Friday Fluidity

So, I emailed Chewy about the bird seed explosion in my package and they are mailing me a replacement. See today’s earlier entry for details. (Cockatoo Mischief)

The teenager and I had made special plans as she just turned 16 years old and she was excited to donate blood.

My pulse clocked in at 102, and the cut-off to donate is 100. So I was disqualified.

Then they couldn’t find a vein on the teenager.

We were both very disappointed.

And, as the final culinary stop of her birthday tour, she asked for KFC.

And then we went to Into the Myst in downtown Bethlehem, where the teenager stocked up on her incense and is seriously debating a silver pentacle pendant adorned with amethyst. I think it would be a good protection amulet for her.

Then for dinner we visited our favorite familia—and on the way to their house the teenager and I discussed our ideas about what happens after death.

Our favorite familia features my charming writer friend with her Judeo-Catholic French-Celtic California roots and her also charming Puerto Rican husband and their crazy animals and now 90% adult children who have grown into impressively beautiful adults with wicked intellects.

Over grilled chicken and various types of potatoes, diverse conversation on employment, dog training, travels, the NSA, Sartre, customizing shoes, Russian Blue Cats, Russia, philosophy… flowed effortlessly with sprinkles of laughter.

The teenager remarked that she always admires how we don’t catch up with them for years, but the energy always feels like we’re best friends.

And they have a big dog.

And then we had cake and coffee.

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.

Lavender retrospective

I’ve tried to incorporate the spirit of my “staycation” two weeks ago into my everyday life. I have tried to embrace a more carefree joie de vivre.

I think to some extent it is working.

Scrolling through my blog feed, I see lots of random home-cooked meals, even more pizzas and fast food… I mean, what crazy mood swing prompted me to eat TWO blizzards from DQ in one night???

My dental work on Wednesday was a huge success and has prompted such a physical and emotional relief— because when you’re slowly paying off more than a thousand dollars in dental bills and something is not right, it drains you.

It reminds me, as life often does, that our struggles never really end. The only destination in this journey is death, regardless of what milestones we try to hit along the way.

Some days it’s harder to get out of bed than others, but hopefully there is something for all of us to appreciate and something we can do for the world.

I opened my Lock Keeper Gin from County Seat Spirits last night. Mixed a shot of so with equal parts carbonated water and a light French lavender soda.

Gin by itself has a clean but bitter taste, in my opinion, with the Lock Keeper Gin bursting with a strong citrus aftertaste. The light blend of lavender gave the gin just enough sweetness to be undetectable in my cocktail. I find gin way smoother and easy to mix than vodka, which I know is an unpopular opinion.

The ups and downs of DQ

I originally started this blog post intending to lambast my local Dairy Queen.

But literally as I was debating what to title this piece when either the owner or the manager of our local Dairy Queen called to make this right.

So as you read this long-winded tale of technological failure and questionable customer service moves, let me say that while it’s not 100% resolved now, I have the cell phone number of the person who can fix it.

The story begins with a mildly inconvenient family matter that still hasn’t been resolved. It kept me out of the house last night until almost midnight. I was lucky to get six hours of uneasy sleep.

And I had a dream that a good friend had come to stay for a couple days to help me deal with some of the things in my life, so I woke disappointed and tired.

The teenager is staying with her dad. She stopped by for her wallet and to get some items she needed to pick up some strong medicine at the doctor.

I ended up leaving work in late morning because of fatigue, and the personal text messages I kept receiving.

The teenager left around 12:30 to head to the doctor.

I hadn’t eaten yet and I saw that DQ has a new Blizzard. Frosted Animal Cookie. Doesn’t that sound interesting?

So I thought I’ll get a 3-piece chicken strip meal deal and the Blizzard and a cheeseburger. A little naughty but it’s been a rough day.

I very carefully selected what I wanted— and left the house at 12:50. The order was submitted, I received a confirmation email and a notice from my bank that $11.25 had been deducted from the $27 left in my account.

