It’s just about to turn 5 a.m. on Tuesday morning. The last 48 hours have been emotionally difficult, and those are internal challenges I have resolved within myself but now I need to “make right” in the world.
My good friend Joan (the talented photographer) had quipped that the moon is in “Frustrato” phase and perhaps that is accurate.
Sometimes it’s nice to blame the universe instead of accepting our part in the mayhem. Because even good intentions spark fires.
I heard a podcast yesterday; I believe it was an economic one, that asked if one host was “a glass half empty or a glass half full kind of guy.” He replied, “it’s just half.”
That’s too much enigma and philosophy for pre-dawn hours. Blame the fact that my trusty espresso machine only filled half my mug.
The teenager and I had 14 kittens in the house Saturday, Sunday and Monday offering temporary lodging for these babies whose official Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab foster families have gone on summer vacation.
They were so much fun to have around, but 11 went home last night. This led the Teenager’s officially adopted foster fail Mars of the Roman Pride distraught that his friends had gone. He screamed until the Teenager released him into “gen pop” where he plopped himself down in front of the remaining visitors.
On Friday, I had a rather grueling session at Apex Training with my coach Andrew. We did some intense work on balance and single leg muscle stability. On Saturday, the communication between my brain and my lower body felt rickety (for lack of a better description) and it was challenging to move. By Sunday, the movement felt smoother but my phone was registering spikes in walking asymmetry. But something very interesting happened Monday— I could not only stand on one leg, but I could also hold my leg in a few seconds of a quad stretch.
Yesterday, I visited the Stitch Fix employee store, which resulted in a good news/bad news scenario. I bought myself jewelry on an impulse and discovered my second holes could still accept earrings. As someone who really grew up in the 80s and graduated high schools in the 1990s, I have three sets of holes in my ears.
I bought the Teenager some new things, including some warm hiking style boots for fall and her dog walks. I bought myself an adorable pair of shorts, and I picked one size up from my pre-existing Stitch Fix clothes and they were too small.
Obviously my efforts to reduce my recent (as in pandemic era) weight gain have been not sincere enough. Sigh. I’m trying to eat better and move more without falling into a strict/restrictive mindset.
But I did eat an entire medium pizza from Domino’s the other night. It was a medium hand-tossed crust, light on the cheese, light on the garlic Alfredo sauce with red peppers and pineapple.
On the way home from work last night, I noticed that the furniture store looked abandoned— and that the sign merely said urn.
In the background of all of this, the ‘cat book’ from Parisian Phoenix has hit some unexpected difficulties prompting a delay in its production. But my quick thinking, after a few hours of pondering, have inspired an interim release of a mini cat book featuring advice and stories about the care of cats. The larger book will come later, perhaps in early 2023.
In the meantime, I am very puzzled why my sweet tripod foster Louise has decided to crate herself.
And the most surprising item of the day was receiving my first catalog for Parisian Phoenix Publishing— Uline junk mail!
I suppose the last update is that the people at Susquehanna Service Dogs have cashed my check for the application fee. I’m anxiously awaiting contact.
To say life has been hectic feels like an understatement.
“You better put in that application for a service dog.”
We hadn’t even made it half-way down our block and I already stumbled and fell. The teenager, her dog, and I had left our house at 7 p.m. on just another high-90s day. We were headed to CVS for ice cream.
The CVS is a 2,000 step walk— there and back— so we thought it would be good exercise for the whole family.
Plus, I had about $3.75 in Extra Bucks and a 40% off coupon. A pint of ice cream is $6.99 at CVS so I grabbed a whole bunch of singles and a handful of change.
The dog behaved really well on the walk, but my left foot did not— it kept twisting under me. I felt like I had to lift up my feet in exaggerated steps not to fall. Like high knees marching.
I stumbled twice on the way home but did not fall again.
The teenager made her remark about the service dog. I’ve spent a lot of time with her dog this weekend and thought… just imagine if this dog were useful.
I already did 90% of the 54-page application packet. I talked to those people I want to be my support letters (the teenager and my neighbor, as they would be my literal supports) and my references: the teenager’s father, cat foster godmother (who used to be a social worker) and my long-time therapist (whose wife is a physical therapist).
That leaves one thing: the medical evaluation. My own insecurities make it very difficult for me to ask for help. And it’s taken a long time for me to learn to speak up and out and advocate for myself.
I am nervous to ask my doctor— my family doctor of more than a decade— to do it. Part of me wants to wait until my appointment on August 19. But if he says no, that only leaves me two months to find someone else.
I think I need to call the office tomorrow and leave him a message to ask if he’d do it if I bring the paperwork August 19, or sooner if he wishes.
Again, I have doubts. What if I’m not disabled enough? I don’t want to waste anyone’s time. I don’t want to take a spot away from someone who needs a dog more than me.
