Rip it off fast like a bandaid

It’s 11 a.m. on Friday morning— it looks crisp and clear outside. Teenager #2 is in school. Teenager #1 just emerged from her room as we both got to sleep around 3 a.m.

Mandatory overtime and lack of sleep are kicking my ass. My household is experiencing some knocks too as the Roman Pride tuxedo kittens from Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab are vomiting. We hope it is because of a recent change in their food.

I wish I could say the birds have been quiet. But alas, alack, the cats broke into my room while Boo-Boo the yellow parakeet was free-flying and Boo-boo flew downstairs. Now Boo-boo is not a hand-tame bird.

This occurred while I was wrestling clothes in the Quality Control Valley 2 of the Bizzy Hizzy at Stitch Fix. Teenager #1 heard Boo-boo screaming because two of our household cats had taken to swiping her out of the air.

Teenager #1 rescued Boo, who was still feisty enough to bite her repeatedly.

So there was that.

Meanwhile, at the Bizzy, I was thinking about numerology and “angel numbers,” thanks to a podcast I heard the other night. In the midst of all this craziness, as I was leaving work the other night, my odometer read 33533. Palindrome. Prime numbers. “Sacred threes.”

Okay so it’s blurry: 33533

So the boxes that got returned to me last night were sent back for issues with wrapping. One of the people training me finally came over and asked how I tear my paper. I showed her. Carefully. Almost daintily.

“Ah, she said, “there lies the problem. You need to rip it fast like a bandaid.”

I did and the results were very different and better.

My foe

I thanked her for the tutelage and laughed, pointing out that this was not something that did not come naturally to my skill set. I have no depth perception when related to placing items in containers. I suck at folding clothes. It’s agonizing for my body to stand still for 8 hours. And I have no concept of straight lines.

But all in all I am improving and I truly enjoy the challenge of learning something new. It reminds me of when I first learned cash office at Target. I wanted to vomit every time I started my shift.

The person overseeing me thanked me for taking criticism well, and again I laughed, and reminded her that I needed her it. She said a lot of people get frustrated. And I assured her that I was indeed frustrated with myself for repeating the same mistakes. She quickly revised her statement— “No, she said, people get really frustrated with me.”

And that struck me. Because I know what she means. And I have to say, in both my professional and… let’s call them survival jobs, I have had supervisors that understand how to deliver constructive criticism and all kinds of feedback and those supervisors who care about the mission, the corporate line, and/or themselves and how they look, more than they were invested in the people.

So far in the Bizzy Hizzy, I have not met one of those. I also feel I am in the honeymoon phase at Stitch Fix. My judgment may be skewed.

This mandatory overtime stinks. We’re all exhausted. And even the scrambled egg appreciation breakfast and free snacks can’t push us past that.

This might be the spot to mention that one of my supervisors spent most of the night running around with a squealing plastic chicken.

The nurse wandered into the Valley about 12:30 to check on everyone doing overtime (as the “deep cleaners” worked around us— which by the way, they move nothing and just wipe shit down. I find more dust and grime when I do my nightly wipes). I showed the nurse my new skill at tearing craft paper. She gave me a gloved high five.

I’m working a normal 8-hour shift tonight then returning for an 8-hour double time shift tomorrow morning. Now if you excuse me, I must go lay out my quarterly budget as it is 2-weeks overdue.

Travelogue at home

The other day I asked myself— what would happen if we approached our everyday lives like a writer taking notes for a travelogue?

Interesting that I thought of this now, as Facebook reminded me that 5 years ago I was in Somalia eating fruit so succulent it was like ice cream. I remember the dark wood of the built-in wardrobe of our hotel room, the way the guard at the top of the stairs would chit-chat with me as he rocked his plastic lawn chair with his gun across his lap.

That was also the week I decided to overhaul my marriage— because as I was traveling the streets of Mogadishu trying to interpret the paintings that adorned the shops and watched a women make coffee on the side of the road amidst traffic, I realized I had my laptop in Somalia with all of our household information. If anything had happened to me, I didn’t know if my husband knew how to log into our bank account or when to pay the mortgage (or how much it was or who receives the payment).

I suddenly realized my own mortality. And that my control of everything needed to change.

To return this ramble to the idea of a quotidienne travelogue, I always blog while we travel, even to places more mundane than Africa, and M, my traveling companion, would always sit down with his phone and his cigarette about to read the link I sent him.

