But that’s how it is now. The line at the McDonald’s is like a trip to the DMV whereas getting your learner’s permit at the DMV is relatively instantaneous. Another Covid-19 reality.
11 a.m. — to the minute— we receive the shakes. Nan and the teenager split a chocolate doughnut. I eat a cake doughnut with icing and crystallized sugar. And then a glazed donut with chocolate icing and a thick layer of maple icing.
A relaxed and joyful start to a sweet Saturday morning.
The pandemic. Unemployment. And a host of social issues that start with our federal government and cascade down to our neighborhoods.
It sounds like I have a bowling alley above my kitchen, and the teenager’s bedroom smells like an animal shelter— both due to the five kittens we are fostering on behalf of Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. (See their web site here.)
Our Artemis might be listed for adoption soon.
One of my peers working with FURR posted to Facebook this morning about some of the new additions to the FURR family— including two adult, declawed cats left behind when their owners moved.
It always irks me when people desert their pets when they move, and it’s bad enough when they take their pets to the animal shelter, but to just leave cats to fend for themselves… well, that is a not-nice human being.
And to find out these cats were declawed tells me the owners invested in these animals at some point probably to protect their furniture annoys me even more.
Declawing, in my opinion, is a cruel surgery. And to do that to your cat and then not even bother to take it with you when you move… I can’t even fathom!
But then I’m the one that not only took in five kittens to help get them ready for homes, but keeps working to socialize the one that bit me and sent to to the hospital for a lovely 4-day, 3-night spa vacation.
I even made sure the kitten that bit me got her next dose of medicine before I went to the ER.
Speaking of which, my family doctor is very happy with the care I received and as of 10 a.m. this morning, the infamous cat bite looks like this:
If you bring a pet into your home or feed a stray, be ready for the responsibility of that animal’s life.
I don’t feel like writing right now. I don’t feel like doing much of anything but sleeping.
No one prepared me for how weird it would be to transition back into everyday life after 72 hours plus in the hospital.
It’s a lot like jet lag for similar reasons— your sleep schedule is screwed up and your routine in general is topsy turvy.
And I had neither major illness nor invasive procedures.
I got home on Thursday a little after 11 a.m. The cats were aloof but Nala was glad to see me.
I took one of the longest showers I’ve ever taken in my life. And I put on a pretty dress, just because I could.
And when I got out of the shower I discovered a text that alerted me to a cake on my porch.
I immediately texted my neighbor in the other half of my house and asked if she wanted to have coffee and I would bring cake.
Knowing I haven’t had decent coffee since the previous weekend, she started a pot immediately.
I left from there to go meet my daughter at the high school and help her carry her marching baritone home.
This is where I have to give my daughter all the props. Monday was her first day of high school band camp. If you don’t already know this about the teenager, she is in her fourth year of playing low brass in marching band.
So when I wandered off to the ER at 6-ish a.m. Monday morning, and was texting her “I’m not coming home.” Well, first she thought I was dying and then she suddenly became responsible for her own meals, her own laundry, and the care of 3 parakeets, 1 cockatoo who won’t go to sleep without someone in the room, our four cats and five foster kittens.
And we had a tropical storm.
And she handled it all.
Our neighbors offered an amazing support network, as did my friends, especially Gayle who brought me t-shirts so I didn’t have to wear a hospital gown.
I took several walks that first day home, including one for my medicine at CVS. I was ecstatic to see I only had a few days of Augmentin to take.
And the hand has improved every day.
My dad and stepmom came down to visit and take us to dinner at Three Mugs Pub. That almost made me cry because on Wednesday, after the doctor told me he couldn’t discharge me yet, all I could think of was a Shruty’s burger at Three Mugs Pub.
When Three Mugs Pub was still Shruty’s, my husband and I were the first people to order the Shruty’s burger when they debuted it. It’s a really good burger topped with pepper jack cheese, shrings (tempura battered deep fried banana pepper rings) and Texas petal sauce.