But I’m struggling and I’m scared and I’m getting older. And I can do so much on my own but a dog would give me that much more.
I spent a lot of time on the application. Pretty much a whole day. What do you want the dog to do? What’s your typical day? Do you work? Do you volunteer? What are your interests and hobbies? Do you own a home? Do you have pets? Who lives with you? Do you drive? Can you handle travel? Can you take care of the dog? Are you able to train the dog?
If I can get ahold of the doctor’s office, as soon as I know someone will fill out the papers— I will tell my letter-writers and references to do their thing.
My therapist and I had a chat about it. His professional association discourages therapists from doing medical evaluations for service dog applications, but since I was asking for a reference, he was okay with that. He had no idea how many things a mobility dog could do.
He mentioned that in our current times, the emotional support animal and assistance dog phenomenon seems to be getting more and more prolific but that in my case, I’d obviously put a lot of thought into it, done my research, and found a program that could really benefit me.
Fingers crossed, I guess.
Oh, and the ice cream… it was $1.86 after my discounts. I had a $5 bill, five singles and 87 cents in my pocket. I paid exact change.
Yes, that is a kitten. Yes that is a photo by the amazing Joan Zachary. Yes, that is the teenager.
Please check out this blog post about the upcoming book to benefit Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. Yes, I am helping to write it, putting my journalism skills to work. And I am offering cat wisdom and reprinting a flash fiction I wrote in high school.
As The FURR Flies, an anthology of cat stories, heart-warming tales from cat rescuers, cat resources and cat advice has gone from in the pipeline to …
I don’t need to get up this early. But, I’ve been on 10-hour day shifts in the warehouse now for 6 months and I feel like it’s the best way to maintain some work-life balance and some productivity.
And honestly, by 8 or 9 p.m. I’m usually so exhausted, mentally and physically, that I am mindlessly eating and/or watching TV.
So I rise in the early morning. It’s too early. I have to tip-toe out of my room as to not wake the cockatoo. The cats are confused. But… This is my creative writing time, my Parisian Phoenix business time, my coffee time, and my cuddle cats time.
Our “gen pop” of cats include brothers Misty and Fog, and fosters through Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab Touch of Grey and Minerva, with an occasional visit from our almost 12-year-old cancer surviving old man tripod Opie. Opie is like an old mob boss, but he’s tired now, and Fog, with his 2.5 years, has been challenging him for about the last year. Not in a really aggressive way, but challenging his authority enough that there have been some issues.
This morning, my productivity is not as, well, productive as I prefer. Sure, I tried to tame my curls. I started the dishwasher, took my allergy meds, made a big cup of coffee and checked for book sales. (None last night. The new title debuts next week– and it’s only $6.99. It’s also a novelette and written a little lighter than my usual dark style.)
But Minerva keeps coming to cuddle, Misty and Fog are playing, and Touch of Grey (Tiggy, as we sometimes call her) is patrolling. Oz is considering waking up in his crate, but he’s giving me side-eye. He will only wake if I plan to feed breakfast.
And if you have cats, you understand why I will not feed them breakfast at 4:30 a.m.
We corralled these “gen pop” cats into the spare bedroom last week for the teenager’s party, as we had some guests allergic to cats. The teenager thought it best to lock them up, then clean, as it would reduce the likelihood anyone would die.
We also passed out Benadryl at the door.
But that was the same stretch of time where two of the three cats accidentally given the dog’s flea meds ended up seizing. Misty and Touch of Grey ended up at the emergency vet, and $2300 later, they are both home. Neither is exhibiting any further neurological symptoms or personality damage.
They are both on muscle relaxers. So the teenager maintained quarantine to facilitate delivering their pills. But last night, she released them.
And I’m happy to watch Fog and Misty play, cuddle Minerva and encourage Tiggy to patrol.
The teenager said she liked the peace and quiet of having them locked up, but she has a dog to keep her company. I miss their cat obtrusion into my daily routine. Especially in the dog-free hours of pre-dawn.
The start of the Covid-19 pandemic two years ago brought an end to a couple toxic situations in my life, and led to many new experiences that were both rewarding and frustrating.
If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you may remember teenager #2, a friend of my teenager who needed a place to stay. Teenager #2 and her cats stayed for about nine months, with minimal support or contact from her parents.
Teenager #2 turned 19 last week, and I don’t know if she’d expect me to remember or not, because I haven’t heard from her since she moved out. And left a very trashed bedroom behind. And her cats taught my cats bad habits we are still trying to break.
I’ve heard rumors that she’s expecting her own baby now.
It’s also been about five weeks since my mother contacted me. Though she will probably read this later and text me nasty messages.
And my dad is three-and-a-half months gone now, and it leaves me wondering how people can be there one second and just… poof… gone.
But I’m not trying to elicit pity, I’m merely stating some of the thoughts in my brain to say that my emotions are already on edge.
