I spoke with the teenager early this morning and asked for some pet updates throughout the day and this is what I can tell you:
Zeus and Artemis are allowing the teenager closer. Hermes doesn’t do more than a token flee when the teenager administers his meds.
Misty has taken to sleeping in my purse, which is balanced on a stool.
Good news: Ortho, the department supervising my wound care, has released me to go home.
Bad news: My attending physician will not release me until I have 72 hours of normal blood draws just to ensure that there is no infection lingering in my system.
When I got to the ER on Monday morning, my blood work drawn at 7 am was normal, my blood work drawn here 24 hours later was also normal. So, and the attending physician specifically said this— If they draw my blood tomorrow at 7 am and it is also normal, I can go home.
This explains why I unexpectedly had another IV bag of antibiotics. Last night I slept well enough to dream and my brain transformed the chime from the IV pump in the room neighboring mine to Diana Ross’ “I’m coming out.” I dreamt I was dancing in a disco.
Upon hearing the news that my discharge would be delayed, I’ll be honest… I cried. Not in front of the doctor or my favorite nurse but I did cry.
Then I called “the meal hotline” and told them I was stress eating dinner tonight. I ordered a garden salad, cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato and ranch dressing, broccoli, tator tots and a fruit cup.
Speaking of food, I tried the pancakes for breakfast with turkey sausage (that had a bite) and the chicken salad on rye for lunch. I promised the teenager I would try the sugar cookies.
Good news: The pancakes tasted as good as a diner. I was craving honeydew melon and it was so delicious. And the chicken salad also hit the spot.
Bad news: The breakfast was too small for me— if I do that again I am going to have to get scrambled eggs as that was not enough food for me and I was physically shaking by lunch.
Now that my meals are situated, I FaceTimed my cockatoo. That always cheers me up. I don’t have any clean clothes, except for a pair of jeans, so I asked Gayle to bring me a t-shirt and some dental floss.
She said yes and offered to stop and get me Dunkin so I placed an order. First I got her an iced tea and then I ordered munchkins. I checked out and realized I forgot my order. So I placed a second order.
Apparently that Dunkin’ closes at 2 and they were no longer accepting mobile orders— even though I had placed one one minute earlier.
And they were out of munchkins. So we got doughnuts in the munchkin flavors.
When Gayle left, it felt so good to wash, floss and put on the closest thing I had to an outfit.
Sometimes your days don’t go as planned. I thought I’d get up, feed the pets, and head to the Dollar Tree to get our foster kittens some sardines to soften their tender feline hearts.
The thunderstorm scared the cockatoo, and the rain must have slowed me down as I finished feeding the pets and having a coffee on the porch at 10 a.m.
But Sunday is the day of rest, so that’s okay.
I headed to the Dollar Tree and spent $9.
Three cans of sardines
1 small box of generic golden crisp cereal or “sugar crisp” as it was called in the 1980s
1 four-pack of individual boxes of cereal
2 packs of Chips Ahoy sandwich cookies
2 bags of Cajun gator dill potato chips
1 jar mayonnaise
Then I went to the Grocery Outlet where for $14.75 I got everything else in the photo. Now, note, this is all processed breakfast foods and various snacks as the teenager starts band camp tomorrow and I know she will need to get something in her system at 7 a.m. and she will come home starved.
So snacks. And cereal. And Pop Tarts.
When I got home the teenager and I decided to try the Doozie cookie bar and the Sour Patch Kid cookies.
The results were exactly as I expected.
The teenager loved the Doozie bar. It was a cookie dough bar— so if you love edible cookie dough this was a nice treat. I thought it was too big for one sitting, that the sweetness got to be too much. I’m sure the teenager disagrees.
I purchased three of these for 29 cents.
Now the Chips Ahoy cookies, with Sour Patch Kids, were definitely a purchase for me. I bought them at the Dollar Tree.
They tasted like sugar cookies with candy in them.
My morning routine involves feeding my menagerie, cleaning the kitchen, working with the Roomba to pick up my room. And a cup of coffee, some cockatoo cuddles, and a few rounds of Words with Friends.
This morning I retrieved some clean laundry that needs to be put away, and while I was chasing the Roomba the laundry basket fell. All my clean laundry was now unfolded on the floor.