DQ’s mobile app has this feature, that you tell them that you’re “here.”

I pulled into the drive thru. So I hit the button.

Now traditionally, in the pre-Coronavirus universe, I hate drive-thrus. I worked for five years at a McDonald’s, much of that in the drive-thru. It was so stressful, but it was my job through college. Drive-thru’s contribute to our anxiety and laziness as a country. We’re all too busy to get out of the car.

Now with Covid-19, I am using a drive-thru once a week. I’m in the line at DQ.

My order disappears.

1:10, I arrive at the speaker. I very professionally and clearly say, “I had a mobile order, but it seems to have disappeared even though I was charged.”

The mysterious voice in the box apologizes but says there is a problem on their end with mobile ordering and she can’t give me food.

I ask her, “May I read you the order and show you it on my phone?”

No, she says.

But you took my money, I said.

You need to call corporate, she said.

May I have the phone number? I asked.

It’s in the app, she replied.

And I had to sit in the drive thru for 20 minutes to not get food.

At 1:30 I pulled into the parking lot to search the app for a phone number. Found a comment section in the app. Gave them 1 star.

Who can’t give $10 of food or a phone number?

I found a comment form and started filling it out and after I got it half way done and the form automatically submitted itself.

I started over.

Then I finally found a phone number.

I called.

Waited 10 minutes.

Had a really skillful customer representative named Jeremy who laughed at my jokes and sympathized with my plight. He filed a report and asked me if I wanted to add a complaint against my particular store. Jeremy asked if they were rude, and I said no but I just felt like they could have handled it differently.

So, that done, I ordered a burger from Wendy’s and Vanilla Frostyccino. It was 2 pm and I still hadn’t eaten.

I brought my Wendy’s home, fed Nala (my cockatoo) her French fries and some apples, watched some Gordon Ramsay and prepped to blog a scathing tale of DQ.

As I finished my meal, I got a phone call from someone in charge of my local DQ. I didn’t catch his name, but we had a lovely conversation.

Addition to original post: I texted him this blog post and he told me his name was John and that he owns both the Easton and Bethlehem DQ stores.

I told him I worked for almost a decade selling icees and making Pizza Hit pan pizzas in the Target on Rte. 248. And I would have been able to give my customers a phone number and I would have given them the food.

I had an $11.25 order, for goodness sake.

And he said he would have handled it differently and that he’d like to make it right.

This is a summary of what I told him:

I’m glad you called, because even if I never see the $11 again, just knowing that there are business owners that care and want to provide a good experience matters. The virus makes it hard, we don’t have those face to face interactions. People are tired and aren’t prepared for some of these issues.

So I get that. But he called. And I appreciated that.

And I would let him know if I didn’t get my $11.25 back.

He thanked me for being understanding.

And he told me if I ever had a problem to call him— on his cell.

#customerservicewin

He dealt with my complaint within an hour, over an $11 sale. He didn’t have to do that.

Thank you.

And John’s response to my blog entry: “Thanks and again, so sorry again about the inconvenience. My name is John and I own the stores in Easton and Bethlehem. I have great crews at both stores but this incident could have been handled much better. I will be using this and sharing it with my crews as a learning experience to 1) do the right thing – take care of the customer and 2) when mistakes happen or problems occur take ownership and let the customer know that you are sorry and that you care. Have a great weekend!! John”

Vegetarian sweet potato tacos and a kitten joy ride

Many years ago, I used to blog every meal I made, in part because I had friends in far away states who wanted my recipes. Also because I am frugal. I also kept the blog because I never cooked the same meal twice and I wanted to preserve my best dishes. Even if they were an accident.

That blog is located here: Angel Food Cooking.

I promised the teenager we could take her kitten on a car ride. His first. So I ordered him a hamburger patty from Wendy’s and we also got french fries for Nala.