“Oh good,” he would say, “Let’s see what I did today.”

Life at the Aviary

The colors in the room— vivid pink (almost a fuchsia) walls in semi-gloss, teal swirly floral-paisley curtains and a yellow patterned duvet color with pink sheets adorned with white polka dots— created a cheery environment that brightened exponentially with every ray of sunshine that crept in through the three windows facing south.

The birds grew more animated as the sun intensified, three adult parakeets and three freshly hatched chicks under three weeks old and a Goffin’s cockatoo, a mini-parrot who expressed her nervousness by barbering and plucking her own feathers. Even bird teenagers are prone to rituals of self-harm.

Once awake, I strolled down to the living area, also decorated boldly but simply with sky blue walls with a hint of turquoise and a chalkboard wall under the stairs with a variety of notes. The furniture included a cushioned bench, cozy teal chairs, and an emerald green loveseat that sat oddly low to the ground.

I sipped a very hot cup of coffee with cream not brewed but steamed for me as if it were espresso. Cats swirled at my feet, including one with a gruff, tired face. He wore a Captain America collar. When he moved, his gait revealed his amputee status— having lost his front left leg to kitty cat cancer.

After this, I traveled back to the aviary chamber to help care for the birds. I handled these tiny chicks!

My companion and I departed shortly after our “chores” to have breakfast at Tic Toc Diner. My companion has a love of chocolate milk and pancakes. She insists that both always tastes better at a diner.

I discover what might be my new all time favorite breakfast: Eggs Benedict Florentine with garlic and tomato. As a poached egg is one of my favorite things on Earth, it only gets better when we add some nutritionally dense spinach smothered in hollandais sauce.

The pleasures here and simple and the environment chaotic.

This is a post about food

Since recovering from Covid, I have tried to focus on healthy food choices and cooking at home instead of eating out. I believe good food is key to regaining my strength and moving forward in losing some weight, but more and more I find myself viewing food as a friend.

In other dietary confessions, twice this week I have taken advantage of the snacks in the breakroom to have 500 calories of honeybun at 10 p.m. And I’ve noticed, that seemed to be the only thing that gave me the energy to improve my performance. I have always had a strong physical reaction to sugar so this is no surprise.

I think the moral is that I need to balance my meals prior to work and “save” some carbohydrates for treats at my final break.

Tonight I find myself without teenagers and having eaten decently throughout the day, I have some “calories to spare.” I decided to use them for some healthy snacks while I watch Bridgerton. I find the series quaint and endearing, with amazing costumes and scenery. But I don’t see anything worth the extreme hoopla I see on social media. But there is a beauty in it. And I hope I am wrong, but I am almost done with episode 5 and so far while it is charming, it is predictable.

The snack I prepared were some pumpkin seed and raisin crackers, Harvest Snaps green pea snacks, Smart Pop popcorn, and Smartfood caramel apple popcorn.

Loki Dokie Puppy Turkey of the Norse Pride went home to his FURRever family today and I am feeling the absence of crazy kitten antics. Two of my personal cats, Oz and Fog, have curled up in bed with me. I have missed Fog’s attentions.

Other recent meals that I enjoyed:

A little about each meal:

1. Salad of romaine, shredded cabbage, kalamata olives, wasabi peas, sliced almonds, feta and fresh strawberries.

2. Chicken with a “hash” of spinach, spaghetti squash, butternut squash and Brussel sprouts.

3. Salmon. I used the cooking method from the Whole30 and seasoned with dill.

4. Cornish Game Hen. I seasoned it, used a little smoked flavor, and cooked it in my chicken bone broth, diced carrots, and kale. I didn’t care for it. Too much work to get the meet off the bones. Fog loved what he stole.

5. I had a craving for good old fashioned processed beer battered fish— might have been Gorton’s.

6. Croque Monsieur. Teenager #1 made the béchamel sauce, and I didn’t think to warn her how temperamental a roux can be.

7. At Lidl, I came across some discount thaw-and-eat frozen sushi. It was 50 cents a pack. It was edible but the rice was completely al dente.

8. I have been aching for avocado and eggs. So I bought avocado and forgot to make it when I made egg-and-pepper omelette.

9. Some chicken I bought on clearance cooked in butter, lemon and dill. Then I sautéed some cabbage and added some leftover corn from earlier in the week and the rest of the pepper I didn’t use for yesterday’s omelette.