I used it as an opportunity to pick it up one piece of laundry at a time in a wide stance squat and move into a calf raise as I piled it on my bed.
I ate super well last night, and wore work out clothes yesterday, but today I WILL work out.
While we were eating dinner, I got a text message from Stephany, our contact with Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. She has kittens for us to foster! We pick them up today in about 90 minutes…
Newkittens need homes
The teenager is thrilled.
We will pick out their names and anyone that is interested in the group or adoption— because you will see soooooo many pictures— can click below for details on the organization.
Cats are fully vetted and microchipped (and socialized!) before adoption. The adoption fee is $110.
They have four feral cats right now that need barn homes and they usually like them to go in pairs so if you know anybody with a farm or any kind of situation where someone has property and would like a couple mouse catchers let them (or me) know.
Today started from the get-go with an air that everything would be harder than it needed to be. I’ll spare you my editorializing and stick to my main message.
The other night, the teenager turned to me and asked what happened with our recent cat litter order. Now with four cats in the house I have 30-lbs of cat litter on auto ship from Petco every three weeks. I actually had this order ship early and I upped it to 60 lbs.
Petco Customer Service
It shipped on July 24. Well yesterday I tracked it, as our five litter boxes are getting low.
The UPS tracking system said “receiver has moved.” Ummm…. I haven’t moved in 17 years and I have been getting this order for more than a year.
I call customer service. I had a very sweet, very friendly representative named “Jean” who didn’t sound American. She informed me she would file the appropriate claim about the missing package.
I quietly said, “and in the mean time, what about my cat litter?”
She placed a new order, free to me, that should arrive in 5 to 7 business days.
Three 30-lb containers of cat litter arrived at noon today. Kudos to Petco.
Errands and paperwork
I finally wrote the letters freezing my Planet Fitness membership. I don’t have a printer, but the teenager does, even though it is running out of ink. I shared the letter with her on Google docs and asked her to print two copies.
Why two copies?
Because even though my home gym is in Easton, some of my paperwork says it is Mount Pocono even though I have never even seen the Mount Pocono Planet Fitness. The letters need to be certified, according to the contract, so I spent $4.10 each to send two. It’s easier than finding out I sent it to the wrong gym.
I had $33 cash and 15 cents in coins when I arrived at the post office. I told him to give me a few stamps and if he could get the total to an even number I would pay cash. At 55 cents each, the math on making that work… well he gave me 14 and it came to $15.90.
He’s probably now thinking the same thing I am— that 2 more stamps would have been the number we wanted, $17.
Ah, well. I’m still not convinced this federal coin shortage isn’t a political move to force Americans into accepting a cashless society. I’m still pissed that we moved our currency away from the gold standard.
Review: McDonald’s Iced Coffee
On the way home from the post office, I stopped at McDonald’s again for a medium iced coffee and to get my free fries Friday medium fries. I had mentioned yesterday that the caramel iced coffee tasted like a milkshake more than coffee.
So today I ordered a medium iced coffee for $1.29 (and my free French fries with a side of spicy buffalo sauce). The standard iced coffee comes with cream and liquid sugar, which confuses me because I think it is also made with whole milk.
Well I ordered mine with no sugar. I don’t like liquid sugar and I don’t put sugar in my coffee.
When I took a sip, it was awful. My Nescafé is better. But once I started eating the French fries and the buffalo sauce, my searing tonsils didn’t have any problem with the coffee any more.
Perhaps I will have to drink all of my iced coffee plain and compare them all. Get one from Dunkin, one from Starbucks and one from McDonald’s.
This is how I think they would rank:
So, I want McDonald’s to knock Starbucks down a peg as Starbucks coffee is bitter. But McDonald’s struck me as weird. We shall see.
Well, before we have the serious discussion about poverty and food insecurity in America, let’s get a bit of humor out of the way.
There is a good possibility that the teenager will come home from her grandparents’ house today, and having read this, scream at me (because she has hearing problems not because she is disrespectful), “You went to McDonald’s without me??”
But in all seriousness, I have put on ten pounds since March and most of it is “stress weight.”
Since I lost my job July 10, I havent been to the grocery store this month — except for picking up some instant coffee or a pack of toilet paper.