Then we came home and started dinner of leftovers and the next round of goodies from Grocery Outlet to make luscious vegetarian tacos.

Ingredients:

  • Corn tortillas, I don’t even remember when/where I bought them. I heated them in the skillet with coconut oil and a touch of chili powder and smoked paprika.
  • Green leaf lettuce leftover over from Tucker Silk Mill/Tucker Provisions from the burger kit I bought for Memorial Day two weeks ago.

You can read about that here: Tucker Provisions Burger Kit on the table

Buying the kit

  • Leftover sweet potato from dinner last night, also from Tucker (and this made the tacos really creamy and gave them a fantastic rich flavor)
  • Light sour cream leftover from when the teenager made her grandmother’s corn bake

More about the day on my recent vacation where we enjoyed corn bake: Our own Walking Purchase: Forest Bathing

  • Salsa from Lidl
  • A Boca Southwestern Skillet vegetarian dinner kit I bought at Grocery Outlet last night for less than $3. Three servings, though the outside of the package said serves 2. The sauce was tasty.
  • Jalapeño velveeta, also from the Grocery Outlet, which I got for 47 cents. A touch gave the taco some fire.
  • We had Italian black olives but we opted not to open them.

Encounter at Nearpoint

Tonight, the teenager and I are watching the pilot episode of Star Trek The Next Generation, “Encounter at Far Point.” We ate some of our gourmet Double Good popcorn that the teenager sold to pay for her marching band trip that has now been canceled.

It allowed me to be a little punny with my title— as while the Enterprise explores the far reaches of the galaxy, the teenager and I had our own encounter near home, visiting a dear friend and mentor who may not even realize how key she has been in my personal and professional development.

And she has a beautiful piece of property near us where the teenager could sip their own special lemo-tea and galavant through the sun-kissed woods.

On the way home, the teenager and I stopped at Wendy’s for cheeseburger kids’ meals for dinner as I had some volunteer work to do in the evening— we opted to postpone our proposed vegetarian Mexican dinner.

Between my two phone meetings for my volunteer commitment, I went for a walk with my neighbor. The walk is about a mile and a half, but for some reason it registers as about three miles on the Apple Health app.

The Pizza Weight Loss Plan

If you’re reading this after seeing the title and thinking I am proposing pizza as a fad diet, step away. I am joking. This is a light hearted, humorous piece about how Dominoes and Little Caesars have become my stress foods.

I can cook. I can cook well. But stress eating is a hobby of mine.

My daughter introduced me to Little Caesars as they have one pretty much across the street from her high school (and a block away from the other high school).

The pizza there is mediocre, the deep dish is pretty darn good, Crazy Bread is delicious and Im addicted to their cheesy jalapeño dip.

Now I can blame my current job for Dominoes. If our CEO orders pizza, it’s Dominoes because it’s close to the office and cheap.

When my teenager had ear tubes installed in November, she wanted pizza and I thought of Dominoes. She’d never had it before. And she found the pizza tracker extremely entertaining.

But now between the Parmesan bread bites and the seasoned crust, I’m a junky. I’ve been ordering Dominoes about once a week and Little Caesar’s about once a month.

Irony is, I’ve lost almost 3 pounds. But that’s stress. Not pizza.

My last push toward Christmas

Today I made my final attempts to flood my heart with holiday spirit.

My daughter visited my office on my lunch break and played some impromptu carols with my office mate, George, and I really think they should rehearse and take the show on the road, at least to local nursing homes.

Euphonium meets Accordion… Silent Night

Then the teen even had a little accordion lesson thanks to George’s good naturedness.

Accordion lesson

Later we picked up the teen’s boyfriend and went to the Winter Lights Spectacular at Lehigh Valley Zoo. We gambled for candy (and lost).

We played a giant game of chess.

And we exchanged some small presents. (All of which have been eaten.)

Presents under the lights

Then we stopped at Sonic, another source of nostalgia for the teen and came home.

She never was very good at standing still.