In my opinion, this burger is one of the best in the Lehigh Valley, on par with the much pricier peanut butter bacon burger at Two Rivers Brewing, another favorite of mine.
And I had a Guinness to celebrate my arrival home.
They had a new appetizer on the menu— a hot buffalo chicken dip. We tried that too.
The teenager declared it her new favorite chicken dip, better than her father’s. I respectfully disagree. Her father’s is extremely good. I prefer it.
After that meal I slept 10 hours.
Now, on Friday, yesterday, everyone kept contacting me or stopping me to ask how I was doing and then Darnell stopped by to inform me of all the things that had happened while I was gone.
And everyone wanted a piece of the coffee cake Janie made me.
And then my neighbor Jan let me watch a movie at her house, cuddling with her dog, and she even gave the teenager and I a bag of brownie M&M’s. The teenager thought they “just tasted like M&M’s” whereas I thought if you piled enough of them in your mouth at once it was like having a mouthful of brownie batter.
Not that I’ve ever eaten a bowl of brownie batter.
Or an entire pint of ice cream with brownie bits.
And then I slept 10 hours again.
I rolled out of bed a little after 8, expecting to have the last slice of Janie’s decadent coffee cake, after all, I need the food to take my antibiotics.
But then my mom told me she was bringing sticky buns.
So I made my morning coffee and as the espresso machine started steaming, I got on the scale.
I’ve gained two pounds since I got home from the hospital.
Lunch was a business mixer with the Easton chapter of the Lady Boss Women’s Entrepreneurial Club at Sogo Asian Fusion in the downtown.
A random young black women yelled at us from her car, “You guys look so pretty.” So I asked the teenager to take some selfies before our arrival. The teenager had just given me a haircut. I thought my hair looked untamed because of my hospital stay. I was wrong.
That random compliment from a stranger meant a lot to me as I still feel like I’ve been hit by a bus.
The teenager and I had the Out of Control roll, Fire Mountain (with scallops! and it really was a mountain, and it was so amazing) and a Philadelphia roll. The teenager squealed with delight and the staff at Sogo gave me the rubber-banded chopsticks because I was using a fork.
I guess the teenager will have to teach me to use chopsticks.
The remainder of my afternoon was spent cleaning, walking with my neighbor, and trying to earn the trust of our foster kittens.
And now, I’m feeling a little nauseous and I wonder if it’s because of all these penicillin-family antibiotics in my system and the fact that I had so much more water in my system in the hospital. Every time I had an adverse reaction to the antibiotics in the hospital, they increased my IV fluids. So I’m trying to drink more here at home.
And a few minutes ago, my mom texted. She got bit by a friend’s cat today.
If you look at my last few entries, you will read about the tiny, little cat bite that sent me to urgent care and then to the ER at St. Luke’s Easton Campus. I never expected what happened next,
Right away, at 6:40 or so a.m., the doctor in the emergency room explained my options. They preferred to start IV antibiotics, then transfer me to one of the larger hospitals in the network.
Which would require an ambulance.
So I asked, “Could I just go to the hospital myself?”
And he explained I could, but he would be discharging me against medical advice, and then I would start over in the other emergency room. Which might mean two separate emergency room charges. And not being monitored. And losing my spot in the triage line.
And he recommended asking for removal of the transfer charges.
Now they have drawn on me with surgical marker at this point and i can see my finger swelling and my infection spreading. Two knuckles are completely swollen and angry.
I want to get this treated ASAP. So I agreed.
I’ve seen every episode of House MD, I know infections that spread are bad.
That was an attempt at levity. I don’t think all doctors are like House.
This is only my first real hospitalization— unless you count childbirth.
Now, Easton Hospital has a long history in the small community where I live. When I moved here, Easton Hospital was still a small, independent hospital. A few years ago, the Steward Group bought it and made it a for-profit hospital.
Which, for the sake of trivia, increased the tax base in our borough.
But over the course of the last year, Steward closed down entire departments. When Covid-19 hit, Steward threatened to close the whole damn hospital if the state didn’t offer massive financial support.