I received my last pay check July 17, and tomorrow there could be $400 in unemployment compensation in my account but this will be my first payment so we’ll see if the paperwork went through. It should, but the teenager’s father and some of his colleagues were furloughed in June and he returned to work this week never receiving a dime.
So while I have some savings, my financial stability right now is precarious and as the custodial parent as a teenager I worry about the future. Therefore I cling to my pennies.
I peeled the lunch meat, cheese and the tomato out of half a hoagie the teenager didn’t plan to finish because it was “gross” and made an omelet with it for dinner.
We have a small garden. We have some friends with gardens. I keep my non perishables well stocked, so while we may be only eating meat about once a week, we have food.
And most of my food insecurity comes from not knowing when I will have any income again. I still have about half my last paycheck in the bank and won’t even have to touch savings for another month. But my savings are meager, but from what I understand better than average for the typical American who can’t afford an impromptu plumbing repair.
But, you see, when I get stressed I want fast food. The more fast food I have, the more I want.
And with the ease of order ahead apps and the discounted prices, it’s hard.
I worked my way through college at McDonald’s. I worked there 5 years and gained a hatred of drive-throughs (how lazy and inconsiderate can Americans be ordering 8 Happy Meals all custom orders in the drive through) and thought I’d eaten all the McDonald’s I would ever care to eat.
At our McDonald’s, about 25 years ago, each employee working a full shift got a free meal: one medium soft drink, one large fry and one sandwich. At the time I didn’t each lettuce, so I wouldn’t typically get a plain McChicken as I don’t care for mayonnaise either. I would occasionally get a triple cheeseburger without the onions with extra pickle.
I hadn’t eaten at McDonald’s since those days and avoided fast food restaurants so vehemently that the first time my daughter got a fast food kid’s meal (at around six of seven) she exclaimed, “Mom! There’s a toy inside!”
All went well until McDonald’s came out with a stroopwaffel McFlurry. A close friend got me hooked on stroopwaffels before they became a thing in the United States. And then suddenly they were everywhere.
I’m a sucker for a stroopwaffel.
Even after 25 years, in a McDonald’s 25 miles away from my hometown, the lobby has the same exact greasy fast food smell that I remember. My uniforms and shoes all had that smell. The French fry grease smell.
Then my neighbor introduced me to the $1 beverage menu. I downloaded the app when I saw it was free french fry day.
And then I saw the McChicken on the $1 menu. My good old favorite. And it was slightly more boring than I remember it.
Fast forward to today. I ate two small meals so far today. A small whole grain pastry. Some cheese and goldfish crackers. I’m hungry. My daughter is away.
I regress you my blue collar roots and I know I can get dinner at McDonald’s for about $3. I know I could also get a $3 bagged salad, but that won’t have the protein of a big old fast food sandwich. I haven’t had fruits or veggies today. I have some lovely fresh Brussel sprouts, probably also $3.
But I cave.
Now if I really want to be cheap, I can get the $1 McChicken, a $1 large Diet Coke and I have a coupon for a $1 large fry. Except fries are really empty calories.
So ditch the fries. Then I could upgrade and get the $2 double cheeseburger instead of the fries and McChicken. But then I’m not using any coupons so I could swap the Diet Coke with the coupon I have for a 99 cent any size iced coffee. I select caramel.
But then greed and gluttony kick in, I upgrade the $2 double cheeseburger for a $3 triple cheeseburger, the same burger of my youth. I don’t need that much cheeseburger.
But I’m getting that much cheeseburger.
I also click on not one but TWO apple pies. One for me and one for the teen. $1.49. But we don’t need apple pie. I remove it.
But I’m a little heartbroken as when we were McDonald’s crew we would take the outdated hot apple pies, at pre-close, and place them on the trays that had to be for the Big Breakfast, and smother them with the soft serve before we emptied the machine. And then we added the hot caramel. So good.
But no apple pies. I exercised restraint.
But that triple cheeseburger with no onion and extra pickle was exactly as I remembered.
This was my first experience with McDonald’s iced coffee. It wasn’t iced coffee. It was more like a milkshake. Made with whole milk and caramel syrup the coffee was more like coffee ice cream. Not bad, but way too sweet and decadent to be iced coffee. Next time I’ll get one without flavor.