Accidents (or the four letter word that starts with S and means ‘poop’) happens.

It’s been a hectic couple of days.

The teenager is pet-sitting for our FURR foster godmother. So she’s in and out of my house several times a day.

I have misplaced Fern’s adoption paperwork, which is totally not like me. Luckily Fern went to a friend of mine so I can asked her to send me a photo.

Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo, has been upset and stressed and plucked her flight feathers off her one wing.

It’s really sad to see the confusion in her face when she tries to fly and just falls.

Speaking of Nala, I met her a year ago today.

We had a devil of a time containing Boo-boo last night but since we did Wink and Yo-yo seem much more relaxed as parents. I think it was the right call. Video: catching Boo

And here is a video of the parakeet chicks: Budgie babies!

I also finally got a good picture of Loki:

Sir Loki Dokie Puppy Turkey

While three out of my four cats were cuddly and cute.

Back to Front: Opie, Oz, Fog

Then I headed out to work for the first day since Covid. I stopped at Dunkin for a coffee and discovered there were no more good deals. So I didn’t get my coffee.

No one explained the protocol for my return so I don’t have the proper paperwork from my doctor. I’ll try and get that started— already called the doctor— but am waiting on their end of the paperwork.

I’m annoyed— mostly because I was ready to go back but also because I don’t know if this lack of communication will mean I lose income. With it being the holiday week, I probably won’t get rapid cooperation from the medical folks. And part of that is because there are people sicker and needier than I am.

After everything I’ve been through this year, I won’t complain.

It gave me time to do some grocery shopping and cook for the other teenager.

I even helped her make a smoothie.

One more week of 2020.

The highs and lows of Christmas 2020

Christmas is always hard for me. Having a second teenager, a houseful of kittens and brand new budgie chicks helps me escape a lot of the pain that surfaces during the holidays.

And no matter what I try, I can’t escape it. Instead, I work to minimize it.

And every year it gets a little easier.

It’s 9:30 pm now— I am listening to Rachmaninov on my brand new AirPods and at first I was very disappointed to discover that they didn’t have buttons.

Imagine my shock when I discovered they automatically turn on and off when I place them in my ear and take them off. And so far they don’t fall out as easily as the cheap ones do. (When I saw cheap I mean cheap— I got my previous set for $10 at Family Dollar. I had no problems with my $10 set either except I broke pieces off of them within the first couple days).

So to continue writing about my holiday backwards, teenager #1 received kitchen tools from teenager #2 and a new hand mixer from my mother-in-law. She’s baking banana bread now.

Apparently piles of cookies and fruitcake aren’t enough for her.

I’m journaling, blogging, and about to watch another episode of The Tudors. I can’t believe Vale of FURR’s Norse Pride is going home tomorrow— and I am bringing three other kittens to the adoption fair as well.

Fern-Edie is doing well in her new home. And I am starting to hyperventilate a little thinking this might be the last night my bed looks like this:

Vale and Loki

As I came up to my bedroom to start the animals’ night routine, I noticed all three budgies were out. Mama Wink showed me that all her eggs had hatched and I watched her clean shell off her newest chick. We hope to name them Yule, Winter and Christmas if they all survive. I hope they do.

Other highlights of Christmas:

  • The big Christmas mission for the teenager’s mysterious package earlier this week was… her varsity jacket!

YouTube: Teenager opens her varsity jacket

  • We listened to some non traditional Christmas carols extremely loudly in the car. Including “The Christmas Tree’s on Fire.”
  • I earned a place of honor in this year’s Christmas Grace, “Thank you, Lord, for keeping us safe from Corona, well except for Angel.” Ever burst out laughing during a prayer? Now I have.
  • I was asked to make the broccoli for Christmas dinner. My step mom doesn’t trust anyone else with the green vegetables I guess. I sautéed them golden brown in butter with sea salt, too much multicolored peppercorns (I grabbed the wrong jar— oops!) and herbs de Provence.
  • Christmas was much smaller than usual because of the pandemic, so my stepmom decided we would get fresh cut steaks from the butcher. She even ordered one for my brother’s dog. And she wanted to grill them. The temperature dropped drastically while my dad was at the grill and then all the steaks went up in flames. I learned that a good blue cheese dressing can cut the taste of charcoaled steaks.

I guess the last thing I’ll mention is that the teenager got a pet play pen which will come in handy for our work with Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. Of course, I’ve discovered it houses cats and teenagers.