In May, St. Luke’s University Health Network bought the hospital. My doctors are all affiliated with this network so when the urgent care suggested going to the emergency room, this one is about 600 steps from my house.
I didn’t know that in the transition, the hospital has not fully rebuilt its services and wasn’t equipped for my care. I would have gladly driven to the larger hospital. Oh well.
By about 10 a.m. my ER nurses have given me a second antibiotic (the urgent care had given me oral Bactrim), hand x-rays, and fluids. They also swab me for Covid as a safety precaution prior to transfer. That was squiggly. The hospital where I must go is full, so I have to wait for another patient to be discharged.
And it is the full moon.
I have my own triage room in the ER. At about 11:30, my neighbor, Sarah, comes and brings my phone charger, iPad, teddy bear and my favorite sweat shirt.
We talk, play cards, watch TV and learn that I am not allowed to eat. My hand may need surgery. The nurse apologetically offers me clear fluids but also offers me a milk. I ask for the ginger ale.
Lunch was Shasta. It was a perfectly tasty and cold Shasta that hit the spot.
The Easton squad arrives at 2:20 p.m. for my 2:30 transport. I am happy to report that my blood pressure has been good. I joke around as they strap me on, which this is really the silliest medical transport ever.
Sometimes I am reminded of my age— when I think of those summers of my girlhood circa the 1980s, when Pennsylvania experienced temperatures that averaged in the high seventies/low eighties and for about 2 weeks every August a heat wave of around 85 degrees.
It also snowed a lot more, and I can’t say I miss that.
Now I won’t be naive enough to suggest this pandemic has been fun. Some people have gotten seriously ill, others have died. Luckily in my circle, those who contracted Covid-19 survived and none ended up in the hospital.
But as I said in the beginning of the pandemic, the Coronavirus has forced us to look at our health system, our purchasing habits, our supply chains, what we need and what we don’t. I have found a more relaxed pace of life, and while I have lost my job, I have found some inner truths that bring me hope. Perhaps that is where my naïveté lies.
Yesterday, I had a business meeting with my first client as a partner in Thrive Public Relations. Thrive is the brainchild of a friend— who has been searching for someone with media, print and editorial experience to complement his digital marketing, strategy and networking expertise. I have agreed to help him, and hopefully this will lead to some paying work that could help keep me afloat and allow me to rebuild my career portfolio.
I spent much of the last year as a grant writer, and would love to highlight some current public relations work to augment my grant writing potential.
So I was asked to attend a business lunch at Sogo Asian Fusion yesterday in one of my favorite environs, downtown Easton. I thoroughly enjoyed, despite the 95 degree heat, dining on the patio. It felt lovely to build an outfit, put on make up and head into the world.
Then later that evening, my propensity for stress-related binge-eating led to me eating most of a jar of “trail mix” — I put that in quotes because it had walnuts and almonds but was mostly butterscotch and white chocolate chips— that my blind friend Nancy gave me for Christmas. I had it on my desk at work and it was one of my possessions that Mr. Accordion drove to my house.
And then my daughter cornered me. She started reciting old bits from Brian Regan, one of my favorite comedians (from the golden age of the early 1990s, before I graduated high school and Nirvana changed the world).
Finally she got tired of her delivery falling flat and we spent an hour watching Brian Regan clips from YouTube on my phone. I grabbed a Diet Coke and finished the rest of the vanilla vodka from County Seat Spirits.
The teenager’s father, my husband of 20-years whom I separated from last summer, does not like stand-up comedy. But a good stand-up comic (like Regan, or Trevor Noah, or for those who have thicker skin and/or less sensitivities Denis Leary and George Carlin), can lift my darkest spirits. So I love the fact that our daughter inherited my taste in comedy.
And when I got up this morning, as mundane life started to overwhelm me with chores and commitments, Nan called.
The Mighty.com had published her piece on our summer picnic and shared it with Yahoo News. It features me, and the teenager, so I got to enjoy reading about my life.
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.
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.