I know this rant doesn’t have much organization, but I realized today I was falling into the trap of many Americans with financial concerns or in poverty. There are so many cheap & tasty options out there that are so much easier than fresh cooking. And in food deserts, the cheap options of Taco Bell and the $1 McChicken are cost effective.
I have always known this truth, but I didn’t expect to be participating in it. I never thought I would revert to my fast food youth. But here I am.
I ended last night with a delightful (super super delightful) tapas of succulent olives, hummus, blue cheese and pita chips with my neighbor.
Tonight I’m ending the night with blisters from going for my evening walk while wearing flip flops and feeling a little guilty for taking advantage of my DQ reward points to get a free chicken strip basket at Dairy Queen.
I have gained 10 pounds since the pandemic started. I am happy to say that my daily steps have tripled, but I haven’t used my dumbbells for anything other than doorstops, and I suppose I should go ahead and cancel my gym membership. Because I’m unemployed and I don’t want to go pay someone for something I can do at home without a mask.
If only I could stop the junk food habit.
But that is not the point of this post. The point of this post is to touch on two topics. I’m going to briefly touch on what I love about the business and non-profit environment here in the Lehigh Valley.
Then I’m going to sing the praises of Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab and report that our adorable pseudo-Russian Blue kittens, now about nine months old got neutered today and are still stoned out of their fuzzy little minds.
Life in the Lehigh Valley
So, I grew up in the Slate Belt and then moved to Bethlehem for my college years at Moravian College. I’ve always loved the diversity of the Lehigh Valley region, the diversity of urban vs. rural, the infrastructure, the businesses, the farms, the corporations.
Today, I attended a meeting with the person in charge of corporate giving for a major corporation that has offices all over the world, and a huge influence historically and currently in the Valley.
I attended that meeting as a representative of Aspire to Autonomy, Inc., and supported one of the founders of the organization in this important private conversation we were having.
And suddenly I was awestruck again.
Periodically, I am annoyed with the Valley for the same reasons that I love the Lehigh Valley. But today I felt enamored.
The Lehigh Valley, in part because of its proximity to the ports of New Jersey and the cities of New York and Philadelphia, and the local highway infrastructure connecting it everywhere, attracts a wide variety of businesses while hosting some economic mainstays—like Air Products, Just Born Candy, Martin Guitar and Crayola.
We have two major hospital networks competing madly locally— St. Luke’s and Lehigh Valley Hospital.
But the region, despite having three cities just about touching (and Allentown, with its population of more than 122,000, is the third largest city in the state), is amazingly small. It’s not that hard to travel from one end to the other and people seem to know everyone, especially in the business world.
Or maybe it just feels that way to me because I spent 15 years as a local journalist.
So, here I am in the meeting, immediately recognized as the former Development Manager for ProJeCt of Easton, helping sell this two-year-old non-profit to a potential major funder.
I even dressed up for the Zoom— and then the person we were meeting dialed in, so I got to put on makeup for my stoned cats.
But because of the “smallness” of the Lehigh Valley, this very busy executive took more time than she had to to meet with us. As a result, we all left with an increased understanding.
We have a better fundraising plan regarding this corporation and this person learned more about how all the anti-trafficking organizations here in the Valley work together.
But what impressed me was the willingness of this individual to work with the “little guy.” That is something that makes me proud to live in the Lehigh Valley.
Therescued kittens have been neutered
I rambled quite a bit on that earlier bit.
Today, the teenager and I left the house at 7:30 to transport the kittens to FURR for a low-cost neutering.
Stephanie, the woman from FURR we have been working with, was even kind enough to place Fog and Misty on the backseat of her car with their cat carriers facing each other instead of in the big cat pile of carriers in the back of the car.
That made me happy. That the brothers could see each other.
On the way home, I stopped at Grocery Outlet as the teenager had announced that cheap instant coffee was garbage and we were going to need more Nescafé.
And then the teenager filled out an adoption/foster application with FURR on her phone in the parking lot.
Because we need more menagerie.
Oz enjoyed being my main baby today while the kittens were gone.
And I also did my nails.
And it seemed like it took forever until it was time to retrieve the boys. They are both about 9 3/4 pounds. They are Feline Leukemia negative. They have their shots now, nails trimmed, flea meds and deworming.