Yuletide whirlwind

Yesterday was the winter solstice— Yule— and the great convergence of Saturn and Jupiter that may have been the Christmas Star of Christian Heritage.

Sugar Cookie and Candy Cane Hershey Kisses

My neighbor Jan and I went on a Christmas season road trip to pick up a package. I wasn’t sure I could make the 90-minute drive alone.

I am grateful to live in such an old fashioned neighborhood that I know what neighbors will have adventures, which will grab me groceries, and who won’t mind grabbing me a coffee.

We stopped at Target and I got my annual bag of Candy Cane Hershey Kisses and treated myself to the new Sugar Cookie Kisses. They have real bits of cookie inside and the white chocolate kiss tastes like icing.

When I got home, the teenagers drove me over to Dollar General and Twin Rivers Music. Dollar General to get the pickle Doritos that are apparently a Dollar General exclusive and Twin Rivers Music for valve oil, a mouthpiece brush, ukulele strings and kazoos.

Teenager #2 thought her kazoo was broken, so teenager #1 had to teach her how to play it (which she did while driving the car!).

YouTube: Christmas Kazoos

YouTube: Review of Sour Pickle Doritos

In honor of Yule, and to celebrate the longest night of the year, I let the teenagers unwrap their stockings (which included some traditional stocking stuffers and some non-traditional items). A lot of make-up, gift certificates for Hyperion Salon and Lucha Bella skin care, candy and snacks, and activity books.

Teenager two got her first paint-by-water book which I bought for her because it featured Sponge Bob. I also got them coloring books of cosmic cats and uni-creatures and a robot faces sticker book.

YouTube: Dumping the stockings

Lunchables Dirt Cake

Activity Books

Teaching the Art of Paint by Water

Review of Oreo Candy Canes

We ate too many of my mother-in-law’s cookies and finished the bag of Doritos so I shouldn’t be surprised that I gained more weight.

Today is a new day and it feels like a clean start thanks to the energy of Yule and I feel a little stronger and more like myself, though still very easy to exhaust.

I got up, cleaned up after one set of cats, shoveled the path for a heating oil delivery, saw my friend Gayle, loaded the dishwasher and started a load of laundry. I tried to pick up some garbage from the house strewn with wrappings and about 5 loads of clean laundry.

Then I worked with Nan by phone. The Fluffy Norse kittens decided to join me on the sunporch and, of course, climbed the Christmas tree.

Fern-Edie in the Christmas Tree

I got the laundry out of the washer and hung it, and teenager #1 made me an egg sandwich, even though by then it was noon.

I tried to clean up the bathroom. Started the dishwasher. And came up to check on the birds.

YouTube: Do we have baby budgies?

And we have one tiny bald, baby budgie!

I am so terrified I will do something to hinder Momma Wink from taking good care of her eggs and baby. I’m especially worried everyone isn’t getting enough to eat.

So finally that brings me to Nala— she’s afraid of something and it might be the parakeets. She’s barbering badly.

Quest for Watermelon

So first off… I am very excited to announce that one of the teenager’s teachers applied to adopt a cat from Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab, the organization we foster with.

Obviously a very handsome guy!

In other news, tomorrow is day 10 of my Covid isolation and my main symptom is still extreme dizziness. And whenever I have a hot beverage or some of that boozy egg nog I sweat like a pig.

In amusing symptoms, every morning I get up and my right foot hurts and is very difficult to walk on.

Now, let’s talk about Wawa. My Wawa (which is less than a mile away) now delivers. Through Door Dash I believe.

I have been craving watermelon. So I ordered watermelon ($3.39), my favorite coffee (cafe con lèche) and a breakfast bundle (4 egg sandwiches, a half gallon of chocolate milk and a bag of doughnuts for $22.99). Delivery fee was $2.99 and I gave my driver a $6 tip.

The order arrived hot, and quickly, the driver was super pleasant. The staff couldn’t determine if I wanted sausage on my sandwiches (2 were supposed to be bacon and two sausage) so they made two bacon and two without meat and put sausage on the side.

I like that kind of problem solving.

But they missed my chocolate milk and my doughnuts for the teens. Now, if I hadn’t spent $40 on this order I might not care. And I am extremely grateful that they brought my watermelon. Being in Covid isolation is hard.

And the eggs tasted so good I ate both the meatless sandwiches.