So, a couple weeks ago we (the teenager and I) received a text message that our former foster Extra Crunchy was being returned to the rescue because a new baby was allergic.
This broke my heart.
But the family never showed up. They turned up unannounced at the FURR adoption event yesterday and returned him on his first birthday.
Readers, I think I am losing my stomach for rescue work.
Extra Crunchy was one of two kittens who survived a bout with distemper last spring. Feline distemper is a very fatal and preventable disease. FURR received a call that someone had three cats, two female and one male, neither fixed nor vaccinated. The two females each gave birth to a litter of kittens. But everyone contracted distemper. And the adults died.
So they called FURR, and FURR took in these ten dying and starved kittens who had never even had the chance to nurse from a mother.
My daughter asked if she could foster these babies, and our cat foster godmother said yes, but that we had to be prepared for them to die.
So my daughter started syringe feeding them. On the day she took over their care, two died right away. And it seemed like every day another would die, usually in the teenager’s arms.
We gave them ridiculous names because they weren’t going to live. Rufus. The Magician (he would just randomly teleport from one end of the playpen to the other). Spunky. Parker (which was actually Parkour because he climbed everything).
And Extra Crunchy. Because he was covered in formula, cat food and feces. After all, no one had taught him how to groom and no one had groomed him.
Extra Crunchy is currently at Chaar Pet Store in Forks Township.
On Friday, the teenager plans to bring him home for a bath and grooming before Saturday’s adoption event.
In addition to that, my hip is acting up and I don’t have a chiropractor appointment for two weeks. So I’m trying a whole lot of stretches.
The pain got worse throughout the day, and I accepted the offer to leave work at 3 when they announced VTO. I picked my own cart to start this morning, which meant I had a 3,000 step walk first thing in the morning. And by the end of the day, I had shipped 380 items, which, by my calculations is 108.5%.
I have a lot of little things to say that problem don’t belong together but today is the Lehigh Valley Book Festivalat Bethlehem Area Public Library and I’m excited, a tad nervous and a bit super-focused and scatter-brained at the same time.
So the teenager and I finally came to the current end of the Marvel Comics Universe movies with Spider-Man: No Way Home. Watchingthem sequentially, and for me, many for the first time, actually made a lot more sense than when I saw some of them the first time.
I got a strange déjà vu that I had seen some of these villains before, but at the same time I was confused because the memory was vague and distant.
So let’s just say, trying not to spoil it for others like me that are woefully behind in their pip culture, that this film incorporates some older films that will be familiar to Generation X.
The primary theme of this movie, in my opinion, is time travel. The actual plot is a tad weak and melodramatic but the homage made to the previous generation of Marvel movies, and the humor employed in this movie, make it worth it.
My favorite Spider-Man is Toby Maguire. I got to see him again. And that made my heart happy. (Toby is also the Spider-Man adored and referenced by supermodel Adelaide Pitney in my chick lit/horror fiction novel, Manipulations, the first in the Fashion and Fiends series.
I had a very good visit with my chiropractor Nicole Jensen of Back in Line. She’s impressed with my progress and got things to pop and move (my right ankle that I broke more than five years ago) that haven’t popped and moved in a long time.
My Later, Andrew at Apex Training worked out every muscle he didn’t the day before (okay that’s an exaggeration) and the teenager set a new personal record in deadlifting: 225 lbs.
Finally, I get to the part I’ve been waiting for: PIE! If only I weren’t trying to be so health conscious… Because I have been visiting the amazing pie ladies Anne and Lisa at Pie+Tart for three(?) years now and their pies (and flat white coffees) have nurtured my soul through some difficult times— and a very very toxically difficult boss.
I receive their weekly email and saw their “freezer section” of leftover discounted pies included a steak and Guinness pie and a matcha custard pie. A meal inspired by two of my favorite drinks.
I was so beyond excited to eat these pies I was vibrating at “the pie hole” which is what they call their window/doorway. It has allowed them to stay in business safely during Covid because how would we survive sans pie.
I can improvise plenty of solutions for lack of toilet paper but I can’t make pie like this— not even with my Pennsylvania Dutch family connections.
I couldn’t even wait for the matcha custard to thaw. I sawed at it with a knife, broke it in pieces with my hands and microwaved a slice for 30 seconds. It was delectable.
And the steak and Guinness pie? So rich and full of meaty goodness I didn’t even have a chance to take a photo.
Oh how I love my pie friends.
And finally the updates regarding some of the cats we are fostering through Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab, Mars has taught Khloe to play and Minerva is becoming much more social. As is Louise.
It’s Wednesday night— which is my Friday! The Bizzy Hizzy has been a tizzy of Covid cases during this mandatory overtime week.
I’m doing my eight hours of overtime on Saturday.