And they are ridiculously mellow and stoned right now. I think Fog fell asleep with his head in the water bowl.
My weekend was filled with various forms of professional work. Some work for Aspire to Autonomy, some work for The March of Gentlemen, some brainstorming for Thrive PR. Darnell and I have some big projects brewing and I can’t wait to share them with everyone.
Last night we had our casual El Camino Virtual Pilgrimage zoom meeting. Despite the heat, I have consistently walked between 6,000 and 8,000 steps a day.
In the pilgrimage group we talked a lot about where we grew up and we set a challenge to find someplace new to walk this week.
This morning, my blind friend Nan and I got together to review her writing, submit some poetry, and look at the upcoming NASA schedule. The mission to Mars launches this week and the SpaceX Dragon returns from the International Space Station.
In the afternoon the regular insanity commenced here— Sobaka came to visit, Nala kept getting off her cage to harass the cats and the dog and the teen had a zoom meeting about the future of the marching band season. Marching Band is a go!
And today I heard the words I didn’t want to hear.
It started with a blueberry caramel signature latte from Dunkin’. That started her with the realization that with enough sugar and milk, you can barely taste the coffee. Then I figured out how to replicate the $5 iced latte in an iced coffee on sale. Then I scaled back the caramel…
And then she started on cold brew.
And today she tasted my at-home quick and easy iced coffee. Coffee snobs please skip the next few paragraphs.
When I can’t afford fancy afternoon iced coffee, I take a pint of milk, mix in a heaping teaspoon of dark roast Nescafé instant coffee, and drop in three ice cubes.
An afternoon pick-me-up and a snack as there is milk.
And the teenager liked it.
With no sugar and no flavor.
Problem is… my Nescafé jar looks like this:
So not only now do I have to fight the teenager for milk, I have to challenge her on coffee. I had to lay down the law.
I told her— look, child, until we get to the grocery store again, you can drink the Dollar Store instant coffee your dad bought. She said that would be fine.
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.
I called Nan, my blind friend, during the weekend and said, “I have to get out of the house. Do you have time this week for a social visit? I have some customer loyalty coupons and specials for fast food— how do you feel about breakfast at Wendy’s?”
Nan has a pretty standard response to my phone calls.
“Ooooooooo,” she says.
We agreed I would pick her up on Monday at 9 a.m.
The teenager usually doesn’t emerge from her room until after 10 a.m. I decide to surprise Nan with a trip to Family Dollar, too.
I need a notebook for my volunteer role as Communications Director for Aspire To Autonomy, Inc., and for my notes as a partner in Thrive Public Relations.
Part of the fun of going to Nan’s building right now is the massive construction project they have going on. Her building has seven stories and they are removing the bricks on the south-most wall. The scaffolding they have is like an erector set for Godzilla.
Nan gets in my car, and despite the temperature already in the 80s and the humidity above 50%, I don’t have the air conditioning on in the car. The breeze is nice, the sun roof is open and the air conditioning is too cold.
We plot our order via the Wendy’s app— I order a small vanilla Frosty-chino (on special for $1) and the maple bacon chicken croissant (free with any mobile order). I want to try the chicken honey butter biscuit, too, but I can’t pass up free.
Nan orders the traditional sausage, egg and cheese combo. We order it on the standard bun as croissants can be greasy and flat and a biscuit might be crumbly. When you are planning a car picnic with a blind person, ease of handling is the primary concern.
We make hers the combo. We can split the seasoned potatoes and she gets an unsweetened ice tea as her beverage. Like me, Nan doesn’t like sweetened tea.
Our total for breakfast comes to $6.77.
We split the tab.
We drive over to Wendy’s, go through the drive through and discover that the Wendy’s parking lot has a lot of shade. Things we never noticed before the Coronavirus pandemic.
Surprisingly, the croissant is not a traditional croissant. It is square. This pleases me as I hate when fast food restaurants use American style croissants for sandwiches.
Nan’s sandwich appears to have a real egg on it.
I really like having chicken for breakfast as I am not a “breakfast meat” person. The maple bacon fills the whole car with maple scent. Nan finds it too strong. It tastes like table syrup.
Nan and I agree the potatoes are amazing. Nan reported that her sandwich was better than the average fast food breakfast sandwich.