I navigated around the app trying to find my mistake or someone to contact. I eventually had to fill out a form. Let’s hope I hear from them.

Update: talked to my local store. They were pleasant and gave me the number for corporate. Corporate had me on hold four minutes and promised to send me an electronic gift card.

Grub Hub and Quick Chek

I had a craving for a Reese’s peanut butter cup and a chicken salad sandwich. I still had $40 left on my Grub Hub gift card from Bill, so I ordered for Quick Chek.

I was very impressed with the speed at which the food arrived, the flavors and the price.

I even got half and half for my coffee in case we really do get two feet of snow today.

The meal consisted of chicken salad on a Kaiser roll for me, with a candy cane macchiato and my peanut butter cup. My delivery driver texted me during the whole journey. And my macchiato stayed pretty hot.

I ordered a chicken Caesar wrap, fruit snacks and mango lemonade for teenager #1. They didn’t have mango lemonade so they sent an apology, chocolate chip cookies and a Red Bull.

That made teenager one very happy. And I appreciated that they did some substituons and left a note.

Teenager #2 took the Red Bull. I ordered her a Mac and cheese with chicken fingers. It only seemed to come Buffalo style, so I added ranch.

It was a good meal.

Day 4 of Covid isolation

Sunday. Next Sunday at this time my isolation period will be over.

I feel stiff and exhausted, and I have a weird rash that makes my hands burn and itch like crazy but all-in-all Covid symptoms are minimal today.

The most exciting thing we did today was play with foster kittens.

Vale got to wear a sweater.

For information on adopting Vale, click here.

Vale and his brother Loki are both available at Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab.

Some fun kitten videos:

Harness training Vale

Hermes and Vesta

The Roman Pride and Hermes

This is really a good amount of fun for me, but as we got Vale into the sweater we got a text that my dear cat-loving former world colleague was bringing her homemade egg nog.

The teenager has taken a liking to eggnog, but as of most of the younger generations, she’s never had the real thing.

I had had some fruitcake for breakfast— her great-grandmother’s recipe made by my mother-in-law. My in-laws have a really delicious fruit add. I brought some to work last year for Mr. Accordion and he shared it with the office Christmas party, a decision he make have regretted.

And now this.

And I used some more of Bill’s gift card to order wings from Deux Wings on GrubHub. I am not a fan of wings, but the teenager is. I rather enjoyed the mac and cheese and amazing French fries.

From Deux Wings, great food

On TV today, I started My Mad Fat Diary and Ink Master.

An uncomfortable Tuesday

Firstly, my headline is misleading as it is Wednesday already.

Tonight my body aches. Everything hurts in a bad way. And I was dizzy and lightheaded— in a weird way, like my head was clogged with fluid and my body was dehydrated (which I am not).

I only “picked” 120 at Stitch Fix’s Bizzy Hizzy tonight and I am frustrated by that. That’s 2.5 carts less than last night which is almost an hour worth of work.

Now, mind you, I was working in W most of the night which is 750 steps from the “garage area” and if I hustle I can cross in 1 minute 30 seconds. But that adds 3 minutes per cart, which easily accounts for 45 minutes. If I follow my own logic, this means if I were stationed closer to the garage I might have easily reached 136, which would have pleased me.

Bizzy Hizzy

It is 1:30 a.m. now and I am continuing season 4 of The Crown. Now, considering how much my body hurts and the fact that my fingers and feet tingle as if they were asleep, something must be wrong with my circulation. Is my blood pressure too low?

So I thought I deserved a salty snack. The teenager had hijacked my new bag of tortilla chips, and left me with the stale broken crumbs in the cupboard. Her grandfather had brought potato chips but I didn’t see those in the cupboard.

But I found a cup of Little Caesar’s cheesy jalapeño dip and thought that could revive the stale chips.

And as soon as I got them to my room, foster kitten Loki spilled them. Onto my floor. I almost cried.

Speaking of The Norse Pride, here they are after their vet appointment declaring them free of ringworm. In this photo— believe it or not— they think they are hiding from the vacuum.

Tonight I listened to a podcast on Tudor fashion, the final segment of “Do Not Harm” on Wondery. I recommended it to one of my social work interns. I can’t wait to discuss it with her.

Earlier in the day, the teenager went with my father and found our Christmas tree and helped me have a steak dinner before work. I also took my homemade beef broth out of the crock pot and packaged it. I have a cheap man’s beef stroganoff planned for tomorrow.