Tomorrow I’m returning to the gym—the pandemic has also altered my training schedule.
And tomorrow, Georgie gets adopted! Yes, Georgie, our lovable former community cat from downtown Allentown, will be going home to a family where she will be the only pet.
I’m told Louise has an approved adoption application— but this is her third so I am not as optimistic as I should be. The person who applied for her wants two cats so FURR has suggested Khloe also be considered.
If these three cats get adopted— after Danu, Brigid and Aîné all getting adopted since December— I may weep tears of joy.
This week my body experienced all sorts of aches and pains, but I still managed to fold what I felt was a respectable amount of clothes for Stitch Fix. And today was our monthly employee luncheon— chicken Caesar wraps, tomato soup and carrot cake.
And on our final break of the day, everyone from my old shift got sweatshirts.
It’s kinda silly, but at the same token, it commemorates a special era of my life and celebrates the camaraderie we had on second shift. And believe it or not, even though we are scattered among the day shift, we still function as a team.
After work, the teenager invited me to Tic Toc family restaurant where we enjoyed grilled cheese sandwiches.
Ingram finally shipped Darrell Parry’s poetry book (Twists: Gathered Ephemera). And several other Parisian Phoenix titles are coming together. Perhaps as many as three titles releasing before the end of February.
Speaking of Parisian Phoenix, I emailed my class correspondent at Lafayette College and he ordered my first two novels.
And finally, side note… Actor Tim Daly was on the most recent episode of the podcast Hypocondriactor. I love Tim Daly. And I found myself comparing him to Anthony Stewart Head, you know… Giles on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
I was specifically comparing Daly’s character on Madame Secretary to Head’s role as the school librarian/watcher on Buffy. Both were nerdy academics with interests in obscure topics.
This new work week is certainly moving quickly although each day I come home more exhausted. I’m hurting more once I get home, but I’m fine for the first 9+ hours of my shift. If you don’t know what I’m talking about read these:
The teenager kept my car as the last two of our fosters who needed to be spayed went to Canyon River Run today. That would be Mama Danu and her tabby kitten Baile from the Celtic Pride.
She hoped to bake cookies for the platters Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab plans to distribute to the many vets who assist the organization. Her eighth grade boyfriend came over to lend a helping hand so she also taught him to make bread.
Meanwhile I just kept dreaming of an iced cold Coke Zero. And an interesting thing happened — I got to work and there was a 4-pack of 20-ounce Coke Zero bottles with a post-it note declaring them free.
I brought them home. My guess is someone didn’t realize Coke Zero had been relabeled in the same red as classic Coke.
Which my metrics tanked by the end of the day which had me chugging this at 3 p.m. break.
My 4 p.m., I was trembling and about to cry. Do. Not. Repeat.
I treated the teenager to dinner at Tic Toc so she could get her last pay check. We both ate too much.
I did my physical therapy exercises and took a hot shower. By the end of the shower my right leg was very uncomfortable so I took a low dose muscle relaxer and covered my leg, knee and back with CBD Medic’s Arthritis Cream.
One more day.
So now, as promised, let me offer some thoughts on podcasts. The teenager and I compared notes on our Spotify end-of-year wrap up and she thought she was impressive with 17,000 minutes since we started using the service in mid-year. I have 88,000+.
MY FAVORITE PODCASTS I LISTENED TO SO FAR THIS WEEK:
This one surprises me. The Ellen Fisher Podcast. She’s a very interesting person with her journey to raise her own food in Hawaii with her brood of plant-based kids and interest in all things calm and positive. I don’t really don’t know how I feel about her podcast — but I recently listened to her episode on Mind Change. It was an interesting discussion of neuroscience facts blended with alternative healing techniques to deal with personal trauma to heal the body of disease and mental illness. The guests on the show discuss their experience that illness, whether physical or mental, is the body manifesting trauma that the person has refused to acknowledge and heal.
The Daily. I often force myself to listen to the Daily even when the topics don’t interest me. This week I found myself pleasantly surprised by their coverage of Stephen Sondheim’s death.
Snacks Daily. Snacks Daily is a brief podcast from Robin Hood, yes the investment folks. It’s an economic summary of course, but it also provides humor and the business side of the news.
I finished Sh**hole Countries by Radiotopia. The American host on that show grapples with the possibility that her Ghanaian parents want her to move to Ghana. Enjoyable but also not what I expected. The host uses much of her platform to talk about her queerness and human rights.
The Shit No One Tells You About Writing. Very useful and broad tips about writing, critiquing and publishing.
Africa Daily just did a good episode on fistula. I found that a surprising topic. I’m impressed. (Though they did not mention the prevalence of female genital cutting and its impact on the rate of fistula.)
Other notables: Power Hugh Hefner, American Scandal The Lewinsky Affair, Operator, Against the Odds Rock Climbers Abducted.